You’re Reading about What? Researching One Lilac Christmas

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I have a guest today. Historical author, Pamela Ferguson, has recently published a historical novella, One Lilac Christmas. Here’s what she has to say about it–

When I agreed to write a sweet Christmas historical romance, I knew at once I would set it during World War II. I’d already published two World War II romances (His Scottish War Bride and His French War Bride) and enjoyed researching that time period. Between the beginning and end of the war, four Christmas holidays were celebrated. That meant there would be lots of material to inspire plot ideas.

My previous historical romances explored the lives of soldiers who went to war. This time I was drawn to the stories of Americans on the home front who helped the war effort. I read about gasoline rationing and nylon stocking shortages, weapons arsenals, and officer training. I learned about women who enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps, and people who resented them for doing it. When I stumbled upon the story of an engaged couple who’d attempted to enlist together—only to have the recruiters reject the man and accept the woman—I knew I’d found the primary conflict for my two main characters, Amity Belmont and Zachary Flynn.

Next, I needed an external conflict. My historical romance characters are all linked to a fictional Virginia town called Lilac, the setting for my contemporary romances. Since One Lilac Christmas was a historical romance, I explored what was happening in the Blue Ridge Mountain region during World War II. I read about Civilian Public Service Camps where conscientious objectors voluntarily served the United States during the war. This would be the historical basis for the conflict involving Amity’s younger brother, who admits that, like their mother, he is a pacifist.

I never know what historical detail will provide the germ of an idea. I’ve learned to be comfortable with starting a writing project without knowing exactly where I’ll end up. Each time the research process has led me to interesting events that I can add to a plot.

Now you know the background of One Lilac Christmas. Here’s the book description:

December 1943. When Zachary Flynn suggested that he and Amity Belmont enlist together, he never dreamed the recruiters would reject him because of his flat feet. Now, Amity’s off fighting the war, and he could kick himself for letting his bruised ego get in the way of telling her his true feelings. If he had, maybe Lilac’s well-meaning matchmakers wouldn’t be trying to hustle him under the mistletoe with someone other than Amity.

Sergeant Amity Belmont never should have confided her fears to anyone in her Women’s Army Corps unit. When her commanding officer gets wind of Amity’s concerns, she recommends Amity set things right at home before taking on her new assignment. Of all the people she’s disappointed, Amity is worried most about Zach. She cannot ask him to forgive something she doesn’t regret. Will her surprise visit to Lilac bring the Christmas miracle they both need?

What historical time periods are you interested in?

E-book, print, and audiobook buy links:

One Lilac Christmas (Amazon)

One Lilac Christmas (Audible)

Award-winning author PAMELA FERGUSON writes contemporary and historical romance fiction. Wings of Love, her first novel set in the fictional town of Lilac, won the 2017 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. Readers can meet relatives of her contemporary romance characters in her World War II-era historical romances. She collaborates with two fantastic vocal artists, Stephanie Dillard and Rebecca Fine, to produce audiobooks for all her stories. She loves to hear from readers. Find her on one of the social media platforms below. To keep up with the latest news about her books, visit her website, and sign up for her newsletter.

Website: www.PamelaFerguson.com

Social Media:

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Instagram

To Learn a New Task

When changes come, I usually balk and declare, “I will never…”

No Way

But then I do. I adapt to the changes, (sigh) listen to tutorials, (sigh) study…whatever it takes to learn the new way of doing things.

Life is like that, even when you’re in your sixties. Always learning something new. Hey, it’s actually good for you. Keeps your brain active.

I’m feeling a little sheepish…

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Michelangelo

So, here I am learning new things. I delayed it as long as possible and then life added more delays until I actually became anxious to get started.

A new path

It kind of sucks you in, doesn’t it? You want to see where it goes. In case you’re curious, I’m mostly talking about this new blogging experience, using those “blocks” to build my post. I balked at first. Didn’t like it at all.

So, I watched some tutorials and kind of got the hang of things. Now I’m kind of (sort of) having fun with it.

But that’s not the only new path these days. After heart surgery, my husband had to make some major changes to his diet and lifestyle. So, I’m learning to cook a new way. It really didn’t require a lot of work. We use a few different ingredients like healthier oils, herbs, and spices instead of salt, heavy on the veggies. We are both benefiting from the changes.

And then of course, there are these other things going on in the world. We’ve adapted to wearing masks everywhere. It’s really not that bad, I tell myself. I miss my visits with Mom. We have to communicate by phone for a while. Quarantines are not my favorite things.

But those are just things that come and go. All told, I’m doing well and hey–I’m writing! Yay! Getting back to it and looking for those illusive two words, “The End.” I hope to find them soon and then I’ll tell you all about it!

I am still learning.

Michelangelo
alarm, time, grass, red, green
It’s time to set your clock back. Sunday November 1

October

Of all of Robert Frost’s poems, I love Road Not Taken the best. But for today, I think October fits well. Our Kentucky weather is transitioning right on time, so though these scenes are not mine, our trees are similar in color.

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened into fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

May your week be blessed and you less stressed, as you enjoy what this season has to offer. It is but a season after all, short in length, a feast for the eyes. It’s sweater-time!

A Few Good Books Reviewed

Hello Thursday Morning!

It’s been a while. So much has happened since last I posted. My husband of almost forty-six years went to the doctor with chest pain and a few weeks later, underwent a multiple-bypass surgery.

He did very well and thankfully, I was able to remain with him during his three days in the ICU and three more in the cardiac ward. Only six days total sounds like a miracle to me but bringing him home presented new challenges. However, God is good and rich in mercy. My husband is now recovering nicely and itching to get back to a more normal life. He prefers to be in the driver’s seat.

Life as a chauffeur to numerous doctor visits translates into more time for me to read (like the chauffeur in Sabrina who originally took the job to have more time to read).

I read three books, which is more than I’ve read in a year. I’ve written short reviews for all three.

The Captured Bride by Michele Griep

Historical fiction, upstate New York, 1759

I knew I was going to like this book from the first moment I picked it up. It’s been on my TBR pile for nearly two years since I bought it when it first came out. Anyone who has ever read a Michele Griep book will not be disappointed.

What I liked most: The prose. Michele Griep is an artist who paints “wordscapes.” Her scenes are rich and vibrant. I often took the time to reread a scene because it was so beautifully written.

What I liked the least: Some of the scenes were so gut-wrenching and action-packed, I wanted to chew my nails. I couldn’t set it down but had to know what happened next.

In a nutshell: I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction. The research is spot-on but not overdone, so there are no info-dumps, just richly written scenes. I loved the colorful characters, too.

One thing that drew me to this story, in the beginning, is the setting. My husband’s family is from Upstate New York. I’ve visited there, so I was familiar with many of the landmarks and rivers named in this novel.

Breaking Point by Marji Laine

Mystery, romantic suspense.

This is another one I grabbed as soon as it was released. I had started reading it but life got in the way. It’s the second book in the Heath’s Point Suspense series. I haven’t read the first book but that didn’t harm the story. However, now that I’ve read book two, I definitely want to read the first one.

What I liked most:  The author has a good handle on writing this genre. The suspense remained taut throughout.

What I liked the least: What I would like to say would be a spoiler, so I’ll just say I was a little frustrated at times with the main character. She was not at all what she seemed in the beginning (a good thing because I didn’t like her). Sometimes we are too quick to judge, however. Once I knew a little more about her past, I better understood her life decisions.

In a nutshell: If you love romantic suspense and big, crazy families, you will like this book. My recommendation would be to start with Book I Counter Point. The action level is high, so they make a quick read.

The Cowboys, Jennifer Uhlarik, Linda W. Yezak, Cindy Ervin Huff, and Sandra Merville Hart

The Cowboys is a Western collection of novellas. I’ve been a fan of western fiction since my childhood, so this book kind of felt like that chocolate bar you keep hidden on the top shelf in the pantry. Author Linda W. Yezak was the main reason I bought it, but the other three did not disappoint. I loved all four stories and would have a difficult time choosing my favorite.

What I liked most: The length. Each novella-length story is a breeze to read, especially since I loved all the characters.

What I liked the least: The length. I could easily have read more about each of these. I’d arrive at the end and think, “already?”

In a nutshell: I whole-heartedly recommend this collection of novellas, especially if you are a big fan of western historical romance. If you’ve never read it before, this is a great way to try it on for size. It’s also a great way to try out new authors. These four are quite talented and well able to stand on their own, which makes this collection worth so much more. This one goes on my reread shelf (kind of like that secret stash of chocolate—shh! Don’t tell my husband!).

Buy Links:

The Captured Bride

Breaking Point

The Cowboys

Tight Fisted

Have you ever heard the term, “tight-fisted”?

I always understood it to mean someone was selfish or cheap or mean, who tight-fisted their money, and kept everything for themselves. Big brother used to do that with treats. Whenever we were given a gift of candy or other treats, he would hold onto his until little brother and I had eaten all of ours. Then he would take his out and begin to eat it with great gusto, refusing to share even a crumb.

Today I was cleaning out a drawer (I call it the scary drawer because it’s been so long since I’ve cleaned it). I found a handwritten note in there. Something I’d jotted down a long, long time ago.

It said:

Form a tight fist and hold it under running water. Watch the water cascade over your fist.

Now open your hand and cup your palm. Place it under the water. What happens?

It holds water. My point? Let go of what you’re holding onto so tightly, whether it’s pain or hard feelings or past regrets. Forgive the ones who have hurt you. Forgive yourself for past failures. Open your heart. Because an open heart holds more than a tightly closed one.

It kind of sounds like a Sunday School lesson, doesn’t it? Maybe it was. I’ve long since forgotten. But the message, though simple is still true.

This has been an interesting year for all of us and it ain’t over yet. 🙂

My advice to you is to greet life with an open heart and open hand. Readily forgive so that you will also be forgiven. Be kind whenever possible and speak the truth in love.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8