Archive for February, 2018



“I had both my brothers and my sister back. I had wept and prayed that PEARL should be restored to me. Jacksy and Thierry I hadn’t cared so much. And now, here they were, all jolly and pleasant with me, as though I were a dear friend.”


“PEARL had always been tenderhearted, kind to everyone, even notre mère. He enjoyed a cigar with Papá, even at his young age, and made friends with everyone he met. Unlike me.”

rem:  Bonjour, Madame, bienvenue. I’m delighted to have you on my blog today.

PEARL:  blushes  I think you, Madame. I’m most happy to be here.

rem:  Yours is quite the bittersweet story. What can you tell us of your suffering?

PEARL:  Oh, Madame, it was most difficult. I truly believed that I didn’t deserve to be happy.

rem:  My dear lady, I am so sorry you have known this…

PEARL:  touches her hand to mine  I know you have fought the same demons.

rem:  nods  And now you are living a most happy life, n’est-ce-pas?

PEARL:  Oh, oui! I most surely am.

rem:  What can you tell us of Simone?

PEARL:  shakes her head  Such a tomboy, that one. Never did she prefer tea parties—unless they were outdoors. And always climbing and tearing her dresses and stockings. But she is a dear, and a dear friend. Never did she turn away a friend in need, and never did she know anyone who wasn’t instantly her friend.

rem:  What impact did it have on you when she fell?

PEARL:  La! Madame, it was most horrific. We were all little girls still, we didn’t comprehend what had happened. Only that she fell in the water and…  gasps  … and she never came up again.

rem:  Pearl, I’m so sorry you saw that.

PEARL:  Merci, Madame. We all vowed never to go there again. Mercedes and Scarlett and myself. It was too difficult, too painful to play there ever again.

rem:  And where was that?

PEARL:  Versailles—well, we called it that. Truly, it was a burned out old church.

rem:  You were the one who thought to name it ‘Versailles,’ correct?

PEARL:  Oh, oui. I visited there—the real place, the one in Paris—when I was a small girl.

rem:  I believe you have become a midwife, is that correct?

PEARL:  Oh! Oui! And I am so happy in that.

rem:   Toutes nos félicitations! Congratulations. It was a struggle for you, was it not?

PEARL:  It was, yes.

rem:  But not because of difficulty.

PEARL:  Non¸ Madame. It was because I believed I surely would fail—and to fail a mother in childbirth… the consequences are most dire. Unthinkable, unconscionable…

rem:  I understand. You fled Saisons. Can you tell us why?

PEARL:  I… looks about the room  It was… I felt I had no choice.

rem:  And why was that?

PEARL:  I believed… I believed my friends would be ashamed of me. That they would no longer want to be my friend.

rem:  And I believe the answer to that would give too much information away.

PEARL:  laughs  Oui, best to leave some to read.  winks

rem:  Dearest Pearl, I’m so happy you visited with us today. And I’m most happy to know you are now happy in your life.

PEARL:  Oh, Madame. I could not have done it without you. It is I who should thank you.











““PEARL was no longer lost to me and he had a new bride. And Thierry was no longer lost to us all, and was about to take a bride. At five and twenty years, the estate now was his birthright and he had granted PEARL full privilege and management over Ashley Santee.””




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday Wednesday, The Silent Song of Winter, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Pearl Marchand Grüber

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Life’s painful trials can bring shame about our inadequate and broken faith. There is relief in hearing the expressions of desperation in the psalmist’s voice. He didn’t experience this life perfected, and we don’t either. But the psalmist was loved. So are we.

God was so kind to give us the Psalms.

To walk through darkened days is part of the human experience. To walk through them with faith, comfort, strength, joy, and hope is part of the divine experience. Our eyes, though, are often clouded to those blessings by the thing oppressing us. When we remember and recognize our Father’s faithfulness, when we see reality with the eyes of understanding, the darkness ebbs and the light of hope grows. The impossible, unbearable, and unthinkable becomes the hidden passageway to truth, hope, and joy in Christ.

These letters were originally written as encouragement to a friend when the darkness began to overtake his path. Each day for 22 days, a letter arrived with one of the eight-verse sections from Psalm 119 along with a small thought to bring light and hope and to be a reminder that we do not fight our battles alone. The letters, along with nine more devotions on the subject of experiencing God in the dark, make up this powerful, honest, hope-filled 31-day devotional.




Sarah Van Diest is a writer and editor. She’s the mother of two boys, stepmother to three more, and wife to David. Sarah wrote this book as letters to a dear friend whose life was turning upside down. She’s done this for years for numerous friends, and will continue to, Lord willing. It’s her gift to them. It’s hope written down.




It never ceases to amazing me how our heavenly Father speaks to us. To read a devotional that was written not only three years ago but for a personal friend of the author—and that it speaks so directly to my heart—is Father’s providence.

Every word in this book is heartfelt and God-felt, and the love radiates on each page, bringing light to dark and wounded hearts. The Word of God is what displaces the darkness, and Ms. van Diest has put together 134 pages of comfort. This is one I can turn to time and again, when the darkness tries to creep in.




I received a complimentary copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.



#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, God in the Dark, Sarah van Diest

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The volunteer nurses of the Civil War.


Thousands of women set aside their daily lives to care for the sick and wounded during the Civil War. Women from both sides pinned on aprons and set to work washing, feeding, and bandaging the scores of men who would swarm into makeshift hospitals in their hometowns.

At the onset of war, there were fewer than 150 actual hospitals in the country, and no formal nursing schools. The profession was dominated by men, as women were thought to be too fragile to cope with the challenges of caring for the sick and wounded.

But as the fighting began, the sheer volume of wounded soldiers from both North and South soon overburdened facilities and resulted in a break-down of traditional gender roles in nursing.

One of these volunteers, famous novelist Lousia May Alcott records her first days of service in Hospital Sketches. She paints a vivid picture of endless, exhausting work, and gives a glimpse into the nature of the Victorian society with her account of how scandalized both the women and soldiers were when these new volunteers were asked to remove the men’s shirts and bathe them.

It wouldn’t be until later when women like Dorethea Dix set up standards and training that things would get a little more organized. But even then, many of the soldiers had to rely on the kindness of local volunteers to help keep them healthy.

While some nurses under the direction of Dorethea Dix were paid 40 cents a day plus rations, many were volunteers using shredded sheets from their own homes.

In the backdrop of my Liberator Series, Rosswood Plantation is taken over to serve as a hospital, leaving young Annabelle Ross to learn to tend the men who fill her home. Her duties would have included washing, feeding, changing bandages, writing letters, and trying to keep men’s spirits up. As a Southern lady with Yankee inclinations, Annabelle tries to care for all of the men to the best of her ability, regardless of the color of their uniform.


While Annabelle and her time nursing is, of course, fictional, Rosswood Plantation did indeed serve as a hospital for Confederate soldiers during the war.

In many cases, mansions like Rosswood were taken over by the armies because of their size and ability to house the officers or create makeshift hospitals, run by army surgeons.

The women that lived in these homes often faced a harsh reality as rooms that were once used for parties and balls were now filled with bleeding and suffering men.

In a tumultuous time of destruction with a nation pitted against itself, these women found strength and courage to bind the wounds. If not for their valiant efforts and the relentless determination of women like Dorethea Dix and Clara Barton (founder of the Red Cross) nursing wouldn’t be what it is today.


If you are interested in reading more about Annabelle and Rosswood, you can get the first novel in the Liberator Series FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Get yours instantly here.




* Historical images from the Burns Archive, public domain, Rosswood and Annabelle pictures property of By The Vine Press


Brief excerpt from Leveraging Lincoln:

Let the dead bury the dead, Annabelle thought as the spade sank another few inches into the ground. She paused a moment to wipe the sweat from her brow with a dirty sleeve. Dead, indeed. Her arms were numb from digging, and her back and legs were starting to cramp. A heart hardened against the gristly task beat rapidly with exertion underneath what had once been the gown of a privileged heiress. But, that was before the war, her father’s death and…. Well, it didn’t matter now anyway.

She hadn’t had time for anything other than the soldiers from both North and South who at one time or another had filled her home to overflowing. Annabelle slammed the spade into the earth, her fingers so numb from the cold she hardly noticed the forming blisters. She gave these men the best she could—a too-shallow grave and a few parting words. She recorded every name, should their families ever come to look for them. Until then, Annabelle had no choice but to share her land with the dead.

“Miss Belle, you’s done enough diggin’ today.”

Annabelle looked up from the hard ground and into a face that looked as tired as she felt. The waning light of another long day cast shadows on Peggy’s dusky skin and made her look older than she should have. Peggy lowered the rear legs of the makeshift cart to the ground, giving a soft grunt as she finally released the weight. Annabelle mustered a smile she hoped would soothe away some of the worry lines creasing Peggy’s brow.

“I know. But I didn’t think we could stand to leave him out another day.”

Peggy pressed her lips together but said nothing. She was less fond of leaving dead men in the house than she was of Annabelle digging. Annabelle reached down and grabbed one of the worn boots, and gave the body a tug. He felt twice as heavy as when they’d loaded him in the cart. “Help me get him in.”

Peggy hesitated, and Annabelle wondered if this would be the time she refused, but, as usual, Peggy clamped her jaw tight and grabbed the other boot. They heaved and struggled until the body fell from the cart, scraped over the rough earth, and finally landed in the hole with an unceremonious thud just as the sun began to dip below the trees. Annabelle resisted the urge to place her dirty fingers under her nose in a futile effort to hold off the stench.

Peggy sighed. “It’s a right shame we ain’t got no preacher for them. You sure buryin’ them here is a good idea?”

Annabelle pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a weary sigh. “Peggy, you’ve asked me that question a dozen times, and a dozen times I’ve given you the same answer.”

“Still don’t like it.”

Annabelle nearly agreed, but she knew that would only give Peggy more footing to try to wear down her resolve. “Come on. It’s getting dark. We need to get him covered. Lord willing, he will be the last soldier we lay to rest at Rosswood.”


Stephenia H. McGee writes stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. After earning a degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences, she discovered her heart truly lies with the art of story. She put pen to page and never looked back. Visit her at http://www.StepheniaMcGee.com for books and updates.







#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Stephenia McGee

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“You’re nothing but a failure.” Those words were spewed at me nearly twenty years ago. What’s shocking, though, is that I had lived under that wordless proclamation for most of my life.


It’s not true, of course. Although I have failed AT many things in my life—as we all have—that does not make ME a failure.


As an author, my characters reflect different aspects of who I am, and in my new release the main character, Pearl, seems to be most like me of all my characters thus far. Though her life was vastly different to mine in many ways, she too lived under a burden of perfectionism—and the plague of never achieving it.


This is not Father’s will for us. His standard is excellence, not perfectionism. While I (nor any of us) cannot achieve perfectionism, I can work with excellence.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11


Father God has not put us here to fail. Nor has He made the standard so high or rigorous to make it impossible to succeed.


What I’ve learned—as does my character, Pearl—is that all done unto Him, with a sincere heart, He counts as success. Even, and perhaps most especially, when we “fail” by the world’s expectations.


When we keep our focus on Father God, when we invite Him into our ventures, even our mundane day-to-day activities, when He is walking alongside us, then we will know success. When He walks alongside us, He directs us, guides us and protects us.


And best of all, He whispers in our ear of His love for us, encouraging us and sustaining—and always willing to catch us when we fall. He is for us, not against us.


Seek first the Kingdom of God… Matthew 6:33

Come closer to Him, and He will come closer to us.  James 4:8


Father God has so much better for me, for all of us, than striving to achieve the impossible. We are His priority, He asks that we make Him ours.


Do not be conformed to the ways of this world but be transformed by renewing our minds. Romans 12:2


And we do that by meditating on His Word, which is to say getting to know Him. And the more we know Him, and more we become like Him. And the more we are like Him, the more we know He is for us not against us.


If He is for us who can be against us? Romans 8:31


Not even myself. Not even failure. We are made in His image, and He doesn’t fail.



#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Nothing but a Failure, Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:33, James 4:8, Romans12:2, Romans 8:31

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The Inactions of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points in Tyrol

Imagine driving south, over the Austrian border into northern Italy. You start to run through your rudimentary Italian, and as you cross the Reschen Pass—still a German name—you encounter the first pizzeria on the side of the road and think, “Yeah, baby! We’re in Italy!”


And then you come upon a Speck stand, and a sign for Äpfel and because you’ve been in Austria for at least a day, you already know that these are the signs for that incredible smoked bacon and those delicious apples used in the last guesthouse’s Strudel.


At first, you might consider that some Tyroleans migrated into northern Italy, maintained their “brand” and wrote their signs in German. Except, that’s not it. The first town you encounter, Reschen also has another name: Rescia. Graun is also called Curon Venosta. And then you see it:  Where once there was a fertile valley, you will find a 4-mile-long reservoir nestled in the Alpine peaks. On one side of the lake, about 200 yards from the shore, and rising out of the water, is a medieval church tower, fully intact. This haunting scene stopped me in my tracks and I had to ask, “What the hell happened?”

Step into the time machine, dear reader. Let’s go back to just before the outbreak of World War 1 and illustrate what was happening: the Austro-Hungarian Empire had its reach into a good part of today’s northern Italy, all the way to the Po Valley and Trentino. A good majority of that land also belonged to the autonomous province of Tyrol, who had earned its freedom during the Napoleonic Wars. However, there was quite a group of disgruntled Italian nationalists who held to the belief that the lands to the Brenner Frontier (if you Google this, look just south of Innsbruck) were traditionally Italian. Of course they were: that line of mountains was a wonderful natural barrier against potential enemies to the north.


The thing is, Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had little conflict with one another. And in the Tyrolean province, Italian migrants were generally welcomed with open arms. They worked there, lived there, filled in the jobs that needed filling, especially in agricultural labor. All in all, these two cultures worked pretty well together, as well as with the Slavs to the east among a handful of other “regulars”.


So what happened? It’s called the Treaty of London. Signed in 1915, the Triple Entente promised huge swaths of land to these Italian nationalists if Italy took up arms against its neighbors and Germany. And there you go. Now imagine Giuseppe and his family work on your Tyrolean farm. He’s called to service. He has to cross the line to the south, pick up his weapon, turn around and face his employer in a war where not one single Italian ever got across into Tyrol. Not one. The battles were all fought south of the line.


Enter the good ol’ U-S-of-A. And the end of the war, President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points:


“IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable line of nationality.

X. The people of Austria-Hungary whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Romania, Servia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.”


All very well and good, right? Noble. Righteous. Principally sound, especially if you’re an American. Point 9—especially—was a contentious matter.


Imagine you’re Wilson and the French, the Russians and the British come up to you and say, “Emmm…Sir? With all due respect, we’re going to have to ignore those points in the case of Tyrol, south of the Brenner Frontier” as well as a few other places…like Trieste, for example, because there was…well…a secret treaty.


Wilson was not prepared to budge on this, so Vittorio Orlando arrived with his delegation and debated about how the Brenner Frontier was absolutely Italian. Naturally! The rivers, look! They flowed from the south to the north.


Nobody checked to see if this was true. And it wasn’t. The Italians had fudged the maps.


Very simply put, Wilson was in a pickle. Italy was granted the new frontier and the Tyroleans were faced with a cultural pogrom not unlike Stalin’s over Ukraine: the German language and culture were systematically eradicated between 1918 and into the World War 2, with Hitler and Mussolini even creating a pact and demanding the Tyroleans choose either to be Italian or German citizens. Those who voted German, were relocated to new territories. Those who chose Italian, were threatened with relocation to the Italian colonies in Abyssinia.


“Wilson himself would later admit that he conceded the territory based on ‘insufficient study’ and that he came to regret this ‘ignorant’ decision.” (Scott A. Berg, Wilson).


If World War 2 had not broken out, who knows how things would have turned out. But when Hitler marched into Poland, the whole program was halted.


But what of this church? What happened at this lake on the Reschen Pass?


The Austro-Hungarian Empire had laws in place that dictated that no man made structure could be built if it affected over a certain percentage of the locals’ livelihoods. Those laws protected the Oberer Vinschgau Valley—the valley where the lake is located—from a plan to raise the lakes of Reschen and Graun by five meters and create a reservoir for the purposes of producing electricity. The plan was reneged. Dead in the water, so to speak, before it could find its legs, because it would have affected too much of the fertile farmland in the valley.


But Italy suffered in World War I. They had barely managed to hang onto their britches and one of the first things that occurred was a very strong force that swore that would never happen again. Enter stage left: Benito Mussolini. Italy was in chaos, and after wresting control from the monarchy, he lay out a plan to make Italy the strongest industrial nation in Europe. The race with America began.


In order to build machines and technology, you need power. You need electricity. And the new territory of the Alto Adige / Südtirol, or South Tyrol, had a treasure trove of areas for reservoirs and dams. But how do you get around those old laws?


Very simply. You write new ones.


The Reschensee / Lago di Rescia is just one of perhaps a thousand stories about the misdeeds enacted against the German-speaking Tyroleans but the way this particular reservoir was built reads like a thriller. Corruption, greed, and prejudice were the key cornerstones in making this beautiful reservoir happen. Beneath the surface, lie seven villages, wholly and completely destroyed. What arose of this, however, is a story that few know. And really should.


My history lessons in school, in Minneapolis, taught me about how important Wilson’s Fourteen Points were, how noble, how righteous, how justified they were. They made me proud to be an American. Isn’t it interesting how, when you travel, you begin to uncover the reality of what we consider to be truth? Isn’t it interesting how, when you look beneath the surface, you can begin to calculate the differences between intentions and actions?

CHRYSTYNA LUCYK-BERGER is a historical fiction author living in western Austria. She grew up in “Nordeast” Minneapolis, first generation to a Ukrainian immigrant family. Her series, RESCHEN VALLEY, uses the building of the Reschen Lake reservoir as the background for her five-part saga. NO MAN’S LAND, part 1, was released in January 2018 and is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats (ASIN: B078WDPDSJ).




#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

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Welcome to First Line Fridays, hosted by Hoarding Books!!!


Tell us your first line in the comments & then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating!





Single mom, Eisley Barrett, prefers to keep romance housed within a centuries-old mystery, but when she travels to England to unearth the secret, an actor with a sordid past offers her heart a very different type of discovery.

Wes Harrison has a past he’s ashamed to confess. Suspicious and cynical, he’s managed to avoid romantic entanglements since a tragedy upended his career and life, that is until American Eisley Barrett comes along. Her authenticity and kindness upend his bitter assumptions and send his heart into unscripted territory.

When his past threatens to ruin a second chance at love, can some Appalachian matchmaking and letters from the grave salvage their unexpected romance?

Humor, love, mystery, cute kids, crazy families, and culture clashes make this Britallachian Romance a unique and delightful romantic comedy sprinkled with adventure.



One step into the massive glass-walled waiting area was all it took.



Pepper Basham has been a favorite author since I read her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer three years ago. With her signature Britallachian style, and her quirky and sincere characters, I was instantly smitten with Wes and Eisley’s story.




     Five stars, definitely five stars.


#Blogwords, First Line Friday, #FLF, Just the Way You Are, Pepper Basham

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“I had both my brothers and my sister back. I had wept and prayed that Luc should be restored to me. Jacksy and Thierry I hadn’t cared so much. And now, here they were, all jolly and pleasant with me, as though I were a dear friend.”


“Luc had always been tenderhearted, kind to everyone, even notre mère. He enjoyed a cigar with Papá, even at his young age, and made friends with everyone he met. Unlike me.”

rem:  Bonjour, Monsieur, bienvenue. It’s lovely to chat with you today.

LUC:  Swell of you to ask me, dear lady.

rem:  You’ve been away for a long while. Can you tell us why?

LUC:  I was doing top secret work.

rem:  That assignment has ended, correct?

LUC:  It has, yes.

rem:  And before you took on that assignment, where were you then? What were you doing?

LUC:  I worked this assignment these past ten years. And as it’s classified, I can say nothing further about it.

rem:  When you left Saisons, how old were you?

LUC:  Thirteen.

rem:  And why did you leave? Where did you go?

LUC:  Dear Lady, I had to leave.

rem:  Because…

LUC:  Because I had learned… things. Things a man knows, things I didn’t understand.

rem:  My apologies, Sir. I know this is difficult for you. Tell us where you went.

LUC:  Sage. It’s a small town, not ten miles from home.

rem:  I suspect you kept an eye on your sister.

LUC:  Indeed I did! I knew what mon père was like. And that Lissette—I’d have killed her with my bare hands if she had dragged Lucy into her debauchery.

rem:  I can well imagine. And I think I speak for both of us when I say I’m exceeding glad she did not.

LUC:  It is well for her she never did, yes.

rem:  Let me clarify for our readers, Lucy is your pet name for your sister, n’est-ce-pas?

LUC:  nods and smiles  Oui.

rem:   How did you live when you went to Sage? You were a boy when you left.

LUC:  Hardly, dear lady. I was more man than boy. To answer you, I took odd jobs, picking cotton, toting bales. I made deliveries, took goods to folk others shied away from.

rem:  Sounds like you were a brave lad.

LUC:  Not brave so much, ma’am, as necessity.

rem:  Bravo to you.

LUC:  nods

rem:  You’ve had quite a fortunate turn of events.

LUC:  Indeed. My darling is with me again.

rem:  And you’re recently wed, correct.

LUC:  And happily so.

rem:  Congratulations to you both.

LUC:  nods

rem:  You are reunited with your sister, as well, correct?

LUC:  nods  I missed her dearly. We always were quite close, even though that horrible woman did her best to keep us apart.

rem:  Seems you two always made a way to meet.

LUC:  Indeed we did. Pearl is my sister, my twin, and I’ll not let anyone take her from me.

rem:  Yours is a most special bond, Monsieur. What was it like when you were little?

LUC:   smiles  We were inseparable when we were small. We played on the swing and when we were older, I walked with her when she’d push her dollies about, and she would watch me when I played ball. When Papá installed the maze for her, we spent our afternoons in the gazebo.

rem:  And now, you’re reunited.

LUC:  And glad of it, too.

rem:  You’re to settle in Saisons, I believe. Is that correct?

LUC:  You are, dear lady, most correct.

rem:  Monsieur, I thank you for visiting with me today.

LUC:  I thank you, dear lady. It has been my great pleasure.










““Luc was no longer lost to me and he had a new bride. And Thierry was no longer lost to us all, and was about to take a bride. At five and twenty years, the estate now was his birthright and he had granted Luc full privilege and management over Ashley Santee.””





#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, The Silent Song of Winter, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Luc Marchand


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#WreadingWednedsay is now dedicated to ‘wreading’ bits and excepts from my books—there’s five now! Book 3 in my Seasons series, The Silent Song of Winter, releases this month.




“I never did like wearing those things.”

“I would have thought you had one for every day of the week.” Polly stared straight ahead. She had never spoken to me so severely

Tears stung my eyes but I refused to let them loose.

“I’m sorry, Pearl.” She reached for my hand, but quickly grabbed the steering wheel as the car jostled upon a deep puddle.

“I know what people think of me.” She had apologized, and I accepted. But her words still stung; they had hit the mark. I had owned a dozen corsets once.

“No, Pearl, I don’t think you do.” Polly maneuvered the car from the lane and onto a smoother roadway.

“People think I’m superficial and flighty and silly.”

“I don’t.”

“You’re the only one.”

“I’d wager your husband doesn’t, either.”

“Yes, well…”

“And any number of mothers whose babies you’ve helped bring into the world.”

Polly’s words pressed on my thoughts and feelings of poor self-worth, ironing them into unwrinkled submission, to be folded and put away, out of sight.

“I did, didn’t I?”

We didn’t speak again until we were back at her house, cleaning instruments and restocking our supplies in our bags.

“What were you saying about corsets?” I finally ventured to ask.

“I had another young mother, several years ago, Lara Sullivan.” Polly sank onto a kitchen chair. “She was like Mrs. Eddington, insisted on wearing her corset. Even after she was pregnant. She refused to stop wearing it…”

I had not seen tears in Polly’s eyes before. Now her blue eyes puddled, and a tear trickled down her rosy cheeks. I put my hand on her arm and led her to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

“She lost the baby. She pulled that damn thing so tight, she lost the baby.”

“Oh, Polly.” I tried to kneel in front of her, but had to pull a chair over instead. I embraced her across the chairs, and rocked her, singing lullaby words just as I’d heard her do so many times.




#Blogwords, Wreading Wednesday, Featured Book Except, The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons, The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, The Silent Song of Winter, The Whispering Winds of Spring

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Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies—and unexpected allies—she will encounter on her way.


Series:  #1 Cities of Refuge
Genre:  Biblical Fiction
Release date:  6 February 2018
Pages:  313
Publisher:  Bethany House


Grief caught in my throat. “Is there no hope at all?”

She shrugged one humped shoulder. “I am a healer and have gathered many medicines and spells from many lands, but what this man needs is a skilled physician.”

Hope flickered. “Where can we find someone like this?”

She scratched her chin and wrinkled her frown again. “Aside from Egypt, where men are trained in such arts, the only hope would be Megiddo. But I doubt he will last until we arrive.”

“You are going to Megiddo?”

She nodded. “We’d be there already if it hadn’t been for that storm last night.” She turned to peer at the carving of Ba’al. “You let all your fury loose did you not, my friend?” Again she muttered unintelligible words as if speaking to the wooden idol like one spoke to another person. She turned a cloudy eye on me and froze, her attention honed in on me like a serpent sighting a mouse. “You must leave.”


“My friends do not want you here.” She jabbed a long-nailed finger at me. “You bear the mark of my Lord and Lady but you do not serve them. Go. Leave.”


rem:   Hullo Conni, and CONGRATULATIONS on your new book!! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

CONNILYNOh goodness, I think I am too spoiled to want to actually live in another time period. I need my wifi and my Kindle just too much. But I really would really love to visit the 20’s if I could meet my grandma Ruth when she was young. She was a beautiful singer when she was young but by the time I knew her that operatic voice had deteriorated so much. I would so love to experience what life was like for her then, it was such an interesting time in our country with cool architecture and art and fashion but stay there for good? No thanks. I’ll be here in my air conditioning, writing books on my laptop and drinking a latte!

rem:   I know right!! Gimme a time machine and I’ll visit all kinds of times and places!! But there’s no place like home! Where did you find this story idea?

CONNILYN:   I wanted to follow the natural progression of the story after the Exodus because I wanted to write Moryiah’s story (from Wings of the Wind) and once I read Joshua 20 about the Cities of Refuge my imagination was stirred.

rem:   Conni, I gotta say I love the progression of your stories! Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

CONNILYNMoriyah was very easy because I know her so well and so I was able to slip into her skin. Because of her appearance she deals with a lot of the insecurities that all modern women face, so that also contributed to the ease with which she flowed onto the page. The most difficult was probably Yuval because it took me a while to determine his motives for his actions, but once I did he became one of my favorites and actually his original fate changed drastically.

rem:   Oh! I loved Yuval! What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

CONNILYN: I try to avoid munching when I am writing because otherwise I end up at the bottom of bags without realizing how much I’ve stuffed in my mouth, but I do drink lots of coffee and tea at night.

  rem:   Oh yeah, I’m a 24/7 tea-drinking kinda gal! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

CONNILYNOnce I turn in a manuscript I take an entire month off of writing so I can recharge my brain and so I can have completely fresh inspiration when I dig into the next story.

rem:   So.Smart. I think most readers don’t know what it takes of how much work it is to write our stories. Especially yours, with such cultural detail. Congratulations again on your latest lovely story!



Connilyn Cossette is the Christy Award Nominated and CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There’s not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com


1 – “Perhaps it is the vineyard he desires now, my beautiful daughter. But no one could resist loving you, if they give it a chance. I believe that Yahweh is providing a man who will see beyond the veil, past the mark, and into your heart.”


2 – Throughout the long, restless night on my bed, I conjured up all manner of doubts, trying to imagine what sort of man my father had chosen for me, what he might look like, and what he would think of me. Had he heard rumors like the ones that market girl had flung at me? And when he did, would he change his mind or ignore them? I was not sure which outcome I feared more.


3 – All the years between Jericho and now seemed to be charred beyond redemption, as though the brand had sunk deep into my soul, burning away even the roots of hope I’d once clung to, and leaving behind only a patch of ashy dust.


4 – Could I dare hope that Darek could look past such shame? Unbidden hope curled around my heart, squeezing it in ways I’d not entertained for a very long time.


5 – “You have experienced something that no one should ever have to, and yet you handled it with dignity. Instead of railing against your lot, you endure it with quiet grace.”


6 – His attention lost among the glowing embers, Darek tapped a steady rhythm against his knee. The minute gesture caused my thoughts to revisit the festival, when a relentless drumbeat and the flicker of brazier flames had encircled that brief moment when he’d smiled at me and taken a step in my direction.


7 – The longer the rain pelted down, the slicker the trail became. Rivulets of water began to wash down the side of the slope as we climbed, dragging mud and pebbles with them in their mad rush into the valley… The drop-off next to the trail made my stomach wobble—one wrong move and I’d tumble to the rocks below. Perhaps a fitting end for a murderer.


8­ – Fear was a living, breathing thing stretched along my shoulders, weighing me down…


9 – How had I allowed myself to be so thoroughly chained inside a prison of my own making? I’d not only hidden behind the veil, I’d hidden inside my house, and eventually curled up on the inside, too, letting the barrier grow thicker and thicker as the years went on… And perhaps it was not Yahweh who had stopped whispering to my heart… but me who had built a wall between us.


10 – None of this was mine to control. My life had always been in the hands of Yahweh; even before I was born and my grandparents had chosen to walk away from Egypt, my path had always been His to determine.


Connilyn Cossette immediately became one of my favorite authors when I read her first book, Counted With the Stars two years ago. Her research and knowledge of the culture, and her skill at weaving that into her story is now much anticipated with each new story; she does not disappoint in A Light on the Hill.


There is such depth and so many layers to this story, I’m not even sure where to begin… Moriyah has hidden behind a secret from her past—and I think that’s true for so many of us. Her journey to freedom is not easy, and I felt her struggle every step of the way. I felt, nay, I know, her resistance to letting others in, letting others love her.

I must confess that any time I’ve ever read the Old Testament, I never picked up on the Levitical cities of refuge. Ms. Cossette brings to life an invaluable analogy of God’s care and provision for us. Moriyah’s very flight to safety was fraught with danger; so, too, sometimes is our way to the arms of God.

That God used the very thing that scarred her to bring her to the city of refuge is also very true of His touch on our lives. As the song says, nothing is wasted.


Ms. Cossette tells Moriyah’s story so beautifully, her fears real and tangible, her will to survive curious to her. The love story mingled in with the history and the terror of their journey brought tears to my eyes more than once. And always, always, God’s heart and His redemptive power.



I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.



#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, A Light on the Hill, Connilyn Cossette, Cities of Refuge

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Fictional Careers

I must confess that I have ventured away from “write what I know.” My first novels were from a church secretary’s viewpoint—that which I knew and was—and have since featured characters of wide and varying strengths and weaknesses based in large part on what they did. My people are teachers, engineers, inventors, various medical professionals, priests, pastors, shop owners, foreign politicians, and attorneys. One of my favorite characters is a religious Brother hospice chaplain in Requiem for the Innocents. I try to find someone who is actively practicing a profession I can get a handle on to recreate for a character.

Ever since my second novel, Healing Grace, was published, I have been fascinated by medical issues. Having nursing and other medical professionals of all levels among my close friends and family members, I have been able to draw on their rich knowledge base to help me round out characters and situations. That comes with a cautionary tale I’ll share later. I feel drawn to use medical scenarios in my stories either as a plot or pivot point, or a theme because so often the human condition drives story.

Miracles are endlessly amazing. Healing Grace was supposed to the first of a series of novels featuring the gifts of the Holy Spirit—that is, what those gifts might look like when practiced today. Faith healing can be obvious or subtle, if it exists. I unfortunately discovered there is a great divide among believers about how the Holy Spirit operates, and I have yet to work on other books in the series. The main character, Grace, has the gift of healing with a touch. However, she covers her bases with a medical degree as a nurse practitioner. If her patients tend to get well more quickly and easily than other medical experts experience, who’s going to complain? Knowledge of the human body and treatment does not dilute the miracle of healing in any circumstance. Two special friends in the medical field consented to interviews and responded to my requests for factual help, as well as checking my work afterward to make sure I didn’t leave any gaping holes.

When researching your fictional character’s career, always make sure you use both primary and secondary sources for information. Primary sources are personal experience or talking directly with someone who currently practices a particular career. Secondary sources include reading books or articles about a career or reading biographies or manuals.

You, the author, will not be able to satisfy everyone who reads your story. No matter how carefully you research, new regulations and laws, treatment options, recommendations, and discoveries will change the way any career is practiced. Methods and interpretations will vary even between hospitals and clinics, offices, police departments, school districts, or farms. When I was working on my novel Requiem for the Innocents, I wanted to show the female protagonist making a token attempt to deal with her cancer. She agreed to enroll in a medical treatment trial. Now I used an impeccable source for how this study should look and how my character would react. My primary source was a director of an internationally-renown university medical trial department. However, one reader who had worked with cancer patients going through drug trials refused to accept my scenario. Note, this was only a sidelight of my entire story arc, but because I didn’t specify that my character was enrolled in was a Phase I study, and the reader knew what Phase II and III trials were like, she simply couldn’t connect and the story was ruined for her. That experience taught me to be more aware of how my readers may respond to a fictional setting with which they are familiar in the real world. It also shows you how much readers will invest in your attempts to entertain with fiction.

Readers want to invest in your story and your people. Your fictional people should be relatable no matter the era, setting, or genre. They may be sagacious reptilians living on a swampy planet, or telephone switchboard operators in 1900 Milwaukee—it doesn’t matter. Their careers define who they are and predict how they will most likely react to the peril in which we plunge them. The special skillsets we give them drive the story and should contain at least a kernel of truth. Spending hours interviewing or researching for the one perfect little fact, such as what frostbite looks like after a couple of days, will go far to create trust with readers and give them a memorable experience they’ll want to share. Resisting the urge to share every detail we’ve worked hard to uncover will leave room for your readers to fill in the gaps with their own interpretations of what should or could happen allows them to participate in the story and make it a well-loved journey.


Random commenter can choose choice of e-book Healing Grace or Requiem for the Innocents.


Healing Grace: Grace could heal anyone with a touch until her husband got cancer. Nearly destroyed by his death she runs—straight into the lives of another man desperate for her healing touch.







Requiem for the Innocents: When Libby’s cancer resurfaces, she unwittingly becomes involved in an unethical stem cell treatment. The time has come for chaplain Brother Able to continue to stand by or break the bondage of secrets and lies.










Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. A multi-published, award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and occasional contest judge. She is part of Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the US, and a member of Chicago Writers Association.












#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Lisa Lickel, Fictional Careers

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