I enjoy the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, I also teach Spanish and French and have degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. I received my MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Presently, I live in north Louisiana with my husband and rescue kittens.
Are you ready for the cover reveal? I’m so excited! I’ve waited a long time to release the first in my Gardens in Time novels. Labor of Love has been a labor of love, straight from my heart. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. For this series I chose four gardens in four different eras and countries with unique characters and plots. Labor of Love will release in February 2022. You have an opportunity to preorder your eBook copy and free short story from the publisher with this link: http://www.celebratelitpublishing.com/posts/book/labor-of-love/
Once again Roseanna White has designed a beautiful cover. Celebrate Lit Publishing has made this journey a joy! I cannot wait to hold my copy. February seems so far away…
Here is the backcover copy about the book:
Something sinister lurks in Pitti Palace.
Despite having spent eight years as companion to her cousins, Ana Geovani still questions her role and place in the Medici household. This uncertainty compounds and alarms as her cousin’s marriage approaches and a marriage is arranged for Ana.
With no say in her own future, fear and despair dulls even the splendor of the gardens she holds so dear.
As the newest under gardener at the palace, Marco Rossi should have everything he’s dreamed of–beautiful gardens to tend and master architects and gardeners to learn from. Yet a secret mission threatens his peace of mind, his position, and even the love of Ana. Although God is always with him, reminding him of a bigger plan, Marco feels the weight of the consequences he will face if he challenges a Medici member.
The desires of men and women, both royal and common, create costly dilemmas and potential disasters of hearts and souls. What will it take for Marco and Ana to prevail against everything driving them apart?
Reserve your copy today and stay connected for future updates! Leave your comments about the cover and the plot!
Peter Pan has crash-landed back on Neverland. But this is not the island he remembers.
Desperate to rescue Claire and the fractured Lost Boys, Peter must unravel what truly tore his dreamland apart. But with each step, he is haunted by more of his own broken memories. Not even Pan himself is what he seems.
Claire Kenton is chained to a pirate ship, watching the wreckage of Neverland rocked by tempests. When she finally finds her brother, Connor is every bit as shattered as the island. Claire may have pixie dust flowing in her veins—but the light of Neverland is flickering dangerously close to going out forever.
To rescue Neverland from the inescapable shadow, the boy who never grew up and the girl who grew up too fast will have to sacrifice the only thing they have left: each other.
A Peter Pan and Neverland drama. My memories of Neverland are full of light and color. In Shadow, it is dark and colorless. I have not read the first book Dust, but I have ordered my copy and have it ready. The familiar characters are back with grim stories to tell as they live the horror of a dying island.
Swanson shares her incredible imagination as her characters pulse with the life blood of the island. It reminds me of the influence our decisions make on those around us, the environment, and the world. For good or evil? For people connected or tethered to God, the life source spreads for good even if the world seems to fall apart around them. There’s hope and promise for our world.
Is there hope for Peter Pan’s Neverland?
About the Author
As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent her childhood running barefoot through the lush jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the fantasy genre. The award-winning author of The Girl Who Could See, Kara is passionate about crafting stories of light shattering darkness, connecting with readers, and becoming best friends with a mermaid—though not necessarily in that order. Kara chats about coffee, fairytales and bookish things online (@karaswansonauthor) and at karaswanson.com.
More from Kara
One of my favorite CS Lewis quotes is this:
“Some day you’ll be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
There’s something subtly profound about the idea that the very stories which captivate our imagination and shape our perspective on good and evil as children, will reveal more gems when we return to them later. When we’ve conquered some dragons of our own.
This was especially true when I write my Peter Pan retelling duology Dust and Shadow. These YA novels literally return to a fairy tale. I took a familiar story and dug even deeper, pushing Peter himself to grow a little more and see what new bits of pixie dust and hope there may be in a familiar story.
But there is another reason why our hearts gravitate toward fairy tales.
I think GK Chesterton put it brilliantly in a quote that is actually at the very front of Shadow:
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
Because maybe even more than being reminded of the whimsy of a fairy, we need the reminder that even in a world filled with dragons – they can be killed.
We can conquer.
And that simple truth, told a hundred different ways, will always lift our hearts and our chins.
Shadow was not an easy book to write – and it is not a particularly lighthearted tale. It is raw and vulnerable and at times lives up to it’s title in some darker moments. But there is always a sense of courage there too. A reminder that even in the shadowed places, the valleys, the instances that steal our breath and twist our hearts and make us wonder if all is lost –
There is another page to turn. Another step to take.
We are not finished.
No matter how young we are, we can strap on our armor, lift our swords, and fight for the light.
We are not overcome because our strength does not come from us.
It comes from our King.
And in the end, He will make all wrongs right, and there will be a happy ending to our tale, even if it may not be the ending we expect.
Because it may not be easy to slay the dragon, but as the fairy tales do remind us –
She relinquished her childhood home. Abandoned her former life. And set off for a faraway valley that’s touted as magical. As an aspiring newspaper reporter, Blossom Evans expects to find plenty of material with which to carve out a career.
But alarming tales about the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas abound. Barely tamed, rugged brush land. Mexican bandits. Wildcats, rattlesnakes, and tarantulas as big around as dinner plates. Where will she find the courage to face—and overcome—such foes, even for her dream career?
The first hint of an answer lies in the sleepy little West Texas town of Winters. An unexpected conflict is brewing, one that could launch a reporter’s career—or crush it before it begins. How will Blossom be lured into the fray? And where will she find the temerity to confront this particular brand of evil? It’s Christmas Eve 1923, and Blossom Evans is about to discover what’s she made of.
1923 Texas retained its wild frontier, with crazed ruffians lurking in the tumbleweed. For Blossom Evans, those elements of the untamed and unknown bore an inescapable fear. Fear comes in all forms in human life. When someone says “Don’t be afraid” it’s not that easy to erase being afraid. Words won’t take care of the nightmares or trembling. A courage is needed from a source within. A source from Someone who knows the answers.
God can use many different avenues and devices to help one conquer fear and lean on the One that matters most. For me, living in a foreign country, then moving to a new city made me confront and examine my insecurities. My pen helped round out the fear and produce a safety zone. Blossom in this novella has a camera, a story, and a family. The wilds of Texas can try to force her to turn away from her fears or face them. As with all of us, the choice is ours. But fear does not have to win.
About the Author
Linda Brooks Davis was born and reared on a farm in Raymondville, a small Rio Grande Valley community in the southernmost tip of Texas. She retired in 2008 after forty years as a special educator and administrator and now writes inspirational historical fiction from her home in San Antonio, Texas. Readers may contact Linda through her website, http://www.lindabrooksdavis.com.
More from Linda
Something to Write Home About
“People don’t come better than the Pyles,” my mother would often say about her mother Ella’s family. And I believed her.
Years ago—1967 to be exact—Mother finally convinced me to put pen to paper and tell the Pyle family tale about their winter of 1923-24 migration from central Oklahoma to the southernmost tip of Texas. In covered wagons. The process turned me into a family history buff.
My mother was our family’s “keeper,” and she passed the moniker to me. Fortunately, I now share her interest in our Pyle ancestors’ backstories. I delight in finding treasures—photos, stories, anecdotes, and documents—from our family tree.
At the present time, I’m going through trunks, bins, and boxes of family mementos that extend into the nineteenth century and even further. Each item sparks dreams of what forebearers’ lives truly might have been. What were their secret longings and loves? What dreams did they withhold from others? What tragedies did they endure, and how did they survive them?
One Pyle dream that became reality was migrating from central Oklahoma to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the southernmost tip of Texas. They had heard stories about soil so fertile and climate so ideal that the area was called the Magic Valley.
Land developers in the Valley were as busy as bees in citrus orchards, doing all they could to convince folks in the Midwest to buy land in the Texas Magic Valley, and the newcomers came. Among them, my mother’s Pyle clan. In the deep winter of 1923-24, the Pyles sold their land and belongings and acquired 8 covered wagons and the horses to pull them. On December 17, 1923, they headed southward toward their dreams.
On Christmas Eve a week later, the family arrived in Winters, Texas, a windswept community south of Abilene in West Texas where ranchers and farmers populated the countryside. Since the advent of the train and automobile, cross-country travel in covered wagons had become an oddity. And the Pyles did feel a bit odd—especially when someone mistook them for Gypsies and bought the Pyle children Christmas presents.
Fast-forward sixty years. My mother possessed a crusader streak and rarely hesitated before acting on it. Fifty years after the wagon trail adventure, she acted—without hesitation—when a young farm worker told her someone was involved in the drug trade on her land.
Soon she knew the sound of the engine and general description of the car that crept down the dirt road past our house in the dark of night for no apparent reason. Mother, the Super Sleuth, wanted to share the make and license number with the local police, so she and the young farm worker devised a plan.
On the appointed night, the same car inched past our house, around the corner of an adjoining twenty-acre parcel. Mother and her partner headed, stooped and trembling, across a dark field of cotton toward the now distant red taillights of the suspicious car.
“I need to get close enough to find the make of the car and the license number,” Mother said as she drew near the car, which had stopped in the middle of the dirt road. As she raised up, another set of headlights flashed down the road, and she flopped onto the dirt cotton row. But the second set of headlights brightened their hiding place like the noonday sun.
“Follow me,” Super Sleuth whisper-shouted to her compadre. Both tumbled into a drainage ditch that separated the field from the road. Out of sight—but terrifyingly near danger—the pair dug their fingers into the damp soil and pressed their faces into the slimy growth, praying no one would see them. And that no creepy creature would attack.
Several men, some blinding white in the lights and others black as tar in the shadows, met in the space between the two idling cars and made their exchange. Mother peeked above a prickly weed and caught the makes of both vehicles. And she and her partner memorized partial plate numbers.
Thankfully, the drug dealers went their separate ways, leaving Super Sleuth and her partner to make their way back home. In the pitch-black night. Across acres of growth that snatched at their cotton skirts. Amid clusters of swarming insects. And through strips of undeveloped land that harbored rattlesnakes.
Trembling from the adrenalin surge but armed with tidbits of important information, the two piled into Mother’s car and raced to the Sheriff’s Office. She submitted a report about the incident, complete with the cars’ identifying details, and returned home so grateful not to have been discovered that she fell into a deep sleep.
I drew upon these memories for the writing of A Sojourner Christmas. The McFarland clan does, indeed, set out across country in a team of covered wagons as my Pyle relations did. And they pull into Winters, Texas on the twenty-fourth of December 1923, just as my Pyle forebearers did. They were mistaken for Gypsies and were surprised with Christmas presents from the townsfolk, as are the McFarlands.
While in Winters, Blossom Evans entangles herself in a dangerous affair, one that my Super Sleuth mother would have joined if she could. I can imagine Mother and Blossom heading out across a windswept field in pursuit of bootleggers in 1923. Or drug dealers in 1983. Or …
I hope A Sojourner Christmas meets Mother’s heavenly approval. I hope the same for readers.
It’s been a while since I shared the books in my stack. I read as much as possible. I always have a physical book, an eBook, and an audible book ready at all times. My list here contains the physical books in my book pile.
The first one is Forever Lately by Linore Rose Burkard. It is a Regency time travel romance. Looking forward to this fun read. Danger on the Loch by Paige Edwards caught my attention because of the Scotland setting and the mystery element. I’m hoping for great entertainment.
I’ve heard great things about Sarah Monzon’s novels. I chose Molly to get me started in this contemporary series. I love the fun cover. Then, back to the past with The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. 1939 as London prepares for war the power of storytelling prevails.
I started the True Colors Historical Stories of American Crime recently. The PinkBonnet by Liz Tolsma is the second installment. I’m ready to be scared. MistakenTarget by Tina Ann Middleton is a contemporary murder mystery with suspense and love mixed with hope.
I’m so excited about Volume II of the Ghosts of Culloden Moor by L.L. Muir. It is the story of three of the brave warriors as they obtain a chance to live again. And the last one for the summer is Maylie’s Luck of the Irish by M. L. Tarpley. This is book two of the Tales of the Travel Girl.
What are you reading or what does your stack look like?
Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian court, a Russian princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.
1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory.
Born the second son of a duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. While treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter and underground Russian clubs where drink, culture, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.
Out of money and options, Svetlana is forced into a marriage of convenience with Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn can’t help hoping the marriage will turn into one of true affection. As the Bolsheviks chase them to different corners of the earth, Wynn and Svetlana begin to see they will never be able to outrun the love they have for one another.
I have always loved Russian history ever since I took a Russian history course in college. I consumed fiction and non-fiction on the subject. The Ice Sway has taken me back to the drama of the 1900s when the nation of darkness and ice imploded. The author’s portrayal of her heroine as a stoic, icy princess captures the country’s hold on the world. Only in the meeting and melding with other fragile lives does the true heart of the Russian commence to use her powers of strength for good.
Trust is an element in a relationship that holds great weight. If treated lightly, harm hangs around every turn. If treated without forgiveness, relationships can be severed. The balance is a must. Add a war, strict boundaries, different languages and cultures, cold climates, volatile times. Trust gets swallowed up as decisions are made. What is truth in the worst circumstances?
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’nell
When we think of the Great War we often only think about events happening right on the battlefield of France, Belgium, and Germany. It was a time of great upheaval for so many people and countries, none more so than Russia. It was during the Great War that the Bolsheviks rose up against the monarchy, assassinated the tsar and his family, and plunged Russia into civil war. The country was in such chaos that they pulled out of the war to deal with their own revolution. The Russian Revolution was the result of centuries of oppression and imperialism that finally boiled over. As the Bolsheviks seized power, nobles and anyone associated or favorable to the monarchy were stripped of their privileges and homes, many killed, and still thousands of others fled in fear of their lives where they became the great wave of White emigres.
The stories of the ill-fated Anastasia and the evil Rasputin are legendary, but it wasn’t until recently when I watched a Russian miniseries called Road to Calvary that I became fascinated with the nobles and their struggle and from all that an idea sparked that would become my upcoming release, The Ice Swan. It’s about a Russian princess fleeing the Revolution to Paris in 1917 where she meets a handsome surgeon who is breaking new grounds in cardiology. We see the plight of the White emigres who have taken refuge in Paris and founded their own little Russia in the heart of the city, the exhausted City of Light after four years of war, the overflowing hospitals, and highly controversial advancements in surgery. Plus, a romance to prove that true love can overcome any difference and who doesn’t need a little more love these days?
A mom ready to do anything for her son. A man determined to win the woman he loves.
Going on Love at First Glance had seemed like such a good idea. She didn’t care about finding Mr. Right. No, Mindy Murray chose the reality TV show for more mercenary reasons. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do when it comes to feeding her son.
When Mindy returns to Elnora, the girl from the “wrong side of the island” just wants a chance to rebuild her reputation. Too bad the folks at church don’t practice what the preacher preaches.
Enter Dermott Reilly. The interim boss at Greener Gardens has always had a soft spot for Mindy and her son, but with his new responsibilities, an important garden competition, and a few other concerns, he finds it difficult to prove himself to her.
A tropical storm and a missing child prove that sometimes grace appears in the most unusual ways.
Regaining Mercy concludes the Elnora Island romances of the Independence Islands Series, featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily ever-afters.
The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.
Oh, how far we think we fall. But is it too far for God’s mercy and grace? The journey continues on Elnora Island. In this installment children enter the drama. As in real life, they add a vivacious element to the day’s activities. Adults and their pride sometimes hinder the young lives. Taking a chance and trusting in God’s tender care can lead to a better existence in all areas for all people.
The ego is a strange “being.” It can as equally destroy if too strong on the side of self-promotion as at the other end of defeatism and the lowest of self-esteem. There is a healthy medium that once found is a mechanism of strength, hope, and contentment. Ask God to show the perfect way to that peace.
About the Author
Carolyn Miller is an Australian author of inspirational romance, particularly that of the Regency era, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds where flawed people can grow in faith, hope and love through stories that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives.
More from Carolyn
Have you ever wondered what might happen if a failed TV reality star was to return home to her narrow minded community? What if she’s been tarred and feathered with disgrace?
In our world of insta-fame, selfies and fakebook, I find it fascinating that so many people are entranced by so-called reality TV, with its editing and narratives and shiny-eyed hopefuls chasing money, love and dreams. But what if it doesn’t work out? What happens next? How do you resume ‘normal life’ when you’ve been living in a very artificial world?
I enjoy writing fiction that is grounded in reality, with realistic, flawed characters who are on a God journey to find faith and freedom. My contemporary and historical novels often see characters struggle with the choices they’ve made (don’t we all?), which is exactly what single mom Mindy is dealing with.
Combine Mindy’s challenges with those faced by gardening expert, Dermott, a man whose stone wall building skills are better than his way with women, or his inability to hide his attraction to his former co-worker’s younger sister.
Regaining Mercy encourages us to see ourselves as God does, to not let the labels of the past to shape our future. Along the way, readers will enjoy the honest portrayals of family, friendship and faith.
I’m so glad people are really enjoying my new contemporary books, where I can bring my love of gardens (& my horticulturalist hubby’s expertise!) to a new audience. Want to see what’s growing in my garden? Check out my website www.carolynmillerauthor.com – and you might even see some of my husband’s famous stone walls!
If you enjoy stories of hope, heart and humor, then you’ll be sure to enjoy this novel about a prodigal and the patient gardener who helps her find God’s mercy – and renewed hope for her heart.
It’s that time again–time for my monthly giveaway. Please comment on my blog for your chance to win one fo the two books this month.
I’m reading Kara Swanson’s second book in the series, Shadow, and decided I had to read the first one, Dust, so I bought two copies. Amazon has this posted about Dust:
The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale…
Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real—since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London…and a boy who shouldn’t exist.
Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.
The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan—and herself.
Draw Me to Your Side, Book Four in my Revolutionary Faith Series is historical fiction:
Warships in the harbor explode with battle cries for freedom in the heartsof Charles Town’s patriots.
Charles Town, South Carolina, 1775—With the British warships threatening his family and livelihood, Louis Lestarjette commits to aid the fiery Patriots like Francis Marion, Christopher Gadsden, and Silas Deane with secret correspondences in code and in French. With an expanding family, Louis values their lives and safety over his. Not convinced that the colonies can succeed in separation from Britain, he abides by his word—available with funds, his life, and his possible absence from Elizabeth, an unpleasant sacrifice.
As Elizabeth faces the birth of her second child, she wonders at the wisdom of bringing new life into this war zone. While cannons are aimed at the city and she’s confined to her home, she watches other women continue in their secret mission. Knowing her activity can eventually begin again, she considers where and how her little family can survive in the turbulence of pending independence. Louis’ impending volatile role leave her questioning the possibility of being in a war alone. To survive she must draw to God’s side as all else is changing.
Comment for your chance to win: What is the last fairy tale retold or historical fiction that you read?
I have a new motto: WORK. WATER. WORDS. That about describes my goals for each day. The order is not to my first choice but it is my life at the moment and it makes sense.
Since I have a full-time paid job teaching French and Spanish online, WORK must take priority. I love my job from my home. As the picture shows, I work with the Tour de France on TV and my dog keeps me company. I love it!
As I work and play and write, I drink WATER which is part of my daily routine. The motto reminds me to do that as I stop often to get some steps in to reach another goal. I love summer and the outdoors where I walk my dog and work too.
Then, WORDS! This one I would love to put first, but for now my writing is my afternoon project. I’ve been successful trying to write every day. This month I’m participating in the NaNoWriMo. It’s like a camp for writers. My goal is 30,000 new words. As of today, I’m at 16,700 words—I’ve completed a short story and started a new novel.
If you have a motto for the summer or of life, please share.
It’s Christmas in July! What is more fun than to celebrate with a HUGE giveaway!
I have partnered up with Celebrate Lit Publicity to do an amazing giveaway where you can win a spectacular prize of over 50 books or a $500 Amazon gift card to buy books you love to hold you over until Christmas!
Be sure to enter Celebrate Lit’s 3rd Annual Christmas in July Multi-Author Giveaway going on now through July 17.