Friday, July 31, 2015

These Are the Times that Try Men's Souls by Sandra Merville Hart | Guest Post

Thomas Paine, personal assistant to General Nathanael Greene, scanned the faces of his companions in the Continental Army on a cold day in December, 1776. The soldiers faced difficulties worse than separation from families and harsh winter conditions. The men were disheartened. How could an army one quarter the size of the British forces win freedom?

Paine understood their discouragement. Three thousand Colonial soldiers bravely stood their ground against a foe of thirteen thousand outside the fort at Washington Heights (Manhattan) until the British threatened them with cannons. One hundred forty-nine Colonial soldiers were killed or wounded. Over twenty-eight hundred at the fort surrendered. The Colonial Army also abandoned another fort, Fort Lee, in New Jersey.

Thomas Paine (From Wikipedia)
To make matters worse, General Howe's British troops pursued General Washington's retreating army across New Jersey. The soldiers marched through the colony for sixteen days until they reached safety across the Delaware River.

The loss of three thousand soldiers struck the struggling army a difficult blow. New York City and all of New Jersey were under British control. Eleven thousand colonial soldiers gave up and returned home between September and December. Army contracts expired on December 31st.

Paine remembered the impact of his pamphlet, Common Sense. His words, published earlier that year in January, had been read by thousands. His writing somehow resonated with people in all walks of life.

All thirteen colonies must know of the recent British victories. Paine imagined those at home felt discouragement similar to the soldiers. After he pondered the situation, he sat down to pen these words:

These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.

The American Crisis went to the heart of the problem from these beginning lines. The Pennsylvania Journal published Paine's work on December 19, 1776.
Washington Monument

General Washington commanded the pamphlet to be read to his discouraged men. Paine's stirring words revived hope within their souls at a crucial moment. The results encouraged Washington. His plan for Christmas Day must succeed though he kept the details from his soldiers.

Regiments began assembling at specific crossing points along the Delaware River late in the afternoon of December 25th. Temperatures dropped causing the snow-covered ground to feel even colder.

Washington didn't want delays because after the troops crossed the icy river, they must march to Trenton, New Jersey for a surprise pre-dawn attack on the Hessian soldiers.

Unfortunately some soldiers arrived late to their designated areas. Snow, hail, sleet, and rain hindered their crossing. They contended with ice jams on the river. Dark, stormy skies made navigation difficult.

All this affected Washington's careful timetable. He almost abandoned the plan when faced with a three-hour delay. He trudged on.

Washington's surprise attack worked. The Continental Army won their first major victory.

Would the results have been same without Paine's passionate plea to stay the course? With all the obstacles that had to be overcome on that freezing Christmas Day and everything that led up to it, this author doesn't believe so.

Do our words matter?

You decide.


Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for and contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, and Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.

 A Stranger On My Land
Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their Lookout Mountain home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can't save his life. He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her family's hideaway with saving Adam's life.
Connect with Sandra...

Blog (contributor):  
Purchase: A Stranger On My Land

  • "Crossing of the Delaware," George Washington's Mount Vernon, 2015/07/27 
  • "Ft. Washington Captured - Washington Retreats through N.J -1776," HistoryCentral, 2015/07/27 
  • Paine, Thomas. "The Crisis," 2015/07/24 
  • "Thomas Paine," 2015/07/24 
  • "Thomas Paine Publishes American Crisis,", 2015/07/28

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cathy Elliott {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

Get to know Cathy...

Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer in northern California whose cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from quilting and antique collecting to playing her fiddle with friends. She also leads music at church and cherishes time with her grandchildren. Cathy’s other plot-twisting works include Medals in the Attic and A Stitch in Crime.

Connect with Cathy...

--> Website & Occasional Blog:
Facebook: Author Cathy Elliott
Purchase: A Vase of Mistaken Identity

Author Interview | Cathy Elliott

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Since high school, I wanted to be a writer, something I kept to myself. When my first book was published, a friend congratulated me, saying she knew I’d always wanted to write. What? Did I say that out loud?

...But it must have been obvious. I’d spent years reading books about writing, The Writer Magazine, taking an occasional writer class, attending author lectures, etc. Since I worked in a college library, all the new releases on the subject passed right by me. First. So, dedicating myself to the craft was my destiny. My happy ending.

...I keep writing because it gives me joy. Having books and articles published is the lovely by-product of the journey. But I write because I love to put those words on the page. And I love the writer community.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...After having three books traditionally published, that is a still hard question to answer. It’s all hard and all delightful. Most folks dislike the waiting, especially these days when they can just skip sending out a proposal and hoping for a sale by self-publishing their own books. Typically, we don’t like to wait for an editor to take a look or make a decision. I think that is hardest for most folks – but easier for me because I don’t mind waiting. In fact, I rather like my time in the waiting room. That’s where expectation & anticipation live.

Your Writing

Do you have a favorite character in this book? If so, why?
...A Vase of Mistaken Identity is the first of two of my books about amateur sleuth, Thea James, and the small town of Larkindale. I love Thea. But I cannot help but favor her grandmother, Gram, a British war bride with her bumbling ways. She is always “accidentally” spilling out Thea’s secrets. It’s great fun! 

A Vase of Mistaken Identity

Murder in Larkindale?

Thea James, proprietress of James & Company Antique Emporium, never thought murder would come to her small, surviving Gold Rush town of Larkindale. But when the Larkindale Lamplight reports the discovery of a body during the renovation of Larkin Lake Resort, Thea is caught up in the mystery.

Her world is further frenzied when she acquires a vintage vase from the town’s only homeless person. Thea finds a puzzling list tucked inside with four names written in a faded scrawl: two childhood friends from a summer camp, her sister Rosie, and . . . herself!

When the first woman on the list ends up in a coma and another mysteriously disappears, Thea knows she must save herself and her sister from harm. Her attempt to eliminate the vicious threat on their lives propels Thea to places she never wanted to visit.

Will she discover the connection before tragedy strikes?

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Most are a fictionalized combo of both – based on someone I know and also spun out of my imagination. Occasionally, a character may be based on pure fantasy, unlike anyone I’ve ever met. But usually, characters are reality-based with imaginary traits.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I so admire the high purpose of many books and struggled for a time to find one for mine, as well. Then I received a letter from one reader who’d been given my book to read in the hospital during a chemo drip. It had helped transport her to another place, away from something hard for a time. I decided that providing a little mental vacation amid a difficult day was a good enough reason to write.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...No matter what the path – traditional publishing or self-publishing or another way - I would encourage every author to write for excellence over publication. Let good writing be your goal. Write the book of your heart, take the time you need, set your standard high, and in the end, you’ll have something to be proud of, no matter the publication path.


Do you enjoy hot weather or cold better? 
...Hands down, cool weather. Maybe it’s getting older or something, but I never complain in the winter, even if it is a teeth-chattering, frigid day. I’m silent about rain, sleet, or snow. Low temps are always welcome. But June, July, and August, my mood revolves around the weather. Is today over 100 degrees? Is it humid? Oh, no! Sadly, I whine all summer long.

...Hey, that’s not a very good way to end, is it? Let me say my “heat impairment” has increased my empathy for others who suffer the same way. I can really relate! (Better?)

...Thanks, Emilie, for hosting me. I hope one of your readers will enjoy winning a copy of A Vase of Mistaken Identity, rereleased in January 2015, with a cheerful new cozy cover. I’m so pleased to give it life again!

Thanks so much for visiting Thinking Thoughts today! I love that you mention the writer community as reasons you've continued writing. I just love the writer community as well and have met so many amazing friends (online and in person). Props to you for not minding the waiting time! I find I'm terribly impatient at times ;) And I love your answer to why you write - I think there is nothing better than transporting a reader elsewhere! Thanks again Cathy and readers, make sure you leave a comment to enter to win this deadly book - it's simply purrfect, don't you think? (Ok, sorry for the puns but I couldn't help it!)


It was awesome to have Mike on the blog last week sharing about Centralia. He graciously has offered 2 books for this giveaway which means 2 winners (of course). 

I'm excited to wish congratulations to...

Shane Werlinger & Kris Hughe

Please contact me using the form on the sidebar so we can get you your books!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Love In Mistletoe Springs with Ginger Solomon | New Novel News

Love In Mistletoe Springs
with Ginger Solomon

Published July 4, 2015
Indie Published
Purchase: Love In Mistletoe Springs

The Mistletoe Springs animal shelter loses their grant, endangering the lives of countless stray dogs, cats, even birds and turtles. The community attempts to save the shelter by running a Christmas in July fundraiser. Groups of volunteers scramble to get all the details together while managing their personal lives. For ten people, love gets in the way.

Get to know Ginger...

What are the names of your pets?
We have two dogs, a cat, and a bunny. Zorro is my blue-merle miniature Australian shepherd. Midnight is our black lab/mix. Peeta is the cat—a gray tabby. Sam is the bunny—a nice gender neutral name since we don’t know if it’s a he or she. :)

What's one chore you hate doing?
I only get one? Well, if you insist. I hate cooking. I have to do it nearly every day for a mostly uncertain number of people—anywhere from four to nine, which makes it difficult. I spend as little time in the kitchen preparing meals as possible.

Favorite dessert? 
A banana split. I just love all the flavors: chocolate, vanilla, bananas, strawberry sauce, pineapple sauce, hot fudge, whipped cream, and the cherry (more than one if I can get away with it). All of it together just sends my taste buds soaring and my blood sugar. J I don’t indulge often because of the caloric content. I am over forty—shhh, don’t tell—and it takes a little longer to burn those extra calories.

 In case you missed it, I featured Love In Mistletoe Springs on my recent blog post featuring some GREAT eBook deals! Right now it's only $0.99 - you can't beat that

Woohoo! We've got a winner for Anita Higman's Summer's List...

Congrats to: Terrill Rosado
*Contact me using the form to the side so we can arrange to get you your book!

But don't forget friends - there is still a chane to enter to win one of 2 copies of Mike Dellosso's book Centralia. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Keep An Eye Out | Great Deals on Kindle Books

Hello, my dear readers! So, I just thought I'd do something fun today because I know some authors who are having sales this week as well as some eBooks that are a great deal and they are by people you SHOULD be me!

P.S. All prices shown here were accurate when I posted this, but they are subject to change by will of the publisher, author, or price-gods ;)

by Mike Dellosso

Yep, Mike was on the blog this week but his book Centralia is on sale in eBook format for $2.99

{And there's still time to enter to leave a comment for him on his post - he's giving away 2 copies!}

In Between 
by Jenny B. Jones

The Cactus Creek Challenge
by Erica Vetsch

$3.99 on Kindle
Chasing Amanda
by Robin Patchen

What A Girl Needs: An Ashley Stockingdale Novel
by Kristin Billerbeck

$4.99 on Kindle
To Mend A Dream
by Tamera Alexander

Three Little Words
by Melissa Tagg

FREE on Kindle
 A Lady of Esteem
by Kristi Ann Hunter

I Hope You Dance
by Robin Lee Hatcher

$3.99 on Kindle

The Wedding Chapel
by Rachel Hauck

by Ronie Kendig

$7.99 on Kindle

Operation Zulu | Beginning
by Ronie Kendig

More Than This 
by Staci Stallings

Good Enough for A Princess
by Carol Moncado

FREE on Kindle

The Curse of Crow Hollow
by Billy Coffee 

A Cast of Stones
By Patrick W. Carr

Rules of Murder
by Julianna Deering
 Courting Miss Amsel
by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Take and Give
by Amanda G. Stevens

Pre-Order for $3.03

The Isaac Project
by Sarah Monzon

Love in Mistletoe Springs
by Lee Carver, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Lee Tobin McClain, Gail Sattler, Ginger Solomon

The Hesitant Heiress
by Dawn Crandal

Sailing in Style
by Dana Mentink

$4.99 on Kindle

Truth or Dare
by Denise Hunter

$0.99 on Kindle

All for Anna
by Nicole Deese

The Ryn | Eyes of E'Veria
by Serena Chase

$3.99 on Kindle

I decided to do this post of my own volition. I haven't read all of these, but I love sharing a good deal! And, as noted on my "About" page, I am an affiliate with Amazon and for some purchase links provided, I will receive a portion of the sale. This does not affect your purchase price in any way.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mike Dellosso {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

A little bit about Mike...

Mike Dellosso is the author of nine novels. He also teaches writing at various conferences and as an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College. When Mike isn’t writing or teaching he’s usually spending time with his wife and four daughters.

How to connect with Mike...

Purchase: Centralia

Author Interview | Mike Dellosso

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I never wanted to be a writer. In fact, growing up I hated writing. Hated it. But in 1998 something happened that not only pushed me into writing but literally changed my life. My brother-in-law was in a very serious motorcycle accident. As he clung to life I wrestled with God, trying to make sense of such a senseless accident. As a way of coping with my pain, my anger, my hurt, my confusion, I turned to writing. It gave me an outlet, a means to express myself that was safe. And through that experience I fell in love with writing.

...Now, there’s another part to this story. Actually two. The first is that my brother-in-law pulled through and because of God’s grace and healing made a full recovery. The second is that through writing I discovered my voice. I have stuttered since I could talk. Growing up it was a severe disability. I could barely string together three fluent words. Writing gave me a voice, it allowed me to express myself without stuttering. And once that happened, the stuttering improved greatly. It was truly amazing.

What has kept me writing? 
...My readers. Literally. Honestly, every book I write I say will be my last. Writing is difficult and takes a lot of time. With a full time job and family I don’t have a lot of time. At times it feels like the payoff just isn’t there. I want to quit. But then I get an email or message from a reader saying how much she enjoyed one of my books, how much it inspired or encouraged or convicted her and then I remember why I write, why God has me doing this thing, and I determine to plug along.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...My favorite book of mine is DARLINGTON WOODS. It was the first book I wrote after battling colon cancer and there’s just a lot of symbolism and deep meaning in the book. It was truly therapeutic to write it and sort through all the emotions and struggles I’d had going through cancer. To this day that book holds a very special place in my heart.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...For me, the hardest thing is deadlines. If I miss a deadline it’s usually not by that much but just having that date looming over me is very counter-productive. I feel pressured, stressed, anxious . . . and that makes it difficult to focus on the work at hand, to feel creative and free to write. But the other side is that I can tend to be a procrastinator of sorts and the deadline helps keep me on track.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book.
...My newest novel is CENTRALIA. It’s a psychological thriller in the tradition of the Jason Bourne series or Shutter Island or Total Recall. There’s intrigue, government conspiracy, action, suspense, and plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing right up to the end. The story is also about family and love and faith. It tackles an important thought: can our faith be taken away from us?

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That no one can rob you of your faith. Faith resides not only in our minds but in our spirits. The mind can be manipulated, even stolen, but faith remains.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Both. I work full-time in the medical field and meet some very interesting people every day. Some of them become inspiration for a character. Many times settings are inspired by real places. Plots come from news stories, personal stories I’ve heard, my own life. I’m an observer by nature so I’m always watching what’s going on around me, listening, taking mental notes. And much of it becomes fodder for future books. I also have a very active imagination. People ask me about that and I tell them your imagination is like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets. I love to imagine, to make up scenarios in my head, to create situations, people, worlds.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I have lots of intentions. To entertain the reader, to provoke thought and introspection, to inspire, encourage, and convict. I want my books to glorify God by pointing people to Him or causing readers to think about Him and how He works in our life. My writing has always been about more than just writing and creating stories, it’s about the readers, how they are impacted, what the story means to them, and what kind of influence the story will have on them.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Don’t give up. 100% of published authors didn’t give up. Think about that. It’s obvious but it’s true. Push on. Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep practicing. Discouragement will come, failures will happen, the road is long and rough, but if you just keep walking eventually you’ll reach your destination.


How did you celebrate the 4th of July?
...We went over my parents’ home, had a cook-out, then watched the fireworks in our hometown. Nothing special. Just being with family makes me happy.

How are you making the most of your time this summer for writing and relaxing? Do you do anything different in the summer months?
...Nope. I work full-time so nothing really changes for me in that regard. I try to keep the same writing habits all year long. This summer, though, we are hosting a young lady from an eastern European country. She is really a sweetheart and we are having a blast with her. It’s been an interesting journey so far and has reminded me of how precious family is.

Do you enjoy hot weather or cold better?
...Oh, cold all the way. My favorite months are October, November, and December. Can’t get enough of them. I love long pants and sweatshirt weather! Changing leaves, the holiday season, cool crisp air. It’s the best.

Thanks so much for being my guest today Mike! Your journey to writing is truly amazing. I love how God uses anything and everything to draw us to Him. I am right there with you about I post this I have a few looming ahead myself. Your advice to writers is fantastic as well - simple but so true: don't give up! And I am with you all the way on the cold weather. Is it Fall yet? 

Thanks again Mike and readers, make sure you comment here to enter to win one of 2 copies!!! Share away on social media too - I love being sociable and I'll retweet, comment, and like it all :) 



Super excited to announce all the winners from last week's giveaways! 

For Beth K Vogt's Crazy Little Thing Called Love we have...

Robin D

For The Convenient Bride Collection  featuring Jennifer Uhlarik the winner is...

Trixi O

And don't forget to enter now for a chance to win Anita Higman's Summer's List!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer's List by Anita Higman | New Novel News + GIVEAWAY

Summer's List
by Anita Higman

Published June 2015
Moody Publishers
Purchase: Summer's List

Life and love keep going awry for Summer Snow, until her grandmother sends her on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree—a kind and quirky young man from Summer's past.


Get to know Anita...

Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
The Italian Alps.

What’s your favorite book?
To Kill a Mockingbird.

What's one chore you hate doing?
Dusting doodads all over the house.

 Leave a comment for Anita to be entered to win a copy of Summer's List!