B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Awakening by Carol Davis Luce

Behind closed doors, a young mind is awakened to a world bigger than innocent brown eyes can imagine. Suzy Kovak learns early how to keep a secret.

One secret she didn’t keep. “When I was six, I sat Danny down on the curb and told him his mother was his grandmother and his sister was his mother—and that made him a bastard. A bastard, I said, was a really bad thing to be. It sent him into his house wailing, and bought us a one-way ticket out of my Aunt Flora’s court complex.”

Latchkey kids, Suzy and her brother, watch out for each other until he finds a new best friend. Forced to fend for herself, Suzy becomes a target for bullies. Growing up in Southern California in the 50s wasn’t exactly root beer floats and sock hops. Their single mother struggles to keep the family together. Suzy feels lucky to get in good the cool kids who would cut their mark into the flesh of anyone clumsy enough to cross the gang. Tough teen-agers take care of themselves. Yet sometimes a girl still needs her mom even if her mom is less than perfect.

Suzy holds tight to her secrets—until she meets the one person who unlocks her mind and sets the secrets free.

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Sunday Book Highlight


Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA National Park


Since her last expedition to the Statue of Liberty, Little Miss HISTORY is flying across the  North American continent to the recesses of Sequoia National Park, where she is skydiving into its forest! Here in the “land of the living giants,” the reader will learn about the differences between redwood and sequoia trees and of its first inhabitants and wildlife. Through breathtaking illustrations, adventurers will traverse its trails and immerse themselves in the awesome beauty and magnificence of Sequoia National Park. Readers will also discover the hidden dangers lurking there.

About Author:

Award winning author Barbara Ann Mojica is a historian and retired educator living in New York State. Barbara spent more than forty years teaching in NYC in the fields of preschool, elementary and special education. She also served as a special education principal for a school devoted to developmentally delayed children and a special education administrator providing services to the special education population. Barbara, although retired from teacher, is staying busy: along with her series of Little Miss History travel books she writes historical pieces for The Columbia Insider, Pat Fisher and Ed Pollack Editors, under the banner “Passages.” Marrying her love of teaching and history, Barbara hopes her Little Miss History character will inspire children to learn about historical people and visit landmarks such as those in MOUNT RUSHMORE, The STATUE of LIBERTY, SEQUOIA National Park, and FORD’s THEATER, which are covered in the first four books of this series.

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This website contains previews of books in the series, book purchasing links, my email contact information, video, Little Miss HISTORY store merchandise, and link back to my blog.

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This is my blog which provides updates on the Little Miss History series, book reviews of family friendly books, book blasts, giveaways, and book blog tours.

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Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Author Anna Belfrage

A Newfound Land

I would like to welcome, Author Anna Belfrage back to Layered Pages today to talk about her B.R.AG. Medallion book, A Newfound Land. Hello, Anna! It is always a pleasure to have you visit with me to chat about your wonderful stories and to congratulate you on another B.R.A.G. Medallion!


Hi Stephanie, it’s very nice to be back – first and foremost to see you, but also because every little visit in the B.R.A.G. hot chair is a confirmation that my books appeal to discerning readers. As most authors, I suffer from bouts of insecurity, and being honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion is like receiving a quality certificate, a verification that my work is up to standard. Stops me from bingeing on chocolate for a while at least!

Your stories are wonderful as I have read them and the Grahams! They are one of my favorite families! I wish I could stop bingeing on chocolate! Ha!


Today I want to cover a few things about your story A Newfound Land and seeing as we talk quite a bit about your character, Alex, I would like to focus on Matthew Graham today. First, tell your audience a little about your story.


A Newfound Land is the fourth book in The Graham Saga. In this book, we meet Alex and Matthew in Maryland, where they are attempting to build a new life after their enforced emigration from Scotland. Life is hard, the forests are vast, and things aren’t made easier when both of them have to cope with the unexpected appearances of people from their respective pasts. Matthew comes eye to eye with a man he would have preferred never to meet again, while Alex must confront a disturbing reminder of her somewhat irregular background – and she works pretty hard to try and forget she was born in 1976, thereby being an anomaly in 17th century colonial Maryland.

What a life-changing decision for Matthew to make to move away from everything he has known and for his family. What are some of the emotions he felt and if it weren’t for Alex’s support, do you think he could have made a drastic decision like that?



Matthew didn’t have a choice. He knew that long before he worked up the courage to take the decision, because he’s smart enough to realise that staying in Scotland would eventually lead to either deportation or death. But to take the decision to tear his roots up and move elsewhere was heart wrenching: he felt as if he was betraying the generations that had gone before, who had struggled to keep their little manor intact from eldest son to eldest son. He worried that life on the other side of the sea would be anything but easy, and how was he to keep his family safe, so far away from the world he knows?

In all this, Alex had to keep a low profile – there when he needed her, but never too pushy. She watched his anguish and ached inside, but for Alex there never was a choice – they had to leave so as to safeguard their children’s future. Matthew knew her thoughts, knew she was right. He also knew that she would be there to help him carry the grief that she’d be by his side wherever they went. So yes, the day he finally squared those broad shoulders of his and told her they were leaving, he could only do so in the certainty that she’d be with him, every single step of the way. That’s how things are with them; they are each other’s strength and comfort, when one of them falters the other is there to support – always.

Why did they chose the Colony of Maryland to start their new life?


In 1649, the Colony of Maryland implemented an Act of Toleration, the first ever legislation intended to enforce some sort of religious freedom. In Maryland, Catholics were as welcome as were Presbyterians or Anglicans. The colony was therefore a haven for all those fleeing religious persecution. When Matthew Graham and his sizeable family arrived in 1668, the inhabitants of the colony lived in relative peace with each other, but generally the various faiths kept to themselves, so Providence (present day Annapolis) had a very small Catholic population, while St Mary’s City had very few Presbyterians. Anyway, from Matthew’s perspective Maryland offered an opportunity to recreate his life in an environment where he wouldn’t be persecuted for his Presbyterian beliefs. For Alex, Maryland was a place where she wouldn’t have to walk about with her heart thronging her throat with fear, as she’d been doing the last few years in Scotland, always fearing her Matthew would be arrested for nothing more but stubbornly clinging to his faith.

What is his children’s reaction to the New World?


Children take most changes in their stride as long as their parents are there to support them – and trust me, I’m talking from personal experience here. Children are also much more open to the possibilities and adventures a new place offers.

Ian, the eldest at almost fourteen, is very aware of his father’s feelings – from the grief at leaving his home to the concerns regarding their new life – and makes it his primary task in life to work side by side with Matthew, endless days spent toiling so as to build a cabin, clear a lot before winter is upon them. He also revels in the beauty of their new home, and together with Alex he explores the wild meadows, the river shores. Mark, the second eldest, is only eight and for him – as for his younger siblings – it is simple: where Da goes, there goes he, and if Da says this is home, then it is.

At this point in your series, what is an example of a hardship they face?


For Matthew it is very much about carving a working farm out of the wilderness. He has a large family to feed, and at times he feels daunted by the work required. When he is not clearing a field, he is at the saw pit, sawdust standing like a cloud round him as he and Ian produce each and every plank required to build their home. Add to this drudgery the threats posed by the Native Americans, the menace of the unsavoury Burley brothers, and Matthew has more than enough on his plate.

Could you please share an excerpt from your book?


Certainly! Below is a little scene where Matthew comes face to face with his previous tormentor, overseer of the plantation Suffolk Rose, where Matthew spent months in servitude.

Matthew weighed his pouch, thinking that the pelts had brought in much more than he’d expected. He left Ian to oversee the sale of the smoked trout and spent the following hour wandering the market, now and then making a purchase or two. The marketplace was crowded, the stalls set up in makeshift narrow rows that left thoroughfares at most three feet across. People thronged; there was a pleasant smell of barbecued meat and mulled wine, and from the livestock pens came a constant cackling, now and then interspersed with an indignant squeal. In a big stall standing by itself, old Mrs Redit was peddling spices – peppercorn, nutmeg and ginger, cinnamon sticks and cloves. She even had limes, and a few minutes later Matthew had concluded his business with her.

He was running late for his meeting with the new minister and extended his stride, but when he turned into the alley that led to the main street he came to an abrupt stop. The alley was short, steep and dank. Coming the other way was Jones, accompanied by three men who effectively blocked the whole passage. There was no way round him, and damned if Matthew intended to retreat.


“Mr Graham.” Jones inclined his head. He was as resplendent as yesterday, his linen newly changed, his black broadcloth breeches and matching coat of an elegant cut.

“Mr Jones.”

They both fell silent. Jones regarded Matthew, eyes resting for an instant on Matthew’s various parcels.

“I must be on my way.” Matthew tried to sidle past one of Jones’ men. An arm shot out, hindering him.

“Now, now, Mr Graham, why the hurry?” Jones nodded at his men, and in a matter of seconds Matthew was surrounded. Matthew wet his lips. He was only yards away from the main street, bustling with people, and should he need to he’d yell.

“It’s a pity you didn’t die back in Virginia,” Jones said. “As it is, I am not much pleased to find you here, in my new home.”

“Mine before it was yours,” Matthew said. “And I had hoped that by now someone would have rid the world of you, scavenging bastard that you are.”

“Tut-tut, Graham, I am not impervious to insult. You’d best be careful; I might feel obliged to defend my honour.”

“Honour? You?” Matthew took a step towards him, having the distinct pleasure of seeing Jones back off. “I could beat you with one hand tied behind my back.”

Jones chuckled. “Maybe you could, Mr Graham. But I would never be fool enough to challenge you outright, would I?” He leaned forward. “I rid my life of enemies discreetly – best you remember that.”

“A threat, Mr Jones? I wonder what the elders will say when I recount this to them.”

“I will deny it.” Jones tugged at his waistcoat, his fat hand caressing the wooden butt of the pistol that he carried stuck in his belt. “Stay away from me and mine, Graham. Let things lie, as they say, and I will do the same for you.”

“And if I don’t?”

Jones smiled – a nasty, cold grimace. “You have sons. Who knows what might happen to them, eh?”

Matthew dropped his purchases, grabbed Jones by the collar and shoved him back against the nearby wooden wall. “How dare you,“ he hissed.

“Take your hands off me,” Jones said. “Do it now, or I swear I’ll have my men gut you like a fish.”

Something prodded Matthew’s side and, reluctantly, he released his hold. Jones smoothed his collar back into place and bent to retrieve his hat.

“This is my town now.” Jones straightened up. “Keep that in mind, Graham.”


How would Matthew handle today’s modern world if he was thrown through time. What would his reaction be?


I think he would be reeling under the masses of impressions, from neon lights to blaring traffic, to constant noise, to sky scrapers, to all the people. He’d blink at the artificial lighting, gape at how we live our lives well into the dark, he’d be utterly fascinated by airplanes and trains, but he would miss the horses, the somewhat slower pace at which his life progresses. He would wonder why people are in such a hurry, what they can possibly do behind the doors of all those offices that is so important that they have to spend the entire day there (good question, IMO). He’d gawk at the innovations in science and medicine, he’d finger our clothes and rather like the way his jeans fit him, showcasing his legs. He’d nod approvingly at the invention of the washing machine, thinking of Alex’s long days doing the laundry. He’d raise his brows when we showed him the dishwasher, thinking we’d gotten a tad too lazy. He’d be saddened by how we’ve lost touch with nature, shocked at how we exploit Earth without any consideration of future generations. In Matthew’s world, he builds for himself – but also for his sons, for their sons, and theirs. He plants trees he will never see grow to maturity to ensure they will be there for his future descendant. Modern man no longer thinks beyond our individual life span. He’d shake his head at how we live our lives in adoration of Mammon, and pity us for the way we seem to live in bubbles of loneliness, most of us so focused on “me” rather than “we”. And then he’d turn to me and ask me to take him back home.

One of the things that appeals to me most about the Grahams, is family loyalty. What is one of the key elements that keeps the Grahams together and their devotion to each other so strong?


Well, that one is easy: Love. There is nothing Alex would not do for Matthew – and vice-versa. Nothing at all. Same goes for their children: you harm a Graham child, and Matthew and Alex will come down upon you like a pile of rocks. Love is the foundation of every family, no matter how big or small. Without love – and the accompanying respect – there is nothing.

Time for fun questions! What is Matthews’s favorite meal that Alex prepares for him?



He’s very partial to her pork roll. She prepares it by carefully cutting the brisket so that she ends up with a relatively flat piece of meat which she then fills with herbs, finely chopped pork fat, apples if she has any, or prunes. She then rolls the whole thing together, ties it together and leaves it to simmer for some hours. As per Alex, this is when she would really want a modern oven, so as to acquire a nice crisp surface, but things being as they are, she heats one of her heavy skillets and browns the entire roll once it is done before leaving it to rest for an hour or so prior to slicing it. And with it she serves parsnips and cabbage.

Sitting by the fire what would Matthew and Alex be discussing? And if they were reading a book, what would it be?

They don’t have that many books. A Bible, John Donne’s collected work – Matthew is a big fan – a battered copy of Don Quijote, plus Shakespeare. Often, Matthew reads to Alex as she is sewing, and quite often he takes the opportunity to read her passages of the Bible in an effort to educate his wife in his faith. Alex remains somewhat skeptical, but enjoys listening to his voice. As to what they talk about, well it’s everything from the day-to-day, their children and their plans for their future. At times, Alex raises the issue of Matthew’s homesickness, and even if he is uncomfortable admitting to it – and discussing it – she never lets him off. Sometimes, these conversations become heated, with him expounding about his lost home while she insists that this is home now – their home.


What is something private that they share that is only between them? Ahem, other than their affection for each other that is…. 

They have a thing about disco dancing. Well, I should probably explain that, as the idea of a 17th century man doing the moves to Saturday Night Fever is a bit odd, to say the least. You see, Alex is a big fan of disco dancing – something she’s inherited from her father, who really knows how to set a dance floor on fire. So when things get a bit tough, Alex will hum some disco song or other (very often It’s raining men) and do some moves to go with it. Matthew used to watch this with worried amusement, but seeing as the man is gifted with dancing feet of his own, he very quickly began to join in when Alex started dancing. Plus, he’s the far better singer, so these days it is often him singing – but he refuses to sing It’s raining Men, seeing as in his opinion Alex only needs one man – him. But this is something they only do when they’re alone, especially since Mrs. Parson once caught them at it and nearly dissolved in paroxysms of laughter…


Sometimes, Alex shares information about the world she comes from with Matthew and the kids….what is a something that she shared with them that totally captured their attention or really shocked them about the future?


Actually, most of the children never find out about Alex’s somewhat irregular background. Only Ian and Mark are ever told (in the next book of the series), and they react very differently: Ian asks questions more along the line to verify that Alex has no intention of ever trying to get back, while Mark is truly entranced by the idea of a future world. Alex, however, doesn’t like to talk about this with them, and so she is generally very evasive. The only person she does share things with is Matthew, but once again they are both made uncomfortable by all this, so the conversations tend to be about mundane things such as running water and central heating and the truly essential stuff like chocolate. It makes Matthew laugh when she goes on about the foodstuffs she misses, and now and then he pinches her hips and says it’s probably a good thing she doesn’t have access to all those sweet things. That makes Alex swat at him. Now and then, Alex talks about cars. Now that is a thing Matthew is really, really fascinated by, all of him lighting up at the idea of being able to transport himself at such speed. The thing that truly puzzles – and frightens – Matthew, is Alex’s insistence that in the modern world there is very little time for God. Matthew shivers inside at the idea of living in a day and age where people no longer have any interest in the divine.

What is the title of the next book in this wonderful series after A Newfound Land?



Serpents in the Garden in which Alex and Matthew have to handle one absconding son and his irregular marriage and one very unhappy son and his crumbling marriage. Plus, of course, we have the evil Burley brothers, there is the matter of the unfortunate time traveller Alex comes across in Providence and we see an entirely new side to Luke, Matthew’s dastardly brother.

  1. Where can readers buy your book? It’s available on Amazon, on Barnes and Noble, on Kobo and several other on-line book shops.
  2. Anna, it was a pleasure chatting with you! Do come back and chat with me soon and next time let us have a bit of cakey-as MM Bennetts would say. Shall I serve carrot cake? Thank you for inviting me over, Stephanie, and I would love to pop by again. After all, who can ever turn down carrot cake?



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About Author:

Anna Belfrage photo 2

I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred. I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Anna Belfrage, who is the author of, A Newfound Land, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, A Newfound Land, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Friday Night Book Review: Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey

finding Rebecca

Nothing could keep Christopher and Rebecca apart: not her abusive parents, or even the fiancé she brought home after running away to England. But when World War II finally strikes the island of Jersey, the Nazi invaders ship Rebecca to Europe as part of Hitler’s Final Solution against the Jewish population.

After Christopher and his family are deported back to their native Germany, he volunteers for the Nazi SS, desperate to save the woman he loves. He is posted to Auschwitz and finds himself put in control of the money stolen from the victims of the gas chambers. As Christopher searches for Rebecca, he struggles to not only maintain his cover, but also the grip on his soul. Managing the river of tainted money flowing through the horrific world of Auschwitz may give him unexpected opportunities. But will it give him the strength to accept a brave new fate that could change his life—and others’ lives—forever?


I have to say that I was moved to tears and anguish at the atrocities of the Nazi Camps that are described in this story. The authors does not hold back on the brutality and utter evil of the Nazi SS. This is probably the most profound, emotional historical fiction book on World War II that I have read in a long time. At first I had to take the story in small dosages. Not because it wasn’t written well. Quite the contrary. The story was told so well that as I said above, I was moved to tears…

Each character in the book played an important role in the story and Christopher’s courage and honor to find Rebecca is extraordinary. What he witnessed and had to endure in Auschwitz will be forever stamped on my soul.

One can tell when reading this story that the authors detail to the Nazi Camps are extremely well researched and I admire the authors attention to the history of how the Nazi’s fooled for a time or deceived-if you will- all for their evil gain. Even many of the Nazi were brainwashed and really thought what they were doing was right. There was much I have to admit I didn’t know about and it was brought to light in this book.

I will remember this story for a long time to come and I highly recommend it.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Interview with Author Deborah Lincoln

Agnes Cannons War

Publication Date: October 1, 2014 Blank Slate Press

Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback

Pages: 300

Genre: Historical Fiction

“I saw a woman hanged on my way to the Pittsburgh docks…”

Agnes Canon is tired of being a spectator in life, an invisible daughter among seven sisters, meat for the marriage market. The rivers of her Pennsylvania countryside flow west, and she yearns to flow with them, explore new lands, know the independence that is the usual sphere of men.

This is a story of a woman’s search for freedom, both social and intellectual, and her quest to understand what freedom means. She learns that freedom can be the scent and sound of unsettled prairies, the glimpse of a cougar, the call of a hawk. The struggle for freedom can test the chains of power, poverty, gender, or the legalized horror of slavery. And to her surprise, she discovers it can be found within a marriage, a relationship between a man and a woman who are equals in everything that matters.

It’s also the story of Jabez Robinson, a man who has traveled across the continent and seen the beauty of the country and the ghastliness of war, as he watches his nation barrel toward disaster. Faced with deep-seated social institutions and hard-headed intransigence, he finds himself helpless to intervene. Jabez’s story is an indictment of war in any century or country, and an admission that common sense and reasoned negotiation continue to fail us.

As Agnes and Jabez struggle to keep their community and their lives from crumbling about them, they must face the stark reality that whether it’s the freedom of an African from servitude, of the South from the North, or of a woman from the demands of social convention, the cost is measured in chaos and blood.

This eloquent work of historical fiction chronicles the building of a marriage against the background of a civilization growing – and dying – in the prelude to civil war.

Hello, Deborah! It is a pleasure chatting with you today and I would like to say that you have done an absolutely splendid job writing your story, Agnes Canon’s War. I finished reading it last week and I greatly admire your attention to the culture of the American nineteenth century. What first drew you to this period?

Thank you! I’m happy to be here and so glad you enjoyed ACW. I’ve had a fascination for the Civil War era ever since my visited Gettysburg when I was probably ten years old. So when a cousin compiled the basic facts about my great-great-grandparents, Agnes and Jabez Robinson, I was intrigued by their experiences during that war and wanted to know more about what they must have gone through.

I have to admit I haven’t read much about the Civil War era in the border state of Missouri. Why did you chose this setting for your story?

The main reason is that northwest Missouri is where my ancestors settled, and where their actual story played out. Agnes Canon’s War is based on fact, and I tried to keep the novel as true to the actual history as possible. The town of Lick Creek in the novel is actually the town of Oregon, Missouri, a delightful and very rural village north of St. Joseph, not far from the Missouri River. The bonus for me was that many people don’t know much about the Civil War west of the Mississippi, or how affected the people of Missouri were by fighting that disrupted their homes. It helps ACW stand out, I think, from most other novels about the Civil War.

What is one of the challenges Agnes faces while searching for the freedoms she longs for?

Margaret Fuller, America’s first feminist (she lived from 1810 to 1850) railed against all the challenges women in the nineteenth century faced. “Education,” she complains, “was not to prepare women for professions and public life but . . . that they may become better companions and mothers for men.” That kind of attitude was a huge stumbling block for any woman who hopes to determine her own future.

That’s a challenge we’re all familiar with. But I think one challenge that Agnes felt most keenly was the inability to travel alone. It simply wasn’t done for women to head off for the west the way Jabez did, to see and experience new places, unless she was accompanied by male relatives. That, to me, is a restriction that had to be suffocating for her.

Please tell your audience a little about Agnes and Jabez Robinson’s relationship in the beginning…

They were attracted, immediately, both of them. The encounter in Cincinnati was one of those jolts when you know there’s something there, something to fantasize about. Jabez, though he loved his first wife, had by then lost his passion for her, and Agnes’s strength and intelligence captivated him. I think in the early years, after his first wife’s death, they became friends. The idea that she would never marry had become a comfortable habit with Agnes; Jabez wasn’t sure he could convince her that independence and equality between a man and a woman can exist within a marriage. The depth of their friendship and love eventually overcame those impediments.

Besides the civil war what are some of the challenges happening during the nineteenth century? Like for example, education, how civilization is growing and so forth.

Ethnic upheavals may have been the most difficult challenge of those times. What to do with freed slaves, of course, was a gigantic challenge – many people, including Abraham Lincoln, hoped to relocate them to Africa or to Caribbean islands. But relations with Native Americans were also a challenge throughout the war. In 1862, thirty-eight Sioux warriors were hanged (on Lincoln’s orders), the largest mass execution in American history.

There were challenges in assimilating other groups, as well. The Irish were discriminated against, Catholics weren’t welcome in many neighborhoods or professions. California legally prohibited Chinese immigration while the railroads were recruiting Chinese workers. Rapid industrialization after the war only exacerbated the differences between the haves and the have-nots.

Please tell me a little about Agnes’s Father and his relationship with her.

Daniel Canon simply did not understand his daughter. For one thing, she wasn’t a boy. And he was devastated by the fact that there would be no sons for him, no one to carry his name and his bloodline. The most he could hope for was a grandson, and to his way of thinking, that’s the only thing daughters were good for. It became apparent that Agnes was his only hope, and she disappointed him. Submissiveness, piety, passivity – that’s what he wanted from her. And there was no way she was going to give him that.

What motivates Jabez to travel across the continent during the ghastliness of war and what are some of the social conditions he encounters?

Jabez was a wanderer, an adventurer – as Eliza (his first wife) said, a rogue. He was restless, wanted to see the world, experience the wild, test himself against hardship and test his medical skills against the vast variety of diseases and accidents. He would have encountered primitive living conditions, greed and discrimination and avarice among the gold seekers, but also the excitement of a growing and expanding country in its “teen” years – the sense that anything was possible. When he was drawn into the war against Mexico in the southwest he would have encountered cultures that would seem almost exotic to him – a variety of different native cultures and the centuries-old Spanish and Catholic mission cultures of southern California.

Was there a particular scene in your story difficult to write?

Several. One that I had trouble with, though, was the scene where the men from Lick Creek visited Missouri’s Senator David Rice Atchison. Atchison wanted them to join him in claiming Kansas for the southern interests. The scene was difficult because I wanted it to be realistic, so I used actual phrases that Atchison used in speeches, but I needed the dialog and interactions to be natural, not stiff. It was hard avoid turning some of the historical characters into caricatures.

Which character are you partial to and why?

I love Agnes. She’s smart and funny and sassy, and didn’t let tragedy destroy her. But I have a special afinity for a couple of the minor characters, particularly Dick and Rose McDonald, the African American couple who are quietly capable and determined. And I adore little James with his black arrowhead.

Will you be writing other stories that take place during this era?

I’m working on one that takes place in the 1864 to 1868 time period, mostly in Montana during its wild territory days. And I’m noodling around with the idea of a sequel to Agnes Canon’s War: Agnes’s life in the gilded years of the 1870s and 1880s.

Thank you, Deborah!

Thank you, so much, for hosting me.


Deborah Lincoln grew up in the small town of Celina, among the cornfields of western Ohio. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan. She and her husband have three grown sons and live on the Oregon coast.

Of her passion for historical fiction, she says: “I’m fascinated by the way events—wars and cataclysms and upheavals, of course, but the everyday changes that wash over everyday lives—bring a poignancy to a person’s efforts to survive and prosper. I hate the idea that brave and intelligent people have been forgotten, that the hardships they underwent have dropped below the surface like a stone in a lake, with not a ripple left behind to mark the spot.”

Agnes Canon’s War is the story of her great great-grandparents, two remarkable people whose lives illustrate the joys and trials that marked America’s tumultuous nineteenth century.

For more information on Deborah Lincoln please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Praise for Agnes Canon’s War

“Impressively researched, it captures the brutality of the war in the West and the complicated, divided loyalties of the people who are caught up in it. Agnes Canon’s War will have readers anticipating the romance and dreading the battles in equal amounts.” -Steve Wiegenstein, author of Slant of Light and This Old World

“The characters are likeable, intelligent, humorous, spunky and passionate people whose zest for adventure is met and then some! Superb historical fiction this reviewer highly recommends.” – Historical Novel Society

“Agnes Canon’s War is brilliantly researched and written. Deborah Lincoln has successfully described the occurrences of the Civil War era in the border state of Missouri and the resultant emotions upon the inhabitants of the area. Many neighbors were bitterly opposed to one another, and severe heartache touched everyone. Lincoln’s writing places the reader in the midst of that turmoil. Her research is accurate and lends to a skillfully-designed background for Agnes Canon’s story. An example is her reference to Westport Landing. It is a little-known fact (even to most Missourians) that this original port on the Missouri River, located in the vicinity of today’s Grand and Main Streets, resulted in present-day Kansas City. This heartfelt book will likely impress even the most seasoned historians.” -William R. Reynolds, Jr. author of Andrew Pickens: South Carolina Patriot in the Revolutionary War and The Cherokee Struggle to Maintain Identity in the 17th and 18th Centuries

“Years ago in fiction workshop, this manuscript leaped out at me with the most memorable opening line I’d seen in forever: “I saw a woman hanged on my way to the Pittsburgh docks.”

On revisiting this story several years after my first beta-read of the whole novel, I was struck by how many details and scenes I remember. Historical fiction is not for the lazy writer. The tremendous amount of research that skilled writers weave into the narrative are simply amazing.

I’m afraid I’ll be guilty of plot spoilers if I mention some of my favorite scenes or the tragic events that really happened. I will say Jabez has a first wife, and Agnes befriends her to her dying day. That first wife has a fascination for what today would sound like New Age mysticism. Any reader who hates reading about war should keep going, because all sorts of intriguing historical issues and beliefs come to light in Agnes Canon’s world.

The prose is polished, the story spellbinding, the authenticity both inspiring and heartbreaking. Five stars!” -Carol Kean Blog, Book Reviews, Cosmic Rants

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Agnes Canon’s War Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 8 Review at Forever Ashley Review at Back Porchervations

Tuesday, December 9 Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Wednesday, December 10 Review at Too Fond

Friday, December 12 Review at Just One More Chapter Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Monday, December 15 Review at Luxury Reading

Wednesday, December 17 Review at Book Babe Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, December 18 Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Friday, December 19 Review at Boom Baby Reviews Interview at Layered Pages

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Interview with Author C. Behrens

C. Brehens

C. Behrens grew up in Pearl River, N.Y. and graduated from Dominican College (Blauvelt, NY) in 2010. In his last semester at D.C., Chris wrote his debut short story, The Paladin, in a creative writing class that was taught by Author Stephanie Stiles. While The Paladin didn’t earn any awards in the Lorian Hemingway Contest that same year, Lorian praised the story and said it was in her top 100. Chris followed that up with another top 100 story in 2011. Chris recently finished two more short stories: “Balls & Strikes-Learning to Hit” & “One More Day”. And he had a poem accepted to be published in “Sunflowers and Seashells”.In June 2010, Chris was a guest-blogger for Kathy Temean, the head of the NJSCBWI. Chris loves spending time with his daughters, who were the biggest inspiration for his children’s book. Chris continues to work for a small town government and coach H.S. basketball in his spare time.

Hello, Chris! Thank you for chatting with me today about your book, Savanna’s Treasure. Please tell me about your story.

My story is about the unlikely friendship between an African field mouse named Shamba and a baby elephant named Kali and the troubles they face in one of the wild places on earth: Africa’s Serengeti region!

Early in the story Shamba and his best friend Panya are freed from a poacher’s trap and upon returning to the human tent camp where they were living, they find the camp in ashes, burned down by poachers. And all of their human friends/protectors are gone. As poachers chase Panya and Shamba from the tent camp, the mice friends become separated. It isn’t long before Shamba befriends Kali and travels with her and her herd as they migrate north in search of water and greener grass. However, another scary encounter with the same gang of poachers leaves Kali and the herd scrambling for safety. In a dramatic battle between the matriarch of the herd and the nasty poachers, the matriarch manages to save Shamba and encourage Kali to be strong. Unfortunately, the matriarch is not heard from again and the herd is split up with several of the elders being surrounded by the poachers.

From this point on, Shamba and Kali find themselves alone on the Serengeti, where they encounter wild dogs, leopards and eventually pirates. The battle with the pirates happens aboard a ship after a brief stay at an elephant orphanage. At the orphanage, Shamba was reunited with his human friend, Sarah. She was Shamba’s and Panya’s main protector at the tent camp, so their reunion was meaningful for both. With Sarah on her way to the U.S., it is suggested that she bring Kali with her, so she could live at an elephant sanctuary. The traumatic events with the poachers have left her emotionally distressed.

The battle with the pirates leaves Kali injured and the decision is made for her to return the orphanage, to recover. But, she seems proud of her bravery aboard the ship and she is ready to return to the orphanage and be the strong leader that her grammy wanted her to be. Note that the pirates are actually the same poachers in my story, so my villain is the same throughout. During my research, I came across credible sources that stated poachers were also acting as pirates in that region of Africa. (This is a lot of info. and gives away the ending, maybe you can revise it just a bit to leave more mystery and make people want to find out what happens!)

Savanna's treasure book cover

What age group does this story fall under?

Kirkus Reviews called it: “…a good fit for early readers…” And Midwest Book Reviews said, “…it will be an enchanting tale for children in grades 2-4…” Midwest also said it is a great read for children and adults alike. I agree that it is a book that can be read by children of all ages, and I think adults will enjoy it, too. All that said, my target age group is the 7-11 age group, give or take a year or two.

What made you chose African for the setting of your story?

When I first had the idea for this story in 2006, my daughters were still into the Disney stuff, and we were watching a lot of Discovery channel shows that were set in the Serengeti. I’ve always enjoyed watching shows about nature, especially those with lions and cheetahs and elephants. I am intrigued by it all. I loved the new African Park in Disneyworld, and we visited Disney in 2007. I remember watching one documentary where a baby elephant became separated from her herd and was struggling in some deep water. I was shocked when a passing herd ignored her and actually knocked her trunk down. I remember thinking that that would make for a good story. A seed was planted!

What is the message in your story you would like young readers to grasp?

I would like all my readers, young and old, to come away with a positive feeling. To realize that one should never give up on anything, ever, and that we can sometimes enjoy the most unlikely of friendships. I hope they learn how important it is for all creatures to help one another, and how important it is to respect and help wildlife. If we lose it, it will be gone forever. And that will be sad.

Please give an example of a fun fact in your story.

My favorite fun fact has to be that mice are considered a delicacy in eastern Africa! I will never forget the look on my creative writing instructor’s face when I told her about this. She was floored and didn’t know what to say. I had been struggling to find the driving force of my story, and when I found that, things just took off. I felt like I had something similar to Charlotte’s Web. In the first few pages, I mention that mice are “tasty little creatures” for the local villagers. A ton of research went into this story and this was just one thing that I discovered. I haven’t met anyone who was aware of this fact. Google it and you will see. They are hunted over there and sold as treats!

Initially, I used the word delicacy in the story, but removed it. I went with tasty little creatures instead!

How long did it take you to write your story and who designed your book cover?

I began this story near the end of my sophomore year of college in 2006. However, between working full time, raising my two daughters (by myself) and going to school, it had to take a backseat until I finished school. I did work on it between semesters and whenever I had some free time. And received some great feedback from my creative writing instructor in the spring of 2010. Once I graduated in 2010, I was able to do the necessary research and really put some time into it. But taking on a second job in 2011 slowed things down a little. I didn’t stop working on it and kept writing other stuff. As noted in my brief biography above, I continued to write short stories and received some recognition in 2011 from the Lorian Hemingway Contest. In the spring of 2013, I decided that it was time to finish. So, for one year straight, I worked with a second editor and hired my illustrator, Kim Johnson, and released it in late March of 2014!

Kim Johnson designed my cover, and she also did the 12 interior illustrations. She had some design work featured on The Today Show in New York, and she had already been published so I knew she was a professional artist. Her other works featured colorful illustrations of lots of animals. I knew she was right for the project. She did a great job.

Have you received any recognition for your story?

Kirkus Reviews gave me a great review for the story. They said it is a great fit for early readers and has an inspiring animal alliance.

Midwest Book Reviews gave it an even better review, saying it was a great read for young and old alike. MBR nailed the primary age group as being grades 2-4. MBR loved how I depicted my characters. Here are some quotes from the Midwest review:


“Be forewarned, Savanna’s Treasure is about surviving adversity- and being an animal on the African plane, this includes a degree of violence – tastefully depicted, but present nonetheless.”

“…an overall powerful story line with fine drawings and you have a winning tale.”

“…C.Behrens does a fine job of creating personable creatures that are engaging and fun.”

The entire review is well written.


A local newspaper gave me a great write-up back in July.

Just recently, B&N’s Small Press Department reviewed my book and information and is planning to order copies for its shelves! A portion of this letter can be seen on my Facebook cover picture.


What book project are you currently working on?

I have an idea for Savanna’s Treasure II, but it’s just an idea right now. I have an adult novel that needs a lot of revising. It’s the novel version of my short story: The Paladin. The Paladin placed in the top 100 of the 2010 Hemingway Contest. It’s a story based on a real event. The novel version spans a longer period of time and is near and dear to me. I am also working on another short story.

Where in your home do you like to write?

I can write anywhere. In fact, when I am working on a project, I find myself making notes wherever I am: out to dinner, at stores, at work, even at the gym. I thought all my little notes on napkins, coffee cup sleeves, etc., etc. were a little odd until I read that Virginia Woolf did the same thing. I also thought my constant revising was crazy until I read that Raymond Carver revised relentlessly. Know that the first draft of Savanna’s Treasure was hand written in a notebook, and I saved it. I even have the original cover illustration that I did for it when I handed it to my professor. I eventually bought a MacBook, and it became my desk. Most often I will write in my living room even if my daughters are around and doing their daily routines. I grew up with 3 brothers and 2 sisters, so I learned to focus on my work in a noisy house. Occasionally, I need things quiet, and that’s when I go into my bedroom and work at a makeshift desk. I enjoy writing in my living room on Saturday mornings the best when the house is quiet.

Where can readers buy your book?

Right now my book is available everywhere online, but it should be available on shelves at B&N stores soon. I am waiting to hear back from them about where and when! I suggest buying it online at B&N for now. It can also be purchased at Amazon.com. Other online stores include Alibris and Powell’s. I hope to see it on shelves at some Indie Bookstores in the near future.

Thank you, Chris!

Thank you, Stephanie!!

Author Links:

Digital Journal

North Jersey.com


Midwest Book Review



B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree


“My death in ’59 came the way I always feared it would: in the claustrophobic underground heat of a Cape Breton coal mine.”

Luke MacIsaac has shameful secrets. He lived a horrible life and now that he’s dead, he can’t shake the memories of his entire violent past. He wants out of death, and to escape, he needs to be born again.

He chooses to live and sets in motion the very thing he’d hoped to avoid: images of war, childhood abuse, and the tortured life of a brother he loved and failed. To make matters worse, his life costs his chosen mother a great deal–especially since she wasn’t supposed to survive her own birth.

From tragedy and loss, ONE INSULAR TAHITI is a coming of age literary novel about reincarnation and past lives from a Canadian author that demonstrates how sometimes the greatest light can come from the deepest darkness.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Author Website