Monday, August 31, 2015

Journey To Gettysburg by Dr. Mark L. Hopkins

Journey to Gettysburg is a dramatic replay of the events leading up to the most important battle of the Civil War. It is seen through the eyes of a Quaker boy who is first, a bystander and observer. Then, he is drawn into the conflict and becomes a participant in Pickett's Charge, the climax of the three day conflict.

Matt Mason is a 15 year old boy who was raised on an isolated farm in rural North Carolina. With the untimely death of his mother it becomes necessary for him to find his father who is fighting for the Army of Northern Virginia. Much of the story is involved with the trek of the young man through war-torn Virginia in search of the Southern Army which is on the way to Gettysburg and the climactic battle that proves to be the turning point of the war.

During the trip north Matt matures from a boy to a young man in what becomes a "coming of age" story. The experiences on the trek, the challenges he faces day to day as he searches for his father, and the friendships he develops make the book memorable and hard to put down once the story begins. That is especially true in the developing relationship with the beautiful Ami-Ruth who provides a new dimension to his life as the conflict surrounding them threatens to consume them both.

Excerpt


PROLOGUE
July 3, 1863
          “Son, do you have a gun?” the officer  asked.
          “No sir.  I had one but the firing pin blew up and burned my face,” Matt said.  He pulled the hair back on the side of his face so the officer could see his scar.
          “Well, I can’t have you going into battle without a gun,” the officer said. He left the line and in a moment he was back with a flag in his hand.  “Do you know anything about using a signal flag?” he asked.
          “No sir. I’ve seen them used, but I don’t know what the signals are,” Matt responded.
          The officer said, “Well, you stay close to me when we get into action and I will tell you what to do with the flag.  I swear, if you run, I will shoot you in the back.  Do you hear?
            Matt said miserably, “I understand, sir.  I won’t run.” The officer left, and Matt began marching down the road with the rest of the men, his mind spinning.  How in the world did he get into such a mess?  Less than an hour ago his Pa had sent him away from the battle lines to escape the mayhem that was to occur. Now he was marching right back into it.  He looked over at the man to his left.  “What outfit is this, sir?” he asked.
          The man responded, “ This is General Isaac Trimble’s Brigade, but it don’t make no difference because we are all going to be dead in a little while anyway.” Matt started to respond to the man but he was looking away, and Matt could see tears in his eyes.
         The marching column came to a halt and all of the men turned and walked off of the road into the woods.  Matt soon became aware that there were many other men already in the woods.  His unit kept moving down the hill until bright sunlight began filtering in between the trees.  As the woods opened up, he could see the cannons of General Heth’s artillery lined up toward the south of his position. He strained his eyes to spot his Pa, but it was hard to make out any individual while looking out into the bright sunlight.
       On the ridge off in the distance more than a half mile away, there was an endless sea of men dressed in blue stretched as far as he could see from left to right.  Matt could also see their cannons lined up along the ridge facing the ones of the Confederate forces, and he began to feel a tightness in his throat that seemed to slide all the way down to his stomach. He began feeling sick, but fought the nausea by taking very deep and slow breaths. His thoughts were interrupted by the bleat of a bugle, followed by a voice yelling something he couldn’t distinguish in the distance. Suddenly there was a deafening roar as all of the cannons fired at once. The air was so full of smoke that he could no longer see the ridge where the Yankees were.  In a matter of minutes, the Yankee big guns answered shot for shot.   He heard the Yankee cannon balls landing in the woods all around.  When one hit, he heard the yells and cries of injured men, quickly followed by the sounds of medics rushing to help them.
          After two hours of the big guns firing over and over, silence fell. Matt heard the bugle call again, and the men around him stood up and moved forward to the edge of the trees, like sleepwalkers.  Almost as a single man they left the shelter of the trees and lined up side by side.  They stood there for what seemed to be the longest time, their coats forming a long gray line.  The officer who had given Matt the flag arrived just as the order came to move out.
         Matt was at the far right of the second line of Trimble’s unit, a line stretching a quarter mile up the line of trees along the edge of the ridge. To Matt’s right was a long double line of men that a man he had talked with earlier identified as General Pickett’s brigade.  They stretched out of sight to the south.  All were moving forward purposefully, marching in one great double line.
         As they moved forward, the Yankee cannons started up again, but the sound they were making was different and they were not lobbing cannon balls up into the woods. He heard the man beside him curse and say the dreaded words, “Grape shot.” He knew from conversations with Pa and the others in camp that grape shot was composed of rip rap, metal, chains, rocks--anything hard and destructive that could be fitted into the muzzle of a cannon.   When it blasted out, the grape shot scattered and cut down the marching men in a swath several feet wide.  As quick as a gap opened in the line, men moved up to fill it, and the wave of soldiers continued walking toward the ridge where the Yankees were waiting, leaving the wounded and dead men behind them.
          All around Matt, men were falling and blood was everywhere.  Not far ahead he saw a stone fence with dead and dying men lying behind it.  When he was a few feet from the fence, he felt something hit him hard and he felt his body falling toward the ground.  He looked down and his heart jumped.  His bare feet were covered with blood and he wondered if he had been shot, but he felt no pain.   Matt turned over and looked toward the blue coated soldiers on the ridge one last time as he closed his eyes and lay still.   Finally, completely exhausted, Matt drifted off to a restless sleep.

          His mind wandered back to the chain of events that brought him to this point.  His Ma’s face appeared to him over and over.  Sometimes she was like she used to be before the illness.  Sometimes, it was the face of death that was the last vision he had of her before he buried her under the rocks just north of the farm house.  He had heard that before death your life passes before your eyes and he wondered if he was dying.  His life of the past several weeks was moving though his mind like pictures in a book with a narrative that included the voices of his Ma, the banker from Mt. Airy, and even the braying of his mule, Ol’ Mose, who had been a part of his family since before he was born. The pictures seemed alive.  In his mind they were. 

About The Author

Dr. Mark L. Hopkins is a mid-westerner by birth and a southerner by choice. He holds three degrees from Missouri universities. He taught history for several years and is past president of four colleges, one each in the states of Iowa, Illinois, South Carolina, and California.

Dr. Hopkins writes a weekly column that is syndicated by GateHouse Media and is regularly published across 26 states in more than 400 newspapers. He likes history and humor, and both are reflected in his columns. Dr. Hopkins has written academic papers, magazine articles, chapters for books, and many articles for newspapers. He is enjoying his first effort at writing fiction and hopes to continue writing in the field of fiction in future years. 


Dr. Hopkins' wife Ruth is a professional artist and they have three grown children, Sara, an Optometrist, Amy, a college administrator, and Steven, an attorney and insurance executive. They also have six grandchildren that range in age from 21 to 6. 

Purchase Journey To Gettysburg at:


Dr. Mark L. Hopkins is giving away a copy of Journey To Gettysburg. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.




Sunday, August 30, 2015

Then There Was Grace by Tina Pinson

Bored, Adam is prepared to divorce Grace, his wife of seven years. Then Grace is killed leaving him to raise Faith and Hope. The twins have no idea why the world's gone crazy. They just want their mother home and Adam isn't sure what to tell them. How can he tell them the truth, when he's not sure what the truth is? When he doesn't want to believe it himself? Grace's family and Adam's brother come to help and Adam is apprehensive to open up to them. Their grace toward him only magnifies his loss. His guilt. If Grace would come home. He'd be a better husband. Father. Anything to stop the guilt ravaging his soul. But the more he uncovers about Grace, the more guilt rages. Adam is a man with no heart. A man with no faith. A man with no God. Then there was grace.

Book Excerpt

Jostled and bumped, Grace managed to hold her balance as a crush of people moved her from the car and onto the platform. Clutching her belongings like a running back, she angled her way to the rail and held fast so she wouldn't be carried away or trampled by the alighting hordes.
Once the stream of people abated, she released her grip, took a deep breath, and pushed it out in a huff.
"You did it," she told herself, a touch of pride in her words, her breath painting the crisp morning air.
She'd ridden the 'L' alone and lived to tell about it.
"And..." She took another breath. "You'll never do it again." She chuckled and, holding her bags to her stomach with a trembling hand, headed down the stairs before the next train arrived and she found herself in another rush of people.
She wasn't an adventurer by any means, but she had navigated the 'L' on her own. She should have told Aimee to meet her at the hospital, but she decided to be brave. She'd put on her big girl panties and made her way in the wide world of Chicago.
She'd need a better pair of underwear next time she decided to go it alone, because this pair seemed to be fraying right along with her nerves.
Swinging her case to the cradle of her underarm, Grace checked the street signs against the GPS on her cell phone.
"Right stop," she said, sucking a breath. "Thank heaven." A few blocks north and she'd reach her destination. The Markham Towers.
Grace joined another group of people at the curb and waited for the signal to change. Once the light blinked to cross, she looked around and took a step, only to be forced back by the blare of a passing taxi turning right in front of her.
"Can't you see the green light," someone yelled and flipped off the driver, just as the crowd at the light moved into the street, darting through traffic even with the light on their side.
Grace remained on the curb, waiting for the lights to cycle again as she tamped down her mounting anxiety. This time when the light changed, she fell in amongst the new group of crossers, hoping they would protect her.
After maneuvering her way with the flow over a few blocks, she ducked into a storefront to get her bearings.
"Amazing." She watched the traffic of people and cars converge at varying points. This was nothing like home. Yes, there were crowds and congestion on the rails in downtown Denver, but Denver was her town. She knew her way around the landscape. Here, there was no landscape. She looked up the street and back down at the line of concrete, steel, and glass, searching for a landmark.
Denver had the mountains. Chicago had... She pulled out her GPS. Her building was here somewhere.
Grace made her way to the next cross street, only to retrace her steps before she finally found it. M and T, emblazoned in large green cursive letters covered each door, offsetting the word etched in white it espoused underneath, marked her building, and she'd missed it.
The doors must have been opened. But she was here now.
The doorman opened the T side, to let a very pregnant woman, wearing a headscarf and pushing a stroller in which two young, twin, boys rode, enter the building.
Grace fell in behind the small entourage, trailing them to the elevator doors and onto the lift. The woman punched her button, and Grace followed suit. Setting down her case, she leaned her hip against the wall for balance as the car jerked slightly and started its ascent.
The boys in the baby buggy looked her direction and smiled, making her think of home and the twin three-year-old girls who waited there for her to return. Faith and Hope.
"I-e." The boy in the front seat gurgled something akin to a Hi, waved, and turned away shyly.
The boy in the copilot seat grinned wide, showing his teeth. The few there were. Grace returned his smile and turned her gaze to the mother.
"Your boys are beautiful. How old are they?"
The mother lifted her gaze from her shoes. A smile seemed to play at the edges of her lips but never formed. "They are two." She fiddled with her scarf, pulling the ties and pushing them back on her shoulder.
"My girls are three." Grace shifted her hips, catching the woman's attention before she lowered it to the floor.
The woman's brows furrowed with her frown before she managed a smile. "Are daughters here?" she asked, her words broken with accent. Her eyes filled with something that looked like concern then she blinked and it faded.
"Oh no, my girls are in Denver. I'm visiting. My brother is in the hospital." Grace glanced at the floor buttons, watched the light leap a number, and swung her gaze back to the woman. "I'm going to the observation deck then meeting my sister at the restaurant for breakfast."
Grace might have continued on talking if the elevator hadn't drawn to a stop. The doors opened.
The woman maneuvered the stroller and pushed it through the threshold into the hall. She bowed her head slightly as she passed. "Allah has made a beautiful day for observing."
"Yes," Grace agreed. She waved at the boys until the doors closed then decided to call her husband, Adam. Her finger hesitated to push send when she considered she'd already called him and awakened him. But enthusiasm won out, it was too wonderful a day not to share it.
Adam didn't answer, but she wouldn't let that dim her mood. She left him a message and made plans to call him later.
She was passing the 80th floor when Aimee called to tell her she was on her way. Oh well, she'd would wait.
"It is a beautiful day," she told herself with a sigh. "And cold," she decided standing on the observation deck a few moments later. She pulled her coat collar up her neck to her ears and stared out at the world around her. Here she was above the concrete, steel, and glass. Here she could see forever.
Well, a couple of states perhaps.
There was no congestion. That was far below her, the cars moved along like ants now.
God had made a glorious day. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and turning her face to the sun, let her worries slide away.
"Thank you," she whispered. She stood there in the quiet for a moment then opened her eyes and pulled out her cell phone to check the time. When her sister, Aimee, arrived they could get on with enjoying the rest of the excursion together. Then they would have to go back to the world. Back to her brother, who lay in the hospital recuperating from a stem-cell transplant, and back to Denver, where Adam and her daughters waited.
Grace flipped open her phone and began to punch in Adam's number, when a huge blast disrupted the stillness of morning. She grabbed for the bars of the railing surrounding the deck, dropping her cell as the floor on which she stood swayed.
"Earthquake," one of the visitors on the floor yelled and moved himself and his family to the doors where they huddled until the quaking stopped.
The ground beneath her settled, Grace picked up her phone and listened. Save for the distance sounds from the traffic below, there was quiet. She looked at the world in the chasm between the buildings, it seemed to move along in its ordinary flow. There were no accidents, or emergency vehicles coming down the road with lights flashing.

Perhaps it was an earthquake, after all. She'd heard they sounded like approaching freight trains. If so, there could be another. Tall buildings and tremors didn't mix for her, she wanted off this ride. Grabbing her case, she tugged the strap of her purse on her shoulder and headed for the door. When the quiet was felled by another huge blast that rocked the tower to the left then tossed it to the right. Grace managed to keep her balance, but now, unwilling to get in the elevator she looked for the stairs, noting several of the other observers already headed that way she started to follow. She froze in her spot when the shrill blast of sirens sliced the morning air sending the chill clean to her bones.


About Tina
Tina Pinson resides in Mesa, Arizona with her husband of thirty plus years, Danny. They are blessed to have three sons, and seven grandchildren.
Tina started her first novel in elementary school. Her love of writing has caused her to seek creative outlets be it writing poetry, songs, or stories. She also loves to doodle and enjoys gardening.
It is her prayer that her stories, though fiction, will transport you to worlds beyond and touch your spirit and give you a closer insight to yourself and God.
In the Manor of the Ghost, Touched By Mercy, To Carry her Cross, and the first three installments of the Shadow Series When Shadows Fall, Shadowed Dreams and To Catch a Shadow are available through Desert Breeze Publishing and major retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Christianbooks.
In the Manor of the Ghost is now available in print.

Look for Christmas in Shades of Gray an offbeat contemporary Dickens type Christmas tale in December. This Shadowed Land (Shadow Series Book 4) the continuing story of Matthew and Rebekah on the Oregon Trail releases early 2014.
To purchase Tina's book:
Tina is giving away a copy of Then There Was Grace.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)



Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Tina Pinson

Is there a story behind Then There Was Grace?

I wrote the story just after the attacks on the Towers. The character deals with a future event of the same magnitude in which his wife is killed. The story is a parable of sorts because after what happened on 9/11, after watching people pray and come together before God and then letting it slip away, my story was a way to say that Grace was still there. So the names of the Characters (Adam, Grace, Faith, Hope, Desiree, etc) and the parts they play are integral to the story underneath.


What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

I have poetry and some short stories. I've actually started to compile my poetry, but have to keep the woman I am now from going and changing the words of the girl who wrote them way back when.

What’s your favorite genre of writing?

Most of my stories are set in the mid to late 1800's. They deal with Westward Expansion and life during and after the Civil War. But I have found I enjoy writing contemporaries and sci-fi as well.

Who is the most annoying character you ever created?

Cerylon is a character is a futuristic/ sci-fi story. He comes across nice and ready to work with you, but it's pretty much all for show, as he always has an underlying motive.

What’s the most unusual plot twist you ever wrote?

The Sci-fi Trilogy I've been writing, which is Counting Tessa. Regarding Rhiannon and Avenging Amaryllis deal with characters who have to travel in time to stop the powers that be from changing the past to remake the future. The biggest thing they want to accomplish is removing the truth.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so how often do you get it? How do you fix it?

I do believe in it and I've had it. Stress helps bring it on, but I've found when I spend too much time marketing I can lose my train of thought. For a fix… I try to make myself write something. But if I find that trying to force myself to write is a work in frustration, I'll give myself the right to lay down the pencil and take a break. Usually I can come back with a fresher imagination

Have you ever written fan fiction?

No

Do you type or write by hand? Computer? Typewriter? Legal pad?

I write a lot my story with a number 3 pencil on notebook paper and then enter it into the computer.

Do you archive everything you write?

I do keep a lot of stuff. I don’t know that I've archived everything though.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written?

My first book, When Shadows Fall stays pretty close to the top of my favorites. It was nine hundred page labor of love that took several years to accomplish.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?

I'm certain I'll never write erotic… of course. I don't think I'll write short romances either.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I believe I have four stories in my cache to work on right now.

What are your five favorite words?

Only five, that's tough. Unfortunately I probably love all those words you're supposed to cut from your story. LOL Maybe Dream, Imagination, Grace, Nefarious and pretty much any word I find interesting and terribly hard to spell.

What character that you’ve created most resembles you?

Tessa from Counting Tessa probably is the closest, but Rebekah from When Shadows Fall was fashioned some after me, and my dream of living in the old west.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

I write based on my dreams more times than not.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Not in the onset, but I tend to go back and edit a lot. Doesn't mean I always catch everything though.

Where do you most like to write?

Here lately, I've been writing sitting on my couch.

Does music help you write?

I don't usually listen to it, but many times the TV is running in the background.

How do you find the time to write?

I don't always. I should be more diligent in getting myself to sit down and get the words out. I have days when I can write forever and days when I eke out sentences.

How do people react when they find out you write?

I get the "oh, that's nice" and the "Wow, that's awesome." I've also been told I should do something more beneficial with my gift than write Christian fiction. Like perhaps work with a strong servant of God and write their life story.

What or who is the biggest influence on your writing?

My biggest influence would have to be my imagination. I used to get in trouble telling stories with it, but realized that God didn't give it to me just to use it for telling tales. You might say "Well, isn't fiction kind of telling tales?" Perhaps, but now it's not lies to get someone else in trouble or get myself out. Now the stories will hopefully touch other lives for Christ.

Do you have a mentor?

No

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?


Christmas in Shades of Gray releases in December. It's what I call my offbeat Christmas Carol. A dying man gets a visit from a being and given a look at his life, his legacy and the lives of his children.

Back Cover Blurb

Bored, Adam is prepared to divorce Grace, his wife of seven years. Then Grace is killed leaving him to raise Faith and Hope. The twins have no idea why the world's gone crazy. They just want their mother home and Adam isn't sure what to tell them. How can he tell them the truth, when he's not sure what the truth is? When he doesn't want to believe it himself? Grace's family and Adam's brother come to help and Adam is apprehensive to open up to them. Their grace toward him only magnifies his loss. His guilt. If Grace would come home. He'd be a better husband. Father. Anything to stop the guilt ravaging his soul. But the more he uncovers about Grace, the more guilt rages. Adam is a man with no heart. A man with no faith. A man with no God. Then there was grace.

To purchase Tina's book:


About Tina:

Tina Pinson resides in Mesa, Arizona with her husband of thirty plus years, Danny. They are blessed to have three sons, and seven grandchildren.
Tina started her first novel in elementary school. Her love of writing has caused her to seek creative outlets be it writing poetry, songs, or stories. She also loves to doodle and enjoys gardening.
It is her prayer that her stories, though fiction, will transport you to worlds beyond and touch your spirit and give you a closer insight to yourself and God.
In the Manor of the Ghost, Touched By Mercy, To Carry her Cross, and the first three installments of the Shadow Series When Shadows Fall, Shadowed Dreams and To Catch a Shadow are available through Desert Breeze Publishing and major retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Christianbooks.
In the Manor of the Ghost is now available in print.
Look for Christmas in Shades of Gray an offbeat contemporary Dickens type Christmas tale in December. This Shadowed Land (Shadow Series Book 4) the continuing story of Matthew and Rebekah on the Oregon Trail releases early 2014.
To connect with Tina:
Tina is giving away a copy of Then There Was Grace.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)



Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Friday, August 28, 2015

A Warm Welcome Back to Karen Robbins!

Excited to have you visiting again, Karen. Especially cause you have a new book out! Is there a story behind your new book, Ruby?
Absolutely. There’s always a story behind the story. I grew up on all those I-walked-20-miles-to-school-uphill-both-ways stories from my parents but my mother’s stories were always a little more intriguing. She grew up, one of seven children, during the Great Depression and told stories of what it was like going hungry (especially when she wanted us to clean our plates). The story that really caught my attention though was the one about her father taking her to a wealthier family’s home to become their maid when she was only twelve years old. That story became the catalyst for my novel’s storyline. Of course my novelist’s mind took off in an entirely different direction from my mother’s life story but I used much of what I remembered from her story telling to flavor the historical part.

I love the sound of it! Is that a picture of your mother on the cover?
Yes, it is. It’s one of my favorites taken well before I was around. Mom had a great sense of humor and was lots of fun and this picture just reminds me a lot of her personality. She wasn’t bad looking either.

She's an intriguing figure! In the novel, Ruby’s parents are carnival workers. Where did you get that idea?
My grandparents were actually carnies and in researching family history, my cousin discovered they were also circus performers. I remember receiving a baseball from my grandfather when I was quite young and my mother said it came from the carnival booth he’d owned. Back during the Great Depression and WWII, people saved their pennies to go to the carnival and escape for a little while from the worries the era produced for them.

Wow, that's an interesting ancestry touch. The setting for Ruby is Cleveland, Ohio. What interesting facts did you uncover in your research?
Cleveland has a fascinating history (think Elliot Ness for one). In light of the upcoming 2016 election and the Republican National Convention that will be held in Cleveland, I looked up some of the information on the 1936 RNC. Alf Landon from Kansas was nominated at the convention and ran against the incumbent, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ruby makes a trip downtown and runs into some of the convention goers.

You are known as the Wandering Writer. Where have you been wandering lately?
LOL. We have literally been around the world. We took a world cruise at the beginning of 2015 that started in Fort Lauderdale went west all around the globe and ended up back in Florida. It was 108 amazing days. The highlight was a safari at Kruger National Park in South Africa. If you check out my blog, go to the travel index and click on the world cruise links and you can see and read about our great adventure. After that, it was scuba diving in Grand Cayman and next up a road trip out west to Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore.

I always enjoy reading about your travels. Are there spiritual themes that you like to write about?
Each story seems to take on its own theme and Ruby was no exception. Forgiveness and salvation are two of the threads that run through the story. Ruby receives a letter from her love interest that tells the “butterfly story,” a message of salvation and God’s care for us. Circumstances do not define us but what we do with them does. If we follow God’s leading, we are cocooned in his love and he will help us through those difficult times.

Could you share a favorite scripture verse with us and tell us why it’s important to you?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7

This has always been a verse that I return to over and over. You see, my mother passed along her worry gene to me and I have to keep reminding myself to leave things in God’s hands. I don’t advocate tattoos but if I were ever to get one, I’d have “Pray first” tattooed on the palm of my hand.

Is there a favorite meal your family enjoys and would you like to share a recipe?
We were always great fans of my mother’s meatloaf and I’ve tried to copy it as much as possible. Unfortunately she never made it the same way twice. It was always kind of a clean-out-the-refrigerator recipe.

Here are the basics:

  • Meatloaf mix from your grocer or butcher (equal parts ground veal, pork and beef)
  • Season with garlic parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (I sing the Simon and Garfunkel song, Scarborough Fair, to remember these) then a little garlic powder. 
  • Throw in some chopped onion and either sweet pickle relish or chop up some sweet pickles. 
  • A couple of tablespoons of ketchup and mustard, an egg, and enough bread crumbs to soak up the liquids. 
  • Now Mom would also hard boil a couple of eggs and bury them in the middle of the loaf so that when you sliced it there was a slice of egg in the center of your portion. 
  • Shape the mixture into a loaf and pat it down into a loaf pan. 
  • Bake for about an hour at 350 F or a little longer if it’s a big loaf. You can usually tell by the color of the loaf if it’s done. 
  • Serve with baked potatoes and green beans or my favorite, spinach.

And if you want to make my aunt’s homemade noodles. . . well, I never did figure out all her handfuls and pinches.

When is your next book coming out and can you tell us about it?
I’m not exactly sure of the date just yet. A lot depends upon how much writing time I get on the road. But I am working on the second book in the Annie Pickel series. Pickledilly will pick up where In A Pickle left off and starts out with Elma and Annie taking a trip to London. Of course they will get into trouble, they always do, but when they return, Annie will have a challenge to face concerning her farm and someone who wants to take it.

After that, I will get back to work on the Casey Stengel Mystery Series. I have at least two more titles and story lines in mind for Casey.

Follow my blog and my Facebook page where I will keep readers updated on my progress.

Such a fun series! 



Buy her book here:
Amazon Print


About Karen:
Karen has lived in Northeast Ohio most of her life. Karen and her husband, Bob, have raised five children and now have nine grandchildren. A graduate of Ohio State University, Buckeye blood courses scarlet and gray through Karen’s veins. Every football Saturday a large Brutus the Buckeye can be seen displayed in their front yard next to the OSU flag. Those neighbors who are not Wolverine fans are amused.

In 1987, Karen published her first small essay in an adult Sunday school take-home paper and there’s been no stopping her penchant for writing since. Her writing areas are as eclectic as her reading preferences. She has written essays, articles, and columns for newspapers, regional and national magazines, and online e-zines. She has contributed to several compilation books and along with five other writers who all met online, she has published two non-fiction books, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts. Karen’s first love of writing however is fiction and she now has five published novels, the latest, Ruby, A Novel. 

While there’s no place like home, Karen and her husband are world travelers. The couple has set foot on all seven continents and in 2015, circumnavigated the globe on a 108 day world cruise. Her travel adventures are posted at her blog, Writer’s Wanderings.  Exploring the works of God’s hands has been a blessing and a joy and supplied memories to treasure forever. 

Connect with Karen at:


KAREN is giving away a copy of RUBY a Novel. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.









Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ruby, a Novel by Karen Robbins

Back Cover Blurb
Love found. Faith found. But will the war destroy it all or will the secrets kept destroy love and faith?
Hope Morgan has always had difficulty understanding her mother, Ruby. Now as illness threatens to take her mother’s life she discovers that her family history is not what she thought. Ruby begins to reveal secrets that have been kept for generations.

Who was Edward Fields in her mother’s life, Hope wonders, and why has she kept his letters for so many years? What was the butterfly love story they shared? And did Hope’s father, George know about it?
While Ruby weathered the Great Depression as a child and the sorrows of World War II as a young bride, her faith grew and the promises Edward shared with her gave her strength to see her through. Will she have the strength to finally reveal the last secret she holds?

Read an Excerpt:



Spring, 1932

The bang of a heavy school door recoiling on its hinges scattered a flock of birds who chirped their displeasure at the disruption of the mid-afternoon quiet on Brookline Avenue. The birds were a sign that the spring of 1932 had finally arrived in Cleveland. A breeze from the lake kept the air cooler in the shade but the sun smiled down and the earth warmed lazily. The afternoon calm was shattered as twelve-year-old Ruby ran down the street like the devil chased her.

At the corner of Brookline and Crawford she slowed and tossed a look over her shoulder to see Mary B. Martin Elementary School disappearing behind her. Ruby lifted her young face to the sun and indulged herself in the warm rays of early spring and newfound freedom. Trouble would follow her later but she would deal with it when it came. Right now freedom felt wonderful. Her glasses slid down her nose and she ripped the horrid things from her face. They were the ugliest pair of glasses she had ever seen. Squinting was better than wearing those things. Hand-me-downs. Not even hand-me-downs from her sisters but someone else’s castoffs. Everything in her life was a castoff. Something someone else was done with. Well she was done with them. The ugly thick lenses drew more attention to her mended ill-fitting clothes and brought taunts and teasing from her peers.

Voices from the playground still echoed in her head: “Nah-nah-na-nah-nah. Look at ol’ four eyes. Are those old bottle bottoms sittin’ on your nose?” She shook her head to empty the memory of the echoing childish laughter that had followed her through the school and down the hall until she ran out the front door into the street.

Ruby slowed her pace and paused to spit.

Ignoring her mother’s admonitions, she let fly with disgust the best effort she could gather from the back of her throat and spattered the dirt on the sidewalk. She could spit with the best of them thanks to her brothers. They had been forced to teach her when Ruby followed Eddie, the youngest, to the back of the old shed behind the duplex. She’d found them all partaking of a pouch of chewing tobacco. Sonny, Harold, and Jake were waiting for Eddie. A huge moan went up from the group as she rounded the shed a few steps behind him. When she threatened to blow the whistle, Sonny, who was really named Charles Jr., sat her down and against the others’ protests, let her join them in their male ritual. The tobacco tasted rank but it drew the juices to your mouth making it easier to spit and you could distinctly see your progress with the dark brown stain it left as it hit the sun bleached wood of the shed.

Now she spit one more time for good measure. Stupid kids. Why did they always pick on her? There were plenty of other girls with patched stockings and worn out hand-me-downs. After all, these were hard times. Didn’t anyone else’s mother drill that into their head? Clothes had to be stretched to their limit. She kicked a rock that tumbled erratically over the next three slabs of slate in the sidewalk. Ruby was tired of it all. A sigh escaped from the depths of her troubled soul.

“Some day,” Ma would always promise. Some day, she would have nice clothes. Some day, she wouldn’t have to fight for the last piece of bread on the table. Some day, they would live in a nice house. Some day. Some day. Some day. It never came. Life continued on in its daily struggle to bring hope to the hopeless. The despair seeped into your bones like the cold of a Cleveland winter that gripped you until you ached.

Ruby picked up a stick and absently began to drag it along the bottom of the wrought iron fence beside her. She lost herself in its rhythm, tack-tack, tack-tack, as it bounced in her hand. It still had the damp smell of rotting fungus and bark from the leftover April showers that had plagued the first week of May. But today the sun was warm and the fragrance of spring flowers hung in the air. Buttery daffodils, cherry red tulips and sweet lavender hyacinths gave striking color and new scents to the damp dark earth.

The stick suddenly recoiled from a large hinge that held a gate where a driveway cut through the fence. She paused, hooked her arms through the rails and looked through the black bars to the huge Euclid Avenue mansion beyond the soft green grass. She was sure these people didn’t have to wear patched stockings and ugly glasses. Ruby guessed that there were large rooms for all their children with huge closets filled to the brim with fresh crisp new clothes unlike the small two bedroom house she lived in with her six brothers and sisters. She didn’t even have a closet. She had two tiny bureau drawers and a doorknob.

She drifted into one of her many daydreams, the only escape from the problems and burdens placed on her by being a twelve year old caught in the agony of growing up during desperate economic times. In her dream, she was wearing a beautiful white dress and a straw bonnet to keep the sun off her head. Her dark black hair was tucked neatly underneath it. Lily and Jennie, her older sisters, were with her and they were setting up little metal hoops for their game of croquet. The patio table held a beautiful tray of sandwiches and fruits and a large pitcher of lemonade sat sweating from the ice cubes floating in the sweet-sour drink. In the huge maple tree was a large crude tree house where her brothers carried on with their chewing and spitting and those other secret things that boys do. She would be allowed into their inner sanctum because she was a good spitter, one of the best.

Butterflies, yes, there would be butterflies. Lots of butterflies floating about them, landing on brightly colored flowers in the gardens to drink the sweet nectar from the deep throats the blossoms offered up to them. She and her siblings didn’t have to go to school. They had a tutor to teach them like in the story about Heidi that Ruby had just finished reading. Best of all, Ma and Pa sat on a swing, beaming at their children, with their arms around each other in an embrace. Yes, some day had finally—

“You there! What are you doing? Shouldn’t you be in school?”

Ruby’s heart almost leapt out of her chest. She bolted back to reality. “I’m. . .I’m.” She was trying to think fast. The leathery-skinned man who stared down at her curled his lip and narrowed his brows. The huge pair of cutters he held dripped with bits and pieces of things—as if he had somehow cut Ruby’s daydream to shreds. “I’m meeting my father in the park. Sorry. I was just looking at the flowers.”

“Well, you’d better move along. You can’t be standing here gawking all day.” The blades snapped sharply as he whacked at a few more stray twigs on a bush nearby. He stared at her until she turned away and began to move off. She glanced back to see him pick up the fallen debris and start for a wheelbarrow that teemed with the remains of the trimmed hedge.

Ruby continued down Euclid and crossed East 103rd Street to set off in the direction of the Wade Park Lagoon. She would watch the ducks and dangle her feet in the water until it was time to go home. As she neared the pond, a familiar noise caught her attention. It was the distinct sputtering rhythm of her father’s old Ford truck. Someone else must have that same truck, she thought. It can’t be him. Today is egg day.


Buy her book here:
Amazon Print


About Karen:
Karen has lived in Northeast Ohio most of her life. Karen and her husband, Bob, have raised five children and now have nine grandchildren. A graduate of Ohio State University, Buckeye blood courses scarlet and gray through Karen’s veins. Every football Saturday a large Brutus the Buckeye can be seen displayed in their front yard next to the OSU flag. Those neighbors who are not Wolverine fans are amused.

In 1987, Karen published her first small essay in an adult Sunday school take-home paper and there’s been no stopping her penchant for writing since. Her writing areas are as eclectic as her reading preferences. She has written essays, articles, and columns for newspapers, regional and national magazines, and online e-zines. She has contributed to several compilation books and along with five other writers who all met online, she has published two non-fiction books, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts. Karen’s first love of writing however is fiction and she now has five published novels, the latest, Ruby, A Novel. 

While there’s no place like home, Karen and her husband are world travelers. The couple has set foot on all seven continents and in 2015, circumnavigated the globe on a 108 day world cruise. Her travel adventures are posted at her blog, Writer’s Wanderings.  Exploring the works of God’s hands has been a blessing and a joy and supplied memories to treasure forever. 

Connect with Karen at:


KAREN is giving away a copy of RUBY a Novel. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.









Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ohio Author Mary Ellis

Hi Mary! Welcome back to the Book Loft. Is there a story behind your new release, Midnight on the Mississippi? 

This book takes place in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities in the US. My husband and I visited there many times while my mother-in-law was alive for weekend getaways. We loved venturing into the swamps and bayous, countryside very different than the one we’d grown up in. Since Katrina, we’ve been back several times to gauge the progress of recovery and renewal.

What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?                                                                

When I was in my twenties I wrote a short story for Redbook Magazine for a writing contest. I didn’t win the contest, but I still have that story. It had a wonderful beginning and middle. Then I rather ended the story abruptly because I had reached the required word count. I have since taken a few classes on composition…

Where do you most like to write? 

My favorite place to write is in my screened-in gazebo on my laptop. But this summer thus far has been so cool and rainy, lately I’ve been hiding in my office.

Do you travel? 

My husband and I travel a great deal, and I can honestly say every trip sparks ideas, both small and large, for future books. My current release grew from vacation experiences in both the French Quarter, and at several bed and breakfasts in Cajun country. Add a healthy dose of imagination, and my story grew larger than life.

How do you find the time to write? 

I now write full time, but it wasn’t always so. I often had to squeeze writing in before and after work and all day Saturday. I’ve been known to write while someone else drives, and while waiting in dentists’ offices. It’s a good thing I’m an early bird because the creative muse abandons me after seven pm.


What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will? 

Science fiction. My mind just doesn’t work that way. I can believe fantasy like Narnia, but I can’t wrap my head around impossible ideas with scientific underpinnings.

How many writing projects are you working on right now? 

Three. I’m doing my share of marketing my current release, Midnight on the Mississippi. I’m editing the second in the Secrets of the South mysteries, What Happened on Beale Street, and writing the third in the series, unnamed at present, which will be set in Natchez, Mississippi.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write your first draft? 

Absolutely, I am. Everyone creates very differently, but since I hate to edit, I write very cleanly the first time. What I mean is I fix my mistakes as I go along. The book will still need a go-over at the end, and more mistakes will be found. But I don’t like to leave a “rough” draft. I would be too tempted to toss the ball-of-yarn in the drawer and forget about it.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? 

My next book What Happened on Beale Street will be out in February of 2016 from Harvest House Publishers. When a talented musician is found dead in Memphis, Nate and Nicki are determined to find their friend’s killer with a list of suspects longer than the Mississippi River. 

Thanks for sharing today!

Connect with Mary Ellis at:


Mary Ellis is giving away a copy of Midnight On The Mississippi. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

 


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