A Writer’s Garden–Sally Brandle’s Overgrown Oasis Garden


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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

Today’s guest is Sally Brandle. She’ll be talking about the overgrown oasis she calls her garden.

Welcome, Sally.


Sunrise comes to the bottom of Sally’s garden

The best garden plants are those with stories. Many of my flowers are tender reminders of loved ones who have passed—whether they gave me the starts, or enjoyed sitting beside them on a shady patio.

A flat half-acre provides a palette. A sloped half-acre provides complications, back aches, and an attitude adjustment of perfection. Eight years ago I toted seventy or eighty wheel barrow loads of plants, slate, and stones from a home we’d lived in for fourteen years, to the new abode five houses away. We gained lakefront, and downsized by half. I write with a view of the top terrace of flowers and vegetables, trees, and lake—an inspiring and calming landscape. Bees and hummingbirds flit during summertime. Year round we enjoy bald eagles, cormorants, osprey, and countless birds. Neighbors on either side prefer manicured grass, we enjoy watching our feathered friends feast on seeds from the overgrown oasis I call my garden.






The four photos above present ground covers which mind their manners. Top left is Oxalis redwood sorrel, top right low orange ground cover. Bottom left is creeping thyme, bottom right Lilly of the Valley.  I’ve waved a thankful farewell to homes with invasive plants: lemon balm, veronica, and the dreaded snow on the mountain. The aggressive battle continues on the below specimens. Left: Vinca minor, right two other aggressive plants.






This bush below blooms in time for Easter.

This plot of ground wore me out. At present, I hire a helper to do a big pruning/weeding session in the spring. None of my family picked up the gardening genes I received from my mom and grandfather. The next best thing was to create a character who provides plants to downtown Seattle skyscrapers for a living. Greenery became her ally in The Hitman’s Mistake.

I hope all your gardening projects provide joy and a sense of accomplishment. A master gardener visiting once told me, “A little bit of grass is okay, relax and enjoy the beautiful flowers.”


About the Writer/Gardener:

Multiple award-winning author Sally Brandle writes clean, contemporary, romantic suspense stories hoping to empower her readers to connect with their inner gifts.

Growing up in a tightly knit, multi-generational community, Sally’s core values reflect those of the village where she was raised.

When she gets time away from her functional engineer husband and spirited sons, Sally hunkers down in her office. Her trusty Aussie, Tallulah, waits patiently at her feet for belly rubs as adventures unfold. For a head-clearing ride in fresh air, Sally saddles her Quarter Horse, Lance, and trots along wooded trails in the Pacific Northwest.

Sally holds a BA in Special Education from MSU and a Fine Arts Minor. She left a career as an industrial baking instructor so she could bring to life her stories of courageous women supporting one another, while they discover men who deserve their love. A member of Romance Writers of America, Greater Seattle RWA, Eastside RWA, and She Writes, Sally’s current series, Love Thrives in Emma Springs, is set in rural Montana. The first story, The Hitman’s Revenge, will be released by Soul Mate Publishing. Her newest series is Double Vision, romance with a scientific twist.

Warning: While there are no intimate scenes, Sally’s stories do contain sensual elements, mild swear words.

The Hitman’s Mistake

By Sally Brandle

She needs his trust. After Miranda Whitley stops crooked cops from assassinating a prominent Seattle judge, she’s next on the hit list, and her survival depends on the man she’s had one awkward encounter with—buff FBI Agent, Grant Morley. But can she find him in time?

He needs the truth. The last person Grant expects to discover on his annual horseback trip delivering supplies to a Montana mountain hermit is alluring Miranda Whitley, nearly dead from a bullet wound in her side. An accidental witness or the cold-blooded accomplice to would-be assassins?

Miranda must convince Grant of her innocence, evade the killers intent on preventing her testimony, and fight her unwanted attraction for the agent…an attraction which seems to be mutual. Fortunately, love thrives in Emma Springs. If you love sizzling chemistry, determined assassins, and Montana scenery, then you’ll love Sally Brandle’s galloping thriller.

The Hitman’s Mistake, a clean romantic suspense novel, will release on June 27th from Soul Mate Publishing. You can order the book at Amazon

Visit http://www.sallybrandle.com/ for a chance to receive the epilogue and a free novella





Wednesday Writers–A Home for Fritz by June Foster


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Welcome to Wednesday Writers. My guest today is June Foster, and after reading her post, I have to admit I’m a bit envious. A summer spent in an RV park in Wyoming sounds lovely. I’ve always wanted to see the west and live in a RV. June got a bonus—a story idea with built in research. What better gift could a writer have? Welcome, June!


Research on a Dude Ranch

By June Foster

Last summer, my husband and I worked at a wonderful RV park in Shell, Wyoming, at the base of the Big Horn Mountains.

lawn at the RV park


The owners of the park had a precious golden doodle named Fritz.

About that time, my editor gave a “callout” for stories in which the hero and heroine met because of a dog. Not more than a few miles from the RV park, an elegant dude ranch, the Hideout, offered a horse-riding experience for guests who could afford the high cost. Thus the perfect ingredients for a story.


I interviewed wranglers, toured the entire property, and talked to local ranchers, as well as snapping photos the surrounding area.


Thus A Home for Fritz was born.




A Home for Fritz

by June Foster

All Brooke Cantrell wants is two weeks to live a Cinderella life at Sunlight Peaks Guest Ranch. When she falls in love with a handsome wrangler, will he discover the truth?

Garrett Bowman has finally found peace under Wyoming skies. Never again will he return to corporate life in Seattle. But will the guests recognize him from the incriminating newspaper and magazine articles eighteen months ago?

When Garrett’s dog, Fritz, is in grave danger, an intriguing guest helps him rescue his pup. As Fritz heals, he whines until he can lay his head in Brooke’s comfortable lap. Fritz has fallen in love, but so has Garrett.

If Garrett discovers Brook’s secret, will he walk away from her?

If Brooke learns Garrett’s true identify, will she turn from him like all the others?


I hope you enjoy the real life pictures of what I saw as I did research for the project.


I loved June’s pictures, especially the one with the mountain in the background. If you’d like to read more about A Home for Fritz you can find the book here.


About the Author:

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. Her characters find themselves in tough situations but overcome through God’s power and the Word. She writes edgy topics wrapped in a good story. To date, she’s seen seventeen contemporary romances and several short stories published. Find June online at junefoster.com


Tuesday Wedding Tales–The Handyman’s Heart by Katie Clark


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Welcome to the Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series, where wedding-themed stories are the fare.

 Today’s guest is Katie Clark and she’ll be talking about her book Securing the Handyman’s Heart. Welcome, Katie!


The Story Behind The Story:

Securing the Handyman’s Heart

One morning I woke up from a dream, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The dream was about a girl, and she had a boyfriend whom she had been with for years. Yet, they weren’t married. In my dream, she was so frustrated with him because he hadn’t ever proposed.

I kept thinking of this gal, and how this scenario happens all the time. I kept thinking of romance stories, and how much we all love them—yet, a lot of times in life things just don’t work that way. I started thinking how, in spite of our lives not following a set pattern, they’re no less special and romantic and fantastic.

My mind went to work from there, and I began putting together elements of Securing the Handyman’s Heart. I thought it would be fun to get to push the hero into finally making a decision (hee hee!). And I wanted to showcase that life is special regardless of the path it takes.

I like how Securing the Handyman’s Heart isn’t the typical “head over heels” romance (though there’s definitely lots of romance!), because sometimes in real life things just don’t work that way. We don’t always get our happy endings exactly the way we’d thought they would happen, you know?



Local cupcake queen Kayla Dobbs is feeling the heat—just as her bakery is finally taking off, her retired parents start pressuring her to move to Florida. Determined to prove her success, she takes on extra work at the bakery and fibs a little about the depth of her love life. When her mother announces an upcoming visit to meet the lucky guy, Kayla makes a pact with her friends to get a proposal from George Marks, town handyman extraordinaire. The problem is, George seems totally indifferent.

George Marks has enough on his plate with running his business, taking care of an ailing but feisty grandmother, and the possibility of a new business venture on the horizon. But when bumping into Kayla becomes a strangely routine thing, he’s surprised to realize it has also become the highlight of his days. As business spirals out of control and Granny takes a turn for the worse, he’s sure he made one too many commitments.

With a dash of matchmaking granny and a pinch of secret cupcake recipe, Kayla and George find themselves in one messy kitchen. But will they find themselves in love?


Kayla Dobbs studied the handyman leaning into her commercial oven. “Can you fix it?” she asked. The stupid thing wouldn’t come on this morning when she’d arrived at 4:00 a.m.

George jiggled a few pieces back into place, grunted, and hauled all six-foot two of himself out of his crouched position. His white T-shirt was slightly too small—not that she was noticing—and his brown hair now hung slightly down his forehead. He brushed it aside before answering. “Heating element’s bad. I have one in the truck.”

“You just happen to have one on hand?” She eyed him, suspicious. She’d hoped to score a few hours with George out of this broken oven mess. An emergency fix was the only time she got to see him, and she did like seeing him.

He shrugged one shoulder. “I figured what it was when you called, so I stopped by the warehouse before I came.” He wiped his hands on a towel and tossed it into her sink.

Kayla sighed and leaned against the counter as he strode outside to his truck.

The broken oven was an inconvenience—she’d had to bake all of her goodies for the bakery this morning in a single oven, which had taken twice as long—but she’d been excited to see George. It’d been two months since they’d last gone out, though they’d gone on a handful of dates over the last few years. She liked his easy smile and bright green eyes, the warmth of his hand holding hers, and even his smell—sawdust and glue. He obviously didn’t return the sentiments, or he would have asked her out again.

George returned, his dark hair shimmering with sweat. “It’s a hundred degrees out there.”

“Hot summer,” Kayla said. She leaned her elbows on the counter, facing him as he worked. “So, what have you been up to?”

“Mostly work.” He leaned into the oven again.

Kayla waited for more, but it didn’t come. “Don’t you ever take a break?”

“Not lately.”

She bit her lip, racking her brain for something to say. It shouldn’t be this hard to talk to him. Seriously. They’d known each other for three years, ever since George had installed the very first ovens in The Cupcakery. Conversation should be easy by now.

“I have a big order tonight, so I’m glad you could get to this so fast.” And she was. Baking everything in one oven for tonight would have been a nightmare. The kitchen of The Cupcakery was large and airy. It was perfect, really, but working with one oven when you were making a few hundred cupcakes was no easy task.

He pulled his head out of the oven long enough to grin at her. “I had to postpone some jobs, but it was worth it.”

Warmth crept through her belly. Maybe he wasn’t totally indifferent.

Want to read more? *Buy it now on Amazon


About the Author:

KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes inspirational romance as well as young adult speculative fiction, including her YA supernatural novel, Shadowed Eden, as well as The Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


A Writer’s Garden–The Mystery of the Broken Birdbaths by Kathy Bryson


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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

Today’s guest is author Kathy Bryson and she has a garden mystery to share. Welcome, Kathy!



The Mystery of the Broken Birdbaths

By Kathy Bryson

Last year, I moved from Florida to Texas, giving up my garden for a new job and a cozy townhome in the Piney Woods. By the end of my first semester, I knew I’d make a mistake. Those stairs were killing me!

So after much house-hunting, I settled into a single story patio home and immediately returned to gardening. There’s just something about being able to dig in the dirt, even if it is with the excuse of ‘settling in.’ But one thing puzzled me. Who owned this house and why did she have so many broken birdbaths?

I know the owner was a woman and she had very nice taste. She had a lovely home, all cream carpets and walls, and she left behind a closet of high-end clothes from Dillard’s that the mother of a friend immediately claimed for church. She also left a number of landscapes on the walls and a shelf full of biographies, including ones on Hillary Clinton and Ann Richards. I imagine that she was an older woman with a love of travel, well-educated and refined, but the garden tells another tale.

The flower beds, both front and back, are lush with Mondo grass borders. This is a nicely contained decorative grass that isn’t an aggressive spreader and in the front, even manages to keep the St. Augustine grass at bay. But in the back, someone also added Monrovia or maiden grass that spread everywhere! Fortunately it comes up easily because I will be weeding it till kingdom come.

The grass had a lot to grow in which leads me to believe that the former owner was not a hands-on gardener. Mulch is piled 4 inches high on top of earth mounded to the top of the beds. A couple of bags were left lying unopened under some eucalyptus bushes that were starting to crowd the gutters. The myrtle trees were ringed with foot-high sprouts, and the flower beds to the side of the house have rocks on top of mulch on top of sand. Whoever worked that patio just followed directions.

There was also a profusion of broken bird baths – four of them, two without basins. And an abundance of statuary – painted rocks, owls, rabbits, St. Francis, a couple of tikis, and a stone garden bench – all different styles and none of them matching the elegant interior of the house.

Where did all this junk come from? Why would a lady of apparently cosmopolitan taste have such a mishmash of concrete? Did she have a secret liking for kitsch? Did she moonlight for the Mafia? Or is my imagination just running away with me again?

A coworker suggested that the birdbaths were probably gifts that multiplied after the lady happened to mention she’d like one. One basin became a gift to a student who used it to hold succulents at his wedding; another I kept. The rest are headed to Habitat for Humanity along with the bench. But as it turns out, one reason those bushes might not have been trimmed is there are cardinals nesting in them.

If anything, I’ll need to fill in the bare spots in the gardens. Can’t wait!

About the Gardener/Writer

When not speculating wildly about her neighbors, Kathy Bryson runs a college writing center in East Texas. She’d like to say she’s climbed tall mountains, rappelled off cliffs, and saved small children, but actually she tends to curl up and read, is a life-long advocate of Ben & Jerry’s, and caters to 2 spoiled cats.  She can claim several awards for a series of leprechaun romances and to have saved a few term papers.

You can find Kathy online at https://kathybrysonbooks.com/ and her books on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Kathy-Bryson/e/B00DHIJ922/


Wednesday Writers–Ancient Treasures with Gail Kittleson


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Welcome to Wednesday Writers!

Today I’m hosting Gail Kittleson on Wednesday Writers. Gail is a historical romance author, who writes about WWII. Her Women of the Heartland, World War II series, highlights women of The Greatest Generation. Today she’s taking us on a side trip to talk about the first English woman to write a book. You’ll want keep reading, because it’s not who you think it is. Welcome, Gail!



Ancient Treasures

By Gail Kittleson

Preparing for a recent fortieth anniversary trip to England, I re-discovered Julian of Norwich, who died in 1417. Before that, if you’d asked me to name the first English woman who wrote a book, I might have said Jane Austen. But long before Jane left her mark, Julian of Norwich left hers.

Julian became well known in England, and people flocked to her cell for spiritual advice. She was called “Renewer of the Church.” Her meditations, The Revelations of Divine Love, set forth eternal, all-embracing divine love.

Well known in England during this era of widespread epidemics, people looked to Julian for reassurance. Many monks taught that disease signified God’s angry punishment, while Julian wrote of a loving, even motherly God intent on creation’s good.

She viewed the Creator of all with a tiny object in his hand, like a small brown nut, so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it even held together. The nut stood for the entire created universe, yet Julian heard this message with her vision: “God made it, God loves it, and God keeps it.”

She wrestled with the difficult moral decisions humans face. Sometimes we feel that no matter what, we act from impure motives, and can defend no decision. Finally, Julian concluded: “It is enough to be sure of the deed. Our courteous Lord will deign to redeem the motive.”

 I’d guess the monks of Julian’s day weren’t exactly delighted with her theology—human nature conjures images of the Divine patterned after our own shortcomings. Negativity surely fits that label, as does a tendency to feel hopelessly incapable of acting with wisdom in this world.

 As writers, we can certainly identify. But common people resonated to Julian’s perspective from the cell where she confined herself after undergoing a burial rite to signify her death to this world.

How wonderful to come to a point where with her, we say, “It is enough to do something (i.e., to write), led by my best instincts and thinking process. If I err, I fall upon the courtesy of our Lord.”

About the Author:

Gail taught college writing before becoming a late-blooming novelist, and now has four published novels celebrating WWII women, and a memoir.

When Gail’s not steeped in research, drafting scenes, or editing, she facilitates writing workshops and retreats in Iowa and Arizona, where winters find her enjoying the gorgeous Mogollon Rim. Favorites: grandchildren, exploring WWII sites with her husband, walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.

You can find Gail’s books on Amazon

You can connect with Gail at



www.twitter.com/GailGkittleson @GailGkittleson






A Writer’s Garden–Environmental Rewards–Milkweed Plants by Emma J. Lane


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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

Today’s guest is Emma J. Lane, who will be talking about weeds—and their place in our gardens.


Environmental Rewards—Milkweed plants

By Emma J. Lane

Plant Study of Milkweed Asclepias syriaca by Barbara Schuster 2003 Practitioner Training Attendee

A customer of our small plant nursery was wringing her hands over the wild bunnies munching her precious perennials. I had recommended to her several plants bound to repel those hungry cotton-tails, but to no avail. It was a mystery until I rode through her neighborhood of perfectly groomed lawns. Some sort of weed and feed had been liberally applied to the entire block. Deep emerald squares displayed throughout. Poor rabbits had no choice but to nibble her precious perennials. Not even their favorite food, actually.

milkweed in Emma’s yard

Every building lot presents owners a mini-environment in which to create the best interest of the current residents. At my house, I frequently reminded my better half, I was in the business of raising children, not grass, nor a perfect lawn. Dandelions, wild daisies, clover, and milkweed (horseshoe pits, badminton nets, fire pits, etc.) were all welcome and appreciated. Our yard was a playground for children, coincidentally welcome to available wildlife as well. Deer, rabbits, woodchucks, coyotes, fox, chipmunks, skunks, (ugh), etc have all visited at one time or another.

life cycle of a Monarch Butterfly

My present goal is to aid in the preservation and rebirth of abundant Monarch butterflies by trying to preserve their favorite and only food, milkweed. Research assures me there are many available varieties of this precious plant whose leaves feed the small green, yellow, and black Monarch caterpillar. Milkweed grows wild in the Northeast, has prominent leaves, tall stems, and highly fragrant blossoms. It also secretes a bitter milky substance that may irritate the skin, so not a favorite cut flower. A couple of varieties: swamp and regular are easily recognized in roadside colonies. The bitter sap of the leaves is repugnant to prey, consequently the caterpillar and butterfly protected as well. Many catalogs have available seeds. Check your local nurseries for plants. Shelter a milkweed plant; save a Monarch butterfly and enhance your personal corner of the world.


About the Gardener/Writer:

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery.

Emma writes under Emma J. Lane: Historical Regency novels. aka Janis Lane: Contemporary Cozy Mysteries.

Visit her at her website https://emmajlane.com/




A Writer’s Garden–My “Rose Garden” by Bonnie Engstrom


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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

Today’s guest is Bonnie Engstrom. Roses inspire her, especially the Candy Cane rose. I’ll let her tell you the story of how a rose inspired her. Welcome, Bonnie

Candy Cane Rose

My “Rose Garden.”

Yes, it’s in quotation marks because I can’t exactly call it a garden. It’s more of a fitting in with the community status quo. I’m not exactly trying to keep up with the neighbors with my roses – not a chance. But, they have inspired me.

When we moved from California twelve years ago, I left one small elegant rose bush in my back yard. The mother of one of my daughter’s high school friends gave it to me as a thank you for something I did for her daughter. It bloomed in spite of my neglect.

Our current home next to our neighbor Harriet’s is intimidating. Her roses are glorious. Judith across the way had beautiful ones, too. I was jealous. I learned later that Judith had a rose expert come weekly to pamper hers. Harriet did her own rose pampering. She agreed to accompany me to the most well-known nursery in Phoenix to help me choose some bushes. She gave excellent advice.

As part of my new infatuation I wrote a story based on Candy Cane roses. But, just writing about them wouldn’t do. I found a Candy Cane rose bush at our local Home Depot. Much smaller than the already planted and flourishing bushes, it does produce blooms striped with red, but not as large as the yellow, white, pink and my favorite magenta ones. I just googled magenta – what fun! It says, “Magenta is the color of the non-conformist, the free spirit. It pushes you to take responsibility for creating your own path in life and increases dream activity while assisting you in turning your ambitions and desires into reality.” Wow! I hope that’s me.

The idea of the Candy Cane roses inspired me. In the first book in my Candy Cane Girls Series, Noelle’s Christmas Wedding, the hero, Braydon, is a rose expert. He gives a presentation to her mother’s Newport Beach garden club and offers to plant a rose bush for her. Noelle gets to help while listening to Braydon whisper Scripture. She learns he is the rose expert for the famous Sherman Foundation Gardens in Corona del Mar, California. He takes her on a garden tour and proposes. Well, not there, but in a Santa suit. Can you guess where they marry?

Sadly, I am not much of a gardener. My only success was strawberries in one of those special pots where you can’t go wrong. Not even the easy to grow tomatoes survived, nor the basil. Although, it lasted long enough for me to use it in spaghetti sauce once. I depend on the weekly gardening service to prune and feed my rose bushes. I do have beautiful roses . . . occasionally. When I do, I often take one to my daughter at her work. But, I hate those thorns!

I wish Braydon was real and could jump right out of my story to tend to the roses, at least the Candy Cane ones.


About the Gardener/Writer

Bonnie is a long time member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Pro member of Romance Writers of America.

Visit Bonnie’s website http://www.bonnieengstrom.com/ to see all the grandkids and sign up for her newsletter Life On The Lake.

She loves to hear from readers, so be sure to email her at bengstrom@hotmail.com with BOOK in the subject line.

You can see her books and the collections she is in at http://amzn.to/2CVT8Mc. All her books are available on Amazon.


Noelle’s Christmas Wedding

By Bonnie Engstrom


Noelle Day finally has the courage to break off her ill-fated engagement with her volatile fiancé and cancel their Christmas wedding. It’s embarrassing, and she has to share the humiliating reason with her friends The Candy Canes. The other five girls were to be her attendants in red taffeta gowns.

When she faints and falls into the arms of Braydon Lovejoy, the now former wedding florist, Braydon is confused by her abrupt manner. Who is this beautiful woman with the sepia hair and the huge brown eyes? Is she a damsel in distress as he suspects? He prays for an opportunity to find out.

Then he backs his delivery van into her precious red car, and he’s sure she would never go out with him, especially since he was hired to deliver a huge bouquet of roses to her from a secret admirer.

Noelle isn’t sure how to respond when Bruce, the school principal, physically forces himself on her. After all, he is her boss, and she’s just a first year English teacher.
She finally accepts a lunch date with Braydon, and he takes her to Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar where she learns he is the local rose expert. But, Noelle worries their friendship is happening too fast and calls a respite.

One of the Candy Canes has a tragic accident, and the women bond together. But Braydon, who is not sure why he is involved, becomes their anchor.

Will Braydon’s prayers heal the hurts, physically and emotionally? Will the injured Candy Cane forgive the woman who caused her accident, the woman who is related to Bruce the principal?

Will Noelle ever have her California Candy Cane Christmas?

Wednesday Writers—Love’s Harvest: Adventures in Research by Linda Shenton Matchett


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Today’s guest on Wednesday Writers is Linda Shenton Matchett, author of the historical romance Love’s Harvest. Linda will be talking about the research required to write this book. I think you’ll find it interesting—I know I did. Welcome, Linda!






Love’s Harvest: Adventures in Research


I’m of an age that when I was in school research was conducted with encyclopedias and trips to the library to question the reference librarian and search among the shelves for sources. Now I use the internet where I can check my library’s “card catalog” online, send an email to anyone in the world with my questions, look at maps and photos, watch YouTube interviews (thanks to oral history projects, these a great resource for primary source material), access museum and university information, read archived newspapers, and chase any number of rabbits.

You heard me…chase rabbits. That’s the blessing and the curse of using the internet for doing research. As mentioned, the blessing is the plethora of information available. The curse is the ability to follow link after link after link…! Eventually, a writer needs to stop researching and put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard)!

My novella, Love’s Harvest is a retelling of the biblical book of Ruth set between 1923 and 1946. In order to “translate” the story to the new time period, quite a bit of research was necessary. In Ruth, there is a famine that sends the family to Moab, the loss of Naomi’s husband and sons, Ruth’s rights to glean the fields after she and Naomi return to Israel, marriage laws and customs, and several incidents that shed light on Ruth’s and Boaz’s character.

Let the adventure begin!

Because I wanted to set the majority of the book in England during WWII, I had to find a famine that occurred twenty or so years prior to that time. Figuring that I’d be looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack because “famines don’t happen anymore,” I was stunned to find numerous incidents during which large segments of a population faced crop failure, drought, and hunger. The event that fit with my story was the 1921-23 famine that nearly devastated the Volga River area of Russia.

Research about the region told me about Catherine the Great’s efforts to colonize Russia by inviting Europeans to immigrate and become Russian citizens but keep their language and culture. A large number of Germans took her up on the offer. That fact allowed me to make the Ruth character German which would give me the tension I needed when I sent her and the Naomi character home to England.

One link I followed helped me discover that many of these Volga Russian-Germans immigrated to Kansas, the Dakotas, and California during the 19th and early 20th century. During the famine years, these people set up the American Volga Relief Society to collect and send relief and supplies to the Volga region. I was able to weave this information in the story.

Further research allowed me to find wedding customs, the British Women’s Land Army, Lord Woolton and his Ministry of Food, and the craft of basket weaving. I was surprised that it took me about two months to conduct all my research. Are you?


Love’s Harvest

By Linda Shenton Matchett

Noreen Hirsch loses everything including her husband and two sons. Then her adopted country goes to war with her homeland. Has God abandoned her?

Rosa Hirsch barely adjusts to being a bride before she is widowed. She gives up her citizenship to accompany her mother-in-law to her home country. Can Rosa find acceptance among strangers who hate her belligerent nation?

Basil Quincey is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but loneliness stalks him. Can he find a woman who loves him and not his money?

Three people. One God who can raise hope from the ashes of despair.


Book Excerpt:

Volga Region, Russia, 1923

Noreen yanked the zipper closed on her over-stuffed canvas satchel. Always resourceful, Edmund had attached straps to the moss-green bag so she could wear it on her back. She would also carry a suitcase in each hand. The journey promised to be arduous.

Sighing, she wiped a weary hand across her dry eyes. Even if she had any tears remaining, crying was useless. It would not make their situation less dire.

Muted voices and the occasional bump filtered through the ceiling from the boys’ bedroom above. Noreen shivered and hunched into her threadbare, ruby-red sweater. An impulse purchase made during her honeymoon, the garment held more memories than warmth. Edmund insisted it brought out the roses in her cheeks.

She tossed the bulging satchel to the floor and turned her attention to the yawning luggage on the bed. Two steel pots and a fry pan nestled in the bottom of one boxy, brown suitcase between faded blue towels that had been a belated wedding present from her mother and father.

Hopefully, Edmund would find somewhere they could live in his home country with enough food to actually cook. Here, along the Volga River in Russia, the crops had failed again, and the famine was entering its second year. The decision whether to eat or plant their seed wheat had caused many families to die of starvation.

Shuffling footsteps sounded behind her. She turned as Edmund enveloped her in his arms. Nestling against his too-thin chest, she breathed in his musky scent. He bent and kissed her forehead, his black beard scraping her skin.

“You work too hard.” He tucked a stray strand of her nutmeg-colored hair behind her ear.

She leaned into his touch. “Isn’t that why you married me?”

“No, Schatzi, it is most certainly not.” He grinned. “You stole my heart. I had to marry you, or I would die a broken man.”

“Don’t joke about that. Our friends are dying every day.” She frowned. “Who knew this famine would last so long? If it weren’t for the bit of help arriving from America’s Volga Relief Society, matters would be much worse.”

“They are sending more assistance than we are receiving. Jakob told me there is proof the government is confiscating some of the packages and keeping the money to construct new buildings and conduct repairs. As always, development of the country is valued above the lives of the people.”

“Shhh!” She pressed the work-worn fingers of her right hand against his lips. “You could get in trouble for saying that. Then where would we be?”

Edmund hugged her. “There is no one to hear us, but I understand your fear. Many unexplained disappearances make for extreme caution.” He released her and gestured toward the pile of clothes on their bed. “Enough depressing talk. What can I do to help?”

“Do you have our passports? With the government ratcheting up the price, we have no more savings to purchase new ones.”

“Now who’s speaking out against the authorities.”


Want to read more? You can find Love’s Harvest at Amazon


About the Author:

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places most of her life. A member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters In Crime, Linda is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of World War II, and a trustee for her local public library. Receive a free book Devotions from a Writer when you sign up for her newsletter. 

Social Media links:  Website: Facebook: Pinterest:

Story Sparks Blog Tour—History, Mystery, and Faith by Linda Shenton Matchett


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Welcome to the Final day of the Story Sparks Multi-author Blog Tour. May 21-26, 2018 readers get a chance to enter and win ebooks from six different authors. Linda Shenton Matchett is today’s featured author. One lucky winner will receive a copy of Love’s Harvest. Today, Linda will be talking about History, Mystery, and Faith. Read on to discover what sparks Linda’s creativity and to enter the rafflecopter to win her heartwarming retelling of the biblical book of Ruth.


History, Mystery, and Faith

by Linda Shenton Matchett


I’ve been making up stories since I was young. In fact, I recently found my notebooks from back then and had quite a laugh reading my childish scrawl and teenaged angst. Even then, my fertile imagination was apparent.

During interviews and speaking engagements I’m often asked where I get my ideas. The short answer is: I find them everywhere. But that’s not very informative, so I’ll let you in on my secret. I’m constantly on the lookout for “what-if” kernels-sparks, if you will.

For example, if I’m in a public location I people-watch. Not in a creepy, stalker kind of way, but rather “I wonder what those two people are talking about because one of them looks happy-sad-stressed-angry-insert-other-emotion.” In fact, I can usually lasso my husband into the game when he’s with me.

Other things that spark my imagination are newspaper or magazine articles, books or movies I think should have ended or been written differently, historical events, and incidents that happen to me, my family, or friends.

Here are the sparks for each of my books:

Love’s Harvest: I got the idea to write a modern retelling of Ruth from Francine Rivers’ book Redeeming Love which is based on the book of Hosea.

Love Found in Sherwood Forest: The Love Inspired line was open for submissions. They provided myriad locations and trios of objects from which authors could select. (e.g., England, arrows, flowers, and a secret passage or Virginia, a winery, an antique car, and a stolen painting). LI didn’t pick up my story, but another publisher did.

On the Rails: We visited the Grand Canyon about ten years ago where I learned about the Harvey Girls-young women who traveled from the East to be waitresses for the Fred Harvey Restaurant Company during the late 1800s and early 1900s. I was intrigued and did a bunch of research which led me to some of the women’s memoirs.

A Love Not Forgotten: I was asked by a publisher to write a story that culminated with a Spring wedding. While brainstorming, I saw a sitcom on which one of the characters was hit on the head resulting in amnesia.

A Doctor in the House: I read a book about the English country homes that were requisitioned by the government for use as barracks, hospitals, evacuee centers, etc. Combined with learning about Dr. Margaret Craighill, the first female Army doctor during WWII and reading accounts where the Americans were criticized for “being late to the last war, and late to this one,” I knew I had my story.

Under Fire: This is one of the first manuscripts I wrote, and it came about as a result of my coursework with Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild and attendance at the Crimebake Mystery Writers’ Conference. Classes about brainstorming and panel discussions ignited several ideas that culminated in the eventual plot.

See how easy it is? Take a look around today, and make a list of how many sparks you find.

Now at peek at the book Linda is giving away.


Love’s Harvest

By Linda Shenton Matchett

Noreen Hirsch loses everything including her husband and two sons. Then her adopted country goes to war with her homeland. Has God abandoned her?

Rosa Hirsch barely adjusts to being a bride before she is widowed. She gives up her citizenship to accompany her mother-in-law to her home country. Can Rosa find acceptance among strangers who hate her belligerent nation?

Basil Quincey is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but loneliness stalks him. Can he find a woman who loves him and not his money?


Three people. One God who can raise hope from the ashes of despair.


Can’t wait to see if you’ll be a winner? You can find Linda’s book at Amazon

Well, this is it for the Story Sparks Blog Tour. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about where we—Carole Brown, Catherine Castle, Linda Matchett, Amber Schamel, Terri Wangard, and Jodie Wolfe—find our ideas, and we hope that you had a chance to enter in the Rafflecopter for each author’s books. To enter to win Linda’s book Love’s Harvest, click on the Rafflecopter link below.

Enter the Rafflecopter


About the Author:

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. Linda is also a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.


Story Sparks Blog Tour—What sparks Amber Schamel’s creativity


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Welcome to the Story Sparks multi-Author Blog Tour. Between May 21-26, 2018, readers get a chance to enter and win ebooks from six different authors. Today, Amber Schamel is the featured author. A lucky winner will win a copy of her 2018 Christian Indie Award winner, Solve by Christmas, PLUS she has a cover reveal to share.

Read on to discover what sparks Amber’s creativity and to enter the rafflecopter to win her inspirational mystery with a Sherlock flare.

What Sparks My Creativity

by Amber Schamel

“Too many books, not enough time” is a two-fold saying for me. On one hand, there are so many good books to read, and on the other hand, there are so many ideas to write. For me, ideas come from everywhere. They can come from passing a mailbox, walking by an abandoned building, overhearing a conversation in the grocery store, day dreaming, reading the Scripture, or from history reading. Other times the idea is just dropped into my mind like a Valentine from God.

Usually though, the best ideas come from a combination of the above. With Solve by Christmas, the recent winner of the Christian Indie Award, I had a vague idea of a story. I wanted something with a tight timeframe that would create urgency. I’ve always loved detective stories, and those go perfectly with tight timeframes, so I started with that. From there, I wasn’t sure where to go…Then I thought, ‘what if Christmas was the deadline, and a Sherlock-ish detective had to stop some tragic event BY CHRISTMAS?’

From there, I didn’t really know where to go. Until the next piece dropped into my mind and stuck like a burr to a wool sock. What if the case the detective had to solve, wasn’t a case like he was thinking at all? What if he had to come up with a “case” for a loved one to continue living?

The Lord had given me an issue to address, and I knew it would be a hard one to pull off.

From there, I hit the history books. Researching the time period and location, I found all kinds of great information that added to the story depth. Such as the labor and Union wars in Denver during the 1910’s, which added great opportunities for tension and villains. Then the infanthood of detective work added to my character’s difficulty and need to prove himself. Researching organized crime and the development of the major detective agencies formed the backstory that drives Detective Jasper Hollock, even though it isn’t seen on stage in the book.

When sabotage threatens the Rudin Sugar Factory, Detective Jasper Hollock believes this will be his first real case. But dear Mr. Rudin—the only father Jasper has ever known—holds a different assignment for his private investigator.

“I’ve struck a deal with God, Jasper, and you’re my angel.”

Mr. Rudin charges Jasper to build a “case” of reasons for his employer to continue his life. If he fails, Mr. Rudin will end it in suicide on Christmas night.

As the incidents at the factory become life threatening, Jasper’s attempts at dissuading Mr. Rudin prove futile, and Jasper is left staring at the stark reality of his own soul. Time is ticking. Jasper must solve both cases by Christmas before Mr. Rudin, the company, and Jasper’s faith, are dragged to perdition. Will this be the Christmas Jasper truly discovers what makes life worth living?

So, for Solve by Christmas, I guess you could say that it was a series of sparks that resulted in that story. Kinda like one of those fireworks that has multiple explosions.

History is one of my favorite places to look for inspiration, and I always hit the books when I come to writer’s block, even during a story. I love it so much, that I’m actually getting ready to release my very first non-fiction work, 12 Sisters Who Changed History. And today I’m revealing the cover! Would ya’ll like to see it?

I was researching Jane Austen and some other great heroines of history when the idea for Sisters Who Changed History came to me. Being the second born of twelve children, siblings are often on my mind. All the time we are taught about famous individuals and the impact that they had, but what about those that were sisters and how they influenced the world? A blog series was born, which then developed into a book of its own. The book will be releasing July 17th!

Thanks for joining us today. Here’s the link to the

Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Let me know what you think of the cover, and the oddest places that you have found inspiration in your life!

Can’t wait to read Amber’s book Solve by Christmas? If so, here the link to the book

Thanks for coming by today. Please come back May 21-26 for a chance to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway (link above) and win books from these six authors: Carole Brown, Catherine Castle, Linda Matchett, Amber Schamel, Terri Wangard, and Jodie Wolfe.

About the Author:

Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at http://amberschamel.com/ and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!