Loving the short story–and why it feels like Christmas!

And so August comes to an end. I must say, it was a great month for me and so I thought I’d share. First was the IMG_1540abundance of vegetables from my garden. So good! I also had lots of fun at playgrounds and wading parks with my kids. Family walks. BBQs. And then on August 26th I found out that my short story, When I’m Gone, won the romance category of the “Storming the Short Story” Contest hosted by two Texas chapters of the American Christian Fiction Writers. My story about ballroom dance partners facing the WWII draft will be included in a dance themed anthology.

And life continued… My hubby took some time off work for family and we finally got tomatoes and corn out of our garden (remember we live in Canada so this is an exciting thing). To end the month off with a bang I just found out that a second short story I wrote won a contest, too! I Heard the Bells, inspired by one of my favorite Christmas songs (I’m sure you can guess the one, but if not click here) will be published; my forth anthology since February of this year.civil-war-gingerbread-recipe-225x300

To celebrate, and to get yourself in the Christmas spirit, have some of the gingerbread loaf featured in I Heard the Bells, and stay tuned for more info on my stories and their release dates.

KISS Front CoverAlso keep your eye open another one of my short stories to be released in the anthology: A Kiss is Still a Kiss that will be released on November 1st! Maybe add it to your goodreads “to read” list! 😉

Thanks for dropping by to celebrate my exciting news! And have a very merry Christmas!

 

Shackled (included in A Kiss is still a Kiss)

Arizona Territory 1883

He came west to find freedom and ended up shackled to a chair. She’s not sure she ever wants to let him go.

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Just Sit Back and Read :)

For fun this week, I thought I’d let you all have a look at the first part of my short story published in the anthology Out Of The Storm.

Fire in a Storm

USSR, 1934

The stained glass shattered as the brick met the image of Christ, his hand raised to calm a storm. Shards sprayed the air, and Pavel Kozlov stepped back, wiping the mud from his palm. Lightning illuminated the century-old church, followed almost instantly by thunder. Pistol gripped, he mounted the steps. The large double doors at first refused him and he fired several rounds into the lock, leaving only twisted metal and splinters. He pushed his way in, his commander in his wake. Two other officers were stationed near the door at the rear to make sure no one slipped out.

Pavel’s boots echoed as he walked to the center of the Nave. The vast space was illuminated only by the flickering of several candles on the altar. He removed his cap and mopped the water from his face. Why did they have to do this tonight? Not that there was any option but to follow any order given him. His father’s connections had placed him among the NKVD, the Soviet Union’s secret police, and he had yet to prove himself.

“Perhaps they’ve already left.” His voice resonated off the vaulted ceiling.

“There’s one way to be sure.” Kupiev, his commanding officer, strode to the front of the chapel and took a candle. Then leaned it into a gathering of velvet drapery. The flame took to it, racing up the fabric.

What are you doing? Pavel clenched his hands. They were doing what was necessary. He had to learn to distance himself from sentiment. This wasn’t simply an architectural masterpiece, it was a symbol of organized religion and not worthy of remorse. Still, he hated fire.

Somewhere in the church, a door creaked. Father Anitoly Veselov appeared in the shadows, his priestly robes draped across his shoulders. “We have done nothing.”

“You’ve done enough,” Kupiev said. “We’re here to arrest you and your son.”

“But to destroy the church?” His face reflected the glow of the flames as they lapped at the pillars. Perspiration shone on his brow.

Kupiev’s retort was silenced by the crashing of an object through glass. There were more footsteps in the hall. Pavel darted past the priest, who leapt at him to cut him off.

“No!” Veselov’s cry shortened to a grunt as a shot rang through the church. He crumpled to the floor.

Pavel glanced back to Kupiev who was returning his gun to its place. “We have our orders,” he said. “Go.”

Yes, they had their orders, but they hadn’t included killing an old priest. Pavel swallowed back the distaste in his mouth as he continued on his course, reaching the hall just as a shadowed figure threw itself through a broken window. He choked on smoke. It seemed their men had torched the back door, and the flames were spreading quickly. Several more shots cut the night, followed by the deep rumble of thunder.

Pavel vaulted through the gap in the window, one hand pushing off of the heavy woolen coat that had been placed over the shards of glass. He met the ground as one of the other officers raced past. The man jerked, bringing his weapon to bear on Pavel.

“Avoid shooting just anyone, please,” Pavel grumbled, pushing him aside. “Where did the other priest go? That was him, wasn’t it?”

“I think so,” the officer nodded. “He disappeared behind the church.”

Pavel sprinted to the back of the building. Shivering as moisture ran down his neck, he pulled his coat’s black leather collar tight. The hiss of light rain meeting fire did little to hinder the growing blaze. He scanned the narrow canal and the aspen grove beyond. Seeing nothing, he crouched to examine the bank. The ground had been disturbed, a hint of grass ripped — probably by a shoe sliding downward. Straightening, he followed the canal to a rotted footbridge, fallen in halves to the bottom. He jumped in, sending up a spray of mud and water as his boots sank into the shallow stream. Pistol ready, he pulled up one side of the waterlogged structure. There was a feminine gasp.

“Anything?” An officer called from the edge of the grove.

I’m afraid that is all the publisher will let me share here, but feel free to visit amazon for the full book. There are some other great stories included. My favorites are The Grumpy Chronicles (an entertaining spin off of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Dorthy’s Carol (just a sweet story), and Husband Hunting (western Romance).

Also, feel free to visit my pinterest board for some of visuals 🙂 and mood music!

The Kindertransport by guest author Johnnie Alexander

One of the several infamous dates of the World War II era is November 9-10, 1938. Known as Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, the horrific event was a turning point in the amount of violence unleashed on the Jewish communities throughout Germany. Synagogues, businesses, and homes were destroyed; people were killed; and about 30,000 Jews were shipped to concentration camps.

An orphanage in Berlin was also burned that infamous night. Thanks to the valiant effort of the British Jewish Refugee Committee, these children were the first to travel to England, arriving on December 2, 1938. Over the next several months, until Britain entered the war, about 10,000 children participated in the rescue operation dubbed the Kindertransport.

These young refugees arrived at the train station wearing a numbered cardboard square tied with a shoelace or string around their necks. Some children had relatives in England or pre-arranged sponsors. Those who didn’t were first taken to camps or hostels until foster families could be found for them. Older youth often went to work.

This quote comes from a page titled “Life in Britain” from the official Kindertransport Association website:

Many families, Jewish and non-Jewish, opened their homes to take in these children. Many of the children were well-treated, developing close bonds with their British hosts; however, others were mistreated or abused. A number of the older children joined the British or Australian armed forces as soon as they reached eighteen years of age and joined the fight against the Nazis. Most of the children never saw their parents again.My Knees were Jumping

When the children arrived at the train stations, they wore a numbered cardboard square around their necks tied with a shoelace or string.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for parents to send their children to a foreign country. Their own circumstances had to be horrific—and, of course, now we know that Kristallnacht was only the beginning of a concentrated effort to annihilate all Jews. Thankfully, a unified effort saved at least 10,000.

The documentary My Knees were Jumping: Remembering the Kindertransport is directed by the daughter of one of these surviving children.

If you’d like more information on this valiant rescue operation, please visit the Kindertransport Association website at http://www.kindertransport.org.

Johnnie AlexanderJohnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell), and her first novella, “The Healing Promise” (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), release in 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, judges various contests, and serves as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons.

Follow Johnnie Alexander:

Blog     Facebook Profile (Friend or Follow!)     Facebook Author Page     Twitter     GoodReads     Amazon Author Page

Where-Treasure-Hides-682x1024 new cover

Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life.

Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow.

As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

Read the first chapter here!

Or buy:     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Christian Book Distributors     Target     Walmart

I Stand on Guard!

Happy Canada Day yesterday to all you Canadians, and to those of you from elsewhere…you should know, yesterday was Canada day!

So in celebration of this wonderful day, which was commemorated with parades, eating and fireworks, I would like to share with you my national anthem and some why I sing it so passionately this year.

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee;
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread and Lordly rivers flow!
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western sea!
The land of hope for all who toil,
The true North strong and free!

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies,
May Stalwart sons, and gentle maidens rise.
To keep thee steadfast thro’ the years,
From East to Western sea.
Our own beloved native land,
Our true North strong and free!

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion, in thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in thee,
A lasting rich reward.
As waiting for the better day,
We ever stand on guard.

God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Christianity and our beliefs and values are under attack like never before. More and more, especially to the south, we hear of rights of religious conscience being revoked and prosecuted. And this is just the beginning.

Freedom-of-Worship (1)

I do pray God will keep our lands free. Free to worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience.

Martha Fern–So much I never knew!

I recently decided — aka last week — that I should write something a little different on Sundays. Something with more meaning than a novel can hope to possess. A person’s life. A real human being who lived and loved and then said farewell to the ones she loved. She said farewell to me. Martha Fern Stutz was my maternal grandma. She lived on the family farm two miles from where I grew up and I spent a lot of time between those two wonderful specks on the earth. She passed away ten years ago in January. It doesn’t feel near that long ago.

As I’ve started researching, or “phoning Mom”, it’s amazing the little things I never knew, or thought about before:

It is hard to say how concerned 33 year-old Joseph Reuben Stutz, and 29 year-old Clara McLean Coombs were with world events, on July 19th, 1914 in the small hamlet of Leavitt near Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, as they welcomed their fourth child. In Alberta, the first great wave of immigration that had spanned that last twenty years was coming to a close, and in exactly nine days the world would charge headfirst into World War I.

Fern, (as she disliked the name Martha and so went by her middle name) came into the world with the help of the local midwife “Grandma Baker” who became legendary for the hundreds and hundreds of babies she birthed without losing any of them or their mothers.

Martha Fern is the adorable girl in the middle:

grandma

 

I look forward to more Sunday evenings delving into this wonderful life that has affected mine so greatly. I’ll share a few of the most exciting tidbits here 🙂

Of Books and Babes!

On the third of February my first publication was released, a story in the anthology Out of the Storm. Exiting, but slightly anti-climactic as I waited for my printed copies of the book to arrive. To save a significant amount of money on postage, I had the shipment sent to the a US address. Because of one delay after another, they probably sat there a full month and a half, their delivery to Canada out of my power. Finally, Saturday, they made their way to my door! I must say, even after a full two months, it’s surreal seeing your words printed in a actual book — a feeling I wouldn’t mind experiencing on a semi regular basis. 😉

 

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But it can’t compete with the euphoria of a delivery that took place exactly seven days earlier…

 

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What can I say…the past week has been a good one.

The Gorgeous Georgette: by Carolyn Miller

I’ve always hankered for an era not my own. Growing up, some of my favorite authors included such notables as Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Grant Bruce (an Australian author who wrote the Billabong series, about turn of the century Australian graziers—hello, I am Australian ), and of course, my favorite (perhaps because of her red-haired heroine): L. M. Montgomery. (Fresh thought: should I include a middle name for publishing purposes?)

The writing of these ladies varied, from flowery flights of imagination to pragmatic epistles of life on the land, but their skill in drawing the reader into their worlds made for many a pleasurable hour, envisaging Jo, Anne and many other spunky, imaginative girls from an era so different from 1980s suburbia.

My tastes matured, to appreciation for Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and others who wrote evocatively about eras long gone. A more recent addition to my library is Georgette Heyer, an English novelist whose first novel, The Black Moth (written to amuse her sick brother), was published in 1921 when she was all of 19! Over the course of her life she published more than fifty books, many of them set in Georgian times.

Romance will always be a popular fiction genre, perhaps because it can be seen as a reflection of the hunger we all share for the God who is Love itself. Many historical romance novels, including those set in Regency times, tend to reflect modern (read: carnal) mindsets, with a lack of understanding of the moral sensibilities of the day. While Jane Austen could write about the times in which she lived, Georgette Heyer described settings and events that happened booksover a century earlier, yet did so with such finesse she could be considered to be one of the 20th century’s pre-eminent experts on Regency customs and language. Indeed, she is considered by many to have created the Regency genre of historical fiction.

Georgette Heyer is said to have amassed literally rooms of research – no Google searches for her! – a fact which further cements my belief in her brilliance. Books on everything from 18th century signposts to snuff boxes filled her shelves, her attention to detail so precise she is reported to have bought a letter written by the Duke of Wellington to ensure she could employ his manner of speaking in the novel An Infamous Army. Commitment indeed! Her zest for period precision is reflected in how she casually refers to events, such as the reactions of onlookers to the procession of Allied Sovereigns, as mentioned in A Civil Contract. Her depth of knowledge was such she could write with astonishingly accurate recall about the mid-18th century adventures of former Jacobites in The Masqueraders, all from a grass hut in Tangayika (Tanzania)!

Whilst Georgette Heyer does not write an overtly Christian worldview as presented in, say, Lori Wick’s English Garden series, her characters still exist within the moral code of the day, with definite consequences for actions. But despite her understanding of social structure and strictures, her novels offer hope, often displaying a form of redemption for those GHborn into unfortunate circumstances, or with pasts they now regret, and demonstrate that love and a successful marriage does not depend merely on emotional attachment, but the daily decisions that recognize the hero or heroine’s flaws, but chooses to love and bless them anyway.

My current favorite, The Unknown Ajax, tells the story of Hugo, an unpopular heir, whose long-estranged family become reconciled to his less than desirable heritage as they learn to appreciate his kindness, his generosity, and his willingness to turn the other cheek. Another novel, Frederica, sees a selfish marquis transformed, challenged by the heroine whose concern for her family overrides thought of her future. A Civil Contract shows how the thoughtful actions of a woman, who knows she is her husband’s second choice, can see a loveless marriage of convenience lead to a state of contentment, an ordinary life, which might not be “filled with moments of exaltation” BHbut consisting of times, not “very romantic, but they were really much more important than grand passions or blighted loves.”

If you want a little more period detail than what is provided by Jane (Austen, of course), and would enjoy some sparkling repartee without seeing any bodices ripped, be sure to check out Georgette Heyer. Like reading Shakespeare, it may require some time to tune your ear in, but if you value historical accuracy, you will enjoy the wit and wisdom of a writer who appreciated the value of love conquering all.

 

 

CMCarolyn (Ann) Miller

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of the Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her novels have won or finaled in over a dozen contests, including the 2014 RWA ‘Touched by Love’ and 2014 ACFW Genesis contests. Carolyn is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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