Friday, July 26, 2019

Meet Maxine Douglas and Read About Elizabeth, Widows of Blessings Valley, Book 1 of American Western Historical Romance Series

About Maxine

Maxine writes in many genres and has found a love for the western historical romance. A Wisconsin native, Maxine resides in Chickasha. While Maxine may miss her family and friends in the north, she loves the mild winters Oklahoma has to offer. She has four grown children, two granddaughters, and a German Shorthair Pointer. And many friends she now considers her OK family.

Maxine’s western along the Chisholm Trail, The Marshal’s Bride, was a 2017 International Digital Award Finalist in the Western Historical-Short category.

Maxine is a current member of Romance Writers of America, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. and its affiliate Oklahoma Romance Writers Guild, Inc.

A Message From Maxine

While it is always a thrill for an author to start a new series, it is with heavy heart that I am compelled to write this one. I became a widow in April 2018 after a brief battle with cancer that took my love from me to be with our Lord. During those agonizing first few months so many questions flitted into my mind, along with the anger, grief, loneliness, and finally acceptance that my beloved was really gone from this realm. It was some of these questions that inspired this series. I hope that it will let other widows, and widowers, know that they are not alone with the crazy questions that come to mind. That as they wonder what is or isn’t appropriate, should they remove their rings, should they start dating, are they still married or now considered single, what is the proper mourning period in our modern times, when will the anger go away, and the list goes on and on. While I don’t expect this series to be the answers to the grieving, I do hope that I have somehow eased that feeling of being alone.

Webster defines grief as “emotional suffering caused by or as if by bereavement” and a widow as a “woman who has lost her husband by death and has not married again.” If these definitions were as simple as they sound.

To the Widows of Blessings Valley, these two words mean so much more. They mean living their lives without the one they gave their hearts and souls to. The one they vowed to love forever. It means crying themselves to sleep at night. It means trying to go on in a new life without knowing how. It means knowing no matter how much they try to heal they never really completely do. No matter how much they think they’ll never love again, they will but differently. 
They say time heals all things. That may be true or may not. All I know is the scab on my heart and soul was slowly peeled off and bled again over the months I wrote this book. But I had to write it regardless of my pain, tears, and sorrow.
 I cannot promise all the books in the series will be the same emotionally. I'm not sure I want to feel the heartache all over and over again. Regardless I will tell their stories...the Widows of Blessings Valley.


A mining accident has killed several miners in Blessings Valley. Some of the widows are struggling through their grief to answer a widow’s question. With Wilhelmina “Willa” Alexander’s guidance, they just might each learn to live again.

Two people scarred by life. She carries the scars on her heart. He carries the scars on his body. Can they find peace, healing, and love together?


Elizabeth paused at the fireplace on her way out of her house and, as she so often did, gazed at their wedding picture.
“Steven, I’m going to place the advertisement. It’s the only thing I can do.” Her eyes misted over. She sucked in a shaky breath. “I will not let them see me cry. I will be strong for both of us.”
Shawl wrapped snuggly around her shoulders, Elizabeth began on a journey she thought she’d never have to take.
“You can do this, Elizabeth. You have to.” She muttered softly, putting one foot in front of the other along the path she knew all too well.
“Hi, Elizabeth!”
Looking up, Elizabeth’s gaze settled on the open church door, and a warm shiver slipped down her spine. Fannie Rochester, who’d lost her husband the same day Elizabeth had lost her Steven, stepped out into the morning sun.
“Hello, Fannie,” Elizabeth called back, biting her tongue when all she wanted to do was lash out at Fannie. How could she find solace in church when God had taken their husbands from them?
“Won’t you come in and sit with me?” Fannie offered, stepping closer.
“Not today, Fannie, thank you.” Elizabeth waved as she continued on her way. She would never forget the pain of losing Steven. Not now. Not ever.
“Maybe I should move into Willa’s boardinghouse, so I don’t have to pass the church ever again,” Elizabeth mumbled. Feeling her heart race, stealing her breath, she paused for a moment. “Go ahead, take me to join Steven, and I will go willingly.” She took deep breaths until her heart returned to its normal cadence then continued on her way.
Elizabeth rounded the corner leading into the heart of Blessings Valley. She loved this little mining community that had become home. The thought of having to leave it broke what was left of her already shattered heart. If she didn’t find work soon, she’d be on the first stage at the end of the month.


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Monday, July 22, 2019

Meet Barbara Best, Author and Civil War Reenactor

I met Barbara when I read about her debut time travel novel THE LINCOLN PENNY. A huge Lincoln and Civil War buff, I couldn't resist buying a book with that title. See my Amazon review here.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, and now Barbara is my guest. 

About Barbara

Barbara began her career as a copywriter and artist with over twenty-five years in the fields of Marketing and Graphic Design. Beginning in 2014, she took her love of writing to new heights with her debut novel, "The Lincoln Penny." In the following years and as her loyal readers asked for more, "The Lover's Eye, Book 2" and "The Celtic Key, Book 3" were released in her time travel trilogy. Barbara's novels reveal her genuine passion for history and innate ability to blend authentic detail with imaginative speculation. Living history, firsthand, she is an avid American Civil War reenactor whose need to bring the past to life eventually formed the backdrop for her absorbing and heartwarming tales.


History geek Jane Peterson, a small-town girl with a passion for antiques, has hit the refresh button on her life. She breaks ties with her childhood home and gives up on love to live in Savannah, Georgia, a city she is drawn to like a moth to a flame.

Landing her dream job, Jane makes friends and takes up a new hobby. Participating in a weekend Civil War reenactment with her co-worker, Sophie Downing, a devastating event thrusts her into a raging siege with brutal consequences. The year 2012 suddenly resets to 1862, during the bloodiest conflict in American history.

Jane's ghostly appearance is a bad omen to the doomed Confederate soldiers at Fort Pulaski. In a chilling twist, the charitable heart of a handsome lieutenant and arrogance of a Union general decide her destiny. She must cross hostile enemy lines and seek shelter with strangers. Cradled in the antebellum home of Lieutenant Hopkins’ family, lost and homesick, she struggles with her unbelievable circumstances.

Testing her modern-day experience in a primitive environment, Jane finds the lack of simple hygiene and practices of nineteenth-century medicine appalling. She challenges the attitudes and restraints forced upon her and all women of the period. She puzzles over a mysterious force that is powerful enough to turn her life upside-down.

In a story of good and evil, murder, intrigue, and the supernatural Jane must find a way to survive one hundred fifty years from everything she knows. And there is no escape from the grim truth. Her existence in the past alters the future and puts lives in danger.

Jane Peterson has vanished without a trace! Bryce McKenzie, a hard-driving pre-med student at the University of Georgia in Athens, has been Jane’s best friend since third-grade. They share a unique bond. But when did she capture his heart? Refusing to accept the possibility Jane is dead, Bryce vows never to give up on the woman he loves. With help from Sophie Downing, the only witness to Jane’s freak disappearance, he searches for the key to unlock an impossible mystery.


The hearty male guffaw that follows jerks Jane fully awake. An involuntary “oof” leaves her lips as she props on one sore elbow. She takes a deep breath to draw strength and calls, “Hey, out there.”
Dead silence.
“Hell-lo,” she sings irritably. Rolling to her side away from the wall, Jane pushes up to her knees.
“Am I hearin’ things?” comes Jeb’s rickety whisper.
“Hush!” the other clips, all joking aside. “Not another word, Jeb, ya hear. Watch’is door. I’ll be back.”
Jane feels rocky. Her dress is all over the place, but she manages to stand. Sticky dampness makes her shiver. The chill creeps under her clothes and she hugs herself. “My cape! Good Lord, Sophie’s goin’ to kill me.” Jane searches blindly, using the toe of her boot and not wanting to stray too far. She suppresses the fear of something crawling up her leg.
“Not funny,” she croaks her frustration at the barrier between her and the outside. Her throat is scratchy and her mouth tastes bitter. Not caring to wait, Jane feels for a door handle and finds one. She tugs the outline of a cool iron ring. Leaning, she thrusts forward with her shoulder. Her weight is no match for the heavy obstacle. “Seriously, open up and let me out of here!”
Jane rests her head against the hard wooden surface. Fortunately, it is not long before there is an absurd amount of scrambling on the other side. Among throaty grunts and scuffing sounds, she can hear objects being shoved across the floor to make way.
“Stand ready,” a gravelly voice orders in a thick Irish brogue. “Well, go on. Quit acting the maggot and open it. Careful now, gentlemen.”
The door creaks ajar and swings wide. Dim, dusty light inches along the floor where Jane has instinctively planted her feet to brace herself. For what, she is not sure.
“Step out.”
Jane’s eyes slowly adjust to her predicament. A row of muddy men in shabby garb huddle nervously, looking every bit like a gaze of wide-eyed raccoons. Three, have rifles drawn, the tips of their lethal bayonets pointed in her direction. She cautiously steps into the adjoining room with her hands up and feeling totally ridiculous for doing so.

Coming Soon: Books Two and Three of the Trilogy

The Lover's Eye: A Time Travel Series, Book 2 — A heated clash between modern-day thinking and nineteenth-century ideals emerges as Jane Peterson and Bryce McKenzie struggle to exist in 1863 war-torn America. Follow Jane as she lets go of her past, endures great hardships and makes tough choices that will alter history, including her own, forever. Encounter shocking truths Bryce must face in his harrowing search for Jane and the ominous plot that involves him in an unbelievable event. Discover the dark secrets of a supernatural force that will sweep you back, once again, to the vibrant people of the past and bloody backdrop of the American Civil War.

The Celtic Key: A Time Travel Series, Book 3 — Hop times and span continents in this final journey that unravels an incredible mystery and turns the course of history upside-down. Answering a call to duty, Jane and her Confederate Major are compelled to carry extraordinary facts to a famous General. In the midst of a tumultuous event and raging Civil War, their plans go terribly awry. Hit hard by tragedy, Sophie Downing's escape from an age-old faction plunges her deep into the dangerous ploy of an unknown enemy. She is stunned to learn her real destiny lies in the life of another. Heartbroken and disease-ridden, Bryce McKenzie returns to the future. Because of dramatic revelations and unfathomable change, he becomes convinced of his deep-seated connection to Jane. Are their lives forever entwined? 


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Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Abandoned at childhood, Betsy Bowen found out she is George Washington's daughter and escaped the streets of Providence to become Eliza Jumel Burr, New York's richest woman. She pursued Aaron Burr, the love of her life, for decades and he finally proposed when he was 80 and she was 56. She divorced him on adultery charges, and he died two days after being served the papers. Who was her lawyer? Alexander Hamilton, Jr., the son of the man Burr killed in the famous 1804 duel.

Eliza believed George Washington was her father. Nine months before she was born, her mother spent one night with the general and became pregnant. Eliza's many attempts to reach her father gained her an invitation to Mount Vernon weeks before his death.

She met the love of her life, Aaron Burr, at President Washington's inauguration. While Aaron was in the capital serving as a senator, Eliza met wealthy wine merchant Stephen Jumel, and faked her own death to get Stephen to marry her. When Stephen fell from a cart and died in Eliza's arms, she was brought up on murder charges, which were dismissed. Aaron proposed to her and she became Mrs. Burr, her lifelong wish.

Eliza Jumel Burr

From Eliza Jumel Burr, Vice Queen of the United States:

July 11, 1804, a day I'll never forget, a Wednesday, I rose early from fitful sleep. Two of my servants huddled in the kitchen, murmuring instead of cooking. They held the newspaper wide open.

When I walked in, they froze as if turned to stone, and held the paper out to me.

"What is it?" Without fresh coffee I was half-awake. But seeing the paper, I trembled. My mouth dried up. "Oh, no." I hid my eyes with my hands, I couldn't bear to look.

"M-Miss Eliza..." Mary stammered. "Vice President Burr shot General Hamilton in a duel."

Too weak to stand, I grabbed a chair and sank into it. "He shot Hamilton?" My head spun, dizzy with relief. But I still didn't know about Aaron. "Is he all right? The vice president?"

"We don't know, ma'am. It just says General Hamilton was mortally wounded."

Without another word, I ran down the hall, threw open the front door, not closing it behind me, and raced to Gold Street in the gathering morning heat. Humidity soaked my clothes. I mopped sweat from my face.

I banged on his door. No answer. "Aaron, open the door, it's me, please, we need to talk!" I banged again. Echoes answered me. He'd fled. But where? When would I see my beloved again?

Hamilton died the next day, and the city fell to its knees in mourning.

The tolling church bells and muffled drumbeats echoed through the sweltering city air.


   I saw Mrs Hamilton on Broad Way, head to toe in widow's weeds. I wanted to approach her and offer my condolences, but she knew I was intimate with the vice president, so I kept my distance. Their country home, The Grange, was not far from the Morris mansion I planned to buy. We'd be neighbors someday.

Purchase ELIZA JUMEL BURR from Amazon

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

On this day in 1842, Nathaniel & Sophia Hawthorne Began Their First Full Day as Husband & Wife.


Salem, Massachusetts witnessed horrific and shameful events in 1692 that haunted the town for three centuries. Accused as witches, nineteen innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death. Judge John Hathorne and Reverend Nicholas Noyes handed down the sentences. One victim, Sarah Good, cursed Noyes from the hanging tree: “If you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink!” She then set her eyes on Judge Hathorne. “I curse you and your acknowledged heirs for all time on this wicked earth!” Hathorne was not only Sarah Good’s merciless judge; he also fathered her son Peter and refused to acknowledge him.

In 1717, Nicholas Noyes choked on his own blood and died. Every generation after the judge continued to lose Hathorne land and money, prompting the rumor of a family curse. By the time his great great grandson Nathaniel was born, they faced poverty.

Ashamed of his ancestor, Nathaniel added the ‘w’ to his last name. His novels and stories explore his beliefs and fears of sin and evil, and he based many of his characters on overbearing Puritan rulers such as Judge Hathorne.

Hawthorne's birthplace, Salem, MA

When Nathaniel first met Sophia Peabody, they experienced instantaneous mutual attraction. Sparks flew. He rose upon my eyes and soul a king among men by divine right, she wrote in her journal.

But to Sophia’s frustration, Nathaniel insisted they keep their romance secret for three years. He had his reasons, none of which made sense to Sophia. But knowing that he believed Sarah Good’s curse inflicted so much tragedy on his family over the centuries, she made it her mission to save him. Sarah was an ancestor of Sophia’s, making her and Nathaniel distant cousins—but she kept that to herself for the time being.

Sophia suffered severe headaches as a result of childhood mercury treatments. She underwent routine mesmerizing sessions, a popular cure for many ailments. Spirits sometimes came to her when mesmerized, and as a spiritualist and medium, she was able to contact and communicate with spirits. She knew if she could reach Sarah and persuade her to forgive Judge Hathorne, Nathaniel would be free of his lifelong burden.

Sarah Good’s son Peter had kept a journal the family passed down to the Peabodys. Sophia sensed his presence every time she turned the brittle pages and read his words. John Hathorne’s legitimate son John also kept a journal, now in the Hawthorne family’s possession. Living on opposite sides of Salem in 1692, Peter and John wrote in vivid detail about how the Salem trials tormented them throughout their lives.

Nathaniel finally agreed to announce their engagement, and married Sophia on July 9, 1842. They moved into their first home, The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. Wanting nothing else but to spend the summer enjoying each other, we became Adam and Eve, alone in our Garden of Eden, Sophia wrote in her journal.

The Old Manse, Concord, MA

As success eluded Nathaniel, they lived on the verge of poverty. After being dismissed from his day job at the Salem Custom House, he wrote The Scarlet Letter, which finally gained him the recognition he deserved. But the curse he believed Sarah cast on his family still haunted him. In the book he asks for the curse to be lifted.

Sophia urged Nathaniel to write a novel about the house, knowing it would be cathartic for him. While they lived in Lenox, Nathaniel finished writing The House of the Seven Gables. The Gothic novel explored all his fears and trepidations about the curse. He told Sophia, “Writing it, and especially reading it aloud to you lifted a tremendous burden off my shoulders. I felt it physically leave me. I carried this inside me since my youth and couldn’t bring it out to face it. And I have you, and only you, to thank.”

Nathaniel's desk in the Old Manse

But he did not believe the curse could be lifted.

Sophia invited renowned spiritualist John Spear to The House of the Seven Gables. She explained that she needed to complete one final step to convince Nathaniel the curse was lifted.

The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA

John Spear urged Nathaniel to forgive Judge Hathorne. “You don’t have to say it out loud,” John said. “Just forgive him in your heart.”

Nathaniel whispered his forgiveness.

John, Nathaniel and Sophia went to Judge Hathorne’s gravesite to give the journals proper burial.

I live near Salem and have been to all the Hawthorne landmarks there, and in Concord. The House of the Seven Gables has been my favorite house in the world since I'm a kid. I've always felt a strong spiritual connection to Salem, and always wanted to write one of my books set there, including the witch trials.

I read several of his books and stories, to get a better background on him. Nathaniel wrote from the heart, about his true beliefs, and his loathing of how the witch victims were treated. He did consider it disgraceful, and it certainly was. He added the 'w' to his last name to distance himself from the judge. That tormented him and his family all his life. It must have been cathartic to him to have his writing as his outlet.

Visit Salem

I was fortunate to get a private tour of the House of the Seven Gables when I was writing the book; two of the guides, Ryan Conary and David Moffat, showed me around, and it was fabulous.

 An Excerpt From FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE (Sophia and Nathaniel’s visit to his cousin Susan Ingersoll at The House of the Seven Gables)

I went over to a curio cabinet and swept my eyes over the items on the shelves—a china doll wearing a calico dress, a stack of gold cups and saucers, a red and blue glass checkerboard propped up to display its surface…and a wooden hammer on the top shelf. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a gavel that judges use in trials. Out of curiosity I picked it up and a shock ran through me as if electrified. Dear God, was it that gavel?
I dropped it to the rug. It landed with a thump. I bent to retrieve it. Somehow I knew it wouldn’t shock me this time—that was only an initial warning. “Something about it made me want to touch it, to pick it up and hold it.”
Nathaniel approached me. He stared at the gavel in my hand, horror darkening his eyes. His lips parted but no words emerged. I knew what he was thinking—the curse. He turned to his cousin, pointing at the gavel, his arm trembling.
Susan hurried over to us, took it from me and placed it back on the shelf. “Yes, it’s Judge Hathorne’s. What happened, Sophie? Are you all right?”
I looked down at my open hands, palms up. They burned as if I’d touched a hot poker. “That gavel—it carries something evil. Has anything happened to you with this, Susie?”
Nathaniel backed away and before Susan could answer me, he grasped her arm. “I begged you to get rid of that accursed thing! You know it shouldn’t be here!”
She looked from him to me, heaving a deep sigh. “I’m not inclined to dispose of it, Natty. It’s a family heirloom, notwithstanding its past.”
He gripped the chair, his face drained of color. “It’s downright evil. You know what he used that thing for.”
She held her hands up in surrender. “Very well, I’ll conceal it.” She took it off the shelf and slid it behind the checkerboard.
“That should not be in this house!” He stood his ground, his eyes fixed on the checkerboard as if it would melt in such close proximity to that horrid object.
“It’s fine there, Natty. It’s concealed from sight now.” She looked at me and gestured for me to sit again. I sat and gulped my sherry.
“Nathaniel’s always overcome with distress at the witch trials.” Susan explained what I already knew.
“And so should you be,” he cut in.
“If I must speak for Judge Hathorne, I heard stories of him from my grandfather.” Susan looked from Nathaniel to me. “The whole hysteria that caught up the judge was started by unscrupulous men to further their own riches. But spectral evidence was still admissible. No sane person could believe that blithery.”