Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

Category: Historical Research

A Glimpse into a Writer’s Research by Pat Jeanne Davis & a Giveaway!

As a writer of historical romance and a lover of history, I LOVE research. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes about now, but to me, it’s so fun to find the little details that will ground the reader in the time and setting of my story.

Today, I have a new-to-me author, Pat Jeanne Davis, sharing a glimpse into how she researched her new World War II novel, When Valleys Bloom Again. Pat is also giving away one eBook copy of the novel as well! To enter, see the Giveaway details at the bottom of this post.

First, let’s find out a little bit more about When Valleys Bloom Again.


About the Book

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Then Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home?


A Glimpse into a World War II Author’s Research

by Pat Jeanne Davis

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I enjoyed doing the research for my WWII inspirational romance, When Valleys Bloom Again. My father-in-law was in the British Eighth Army and fought at Dunkirk, Normandy Beach and throughout Europe. I was further rewarded with an opportunity to ask questions of other veterans living in England and in the States who were willing to share some of their experiences and show me their treasured  photographs.

Additionally, I got to travel to distant  places with my British-born husband and attended events where re-enactors were dressed in clothes that would’ve been worn during the 1940’s.

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Other times we went to aerodromes and living museums where guides went about their tasks as people would’ve done then. They were always helpful and eager to share what they had learned and to answer questions. When I would uncover an extra special tidbit of information that would enhance my story, I became even more excited.

On one research trip, I went into the largest purpose-built civilian air raid shelter in England that was extended to accommodate 6,500 people during the Second World War. The Stockport Air Raid Shelter is a network of underground tunnels, a mile long, carved out of the sandstone hills on which the city stands that provided not only protection but a way of life for families.

This underground world still intact today as it was during the war years gave me an opportunity to learn about the raw realities of life during the Blitz. I came away with a deep appreciation for those who struggled to survive with only the basic amenities in such depressing and stressful surroundings and further admiration for my husband’s family who lived through those long years of war.

 


 An Excerpt from When Valleys Bloom Again

 

Jolie Fontaine

Main Line Philadelphia, Summer 1942

Abby sat in the middle of a group of children, reading aloud a favorite story. She looked up to see Carol at her side. “Jim’s on the telephone. I’ll fill in here,” she said, taking the storybook out of Abby’s hands. “He says it’s important.”

She rose from a stool, her heart beating faster. Jim wrote whenever possible and only called occasionally—but never in the middle of the day. It must be urgent.

When out of sight, she sprinted down the hall, dropping breathless into a wooden chair beside the telephone. “Hello, Jim,” she said, pressing the receiver tight to her ear, as if to draw him closer.

“Hello, Darling. I had to call. But I haven’t got long to talk.”

Silence.

“Jim … Jim?” Leaning forward, she rapped the cradle switch. “Are you there?”

“I’m here. Sorry to call like this,” he said, his voice cracking. “They’re shipping me out.”

She slumped back in the seat. “When?”

“I board a train for New York next week. Then a troopship.”

Abby attempted to speak, but a lump rose in her throat.

“Sweetheart, I’m sorry I won’t see you before I leave,” he said in a subdued voice.

She swallowed hard. “Can’t I meet your train s-s-somewhere?”

“I looked into that. There’s nowhere.” The hopeless tone in his voice was unmistakable.

“Then I’ll come to New York.”

“No time for that.”

Her eyes filled. “No time for us?”

“Besides, there’s no more furloughs or passes. Look. It’s not all bad. I’ll probably get to London. Maybe even see your parents when I get a pass.”

Abby sensed he was struggling for words.

“So, that’s at least a cheerful bit of news, isn’t it?”

“S-S-Some,” she said, trying to conceal disappointment in her voice.

“Darling, there’s a line of men waiting to use this phone. I’ll have to go.”

She was losing the battle to stay calm and accepting. “Must you hang up so soon?”

He cleared his throat before speaking again. “I’m not so good at always saying what I feel. Still, you know how much I love you.” His voice carried a wealth of emotion. “I’ll be back.”

“I’ll be waiting for you,” she said, then mumbled a muted, “goodbye.” With a click, their connection was severed.

She replaced the receiver and closed her eyes, her lower lip trembling. She hadn’t reacted the right way to his disappointing news. After all, Jim was being sent off. He was the one at risk, not her.

When she got back to the room Carol and the children were gone. She cleaned the blackboard and tidied up before leaving. Then she strolled to the tower and sat there until the light faded. How much longer would this war go on? Scenes from the latest Pathé newsreel—devoted to the progress of the war—flashed before her eyes. Please, Lord, keep Jim safe.

* * *

            Returning to the house, she found her uncle listening to the president’s weekly fireside chat. He pressed a finger to his lips and motioned for her to take a seat. “Nearly done,” he mouthed. On occasion she would join him and her aunt for these broadcasts. Uncle Will proclaimed his liking for Mr. Roosevelt out of patriotism and Aunt Val by way of a fondness for Eleanor.

When the president finished, Uncle Will turned off the radio. “I see that Eisenhower’s in England and has command of U.S. Forces in the European theater.”

Abby went straight to her complaint. “Jim’s being sent to England.”

“Oh, dear,” he said, leaning back and folding his arms. “This afternoon his sister hinted something was up.” He furrowed his brow. “I know how disappointed you must feel. But look on the bright side,” he said, grinning. “Perhaps he’ll get to meet your parents.”

“Yes, that’s what Jim thought.” She forced a smile. “It’s something to hang on to.”

“Let me show you this.” Uncle Will went over to the map on the wall that bristled with tacks of different colors. He pointed to one section, motioning for Abby to join him. “The President says that because of our navy’s victory over the Japanese here at Midway Island, there’s been a decisive turn in this phase of the war. This affects everything else to come.”

“Surely, this war can’t go on much longer,” she said, her voice quivering.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, yet. Your Jim is off to fight to ensure our freedom. Pray God may help him to do what needs to be done for however long it takes.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Jim must do what he needs to do, and you must have faith that he will come back to you.”

“You always say what I need to hear, Uncle.”


About Pat

PAT JEANNE DAVIS  has a keen interest in 20th Century United States and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Her longtime interest in that era goes back to the real-life stories she heard about family members who served during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is a debut inspirational romance set in WWII. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her British-born husband.  She writes from her home n Philadelphia, Pa. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

READ this Q&A with Pat in the March 2020 Issue of Family Fiction Magazine

You can connect with Pat on her website, Facebook, Instgram, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page, Linked In, Pinterest, or BookBub


GiveAway**

This Giveaway is Now CLOSED!!

Congratulations to our winner, Rebekah Miller!

Pat has graciously offered an eBook copy of When Valleys Bloom Again to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter the drawing, tell us about a World War II era historical site, memorial, or event you’ve visited or would like to visit in the comments below.

**Giveaway ends midnight, Wednesday, September 23**

The Past Reaches Forward in New Dual Timeline Novel, All of You

Author, Sarah Monzon

I’m thrilled to have my good friend and fellow author, Sarah Monzon, on my blog today. Sarah and I met shortly after I joined American Christian Fiction writers. We have read and critiqued each other’s stories and encouraged one another on the bumpy road to publication.

Sarah’s newest release, All of You, is the second book is her acclaimed  A Carrington Family Novel series. Pardon me while I brag on my friend, but the first book in the series, Finders Keepers, is currently a Selah Award finalist and received a 4 star review from Romantic Times.

Sarah is going to tell us about some of the history in her latest dual timeline novel, All of You.

But first, here’s the back cover blurb so you’ll know what her newest release is all about.

Maryland, Present Day

Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything…except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she’s worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone.

After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection.

England, 1944 With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die.

Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.

Want to win a FREE Kindle copy of All of You? Make sure to leave a comment below by Thursday, May 25th, to be entered in the drawing!

Sarah, please tell us what you learned about the real women who inspired your character Alice Galloway.

Thank you so much, Kelly, for having me today!

I’m really excited to share with you and your readers some of the things I learned while researching the historical thread of All of You. When brainstorming this book, I wanted to have a strong female lead. I love reading about them and wanted to create one of my own. I’d already chosen a WWII setting for my novel and knew an airplane would tie the two timelines in the book together.

Ta-da, my heroine’s vocation appeared! She would be one of the first female ferry pilots.

I found a documentary about the WASPs, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, and learned a lot about the women who served here on American soil. I needed my heroine in England, however, and dug a little deeper to find the ATA, Air Transport Auxiliary.

Before Jacqueline Cochran started the WASPs, she spent some time in England flying with the ATA. These ferry pilots would fly new, repaired, or even damaged planes from factories, scrap yards, squadrons and airfields. The only place they wouldn’t take a plane was to an aircraft carrier.

Oftentimes these female ferry pilots had never even flown the aircraft before. All they’d have were a few note cards to help them figure everything out.

Not everyone was happy that the women were pitching in to help the war effort this way. Some of the female pilots discovered their planes sabotaged. So, not only did they have to worry about the enemy and the difficult task of flying unfamiliar aircraft, they also had to be careful about other pilots tampering with their planes.

More than 1,100 women served with the WASPs and 38 lost their lives.

If you’d like to learn more about the women who served with the WASPs or the ATA check out these websites:

http://www.wingsacrossamerica.us/wasp/

http://www.airtransportaux.com/

Learn More About Sarah

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, has finaled in contests such as the Inspy Awards and received a 4 star review from Romantic Times.

 

Authors love to hear from readers. You can connect with Sarah on:

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

Researching History with Author, Sarah Monzon

I’m thrilled to offer you my first guest post by my friend, author Sarah Monzon.  I enjoyed Sarah’s new release Finders Keepers (A Carrington Family Novel) (Volume 1)so much, I asked her to stop by today and share how she did the research for this dual timeline story. (Click here to see Kelly’s review of Finders Keepers)

Yay! I’m so excited to be here with you all at Romancing History. Kelly asked me to share with you all a bit about the research I did for Finders Keepers. If you aren’t familiar with my new release, here is the blurb.

Three lives. Three hundred years. One ship that ties them together.

 

young romantic couple kissing in front of sunset in santa monicaSpain, 1689
The same evil that stole her mother’s life stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?

Florida, Present Day
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious nature magazine, Our World—even diving in waters haunted by great white sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’-man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her dive locations, it may be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first. A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life—a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece, or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy?

1689 Spain. Yeah, don’t ask me how I came up with that one. Maybe it had something to do with learning about Ponce de Leon in elementary school. Besides that rudimentary knowledge and a hazy memory, I didn’t have a lot of upfront knowledge about the setting and time period I was about to plunk my historical heroine in. How could I write vivid descriptions and transport readers without knowing how a 17th century galleon operated or what the people in that era wore?

I’m sure you’re all thinking the same thing—Google. Yep. I used Google. A. Lot. But you know what came even more in handy? Pinterest. I’m serious! I love Pinterest. Yes, I’ve had some epic crafting failure from there, but it really is a great research tool. Take for instance this schematic I found of a galleon. I referenced this picture to death! It was simply perfect because it showed me each level of the ship and its name. Then I could search deeper about what the uses were for each level.

Pinterest is also where I found the inspiration for my characters. Meet Isabella Constellano and Captain Montoya.

isabella (002) capt montoya (002)

Now that I had my characters and setting, I needed to add authentic layers. What exactly did sailors in the 17th century wear? Apparently their clothes were called slops and made from sturdy loose-fitting linen. Grease often coated the fronts from hauling the thick ropes across the deck.

But what about my heroic captain? Surely he wore something a bit more appealing than slops. Ah, yes. The leather jerkin and cavalier hat. Add to that a sword hanging from his waist and a commanding presence, and he soon has his female stowaway (and us readers!) swooning.

For the less visual details I needed, Google did come in handy. I learned a lot about the history of the treasure fleet, including the routes the ships sailed, the types of cargo they shipped to and from, and how the exports affected both Hispanolia and Spain.

 

biophoto (002)If you want to learn more about my research, be sure to check out the Finders Keepers board on my Pinterest page.

To order a copy of Finders Keepers for yourself, click on the cover!

Sarah Monzon is a pastor’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow creating her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in a small desert town in central Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

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