Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Sound From the Past


While stopped on a bike ride to admire bleeding hearts, I heard a long-familiar sound. A brisk breeze caused waves to slap against a pontoon boat moored nearby. That tinny, hollow knock of water against boats is unmistakable.


My grandparents had a summer home in a trailer park. Located on the shore of Green Lake in Wisconsin, the little community had a long boathouse divided into individual stalls. My grandfather rented one slip for his boat.
One light bulb provided inadequate lighting. A narrow ledge across the front and along one side required nibble footing. The water was always black. Scary black. What was down there?
And, of course, spiders inhabited the closed space.
One year, the hoists didn’t let the boat down evenly and the back end of the boat sank into that dark water. The gas tank was undoubtedly contaminated. The way to empty the tank was to insert a hose and suck on it to siphon out the watered-down gas. The task left my dad with the taste of gasoline in his mouth. His remedy? Drink beer. Alcohol was never found in our home, so that made a lasting impression.
All these thoughts come back to me when I hear waves beat against boats. What sounds from your past do you remember?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Linda Matchett's Story Sparks



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



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

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

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

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

Here are the sparks for each of my books:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Link: www.amazon.com/dp/B01DMB3ZX2

Friday, May 25, 2018

Story Sparks With Amber Schamel


Welcome to the Story Sparks multi-Author Blog Tour. Between May 21-26, 2018, readers get a chance to enter and win ebooks from six different authors. Today, Amber Schamel is the featured author. A lucky winner will win a copy of her 2018 Christian Indie Award winner, Solve by Christmas, PLUS she has a cover reveal to share. Read on to discover what sparks Amber’s creativity and to enter the rafflecopter to win her inspirational mystery with a Sherlock flare.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the incidents at the factory become life threatening, Jasper’s attempts at dissuading Mr. Rudin prove futile, and Jasper is left staring at the stark reality of his own soul. Time is ticking. Jasper must solve both cases by Christmas before Mr. Rudin, the company, and Jasper’s faith, are dragged to perdition. Will this be the Christmas Jasper truly discovers what makes life worth living?
So, for Solve by Christmas, I guess you could say that it was a series of sparks that resulted in that story. Kinda like one of those fireworks that has multiple explosions.

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


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

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

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

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


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Story Sparks for Catherine Castle



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 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.


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. J

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 a 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.

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


Embedded links for those who can’t embed
Buy links:
The Nun and the Narc www.amzn.com/B00CHU9DH2
A Groom for Mama  www.amzn.com/B074SZSGB1 
Bidding on the Bouquet   https://www.amzn.com/B077X1RZ6X
Trying Out for Love  https://www.amzn.com/dp/B078SDRHP9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCastle    @AuthorCCastle







Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Creating a Family to Be Proud Of


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.


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
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. http://amzn.to/2eGJeoR

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.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Spies, Flutes, and Red-heads by Carole Brown


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 I'm 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 I'll be talking about these books: The Spies of WWII. Read on to discover what sparks my creativity and to enter the rafflecopter to win one of my heartwarming books.
  
Spies:
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.T
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.


Music:
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 doze 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
1943
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?



  
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?



Monday, May 21, 2018

125th Anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893


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.




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.


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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.





Here’s the first scene:
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.
Everything.




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 to leave a comment.

What time period/historical event draws your attention?