To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe is a Christian historical romance story set in Oklahoma in the late 1800’s.

Any of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time know that, although, I read a variety of genres, Christian historical romance is my favorite. I read this book in four days. It usually takes me two weeks to read a book, but Jodie Wolfe created characters that grabbed my attention and my heart right from the start. She also included some very interesting history — I didn’t know there were “runs” to claim land in Oklahoma in the 1800’s. Therefore, I enjoyed learning about these “runs” while reading the story, and, of course, because some humans make bad choices, there were many complications to getting your land claim in some cases. Such was the problem for Elsie and Benjamin.

Elsie is a young woman who is on her own and doesn’t really behave like a lady. She also has no intention of becoming involved in a relationship with any man. She’s tough and independent, or, at least she thinks she is.

Benjamin is a preacher who wants to build a home and a church, to preach to a community. He’s experienced some tragic losses that have left him determined to remain unattached.

The things that happen as Elsie’s and Benjamin’s paths cross are humorous, frustrating, dangerous, and more.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and fell in love with the characters, not only Elsie and Benjamin but many of the secondary characters as well. I highly recommend this book to any Christian historical romance readers or any reader who just enjoys a good historical romance story that doesn’t contain profanity and explicit sex.

I give To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe five stars and look forward to reading more of her books in the near future.

Maiden America by Jeannette DiLouie

Maiden America (Founding America Book 1) by [DiLouie, Jeannette]

The year is 1776 and the fate of the brand new United States of America is in extreme peril. The British and their Hessian help invade the homes of people in New Jersey.

Seventeen-year-old Abigail Carpenter is caught in the middle. She and her sister-in-law are forced to house and care for five boarding officers. Things get more dangerous as a wounded patriot spy ends up on their doorstep with nowhere else to turn and Abigail finds herself deeply embroiled in the patriot cause, and an unexpected friendship has Abigail searching for answers as to what she is willing to sacrifice if she is faced with a difficult choice.

This historical fiction novel by Jeannette DiLouie is filled with wonderful historical facts about a time that was detrimental to the birth and success of our nation.

Jeannette DiLouie wrote this novel in first person, which as a writer, I find very difficult to do well. Ms. DiLouie did a fine job of it, although I did feel like there were places where Abigail became more of a narrator “telling” some of the story. I didn’t feel there was enough live action and dialogue. However, that’s my personal opinion, which could very well stem from the fact that I don’t read many novels that are written in first person. In any event, it didn’t keep me from liking the story line and the characters.

Ms. DiLouie is very good at creating characters that capture the reader’s interest and make the reader care about them. In combination with Abigail and one or two other characters in the story, the story line also kept my attention as I love history. These are the two things that kept me turning the pages.

I would like to see Ms. DiLouie write at least a novella as a follow-up because I would really like to know more about a particular relationship in the story.

If you like American history and strong, interesting female characters, I think you’d like Maiden America by Jeannette DiLouie.

Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard

Friends and Enemies is the first book in the Promise for Tomorrow series by Terri Wangard.

The story begins in 1943 and moves through 1944 and touches a bit of 1945. Heidi Wetzel lives in war-torn Germany. She moves to a rural farm to help care for evacuated children and has never been a supporter of National Socialism. She takes pleasure in passive resistance, but must exercise caution around neighbors who delight in reporting to the Gestapo.

Cadet Paul Braedel trains for the U.S. Army Air Force. As a navigator, he is sent to England with a crew that will fly a B-17.

Both Heidi and Paul experience loss during this difficult time in world history. Then Paul finds himself alone in Germany and he hears a gentle whisper, “Find Heidi”. Heidi had lived in America during her high school days and had known Paul during that time, but now he’s an enemy. How much will she risk to help him?

This story drew me in right from the beginning. I love history, especially when it is woven together with wonderful fictional characters. That brings history to life and implants it in my brain much deeper and stronger than any dry history textbook ever has. Friends and Enemies is a 527 page book, but it kept me turning pages and in just one week, I completed reading it.

I came to care deeply about both Heidi and Paul throughout the story and I felt their fears, shared their laughter and their tears in the experiences of life during war; war that touches every aspect of your life. Heidi and Paul will live in my memory for a long time.

Friends and Enemies was very well written and though war can never be without violence, pain and sorrow, Terri Wangard did an excellent job keeping the violence to a bare minimum. The story also taught lessons about what it’s like to live with war right in your own backyard.

I look forward to reading No Neutral Ground (Book Two) and Soar Like Eagles (Book Three) in the series.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction, I encourage you to pick up Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard. You won’t be disappointed.

Forbidden Love

Okay everyone, I’m not sure how long this story will be, but I got this idea and began writing it for my Friday post here on my blog. I hope you will enjoy it and follow it through to the end. I will post installments of this story every Friday until I reach its end.

Forbidden Love by Kelly F. Barr

The sun beat down and the air was hot and dry. Amelia carried a parasol to shield her from the sun as she walked along the wooden walkway. The pounding of hooves and shouting of men burst through the air and Amelia turned to see six men on horses galloping down the middle of the street as townspeople scattered out of their way. The men arrived in a cloud of dust, reining their horses in, dismounting and tethering the animals outside the saloon across the street from where Amelia stood.

Amelia entered the dressmaker’s shop.

“Good afternoon, Amelia. Your dresses are finished. I think you’ll be pleased.” Miss Rachel, the dressmaker greeted her.

Miss Rachel led the way into her back room and pulled a dress from a rack. Amelia changed into the dress and was greatly pleased with the fit. It was a cornflower blue dress. It was perfect for Sunday wear. Next came a yellow dress covered with tiny pink roses, followed by an emerald green dress with a cream colored bodice. They all fit perfectly.

“Oh Miss Rachel, you have such skill with a needle and thread.”

“You are quite adept at choosing colors that compliment your coloring. No wonder every man in town watches as you pass by.”

Amelia felt her cheeks grow warm. “I think that’s an exaggeration, but thank you for the compliment. How much do I owe you?”

“That will be $9.”

Amelia opened her purse, paid Miss Rachel, placed her packages in her basket and left the shop.

She went next door to the milliner’s shop and picked up her new Sunday hat. It would go very well with her new cornflower blue dress.

She stepped out onto the wooden walkway and began to stroll down the walkway when her path was suddenly blocked by the strangers who had rode into town a little earlier.

One of the men tipped his hat to her. “Well, howdy. Ain’t you a purty little thing? What’s your name?”

Amelia stiffened and pulled herself to her full height. “Would you mind letting me pass?”

“Oh, now don’t be like that. I’m just tryin’ to be friendly. My name’s Cade Jeffries.”

Amelia gasped and put her hand to her throat. Cade Jeffries was a known outlaw who rode with the Brody gang. She realized that must be whom she must be facing at the moment. Her mind raced and her eyes searched to her left and right hoping that someone would see her predicament and come to her aid.

Cade narrowed his eyes at her and spoke in a sharp tone. “I’ll ask once more. What’s your name?”

Amelia cleared her throat. “I’m Amelia Williams, daughter of Sheriff Williams.”

Cade grinned at her. “The sheriff’s daughter. Well, don’t that beat all. Guess we should let the lady pass.” He motioned for the others to open a pathway, but he remained directly in front of Amelia.

“Would you allow me to carry your basket for you and accompany you on your way?”

His bright blue eyes and deep dimples were hard to resist. Amelia had always had a soft spot for dimples, and Cade’s were the deepest she’d ever seen. She also noticed his strong arms and broad shoulders.

“That’s very kind of you, but I assure you it’s not necessary.”

“I’d still be obliged if you allowed me the privilege of carrying your basket and walking with you.” His eyes pleaded with her.

“Well, I suppose there wouldn’t be any harm in that.” She offered a small smile and handed the basket to Cade, who then offered her his other arm.

She took it and hoped her father would not see her with Cade.

“So what brings you to town?” Amelia asked.

“We were just passin’ through, but now that I met you, I might stick around a while.”

Amelia was certain the warmth in her cheeks meant she was blushing under his gaze.

“Oh, don’t let me be a reason to change your plans.”

“Why not? Do you have a beau or are you just afraid your daddy won’t allow you to be seen with Cade Jeffries?”

Amelia was unsure if the glint in his eyes was teasing or mocking her. “My father trusts my judgment, although I’m sure if he saw me with you, he would question it for the first time.”

“And you’d be quite right about that.”

Amanda’s hand flew to cover her mouth at the sound of her father’s voice. He was standing on her right, having just come out of the jail in time to see her with Cade and hear her last sentence. She’d been so focused on Cade that she hadn’t realized that had come to the jail.

Her father grabbed her arm and pushed her behind him.

“I don’t know what you and the Brody gang are doing in my town, Cade, but you can just keep moving, and stay away from my daughter.”

Cade and her father stared each other down for a few minutes. Then Cade reached around her father to hand her basket to her. A smile slid across his lips. “It was a pleasure, Miss Williams. I hope we meet again.”

He gave Sheriff Williams an icy glare, turned on his heel and headed back up the walkway toward the Brody gang who were waiting for him by their horses.

It’s Here — Research Materials!




You are about to get a small sneak peak into the novel I am working on.

Drum roll, please.    “Rat-a-tat-a-rat-a-tat-a-rat-a-tat-a-rat-a-tat-a-rat!”

My current work in progress (WIP) is an historical romance novel set in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1860, the year that the Pony Express began, and yes, my main male character (protoganist) is a Pony Express rider.  I am doing my very best to keep the historical aspects true to history, so I have done quite a bit of research but still wanted more.

Therefore, after scouring the St. Joseph, Missouri website as well as a few other websites, I decided to call the National Pony Express Museum that’s in St. Joseph, Missouri and see if they had any materials they could send me. I spoke with a very nice young lady on the phone who said it would be no problem to send me a packet of information.

I was excited and eagerly checked my mailbox daily watching for the packet’s arrival. After about three weeks, I thought that snail mail had either seriously slowed down or the packet wasn’t sent or it got lost in the mail. So, I called the museum again and spoke to the same young lady, who remembered speaking to me and asked me how my novel is coming! Then she apologized that I didn’t receive a packet of information and she promised to take care of putting it together and getting it sent.

It arrived last Monday, and I was so excited!  I am enjoying reading over the material and adding information to what I already have. I am having so much fun researching and writing this novel!









A Great Research Resource

When you write historical fiction, there is a need to do some research:  research on the time period, the clothes people wore and the foods they ate during that time period, the cost of things during that time period, occupations of that time period, the way people spoke/words that were and weren’t used and more.  Also, if your story is set in what was a real place in that time period, you need to know what that place was like, what the weather was like, what the land and buildings looked like.

In addition to time and place, you may choose to have one of your characters working a job you are unfamiliar with or that is no longer an occupation in today’s world or that requires them to work with tools or animals you are unfamiliar with.  These things will then need to be researched also.

Research is time consuming, but it can be quite fun.  You will learn interesting things that you may find fascinating.  You may even find them leading you to research something else as another idea for something to include in your story may arise.

Being something between a plotter and a pantser, when I was in the beginning stages of my novel, I researched what I felt I needed to have accurate information about; mostly setting — place and time period.  I also researched names to be sure my character’s didn’t have names that couldn’t possibly have been used in the time period.  I had a good idea of what people wore but I still did some research to be sure, but I didn’t spend as much time on this as I did on the setting components.  I researched a couple of occupations, one a lot more than the others.

Okay, you might think, but where did you look for the information you needed?  Well, I did a lot of research online.  The internet is a wealth of information, as long as you are careful and check that the websites and/or blogs you get your information from are accurate and legitimate.  I never go to Wikipedia without checking other places to be sure the information lines up, and I rarely use Wikipedia.

One great source for historical research are the websites of museums.  In addition, you may want to call the museum and ask if they have any information they would be willing to send to you through snailmail.  I recently did this and was surprised at how easy it was.  I thought I may have to pay a fee, at least to cover postage and handling, but the lady I spoke with was willing to gather information and send two packets to me.  I was so excited!  I can’t wait for these packets to arrive.  I check my mailbox everyday, Monday through Saturday.  It is is currently about a week and a half and I’m still eagerly awaiting my packets.

Other great resources:  if your story’s time period isn’t too far in the past, older folk who lived during that time love to share memories, books (biographies, diaries and journals or logbooks written by someone who lived in your time period) are still a great resource, speaking with an historian who specializes in your story’s time period, and old newspapers or newspaper archives.  Of course, if your story’s setting — place, isn’t too far away and it’s feasible for you to go there, visiting the actual place and checking out the museums and historical tourist spots is a great resource that really gives you a visual and makes your story’s place come to life.

Do you write historical fiction?  What is your favorite research resource?

My Writing Life

Okay, so I am working on an historical romance story that takes place in the old west.  I have ideas for at least two more books, possibly three, to create a series.

I’m part of several writing groups that offer critiques or are strictly critique groups.  Also, a couple of weeks ago I attended a writers’ conference where I had two appointments for one-on-one conferences with published authors to get input on part of my story.  Of course, I have things I need to work on and am very grateful for the two writers who were kind enough to give me advice.

Being a visual learner, one of the writers, my friend, Mike Dellosso, gave me some great advice that he worded in a way that created a picture in my mind, which I know I will not forget and will be able to apply to my writing.  You see, I am struggling with setting the scenes because I’ve been told not to write too much description.  Therefore I had swung to the opposite extreme and wasn’t writing enough description.  Mike told me to put myself in my character’s shoes and use my five senses and describe what my character is seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. as he walks down the street in that old, dusty western town.  He also gave me some examples which made this advice come alive for me.

A few days after that, I shared a piece of this same story with the critique group I recently joined.  I was extremely nervous and afraid of what might happen in this group.  I was pleasantly surprised that there were many positive things said (One lady really likes my main character) and they also offered some great advice.

Therefore, on Thursday night when I met with my weekly writers’ group, I was feeling overwhelmed about how to go about sorting through all of the advice and applying the needed changes to my story.  I just didn’t know where to begin.  My friend, Laura, who just finished edits on her first novel had great words to help me.  She suggested that I get rid of any advice that I didn’t believe was helpful, which I had already done.  Then she said to go through the ones who offered the least amount of changes and work toward the one who offered the greatest amount of changes.  She said that by the time I get to the one with the greatest amount of changes, I probably will be surprised to find that I’ve already taken care of many of those changes from things the others suggested.  Ahh, thank you, Laura, you gave me a workable plan that I can handle.

I am so thankful to have met and made connections with writers who have gone before me who are willing to help me on my journey.  As writers, we spend a lot of time alone working on our craft, but we need each other.  We need the help and encouragement of others and then we need to pass that on to those who come behind us.

How about you?  Who’s been helping you on your writing journey?


Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

Dauntless is the first book in the “Valiant Hearts” series by Dina L. Sleiman.  It is an historical fiction novel that includes adventure, danger and romance.

Born a Baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father’s failed assassination attempt upon the king.  Merry will go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children in her care.  The group becomes known as “The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest.”

Merry’s life becomes more challenging when an old friend finds her after thinking her dead for two years.

Ms. Sleiman did an excellent job creating characters that wind your care and your heart quickly.  Merry appears as a female Robin Hood, but her and her group are quite different.  As danger lurked around every corner, I found myself routing for Merry and her group.  Another situation arises that caused a dilemma for my heart and mind as I read and found it difficult to know who to route for in the romance department.

Ms. Sleiman did an excellent job of resolving the story line at the end without causing my heart to break for any one of my beloved characters.  I finished the book feeling happy for Merry and her group and satisfied that I had read a good book worthy of my time.

I recommend this story for anyone who loves to read about strong women, adventure, history and romance.  I look forward to digging into Book Two of the series, Chivalrous.


The Evolution of a Writer

It’s been a little over three years since I re-entered the writing world.  The first year, I simply studied — reading books and magazine articles and blogs about the writing craft and what’s been happening in the writing world, as well as attending as many affordable, one-day writers’ conferences I could, and I joined a local writers’ group that meets once a month and I have been attending faithfully, for the most part, for these three plus years.

The second year, I began to write again, but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be writing.  I couldn’t decide on a genre.  I prayed for God to reveal his will for my writing.  Then, I got an idea and I started writing, but I wasn’t excited about it.  However, I wrote a bit, received some critiques, and then spoke with a writer and marketer at a conference, who offered me some great ideas/advice.  That gave me some excitement.  Unfortunately, the excitement was fleeting, and then I thought I’d finish the story and enter it into a contest.  Long story short, due to technical difficulties, I missed the contest deadline.  Being frustrated about missing the deadline and really just feeling “done” with the story, I let it sit for a month before picking it up and doing a read-through.  Ugh!  So glad I missed that deadline!  The ending is rushed.  The ending isn’t at all what I wanted it to be, and my timeline is a mess!  Some friends have/are read/reading it and offering me feedback, which I will read through carefully and make notes of the things they suggest that I think should be changed.  I will eventually edit, rework, and revise this story to create a, hopefully, better-than-good story.  I may even publish it someday.

However, I have evolved!  What do I mean by that? you may ask.  Well, I have finally found my genre — historical romantic fiction!  I’ve had a story brewing in my brain, even while working on the above-mentioned story, and I recently sat down to begin working on it.  What I first knew I must do, was to research the time period and the place.  I researched to choose appropriate names for my main characters, and as my plot line began to form in my brain, I researched a few other important details.  What do you think I found, in addition to what I was looking for, in all of this researching?  More great circumstances to add to my plot line!  I have completely fallen in love with this genre!

I know what you’re thinking, “So does this mean you’re not a pantser anymore?”  Well, let me just say, “I’m not a plotter, but I’m not a pantser either.”  I now fall somewhere in between, but I have found that while researching and building my plot line, then by creating my characters and their backstories, I have found a place that will allow me to plan enough for historical romantic fiction that gives me the historical facts I need but doesn’t require so much time and drudgery that it kills my creativity and my desire to write the story.  As a matter of fact, it has simply fueled my excitement and eagerness to write the story, and I am sure with the bit of research and planning I put in before beginning the actual story, I will write a much better first draft than the last one.

How about you?  How long have you been writing and how has what you have learned helped you to evolve into a better writer?  I’d love for you to leave a comment and share your story.