Friday, February 27, 2015

WINNERS!!!



The Homestead Brides Collection - Janet won the paperback copy and Jennifer won the Kindle copy!
Congratulations, Ladies! I sent Janet and email and I have contacted Jennifer on FB. If I don't hear back from them in a few days, I will draw new winners.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Interview & Giveaway ~ Carla Olson Gade, author of Proving Up, a novella in The Homestead Brides Collection



Welcome to Stuff & Nonsense, Carla! I appreciate you being here today, sharing your love of history and writing with us. And also for offering a copy of The Homestead Brides Collection to one of my blog followers.

Tell us a little bit about your novella and why you wrote it?
My novella, “Proving Up”, is one of nine stories in The Homestead Brides Collection from Barbour. Each of the stories is set on a homestead in the Great Plains. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided an opportunity to earn a “free” 160 acres in exchange for making improvements on the land over a period of five years. The person who took out the claim also had to live on that property. To homestead. “Proving up” is the term for providing proof of complying with the requirements. When I learned about The Timber Culture Act of 1873 I immediately saw potential for an interesting story. This Act allowed homesteaders to enter a tree claim to earn an additional 160 acres of land. Thousands of trees had to be planted and cultivated over a period of time, trees that would transform the landscape of the barren prairie absent of much needed timber for shelter and fuel. There was my story. I became fascinated by what I learned through my research and wanted to tell about this little known piece of history through the lives of my characters. 

I can tell you, Carla, that I was equally fascinated by the history. Proving Up really is one of the best short historicals I have read.

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Tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey.
I’m from New England and have always been interested in the rich history all around me. As a child my imagination would always soar thinking about days past, when King Philip’s Indians roamed the woods in my own backyard, or when my ancestors came to Massachusetts on the Mayflower and other early ships. I never read much fiction since I would occupy my inquisitive mind with reading non-fiction books. When I wrote it was mostly poetry, newsletters, articles, and Bible studies. But when I had children I started to write a few stories for them while convalescing from several surgeries that I had. But it wasn’t until I was in my thirties when I first picked up a Catherine Palmer novel in a church library that I was introduced to inspirational romance. I knew then that I wanted to write some stories of my own. In fact, characters seemed to instantly pop into my head and haven’t stopped pestering me since!

After many years of studying the craft of writing fiction and networking within the writing and publishing community, I signed my first contract in 2011 for my novel, The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter.

I love genealogy and digging into family history, too. My ancestors on my mother’s side came from Ireland, the Collins’. So much history there. Also, I once made up a bedtime saga for my oldest son when he was a toddler, about a mouse named Frank. Maybe I should have written it all down!


What do you think makes a good story?
As an historical romance author, I think some of the best stories are inspired by interesting events and places from the past. Although a work is fiction, many facets of real life can be incorporated into the setting and ignite plot points. I personally enjoy learning about history through the experiences of characters in a story.

If history had been taught like this in school, I would have learned a lot more!

Where is your favorite place to write?
I enjoy writing outside when the weather is warm, but in Maine that only gives me a couple of months. Usually I stretch out on my sofa with my laptop. But silence is definitely golden to me while writing.

The sofa sounds so much more comfortable than a desk. 

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Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just have to get up and write down a thought? If so, do you keep a tablet on your bedside table or go to the computer?
Oh, yes! A writer’s brain never fully shuts down. I used to keep a notebook by my bed and jot down an idea, phrase, a bit of dialogue, but now I usually just get up and go to my laptop. But when that happens I often will remain up for a few hours. I’m a night owl so it is not unusual for me to already be up in the middle of the night while on a writing project!

Maybe I am a writer at heart because my brain never shuts off, either! Sometimes I have to get up and write down my thoughts about a book or I will forget what I want to say. I also keep a grief journal, so often I get up to write in it. 

Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures? 
I’ll never tell. ;) I am a very visual person so I have always kept a file of pictures that inspire my writing. Now I use Pinterest to share these images and research resources with my readers. You can find my story board for “Proving Up” HERE>> as well as boards for each of my books.

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I love Pinterest! It’s a valuable tool for so many things. Especially the tea parties we like to attend, and finding just the right dress. I wonder if Elsa ever went to a tea party? Hmmm?

Can you give us a glimpse into your next book or story idea?
I have too many story ideas to count, so we won’t go there. I am currently writing a story about a group of Swedes who come to America to build a colony. This is based on a real event and the plot is guided and inspired by the real experiences of these pioneers.

That sounds interesting! I look forward to reading it.

Have you traveled to locations that your books are set in? Where is the one place you would love to set a book but know you can’t possibly go there? Would you write it anyway?
I’ve traveled to most of my book settings remotely, thanks to the internet (Google Books & Google Maps). But as an historical author, it is not so much about the place as it is the time of the setting. I have been to Boston (Pattern for Romance) many times, but I needed to visit colonial Boston through research sources. I did not write a setting in Colonial Williamsburg, but needed to visit there to research colonial customs. I did however, visit Mystic Seaport in Connecticut to learn about my character’s occupation for “Carving a Future” (Colonial Courtships). I also visited the historical town of Glastonbury, Connecticut (also for this novella) which has more homes built in and before the 18th century than any other town in America, save one, and all of Connecticut. So visiting there actually put me physically in the midst of my story setting, almost as it was hundreds of years ago.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever make it to England—it would be a dream—but I have a few works set there and would love to travel there in person.

I would love to visit New England! Virtual tours are nice but I can’t imagine how beautiful it really is.

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In your spare time, do you have any hobbies you enjoy?
I love to research my ancestor’s history! I also enjoy photography, as you do, Anne. Another hobby since my teen years is to draw house plans. In fact, I have recently designed a home for a relative and have had the opportunity to have an architect render my drawing into blue prints. Such a thrill! My other “hobby” is my almost 2 year old grandson who I care for two days and an overnight each week.

Oh wow! An architect, too.  Plus a genealogist and photographer and grandmother.  We really are kindred spirits!

Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?
If you could only see my bulging bookshelves! If I must choose one, it would be The Rogue’s Redemption by Ruth Axtell. She writes with skill that I admire and the story (a sequel) is a satisfying adventure in redeeming a most unsavory character. Genius. 

Let’s not talk about how big a bulge the bookshelves are. I haven’t read that one by Ruth but obviously I must rectify the situation.


What’s the one food item you can’t live without?
Edy’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. It’s become a staple in my diet, unfortunately.

Does it contain chocolate? Because if so, I know what I will be buying this summer!

Where can you be found on the internet?
My personal blog is Adventures of Heart at http://carlaolsongade.com. I also blog at the Colonial Quills and Heroes, Heroines, & History blogs.

I Tweet on occasion and connect with readers on Facebook.


Is there a question you would like my blog followers to answer in order to be entered to win a copy of your book or novella?
What are your hobbies? Have you ever worked at one of your hobbies professionally?

Those are good questions! My husband wishes I could make money with my hobbies. Well, secretly I do too. :)

There you have it, Blog Followers! Answer the above questions for an opportunity to win a copy of The Homestead Brides Collection. Yes, you must be a follower to be entered in this giveaway. There are multiple ways to follow. Just check them out in the sidebar. Please include how you follow when you answer the questions Carla asked above.

US ONLY paperback copy because postage costs are ridiculous overseas.
Kindle copy for another winner, no matter where you live. Giveaways will end on Feb 26th, and I will announce the winners on Feb 27th. IF you absolutely DO NOT want to be entered for the Kindle, speak up now or forever hold your peace. Seriously, though. I want you to be entered for the right book format. Carla is offering an autographed copy, signed by all nine authors!!! I am offering a Kindle copy to anyone, anywhere.

Remember: You must be a follower of Stuff & Nonsense (tell me how you follow). Also, leave your email address, please, so you can be contacted if you win!





9 Pioneering Couples Risk All for Love and Land
Through nine historical romance adventures, readers will journey along with individuals who are ready to stake a claim and plant their dreams on a piece of the great American plains. While fighting land disputes, helping neighbors, and tackling the challenges of nature the homesteaders are placed in the path of other dreamers with whom romance sparks. And God has His hand in orchestrating each unique meeting.

Proving Up by Carla Olson Gade

Swedeberg, Nebraska, 1886
A young Swedish widow applies her scientific theories to growing trees on the barren Great Plains intruding on
a handsome homesteader’s hard work and experience. Will their dreams come to ruin or will love prove their success?

Native New Englander Carla Olson Gade writes adventures of the heart with historical roots
from her home amid the rustic landscapes of Maine. With seven books in print, she is always imagining more stories and enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla’s great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at a historical museum, it’s easier to connect with her online at carlaolsongade.com.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Review ~ Proving Up by Carla Olson Gade {A Novella}



About the book


Promises of free land lure thousands of hardy homesteaders to pull up stakes and head west to establish new settlements on the Great Plains. Follow nine couples as they pursue their dreams, deal with hardship, and encounter romance in their quest to build a bright future. A celebration of true grit and steadfast faith. In Carla Olson Gade’s novella, Proving Up, Elsa Lindstrom applies her scientific theories to growing trees on the Nebraska plains, intruding on a handsome homesteader’s hard work and experience. Will their dreams come to ruin, or will love prove their success? The Homestead Brides Collection is available here: http://tinyurl.com/provingup.


My Review Proving Up by Carla Olson Gade


Rich in historical detail, Proving Up is a fascinating story. We’re introduced to two Swedish families that traveled to the Nebraska Plains in hopes of becoming landowners by participating in the Timber Culture Act of 1873. I didn’t know much about this time period in history, especially involving the Swedish community. Facing unimaginable hardships, they persevered through many challenges before they could actually own the land they had been homesteading. After five years, they had to provide proof that they had lived and worked the land raising trees, hence ‘proving up’.  


Gade has done her research and brought a moving tale of determination to succeed, while showing a great love of the land, the trees, and the people. The focus of the story is on Nils and Elsa, neighboring tree farmers but there is much included about community and the importance of supporting one another through tough times. I especially liked Elsa’s brothers.   
photo courtesy of author

The story kept me glued to my chair, not because of any suspense factor but because of the plot, dialogue and heart of the characters;  their faith and rock solid belief that God was with them no matter what.  I thought the end wrapped up a little too quickly but it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the story. 


This novella is worthy of high marks and I highly recommend it to any fan of historical fiction. It was reminiscent of reading a Janette Oke book, only shorter.  


Proving Up by Carla Olson Gade is part of The Homestead Brides Collection recently released by Barbour Books on Feb 1st. I was provided a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review of her novella. No compensation has been received.


About the Author

Native New Englander Carla Olson Gade writes adventures of the heart with historical roots from her home amid the rustic landscapes of Maine. With seven books in print, she is always imagining more stories and enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla’s great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at a historical museum, it’s easier to connect with her online at carlaolsongade.com.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

{Sunday} Morning Worship & Praise


All Glory, Laud, and Honor
Author:Theodulf, Bishop of Orléans (c. 820)
Psalter Hymnal, (Gray)
 
All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David's royal Son,
now in the Lord's name coming,
the King and Blessed One.


The company of angels
is praising you on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present. 



To you before your passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
As you received their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness,
O good and gracious King! 



 We are praising the Lord today for His hand of mercy!

In all things, God is GOOD!

Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, 
 for those who are called according to his purpose.

~Have a blessed Sabbath~ 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review ~ Secretly Yours by Valerie Comer

♥FREE for Valentine's Day♥


About the Book

A Christian Romance Novella for Valentine's Day

Chef Lindsey Solberg agrees to cater the church's Valentine's Day fundraising banquet as a favor to her teen sister, but she's shocked to discover the bad boy from her high school days is now Riverbend's youth pastor. Seriously? How could he have changed that much? Nick Harrison has prayed for years for an opportunity to make amends. Now Lindsey's back in Riverbend and won't give him the time of day. What's a guy to do except leave a trail of gifts from a secret admirer?

Lindsey's heart takes a beating when she realizes the boy who was never good enough is now a far better man than she deserves.





My Review 

I absolutely loved this novella! The writing is tight and the characters are believable. I could just imagine how Lindsey must have felt when she goes back to her hometown after being away for years and the high school jerk jock is now her sister's youth pastor. With old hurts surfacing, how is Nick going to break through Lindsey's emotional barrier and apologize? 

There wasn't a single bit of lag in this story. I was fascinated with how everything was going to work out from the very beginning. Sure, there was a moment or two where I wanted to say, "Hey girl, open your eyes, Nick's changed." But I know how it is to hold onto things until I myself have reconciled them with the Lord. That's when you can begin to forgive others and reconcile with them. 

Comer has an incredible talent for combining great dialogue and real faith to captivate the reader. There was some secret gift giving, and while it was a sweet thing, it was also a spiritual thing. The Lord romances us when we don't even know, or fully understand who He is, and that's one thing about this story that came across so clear; Christ is our true 'valentine'. ♥

If you enjoy Contemporary Christian Romance, you will probably enjoy this little gem.
  
The author sent me a digital copy of the novella for review purposes. I wasn't required to write a positive review, just my honest opinion of the book. No compensation has been received.

♥ ♥ ♥

Hurry!!! You can get a FREE copy of the book on Kindle for Valentine's Day!

Be sure and check the price before you hit buy, but I think it is only .99 anyway, so that's a deal, too! 



 About the Author

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories.


Connect with Valerie on her website @ http://valeriecomer.com/ 

♥ ♥ ♥

*Valerie is a fascinating person. I had the great privilege of interviewing her in March 2014. Just click the following link to read the interview -  Interview with "Farm Lit" author Valerie Comer.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Barn Collective {#18}

Deuteronomy 28:8
The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. 
The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.


Double Silo Barn in rural NC

I was quite a ways from this barn so the photo is a little grainy (pun intended) but I like how it shows the bright green of winter wheat, or more likely hay, planted in the field in front of, and behind, the barn. 
They should have plenty to fill those silos, or bale if it's hay, come summer.

Sharing with The Barn Collective @ Rose Street Reflections

~Have a blessed day~