Friday, March 24, 2017

California’s Polar Queen By Shirley Raye Redmond

If you’ve ever studied a map of Greenland and wondered how Miss Boyd Land and Louise Glacier got those labels, you may be surprised to learn they were named for a spunky American socialite named Louise Arner Boyd. Born in September 1887, the only daughter of millionaire mine owner John Franklin Boyd, Louise was always a tomboy. She loved riding ponies with her two brothers on the family’s large horse ranch in the foothills near San Francisco Bay.

As a girl, Louise studied photography, botany and geography. She was particularly fascinated by tales of Alaska and the daring fortune hunters who were still rushing to the Yukon Territory in search of gold. She was also intrigued by haunting descriptions of icebergs, polar bears and Eskimos. More than anything else in the world, the plucky California girl wanted to see the frigid Arctic for herself.

In 1920, at the age of 33, the attractive, blue-eyed spinster astonished her San Francisco social circle when she unexpectedly chartered her own seal-hunting ship. She hired an experienced crew and acquired the best photographic and scientific instruments her vast family fortune could buy, and set sail for the ice-packed Arctic regions. Putting aside her chinchilla cape and lavish ball gowns, Louise donned heavy boots and a parka and headed for a six-week journey to the Arctic. She took photographs and drew maps. She collected botanical specimens for botanists friends back in California and was “amused by the puniness of the vegetation, compared to the giant redwoods back home.”

In the summer of 1938, Louise planned her usual polar journey, despite the war raging in Europe. With her expedition concluded, she left her cameras, measuring devices, radios, canoes, polar clothing and scientific equipment in Alesund, Norway, fully intending to return the following year to continue her explorations.

Louise was in New York when she learned that the Nazis had impounded her equipment after invading Oslo. The spunky heiress was furious. She immediately sailed for Norway, took repossession of her belongings and brought them home to the United States aboard a luxury liner.

Unable to publish her new scientific findings, for fear that the Germans would use the information to invade Iceland and Greenland, Louise returned to California. She was resigned to spending the war years experimenting with her prized camellias and raising money for the San Francisco Ballet Company. But the United States government had other plans for her. When she was asked to head up a secret mission in the Arctic Sea for military intelligence, Louise readily agreed.

Louise was proud to serve her country. Upon completion of the secret mission, she was hired as a special consultant—for a dollar a year—for the military intelligence division of U.S. Government. She was the first woman to ever serve in such a capacity. When World War II was over, the Army gratefully presented Louise with a Certificate of Appreciation for “outstanding patriotic service to the Army as a contributor of geographic knowledge and consultant.”

Back at Maple Lawn, the aging heiress continued to fascinate her frequent guests with exhibits of Arctic photographs and memorabilia. But before retiring from exploration, Louise had one more polar dream to pursue. She wanted to reach the North Pole. In 1955, at the age of 68, Louise chartered an airplane and became the first woman to fly over and around the North Pole.

She accepted numerous awards for her contributions to geographic exploration, such as being named the first female member of the American Polar Society. But her generosity and costly polar expeditions eventually took their toll on the Boyd fortune. She died penniless in a nursing home ten years later on September 14, 1972. She was 85 years old. Her ashes were scattered in the Arctic regions she had always found so alluring.

An award-winning writer and frequent conference speaker, Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of three inspirational novels, PRUDENCE PURSUED, VIPER’S NEST, and AMANDA’S BEAU, as well as two dozen children’s books, including LEWIS & CLARK: A PRAIRIE DOG FOR THE PRESIDENT (Random House), which was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. Shirley Raye holds an M.A. in literature and teaches through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been married to her husband Bill for over forty years. They live in New Mexico and are blessed with two grown children and three adorable grandchildren. Touch bases at or Facebook.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners--like her. Lydia won't let that get her down, though. All will be well when she's reunited with her fiancé. But when she discovers he has disappeared--and that he left behind a pregnant wife--Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

Bestselling author Amanda Cabot invites readers back into Texas's storied past to experience love and adventure against a backdrop of tension and mystery in this first book in a brand-new series.

Heidi here. A Stolen Heart was an awesome read! For starters, I really liked the premise of why Lydia went to Cimarron Creek and how she handles herself when she discovers that her fiance has disappeared AND is married to another woman. Great conflict from the start. I also fell in love with Aunt Bertha, such a gentle and generous woman. She was the voice of reason for both Lydia and Travis.

The backcover copy doesn't make this historical novel sound like a mystery, but it is! Of course, it is more romance than mystery, but the mystery behind some unsolved crimes adds more depth to this novel and allows for a spectacular ending. If you haven't read A Stolen Heart yet, pick up your copy today! And stop by our blog to read a recent interview with Amanda.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Crafts and Hobbies in Books

Hello Everyone!
Today I thought it would be fun to discuss some of the hobbies and crafts that we've seen in some of our favorite books.

Hobbies and crafts are a great way that authors make their characters real and relatable. There are so many things that a hobby or craft can paint on a page. (Pun intended.) For example, who wouldn't love a hero loves sword fighting and wood carving? These interests tell us so much about the character.

Here's a few of my favorites, but be sure to chime in too!

The Apostle Peter in the Bible: Fishing

Peter LOVED fishing. He did it for a living, and later for fun. I jumped in his boat in book 3 of my Days of Messiah series by placing the main character, Malon, with him as he fished for tax money as Jesus told him.

Charlotte from Gentleman of Her Dreams by Jen Turano: DIY and Restoration Projects

A key scene in the book is when Charlotte and Henry take an old boat that she has "restored" herself out onto the bay. It ends in disaster, of course, not too unlike some of my Pinterest projects. LOL.

Vivian from Ressurection of Hope by Tamera Kraft: Sewing

Vivian loves to sew. She even sews a flapper dress in the story!
Check out her book here.

Elinor from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Remember Elinor's love for painting and art? The way her hobby reflected the steady and level-headed, yet deeply feeling lady?



Now it's your turn! Does your favorite book character have a craft or hobby? What is the most unique craft/hobby that you've seen in a character?
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for Lavender Fields Inn by June Foster!

We'd also like to cordially invite you to join us for an Easter Facebook Party THIS FRIDAY March 24th! 

I love everything about Easter. I especially love Easter themed fiction. Although there are tons of Christmas novels and novellas, Easter themed novels are often left out. That’s why I’m so excited to announce an Easter Fiction Facebook Party on Friday, March 24th, 6:00 – 9:00 pm EST. You’ll have a chance to meet six authors including me and to find out more about their Christian Easter fiction.Did I mention the contests? Each author is offering one copy of their novels. There will be other prizes as well, but you’ll have to come to the party to find out what they are. ;)

Click this link to join the party.

Here’s the schedule for the authors who are participating:
6:00 pm Tamera Lynn Kraft
6:30 pm Jericha Kingston
7:00 pm Joan Leotta
7:30 pm Darlene Franklin
8:00 pm Wanda Porter
8:30 pm Amber Schamel