A Writer’s Garden Memories with Author Donna Alice Patton


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Today’s gardener/writer guest is Donna Alice Patton, who will be telling us about her garden memories. I don’t know about the rest of the gardeners on this blog, but like Donna, when I look at my garden I see memories of past gardeners, family, and friends who have contributed to my garden with remembrances and plants. Welcome, Donna!

A Garden of Memories

The yellow iris bloomed this month in my flower beds – an abundance of yellow iris among the white and purple and one special pink. Each bloom reminds me of my friend, Jean, who gave me the bulbs. While I was admiring their sunny splotches throughout the yard – I noticed the pink and white peonies had also burst into bloom. Those reminded me of Lizzie, the lady who owned this house before me. Every spring the peonies gladden my heart and spirit even though Lizzie is long gone. The few remaining purple iris were hers, as well as the daffodils and crocus that come up faithfully every spring.

As I thought about Jean and Lizzie, I remembered more of the people and events my gardens bring to mind. There are the ‘Hen and Chick” plants that belonged to a very old priest in Chicago. Jean brought those to me. A bright yellow coreopsis was a Mother’s Day gift from my niece, Cindy. The glorious rainbow of tulips were planted by my dad. There are twin maple trees – giants now. My nephews, Jarrod and Jeremiah planted them as twigs when my Aunt Margie downsized her yard. At the side of the house – pastel pink, white and purple Rose of Sharon bloom – seeds dropped by the parent plant Aunt Bobbie gave me. All faithfully reminding me of an aunt who left us too soon, twenty years ago. The salmon colored lilies? A birthday gift from Theresa.

The gardens also remind me of events. Planting the grapevines with Jarrod. The sweaty hours we spent trying to dig a strawberry bed and keep the weeds out. Picking strawberries and blueberries with the new crop of “greats” nieces and nephews. Remembering many years ago when my niece, Heather, ignored the pink cosmos, butter yellow marigolds and stunning roses to pick her ‘favorite’ flower – the daisy-like weeds I pulled up without thinking. She called them “fairy-winkle” flowers. To this day when they come up in my garden, I dig them up and replant them along the creek bed. And how can I forget my continual struggle to maintain flower boxes on the porch. The cats love to sit on the railing and the flower boxes were always an ‘extension’ of their sleeping space. Many times I’d chase them out of the petunias or find a cat covered in dirt and the remnants of petunias.

As I looked at my gardens this spring, I had to laugh at all the memories – good, poignant and sometimes bittersweet. While I see the beauty of the blooms, I also see the faces of family and friends and remember those tiny snippets of moments. Like three little girls on a rainy day – rejoicing in the blooming lilies.


About the Author:

Donna Alice Patton loves gardens and the memories they evoke! Her newest book is a mystery/thriller – Roses are Red, Diamonds are Blue. It’s a mild romance, suitable for teens and up, available in June, 2017 http://www.donnaalicepatton.com/


Wednesday Writers–Writing for the King with Donna Schlachter


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Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Christian author Donna Schlachter. Donna will be sharing an excerpt from her book Echoes of the Heart, which is a part of The Pony Express Romance Collection, as well as telling us about her father’s book, which she helped write, and why she writes for the King. Welcome, Donna.


Thanks, Catherine.

I wrote my dad’s memoirs a couple of years ago. Because we don’t live near each other, we spent time together at Christmas or Thanksgiving working on the book. I used a digital recorder and had a list of questions I needed answered. Once I got the story down, I’d send him several chapters at a time for him to review. Then I sent the final book, printed out in a binder, and he called with changes and corrections. Even once we sent it to a printer, we found errors in the galleys which we corrected.

My father held his book in his hand a month before he passed away.

He boasted to several people about his life story. The intake counselor at the hospice he went to was astounded he had a book, saying that many people came to this point in their lives wishing they’d written a book. She said she’d never known anybody who had.

I was so pleased to have been part of that process, to give my dad a book he was proud to hold in his hand. A book he was proud to have his name on.

Which got me to thinking about my other books. Would my Heavenly Father be proud to hold my other books in His hand? Would He be proud to have His Name on those books?

That changed the way I looked at my books. Because I realized they weren’t mine at all. He is the author. I simply transcribe the stories for Him.

And as such, it’s my job to be as accurate as I can. To show up for work every day. To do the best I can to listen and not inject myself into the story.

God’s job is to create the stories. To communicate them to me. To correct me when I get off track.

I like the partnership I have with Him. It takes a lot of pressure off me. When I’m staring at the blank page, I simply pray, “Lord, thank You for letting me be the first person you’ve ever shown this story to. Help me hear You correctly and do the work of transcribing.”

Knowing what I need to do and what I don’t need to do makes the job a lot easier which means I’m having a lot more fun. I’m working on the next book in my dad’s memoirs, and although he’s with Jesus now, I hope he’d be just as proud to hold this book in his hand as he was with the first one.

And I pray God would be proud to have His name on every book I’ve written.

And now for a peek at Donna’s book Echoes of the Heart

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Echoes of the Heart

By Donna Schlachter


Catherine Malloy, an orphan girl running from a compromising situation in Boston, answers a personal ad in a magazine, on behalf of her illiterate friend. Through his letters, she finds herself falling in love with this stranger. Benjamin Troudt is crippled and illiterate, and knows nothing of this ad. His route supervisor, Warton, who was helping Benjamin with the paperwork, has been given only a short time to live, and knows Benjamin needs help, so he places the ad. Can Catherine overcome her belief that the God of her parents has abandoned her? And can Benjamin allow God to open his eyes and his heart to love?



Hollenberg Pony Express Station

Kansas Territory

May 1860


Chapter 1


Catherine Malloy braced a hand against the doorframe as the stage rounded a turn. A cloud of dust encircled the coach, filtering through the gaps in the doors, the curtains, the floor, and the roof, threatening to choke her. She coughed politely behind her gloved hand, cringing at the sight of the stains on her once-white hand coverings. Her spirits were as rumpled as her sleeves and skirt. Would the dirt ever come out?

But no matter how primitive the conditions, no matter how hostile the natives or how cold the winters—all stories she’d heard about the Wild West—she would not turn back.

She had nowhere to turn back.

When she’d excitedly read the advertisement in the magazine to her friend Margaret, neither had truly contemplated just how far the Kansas Territory was from Boston. Four days on the train to St. Joseph, Missouri had been just the beginning. Three days in this bouncing torture chamber, surrounded by surly men, snot-nosed children, and sharp-tongued women caused her to question her sanity and her decision more than once. She’d already eaten more dust than she’d known existed.

In Mr. Troudt’s first letter, he’d explained that he ran a way station and needed a wife. Neither she nor Margaret knew what that was. They knew a man from Australia, who talked about working at a sheep station. Perhaps a way station was similar.

Not that any of that mattered. She had no reason to go back. No family. No job.

Not after the way Master Talbott had approached her.

She shifted her drawstring purse from its place on the floor behind her feet. Its weight clanged against the boards. While not her ill-gotten bag of coins and jewelry, the packet weighed on her heart and her conscience equally.

She glanced at her fellow passengers as they rocked in time with the movement of the stage. A man in a suit who looked like a banker or a lawyer. Next to him, a minister coming west to seek his flock, as he’d told her at least a dozen times in the past four days. Sitting beside her, a woman traveling through to California, who’d said little to anybody, instead keeping her face hidden beneath a wide-brimmed hat. Catherine had lost count of the people with whom she’d shared cramped quarters. Most were strange traveling companions, to be certain. Not that she was looking for a bosom friend.

She would stay here. Hollenberg Station, Kansas Territory. Where the Oregon and California Trails brought emigrants past what would become her new home. Very different from her parents’ house where she’d grown up. Not at all like the even grander Georgian house she’d lived in with her aunt and uncle.

Until he’d squandered her inheritance and forced her into servitude in the Talbott mansion.

The only good from that whole debacle was Maggie.

A lump filled her throat, threatening to cut off her breath. Maggie had taught her how to survive when she thought life no longer worth living. Taught her to curtsey, to keep her gaze low, to smile when asked to do the impossible, and to keep quiet when told to do the unreasonable.

She shivered. But she was no automaton. When the master of the house had made his intentions clear, she’d refused his demands.

She knew her days in that household were numbered.

And then she’d seen the advertisement in the penny magazine. She had hoped this was her way out. In her excitement, she’d read the notice to Maggie since her friend could neither read nor write. And Maggie had instantly latched onto the notion that this was God’s answer to her prayers for a way to leave Boston.

Catherine sniffed at the idea. God had no interest in her life. Maybe in Maggie’s, but if that was true, why hadn’t He removed her from her dreary position, the long hours of hard work, the drudgery of servitude?

Despite her doubts about God’s hand in the matter, on Maggie’s behalf, she had penned a response to Mr. Benjamin Troudt, Hollenberg Station, Hanover, Kansas Territory.

A month later, a letter arrived at the mansion addressed to Miss Margaret Thomas.

And the whirlwind long-distance courtship commenced, punctuated by month-long pauses where they wondered if he would respond. And when he did, such giddy excitement.

Mr. Troudt described a beautiful place, using language as pretty as poetry. Despite the fact he wrote to Maggie, Catherine imagined herself cooking in the kitchen, making delicious meals for her husband and his ranch hands. She saw herself weeding their garden, feeding their hens, riding beside her husband into town to purchase supplies.

It was a nice dream.

Except it belonged to Maggie.

Want to read more? You can find Echoes of the Heart at: http://amzn.to/2lBaqcW



About the Author:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled “Pony Express Romance Collection” released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

Connect with Donna at: http://www.historythrutheages.wordpress.com/


Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

Books: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq


A Writer’s Garden with Author Claire Gem


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Today’s writer/gardener guest is author Claire Gem talking about a flower we’ve not yet seen on the garden blog–Orchids. Welcome, Claire.

My World for an Orchid


Everyone has their favorite flowers, and I wonder sometimes what this might say about a person. Each flower stands for something, right? Even the flower’s color has special meaning. Although some are obvious—the Forget-Me-Not means “remember me forever”—not all are as intuitive. A Gladiolus represents strength of character, while the Snapdragon means presumptuous. A red Rose signifies passionate love, while a yellow one symbolizes friendship. A comprehensive list of these flower meanings can be found Here.

Which brings me to me. I am a collector of orchids. This flower stands for delicate beauty, which I don’t think describes me at all! Perhaps it’s what I strive for, or maybe it’s just that the delicate beauty of the orchid inspires me to care for and protect it.

pictures from Pixabay

I have a room with a south-facing window which makes it a perfect place for the Phalaenopsis variety of orchid to live. This, the most common variety, is hardy and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. But many people, upon buying or receiving an orchid, assume that once the magnificent blossoms wither and fade, the plant is dead. I’d like to clear up this horrible misconception.

The orchid bloom can live from a few hours to six months, depending on the variety and its living conditions. But just because the flower dies, the plant is far from dead! Some types of orchids can live survive for up to 100 years—they just don’t always flaunt their lovely Sunday-best dresses. Fossil evidence supports the theory that orchids have existed in our world for over a hundred million years.

And talk about variety! The size of orchid blooms can range from 2 mm to 2.5 meters. Some display amazing coloration variations, from mimicking a snowy owl, to a monkey face, to a bee. Check out the awesome photos at this website to see them: http://www.flowerweb.com/en/article/190242/15-Amazing-Facts-About-Orchids

So, what draws me to orchids? I wish I could explain it, but I will admit I have become somewhat obsessed. As of right now, my “Circle of Life Room” (which is what my son calls my plant and aquarium room) sports over a dozen orchids in various stages. Some are plain-Jane, in their dormant phase: just thick, glossy green leaves with their fleshy rhizome roots crawling over the edge of their pots. Others are just now sending up spikes with tiny buds, the promise of new blossoms to welcome spring. Others still are in full, glorious bloom, looking for all the world like silk flowers in their perfection.

The garden staff at my local Home Depot calls me the “crazy orchid lady.” Periodically, I will peruse the store’s stock of orchids—mostly Phalaenopsis—but sometimes miniature or more unusual varieties. Do I pick the ones with the most buds? The healthiest looking leaves and spikes? No. I look for the ones who look neglected, forlorn, or ill-used. These may or may not come at a discount, but one thing is for sure: When these orchids leave the garden center at Home Depot to come home with me, they believe they’ve died and gone to heaven.

I admit it. I adopt abused orchids.

I have nursed many of these failing orchids back to life. Some remain blossom-less for months—one didn’t bloom for over a year. But what a rewarding feeling as I watch shriveled, yellowed leaves plump and turn dark green. And it’s a celebration day indeed when I find that, while I slept, a plant has thrust a bud-laden spike up toward the sun.

Easy to care for, most Phalaenopsis orchids thrive on just 3 ice cubes a week—yes, I said ice cubes. This allows for the water to trickle ever so slowly over the rhizomes, giving them time to absorb exactly the right amount of water. I’m such a fanatic I won’t even use tap water to make those ice cubes, since our town water is so bad I can’t drink it. I use filtered spring water, and have two special ice cube trays in my freezer labeled “orchid food.”

Sound crazy? Perhaps. But remember, the orchid doesn’t stand for insanity or mental instability. It stands for delicate beauty. And delicate beauty deserves careful, delicate treatment. Why don’t you think about adopting an orchid and giving this delicate beauty a try?


About the gardener/author:

Claire Gem is an award-winning author of five novels in the genres of contemporary romance and supernatural suspense. A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.


Her latest novel is the supernatural suspense, Spirits of the Heart, is set in an Spirits of the Heart (Haunted Voices Book 2) by [Gem, Claire]abandoned mental asylum in the town where she grew up.

An addiction counselor & a security guard struggle to free two, lost spirits trapped inside an abandoned mental asylum.

Laura Horton returns from college to move in with an old friend & start her career. But her homecoming is jarring. Her friend’s moved out, leaving Laura alone with the gorgeous but intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard. Officer Miller Stanford is a man with a shattered past. His alcoholic dad destroyed their family, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is a sexy, blonde addiction counselor watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability. But Laura sees her too—a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. Can they unravel the mysteries of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?

 Note to readers of sweet romance—Spirits of the Heart has been labeled steamy by some reviewers and may not be suitable for readers looking for sweet romance.

 Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1QreCAY

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jt6k1p

You can find out more about Claire and her work on her website: http://www.clairegem.com/






A Writer’s Garden with Author Carole Ann Moleti


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Today, we have gardener/author Carole Ann Moleti on A Writer’s Gardening with some beautiful pictures oh her hostas, and talking about garden clutter and getting rid of it. Welcome, Carole Ann

Thanks, Catherine,.

In gardening, as in writing, I find it difficult to get rid of things. The clutter sneaks up and gets out of control. I just can’t discard “my darlings” be they plants taking over a plot, escaping a border, or clever phrases and lush description concealing a storyline. So I reduce, reuse, and recycle everything.

A couple of years ago, my Black-Eyed Susans took over the front yard, and I culled several of them to fill in my mother’s flowerbeds. I edited more than 20,000 words out of my upcoming novel: flowery sections of prose that smothered the storyline. They’re being used as teasers bonus content for my newsletter subscribers.

This year, the Hostas are choking out the groundcover and daylilies. They’re dangling over the border onto the patio and into the driveway. My colorful accents have become a monotonous behemoth. So I grabbed a shovel and filled about fifteen pots with the lush foliage, giving most of them away to friends, saving some for our upstate cottage that needs things the deer do not favor (I let them sample the corn and crab apples).

Now the sculptures can be seen, the dead leaves hiding under the leaves are composted, and the Cana lilies are poking through the canopy. Next week, I’ll take a spade to the massive pinwheels of color spinning out of control in the front yard before they roll over the lilies of the valley and the remaining Black Eyed Susans.

My new novel, Storm Watch, the third book in the Unfinished Business Series of paranormal romances, is being released on June 28. Back to work.


About the Author:

 Gardener/writer Carole Ann Moleti has been gardening since she was old enough to remember. Her favorite things about gardening are the sense of peace and oneness with nature, bees buzzing, butterflies alighting, the fragrance of flowers, the field mice, frogs, and toads. When she’s not gardening, Carole is writing in a variety of genres including spicy paranormal romance, gritty urban fantasy, memoir, and nonfiction that range from the sweet and sentimental to the snarky and irreverent. You can see her portfolio at http://amzn.to/23KBru8 and find out more about her at http://caroleannmoleti.com/






Wednesday Writers Welcomes YA Author L. R. Burkard


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Today I’m welcoming L.R. Burkard, aka Linore Rose Burkard, to Wednesday Writers. Lenore has recently switched genres and is giving us a peek into what sparked her Christian Post-Apocalyptic YA Suspense Dystopian setting in her series PULSE EFFEX. Keep reading for a peek into the third installment, DEFIANCE. Welcome, L.R.!

Thanks, Catherine.

When my sweet historical romance series was published, I never dreamed my next would be YA/dystopian. What a switch in genres! So, how did I go from one end of the writing spectrum to another? Blame it on an idea that refused to die. I read a headline about how close the earth came to suffering a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, in 2012. We missed the worst effects of a solar flare by a hair (in space terms); but the “what if” factor had been set in motion. What if that flare hadn’t missed us? What if I was a teen raised on electronics–or an adult medically dependent on them–and it all went dead in a matter of seconds? What if the next flare doesn’t miss? PULSE, the first book in my PULSE EFFEX Series, was born. This month, the third installment, DEFIANCE, releases!



Defiance: Because sometimes resistance just isn’t enough.

In this third installment of the PULSE EFFEX SERIES, foreign soldiers and fellow Americans gone rogue are just the beginning of what Andrea, Lexie and Sarah must face. Beneath the threat of nuclear strikes and guerrilla armies, the girls long for a free country in which to live–and love. Survival means resistance must give way to defiance. But can ordinary teens and their families withstand powerful forces and keep hope alive?


Angel took a handgun out of a side holster and handed it to me. “We’re gonna need you, Sarah.”

“I—I’ve only had a few lessons,” I said, weakly.

“Just aim and shoot when you need to,” she said, quietly. “It’s already chambered. Remember what we taught you—when a bullet’s chambered, it’s ready. Don’t aim it until you’re gonna use it and don’t put your finger on the trigger until you’re gonna shoot.”

“Here they are!” Richard cried.

The gang of marauders appeared, descending upon the cabin with hoots and shouts that made my blood curdle. I took the gun with a sense of unreality. How could this be happening? It couldn’t be, because I, Sarah Weaver, did not take part in real battles! Sarah Weaver was an anxious, fear-filled teenager with enough insecurities for ten girls. I was the one to have panic attacks when alone; the one who’d been taking anti-depressants for two years—until the pulse stopped that.

I held the pistol up with shaky hands. And I knew: This was reality now. This was life, and there was no room for the old Sarah. I could not allow myself to crumple in weakness or fear.

For a full excerpt from Book One in the series, PULSE: http://www.linoreburkard.com/READER_EXCERPT_PULSE.PDF

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1JYR0Qg


About the Author:

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, she home-schools her youngest daughter, preferably with coffee in one hand and an iPad in the other. Her latest  PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a “chilling possible future for America while affirming the power of faith in the darkest of times.”

Contact: Linore Burkard.com, LRBurkard.com

A Writer’s Garden with Author Caroline Warfield


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Let’s welcome author/gardener Caroline Warfield to A Writer’s Garden today. She’ll be talking about the garden enemy that makes all gardeners cringe—deer—especially when they see their neighbors putting salt licks in their back yards for the foraging creatures. Welcome, Caroline.

Thanks, Catherine.

Let me say it clearly: I love gardens. As my various biographies have stated, I am enamored of gardens, but not so much the act of gardening. Gardening can be glorious or backbreaking in turns. It can also be heartbreaking. Five years ago we moved to Cheltenham, an older suburb that borders Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I left behind three lovely, manageable flowerbeds and my thyme garden, a mature herb garden designed around a sundial, a sort of literary conceit with several varieties of thyme used in Edward Eagers The Time Garden. I miss it still. That’s the glorious part.

The heartbreaking part wasn’t so much leaving it behind, as facing the new environment and finding an army of enemies. As if weather, rainfall variations, clay soil, dying fruit trees, and insects weren’t enough, I discovered some of my new neighbors to be a scourge upon plant life. That is to say, we are surrounded by white-tailed deer.

When I asked if I needed to worry about my raspberry plants, my grandson sagely replied, “These are city deer, Grandma. They will eat anything.” He didn’t exaggerate. They leave my daffodils and irises alone, but tulips, hostas, and annuals are at their mercy. The lovely hydrangeas I saw when we looked at the house have been reduced to nothing. They almost destroyed the buckeye tree we brought from Ohio until we fenced it in. The beasts target small trees.

buckeye tree

You may wonder how a deer or two can do so much damage. One can do quite a lot, and we have many more. I’ve counted eight in our yard at one time. Other family members once counted a herd of fifteen nearby. A scourge, indeed.

Research quickly turned up a wide variety of home remedies from human hair (which appears to have been a preferred tactic of the previous owner), to soaps to hot sauce, all of which need to be repeated often. Some more repulsive home remedies and commercial deer repellent products involve foul smells. None worked well for us.

We declared a moratorium on planting flowers until we know more about deer resistant plants and methods. Abandoning a vegetable garden, however, will not happen. It is my red line in the sand. After a disasterous first season, we declared all out war. We had only one option. We constructed an anti-deer fortress.









It has served us well for two seasons and we expect success this year as well. It is too narrow to tempt them to jump in and, while lower than experts recommend, is high enough to keep them from leaning in to the vegetables. They get a wee nibble of tomato plant late in the season, but leave the fruit alone. I don’t begrudge them.

For now we’re enjoying Philadelphia’s abundance of public flower gardens and wondering how they do it! So far, only Bowman’s Wildflower Refuge has revealed their strategy. They have a ten-foot electronic fence around the refuge. Sigh.


About the Author:

Caroline Warfield finds walking through a garden deeply soul satisfying, and she doesn’t need to own the garden to enjoy it. She has been thrilled with public gardens all over the world, from Singapore to London to New York.

Caroline has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows overlooking bird feeders, trees, and her deer fortress where she writes family-centered romance with interconnected characters.

Her current series involves three cousins who have been driven apart by lies and deceit, drawn back to England by family ties, and sustained by loves of their own. Her books have a moderate level of sensuality. She believes that in romance sex will happen, but it can be handled with sensitivity and care. In such scenes she focuses on relationship, commitment, and emotion not eroticism per se.

The Reluctant Wife (Children of the Empire Book 2) by [Warfield, Caroline]In The Reluctant Wife, a disgraced Bengal army officer finds himself responsible for two half-caste daughters and a headstrong, interfering,—but attractive—widow. This time, failure is not an option.

Genre: Historical Romance, Pre-Victorian (set in India and England in 1835)

Heat Level: Moderate. or warm

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Wife-Children-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B06XYRRR1R/


Kimberly Rose Johnson Talks Setting on Wednesday Writers


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 Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Kimberly Rose Johnson to the blog. Kimberly will be talking about setting for her contemporary romance  An Encore for Estelle. Welcome, Kimberly!


 Thanks, Catherine.

When I sat down to write A Love Song for Kayla, the first book in this series, I wanted to set it in a small town without having to do any research. I also wanted to place the story in Oregon—up to that point in my writing career, all of my published books had been set in Washington State, so I thought it would be nice to change states.

I created a town called Oak Knoll, positioned NW of Salem, in the Willamette Valley. The name was inspired by a golf course West of Salem called Oak Knoll Golf Course. I imagine my town is somewhere near the golf course.

Oak Knoll is quaint like any small town should be. It has the usual places: a coffee shop, florist, churches . . . you get the picture. In An Encore for Estelle we see the community center, where the theater is located and the coffee shop—I wanted a hangout where my characters could go and visit with one another outside the theater.

I’m currently writing the third book in the series, and I’ve added a block to the town where Amber’s dance studio is located. We meet Amber in An Encore for Estelle. She is the dance choreographer for the musical. She is also the main character in A Waltz for Amber, which I hope to release in October.

It’s been fun to create a town and see it expand as the series grows. So far I have two series set in actual places and two in fictitious locations. The advantage of making up own town is that I can have whatever I want there. The advantage of using a real location is that people can relate to the story when they’ve been there. It’s so fun for me when people tell me I nailed those locations, and they feel like they were there as they were reading.




An Encore For Estelle

by Kimberly Rose Johnson

A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together?


Estelle turned to face the man. She sucked in a breath. He had to be over six feet tall. His dark hair had a messy look that she liked. Get it together. He wasn’t the first ruggedly handsome man she’d ever met. Plus there was Jeff.

He looked down at her with chocolate brown eyes. “It’s nice to meet you. Helen has told me all about you.”

Estelle shot a look toward Helen. “Don’t believe everything you hear.”

“Believe every word, Blake.” Helen waved a finger toward Estelle. “My friend here is a remarkable woman.”

Estelle’s face warmed. There was nothing remarkable about her, but people had always said stuff like that about her. Although it had never bothered her before, it did coming from Helen. She thought Helen knew her well enough to know she wasn’t all that.

Blake grinned, although it looked forced. “I’m heading to town. Did either of you need me to get anything while I’m there?”

“No thanks, but maybe Estelle would like to join you.” She raised a brow toward her.

Estelle caught her breath. Was her hostess trying to play matchmaker? She ought to warn her to give up now, because she was a relationship disaster. At least that’s what she felt like.

“How about it?” Blake asked. “Would you like to come along?” His words were friendly enough, but the look in his eyes was guarded. Almost like the last thing he wanted was for her to say yes.

Why did he seem wary? She didn’t recall ever meeting him—she would have remembered. “No thanks. I should finish my lunch then get settled.”

He dipped his head. “Okay then. See you around.” He turned and headed in the direction from which he’d come.

Estelle sat back into the chair she’d vacated when Blake showed up.

Helen leaned forward and lowered her voice. “Isn’t he cute?”

She burst into laughter. “You are old enough to be his mother.”

“I didn’t say I wanted to marry him. Goodness.” She frowned.

Estelle sobered. “I’m sorry, Helen. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Sorry, I overreacted. I’m fine. Don’t give it another thought.” She fanned her flushed face. “One would think at my age that I’d stop blushing so easily, but it appears that trait will forever plague me.”

“At least when you blush you’re pretty. When I blush, my neck turns red, and I get all blotchy.” Estelle made a silly face. “It happened once on set and the director was not happy. They had to take time out for the makeup artist to cover the red before we could continue filming.”

Helen bubbled with laughter. “It’s going to be fun having you here. Have you given any thought to how you’ll fill your time? I know three months is a long vacation.”

“I agree, and like I said, I may not stay the entire time. I have no idea how I’ll fill my days.” It’d been forever since she’d had the freedom to do whatever she wanted. There always seemed to be something or someone that needed her attention.

“You could volunteer at the community center. Every summer they do a children’s theater program. Auditions are coming up, and they’ll begin rehearsals soon.” She dipped her head and fiddled with her fork.

“You know I don’t act anymore.”

“So you said, but those kids don’t care. They’d be thrilled to have a real actress—” she raised a hand, “former actress mentor them. A little birdie told me you used to volunteer with the children’s theater in LA.”

Estelle sighed. It had been a long time since she’d done anything with the children’s theater. She liked kids, but she’d left that life. Then again, this was Helen asking. “I’ll think about it.”

“Don’t think too long. My son tells me this new musical is ambitious for such a small town, and Blake needs help.”

If Derek was concerned then there was probably reason to be. “What does Blake have to do with the children’s theater?”

“Didn’t I mention that it’s his brainchild? He coordinates the program. He’s the reason I invited you. Actually I’m hoping you’ll stick around through the summer too. The theater has become a big deal here, and no matter what Blake thinks, he can’t keep doing it all on his own.”

Estelle shook her head. This must be the real reason for Helen’s invitation to spend the summer with her. Not that she minded, but wished her friend had been upfront about the reason behind her request. “You neglected to mention any of this.” She felt snookered, but it was fine. She’d do almost anything for Helen. Plus the timing worked—at least for now. If she could manage to stay away from her restaurant, and her life for three months remained to be seen. If necessary she could fly home a couple of times to check up on things. The idea of working with the theater sent a tingle of excitement zipping through her. That settled it—she was in if Blake would have her. She loved the theater.

Want to read more? You can get An Encore for Estelle at

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pDQweE

About the Author:

Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul. Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/index.html


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh

Amazon Follow: https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Rose-Johnson/e/B00K10CR6E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1435862403&sr=1-2-ent


A Writer’s Garden–Visiting Bellingraph Gardens with June Foster


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Today’s guest writer/gardener on A Writer’s Garden is June Foster. Since her last visit to the blog, she’s been on the road. So, she’s taking us on a road trip today to see an Alabama garden. I love visiting mansions and their gardens, and I can’t wait to show you where she’s been tiptoeing through the tulips. Take it away, June!


Bellingraph Gardens

My husband and I live full time in our RV, so needless to say, we don’t have a garden in which to grow the colorful blooms I love. But that’s okay. We’re blessed to have opportunity to visit many breathtaking gardens while we travel.

While in Mobile, Alabama for a family reunion, we enjoyed a visit to the Bellingraph mansion and Gardens, now a museum owned by the state of Alabama.

The gardens were once part of the estate of Walter and Bessie Bellingraph. The sixty-five acres of floral pageantry flank the Bellingraph’s 10,500 square foot mansion built in 1935. Today the site is open year round for visitors to enjoy.

The most exciting feature is the monthly display of a variety of flowers depending on the season. Since we visited toward the end of February, we relished an explosion of vibrant colors as we wandered through the azaleas newly in bloom.

Azaleas are described as the flaming drama of the south, and I can certainly understand why. When the azalea bush is in full bloom, every trace of growth is enveloped in crimson, coral, purple, or white.

Come back the next month and you might see verbenas, daisies, roses, or begonias. And if you visit in the fall, you’ll bask in the beauty of chrysanthemums, honeysuckle, or poinsettias.

Mobile, Alabama is blessed with a moderate climate that allows gardens to look lovely year round. If you travel south, you won’t regret visiting Bellingraph.


About the Author:

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s books have finaled in the EPIC’s eBook contest, National Readers Choice Awards, the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards and COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has also written several series, The Bellewood Series, The Almond Tree series, June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. One of her most recent releases is Restoration of the Heart available at Amazon

Restoration of the Heart

Though a Christian, Luke Chamberlain ignored his values and indulged in his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment. After rededicating his life to the Lord, he vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts.

Janie Littleton studied history in college because life in the past is simpler than the uncomfortable reality of the present. With her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair, no man would find her attractive. When she’s offered the job of project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, she accepts. But as Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. To make matters worse, someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits.

Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago?

You can visit June at junefoster.com.



Johnnie Alexander Joins Wednesday Writers


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Today I’m welcoming Johnnie Alexander to the Wednesday Writers blog. Johnnie going to talk a bit about writing what you know, a bit of life history which she used in her contemporary romance What Hope Remembers. Welcome, Johnnie.




Getting Back On—Long Years Later


Johnnie Alexander


When I was a young teen, I got thrown from a pony. And I mean tossed-in-the-air, fall-flat-on-my-back thrown.

A gracious onlooker said that it was the most graceful fall she’d ever seen. (That soothed my pride but not my aching muscles.)

A couple years later, I sat astride the family pony (which I seldom rode) in the pasture across from our house. I was content with a quiet walk, but he decided it’d be more fun to stay with the others in our group.

He jogged.

His saddle slid sideways.

I ended up on the hard ground.

You all know what they say about getting back on after falling off, right? I’ve heard that, too.

But instead of heeding that advice I never rode again.

Fast-forward a few, ahem, decades.

I’ve decided my newest contemporary romance needs a horse-riding hero. Come to find out, the heroine rode horses, too, when she was a young girl. Then her parents died in a fiery plane crash, and she quit the activity she loved most because her dad was no longer there to cheer her on.

A friend from church who is an avid rider and trains her own horse had given me tips on “horse lingo” for a historical novella I’d previously written so I turned to her again.

“I think I want to take riding lessons,” I said. “Just a few.”

“I know just the person to teach you,” she replied.

As it turned out, my first riding lesson was with my friend. I rode Chance, a glistening black beauty, while she held onto the lunge line. We rode in giant circles while I did my best to stay in the saddle. I enjoyed it though I was intimidated by Chance’s size. (Hey, I’m barely five feet tall.)

Chance and Johnnie

The following week, we went to the stables where I’d end up taking several lessons. On that first visit, the instructor asked my goals.

“I just want to be comfortable,” I said. “To do something I’m afraid of and not be afraid anymore.”

She told me about Gabby. “But she’s a pony. Most adults don’t want to ride ponies.”

“I’m not too proud,” I quickly said. “I’d love to ride Gabby.”

Gabby and Johnnie

It turned out Gabby was the perfect choice. She was a tall pony—larger than the ponies you often see at carnivals or fairs for children to ride.

Over the next few weeks, I learned to keep my heels down, my back straight, to properly hold my reins, and even a tiny bit of dressage.

Then the holidays came and several weeks later, I moved away.

But I’ll never forget my riding lessons with Gabby, and how even that little bit of horsemanship added more realism to the scene where my heroine rides again for the first time in years. After all, I knew how much her behind would ache!

I hope to ride again sometime.

If I can find another tall pony as sweet and gentle as Gabby.


What Hope Remembers

By Johnnie Alexander

When Amy Somers loses her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she’s crossing bridges she’d burned years before. With all the mistakes she’s made and the uncaring things she’s done–even to her own family–she can hardly believe that happiness will find her, especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.

A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy’s hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, he finds it difficult to see the path ahead.

But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them.



The June sun beat on Gabe Kendall’s bare head and tapped into his childhood memories of the horse farm. He leaned his arms on the weathered fence and let his mind bask in the remembrance of long summer days under tranquil blue skies.

The pastures, lush and green. The paddock with its packed dirt circuit. The stables, once alive with the soft snuffles of contented horses and the familiar smells of oiled leather, fresh hay, and honest sweat.

Except for the glow of memory, nothing was the same.

The horse barn, the machine shed, even the nearby house were smaller than he remembered. Perhaps a consequence of seeing his uncle’s place for the first time with grown-up eyes. Or maybe his imagination had tricked him into thinking everything about the place was bigger. God knew he’d experienced too many nights when the only way he could lull himself to sleep was to conjure up happier times.

That long-ago summer, the summer after Mom’s last illness, he’d cut hay, filled the silo with the yellow kernels of newly harvested corn, and ridden horseback every chance he got. When the chores were done, he dozed beneath the old sycamore back by the pond. And he prayed for a return to before. The same prayer he wanted to pray now.

Not that it would do any good.

Praying wouldn’t erase the cracked paint on the fence and the buildings, the clumps of weeds overtaking the grass. Wouldn’t transform the land into the paradise he remembered. Ugly facts taunted him with their staunch reality.

A forlorn air hung over the place, heavy with regret and heartache. But the silent emptiness wasn’t because of his adult perspective or the glow of childhood memory.

Whisper Lane Stables might be a thriving business if Rusty were still alive. Except then he’d know how low Gabe had fallen…

Want to read more? Purchase: Link to Online Retailers


About the Author:

Johnnie Alexander is a wannabe vagabond with a heart for making memories. While relaxing on her Sunshine State patio with her dogs Rugby and Griff, she writes stories that tug at your heartstrings. She has won the prestigious American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest (Historical) and received several conference awards. Johnnie is marketing director for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference and past president of both the ACFW Memphis and ACFW Central Florida chapters.


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In A Writer’s Garden with Tina Susedik


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Today gardener/writer Tina Susedik is visiting A Writer’s Garden. Let’s see what she’s been up to since her visit last year.

I believe the last time I posted was last summer shortly before my husband and I were ready to move. We are now settled in our house – in the city. This is new for us as we haven’t lived in a city in thirty years. Even though it was an adjustment, I’ve enjoyed the change. It seems nearly everyone on the block enjoys flowers. I love being able to talk with other gardeners and exchange plants and information without having to drive for miles.

Last year we moved in the middle of summer. Before we left, I dug up plants from our old place and got them in the ground at our new place in between trying to get settled. One thing I didn’t think to do in my rush to get my flowers in the ground, was to mark what I planted and where I planted it. Guess what? I have no idea what should be coming up this spring. A friend also gave me plants last fall and – you guessed it – I didn’t mark anything! So, my gardens will be a surprise. I did plant tulips and daffodils, which came up and were easily recognizable.

One thing we inherited with the house was a beautiful flowering crab in our front yard. Last weekend there was a major marathon that ran past our house. So many runners took the time to comment on the tree – and my tulips. That’s how gorgeous it was. Unfortunately, the blooms have run their course, and as I write this, it’s raining pink blossoms outside.

My husband dug up some evergreen bushes that weren’t doing so well. He then planted some bushes that have some color to them other than green. I look forward to seeing them bloom. I finally have a lilac bush, which is blooming. The city I live in is filled with lilac bushes. At times, that’s all you can smell as you go for walks.

I’ve been slowly adding perennials in the flower bed in the back yard, but since I don’t know what I planted last year, I’ve been rather hesitant to plant too much – if there is such a thing as too many flowers. Not in my opinion, anyway.

My neighbor across the street came over one day as I was planting rose bushes to tell me how excited she was that I was planting them. She said she has a black thumb when it comes to roses and hopes to see mine blooming. So do I.

Moving is always an adventure. Seeing what nature has provided and others before me have planted has been fun. I just hope we live here long enough for me to figure out what I planted.


About the Gardener/Writer:

Tina Susedik has loved flowers and gardening for as long as she can remember. Wherever she has lived, and it’s been many, many places, she has tried to make her surroundings filled with flowers. She is a multi-published author in both fiction and non-fiction, covering children, military, history, and romantic mysteries. In June, she will begin hosting her own radio show with Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. She will be interviewing authors in all genres. The title of her show – what else – “Your Book Garden.”

Her newest book is a The Trail to Love, which is part of The Soul Mate Tree Collective. The Trail to Love is a medium heat level romance with open door love scenes.

An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations. 

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

 Jack Billabard, mourning the loss of his wife and baby in childbirth, vows to never to love again. After their funeral at Fort Laramie, he rides into the Wyoming hills beyond the ranch he built for his wife. Through his grieving tears, an ancient tree appears, giving him the hope he doesn’t believe is possible. For the next four years, he acts as a guide on the Oregon Trail, taking families to a new life while his looms lonely and stagnant.

The night before her abusive husband’s death, an ancient tree appears in Sarah Nickelson’s yard as she agonizes over how to survive her marriage. The tree gives her hope she can’t help but reject. After all, a tree doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. After her husband ‘s death, and with no options as a widow in Independence, Missouri, Sarah decides to travel to Oregon City as a Mail Order Bride.

During their trek west on the Oregon Trail, Jack and Sarah encounter one another, each afraid of being hurt again. Can they survive dogs and puppies, wind and rainstorms, Indians and unfavorable fellow passengers, while their love blossoms? Will the tree fulfill its promise?

Book available at Amazon


Connect with Tina at:


Twitter: @tinasusedik

Website: TinaSusedik.com

Facebook: Tina Susedik, Author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1754353.Tina_Susedik

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tinasusedik/