A Writer’s Garden–Seven Trees by Sigrid Fowler


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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 Sigrid Fowler. Welcome, Sigrid!


Seven Trees

One fall about ten years ago, I noticed seven young trees poking up in the space meant for flowers on the north side of my driveway. What kind of trees makes star-shaped leaves? Though red maples aren’t common in South Carolina, I knew of one such tree up the street. Maybe the seeds were washed by rain or carried into my yard by birds. It was possible. I decided not to pull up the seedlings.

from Wikimedia commons

The next January, a friend helped me dig them up, pace off seven holes for a new location, and make the switch. The ground was wet and the task easy. There they were—seven twigs in a perfect row along the grassy, south side of my driveway. I looked with satisfaction and called it a day. Then I waited.

A few months later as our typically early, South Carolina spring unfolded, I watched closely. Yes, the seven were living, budding out and apparently happy. The little leaves were star-shaped, the way I remembered. I hoped for the best as I watched the changes through several seasons. The seven saplings were young. Were the leaves truly representative of the species? I didn’t know.

from wikimedia commons

Several springs, summers, and falls passed. I was still thinking of maples but increasingly doubtful. The star-shaped leaves were yellow in the fall. One day, I took several leaves to the Clemson agent in town and described the transplant. He looked at a leaf and said, “They’re sweet gums.”

Put all this on the back burner for a minute while I add something about trees and Edgefield County, SC. It seems that to folks around here sweet gums are “weed trees,” a term I learned from my father. His long career was with the U.S. Forest Service, and he’s been my authority on trees. I had to laugh when I heard “sweet gums.” I’d been tenderly caring for seven weed trees— transplanting them rather than pulling them up, watering them in our hot summers, trimming branches that could be broken by cars driving in and out. Sweet gums? Now what?

I didn’t ponder the question long. I liked these trees. They were growing well, and the avenue they created along my driveway was nice. If they had yellow leaves in the fall, so be it. I like yellow.

They’re now nearly the height of my roof, and I’m wasting no time longing for red. Weed trees or not, their autumn yellow suits me just fine. All this has reminded me of a saying from the 60s and 70s—“Bloom Where You Are Planted,” it goes. I’ve slightly revised it to, “Wherever You’re Transplanted, Color Your World.”

Psalm 1 says the person who avoids evil and delights in the Lord will be happy and will flourish like a tree planted by water—leaves that don’t wither in drought, fruit in its season. In our uprooted society, many are transplanted, many ignored and devalued, even scorned like my seven “weed trees.” I’m reminded that God wastes nothing and values each of us beyond our imagining. We’re precious in his sight. Paul writes, “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him” (Col 3:17). If this is you and me, we will flourish and color our world, making it more beautiful.

A recent fall I was surprised by brilliant red down by the creek, another young tree, perhaps a black gum—red autumn foliage after all, and seven tall trees with yellow leaves along the driveway. I had to say, Thank you, Lord!

Solomon declared, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecc 3:11).

About the Gardener/Writer

Sigrid Fowler lives in South Carolina. She is a retired teacher of college composition, a member of ACFW and the Christian PEN. She writes a column on biblical topics for the local newspaper and has contributed to professional and learned journals. Her novel, Book I of the Don’t Tell the Rabbi series, came out last November, published by True Potential. This is the story of three childhood friends now a rabbi, a Baptist minister, and an English professor. The rabbi’s nearest neighbor, an old lady he and his wife have long befriended, is a retired opera diva whose voice breaks glass. In this window on the small-town South, the characters work their way through many challenges. We get to know them through thoughts and conversations–face to face encounters, phone chats, letters, sermons, and everyday business matters. What is everyone keeping from the rabbi? The problems are laid out in Book I, Three Friends and an Old Lady, the questions answered in Book II, Balagan. The word means, “a mess, a chaotic situation,” and it as well as other Hebrew terms and expressions are explained in a glossary at the end of the novel. Another glossary of names helps readers keep everyone straight. Book I is available on Amazon.

connect with Sigrid at amazon.com/author/sigridfowler


Three Friends and an Old Lady

by Sigrid Fowler

“SO, WHAT YOU’VE GOT IS ME, BABY. JUST ME TO TELL YOU what happened in Beulah, SC, the year the rabbi found out. But before I get into all that, I should tell you who you’re lookin’ at. I’m not very big for a pastor’s wife and I have red hair. The church won’t let me do anything—it’s Baptist—so I mainly get into trouble and try not to. When I say “red,” that’s a euphemism. My hair looks more like some random October maple—and I don’t allow ‘ginger’ …”

And so it begins. A wild and inspirational romp in the small town South. An inside look at the relationship (with commentary) between a rabbi, a minister, and an English professor … and what the rabbi discovers long after the whole town is buzzing.

If this was a stage play (and it should be) it would be a Tony Award contender!

Join the rabbi and friends on this hilarious, inspirational, revealing ride of spiritual enlightenment.



Story Sparks Blog Tour–Story Sparks from Catherine Castle’s Imagination


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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 Catherine Castle (That’s me!) is the featured author. Catherine’s winner may choose an ebook from any of her three books listed above on her book spine. Today Catherine will talk about the story sparks that started each of these books rolling. Read on to discover what inspires Catherine’s creativity and to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway .


Story Sparks  from Catherine Castle’s Imagination

By Catherine Castle

Hi, everyone!

I began my writing journey as a stringer for a local weekly newspaper. The hardest thing about that job was finding ideas to write about. I was in Writer Heaven when the editor called with a story idea. It was like getting a bright, shiny gift topped with a beautiful ribbon. The problem was those editorial gifts didn’t come in as fast as I wanted them to when I first started writing. So, I had to figure out where to find more ideas to write about. And of course, the burning question back then was, “How do I find an idea?”

It’s also the question most people ask me when they find out I’m a writer. Now I know the answer.

After I published my first book, a multi-award-winning inspirational romantic suspense titled The Nun and the Narc , my daughter bought me a tee-shirt that read Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel. I’m not sure if she knew how true that quote is, but I suspect she did, because whenever I’d hear, see, or read something interesting, she heard me say, “There’s a story somewhere in that.” For me story ideas are everywhere and within everyone. I find story spark ideas in: the things I’m interested in, in other stories, in the news, in things people do, in things people say, at museums, in places I visit, in places other people visit, in magazines, and even through the tidbits of information on the backs of cereal boxes.

The Nun and the Narc originally started with the heroine as a missionary to Mexico building houses for the poor. I’d been working on some news articles about Habitat for Humanity for the newspaper, which probably spurred the original story plot. But the story wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t get my head wrapped around the missionary heroine. Then a critique partner suggested I consider making the heroine a novice in the Catholic Church. Now, I am fascinated by nun stories. “The Sound of Music” is my favorite musical, and I loved the television series “The Flying Nun.” As a stringer for the local newspaper, I interviewed a nun who left the order to marry, and, in real life, I knew a nun who had also left the convent to marry. I do admit to having a curiosity about how those women dealt with leaving the convent, and I think part of that curiosity spurred my story.


The Nun and the Narc

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.


Although the book was a hard sell—the Christian market doesn’t usually like you to name denominations—the story was so intriguing to me, because of my interest in nuns, that I wrote it anyway, knowing it might never leave my hard drive. It was a book of my heart—inspired by my own interests and my feature stories for the newspaper.

My second book, a sweet romantic comedy with a touch of drama entitled A Groom for Mama, got its inspiration from a radio play my husband and I wrote years ago, entitled a “Bride for Mama.” The original play finaled in the contest, but my hubby and I never did anything more with it. When I was searching for something new to write, I remembered the radio play. I asked my husband if he minded it I took the original premise—a dying mother wants her son to find a bride before she leaves this earth—and turned the plot on its ear, creating a new story. He agreed and A Groom for Mama was born. I found inspiration in another story.


A Groom For Mama

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.


My most recent release, a contemporary inspirational romance entitled Bidding on the Bouquet, was ripped from an internet headline about a bride who was making her wedding attendants bid for places in her bridal party. My story, however, bears little resemblance to the news story. With plot twists and character changes I created a new story. All I needed was spark of an idea provided by the Bridezilla who wanted to get money for her wedding.


Bidding on the Bouquet

The chance to catch a bridal bouquet containing a solid gold rose makes underprivileged, down-on-her-luck grad student Marietta Wilson pawn everything she owns to come up with a bid to win a bridesmaid spot in the most prestigious wedding of the season.

 When he discovers his sister is auctioning off bridesmaid spots in her wedding party, wealthy, elitist Chip Vandermere is appalled. Not only is it in poor taste, but no self-respecting lady would stoop so low as to bid. Convinced Marietta is a gold digger, Chip sets out to thwart her plans.

A social climber and a social misfit. Can a bridal bouquet unite them?


So, you might want to be careful the next time you ask a writer, “Where do you get your story ideas?” They might just say, “Why, from you, of course.” Because everything is fodder for the imagination of a writer.

Thanks for coming by today and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win books from these six authors: Carole Brown, Catherine Castle, Linda Matchett, Amber Schamel, Terri Wangard, and Jodie Wolfe. Click on the link below to enter to win a free ebook. My winner may choose either The Nun and the Narc, A Groom for Mama, or Bidding on the Bouquet.

A Rafflecopter giveaway

 About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, theatre, and quilting. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her books The Nun and the Narc, A Groom for Mama, Bidding on the Bouquet and Trying Out for Love boxed set on Amazon. Connect with Catherine on her website and blog, FB, or Twitter @AuthorCCastle









Wednesday Writers—Callum’s Compass by Sara Foust


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Today’s guest on Wednesday Writers is Sara Foust, author of the Inspirational Romantic Suspense Callum’s Compass. She’s be taking about treasure hunts today and how they fit into her book. Welcome, Sara!

Some people have said the clues in Callum’s Compass seem way too challenging for everyday people to figure out. I even had one lady mention in an early critique that surely the first clue Kat gets would be too difficult for someone without code breaking experience to solve. I had to laugh a little, because that clue was one my husband, my brother, my two cousins, and I actually solved thirteen years ago on a treasure hunt facilitated by my uncle Jim. It was something of a tradition with Uncle Jim. And though I only was blessed to participate in a few of his infamous hunts, he had left my cousins ones all throughout their childhood.

This particular trip, we were staying at a house in Outer Banks, North Carolina, and he surprised us with our first clue early in the week, if I remember correctly. We didn’t know what the “treasure” was but, based on the last time, suspected it might be chocolate-covered doughnuts or another type of treat. All of his clues were difficult, but the one that stumped us the longest was the one using the Bible verse from Revelation that you will see in Callum’s Compass. I’m not going to tell you what the final solve was, I’ll let you read that for yourselves in my book, but I will tell you it took nearly all of a day to figure it out. And I can still remember him laughing each time we brought a new idea to him. “You’re thinking about this wrong, guys,” he would say. We even used a “phone a friend” to call his son in Nashville who was unable to make the trip. My cousin, Chelsea, is the one who finally figured it out. I figure it was all those years of practice he’d given her growing up at solving his riddles that made her so good.

At the end of the hunt, we used a metal detector to locate gold coins buried in the sand. You talk about a real treasure hunt! It was so incredibly fun. I can still picture the moment we found the treasure and looked back at the balcony porch to see the “real grownups” (I was 22 and married, mind you) grinning down at us.

Uncle Jim passed away from an aggressive brain cancer two years ago. There’s not a day that goes by we don’t think of him and miss him so much. I’ll never forget his laugh, his sense of adventure, and his love. None of us will. We are going to the beach as a family again this summer, thanks to Jim’s son’s generosity (our phone a friend). And he is working on the treasure hunt clues now. He’s already promised they will be in “Uncle Jim fashion,” which means our kids may never find the treasure without the “real grownups’ ” help, of which I am part now. But above all else, the memories we make will be the treasure we remember for the rest of our lives.



Callum’s Compass

by Sara Foust

KAT WILLIAMS’S brother died in a gruesome accident in the mountains of East Tennessee. She blames herself.

RYAN JENKINS’S fiancée was murdered. He couldn’t protect her.

With the death of her brother, Kat believes she is unworthy of love from anyone—even God. When a good friend elicits a promise that she will stop living in the past and then leaves her clues to a real-life treasure hunt, Kat embarks on an adventure chock-full of danger. To find the treasure, Kat will have to survive wild animals—and even wilder men. Can she rely on Ryan, the handsome wildlife officer assigned to protect her . . . without falling in love?

Ryan swore off love when his fiancée was murdered, but feelings long-buried rise to the surface around Kat. He volunteers to help with her treasure hunt, vowing to keep her safe. Together they venture deep into caves and tunnels . . . and even deeper into the depths of their unplumbed hearts.


The box lay on the ground, its contents strewn beneath her truck. She picked up a golden pocket watch, the surface worn smooth on both sides, and another piece of paper with a hand-drawn picture.

What in the world? She read the page in her hand.

Revelation 6:8—

And I looked,

And behold a pale horse:

And his name that sat on him was Death,

And Hell followed with him.

And power was given unto them

Over the fourth part of the earth,

To kill with sword,

And with hunger,

And with death,

And with the beasts of the earth.

She turned the note over to discover a series of tiny numbers written on the reverse side.

5:12; 2:10; 4:22; 10:11; 1:5; 6:3; 7:14; 2:18; 4:4; 6:1; 7:5; 9:9

More Bible verses?

Kat tucked the scripture verse and drawing back into the box and slid it safely onto the seat. The pocket watch clanked against the compass as she dropped it into her pocket.

Want to read more? You can find Callum’s Compass on Amazon


About the Author:

Sara is a multi-published, award-winning author who writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Callum’s Compass won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest.  Sara also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, and her second novel in the Love, Hope, and Faith Series, Camp Hope, will be released in July 2018. Gain access to a FREE digital scrapbook detailing some real-life places from Callum’s Compass by signing up for her newsletter at http://www.saralfoust.com/.

Connect with Sara on her Social Media Links:  Facebook:   Twitter:





Story Sparks Blog Tour–Creating a Family to Be Proud Of by Terri Wangard


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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, Terri Wangard is the featured author. A lucky winner will win her Friends & Enemies. Terri will be talking about “Creating a Family to be Proud Of.” Read on to discover what sparks Terri’s creativity and to enter the rafflecopter to win her heartwarming book.


Creating a Family to Be Proud Of

by Terri Wangard


A batch of forgotten letters was found in my grandmother’s house. Written in 1947 and 1948, they came from distant cousins in Germany. My grandparents and other relatives had been sending them care packages. My great-great-grandfather immigrated to Wisconsin in the 1870s, as did two brothers. A fourth brother remained in Germany, and these letters came from his grandchildren.

The family in the letters would be the perfect subject around which to craft a story. Research revealed life in Nazi Germany as increasingly grim before the war even started. The letters provide a fascinating glimpse of life in war-torn Germany, but nothing about the war years. How had the family coped? I turned to the internet and searched on the family’s factory name. I found it all right, in a list of German companies that used slave labor. I wanted my family to be the good guys, but that hope grew shaky.

Contact had ceased in 1948 after the German currency reform, and with their silence in the letters, many questions couldn’t be answered. Why had they refrained from any mention of their thoughts and activities during Hitler’s regime? Desire to forget? Shame of the vanquished? Concern the American family wouldn’t help if they knew the truth?

The family consisted of a brother, his wife, and three young children, and a sister and her husband, and their “old gray mother,” who turned 66 in 1947. Another brother languished as a prisoner of war in Russia, not returning home until 1949, I learned from the German department for the notification of next of kin. The sister and her bridegroom had lived in Canada for five years, returning to Germany in 1937 because she was homesick. They were bombed out of their homes and lived in their former offices, temporarily fixed up as a residence. Before the war, they employed about one hundred men, but in 1947, had fewer than forty-five, with no coal, electricity, or raw materials to work with.

My imagination took over. The family, not the newlyweds, came to Wisconsin. Because a critiquer scorned someone returning to Hitler’s Germany due to homesickness, I gave them a more compelling reason when I rewrote the story. The grandfather had died and the father had to return to take over the factory, much to the daughters’ dismay, who loved their new life in America.

Of course, they did not support Hitler. Because their factory had to produce armaments and meet quotas imposed on them, they had no choice in accepting Eastern European forced laborers, Russian POWs, and Italian military internees.

The older daughter (my main character) took pride in committing acts of passive resistance. Now a war widow, she hid a downed American airman, an act punishable by execution. When they were betrayed, a dangerous escape from Germany ensued.

Maybe the family did support Hitler. Many did before realizing his true colors. My version probably doesn’t come close to the truth, especially concerning the daughter. The real daughter was twelve years old in 1947. No matter. This is fiction, and this is a family I can be proud of.


Friends & Enemies

by Terri Wangard

Aiding downed enemy airmen is punishable by death in Nazi Germany,

but he’s an old friend. How much will she risk to help him?

A World War II novel.




Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win Terri’s book Friends & Enemies Follow the other authors in this week’s blog tour for a chance to win their books as well. Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter.

Enter the Rafflecopter

Can’t wait to see if you win Terri’s book? If so, here’s the book’s buy link.

Thanks for coming by today. Please come back every day 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:

Terri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor. Connect with Terri at her website http://www.terriwangard.com/


Story Sparks Blog Tour–Spies, Flutes and Red-Heads by Carole Brown


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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 Carole Brown is the featured author.

A lucky winner will get her choice of a Kindle copy of

With Music in Their Hearts or A Flute in the Willows.

Today Carole will be talking about these books: The Spies of WWII. Read on to discover what sparks her creativity and to enter the rafflecopter to win one of her heartwarming books.


Spies, Flutes, and Red-heads

by Carole Brown


Developing my WWII Spies series came from two things:

  • Listening to my mother talk about her life during WWII and seeing the pictures she had
  • A short story about a “supposed” civilian spy during WWII from an elderly man. Rumors had it that HE was that spy, but he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Because my interest in WWII was sparked through these two avenues, I found it easy to fall in love with the research for the books.

Researching spies was an eye-opening experience. Not only danger is involved, but there are tons of reasons why men—and women—serve in such a capacity. The rewards are vast—money, esteem, the parties and socializing, exotic countries—if all goes as hoped and the spy escapes detection. Caught—prison and death can be the result.


And since dangers and sacrifices abound in WWII stories—some of which I brought out in these books, I also wanted to create a sense of fun, warmth and love to lighten the suspense. One way I managed to create the feeling was to bring music into the story as a subplot.

The idea to include music in these books was sparked because of my own love of music. The decision as to what or how it was brought into each book was also a fairly easy decision. Music has so many benefits besides lightening up suspense books.

  • Encouragement
  • Mood enhancers
  • Spiritual uplifter
  • Healthy

and so much more.

One tidbit before I move on to the sisters. I love most instruments, but the flute was not one of them—until I heard one played by an expert. That changed my ideas about flutes, and from then on, and the idea was sparked! The flute was the perfect instrument to include in athletic Josie’s life.

The Red-headed Sisters:

I’d already planned to feature three red-haired sisters in their own books. It was fun to create their personalities and who the heroes would be. Fortunately, while I wrote book one, the heroes for the other two books appeared and were good matches for sisters two and three.


I’ve always loved red hair. It’s so vibrant, rich in color and alluring. Studying and researching the subject I realized how many different shades of red there are and helped spark the choice of shades for each sister to match their personalities.

All in all, the first two books have been a delight to write, and I’m looking forward to the writing the third book soon.

Let me share brief thoughts how the spies, music and sisters all worked together to make this series heartwarming and suspenseful.

With Music in Their Hearts

With my interest piqued and imagination soaring, I settled on the plot for book one where the hero—handsome, smart, a minister and godly—is rejected to serve overseas but recruited to serve as a civilian spy. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between him and the heroine as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

Emma Jaine Rayner, by her own claims, is a non-professional pianist, who entertains and gives an extra dose of homeyness to the boarding house residents with the nightly musical fests. Her active imagination while playing, increases her longing for a man to love—and Tyrell Walker, the civilian spy, increases the pressure by wooing her with his trained voice.

A Flute in the Willows

In Book Two, the heroine and hero are both rebels in their own way. She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband, an overseas U.S. spy. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? When his wife’s life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie. These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their ownselves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.


Josephine Rayner Patterson, the second sister, is quite different from her older sister. She’s athletic and training for the Olympics once it’s resumed after the war. But returning to her flute after a drastic alteration in her life, it’s the balm that heals her troubled heart. In spite of resisting, Jerry Patterson through her music and enduring love, finds his heart strangely drawn to what he’s never experienced before.

Sing Until You Die (coming)

The third book in this series has a tentative publishing date of 2019. The youngest sister of the WWII Spies sister overhears a private conversation while singing to the military troops and realizes it’s vital information to the well-being of the United States. When she’s almost discovered, Claire barely escapes. Surrounded by zealous people she can’t and won’t trust, Claire has no options but to trust the one person she most disdains, the one person she ran from: quiet, plugging-along Wills but rumored to be the best spy serving on U.S. soil. In the midst of danger, Wills has the chance of a lifetime: to show the love of his life, his love for her. Will she learn that God is her strength and wisdom and that no matter how well she can sing, how far she travels, how many men she meets, only Wills can fill the void in her heart?

Claire Roseanne Rayner is the princess of the family, the petted and beloved daughter of the Rayner Family who sings like a bird and is determined to fly away like one too. She loves God but staying away from the boy-turned-man she grew up with is never far from her mind. William (Wills) Mason has never wavered in his love for Claire Rayner. In spite of having no talent in either singing or playing, he’s fully behind Claire’s musical ambitions. And loving her just might bring him to the point of facing death.

The Spies of WWII, Book 2

A Flute in the Willows

Chapter One


Jerry Patterson stared out the yawning black hole in the side of the plane. Seconds to go before he dropped. Night time parachuting was always a risky thing, but the pilot was one of the best who’d keep this baby right on target, lessening the chances he’d have to hit water. Trees were another matter, but with any kind of luck, the landing would go smooth.

Then to meet his contact and move into the German military high life. His pulse revved up. It was a dangerous game he was about to play.

Josie’s face flashed in his mind, and Jerry felt his heart soften. How he loved his tomboy wife. She was a beautiful butterfly dancing on ice, but put her in a social setting, and she was like a wild creature let lose in a maiden aunt’s prim parlor.

Three weeks of marital bliss. It’d been heaven on earth for him. One rapturous day—and night—after another. She’d cried the night before he’d left, but had been strength personified when he’d boarded the train the next morning.

If—no, when—he got home, he’d wrap his arms around her and not let her out of his sight.

Jerry stepped into the hole and dropped rapidly, counting. One thousand…One thousand one…One thousand two… With a jerk he pulled, the parachute opened above him, and he drifted earthward toward his assignment.

Question for readers:

What is your favorite musical instrument?


Do you want to read more about Carole’s books? Check them out on her Amazon Author Page

Don’t forget to enter to win one of Carole’s books. One lucky winner will receive an ebook of either With Music in Their Hearts or A Flute in the Willows.To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below.


Enter the Rafflecopter


Thanks for coming by today. Please come back every day 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 Carole:

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

You can connect with Carole at: Personal blog: Facebook: Amazon Author Page: Twitter: BookBub: Pinterest: Goodreads: Linkedin: Google+:  Stitches in Time:





Story Sparks Blog Tour–125th Anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893 By Jodie Wolfe


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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, Jodie Wolfe is the featured author. Two lucky winners will be awarded either her To Claim Her Heart or Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society. Jodie will be talking about the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. Read on to discover what sparked Jodie’s creativity and to enter the Rafflecopter to win her heartwarming book.


125th Anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893

By Jodie Wolfe

September 16th will mark the 125th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. It was our Nation’s last great race for land. 115,000 people showed up to race for 42,000 plots. I can clearly picture that day. It was hot and dry. Folks gathered along nine different starting places located along the Kansas border and south of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma Territory.

All manner of conveyances could be seen—people on foot, horseback, buggies, wagons, bicycles, trains, etc. I can easily imagine the clamor and chaos as all those assembled awaited the gunshot that would signify the start of the race at noon. People were desperate. The country had undergone an economic catastrophe with the plummet of the New York Stock Exchange due to the overinvesting in the railroads. Many businesses that depended upon the railroad were forced to close their doors. Quite a number of banks either closed or called in their loans. It was a difficult time.

Such is the backdrop for my new novel, To Claim Her Heart. This book is especially significant to me since it was my dear mother-in-law who introduced me to the history of the land run. It mattered to her because she had several relatives who completed in the land race and found claims. I vividly remember the summer of 1997 when we stopped off in Oklahoma to see one of those original properties.

My sons and I tromped over the land and saw the homestead that was built in 1894. The first home had been a soddy that didn’t last longer than a year.

The rock home I saw was partially built into the side of a hill and in a state of disrepair. A stream gurgled nearby and within a couple of miles, the Gloss (Glass) Mountains cropped out of the landscape. It didn’t take much for me to start imagining characters tromping through the area and choosing to settle there.

While Mom never lived to see this book finally published, she knew that I was working on it in her last days. I’m so thankful that she shared her rich family history with me. Quite a few of the family stories she told me were included in my book.

Here’s what the back cover blurb says:

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

Here’s the first scene:

Chapter One

Competition should be relegated to the male species. Proper young ladies should avoid a situation which permits rivalry, particularly involving the male species. If unavoidable, allow the gentleman to win. Be above reproach in this manner.

Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society


September 15, 1893, Kiowa, Kansas—Border of the Cherokee Strip

“Elmer Smith?”

For once in all of her days, Elsie welcomed the name Pa had insisted on when her life began and Ma’s had ended.

“Is that you, son?”

“Ain’t your son.” Ain’t no one’s son. Elsie shifted her Stetson lower to ward off the man’s scrutiny.

“There’s no need to get your prickles up. Do you testify you’re at least twenty-one years of age and head of your household?”

Elsie nodded and bit back a retort.

“Then sign here.” The man shoved a paper across the makeshift desk. Beads of moisture dotted his upper lip.

She scrawled her name on the line. The page crinkled when she folded and shoved it into her shirt pocket, along with the copy of The Homestead Laws and Pa’s hand-drawn map.

“Get out of the way, kid.” A scraggly looking fellow jabbed into her shoulder.

Elsie stepped out of line, glaring at him. He ignored her and turned his attention to the clerk.

She elbowed through a crowd of men. How had her small town swelled to so many folks? Thankfully there were few she recognized, or, more so, who could recognize her. The less who knew her gender, the better. She certainly didn’t need no man to help her get the land she and Pa had dreamed about.

Elsie scooted her hat up and swiped at the sweat on her forehead before dropping it back into place, scrunching the thick braid she’d pinned up three days prior. Hefting her saddlebags to her opposite shoulder, she hiked the short distance to the livery and retrieved Buster. A short ride would clear her head and prepare her for what lay ahead.

Dust swirled and nearly choked Elsie as she rode in the opposite direction of the throngs, to see the old farm one last time.

Acrid smoke filled her lungs. Nearby fires, to deter Sooners from entering the strip before the race began, burned in the west, but not out of control.

Elsie urged Buster, careful not to tire him. Everything hinged on finding the land tomorrow.



At the beginning of each chapter I created advice from a Mrs. Wigglesworth. Of course, most of my characters do the complete opposite. ☺ Because I’ve had such positive feedback in regard to these sayings, I created an ebook of her quips. I’ll be giving away a copy of it as well as an ecopy of To Claim Her Heart, so be sure click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win.

the Rafflecopter

And now, Jodie has a question for the readers: What time period/historical event draws your attention?

Want to read more about Jodie’s books? Go to Amazon where you can find To Claim Her Heart and Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society

Thanks for coming by today. Please come back every day 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:

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. The power of story to influence lives and change hearts is what motivates her to weave tales that tell of the Savior’s faithfulness and forgiveness. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests and is a member of ACFW and RWA. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at www.jodiewolfe.com.

You can also connect with Jodie at any of these sites.

Website: Facebook: Twitter: Pinterest: Goodreads:




A Writer’s Garden with Lillian Duncan


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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 Lillian Duncan. Welcome, Lillian.


I’m not much of a gardener. Actually, who am I kidding? I’m not a gardener at all. I do, however, love the products that come out of a vegetable garden, especially tomatoes. In my world, I have five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, and TOMATO season! I wait all year for tomato season.

Ronny Gardening


Lucky for me, I’m married to a man who loves to garden. Unlike me, he loves to play in the dirt and do what it takes to grow those wonderful tomatoes along with a variety of other veggies. And, yes, he plants flowers for us as well.






So I’m not a gardener but I am a writer. I wrote a poem about The Master Gardener that is in my novel, Deception. Without further ado, here’s my poem:


The Master Gardener


I want a garden of peace and joy

where it matters not

if the sun shines,

if the rain falls,

if the wind blows.

My life is a rocky patch of dirt and soil

filled with pebbles of pain and problems,

filled with weeds of worry and grief,

filled with rocks of rebellion and wrongdoing.

Nothing good can grow in this rocky patch of mine.

But God is the Master Gardener.

He can change this rocky patch to a garden of peace and joy.


Let God till the dirt and soil.

He can change the weeds of worry to wisdom.

He can change the pebbles of pain to compassion.

He can change the rocks of rebellion to a spirit of submission.


God is the Master Gardener.

He can change that rocky patch to a garden of peace and joy.


Let the Holy Spirit sow the seeds.

He can plant the seeds of forgiveness, mercy and grace.

He can plant the seeds of goodness, kindness, and faithfulness.

He can plant the seeds of patience, tolerance, and self-control.


God is the Master Gardener.

He can change that rocky patch to a garden of peace and joy.


Let Jesus share the fruits of His labor.

He will give you guidance.

He will give you love and fellowship.

He will give you a friend who never leaves.


God is the Master Gardener.

He can change that rocky patch to a garden of peace and joy.


I found a garden of peace and joy

where it matters not

if the sun shines, the rain falls

or the wind blows.


God is the Master Gardener.

© Lillian Duncan Do not reproduce without express written consent from the author


Deception is the first in my Sisters By Choice series and features a set of estranged twins that couldn’t be more different from each other or so it seems. Patti is a go-by-the-rulebook type of person while Jamie is a “free spirit” or at least that’s the persona she portrays to the world. But Deception is the title of the book and that means there are more than a few surprises waiting as the story unfolds.

Amazon Link for DECEPTION


About the Gardener/Writer:

Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!

Lillian is a multi-published writer with several Amazon bestsellers. Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch or two of sweet romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us

Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word. To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: http://www.lillianduncan.net/ or at Tiaras & Tennis Shoes, her personal blog at www.lillian-duncan.com. She also has a devotional blog at www.powerupwithGod.com.





Wednesday Writers — Patrice Locke and Exit Signs


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Today Wednesday Writers Welcomes Patrice Locke to the blog. Patrice will be sharing the unusual eating habits of her heroine from her romantic comedy Exit Signs. She is also sharing an excerpt from the book for your reading pleasure. Welcome, Patrice!


Main Character’s Snacks, Readers Eat it Up

As I was writing my newest book “Fresh Start,” due out from Soul Mate Publishing this summer, I thought a lot about what makes a main character stand out.

I knew immediately what readers liked best about the main character in my first book, “Exit Signs.” It was the bizarre snacks narrator Tracy Price concocts—rattlesnake meat and cotton candy, string cheese wrapped around craisins. It’s usually the first thing readers mention to me, and it’s listed in almost all the reader reviews. One even asked, facetiously, I hope, for a recipe book. Tracy is a snack virtuoso only in her own mind.

And the funny thing is, the snack concoctions almost didn’t make it into the story. My editor at Soul Mate suggested adding more background information about Tracy, including her favorite foods. I immediately knew that Tracy would not have a handful of grapes or a saltine with peanut butter on it. She wouldn’t throw a banana in a blender with almond milk, and she would never, ever eat carrot sticks, unless they were slathered in caramel.

Tracy is a unique character, and her snacks would have to be too.

Then, as if a cartoon dialogue box had flown overhead, I heard Tracy explaining her genius snack combinations. A wheat thin and a square of dark chocolate; a salted, dry green bean and a pineapple life saver; meatballs in chocolate sauce. She carried them all, at one time or another, in a plastic snack bag tucked into the pocket of her blue jeans. She let me know it was a tradition she carried on from her Romanian grandmother.

Over the course of writing in Tracy’s voice I got to know her very well. But she had a tendency to be a private person, so it took me a while to crack her shell – in a completely non-egg-like way.

That one little detail about Tracy turned out to be a key element to her story, reinforcing her perspective and heritage in a way I never expected.

The snacks turned out to be a highlight of the final scene in the book, a sign that the happily ever after was real.

By the way, there actually is an online recipe for meatballs in chocolate sauce. I guess it’s quite a delicacy in some places. I hope I never visit those places.



by Patrice Locke

Tracy Price is a film researcher. She doesn’t do crushes—at least not until she’s 32 and meets the one man she knows she will never marry. He’s Jesse Elliot, a musician running from fame.

Tracy’s obsession with a decades-old missing person case consumes her. And though Jesse resents her quest, it may lead her to finally understand him. When Jesse and Tracy both feel betrayed, an unexpected blessing may be their only chance for happiness.


The first thing he did was call attention to his blue-black hair by reaching up with his right hand to rake some strands away from his forehead. The hair fell right back onto the shoreline of his face just like a wave on a beach. I thought of the cliché movie scene where the action cuts to an agitated ocean to symbolize sex. I cleared my throat, ordered myself to get a grip.

Instead of listening to myself, I surprised both of us by asking him my name: “Tracy Price?”

“Yes?” he asked, matching my tone and confirming my identity. “It’s nice to meet you.”

I didn’t realize until later that he hadn’t introduced himself to me. He had a strong aura of self-assurance, not arrogance exactly, but calm confidence. We had a very ordinary conversation, memorable to me only because of my rising anxiety and the silent dialogue that began running in my head.

He was all-business. I was all over the place. He said nothing at all intriguing; he didn’t need to at the first meeting. This was how a romance novel would begin, and I would just go ahead and provide all the dialogue for both of us. He could be two-dimensional. I could write the script for us. I thought I knew the genre, but I had it wrong from the start. This was no romance. This was science fiction. He was from another planet. He had to be.

He sat down in a chair adjacent to mine and waited for me to speak, so I threw caution to the wind and asked: “How do you like Albuquerque?” Very original, Tracy! What I really wondered was, How does it feel to look like you do?

“I like it,” he said, answering both my questions. “I really like it so far.”

I nodded, feeling a surge of power. “I bet. And how long are you staying?” I wondered: Would it be too forward of me to sit on your lap?

“Six weeks… I really can’t say yet. This was kind of an unexpected trip.” Bingo! Both questions addressed.

I smiled; this was working! Let me know when you decide about the lap thing. I took a deep breath, covering my mouth for a brief fake cough to clear my head.



Want to read more? You can find Exit Signs at Amazon

About the Author:

Patrice Locke studied journalism at Michigan State University. Then an unexpected job offer drew her westward. She worked for New Mexico and Arizona newspapers, covering everything from government meetings and drug busts to Navajo Code Talkers and haunted houses.

She’s a Jane Austen fanatic.

“Exit Signs” was her first published book. The second, “Fresh Start,” is due to be published in the summer of 2018. It’s about a woman who’s been dumped 1600 miles from her home with nothing except a guilty conscience and a to-do list she’s sure will change her life. Book number three, which may be called “Honey, I’m Home” has the same narrator as “Exit Signs.”

Connect with Patrice at her Webpage:  Facebook: Twitter: @PatriceLocke




A Writer’s Garden with Tina Susedik


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

Today’s guest is Tina Susedik. Welcome, Tina!


Spring has been slow in coming in Wisconsin this year. Three weeks ago, we were heading into a major, three-day, snowstorm. Some areas of the state received 30” of snow. We only got 18” where I live. Consequently, flowers, trees, and spring are way behind.

Every year our city holds a marathon and half marathon. The race route goes right past our house. It’s fun watching and supporting the runners, one of which is my daughter. We have a gorgeous crab apple tree in our front yard. Last year, at this time the tree, as well as my tulips and daffodils were in full bloom, giving the runners something to look at besides the black pavement. We received a lot of comments from the runners about how beautiful it all was.


This year, not so much. If any of the runners remember last year’s tree, they’re going to be disappointed. Not one leaf, not one blossom. Two tulips and one daffodil in bloom. At least the grass has turned green.

Maybe I’m too impatient for things to green up. Maybe I shouldn’t look at my rose bushes and other plants twice (okay, maybe three or four times) a day to see if they have leafed out or are coming up. But, I want to see color. I want to know my plants survived the harsh winter. I want it to warm up enough to plant my annuals and not worry about frost.


Anyone else feel this way?


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, award-winning author in both fiction and non-fiction, covering children, military, history, and romantic mysteries. She also hosts her own radio show with Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Twice a month, on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 2:00 Central, she interviews authors in all genres. The title of her show – what else – “Your Book Garden.”

You can connect with Tina on her website


Missing My Heart

by Tina Susedik

Time: 1975. Place: Bourbonville

After the death of the grandmother Ellie Farrell had lived with since she was sixteen, she is tasked with the job of cleaning out the over-packed house. When Ellie begins to find love notes and money from a Bert to Randi spanning over four decades, she sets out to find out who these people are and what they have to do with her. An unexpected check for $100,000 dollars delivered to her house, ramps up the mystery – especially when death threats begin to arrive.

Patton Trullinger, an investigative reporter, comes to Chandler County to research bootleggers for a book he’s contracted for. As a Vietnam veteran, he’s dealing with PTSD. When he meets Ellie, he finds her mystery too good to pass up.

Who are Bert and Randi? Who is sending death threats? Will Ellie and Patton’s love bloom as the mystery deepens?


Want to read more? You can find Tina’s book at  Amazon:  Barnes & Noble: Ibooks: Kobo: and Google Play:

Warning to readers of sweet romance: This book’s heat level is steamy.

A Writer’s Garden with Donna Schlachter


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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.


Donna Schlachter is my guest today with a garden devotional that includes one of my favorite garden vegetables.


Abundantly Multiplied

By Donna Schlachter

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 The Message


Each spring I plant tomato plants, My husband Patrick loves fresh tomatoes, so the reality of it is that except for him, I’d never plant them. So I buy the plants and put them in. We usually get two or three different kinds – early producers and late producers.

When we plant those little spindly plants, my thoughts are, “I’ll never see tomatoes from these, The first wind will knock them over.” Yet I water, and I fertilize, and before I know it, my tomato plants have become tomato trees. Before you laugh, take a look at the one-pound tomato I harvested one year.

As I wonder at all the tomatoes we harvest each year, I’m amazed at what God can produce from one tiny seed. Not only the plant, but hundreds of tomatoes loaded with hundreds of seeds each, If every seed in every tomato were to germinate, we would have to move out of Denver, let alone move out of our house.

God’s provision for our food is truly amazing, and yet no less amazing is His provision for our spiritual growth as well. God plants one tiny seed of passion for some area of ministry in our hearts, and soon that seed takes over, consuming us, until we burst out of our boundaries and share with others around us.

God takes our desire to love and serve Him, and grows it big enough so we have the time and energy to serve others. He takes our obedience to give tithes and offerings, and returns our giving to us multiplied, pressed down and flowing over. God takes our longing to be loved, and gives us so much it flows out into other areas of our lives.

As you consider how God takes something as small as a tomato seed and multiplies it into tomato trees, consider how He does the same thing in different areas of your life. Look for seed to plant in the form of prayer. If there is a longing in your heart, ask God to fulfill it. If you have a passion you would like to put to work for Him, ask Him to open doors and provide whatever you need to accomplish that.


About the Gardener/Writer

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 author who has published a number of books. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters In Crime, and Writers on the Rock; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

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

Train Ride to Heartbreak

by Donna Schlachter

October 1895

Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home.

John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother.

Though separated by thousands of miles, they commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart?

Want to read more? Check out Donna’s story on Amazon