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The Characters Behind “Hollow Hearts” – with a Giveaway

As you know, I love talking about historical romance here on Romancing History. That’s why I’m super excited to welcome author Donna Schlachter for the first time to my blog today.

Donna’s new release, Hollow Hearts, released yesterday and one of the things that has peaked my interest is that the couple is not the typical age for romantic fiction. As I age (a-hem), I’m finding love stories focusing on middle-aged couples very endearing.  Also the entire series is centered around the Pony Express so that is another huge factor in it’s favor. I’ve invited her to share with you some great background info about her characters and the story that I’m sure will wet your appetite to pick up a copy as it  has mine.

Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the Giveaway section at the bottom of this post and leave a comment. Donna is graciously giving away a print copy (U.S. only) of Hollow Hearts to one lucky Romancing History reader.


About Hollow Hearts
Hearts of the Pony Express, Book #2

Middle-aged widow Edith Cooper walks away from the cemetery along the Green River near Simpson’s Hollow, Utah Territory. Away from the husband buried there this morning. Away from their plans and dreams for their future. Along the way, two men offer their hand in marriage. For her protection, one says. For his children’s sake, says the second. Were any of these reasons enough to marry? She must choose one. But which?

Albert Whitt, stationmaster of the Pony Express Station, loves his independent life. Twice stood up by women, he takes the only course that ensures no more rejection: stay clear of them. But when he learns that the stoic Widow Cooper is considering two proposals from men not worthy of lacing her boots, he must do something. But what?

Can Edith and Albert find a new beginning in the midst of tragedy, or will they choose the most convenient path—alone?

Available on Amazon


The Characters Behind Hollow Hearts

by Donna Schlachter

 

Set in 1860 at a Pony Express station near Green River, Utah, this book is the second in the Hearts of the Pony Express series.

Edith Cooper is a forty-ish woman traveling west with her husband, Paul. They’ve been married for many years, but they’ve not had any children. This leaves a hole in Edith’s heart when Paul dies along the trail to Oregon.

Green River, Utah, provides the only suitable place for many miles to bury bodies. In fact, the soil is soft and relatively rock-free, and hundreds—if not thousands—are buried there.

As Edith leaves the cemetery, two men approach her independently. The local pastor, a widower with six rowdy children, suggests he could be the man she needs. After all, he’s obviously not deficient when it comes to producing offspring, and although he realizes Edith is getting along in years, no reason they couldn’t still enjoy the physical benefits of marriage.

Edith says thank you and she’ll think about it.

The second man is an alcoholic private who has been in the army for twenty-plus years, but because he keeps getting into trouble when he drinks, has been demoted to the lowest rank possible. He suggests he is the man for her because—well, because he is a man.

Edith, horrified by what could become her life, thanks him and says she’ll let him know.

Meanwhile, the station keeper at the Pony Express station looks on. Albert Whitt has no interest in Widow Cooper or any other woman. Jilted twice by women, he’s vowed never to marry. But he overhears the two proposals, and pities the woman desperate enough to accept either one.

Besides, Albert knows he no great catch for any woman. No wonder the other two chose others instead of him. He likes his job, and manages most tasks. However, his cooking skills leave something to be desired.

When Albert is injured, he needs help, and the only person he can find is the Widow Cooper. Her excellent cooking and baking skills garners a reputation for the Station, and folks come from town, both to dine and to order her pies and cakes.

Albert enjoys her company, and she seems to like being around him. He teaches her how to help saddle a horse, to transfer the mailbag, and she tackles all the other chores. But she’s leaving at the end of the week when the wagon train heads west again.

The pastor and the sergeant continue to pester Edith, insisting she give them an answer. The pastor’s rowdy children have no respect for her, and neither does he, apparently, when she brings them a cake at the church social.

Humiliated, Edith feels pressured to choose her future.

Maybe she’ll stay, get her own lodgings, and find a job.

Or figure out a way to continue west.

Or return east where she and her husband came from.

Albert wants Edith to stay because he’d like to expand the kitchen and dining area at the station. But he also sees that having her around makes him miss her when she isn’t there. And that wasn’t part of his plans.

To find out which man Edith chooses, you’ll need to read the book, which is available on Amazon.


About Donna

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter.

www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

www.DonnaSchlachter.com/blog

Check out previous blog posts at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com

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Giveaway*

This giveaway is now closed.

Congratulations to our winner, Lexi H.

To enter the giveaway for a chance to win a print copy (U.S. only) or ebook of Hollow Hearts, leave a comment below and tell us if there is a favorite family name in your family?

Giveaway ends midnight, September 7.*

Book Review: All That Is Hidden

About the Book

Title: All That Is Hidden
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Laura DeNooyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Info: Lighthouse Publishing, 323 pages
Publication: December 2012; Re-release Fall, 2021
Recognition: Serious Writer semifinalist for “Book of the Decade”


Blurb

Are secrets worth the price they cost to keep?

Ten-year-old Tina Hamilton finds out the hard way.

She always knew her father had a secret. But all of God’s earth to Tina are the streams for fishing, the fields for planting and harvesting–a world snugly enclosed by the blue-misted Smokies. Other than the seasons, nothing ever changed.

Until the summer of 1968.

Tina’s life changes forever. Trouble erupts when northern exploitation threatens her tiny southern Appalachian town.

Some folks blame the trouble on progress, some blame the space race and men meddling with the moon’s cycles, and some blame Tina’s father.

A past he has hidden catches up to him as his secret settles in like an unwelcome guest. The clash of progressive ideas and small town values escalates the collision of a father’s past and present.

View the All That Is Hidden book trailer, here. (BTW, the trailer just happens to be produced and voiced
by my daughter, Maddy Goshorn. Yes, I know, it was a shameless plug.)

Available for purchase on Amazon.


My Thoughts

Get ready for a nostalgic journey back in time to late 1960s Appalachia in author Laura De Nooyer’s, All That is Hidden. Folklore, superstitions, and Appalachian dialogue are deftly woven into the story making the mountain setting as alive as any of DeNooyer’s characters. Small town wit and wisdom reminiscent of The Walton’s stirred up feelings of a bygone era when life seemed much simpler. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the novel, “Maybe it’s not the falling down that matters. It’s the getting back up. Maybe it’s not the mistakes you make, but what you do after you make ’em.”

All That is Hidden is the coming of age story of two siblings, Tina and Nick Hamilton. At first, it was a bit challenging to get invested in a book with a ten-year-old heroine, but I’m so glad I did! Tina and Nick have their idyllic mountain life disrupted when secrets from their father’s past come to life that affects Tina and Nick’s family. The children learn that choices, even those hidden in the past, have consequences.

Both tender and heart-wrenching, I recommend having a box of tissues handy as the book comes to an end. If you’re anything like me, you’re gonna need them for this fully satisfying, but somewhat unexpected, ending.

Although I have since purchased my own copy, I did receive a copy of this book from the author. I was not required to leave a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Author

Laura DeNooyer thrives on creativity and encouraging it in others. A Calvin College graduate, she has decades of experience teaching art and writing to middle school and high school students. She and her husband raised four kids. An award-winning author of heart-warming historical and contemporary fiction, she is president of her American Christian Fiction Writers chapter. When not writing, you’ll find her reading, walking, drinking tea with friends, or taking a road trip. For a FREE prequel from Laura DeNooyer, join her monthly newsletter: www.StandoutStoriesNewsletter.com.

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Excerpt from Peyton’s Promise & a Giveaway

I’m thrilled to welcome author Susan G. Mathis to Romancing History today. Not only is Susan a multi award-winning author, she also writes both fiction (historical romance, children’s picture books) and non-fiction books (premarital books) and articles. That is truly a wonderful accomplishment!

Her latest release, Peyton’s Promise, is book three in the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series which gets its name from that beautiful part of upstate New York where her stories are set.

I hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from Peyton’s Promise and don’t forget to visit the Giveaway section at the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway to win an eBook copy of the book!


About the Book

Title: Peyton’s Promise
Series Info: Thousand Islands Gilded Age book three
Author: Susan G Mathis
Genre: Historical Romance
Book Info: 
Iron Stream Fiction, 264 pages

ABOUT PEYTON’S PROMISE:

Summer 1902

Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position of upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.


Excerpt from Peyton’s Promise

Patrick chewed on the inside of his cheek as he concentrated on the intricate touchup work he’d accomplished so well before Peyton appeared like a ghost from his past. She’d haunted his dreams for nearly three years, and now she was here. Some of those dreams were sweet—of walking along the shore of the St. Lawrence arm in arm with the girl he’d loved ever since he was knee-high to a Daddy Longlegs.

As childhood best friends, they’d shared everything together. Their favorite fishing and swimming hole in a little cattail-sheltered inlet of French Bay just blocks from their homes. Studying in the same one-room schoolhouse, albeit he was a year ahead of her, and she was much smarter than he. Secrets and tears and laughs—oh, so many laughs. He’d quoted the Irish saying to her time and again, “A best friend is like a four-leaf clover; hard to find and lucky to have.” Indeed, he was a lucky young lad.

He loved to make her laugh, to hear that captivating little snicker. Not quite a laugh. Not quite a giggle. A fanciful pixie sound he called a liggle. Oh, how he loved—and missed—that sound!

Really, he couldn’t ever remember not loving her, not dreaming of growing old with the flaxen-haired lass with her haunting green eyes and soft, sweet lips. He’d kissed those lips once. His body quivered at the innocence of that childish moment.

While he fished on one hot summer’s day, Peyton had fallen asleep in the sunshine, beads of moisture wetting her brow, yet her placid features didn’t flinch in the heat. He’d probably been about eleven years old and just couldn’t help himself. Studying her angelic face, he’d bent down and touched his lips to hers. Barely. She didn’t even stir, but that stolen kiss became a golden badge of courage to him. He’d never told her—or anyone—about it. But it rarely left the recesses of his memories for long. And he’d never kissed anyone since.

Lighthouse Publishing     Amazon


About the Author

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. She has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. Susan has seven in her fiction line including, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, Katelyn’s Choice, Devyn’s Dilemma, Sara’s Surprise, Reagan’s Reward, and her newest, Colleen’s Confession. Peyton’s Promise and Rachel’s Reunion release in 2022 and she just finished book ten, Mary’s Moment. Her book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, three American Fiction Awards, two Indie Excellence Book Awards, and two Literary Titan Book Awards. Reagan’s Reward is a Selah Awards finalist.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world but returns each summer to enjoy the Thousand Islands. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com/fiction for more.


Giveaway*

This Giveaway is now Closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Alison B.!

To enter the giveaway for a Kindle copy of Peyton’s Promise, tell me if you’ve visited the Thousand Island area of New York. What did you think? If you haven’t been there yet, what is your favorite New York destination?

*Giveaway ends at midnight, June 1st.

Book Review: Counterfeit Love & a Giveaway

About the Book


Title: Counterfeit Love
Series Info: Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age, Book #1
Author: Crystal Caudill
Genre: Historical Romance
Book Info: Kregel Books; March 15, 2022; 336pp


Blurb

Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves–or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he’s been sent to track down?

After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name–and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors’ threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn’t all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home–and the truth.

After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a notorious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiancée is connected. Can he really believe the woman he loved is a willing participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career–but that’s better than failing her twice in one lifetime.

They must form a partnership, tentative though it is. But there’s no question they’re both still keeping secrets–and that lack of trust, along with the dangerous criminals out for their blood, threatens their hearts, their faith, and their very survival.

Combining rich history, danger, suspense, and romance, Crystal Caudill’s debut novel launches this new historical series with a bang. Fans of Elizabeth Camden, Michelle Griep, and Joanna Davidson Politano will be thrilled to find another author to follow!

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My Thoughts

Wowza, what a debut!

I’ve been looking forward to reading Counterfeit Love and I wasn’t disappointed. Caudill has written a spell-binding historical mystery filled with plenty of conflict, danger, and intrigue that made it impossible to put down.

I loved the heroine, Theresa Plain. She’s very much like me—a strong, independent woman (that some like to call bull-headed and that may be appropriate at times. Ah-hem). I love that despite the obstacles placed in her way, Theresa won’t quit. Though her faith is challenged, she is a fighter.

And Broderick—what’s not to love about this swoon-worthy, badge wearing hero. I love that he has a strong moral compass and that despite how things look, he knows in his heart that Theresa can not who his boss suspects she is.

As a lover of all things history, I was thrilled with the historical accuracy of this novel. The author brought the neighborhoods and people of 1880s Cincinnati to life with realistic dialogue and vivid descriptions, including the historic floods of 1883 & 1884 and their devastating effects on the city. The story was impeccably researched and filled with rich historical details about law enforcement, counterfeiting, and the Secret Service during the Gilded Age.

Although I purchased a paper copy, when I saw the audio book narrator was Stephanie Cozart, one of my favorites, I decided to listen to the book as well. As I expected the narrator did a fabulous job setting the mood of the story and bringing the characters to life.

If you enjoy historical fiction with strong faith elements and a villain you won’t see coming, then I highly recommend Counterfeit Love!


Favorite Quotes

“I’m not some brittle piece of china that needs to be packed away and forgotten.” “No, you’re not. You’re a beautiful, independent woman who drives a man to distraction.”

She could do this. She could march into a man’s world and demand her place. She would command it, just like her Grandfather always had.

He couldn’t remain her any longer. If he had to crawl across the floor and up the stairs, he would make it to her.

Once committed, she would not turn back, an admirable quality and a terrible nuisance all at the same time.

“Fine. but just one cup, and then I’m going to see Nathaniel.” His teeth shone. Let him think he had won. She was getting chocolate and her way.

“No one, not even skunks like Drake or Grandfather’s partners, can chase me off. This is my home. My sole connection to family, and i dare anyone to remove me.”


Spiritual Takeaway

‘You and I have been trying to overcome our problems on our own, but that’s not how God wants it.
Sometimes he has to strip us of everything
even the illusion of control—for us to see our need for Him.’

That quote is the essence of the spiritual message behind Counterfeit Love.  The events of the story strip the main characters of every illusion they have of control and makes them realize that they are nothing without Christ. They learn to love and rely on God in new and deeper ways. I could so relate to Theresa and Broderick. I’ve been there and no matter how deep you dig, in the darkest seasons of life, we can’t go it alone—none of us can. Theresa and Broderick’s story is a great reminder that God is always with us, that He alone is our strength and our shield.


About the Author

Crystal Caudill is the author of “dangerously good historical romance,” with her work garnering awards from Romance Writers of America and ACFW. She is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, and when she isn’t writing, Crystal can be found playing board games with her family, drinking hot tea, or reading other great books at her home outside Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at crystalcaudill.com. Keep up with all of Crystal’s author happenings at:

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Giveaway**
This giveaway is now CLOSED

Congratulations to our winner Kathy B!

I’m giving away one paperback copy of Counterfeit Love to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter the drawing, take this quick Counterfeit Love Character Quiz, then drop your character name in the comments. While on Crystal’s website, you might enjoy checking out additional Bonus Content about Counterfeit Love.

**Giveaway ends midnight, Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Paper copy for US residents only. International winners will receive an eBook copy.

 

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Most history buffs are familiar with Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America. But did you know about the other Jefferson Davis during the Civil War?

Jefferson C. Davis was a regular officer for the Union Army and is most noted for killing a superior officer in 1862. Davis served with distinction during the Mexican-American war and was held in high regard when the Civil War erupted. His leadership in early battles like Pea Ridge in Arkansas saw Davis quickly promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

News of the shooting was covered in newspapers throughout the North and South.

Not long after, in September 1862, he was assigned to General William “Bull” Nelson in Louisville, Kentucky. Nelson grew increasingly dissatisfied with Davis’ performance and allegedly insulted him in front of fellow officers. A boisterous argument ensued and shortly thereafter. Witness claim that Nelson slapped Davis. Davis demanded an apology from his commanding officer and when one was not forth coming, he borrowed a pistol from a friend and fatally shot General Nelson. Davis did not try to escape and was temporarily taken into custody but was released in October of 1862 with his paperwork citing a lack of  available officers to hold a proper trial. Davis walked away and returned to duty as if nothing ever happened.

Mistaken Identify

About a year later, during the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, Davis’s shared name finally caused confusion on the battlefield. One evening, near Horseshoe Ridge, skirmishes between the Union and Confederate armies continued as the light of day drew dim. That’s when the Union’s 21st Ohio volunteer regiment noticed a large group of men advancing toward them. While most assumed they were Union reinforcements a few were suspicious and one soldier called out seeking identification. The returning reply was “Jeff Davis’ troops.” The Federals, now feeling assured that the approaching men were fellow Union soldiers, were shocked when guns were suddenly pointed at them and they were ordered to surrender by the 7th Regiment Florida infantry.

And that’s how a simple case of mistaken identity caused a portion of the Union’s 21st Ohio regiment to surrender during a conflict the Confederates would eventually win.

Your turn: Do you know a story of mistaken identity? If so, please share in the comments below.

 

7 Little Known Facts from America’s Early Years

As a history buff, I love a good story or an interestingly odd fact from the past. Here are seven snippets I’ve discovered about life in 17th and 18th century America!

1) Wall Street, or “de Waalstraat” in the original Dutch, received its name in 1644, when a wall was constructed around lower Manhattan to protect cattle from marauding Indians. During the 17th century, Wall street was also a market for slave trading and the site of Federal Hall, the city’s first government center.

2) Margaret James, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was the first person convicted of witchcraft in America. She was executed on June 15, 1648, nearly 50 years before the beginning of the Salem witch trials.

3) The first Bible printed in America was printed in 1663—in the Algonquin language. John Eliot, a pastor in Roxbury, Massachusetts, learned the dialect in the hopes of developing a written language to evangelize the Algonquin people. The book, which became known as “Eliot’s Indian Bible,” took more than ten years to translate into the Natick dialect of the Algonquin people. Eliot was assisted by John Sassmon, a member of the local tribe, whose ability to speak and write English proved invaluable to the project.

4) For wearing silk clothes, which were above their station, thirty young men were arrested in 1675 in New England. Thirty-eight women were arrested  for the same offense in Connecticut.

5) The Scarlet Letter, a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was inspired by a Puritan law against adultery passed in 1695. The law required people convicted of the offense to wear a letter “A” on a conspicuous part of their clothing for the remainder of their lives. Adulterers were also liable to receive a severe whipping of forty lashes and were required to sit on the gallows with chains about their necks for at least an hour. Harsh as these penalties were, only a few years earlier the punishment for adultery was execution.

6) In 17th and 18th century America, it was customary to provide funeral guests with gifts such as a black scarf, a pair of black gloves,  or a mourning ring. One Boston minister noted that he possessed several hundred rings and pairs of black gloves. During the Revolutionary War the custom of giving scarves and gloves was abandoned since the items could no longer be imported. Instead, people began using black armbands as a sign of mourning.

7) Poor Richard’s Almanack was a yearly publication by Benjamin Franklin who wrote under the pseudonym of “Poor Richard.” The publication circulated continually from 1732 to 1758 with print runs over 10,000 per year, and contained a mixture of household hints, puzzles seasonal weather forecasts and “other amusements.” Poor Richard’s Almanack was also known for witty phrases, some of which you might recognize today.

  • “He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.”
  • “Men & Melons are hard to know.”
  • “God works wonders now & then; Behold! A Lawyer an honest Man!”
  • “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.”
  • “Fish & Visitors stink in 3 days.”
  • “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.”

Your turn. Which of these historical tidbits tickled your fancy?

Frontier Secrets & A Giveaway

About the Book

Christian Historical Romance

Paperback & eBook, 288 Pages

Released August 24, 2021, Love Inspired Historical


A woman seeking a new future.

A cowboy with a shadowed past.

Untamed Wyoming is nothing like polished, restrictive Chicago—that’s why Ellie Marshall likes it. On her uncle’s ranch, she’s free. Free to practice her calling in medicine. Free to finally connect with her uncle. Free to explore her feelings for mysterious cowboy Rhett Callaway. In this strange place, Rhett is her constant—the one she trusts to help and protect her…especially when sinister machinations on the ranch come to light.

But will Rhett’s murky past drive him away just when Ellie needs him most?

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     CBD

 


Excerpt, Frontier Secrets

“I never asked where you grew up.”

He kept his eyes averted as he continued to work. “Are you asking now?”

“Yes.”

“We live around Cheyenne until I was eight. Then we moved southeast.” Backing away, Rhett peered at the sky. “It’s late. I need to return you to the ranch before your uncle worries.”

He needed to? His choice of words struck her, reminding her that she now lived in a different place where people took the law into their own hands. If her uncle believed for one moment that Rhett had insulted her, he wouldn’t hesitate to string up his newest worker.

“Let’s hurry, then.” Ellie leaped down from the back of the wagon. And soon they were on their way. But for the remainder of the drive, she couldn’t help but think she knew so little about the man seated next to her. Yes, he was courageous, strong and a hard worker, but what did she really know about him?

What secrets did he carry that he was unwilling—or unable—to share?


About the Author

What do you get when you cross an army brat, a police record and an opera singer? You would get Anna Zogg. She has been surrounded by those in the military (father, four siblings, husband, and son), she was an exchange student in Denmark (when police records were mandatory) and she trained as a vocal major in college. With such a diverse background, she couldn’t help but become a writer.

Anna has long been fascinated by the west–ranch life, horses and the tough men and women who tamed it. Ever drawn to her Native American roots, she and her husband settled in the Pacific Northwest. They love majestic mountains, vast oceans, high deserts and towering pines.

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 Giveaway**

**This Giveaway is now closed.**

Congratulations to our winner, Perrianne Askew!!

I’m giving away a print copy of Frontier Secrets to one lucky Romancing History winner. To enter comment below and tell me what you think Rhett’s secret might be? (If you actually know, don’t tell us!)
**Giveaway ends at midnight, Wednesday, September 1st.**

The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga

Image Courtesy of Library of Congress

Every now and then I stumble on some little footnote of history that absolutely fascinates me. This summer while on vacation, my husband and I toured the Chickamauga Battlefield and learned about a young soldier named Joseph Klem. And, by young, I mean very young. During the Battle of Chicamauga, Klem, who was now known as “Johnny Clem,” was a mere 12 years old.

Our story begins in May of 1861 when little Joseph, age 9, ran away from his home in Ohio to sign up with the Union Army only to find out the Federal Army (3rd Ohio Regiment) wasn’t in the business of  “enlisting infants.” Determined to find his place, Clem approached the commander of the 22nd Michigan and was again rebuffed. Undeterred, Clem tagged after the regiment acting out the role of a drummer boy. His persistence paid off and Clem was allowed to remain with the unit performing various camp duties for which he was paid $13 a month. Since he was not officially enlisted in the Union Army, Clem’s salary was paid collectively by the regiment’s officers.

John Lincoln Clem, Facts

Image courtesy of American History Central

In April of the following year, Clem’s drum was struck by an artillery round during the Battle of Shiloh. This garnered the boy some minor attention from the press who dubbed him “Johnny Shiloh, The Smallest Drummer.” Not long after, Clem was officially enrolled in the Federal Army, received his own pay, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant—the youngest non-commissioned officer in U.S. Army history at the unbelievable age of 12.

But it wasn’t until September of 1863 that young Johnny came to national attention. During the Battle of Chickamauga, he joined the 22nd Michigan in the defense of Horseshoe Ridge wielding a musket that had been sawed down to his size. As the Rebels surrounded Union forces, a Confederate officer is reported to have shouted at Clem, “Surrender you damned little Yankee devil!” Johnny stood his ground and shot the colonel dead. This demonstration of fortitude earned Clem national recognition and the moniker, “The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga.”

Following the Civil War and a failed attempt to attend West Point, Clem made a personal appeal to President Ulysses S. Grant, his commanding general at Shiloh, for an appointment to the Regular Army. On December 18, 1871, Clem became a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army and in 1903 he attained the rank of Colonel and served as Assistant Quartermaster General. After 55 years, Clem retired from the Army as a Major General in 1916—last Civil War veteran to actively serve in the U.S. Army.

General Clem, The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga, died in San Antonio, Texas on May 13, 1937, exactly 3 months shy of his 86th birthday. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

I love nerdy history snippets like this? Had you heard of  The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga before reading this post?

Beyond These War-Torn Lands by Cynthia Roemer & a Giveaway

I’m so excited to welcome friend, fellow author, and critique partner, Cynthia Roemer back to Romancing History today. Cynthia’s latest novel, Beyond These War-Torn Lands, releases next Tuesday, August 3rd and I know y’all are gonna love Drew and Caroline’s story as much as I did!

As you can imagine, writing historical romance requires an author to delve into the time period—the clothes, speech patterns, foods, tools, and events of the era in which they write. Today Cynthia is going to share some of the behind-the-scenes research she did to bring her Civil War novel to life on the page.

And, Cynthia is giving away a signed, print copy of Beyond These War-Torn Lands, too! So make sure to see the Giveaway section at the bottom of this post and leave a comment!


When I decided to write a Civil War novel, I knew I was in for a lot of research. I’m not sure how I settled on The Battle of Monocacy Junction to start the novel off (timing, placement), but I soon found myself engrossed in learning about this lesser-known battle along the Monocacy River in Maryland. This battle, though a loss for the Union, turned out to be an ultimate victory for the men in blue.

Here’s why:

The Monocacy River, Maryland

The day-long battle began early in the morning of July 9, 1864 and lasted well into the evening. General Lew Wallace commanded the Union troops, while General Jubal Early led the Confederates. The two sides volleyed back and forth throughout the scorching heat until they landed smackdab in the cornfields and yards of some of the neighboring residents—the Best family, Thomas family, and Worthington family.

Several of the residents, such as six-year-old Glenn Worthington and his older brother Henry, hunkered in their cellars watching the battle through cracks in the walls. Glenn later wrote an account of the experience in his book, Fighting for Time.

Waves of skirmishes ended with Wallace’s men fleeing, leaving a horde of dead and wounded in their wake. The Confederate army had intended to storm Washington and take over the city. However, the delay at Monocacy Junction allowed the Union time to send for reinforcements and spare their Capital a takeover. Therefore, the battle at Monocacy became known as The Battle That Saved Washington.

As I was delving into my research, our hostess, Kelly Goshorn, and I had just become friends and critique partners. When I found out she lived within an hour of the very battle I was researching, and that the site had been preserved for visitors, I was ecstatic! Though Kelly hadn’t visited the site herself, she graciously offered to house me if I was able to make the trip out. I had high hopes of doing so and then … the Pandemic hit.

Followed by a cancer diagnosis.

Between the two unexpected challenges, I knew I would be unable to make the trip. But thank the Lord for carrying me through my health ordeal and for all the wonderful online resources available. Via the internet, I was able to access so much information about the National Battlefield at Monocacy Junction, among other historical events and people that found their way into my novel, Beyond These War-Torn Lands. Kelly proved a help as well, for she had visited some of the sites included in the book.

In the opening scene of Beyond These War-Torn Lands, my hero, Sergeant Andrew (Drew) Gallagher, is injured at the Battle of Monocacy Junction and would have become a casualty of war had my heroine, Caroline Dunbar not happened upon him while on her way to aid wounded Confederates at her neighbors—the Worthington and Thomas families.

 How I relished weaving my characters into history during one of America’s most challenging and fascinating eras. I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to discover, but I assure you, Drew and Caroline have quite a journey ahead of them before their happily ever after!

**One other historical tidbit I found in my research. If you’ve read or seen the movie, Ben Hur, you might find it interesting that it was written by none other than the retired Union General Lew Wallace!!


About the Book

The War brought them together ~ Would it also tear them apart?

While en route to aid Confederate soldiers injured in battle near her home, Southerner Caroline Dunbar stumbles across a wounded Union sergeant. Unable to ignore his plea for help, she tends his injuries and hides him away, only to find her attachment to him deepen with each passing day. But when her secret is discovered, Caroline incurs her father’s wrath and, in turn, unlocks a dark secret from the past which she is determined to unravel.

After being forced to flee his place of refuge, Sergeant Andrew Gallagher fears he’s seen the last of Caroline. Resolved not to let that happen, when the war ends, he seeks her out, only to discover she’s been sent away. When word reaches him that President Lincoln has been shot, Drew is assigned the task of tracking down the assassin. A chance encounter with Caroline revives his hopes, until he learns she may be involved in a plot to aid the assassin.

Beyond These War-Torn Lands is available on Amazon

About the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an inspirational, bestselling author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the hearts of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the mid-1800’s prairie and Civil War era. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon bestseller, Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, a 2020 Selah Award winning novel.

Cynthia writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of almost thirty years. They have two grown sons and a daughter-in-love. When she isn’t writing or researching, Cynthia can be found hiking, biking, gardening, reading, or riding sidesaddle with her husband in the combine or on their motorcycle. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. To learn more about Cynthia and writing journey, sign up for her author newsletter or visit her online at: her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub, or GoodReads.


This giveaway is now closed!

Congrats to Lila, the winner of the signed copy of Beyond These War-Torn Lands!

Giveaway**

Cynthia is giving away one signed print copy of Beyond These War-Torn Lands to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell us what your favorite period of American history is to read about and why.

**Giveaway ends midnight, August 4th**

Author Interview with Alton Fletcher and a Giveaway!

I’m so excited to introduce my friend, Alton Fletcher, to Romancing History readers today. Alton writes historical fiction and his debut novel, Find the Wind’s Eye, released earlier this month. Another exciting first for Alton, he is the first male author I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing here on Romancing History!

Find the Wind’s Eye is a Antebellum tale with a message relevant for today’s reader about equality, the evils of prejudice and discrimination, and the condition of the human heart. I personally think Alton’s novel sounds intriguing and hope to read it next month so stay tuned for a review post when I’m done.

Alton has geneoursly offered 3 print copies of Find the Wind’s Eye to 3 separate Romancing History visitors so make sure you see the Giveaway section at the bottom of the post for details on how to enter the drawing.

Before we get to the interview, let’s learn a little more about Alton and Find the Wind’s Eye.


About the Author

Alton Fletcher enjoys sailing almost as much as he enjoys writing and sometimes wishes he could do both at once. He became enamored with the sea, sailing ships, and books upon his first reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island as a boy. For the past twenty years, after retiring as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, he has made Virginia his home, where he continues to sail and write to his heart’s content.

 

 

Connect with Alton on his Website, Twitter, or his Amazon Author Page.

 


About the Book

In 1854 Boston, Third Lieutenant Andrew Gunn of the United States Revenue Cutter Service questions the President’s direct order to extradite a fugitive slave, Anthony Burns, back to Virginia aboard his ship—a lawful order that he believes is immoral and unjust.

Torn between his own reverence for freedom as an American and his sworn duty, Gunn suffers the hazards of hard choices that threaten his own life, liberty, and happiness. His first real exposure to the scourge of slavery brings chaos to his ordered life, despite his desperate attempts to control it.

Set aboard a small ship in the midst of a gathering political storm, Find The Wind’s Eye is a timely, moving story about a man of principle trying to find his way in a fast-changing, increasingly ambivalent world. He strives to do the right thing, while struggling with the ugly truth of his own complicity in the national sin of slavery.

Find the Wind’s Eye is available for purchase on Amazon.

 


Author Q&A

Fast Five

  1. Dogs or Cats? Dogs
  2. Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin? Chocolate Chocolate Chip
  3. Night Owl or Early Bird? Night Owl
  4. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy
  5. Oldies or Country? Country Oldies, Sea Shanties, and Old Hymns

 

RH: Hi Alton, welcome to Romancing History. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve been writing? How many books you have published and what era you write about?

AF: Thank you for having me today. I look forward to meeting your readers. I graduated in 1977 from Geneva College, a Christian liberal arts college in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. My wife, Cheryl, and I were married in 1976, while still in college. We’ve been married ever since and have made our home in Manassas for the past 20 years. We honeymooned in Williamsburg, and we’ve always held a special place in our hearts for Virginia, so we were happy to finally settle here after the upheaval of seven cross-country military moves.

I had wanted to be a writer since high school, but after college, life happened. Work, kids (three daughters), more work, house payments, career, braces, college tuition, weddings, and so on. In addition to raising a family, I served for 22 years as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard, retiring in 2003. Though gratifying and exciting, my days in the military were often long and exhausting, with extended periods of travel and temporary duty in remote places. Hard to find time to write. I retired a second time after a very busy, productive, and successful life in private industry in 2015. Actually, I drove home from work in heavy Washington Beltway traffic one day and decided I’d had enough. It was a now or never kind of thing. At age 60, I quit my day job and started writing fiction. And I haven’t stopped.

After more revisions than I can count, I’ve recently published my first historical novel, set in the 1850s. It’s a fascinating period of major transitions in technology, philosophy, religion, science, politics, and psychology that caused enormous social upheaval and personal turmoil. That turbulent period shaped the modern world as we know it today. We can’t really understand ourselves if we don’t know how we got here. That’s what I like to discover. What were people thinking back then? How did those huge changes affect them in their daily lives? How different were they from us? Have we really made progress since then? Though we are much wealthier, generally speaking, than those who lived two centuries ago, in many ways we are much poorer, especially spiritually and religiously. We live in an age of materialism and apostasy, which stems directly from its mid-nineteenth century roots. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think that growth in the wrong direction isn’t progress.

RH: I totally agree with you about the relevance of understanding history and learning from the past. BTW, my daughter attended Geneva College as well. Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

AF: I suppose the quirkiest thing about me is that I’m a contrarian. I suspect that’s what those who know me best would say. As I was thinking about this question today, I looked up into a gray, overcast sky to watch a large flock of seagulls pass overhead, maybe fifty or so flying eastbound. A lone gull, apart from the others, was headed west. I had to laugh. That’s me.

One of my favorite phrases is, “Yes, but.” I love a good argument. Total agreement is overrated. I find it dull and boring and somewhat fake. Such a mindset didn’t serve me well in a military career, I can tell you. Neither does it make for conciliatory book club discussions. Yes, but … it might well suit me as a writer. At least, I think so, though I may be alone in that thought.

RH: Hmmm, I kind of resemble that remark. My mother used to tell me I’d make a good lawyer because I liked to argue. I’m not sure she meant that as a compliment. Which historical figure, other than Jesus (because who wouldn’t want to meet Jesus?), would you like to meet? Why?

AF: Mark Twain. He had a contrarian point of view about most things, from which derives his humor, I believe. I’d love to have a discussion with him about Huck Finn and white suits, among many other subjects. I wore a white tuxedo for my wedding. I’d like to meet Jesus for the same reason. Talk about being a contrarian. And James, his brother. (What must that have been like?!)

RH: Hahaha! Your comment about James made me chuckle. I wonder if Mary ever had to tell James to stop arguing with Jesus? Which 3 words describe the type of fiction you write?

AF: Timeless, thoughtful, and truthful. Also, historical, nautical, and literary, if such is at all possible.

RH: From the quote below, I’d have to agree with your description of your writing. I’m looking forward to reading Find the Wind’s Eye. What is your writing kryptonite?

AF: A favorite movie and a rainy day. I can’t pass up Master and Commander, if it is on TV. Or the arrival of a new book. Equally deadly to a writing day.

RH: I saw a recent tweet of yours about Master and Commander with Russell Crowe. I’ve added it to my list of films to watch. What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

AF: Portraying intimacy (not sex). What do women actually say when out of earshot? I’ve long lived in a family of four women and still don’t know.

RH: This answer made me chuckle as well. I’d love to fill you in on what women talk about when men aren’t around but I’ld be breaking the sisterhood code. What was the inspiration behind your debut, Find the Wind’s Eye?

AF: I found the facts of the true story of the rendition of Anthony Burns both compelling and incredible upon reading James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, a remarkable history of the events leading up to the Civil War. McPherson features this event as being so volatile as to almost touch off a civil war in 1854. Our country was terribly divided over social and political issues. I was absolutely astounded to learn that the United States government was complicit in returning a fugitive slave to the horrible life from which he had recently escaped. It might have been lawful, but was it just? The story spoke to me, because I had experienced similar moral conflicts while serving on active duty in the Coast Guard. I wondered what I would have done in those circumstances and at that time. I had to find out.

RH: That is an intriguing answer. So now I”m wondering if your character’s response would have been the same as your own? That will be a question to follow up on after I finish your novel.When and where is your story set? (Any pictures you can provide would be nice for this question.)

AF: Find The Wind’s Eye is set in antebellum Boston in June of 1854. However, most of it takes place at sea aboard the government vessel that was ordered to return Anthony Burns to Virginia, sending him as a prisoner back to a life of slavery.

RH: Are you at liberty to share with Romancing History readers something that didn’t make it into the final copy like a deleted scene.

AF: I wanted to depict the courtroom trial of Anthony Burns, in which he was represented pro bono by Richard Henry Dana, a famous writer and civil rights attorney in Boston at the time. The outcome of the trial, which was all but pre-determined, depended entirely on the answers to two questions: (1) Was the man on trial Anthony Burns; and (2) Was Anthony Burns an escaped slave? Nothing else really mattered. Dana’s arguments for Burns to be set free during the week-long trial were eloquent and evocative, although he lost the hard-fought case. As I said, I’m enthralled by a good argument. However, I sensed that the opening chapters of my book required more dramatic action, which meant that it had to begin with the riots in the streets outside the courthouse after the judge passed the verdict that sent Burns back. So, I was forced to cut the first several chapters from the book. They were pretty good, though. It hurt to cut them.

As it turns out, the opening chapters depicting the riot outside the courthouse draw some interesting parallels to what happened on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol, even though they were written five years ago.

RH: Those scenes sound intriguing and might make a great giveaway for newsletter subscribers. Do you have a favorite quote from Find the Wind’s Eye you’d like to share?

AF: My favorite passage, I suppose, is the opening to Chapter 28, as the ship carrying Anthony Burns approaches the coast of Virginia after eight days at sea, headed to Norfolk. It speaks of arriving in this beautiful place with a purpose that wasn’t so pretty.

“As would any sailor worth his salt, [Third Lieutenant Andrew] Gunn sensed the nearness of land, like detecting the perfume of an alluring woman in the next room. Virginia beguiled them all, however, and kept them waiting just out of reach, her seductive scent borne on the light and variable breezes of late spring.”

“Meanwhile, the Morris labored on, her progress steady, but slow, standing up from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay under the expert guidance of the pilot. Both wind and current had conspired against the ship nearly the whole way, as though the entire natural world opposed her mission.”

RH: Those quotes gave me goosies. You are an excellent writer. What do you hope readers will take away after reading Find the Wind’s Eye?

AF: My book depicts the ageless conflicts between mind and heart, duty and conscience, self-interest and sacrifice that lie at the center of the quest for freedom, justice, and equality in American society. Many elements of the story are relevant to current events in our nation today. I hope it raises timeless questions that the audience is compelled to answer for themselves.

RH: I think that is our job as writers of  historical fiction and historical romance—to bring those questions to the forefront through an examination of the past. What are you working on now?

AF: Currently, I’m writing the sequel to Find The Wind’s Eye, which doesn’t yet have a title. I hope to complete a series of five novels, taking the same MC through the Civil War, depicting the devastating effects of divisive social conflict and war on him, his family, and friends over a period of ten years.

I’m told by agents and publishers that historical fiction doesn’t sell very well these days. Yes, but … we as a people have a lot to learn from our past. Those vital lessons could save us from a horrible future, if we will heed them.

RH: Unfortunately, I’ve been told the same but we must write what the Lord lays on heart. It is not our place to worry about the size of the audience because truly, we write for an audience of One.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Alton. I hope and pray that audiences will find your book. It definitely sounds like a wonderful read.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winners — Vivian Furbay, Emily Sellers, and Lori Altebaumer!

Alton has gracioulsy offered 3 print copies of Find the Wind’s Eye to three separate Romancing History winners. To enter please share your thoughts on current trends to either “whitewash” history or revise to fit better with today’s social narrative. Do you think we do ourselves a disservice to hide historical truths because they make us uncomfortable?

**Giveaway ends at midnight, March 3rd, 2021.

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