BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 6 March 2018 – SPECIAL EDITION – remMARwrimo



Simone’s willow green eyes were searching, not weeping. She’d heard that name before. But where? When? Memory fragments rattled, whispered. She strained to listen, to piece the jumble together. But the puzzle that was her memory was still missing so many pieces.
And Mercedes Renaldi was one of those pieces.”


I’m at it again! Fetch-n-Forward of grand proportions—all three of the first books—to glean bits that involve Simone. So I can better tell her story—and not get previously told details egregiously wrong and/or mixed up! (also gets me in the flow of the story)


Finishing #TheWhisperingWindsofSpring by deadline is gonna be a tall order, but have no fear, I’m up to the task!


And all the teaser questions posed thus far?? Look for your answers in Simone’s story!  #winkwink


Fourth and final book in my SEASONS SERIES, coming in May!!! I do love how these stories are overlapping and intertwining, each new one going back to the previous ones, and tying them all together!



“I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”










“the battle for identity, one story at a time”




#Blogwords, Special Edition, #RemMarWriMo, Seasons, The Long Shadows of Summer, The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, The Silent Song of Winter, The Whispering Winds of Spring





Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.


Wrapping her fingers tight around the ladder, Johanna stretched her arm toward the crevice. Close, but not enough to wedge the garland into the crack.

She sucked in a breath, held it, and leaned farther. Her fingertips brushed the breach. Barely. If she stretched a hair closer and shifted her weight a bit, then—

Wood cracked. The world tipped. Johanna flailed, fingers seeking something—anything—to grab onto. A splinter pierced her skin as wood scraped her palms. She tumbled headlong, a scream to wake the dead ripping out of her throat.

She squeezed her eyes shut, tightening every muscle for impact, and—

Landed on a pair of outstretched arms that scooped her up against a solid chest.

“Careful, missy.”

A deep voice rumbled against her ear, reminding her of an autumn day, all golden and warm. Her eyes flew open. The man holding her matched the voice perfectly. Shoulder length hair, the color of spent leaves fallen to the ground, framed a face kissed by the sun, browned yet fair. His coat, rough against her cheek, smelled of bergamot and wood smoke, spicy but sweet. If September were flesh and blood, it would look exactly like the man holding her.

She blinked, speechless, breathless—and totally drawn in by his brilliant blue gaze.

“Miss? Are you all right?” he asked.

“I. . .” Her voice squeaked, stuck somewhere between mortified and mesmerized. She swallowed, then tried again. “I am fine. Thank you.”

“Well then, let’s see if your legs work better than that ladder.” He bent and set her down.

She wobbled, and he grabbed her elbow. La! She must look like a newborn foal.

Behind her, laughter rang out. “What a catch! You should’ve seen the look on your face, Jo.”

A slow burn started somewhere low, her toes maybe, or her tummy, melting her embarrassment and stoking up a hot rage. She reeled about and planted her fists on her hips. “This was your chore to finish, brother. Had you been here, I’d not have fallen.”

The man stepped between them. “Don’t be hard on him, miss. The boy had his own fall from grace.”

“Really?” She folded her arms and dissected her brother’s wide eyes. “What have you been up to this time, Thomas?”

“Filling the inn.” The boy’s chest puffed out a full inch as he lifted his chin. “I got us another guest, and good thing too, or you’d have smashed your head like a—”

“Alexander Morton, at your service, miss.” The man cut Thomas off with a bow, chivalrous to a degree that nearly made her smile.

Stuffing down her irritation, she dipped her head toward Mr. Morton. “Thank you, sir, for indeed, your service was welcome. I am grateful you stopped me from breaking any bones, though I own my pride is scuffed.” She straightened her shoulders, resuming her role as hostess. “Welcome to the Blue Hedge Inn. My name is Johanna Langley.”


rem:   Hullo, Michelle, and congratulations on your newest release! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

MICHELLEBeing that I’m fond of air conditioning and running water, I’d stay in this century but I’d move to Ironbridge, England. It’s a tiny little town set in the Severn Valley River Gorge. Think of the shire on steroids and you’ll have a mental image of it. Absolutely gorgeous.


rem:   No kidding! I can’t imagine living with no running water! Or internet!!!  :-O Where did you find this story idea?

MICHELLE:   I’ve been to Dover several times. On my last trek there, I hiked the white cliffs and came across some hidey holes that might have been used for smuggling back in the day. It made me wonder what could’ve been hidden and who might have hidden said goods. That’s where it all began.


rem:   I SOOOO want to go there!!! Take me with you next time??? Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

MICHELLEMr. Nutbrown was the easiest. He’s a quirky fellow and I’m all about quirk. Tanny Needler was the hardest to write because he’s just a big jerk.


rem:   And the quirky is what we love about you!! What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

MICHELLEWhen I’m feeling the need to be healthy, I love apples cut up with almond butter. When I’m in a junk-o-holic mood, I reach for the tortilla chips. But I always drink kombucha no matter the snack.


rem:   Love me some apples, love me some almonds (haven’t tried almond butter) and love me some tortilla chips—have not even tried kombucha!! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

MICHELLE:   Recover? Who has time for that? I jump on the next story and ride it into the ground.


rem:   Right!!  LOL  I thought I’d take some time after my third book, but NOOOOO, Simone et all started chattering at me and I was immersed in their story within a week!! Michelle, congratulations again, and thank you for taking time to visit with me on the blog today.


MICHELLE:   Thanks for hosting me!


rem:   My pleasure!!


I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write–except for that graffiti phase I went through as teenager.








“Broken things are always the beginning of better things.”


“The most plentiful yields come from a field ravaged by a plow.”


“Either bring your broken heart to God—or your broken heart will make you leave God.”


“If you lose what you love to gain that which you don’t, merely out of a sense of duty, such an action can never be right.”


“The easiest way to manage a difficulty is to think before acting.”


“To admit he’d anguished over this meeting would show weakness—a trait he’d vowed never again to embrace.”


“When she turned and met his gaze, the tray in her hands teetered, and her face paled to the shade of fine parchment.”


“Her brows lowered, and though she gazed at him, he suspected she didn’t see. Her eyes were too glassy. Her fingers clenched together too tightly. Some kind of sour memory trembled across her lower lip. What tormented her?”


“Without so much as a flinch, Alex stared down the barrel of the loaded question.”


“Her heart beat loud in her ears. Curse the man for making her feel so precious … She had not right to feel this cherished.”


“God stamps His value on everyone—on you—by virtue of His grace.”


  1. During the early 1800s, even in good inns it was not unusual for total strangers to share rooms or even beds.
  2. Dover Castle is one of my favorite castles to visit.
  3. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was my inspiration for Alexander Moore.
  4. If I could pick a theme song for this book, it would be Berlin by the Piano Guys.
  5. I didn’t have a little brother like Thomas. I am the baby in my family.
  6. I love English pub fare.
  7. I think it would be hilarious to have a parrot like Tanny Needler’s, repeating inopportune snippits of conversation.
  8. I’m going back to England in May.
  9. I’m currently writing the third and last book in this series, featuring Officer Thatcher.
  10.  While I always include horses in my stories, I really don’t have much experience with them. I’m a city girl, having grown up in the ’hood.


Michelle Griep’s words are like a bouquet of flowers, an unusual combination of color and aroma, tall and short, small and grand, it makes for an astonishing arrangement.

And like the fragrance that stays with you, Ms. Griep’s words—more accurately the swell and sway of her words—linger, enveloping the reader in a twisty and intriguing and fascinating tale.


And the tale itself! Such intrigue, the twists, the love story—the colourful characters! The message of faith and God’s love gets very real and very personal for this reviewer—our failures do not define us. God’s love and grace and mercy reach out to us even in our failures, perhaps most especially in our failures.


I felt Johanna’s anguish and guilt—and I chided her for doing exactly what I’ve done in the past, denied myself love and peace and happiness. I cheered her as she allowed that love to seep into her darkness. And I cheered Alex for seeing the beauty in her, the loveliness even when she could not see.



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, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, Michelle Griep

via Giveaway + Tour: The Silent Song of Winter





Several years ago I was walking around a small lake. It’s a favorite spot, and I take the walk whenever I visit there.

This particular time I had been listening to a certain praise and worship CD, and one of the songs was playing in my head.



As those words sang in my mind, my eyes looked up at the trees—and I wondered (as all good authors do) “How does a tree worship God.”


I had thought it an idle thought. Until He answered me.



So simple and yet so profound.


And as all good writers also do, my mind took it another step.



Of course I knew the answer, even then.



And with an algebraic turn, or perhaps putting the pieces in a puzzle, that meant that I worship Father by writing.


So today (Saturday) as I was sitting outside, basking in a miracle moment today, and praising Father for this long awaited thing, I glanced at the trees.


And I was reminded of what He told me those years ago—to worship Him, I be what He created me to be.

*note the use of “be” vs “do.”


So, and pardon the license with grammar, but I be writing. I be working—and worshiping Him—as I write.


And that brings me even greater joy.



Wha about you? What has Father created you to be? What do you do to worship Him?


#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, All Creation Worships




“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







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




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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