Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Fun in Maine!

Anne here.
Summertime is vacation time! Summer vacations are some of the best memories. Many of you are on a school schedule and still view summer as a time to get away. Even though my kids are out of the house, my husband teaches school and our schedules are still on a school schedule.

Every year we haggle and dream about what vacations we want to take for the coming year. I've dreamed of vacationing in Maine for years, but every time I'd bring it up for the vote, it got hacked down. My hubby would argue that I could see trees and forests anywhere, why drive that far? But, but...I'd whine. So this year, to my total surprise he called my manager at work, arranged for time out and announced that he was taking me to Maine! I was filled with glee of course, because he also said that he would oblige me to stop at any historical thing I wanted to see. My mind raced with possibilities.

We drove there and back some 2000+ miles (he drove the entire trip!). We stopped in North East, Pennsylvania, at a B & B and drove interstate 90 all through New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine where we stayed in Wells.

We enjoyed lobster rolls, antique shops, a walk along Ogunquit Beach, and an off broadway show at Ogunquit Playhouse, Bullets Over Broadway, with an appearance by Sally Struthers. We also found an out of the way organic farm, spent the day in  historic York, Maine, found an Irish restaurant, and discovered that "fine" antiques out east can mean rare old pieces at exorbitant prices!

From there we headed to Freeport, Maine, and spent most of the day at L.L.Bean headquarters, ate Ben & Jerry's, then drove north to Rockport after stopping at an Italian restaurant for a little non-seafood cuisine, because every meal except breakfast had been seafood, which we loved!

In Rockport, we stayed at a cute little place where they served continental breakfast on a large deck surrounded by lovely flowers. We spent most of a day on Lincolnville Beach, an afternoon at the Lighthouse museum, and hit up a string of antique stores.

We noticed that the history on the coast is very old, dating back in many towns to the 1600's. At the organic farm, we learned that it had been owned by the same family since they immigrated and it had a family cemetery that held stones dating back to the 1700's--no need to research when all your ancestors are in your back yard! We also noticed that many places have piled rock walls very similar to all around Ireland, and many antique stores had pieces that have probably been around the east coast for centuries. Also, it's not generally blazing hot there. All in all, we had a wonderful trip!

Where are you headed for summer vacation?
What's on your bucket travel list?
Anyone else been to Maine?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Meet Author Jaime Jo Wright - The Fisherman's Nymph

When I was asked to be a part of another Barbour novella collection, I was thrilled. Barbour Publishing is such a fabulous publishing company and working on another delightful novella was just up my alley to compose during the long, cold Wisconsin months of this past winter.

It was a no-brainer for me that I wanted to set my characters deep in the heart of Wisconsin's northwoods, a place I love to travel every summer. I have spent many a summer canoeing the Flambeau River (on which "The Fisherman's Nymph" is set), swimming in the rapids, camping on its shores, and swatting away its black flies.

So Abby was created. A melancholy soul who cherishes her privacy along her river, fishing the Flambeau's off-shoots with the newer-to-fishing style, fly fishing. She's an artist, a woodswoman, and above all, a loyal daughter who finds reconciling the recreational boom of the wealthy to outdoor sports appalling when so many in the world could put that money to much better, more charitable, uses.

Charles Farrington the Third is a flirt. It almost lends him toward a special kind of immaturity--the flippant kind. It's as if the world is his play to play and blinders hide his eyes from the realities of a harsh world. A world Abby cannot escape, even in her refuge along the Flambeau river.

As their worlds collide, sparks fly, and first impressions prove how very false they can really be.

Yes, I have spent many hours fly-fishing, like our heroine Abby. The streams and strategy to catching a trout takes finesse and much study of the waters. It was so fun to write this into Abby's vision, and so challenging to show Charles' unappreciative  spirit for the sport.
Hopefully, you will all enjoy a jaunt to the northwoods and even some fly-fishing experiences with Charles and Abby. You don't have to love fishing to be caught up in their romance, hook, line, and well . . . nymph.

Do you know what a 'nymph' references in association with fly-fishing? Have you ever fly-fished or been interested in fly-fishing? What are your thoughts about flirtatious heroes and the women who love them? :)

Jaime Jo Wright
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures

Web site: 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meet Natalie Monk - Author with @Barbourbuzz

A Little-known Confession

Hello everyone! I'm excited to be here today and thrilled to be included in the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection. A huge thank-you to the CCC girls for having me over and hosting this fun blog blitz!

Many things have been shared about the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection such as historical research and character inspiration, but I wanted to base today’s blog on something I’ve never shared before: the personal inspiration behind the spiritual thread in my novella For Richer or Poorer.
First, here's a little more about the story:

In order to bring her starving family to New Jersey, Polish immigrant and housemaid Marcella Lipski must marry wealth…so she dons her employer's discarded ball gowns and goes husband hunting at Newark's tourist spots. There are a few problems, though. Ella's shy. She knows nothing of the rules governing American high society. She'll lose her job if she's recognized. Oh, and she can't speak a speck of English. When a poor-but-mysterious cart driver catches her eye, she must protect her heart at all costs. She won’t leave her family hopeless.

Woody Harris has no desire to be rich, and he lives out his faith by giving most of his possessions away to the street kids on his freight route. When his horse spooks and bowls over Ella, inflicting bruises, Woody offers her free conveyance for a week and starter lessons in English as compensation. He's soon charmed by her innocent, farm-girl ways and her concern for "his" kids. But by the time he learns Ella will only marry for money, it's already too late for his heart. (Check out Woody and Ella's character inspiration photos on the collaborative Of Rags and Riches Pinterest Board!)

While there are many fun things going on in the surface story, (from hiding family scandals, to playing the imposter to secret conversations in confessional booths), the subjects requiring me to draw from deeper personal experience were the characters’ spiritual journeys.

The summer before I wrote this novella, my dad resigned his church of thirteen years and went into itinerant preaching ministry until the Lord gave him further direction. Next thing you know, I get the unmistakable conviction that I should quit my job as a piano teacher and follow my parents in music ministry as we did years ago when my dad was a traveling revival evangelist. At this point, none of us knew what God had planned or how He would open opportunities for us to make a living this way. This not knowing, this walking by faith, despite circumstances that encouraged us to cling to known securities, provided the living-by-faith theme for For Richer or Poorer.

My Polish heroine, Ella, tries to work through problems in her own strength. She has admirable qualities of determination, perseverance and a willing heart, which tend toward a flawed desire to control her circumstances, especially as they affect her family. While writing her story, many times I wanted to look up at God and plead the fifth. I myself struggle with a yen for control and am too eager to invite God into my plans instead of asking Him to take over. I often lead out into defeat. But then He proves Himself time and again, despite my fears, and grows my faith as He guides me into battles that He fights for me, providing the victory as He vanquishes my doubts.

My hero Woody believes he can't fix anything no matter how he tries (whether in his relationships with his family and the heroine or with the orphans he feeds). Throughout the novel, he learns the importance of faithfulness (continued obedience to the known will of God) even in the face of unchanging obstacles.

If you’re wondering how things turned out for my family, my dad now pastors a church in his hometown (his long-time dream) where I am the church pianist and will begin piano lessons again this fall. During our year of “walking by faith,” the Lord worked as we obeyed Him, providing for every need and allowing my family to participate in areas of ministry we never dreamed would be opened to us. He is faithful.

Natalie Monk is an award-winning writer of historical romance. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. A preacher’s daughter from South Mississippi, Natalie loves porch swings, old movies, and meeting readers through her website: You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

What about you? Have you ever faced a situation that seemed to be hopeless until faith and perseverance finally broke through? Have you ever struggled with circumstances until you gave up control to God and He gave you the victory in His own time and way? Respectively, what helped you press on or brought you to surrender?

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Monday, July 17, 2017

A House of Secrets with Michelle Griep

A Gilded Age Brothel

I’m not a novella writer—not usually. I’m the sort of writer who loves to pen an epic tale spanning hundreds of pages. But when CC&C blogger Gabrielle Meyer suggested I submit an idea for the Of Rags & Riches Romance Collection, I had to say yes because she asked me at just the right time. What time is that? Well, grab your coffee mug, my friend, and I’ll tell you the story . . .

I’m a Minneapolis girl, but every now and then I wander across the river to St. Paul. I live just on the other side of the Mississippi from Summit Avenue, one of the oldest, wealthiest streets in town. Summit is dotted with famous homes, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s to the largest mansion in Minnesota, the James J. Hill house. Among all these riches, however, there is a dark tale of intrigue. 

The day Gabrielle contacted me about writing a rags and riches story, I’d just returned from a walking tour of Summit Avenue where I’d learned about Nina Clifford, an infamous madam. Apparently Miss Nina was a madam who ran a brothel in St. Paul from 1889-1929. But this wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill bawdy house. She built a brand spanking new brick building to house her girls. The waiting area boasted crystal chandeliers and only the best champagne was served to clients. 

Still, as fancy as it was, technically brothels were illegal. So, how did Madam Nina get around that little detail? With her savvy marketing sense. It’s rumored she connected her brothel by a tunnel that linked to the exclusive Minnesota Club, a haunt of politicians, wealthy businessmen, and academics—which meant no one could see who was partaking of the brothel services. It also ensured that she wouldn’t be shut down because of the potential for the publicity of who’d been frequenting her business. 

Quite the dirty little secret, eh? 

I thought so. So, while it’s never been proven, I wondered what if there really had been a tunnel. What kind of men would use that service? What kind of men wouldn’t? Therein began the idea for A House of Secrets.

Here’s a blurb: 

Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston, resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, determining to renovate the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house, but when she enlists the aide of her fiance, city attorney Joseph Blake, they uncover secrets neither expects—which may mean the end of their relationship . . . or their lives.

About the Author: 

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Your Turn: What is your favorite story about your hometown? Have you ever heard a little-known secret about your town? Have you visited St. Paul?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection

Gabrielle Here:

We've been having fun welcoming all the authors from Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection to our blog. Next week, you'll meet a few more.

In case you missed the previous blog posts, here's a little recap of the collection, the authors, the big giveaway, and the fun Facebook Party we have planned.

The Collection:

Love Flourishes during America’s Gilded Age

Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.

The Authors:

The Big Giveaway:

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The Facebook Party:

Click on this link to RSVP!
Be sure to stop back often to meet more authors from the collection! And don't forget to click on the Facebook Party link to RSVP so you get updates about the party and when it starts.

Gabrielle Meyer
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Right Pitch with Susanne Dietze

Thanks to the Coffee Cups and Camisoles Gals for hosting me today! It is an honor to be in a collection with these gals. Working on this project was so much fun, and I am so glad to have been included. Thanks for inviting me, Gabrielle, and group hug to all of the authors!

My story, The Right Pitch, is about a wealthy debutante who organizes a charity ladies’ baseball game that takes place on Independence Day during the Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, July 4, 1876. I had a blast learning about the one hundredth anniversary of American independence, and it was fun to set a story where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

I also enjoyed researching vintage baseball, which plays a role in the story.

If you know me or ever had PE with me, you know I am the kid who got excited for Silent Reading time in school, and you’re probably shocked that I wrote a story where the heroine plays a sport. I am not now, nor ever was, athletic. That’s not to say I didn’t try.

As a kid, I “played” “baseball” in the street in front of my house with my brother and the neighbor kids. We lived on a hill, and my house faced an upward slope, so we would bat in that direction. Still, it’s a wonder we never broke a car window.

I should note that while I’m not the fastest runner or the bravest player when it comes to spiking a volleyball that’s flying a million miles an hour at my nose, I do enjoy watching sports. I can be quite an enthusiastic fan. Still, I never would have thought of writing a sports-inspired romance unless someone challenged me to do so.

Pick a sport, one of my friends said. Write a novella where it plays a role.

Baseball fit well into the theme of a Gilded Age-set story, because this was when the first “official” ladies’ teams came about: they were groups of mostly leisure-class young women with the spare time to play and the funds to purchase equipment (balls and bats, but no gloves or uniforms!). Their teams were also short-lived and tended to be either recreational or promotional. Vassar formed two teams at the request of its students in 1866, and within ten years, teams of Blondes played Brunettes all over America.

There are umpteen baseball idioms and analogies between baseball and life/love. Step up to the plate. Strike out. Hit a home run. Bases loaded. How could I resist trying my hand at a romance with some baseball in it?

Baseball takes courage, teamwork, thought, patience, skill, and risk. Hero Beck, an injured Civil War veteran with a battered heart, and heroine Winnie, a debutante who’s brave about everything but speaking up to her father, come together for a bigger cause, and find that the principles that make a baseball team stronger just might help them in life and love, too.

Winnie and her friends on the team were all fictional, but the real women who inspired Winnie’s team, the Liberty Belles, opened the way for girls of all ages and classes to play America’s pastime in the coming years. Even girls like me, who never hit the ball out of the park, are free to enjoy the fun, thanks to the women who came before me.

The Right Pitch:

It’s a fair pitch: the guarded owner of a rail works will sponsor the local ladies’ baseball team if they let his capricious sister play ball. But the team’s pretty pitcher throws him a curveball when she insists he take an active role in team management, and it’s clear she has a game plan of her own—one that threatens his well-protected heart. He may have two strikes against him in the game of love, but she’s used to batting a thousand, and this may be a game he won’t be able to win.

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of over a dozen historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, genealogy, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Her most recent novel is My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho.

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Your Turn: Do you enjoy playing sports? Or would you rather watch? What's your favorite sport to play? Which one(s) do you enjoy watching?