Two of my favorite new authors and why I love them

They say it’s important to read best-sellers and study their work to see how they did it. “They” can often miss some great gems in the leasser known authors. As I said before, I read alot. I love stories, I love learning things and when they can be combined in wonderful novels I’m especially blessed. I write historical romance and I reading how other historicla authors create their worlds teaches me things even if the author isn’t on the NYT best seller list. Below are four books I read over the last few months that really resinated with me. One is a series by Naomi Musch and the other is by Denise Weimer. Both excellent historical writers with other wonderful books available.

The Echoes of Heart series takes place in the first part of the twentieth century, a time less written about. Here are hNaomi Musch’s three books and my reviews of them.

Echoes of The Heart Book # 1 The Deepest Sigh by Naomi Musch

Seventeen year old Marilla Eckert has been in love with Langdon Prescott, her family’s hired hand, since she was fourteen years old. Determined to win him, she’s blissfully unaware of the secret passion he feels for her older sister Delia. But when Delia weds a longtime beau, Lang settles for Marilla and marries her anyway, despite his continued longing and intent to someday win her sister away from her husband. It isn’t long before Marilla realizes where Lang’s devotion truly lies, yet she presses on, giving everything she has to offer, convinced she can still gain his love.

Then America steps into the Great War. The men are sent a world away to fight, and Marilla’s cares, coupled with the lack of her husband’s favor, finally wear her thin. When heartache and disaster strike on every front, and Marilla’s hour of need leads her elsewhere for comfort, will all of them wind up too broken to ever find their hearts’ true homes?

My review

The setting is Wisconsin dairy country during the time of World War I. It’s the retelling of the Biblical story of Rachel and Leah, but it’s not. I found myself disliking Langdon Prescott right from the start. But that was good, because when he changes for the better I’m cheering. My heart went out to his longsuffering wife Rilla, who loved him from the moment she first lays eyes on him. This historically accurate, well-crafted story was everything I wanted to see despite a few detours before reaching it’s satisfying ending.

Book #2 The Softest Breath

Modern girls seemed always in a hurry. Now one of them has slammed into Jacob Hessman on the street near St. Paul’s Union Depot and boarded his train. He knows her type: flapper-chic in her bobbed hair and stylish dress, so different from the sweet, country-bred kind of girl who once filled his heart.

Gwendolyn Smith’s narrow window of time to escape Hugh Phelps is closing fast. Performing in speakeasies and underground clubs has left her mistrustful of most men, but the big fellow she plows into on her flight to the station seems safe enough to attach herself to for short-term protection.

Friendship unfolds, but Gwen hides behind lies, wishing she might deserve such a God-fearing man as Jacob, and Jacob’s pursuit of a perfect wife conflicts with his mounting concern for Gwen. Meanwhile, Hugh is catching up. For Jacob and Gwen, trapped in their pasts and misconceptions, the time for truth and love is running out.

My review

Jacob Hessman, the longsuffering friend of Marilla in The Deepest Sigh get his happily ever after. I was fond of Jacob and his desire to always do the right thing. And that conviction presents all sorts of problems when he determines to help the mysterious Gwen Smith. Loved the characters. The prohibition era setting made it so interesting. Naomi Much captures the timeframe and keeps you there through the whole story. I enjoyed the twists and turns the plot takes before the two are truly ready to tie the knot.

 

Book #3 The Brightest Hope

Five years after the Great War…Holly Allen is a well-adjusted war widow with a knack for running the family press. She’s over the days of waiting for a white knight to ride in and sweep her away from her cares. Besides, if Hugh Phelps is a knight, he’s certainly a black one—with his prison record, personal demons, and the ghosts of war that haunt him. When Holly hires Hugh, despite her reservations, it isn’t long before she sees the man he could really be, and as Hugh finds his niche at Allen’s Printing, he finds his lady boss equally appealing. Despite the attraction, however, Holly won’t let herself fall for a faithless man, and Hugh isn’t on gracious terms with God. Then, just when new beginnings seem possible, old heartaches from the war come calling. Now it might only be in letting go of everything dear that they both discover what real love is.

 

My Review

I’ll admit I was surprised when Huge Phelps, the villian, from The Softest Breath becomes the hero in this story. His reformation is not quite complete until he truly learns what sacrificial love is as he finds himself falling for Holly Allen. The surprise in this plot left me saying “oh no!” and turning the pages to see how it would all work out. A satisfying ending not only to this story but the Echoes of the Heart series.

 

Denise Weimer’s The Witness Tree

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother.

Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets.

 

 

My review

Denise Weimer brought the Moravian culture from the early 1800s to life for me. I learned so much about the time period while following the Kleists into the wilderness of Georgia and the Cherokee nation. Wonderful surprises and plot twists. The sprinkling of German and Cherokee words throughout the story added to the realism. Following the struggles of the arranged marriage of John and Clarissa kept me turning the pages. Many actual historical figure mingled into the story added the realism that made this story truly engaging.

My thoughts on Naomi Musch and Denise Weimer

Naomi Musch

Both of these authors captured the time periods beautifully. Showing the culture and the mind set of those from history. I learned a great deal as a lover of history and a writer of Historical Romance. And as a reader getting swept away into another time is absolutely the best experience ever.

Denise Weimer

 

 

Have you discovered any awesome authors that aren’t on the NYT Best-Sellers list that you love?  Share in the comments.

Cowboys, Cattle Drives and Romance

Today, I’m sharing more about the upcoming release of Smitten Historical Romance Novella Collection: The Cowboys, all four novellas feature adventure and fun romance with hunky cowboys. Jennifer Uhlarik, award- winning author and lover of all things western set her novella Being Brave on a cattle drive. It is so exciting and swoon-worthy. Jennifer is sharing her knowledge of all things cattle drive and more about our novella collection.

The Jobs on a Cattle Drive

One of the most enduring and iconic images of the Old West is the cattle drive—where cowboys moved several thousand cattle from Texas to a rail town in Kansas. There, the herd was sold and transported to stockyards in the east. This major undertaking happened yearly after the spring roundup, and typically, several ranches pooled their cattle into one large herd and hired men to drive them north. But what were the specific jobs or positions on a cattle drive?

 

Trail Boss—The head honcho of the outfit. This seasoned cattleman plotted the day’s course, including any breaks, watering holes, and the end-of-day campsite. He was also in charge of keeping track of the brands in the herd. Likewise, the Trail Boss’s job was to make decisions on how to handle injured animals, newborn calves, any strangers they came across along the trail, and mediate any disputes that cropped up among the crew.

 

Point Rider—The Point Man rode out in front of the herd, setting the pace for the day and acting to lead the herd in the direction the Trail Boss had told them to go. The Point Rider became the focal point for the herd, and everyone else followed after him. In larger drives, there might be two Point Riders.

 

Swing Riders—The Swing Riders were situated about one third of the way back in the line of cattle where the herd began to widen out. There would be one Swing Rider on either side of the herd. This position helped keep the herd bunched and also helped the Point Riders turn the herd as needed. The men riding Swing would constantly watch for any animals trying to make a break away from the herd. It was their job to catch them before they got too far away and turn them back in with the main group. If, for any reason, the point rider left his position, a Swing Rider would move up to lead until the Point man returned.

 

Flank Riders—Similar to the Swing Riders, these cowboys rode one on either side of the herd, although about two thirds of the way back. Their main job was to back up the Swing Riders and keep the herd from fanning out across too wide an area.

 

Drag Riders—This was the least desirable position in the cattle drive, often reserved for the greenest cowboys. The Drag Rider rode behind the herd, driving the back end of the herd to stay up with the front and rounding up any stragglers or strays who break free from the tail of the herd. The Drag Riders had the unfortunate daily experience eating the dust that the thousands of cattle in the herd kicked up.

 

Wrangler—The Wrangler was in charge of the remuda (or horse herd). An average cattle drive would require some 100 or more horses to keep the cowboys mounted and moving each day. The Wrangler’s job was to drive the horse herd along the day’s course, doctor any sick or injured mounts, as well as help with camp chores, such as collecting fuel for the fire, washing dishes after the meal, and the like.

 

Cook—The cook’s job was to provide the food for the crew each day. He rose hours early to prepare breakfast, then arrived at the evening campsite before the herd to start dinner preparations. In addition, he would cut the crew’s hair, act as a banker, help the Trail Boss mediate disputes, and most importantly, act as doctor for any health issues with the cowboys.

 

Average pay for those on the cattle drive were as follows: the Trail boss earned roughly $100-$120/month. The cook could count on about $60/month. And a typical drover (any of the other positions) would earn roughly $40/month. All were paid at the end of the trail after the herd was sold.

Coy Whitaker the hero of Being Brave.

This photo inspired the character of Aimee Kaplan

It was a load of fun to write about a cattle drive in my latest release, Becoming Brave, one of the four novellas in The Cowboys novella collection. In the story, cowboy Coy Whittaker stumbles across the lone survivor of a terrible attack, Aimee Kaplan, while moving his boss’s cattle through Indian Territory to Kansas. He and the crew band together to get Aimee to safety while defending against the outlaw gang who killed her family. In addition to my story are three other wonderful novellas by award-winning authors Cindy Ervin Huff (our host today!), Sandra Merville Hart, and Linda Yezak. Hope you’ll take a few hours to read these fun romances!

 

 

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

 

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Cowboys-Jennifer-Uhlarik/dp/194601690X

 

Cover Blurb:

The Cowboys

Taming the west—one heart at a time.

Healing Hearts by Cindy Ervin Huff
Lonnie Holt’s external scars remind him of his failures, his internal scars torment him. Genny Collins seeks safety at the ranch once owned by Lonnie’s uncle. When Lonnie and his brother arrive, sparks fly and distrust abounds. While Lonnie and Genny fight the love growing between them, his past haunts him, and her past pays them a visit.

Becoming Brave by Jennifer Uhlarik
When Coy Whittaker stumbles upon a grisly scene littered with bodies, he wants nothing more than to get his boss’s cattle out of Indian Territory. But when a bloodstained Aimee Kaplan draws down on him, his plans—and his heart—screech to a halt.

Trail’s End by Sandra Merville Hart
Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.

Loving a Harvey Girl by Linda Yezak
Eva Knowles can’t imagine why the local preacher doesn’t like Harvey Girls—women who work serving tables instead of finding a husband and falling in love. But if Eva can get the handsome and wayward cowboy Cal Stephens to join her in church, maybe the reverend will accept the girls. Or maybe she’ll forfeit her job for a husband, hearth, and home!

Next week we’ll hear from Sandra Melville Hart and Linda W. Yezak as they share some historical tidbits about their stories. If you missed it here’s the link to my post about Healing Hearts, my novella in this collection. And don’t forget if you post below regarding your favorite cowboy you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.

 

A Visit with Novelist Janet Grunst

Today, I welcome Janet Grunst, another Jubilee Writer whose journey to publication was as long and full of life’s unexpected twists as my own. It’s a delight to have her join me today.

Janet S. Grunst 2

Share your journey with us.

In the early 80’s I wrote human interest columns for two local newspapers which got me interested in the vocation of writing. But I had a story that was germinating in my head and wondered if I could try my hand at writing stories.

I began reading books, writing fiction and asked God if that was the call I sensed He was giving me. With two very active preschool sons at home I needed to know it was His will and that He would make a way.

The Lord’s confirmation came through loud and strong and over the next year He provided the time for me to study the craft and research the historical era of the story.  I’m certain He helped me weave the tale. Then I studied how to market a manuscript to Christian publishers in an era when one didn’t need an agent. I submitted it unsuccessfully for several years.

I had to put the writing and searching for a publisher pursuit aside when life necessitated my getting full time employment to raise my sons on my own.

Many years passed, my children were grown, and my circumstances changed, including re-marriage. My husband read the story I’d written so many years before and encouraged me to once again try to get it published and continue to write.

So much had changed in the writing and publishing world in the intervening years. Lots of studying and editing ensued. I needed and found an agent who saw promise in the story and wanted to represent me. The advent of e-books, the need to have a platform, an online presence via blogging, websites, and social media required a lot of research, studying and developing a multitude of new skills.

Tell my readers, about your latest published project.

That original story, written so many years ago, was my debut novel published in December of 2016 ~ A Heart Set Free. I’m humbled and thrilled that it just won the Selah Award for Historical Romance in May.Other Cover A H S F - Copy(1)

Congratulations, Janet.

What kind of research did you do for A Heart Set Free?

When I started the story, it was in the era before the internet so I did a lot of research through libraries and reading everything I could get my hands on. I also visited an actual 18th century farm that was still operational not too many miles from my home. Since then, most of my research is via the internet or books.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

There are so many I love. Probably John 1:12 holds the most meaning.  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” This verse truly spoke to me when my faith in Christ changed from believing in Him to also receiving Him and allowing Him to be Lord of my life. My faith traveled those critical 18 inches from my head to my heart.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

I would tell myself to not fear writing because I couldn’t make a living at it. Do it as an avocation and see where it takes you.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing? 

My husband, Ken, is such an encourager and will read anything I write. He is a luthier (builds guitars) so he understands that pursuing one’s vocation often means many hours of isolation on a regular basis.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Historical fiction. 😊But I also enjoy biographies, devotionals, and other fiction as well as non-fiction.

Where is your favorite place to write? 

My desksigning my first book contract(1)

 

Here’s the back-cover blurb for A Heart Set Free

In 1770, Heather Douglas is desperate to escape a brewing scandal in her native Scotland. Penniless and hoping for a fresh start far away, she signs a seven-year indenture and boards a British merchant vessel headed to Virginia.

Widowed planter Matthew Stewart needs someone to help raise his two young children. The tall blonde standing on the Alexandria quay doesn’t look like much after her harrowing sea voyage, but there’s a refinement about her that her filthy clothing cannot hide. Could God be leading him to take this unknown indentured servant as his wife?

When Matthew purchases Heather’s indenture, marries her, and takes her to his farm, she is faced with new and constant challenges. And Matthew wonders if they can ever bridge their differences and make a life together.

It is in the Virginia countryside that Heather begins her greatest journey, one of self-discovery and of maturing faith. Here, she discovers that her emotional and spiritual scars bind her far more than her indenture . . .

and love will finally set her heart free.

Author Bio

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight. She lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that can communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, and bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.  She is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency

Connect with Janet Grunst:

http://JanetGrunst.com                                                                                               http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/                                                                                       https://www.facebook.com/Janet-Grunst-Author-385405948228216/

Order A Heart Set Free at the link below

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Set-Free-Janet-Grunst-ebook/dp/B01MQK0SXR/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480454877&sr=1-2&keywords=A+Heart+Set+Free

There are more Author interviews coming this year. If you enjoy these inspirational stories and getting the scoop on new releases please subscribe before you leave this page. 🙂

 

 

An Interview with Jake Marcum Hero of Secrets and Charades

s-c-jakes-quoteSecrets and Charades has a very interesting hero. Jake Marcum, rancher, Civil War veteran and doting uncle. I corralled him long enough to do this interview.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Well, ma’am, Evangeline insisted it was my turn. Not so sure how interesting I’ll be but go ahead and ask your questions.

Tell us a bit about your childhood.

I had two brothers and a sister. Our family headed west when my Pa got gold fever in ‘49. Our wagon broke down near Ben Mitchell’s place. He talked sense into Pa and taught him all he knew about ranching. Our small spread adjoined Ben’s property.

What happened to your family?

My sister run off with some no count drummer. That’s a traveling salesman. Then Clevis went back to Kentucky to attend college. He wanted to be a lawyer. I’d rather ranch. When the conflict broke out Clevis planned to join the Confederate Army. Pa sent me to Kentucky to bring him home. My older brother persuaded me to join the cause instead. He died six months later. My little brother Robert died from an injury falling off his horse. My Ma had died before I went to get Clevis and Pa died while I was away.

herd of horses

photo by morguefile.com

What was it like when you returned from the war?

Tougher than the battlefield. There was this gal, Nora. I thought we had an understanding. While I was gone, she’d married my brother and expecting their child.   Well, I ain’t proud of my action at the time. Nightmares from the war made me unfit to be around. Ben Mitchell invited me to join his outfit. He helped me dry out and introduced me to the Lord. He’d lost both his sons in the war so he kinda adopted me. I inherited his ranch when he passed. A year later Nora died in childbirth. They buried her newborn son with her. My brother and I were working out our differences when he died. My niece, Juliet come to live with me. She was six. Having her in my life helped heal the rift between Robert and me.

After your conversion, did you still have nightmares?

Sure. God changed me and helped me be a better man. But when the responsibilities of running this spread make me lose sleep—the nightmares come. And worrying about Evangeline coming gave me a few doozies. I still have them. Not as often. I reckon it’s a cross I must bear.

What challenges did you encounter taking over a ranch the size of the Double M?

Yeah. The neighbors looked at me as a gold-digger. But  I think you mention it in your book. Anyway,  Ben was a real Duke or something back in England. He called the ranch the Royal M. I think his surname was something different before he came to America. Anyway, the Double M stands for Mitchell and Marcum.  Several of Ben’s crew have stayed on with me over the years. Cookie Slade was Ben’s old foreman before he got gored by a steer. He stays on helping where he can. Don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s the one who encouraged me to take in Juliet and get me a mail-order bride.Brides71

What were you looking for in a bride?

Let just say, I think God was laughing when I made my request. He knew the kind of wife I needed even if I didn’t.

What was your biggest challenge before Evangeline came into your life?

There were two. Too few cowboys to run the ranch.  My wealthy neighbor kept stealing my men by offering them huge wages. The loyal ones stay. Sides they don’t like that Farley character much. He thinks he’s King of the county.

The second, I had to juggle teaching Juliet to read and cipher around chores. So, her education was sketchy. I felt like I’d betrayed my sister-in-law when I saw how much of a tomboy Juliet was becoming. Nora wanted her daughter to be the bell of the ball, not a ranch hand. So, finding an educated wife to teach my niece was my number priority.

Thanks so much for spending time with my readers.

My pleasure, ma’am.

If you missed my interview with Evangeline, the heroine of Secrets and Charades click here.

Jake and Evangeline’s story Secrets and Charades is available for preorder on Amazon.

secret-charades-front-cover