Monday, September 28, 2015

Love's Every Whisper by Naomi Rawlings ends October 5

Please welcome Naomi Rawlings to my blog. Naomi is giving away a copy of her new book Love's Every Whisper. Read on down to find out how to enter.

You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.

This was the unofficial motto of the U.S Life-Saving Service. The U.S. Life-Saving Service was a precursor to the United States Coast Guard. Back before helicopters and radar and power boats, life-saving teams braved stormy waters with little more than rowboats, storm suits, and life rings.

When I first learned about the United States Life-Saving Service and some of the first life-saving stations established on Lake Superior, I knew I had to write a novel about a life-saver. In Love’s Every Whisper, I created a hero based on the real life Joshua James, a famous life-saver who rescued over 200 people.

Elijah Cummings has sailed on the Atlantic Ocean and seen life-saving teams in action. After his father drowns in a storm, Elijah returns to his hometown on the shores of Lake Superior. Unable to sit by and watch when ships flounder coming into port, Elijah starts a volunteer life-saving team. But the icy conditions and strong storms prove difficult for his volunteers and secondhand equipment. He soon finds himself fighting for the U.S. Life-Saving Service to establish a legitimate station—as well as fighting for the woman he’s loved for fifteen years.

Here’s an excerpt from a scene where the heroine of the story observes a life-saving drill.

Victoria smiled politely, an art she’d perfected thanks to her stutter, and nodded—all while her mind kept returning to the verse from the sermon.

Something flashed in the harbor, a glint of sun on white. Victoria turned her head toward the open church doors, then gasped. The forms were mere shadows on the water, but she didn’t need to stand on the beach to know who was in the middle of the harbor in that little white surfboat.

And were they trying to tip it over?

Ice raced through her body. “No.”

She barely whispered the word, wouldn’t have spoken at all if she’d remembered whom she was standing beside. But all coherent thought rushed from her mind as the men who had been standing in the boat capsized it and dove into the frigid spring water.

“Did you say something, darling?”

Gilbert bent his head toward hers, but she only stared at the overturned boat and the men swimming around it. What was Elijah thinking by doing such a thing? They could drown in the harbor. It had certainly happened before, though usually with children or drunks. She needed to go outside and cry for help. Someone on land could surely reach them in time.

But before she moved, one of the men in the water used a rope of some sort to pull himself onto the belly of the boat, the strong shoulders and determined tilt to his head making Elijah instantly recognizable.

Soon another man joined him, then another and another. Until—

“Victoria? Are you all right.”

She nodded, her eyes glued to the men in the harbor as they dove off the boat simultaneously and heaved at one side.

Where they going to right it? She’d never seen men do that with anything larger than a canoe.

                                         Love’s Every Whisper

Victoria Donnelly simply wants to do something right, at least once in her lifetime. With five years of failed courtships behind her and the calendar inching closer to another birthday, she's determined to redeem herself and snag a proposal from a wealthy childhood acquaintance, Gilbert Sinclair. But returning to Eagle Harbor stirs up long forgotten memories. And worse, old affection for her betrothed's enemy.

Elijah Cummings has loved Victoria for fifteen years. But fishermen's sons don't marry shipping barons' daughters. He knows it. She knows it. The entire town knows it. Resolved to keep his distance from Victoria, Elijah focuses on establishing a much needed life-saving station, risking his own life by rescuing sailors stuck aboard shipwrecks.

He knows how to save drowning sailors, but how is he to save a woman from the biggest mistake of her life—without destroying both their hearts in the process?


The first book in the series, 
Love’s Unfading Light, 
is on sale right now for $0.99.

Be sure to answer one or more of Naomi's questions to be entered to win her book. Don't forget to leave your email address. If you are a feedburner follower be sure to let me know for an extra entry.

Have you ever heard of the U.S. Life-Saving Service? What do you think it was like for the men who served in it? Had you been living in the 1800s, would you want a family member to risk his life in order to save others from drowning?


A mother of three, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter. She’s currently enjoying writing a historical novel series set in this unique area of the United States.

For more information about Naomi, please visit her website at or find her on Facebook at To be informed whenever Naomi has a new book release, consider signing up for her Naomi Rawlings Author Newsletter.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dodging Destiny by Derinda Babcock ends September 28th

Please welcome Derinda Babcock to The Sword and Spirit blog. Derinda has generously offered to give away a copy of Dodging Destiny. Read on down to find out how to enter. And don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you should you win. Also, if you are a follower of my blog be sure to tell me so I can give you a second entry.

Where are you right now (LVR, DR, Bathroom) and what are you wearing? You have to tell the truth.
I'm in my office and I'm wearing black jeans and a comfy, long-sleeved cotton shirt. I usually wear long sleeves year-round, because if I'm working outside, I don't like the feel of hot, scorching sunlight on exposed skin, and if I'm inside, I don't like the sensation of cold air blowing across my arms.

What is the funniest, strangest, or most interesting thing you have learned when doing research? Researching for historical novels is one of my favorite things, though the process takes as long as the actual writing. When I researched travel on the Oregon Trail, I found out that about two thirds of the women who set out on this two thousand mile journey were either pregnant when they began their travel, got pregnant or gave birth on the trail, or had a full-term baby soon after arriving in Oregon, yet of all the diaries I read, very few women mentioned this. Pregnancy was a fact of life that didn't appear to cause much comment. I can't imagine traveling for five or six months, experiencing all the hardships, and dealing with the problems or changes associated with pregnancy.

What is something that very few people know about you? Though I've completed a Master of Arts Degree in education, earned more than 65 additional quarter credits, and taught English Language Acquisition / English Language Learners for almost twenty-five years, I returned to school in August to take classes in Digital Media and Design. I'm delighted to be able to take courses I want to take, instead of classes I have to take. After I finish these, I plan to sign up for more American Sign Language, Spanish, and woodworking classes. Welding is also on my bucket list.

What is your favorite material item that you own (examples: ipod, Gone with the Wind book, grandmother’s rocking chair)
My iMac i7 27 inch computer helps me organize my life, create stories, and communicate with the world, so I'd say this is my favorite material item.

If you could live in any time period other than the one we live in, past or future, when and where would that be and why? Life in the U.S. in the mid- to late nineteenth century fascinates me, which is why my upcoming historical novels are all set in this era. Though life was difficult for many, I'd probably choose the time period because the amazing advances in science and technology changed the course of our country. I'd like to ride coast-to-coast on the completed transcontinental railway, or visit Thomas Edison's lab at Menlo Park. I'd like to meet Mary Edwards Walker, the only commissioned, pants-wearing female surgeon in the Union Army, or be present when Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone and Nikola Tesla invented the AC motor and transformer.

If you were writing a book about your life what would the title be? Steady Rocker. Dolly Parton sang about “Rockin' chairs, rockin' babies, rock-a-bye, Rock of Ages,” and these words sum up most of what's important in my life. Throughout my child-rearing and teaching years, I tried to model integrity and dependability. I wanted my children and students to be people of their word – people others could rely on to do what they said they'd do. I wanted them to understand the value of hard work, to drive toward excellence, and to develop moral integrity.

What one novel did you read that made you want to be a part of the story? An Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion #2) by Francine Rivers. I loved Hadassah's story. She touched the lives of so many, even though she was a condemned slave who was sent to the arena for her faith. Though the lioness' teeth and claws marked her and left her with irreparable physical damage, the animal didn't destroy Hadassah's faith or her desire to serve others.

What is the biggest secret you ever kept (of course it can’t be a secret anymore)? I never wanted to teach. I wanted to be an architect, interior designer, or graphic artist, so when the Lord started leading me toward the field of public education, I resisted with all my might. Eventually, I surrendered, and this decision changed my life. I remember how grudging my words to Him were: “Okay, I'll do it, but You know I don't have money to go back to school and get a degree. If You want me to do this, You'll have to provide the funds.” Guess what? Scholarships rolled in, and not only were my tuition, fees, and books paid for during the time required to complete my Bachelor program, but I also received a stipend that paid for my gas.

Teaching students from different linguistic and culture backgrounds who had a wide range of needs has been one of the hardest, most challenging jobs I've ever attempted, but the benefits have been worth the uncomfortable stretching. The experience forced me to become better balanced as a person, and many of my students have expressed their appreciation for the investment I made in their lives. During her Senior presentation, a former student said, “I dug myself into a very deep hole, and Mrs. Babcock was the only one who cared enough to pull me out.” Wow. What kind of value can you place on a comment like hers?

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
One hot summer day in my pre-teen years, I decided to make life a little more exciting. My plan was to drop ice cubes down the back of my dad's shirt as he sat at the dining room table, run out the front door, swing up into our large cottonwood tree, climb as high as I could, and tease him from the safety of my perch. This plan should've worked, because I was a practiced tree-climber and my dad was old – at least thirty-two. I dropped the cubes down his collar and ran. He yelled and chased me. I got into the tree, but the unthinkable happened – he climbed up after me, hauled me out of the tree, and turned the hose down my back.

What do you do for fun?
Tutor elementary and middle school students, read, write, study, garden, work on our small ranch, and hang out with my family.

GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment and let us know what is the craziest thing you've ever done to be entered in the giveaway.

Lexie knows God has called her to the mission field of Guatemala as a missionary's wife, but she has no intention of obeying. She has her own dreams: she wants to complete a Master's degree program in music and to play violin for the Topeka Symphony Orchestra.

As she waits to speak to an advisor, she pillows her head on her arms in the library of Kansas State University in June 2014, and wakes up in the back of a Conestoga wagon in June 1857, four years before the Civil War. Kansas is not a state, women do not have the vote, and slavery divides the nation. She is taken in by the Bells, who are homesteading in the newly opened territory.

While she lives with this family, God teaches her many things about obedience, trust, faithfulness, and love, but the most important lesson she learns is that there is no place in time or space where she can go to run from God, and that there is nothing that can separate her from His love.

When given a second chance, will she obey though there is risk involved, or will she play it safe and settle for second-best?

Lexie Logan thought she could run from God . . . and, like the Prophet Jonah, faced a storm of epic proportions.

About Derinda Babcock:
Derinda Babcock has been an English Language Acquisition teacher for almost twenty-five years. During this time, she worked with students of all ages and many different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The richness of this experience has lent flavor and voice to the stories she writes. She enjoys historical research and the crafting of entertaining stories written from the Christian world view.

Monday, September 14, 2015

3 giveaways! The Xanthakos Family Series by Susan Craft ends 9/21

Please welcome Susan Craft to my blog. Susan has a fun post today. Be sure to read all the way down to find out how to enter in her awesome giveaway. There will be 3 winners as she is giving away each book of her trilogy!! And don't forget to leave your email address and let me know if you are a follower for an extra entry.

Sometimes doing research for my colonial era novels can be amusing.

A couple of months ago, I saw my family doctor for a problem I’d been having. The night before, I’d been reading a resource book for my upcoming novel Cassia. The name of it is Indian Doctor – Nature’s method of curing and preventing disease according to the Indians.
I took the book with me to show the doctor the Indian cure for my problem. What a hoot! We had such fun looking through the book. Seems as if every cure involved mixing something with wine, ale, beer, or liquor. We came to the conclusion that with enough of the “cure,” even if you still had the problem, you wouldn’t care anymore.

Here’s what the book says for my problem, “Take some pounded panic (panic is another name for powdered corn), and give it to the patient to drink with wine, and he will recover. The same panic, being boiled with goat’s milk, and eaten twice a day, morning and evening, will operate the same.”

Seriously, knowing the right herbs and natural cures was extremely important in an era where there were very few, if any, doctors available. And, most of the time, those doctors weren’t classically trained.

Lilyan Xanthakos, the heroine of Cassia, is not only a portrait and mural artist she is a healer who carries her medicine kit wherever she goes. In Cassia I mention an incident in Swansboro, NC, where pirates blockaded the port not for money or other booty, but for medical supplies (which were worth their weight in gold.)

There’s also a scene where the ship’s cook, because there is no doctor on board, applies a camphor-based ointment to the scratches on Lilyan’s face.

While she's being cared for, Lilyan checks out the cook's medicine kit that has: jalap for purging, mercury salves for the Foul Disease, autumn crocus and meadow saffron for gout, and St. John’s Wort for insomnia, all carefully wrapped in oil-soaked paper.

Lilyan, along with most colonial women, maintained a medicine kit that might have included the following:

• Valerian root, combined with hops and lemon balm; a sedative for sleep disorders, insomnia
•Sweet gum bark, boiled; for sore eyes, wash eyes three times a day
•Rum or brandy; for a burn apply a wet rag doused; Two or three swallows of cold water before breakfast; for heartburn
•Feverfew; for headaches/migraines, body aches, and fever
•Southern Wood; for upset stomach (also used as an insect or moth repellent
•Calendula, dried, ground and mixed with animal fat; for cuts
•Tansy; for indigestion, cramps, sunburn, and to remove freckles
•Basil; draw poison out of animal bites
•Black Cohosh; for menopause
•Boswellia; for arthritis
•Chamomile tea; for digestive problems
•Flaxseed; for menopausal discomfort and osteoporosis
•White Willow Bark; for back pain
•Ginger; for nausea and vomiting
•Lavender flowers; for anxiety
•Fleabane; for venomous bites, smoke from it kills gnats and fleas; dangerous for women and children
•Hellebore root snuffed up the nose; for sneezing and melancholy and to kill rats and mice
•Penyroyal; for vomiting, gas, and vertigo
•Fox’s tongue softened in vinegar; applied topically, draws out a thorn or splinter
•Rose petals steeped in vinegar; applied topically for headache
•Chalk; for heartburn
•Calamine; for skin irritations
•Cinchona Bark (contains quinine); for fevers 

Oh, two weeks after I saw my doctor, who prescribed medicine that cured my original problem, I had to see him again for a terrible earache. We looked at the Indian cure that involved lily onions, marsh mallows, oil of violet and, of course, taken with wine. And then, bleeding.

I’ll stick with the antibiotics.

Want to enter for the awesome giveaway? Three lucky people will win. To enter answer the question: What’s in your First Aid Kit? Don't forget to leave your email and to let me know if you are a follower!


The Xanthakos family’s sea voyage from South Carolina to the North Carolina

Outer Banks turns ugly after they pressure their ship’s captain to rescue a pregnant woman thrown overboard from a slave ship.

When the slave contracts smallpox, the captain maroons her, Lilyan and Nicholas and their children, Laurel, Paul, and Marion, on an island.

After Nicholas and Marion leave to seek help, Lilyan and her children and the baby, whom they have named Cassia, are captured by pirates and taken to their island hideout under the command of the vile Captain Galeo (The Shark), but Paul escapes along the way.

Galeo is attracted to Lilyan and orders her and Laurel to dine with him where reveals his plan to make Lilyan his own and auction Laurel to the highest bidder and where he forces them to witness a mock trial and a hanging.

Heartsick to see her child exposed to such evil, Lilyan rekindles her long-dormant courage and forges an escape plan. Meanwhile, Nicholas faces his self-perceived failure to protect his family. He must abandon the life of a vintner and once again call upon the skills he honed as a captain in Francis Marion’s militia.

Together they face the hardest challenge to a parent, watching as life tests the mettle of their highly sheltered and beloved children. Bolstered by their faith, they realize their strength isn’t enough to see them through and that God is in control.

Will the Xanthakos children withstand their trials and learn to be as tough as their parents? Will the family be united and return to their peaceful Blue Ridge Mountain home?


I’ve lived in Columbia, SC, since I was five years old. Forty-five years ago, I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. I’m a history nerd who enjoys researching for my novels, painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on my porch watching the rabbits and geese eat my daylilies.

I recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader.

I write inspirational historical romantic suspense. My Xanthakos Family Trilogy includes my Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, which won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick; its sequel, Laurel, which was released in January 2015; and the third in the trilogy, Cassia, which will be released in September 2015. My publisher is Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). I currently serve on the LPC Heritage Beacon Imprint publication board and work for them as a manuscript editor of historical fiction. My literary agent is Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” I worked with the International Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer's Guide to Horses that can be found at

Where you can find Susan: (personal website) (Historical Fiction a Light in Time) (Colonial Quills) (Stitches Thru Time) (Heroes, Heroines and History) (Goodreads)
@susanfcraft (Twitter)
Link to The Chamomile on Amazon:
Link to Laurel on Amazon:
Link to Cassia on Amazon:

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman ends 9/14

 Welcome Pam Hillman! Pam is giving away a copy of Stealing Jake. Be sure to leave a comment. And don't forget to leave your email. If you follow my blog be sure to mention that for an extra chance to win.

The main character in my latest novel, Stealing Jake, Livy O’Brien, is a former pickpocket and street kid from Chicago. In addition, there’s a whole passel of street kids who’ve ended up on the streets of Chestnut, either run out of Chicago or transported as child labor to the small coal-mining town.
As an avid reader, a fan of Oliver Twist, and the orphan trains of the 1800s, the idea of street kids and sweatshops isn’t foreign to me. But I’ve spoken to some readers who seemed shocked that children lived such lives here in the United States then and now.
How do they don’t know this?
How do they not know that there are people—men, women and children—all over the world still living in abject poverty. No food, no shelter, and no way of finding either?
With this question burning in my mind, I started a quest to figure out how this happens in certain parts of the world, specifically in cities like New York and Chicago in the 1800s.
I discovered a book titled How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. Mr. Riis was a journalist and photographer who set out to document the lives of the tenements in New York City in the late 1800s.
During the industrial revolution, scads of poor flooded the cities looking for work in factories. The work was touted as being easier than the back-breaking labor of share-cropping. As the poor flooded the cities, the rich retreated to their country homes, but many still owned homes, buildings, stables, warehouses, businesses in the cities. Some of those turned those buildings into tenements. Sometimes they sold their properties to unscrupulous landlords, and eventually every conceivable space was converted to housing for the newcomers.
Buildings were extended to take in gardens, streets, and alleyways. When greed overtook common sense, landlords looked up. They added two, three, four, (and on and on) stories without regard to foundations that couldn’t sustain such added weight.
And, then because demand for living space was at such a premium, they charged astronomical prices for tiny attic rooms for whole families. It wasn’t uncommon for fifteen to twenty families to be crammed together in a 50’x60’ stable converted into small living space: 6’x7’ bedrooms. Completely unventilated, without windows.
From such unsanitary, close quarters came cholera, small-pox, drunkenness, drug use, and debauchery, depression, and for some, the will to live.
Eventually, New York City form a Board of Health and started making laws to improve these inhumane conditions. But a generation of living in such squalor had taken its toll. Many tenement dwellers had no place to go and couldn’t afford better accommodations.
“Not until five years after did the department succeed at last in ousting the "cave-dwellers" and closing some five hundred and fifty cellars south of Houston Street, many of them below tide-water, that had been used as living apartments. In many instances the police had to drag the tenants out by force.”
Is it any wonder that groups of children found themselves orphaned, abandoned, and homeless as these tenements burst at the seams? Is it any wonder they were referred to as street rats, urchins, gamines, and “street Arabs”? Tragedy, fires that swept entire wards, left children without parents, and no way to find their next of kin. Charities and churches were overburdened and couldn’t afford to take them all in. And, sadly, some felt like these children deserved the hand they’d been dealt.
This is the kind of life Livy O’Brien came from. Below is the life she made for herself.

STEALING JAKE by Pam Hillman. When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-Fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy―literally while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town―as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off―Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.