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Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

January 18, 2018

Meet Patricie Kadlec

I’m so excited that The Melody of the Soul has now released and that you can get to know these characters on the pages of the book. But we still have two main characters to get to know a little better. We first meet resistance worker Patricie Kadlec as she is stepping off the train in Prague after visiting the countryside to procure food for the Jews she’s helping to hide. Nazi officer Stefan Jaeger notices her, and her life is never the same.

Patricie grew up as the daughter of a shopkeeper in Czechoslovakia’s capital city. She had a promising career playing the oboe for the symphony in Prague, but that career never took off because of the German occupation. Still, she loves music and it’s a huge part of her life. As you read the book, you will discover that she has a connection to Anna, the heroine.

Georg, the man she had loved since they were children, became involved in the resistance movement after the occupation. She went to him one day and asked that he put her to work. Although hesitant at first, Georg granted her request after she assured him she knew this work could cost her her life.

Stefan’s interest in her complicates matters. How can she continue working with Jews while she dates and enthusiastic Nazi officer? Because Stefan is a friend of Horst, she meets him. When she discovers his secret, where will her loyalty lie?

When Patricie first appears in the book, she is carrying a tote bag filled with food for the Jews in hiding. This week’s giveaway is a musical note tote bag. Follow the instructions below to enter the giveaway. Also, don’t forget to stop over at Litfuse and read the reviews for The Melody of the Soul and enter the giveaway there as well.

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Thanks for visiting! Next week we have one more character to meet, and I start a series of blog posts by WWII fiction authors, so you’ll want to stop back.

January 10, 2018

Getting to Know Horst Engel

Horst Engel is the hero in The Melody of the Soul. He is the Nazi officer billeted in the flat below the Jewish heroine. As the story moves along, you’ll find that Horst has a tortured past. Much like David’s harp playing calmed King Saul in the Bible, Anna’s music soothes Horst.

Horst’s father was a committed, high ranking Nazi who longed to see his son succeed in the party. He pushed Horst to work harder and take a more hands on position in the military. Horst, however, has different plans for his life. He is an architect and is thrilled with his new assignment as Minister of Architectural Preservation in Prague. While this position is one that I created myself, it does make sense in the story. Prague boasted many fine examples of architecture. Because the German army entered the city without a battle, no bombs destroyed the beautiful buildings. The Germans were interested in the city’s architecture and didn’t want to see it destroyed. It’s conceivable that they would have marked the buildings they wanted to save in case it became necessary for them to bomb the city.

While he does not play an instrument like Anna does, he does appreciate good music. When he was a child, his mother took him with her to symphony concerts. At first, he didn’t care for them, but as he grew, he learned to appreciate the music. He is very familiar with the selections Anna plays. It is the music that draws them together despite their different backgrounds.

He is also artistically gifted. In the story, you’ll see him sketching different buildings around Prague. He also keeps a sketchbook nearby and draws in that from time to time.

He’s a gifted man, protective of those he loves, and wanting to do what is right to make up for the crimes of his past. Though he and his father have a tumultuous relationship, he and his mother are very close.

When you read The Melody of the Soul, you’ll fall in love with this Nazi officer who turns out to have a sensitive side.

Because Horst has a journal, this week’s giveaway is a beautiful Scriptural journal. Follow the directions below to enter.

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Thanks for stopping by!

January 3, 2018

Getting to Know Anna Zadok

Today I’m starting a new series here on the blog that will take us through the release of The Melody of the Soul. There are four main characters in the book, and I’m going to give you a chance to get to know them a little bit before the book releases. And if you read all the way to the end, you will see an opportunity to win a music-related item.

The first character I’d like to introduce you to is the heroine, Anna Zadok. At the opening of the book in 1943, Anna is a Jewish Christian living in Prague. She comes from a very musical family and was studying to be a concert violinist when the Nazis invaded in 1939. After the invasion, the Germans closed all of the music schools and prohibited the Jews from owning instruments. That didn’t stop Anna, and she bravely continued to play her violin even when Nazi officer moved into the flat below hers.

Even more important to Anna that her music is her family. Her parents have charged her with caring for her elderly grandmother, and this is a responsibility that she takes very seriously. She grew up in a very happy home with her father, mother, older brother, and two younger sisters. She also spent much time with her grandmother, who was herself a pianist. The one heartache for Anna and her family is the fact that her brother, David, has wandered from the faith and has been influenced by the liberal philosophers that filled Prague at that time.

More than anything, Anna wants her family to be reunited someday. Until then, she loses herself in her music. It is her escape, her comfort, and her reason to keep going. But when she is faced with losing her music, she must find her hope elsewhere.

You’ll have to wait until the book comes out and read the dedication to discover why I chose to name my heroine Anna. I’m very excited for you to read more about Anna’s journey of hope in The Melody of the Soul.

Follow the directions below to be entered to win this musical notes scarf! And if you haven’t already subscribed to my newsletter, please do so! It will earn you an entry into the contest, and you’ll get to read the prologue and the first chapter of The Melody of the Soul.

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Thanks for stopping by!

December 14, 2017
Comments Off on Giveaway Has Winners!

Giveaway Has Winners!

Thank you to everyone who helped me get the word out about the upcoming release of The Melody of the Soul. Ellen and Anita were the winners. I’ll be contacting them privately for their information. Keep watching here and on social media for more fun to come as we approach the release of The Melody of the Soul.

December 12, 2017

Giveaway Rules

Are you ready for this easy giveaway? You have the chance to win one of two hand-blown, hand-painted Czech ornaments just in time for Christmas. The contest runs from twelve a.m. central time on Wednesday, December 13th until 11:59 p.m. central time the same day. Just twenty-four hours. All you have to do is share how excited you are for the release of The Melody of the Soul in January.

I’m even going to make it easy for you. Here are some sample social media posts. You can use your own, if you’d prefer – they’ll still count. You’ll get one entry for every social media platform you post on. Don’t forget to tag me – that’s how I’ll know you posted. I’ll enter you into a random winner generator, and announce the winners on Thursday. Winners must be U.S. residents. No overseas addresses, please. I reserve the right to substitute the prize for one of equal or greater value should the one shown become unavailable.


Just a little over a month until Liz Tolsma’s new book, The Melody of the Soul, releases. I’m getting so excited for it! The book has received a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times and is one of their top picks. You can find out more about it here. And if you visit her website at and subscribe to her newsletter, you’ll get to read the book’s prologue and first chapter.


So excited about Liz Tolsma’s new book The Melody of the Soul coming in January! 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times. #MustRead #WWII #Christianfiction


Can’t wait to get my hands on this book come January!! Liz got a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times, and it’s one of their top picks. I might even gift it to myself for Christmas! #WWII #amreading

Here’s the graphic:

That just about does it! Good luck to everyone, and happy posting!

December 5, 2017

The story behind The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

It is my very great pleasure to host Cindy and Erin Woodsmall to the blog this week. They have a new release just perfect for the season. Here is a little bit more about their book The Gift of Christmas Past.

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.

Young love…
Promises made.
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

Sounds like a great read! What brought you to write it?

Cindy here. 🙂 My daughter-in-law Erin and I just released our co-written Christmas novella, The Gift of Christmas Past. This is such a special story to us. It’s my first non-Amish book and our first that we released together. (We wrote one before this for Random House, but that one won’t release until fall of 2018.) What a joy The Gift of Christmas Past was to write!

The beauty of love takes my breath away, and the opportunity for second chances is one of its most powerful aspects. Nothing can stop the power of love—not time, disability, sickness, or even death. Seeds of love sown by a person who died will grow and produce fruit, and the people they loved will pass love on too. And on it goes.

I see family life as a metaphor for Christ’s love. His great love came into a fallen world, and nothing could stop it from spreading and growing in people’s lives. In the same way, love in a family spreads out and grows—to the family members and to everyone they touch.

Part of the storyline in The Gift of Christmas Past is about a little girl with apraxia of speech. Children with speech apraxia have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words because their brains have issues planning to move the mouthparts. My 3 ½-year-old grandson Kaden has apraxia, and seeing him try to talk, witnessing his sweet eyes reflect the desire to communicate and yet being unable to do so, was heartbreaking. Some think that sign language is the answer, and it can be a great tool. But sign language can’t fix the issue when children can hear the words they want to say, need to say, but can’t make their mouths form the words. After navigating Kaden’s first year of speech therapy with his loving parents, and with me attended a few of those sessions, I longed to share my heartbreaks and insights through a fiction story.

This poem is printed in the forward to the book. I’d like to share it with you here.

To sweet, precious Kaden

Right from your first day’s start,

You stole your Mimi’s entire heart.

Days of kisses, joy, and laughter,

Toddling carefree, with Mimi chasing after.

Eyes full of joy, your happiness light,

Your love of life was so very right.

You babbled and cooed as little ones do,

But at the right time, your words couldn’t come through.

You wanted to speak, and oh how you tried.

We wanted to hear you and many times cried.

But love does not fail to give its best.

Mommy and Daddy searched for answers without rest.

Therapies frustrated you after they had begun,

But now the hard work you do is often fun.

We couldn’t leave our buddy with a mouth that couldn’t speak.

The battle continues, but you win victories every week.

One day you’ll be able to voice what you think.

Your mouth and your brain will work in sync.

You’ll shout and sing and chatter till you’re done,

And you, precious Kaden, will have won.

Erin here. As Cindy stated above, this was a very special book to us. We got to really work together and get in sync both on and off the page. I learned so much from Cindy through this journey. If you have met her in real life, you know what I’m talking about when I say that she’s just a joy. So warm, bursting with creative life, and inspiring on a number of levels. God has truly blessed me to have her as my mother-in-law and as a friend.

In The Gift of Christmas Past, we wanted a strong connection between the two main characters, Hadley and Monroe. But the story, being a Christmas novella, needed to take place over only a few months. We knew them having a history was a must. One of love, but also one of hurt. They had to be pulled apart by multiple forces in their lives, but in the deepest, secret recesses of themselves they needed to still hold each other in their hearts. We came up with the idea of them being high school sweethearts. Fun fact: both Cindy and her husband, Tommy, as well as my husband, Adam, and I, met in high school, dated, and married as adults. At a young age, I realized that I could search my whole life and never find another person I love the way I do Adam. He’s my world and I am his. But what if circumstances beyond our control had separated us when we were teens? It was easy to put myself in Hadley’s shoes in this regard.

Another inspiration for this book was the beautiful setting. When we talked about Cindy writing a non-Amish book, we knew having an amazing location was a must, just like her Amish settings in handpicked spots in Pennsylvania. I suggested Asheville, North Carolina. The surrounding mountains are gorgeous and peaceful. So much of the city has a lovely “Christmassy” feel, especially Biltmore Estate and village. We traveled to Asheville twice for research. We did all the activities that the characters in the book do. In my opinion, this book is like a little trip to Asheville. I hope you’ll take that journey with us!

Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of twenty works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s Nightline and the Wall Street Journal. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. She can be found online at

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

How fun that you got to work together! Cindy and Erin are giving a way a copy of the book. If you would like to be entered, please follow the directions below.

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Thanks for joining us, Cindy and Erin!

November 28, 2017

The Story behind The Hope of Christmas by Terri Wangard

I’m pleased to have fellow WWII author and friend of mine, Terri Wangard, on the blog this week. And she’s here to tell us about her new Christmas release. Does it get any better?

Here’s a little bit about the book, Typhoon Prompting  in the collection The Hope of Christmas.

A destroyer escort is among the smallest of warships, but the Tabberer has the heart of a giant. A typhoon threatens the US Fleet in the Pacific during World War II, days before Christmas. The men of the Tabberer stand tall as they rush to the aid of their fellow sailors. For Seaman Jerry Collier, the typhoon prompts a greater awareness of what he wants in life. First, though, they have to survive.

Oh, that sounds so good! What led to you write the story?

After eight years of thinking, breathing, researching B-17s for my Promise For Tomorrow series, I was ready to disembark and concentrate on something else. But what? I had a vague idea of three friends who joined the WAC, the WAVES, and the WASPs, but nothing crystalized. Except for the WAC.

I didn’t want to completely turn away from flying, and I prefer topics that aren’t commonly known. How about a grasshopper pilot? My second character was on board.

I had toyed with the idea of a family generational series. A World War II story paired with a World War I story. But no, too unwieldy.

The WAC could have a sister, though, who stayed on the home front and did factory work. Oh, dear. I couldn’t completely stay away from B-17s. She’s building them.

She also needs a husband. He’ll be in the navy, and not on an aircraft carrier. A destroyer! I studied the list of Pacific destroyers and, oooh, the Spence. All kinds of possibilities there.

So there I had it: a sailor, his Rosie-the-Riveter wife, her WAC sister, and a grasshopper pilot. They’re all doing their part to help win the war, but sometimes the enemy isn’t obvious.

While researching the Pacific War, I came across the story of the USS Tabberer, a destroyer escort. I loved it, but I couldn’t use it in Wheresoever They May Be. It had nothing to do with my sailor.

When the opportunity to contribute a short story for a historical Christmas collection came, I immediately thought of the Tabberer.

Wow, can’t wait to read it! The best part is that it’s only $2.99 for the Kindle version! Scroll down for a chance to win.

Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she keeps busy as an associate editor of Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984.

Connect with Terri:

Twitter: @TerriWangard

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Thanks for joining us, Terri! It’s been great to have you!

November 14, 2017

The Story behind The Pretender by Ta’mara Hanscom

This week we welcome Ta’mara Hanscom to the blog. She is here to share with us the interesting story behind her book The Pretender. First, as usual, a little bit about the book.

South Dakota: 1975. Eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beers in a bar and loaded guns were kept under the counter. Frankie Valli sang My Eyes Adored You, and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.

It’s within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined – and had been for many years – yet they had no idea.

Questions for Ta’mara Hanscom

  1. What inspired you to write The Pretender? I was going through an extremely difficult time in my personal life. Things were very hard emotionally and I needed some sort of a respite. I had written a lot when I was younger, but one day during my trials I sat down at this old computer that my neighbor had given me and started to write. I wanted my story to be realistic (reality =  trials) but I also wanted God’s promises to prevail. I wrote the first 4 books (drafts) which was about 900 pages in less than a month.
  1. Why did you pick 1975? That’s a time not often written about. It was an interesting time in our country and, as you’ve accurately pointed out, it’s not often written about. There was a richness in that time period that gets overshadowed by modern liberties. However, there were many families (like my own) during that same period who sought to preserve our way of life, which was heavily immersed in the Church.
  1. How long does it take you to write a book? I’ve worked on this project for about 21 years total. It doesn’t take very long to write a book (maybe a month or so) but then comes the hard part—getting people to read it!
  1. Wow, you and your husband run a pizzeria. How do you manage to juggle that and writing? When we first started with just the one restaurant, it was more than a full-time job! We worked around the clock. Our kids were young during that time as well, so we were exceedingly busy. There were some years I didn’t get to write at all because I was too busy making pizzas! Over the last 18 years, we’ve grown our business into 3 restaurants, but we’ve managed to develop excellent management along the way. And while my husband is in the restaurants everyday, I have recently taken a step back and let him and kids run the show. They are extremely talented and gifted in the restaurant, and, honestly, at this point they do all the “heavy lifting,” or I couldn’t do what I’m doing now.
  1. What’s up next for you? To continue with The Caselli Family Series. The Pretender is only Book 1 in 5. We’re fully immersed in our second printing of the entire series and should have it finished sometime in the spring of 2018. I am hoping to have Book 6 finished by fall of 2018, but that’s only a hope at this point. And I have many other installments of The Caselli Family Series planned as well.

Ta’mara was born and raised in South Dakota, and loves her people and rich history. For many years she’s also had a deep love for Italy and her colorful chronology. She was fortunate enough to visit Italy on her 25th wedding anniversary, and added some of the details of her travels to my fictional series The Caselli Family Series.

Her favorite sport is baseball – Detroit Tigers – and she can’t wait until the next time she gets to see them play in Comerica Park. She lives for the next family barbeque.

She and her husband reside in Northwestern Iowa. They have three grown children and one grandson. They’ve rescued two cats and one Pomeranian. She teaches AWANA Cubbies and speaks at women’s events.

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of the pretender, please follow the directions below.

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Thanks for joining us, Ta’ mara! We look forward to reading everything in this series.

November 7, 2017

The Story behind Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

I’ve been looking forward to having Kim Sawyer join us for some time now! She’s going to share a little bit about her new book, Bringing Maggie Home. Here’s a little bit about it.

Decades of loss, an unsolved mystery, and a rift spanning three generations

Hazel DeFord is a woman haunted by her past. While berry picking in a blackberry thicket in 1943, ten-year old Hazel momentarily turns her back on her three-year old sister Maggie and the young girl disappears.

Almost seventy years later, the mystery remains unsolved and the secret guilt Hazel carries has alienated her from her daughter Diane, who can’t understand her mother’s over-protectiveness and near paranoia. While Diane resents her mother’s inexplicable eccentricities, her daughter Meghan—a cold case agent—cherishes her grandmother’s lavish attention and affection.

When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a six-week leave-of-absence to recover, all three generations of DeFord women find themselves unexpectedly under the same roof. Meghan knows she will have to act as a mediator between the two headstrong and contentious women. But when they uncover Hazel’s painful secret, will Meghan also be able to use her investigative prowess to solve the family mystery and help both women recover all that’s been lost?

Learn more and purchase a copy.

Sounds like a great book. What led you to write it?

It never ceases to amaze me how something as simple as a photograph in an antique store, a headstone in a cemetery, or a rock building standing lonely yet proud on the prairie can stir the embers of a story to life inside of me. But it happens again and again, and in the case of Bringing Maggie Home, the spark came from a three-paragraph article, tucked at the end of a larger article, about an unsolved mystery in rural Arkansas. In the 1930s, several children from one community disappeared and were never seen again.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the children, wondering about them—where did they go? who took them? why were they taken?—and wondering how their families survived the loss. You can replace a stolen car or a stolen ring, but a stolen child? You would forever carry a hole in your heart.

As I pondered the real-life situation, a fictional account began growing in my heart—a story about three generations and how all were affected by the disappearance of one small child. Writing this story about Hazel, Margaret Diane (the daughter), and Meghan (the granddaughter) let me explore the unique relationships between mothers and daughters and grandmothers and grandchildren.

Bringing Maggie Home will always be special to me because so much of the love I feel for my daughters and grandchildren was poured onto the page through the characters’ interactions. I pray that readers who are at odds with a parent or a child will travel with Hazel, Diane, and Meghan to a place of restoration. “There is none so far gone that God’s grace can’t redeem him,” Hazel tells Meghan. And as long as we draw breath, there’s a chance to redeem broken relationships.

Can’t wait to read it!

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.

Find out more about Kim at

Kim is giving away a copy of the book. Enter below.
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Thanks for joining us, Kim!

October 31, 2017

The Story behind Pendant by Mary Hamilton

This week, join me in welcoming Mary Hamilton to our blog. Mary has a new release, Pendant. Here’s a little bit about the book.

A field trip gone awry.

A student gone missing.

Haunted by a teacher’s worst nightmare for more than a decade, Elaine finally stumbles onto a vital clue—and discovers someone will do anything to keep the truth buried.

When her life is threatened, she allows a trusted neighbor to whisk her away to safety in Texas. But assuming a false identity and hiding among the quirky residents of a retirement home is not what she had in mind. Now Elaine must solve the mystery from afar, as soon as she figures out if her friend is keeping her from danger…or keeping her from the truth.


Oh, that sounds good! What inspired you to write the book?

Years ago, my local newspaper reported on an elderly woman who was dropped off at a retirement home by an acquaintance who said she knew nothing about the woman’s family history. The 93-yr. old woman arrived with only a jacket, a purse and a cane. A medical card provided her only identification. Although she was alert and chatty, the woman refused to give any information about her background other than to speak of her husband who had died many years before.

At the time of the article, I was just beginning to learn how to write fiction. But after reading it, I immediately thought, “Now there’s a story!” I filed the article in my idea folder, returning to it every so often to try out ideas for motivations and reasons why someone would show up at a care facility with so few possessions. And why was she so reluctant to reveal any information about herself?

I never did find the answers, but the idea simmered for many years until I decided to give it the attention it deserved. The story became my first foray into adult fiction, which felt so much more complicated than the middle grade stories I’d written previously. The suspense genre was also a surprise to anyone who knows me. You can imagine my husband’s reaction when I quizzed my hunter son-in-law about guns. Such as, what type of gun would you use to shoot someone inside a restaurant if you were driving by on the street? How accurate would it be? Would the window deflect the bullets at all?

Since my son-in-law is also an EMT, I quizzed him on how emergency personnel would manage such an event. Who would likely arrive first? How would you handle a woman whose husband has been shot?

I’m sure you can understand why my husband’s request. “Can we please talk about something else? This is Thanksgiving dinner.”


Monsters under the bed never bothered author M L Hamilton—it was the man hiding in her closet, waiting for her to fall asleep so he could jump out and harm her. She never did figure out who he was, how he managed to hide in her messy closet, or why he was waiting until she fell asleep to harm her. But since then, she has imagined all sorts of other scary situations, which she hopes will provide the basis for more mystery/suspense stories.

When not writing, she enjoys knitting, reading, spending time with her family, and amateur photography. She and her husband live in Texas, but you can connect with Mary in these places.





Ebook available for pre-order at Amazon and other retailers (coming soon in print). Delivery on November 8th.



Thanks for joining us, Mary! She’s giving away either an ebook or paperback version of the book. Enter below. 

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Thank you to everyone who stopped by and entered!