Book Spotlight: The Immigrant by Alfred Woollacott

The ImmigrantPaperback: 416 pages

Publication Date: January 1, 2015

A historical saga that covers a winter of 1650/1651 journey of John Law, a young Scotsman captured by the English Lord Cromwell’s forces in seventeenth century Scotland during “The Battle of Dunbar”. He survives a death march to Durham, England and is eventually sent to Massachusetts Bay Colony as an indentured servant, arriving aboard the ship “Unity” that was carrying around 150 prisoners of war from different Scottish clans. Now an outcast, and in the sanctuary of the new colony, John starts over as an immigrant in a Puritan theocracy. He is first indentured to the Saugus Iron Works and then to Concord as a public shepherd in West Concord (now Acton). The young man faces obstacles often beyond his control, and his only ally is his faith. After his indenture is served he struggles a near lifetime to obtain title to his promised land. From start to finish “The Immigrant” is an intoxicating journey that follows the travails of John, his faith in God, his good wife and growing family.

What readers are saying about The Immigrant:

“Woollacott has the rare ability to capture the nuance of the historical narrative while imbuing his characters with a crackling rich dialogue that springs from the pages. As one reads through the story, one becomes transported to an immensely important time in our history, seeing exactly how they lived, and died, and struggled, and the enormous forces that weighed against their new way of life and culture, both from Great Britain and from the Indian tribes with whom they have to co-exist.” -Amazon Review

“By the end of the novel, you will find that it is not just John Law going through his daily routine, but you too are there with him, toiling in the fields to shape his “New Scotland”.” -Amazon Review

“Excellent historical fiction based on the authors ancestor. If you love history you will get a great sense of what our forefathers endured when immigrating to America.” – Amazon Review

About the Author:

Alfred W

Alfred Woollacott, III retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

When not writing, Al serves on several Boards, and keeps physically active with golf, tennis, and hockey. He and his wife of 44 years, Jill, have four children and ten grandchildren.

Social Media Links:




Twitter  @AlWoollacott

Tour Schedule: Blog Stops

April 16th

Book Review – Locks, Hooks and Book

April 17th

Book Review- before the second sleep

Book Excerpt – A Bookaholic Swede

April 18th

Guest Post – A Literary Vacation

Special Spotlight at Layered pages


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On This Day in History

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On a blustery April 7, 1844, Joseph Smith stepped to the podium to address the congregation gathered for the general conference. Smith’s friend, Elder King Follett, had died a month earlier from accidental injuries. As Joseph scanned the more than twenty thousand gathered on the banks of the Mississippi, they expected he would eulogize his friend’s tragic death. Smith splayed his arms and said, “May the Lord strengthen my lungs and stay the winds.”

Smith went on to deliver his most important sermon. In Richard Lyman Bushman’s book Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, he notes that literary critic Harold Bloom called the sermon ‘one of the truly remarkable sermons ever preached in America’. As Smith concluded, the clouds had parted, sun shone on Nauvoo, and the winds had been stayed. Within three months of his eloquence, an angry mob murdered Smith and his brother while they were in a Carthage jail cell.

In The Believers in the Crucible Nauvoo, amid controversy swirling in Nauvoo on 26 May 1844, George Taggart reflected on his prophet’s words delivered earlier. Below is the relevant part of the chapter.


As George waited to hear from Joseph Smith, he reflected. Several weeks earlier, he had attended a general conference, which occurred shortly after the death of Elder King Follett. Joseph took the occasion to speak about death in general rather than eulogize his friend’s tragic demise. George had hoped for inspiration since at the time he was still grieving his father’s and Oliver’s deaths. He received more, which now replayed as he waited.

On that day, Joseph approached the podium as dark clouds loomed and trees swayed. He gripped his lapels and said. “May the Lord strengthen my lungs and stay the winds.” The leaves continued to flap, yet George heard every word Joseph had said.

“God himself was once as we are now, an exalted man, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens. If the veil were rent today, and God was made visible, you would see him like a man — like yourselves.”

When George first heard those words, he was confused. “How can I or any man become a God?” But as quickly as he had questioned, the Prophet answered.

“When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and ascend step by step until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.”

As the Prophet continued to expound, George reflected on his life. He had taken his first step toward exaltation when he was baptized, and his father’s and brother’s deaths had brought him higher up the ladder, closer to God. “Am I becoming more Godlike?” He had pondered, still unconvinced and hoping for answers.

“The mortal body has a beginning and an end. Thus, here is your eternal life; to know the only wise and true God. Learn to be Gods yourselves by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you sit in glory with those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”

As Joseph continued, George had realized mortal existence is brief and the spirit is eternity, a spirit the same as God. As the sermon ended, the clouds had parted, creating darkness on either side of the blue skies above Nauvoo; and the winds had been stayed. As George left, he had an enriched view on living his life – as he was now, God once was; and as God is now, he could be.

Soon after Joseph’s King Follett sermon, the apostates had proclaimed Joseph a fraud saying, “Mortal men becoming Gods is utter blasphemy.” The apostates’ rhetoric continued, and William Law, the most outspoken, accused Joseph of adultery, creating deeper church schisms and fanning anti-Mormon flames. The hullabaloo that followed continued to trouble George.

Now as Joseph arose to speak, George prayed he would respond and vanquish the apostates’ mistruths. Joseph’s stride lacked its usual vigor. His smile seemed contrived. He appeared as beset upon as George was feeling. He didn’t grip the podium with authority, but slouched, using it as a crutch. His opening remarks were barely audible. George feared his Prophet’s recent tribulations had taken their toll. But Joseph cleared his throat, and a vigor came into his voice. . . .

By Alfred Woollacott

Previously published on My Four Legged Stool

About the Author:

Alfred Woollacott, III retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

When not writing, Al serves on several Boards, and keeps physically active with golf, tennis, and hockey. He and his wife of 44 years, Jill, have four children and ten grandchildren.

Layered Pages Interview with Alfred Woollacott HERE

Alfred’s second book. The Believers In Crucible Nauvoo is on sale for 99 cents on the Amazon Kindle for a short time. Get your copy today!

About the Book:

From the author of The Immigrant, another stimulating novel that will linger with you regardless of your faith or beliefs.

After enduring early parental deaths, Naamah Carter discovers renewed meaning to her strong Christian beliefs through Joseph Smith’s testaments. His following in Peterborough, New Hampshire flourishes, yet Naamah, her beloved Aunt Susan, and other believers suffer family strife and growing community resentment. She leaves her unfriendly situation and journeys to Nauvoo to be among thousands building their Prophet‘s revelation of an earthly Zion on a Mississippi River promontory. There, her faith is tested, enduring loss of loved ones and violence from those longing to destroy Nauvoo. With the western exodus imminent, she faces a decision that runs counter to her soul and all she holds sacred – whether to become Brigham Young’s plural wife.

This meticulously researched novel weaves the momentous events of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and Brigham Young’s succession with Naamah’s story and offers differing perspectives to create a mosaic of Nauvoo, the crucible out of which arose today’s Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

Read the first chapter of The Believers In Crucible Nauvoo HERE 

Moments to Cherish

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Yesterday morning I went for a lovely stroll in my neighborhood before meeting two of my literary friends for a late lunch at Grace 1720 in Norcross Georgia. On my stroll I took the time to look at the landscape around me and opened my mind to the sounds of nature. People need to take the time in the day for oneself to reflect and to appreciate what we have. Too often we are so focused on any hardships that we are going through, we lose sight of the good.

Ana Raquel is working on a story and Deborah Mantella is working on her second book to be published hopefully soon! They both have so many creative ideas that inspires me to keep working on my own stories and projects. Deborah’s story. “My Sweet Vidalia” is a wonderful read and this is a book that you want to hold the book in your hand. Below is the book blurb and I want to encourage you all to read her story. Women especially….

Tomorrow, I’m sharing a chapter from Janet Stafford’s book series, Saint Maggie. This is an important series for our American History on several levels and I hope you take the time to come back tomorrow to read a sample of her work.

Before I sign off, I want to thank all the book bloggers and readers out there for supporting stories and the authors who write them. Happy Easter and God bless.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah MantellaMy Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella

On July 4, 1955, in rural Georgia, an act of violence threatens the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal Jackson’s pre-born daughter. Despite the direst of circumstances, the spirit of the lost child refuses to leave her ill-equipped young mother’s side.

For as long as she is needed―through troubled pregnancies, through poverty, through spousal abuse and agonizing betrayals―Cieli Mae, the determined spirit child, narrates their journey. Serving as a safe place and sounding board for Vidalia’s innermost thoughts and confusions, lending a strength to her momma’s emerging voice, Cieli Mae provides her own special brand of comfort and encouragement, all the while honoring the restrictions imposed by her otherworldly status.

Vidalia finds further support in such unlikely townsfolk and relations as Doc Feldman, Gamma Gert and her Wild Women of God, and, most particularly, in Ruby Pearl Banks, the kind, courageous church lady, who has suffered her own share of heartache in their small Southern town of yesteryear’s prejudices and presumptions.

My Sweet Vidalia is wise and witty, outstanding for its use of vibrant, poetic language and understated Southern dialect, as well as Mantella’s clear-eyed observations of race relations as human relations, a cast of unforgettable characters, an in-depth exploration of the ties that bind, and its creative perspective. My Sweet Vidalia is a rare, wonderful, and complex look at hope, strength, the unparalleled power of unconditional love, and a young mother’s refusal to give up.

**In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.

Book Review: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Grief CottageGrief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Bloomsbury USA

General Fiction (Adult)

Pub Date 06 Jun 2017

After his mother’s death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she’d moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.

The islanders call it “Grief Cottage,” because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty-years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.

Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that–an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.

My thoughts:

The story has strong characters and the protagonist, Marcus, is an old soul or how old was he really telling this story? I was never quite sure and at times I felt like there was too much telling rather than showing. He doesn’t have childhood friends really and he relates to adults more than children his own age. His Aunt Charlotte-who takes him in after his mother dies- is quite an odd bird and values her privacy in extreme ways.

While the premise is an interesting one, I found it hard to get into and it took me sometime to finish the book. When I finally got to the ending it just seemed to end abruptly and I was dissatisfied, as I was hoping there would be a strong climax to the story. How is this a thriller ghost story? I didn’t come away with that feeling at all. The conflicts seemed muted to me.

On a positive note, much of the story is atmospheric and the setting is quite good.

I am sad to report I gave this book two stars.

I obtained a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley for my honest opinion.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

The Day of Storms by Stuart S. Laing Part III

The Day of Storms Final

Photo by Maxine Stewart

I’ve challenged Author Stuart S. Laing to write a story inspired by this photo shared on Facebook a few weeks ago and he accepted my challenge and wrote a short story called The Day of Storms that takes place in The Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, February 5th 1794. Today is Part III and in this story, you will meet Sarah, Rebecca Hopkins and a band of ruthless smugglers.



The Day of Storms Story coverThere followed a tense ten minutes. The sisters sat, hands clutching each other, horrified as they realised their very lives were in deadly peril through stumbling unwittingly into this viper’s nest of smugglers. The smugglers themselves were equally silent as they drank their ale and brandy. Only the baleful looks they cast towards the young women spoke of their cruel intentions. When Bobbie finally returned, stamping snow off his boots, with a cold smile on his face what little hope still lingering in the women’s hearts withered and died. He sneered in their direction as he said, “George has seen no’one else enter the village but for the coach. There’s no tracks in the snow either. They’re on their own.”

The doorkeeper, now clearly revealed to be the leader of this band of smugglers, gave the sisters a pitying look. “So you truly chanced upon us by no more than a cruel twist of fate?” He shook his grey head with amusement momentarily twinkling in his dark eyes. “Jings, of all of the doors you could have thought to knock on you had to come knocking on mine! Well then, young Misses Hopkins, what are we to do with you?”

“You can do as you promised,” Rebecca said with a defiant tilt of her chin. “Have your man deliver the note to our coach. We intend to be on our way home as soon as possible. Believe me, sir, we have no more desire to spend a moment longer here than is absolutely necessary. This has been a day of storms, let there be no further trouble between us. Thus far you have said nothing we could use to show you, and your friends, are involved in anything illegal, have you? We have simply taken shelter in your tavern. There is nothing else we could possibly tell father other than that simple fact.”

“That simple fact, eh?” he replied, one hand cupping his bearded chin as though considering her words carefully. “And Sir Hector, the king’s own man in Fife, a man with a burning desire to put an end to smuggling on the Fife coast once and for all, will take you at your word, will he? No, unfortunately I think I know the man well enough after all these years of making sure I always stay one step ahead of him and the Excise to say that he would not be long in coming to pay me a visit. I’m sorry, girls, I truly am, but I can’t go letting you put any naughty ideas in his head.”

“Father knows where we are,” Rebecca said urgently while Sarah seemed to shrink beside her. “And you know that this tavern is the very first place he will come looking.”

“That is probably very true,” he conceded with a lazy smile. “Do you know that I have lost count of the number of times he and his men have torn this place apart looking for contraband. Can you guess how many times he has found anything? Not once. Do you want to know why?”

“Because you aren’t smugglers?” Sarah gasped out through a terrified sob as she clutched at her sister’s hands. “You are just honest, decent men who have done nothing wrong. Father has found no contraband for there is none to be found, sir. Father will know you are a good man who did no more than offer shelter to his daughters when ill fortune left us stranded here.”

“Well said, Miss Hopkins. But in all truth this tavern is built on contraband. Your father just doesn’t know where to look.” He pointed a thick finger towards the blazing fire while gazing at the beautiful but terrified faces before him. “When I said this place was built on contraband, I meant it. Bobbie, Alfie, would you be kind enough to show our guests where their room for the night is?”

With dark laughter the two men brushed past the girls to kneel before the fire. A heavy flagstone on either side of the hearth was, with little difficulty, raised and slid a few inches to the side to reveal narrow recesses carved into the stone of the hearth. A metal rod was inserted into this recess on either side and was used to swing the heavy stone upwards to mask the fire but for a few inches at the top. Now revealed were a set of steep steps leading down into darkness.

“Well, girls, down you go then,” Bobbie sneered. “Best take a candle. It’s dark down there.”

“And don’t bother shouting. Once that hearth is back in place you could fire a cannon down there and no’one would be any the wiser,” the doorkeeper added with a shrug as unwillingly the sisters fearfully, and carefully, descended the firm wooden steps. As soon as Sarah’s head was low enough the hearth was lowered back into place and the only sound was their own breathing.

*             *             *

The steps delivered the Hopkins into a long, narrow, arched cellar of well-dressed stone. On every side lay all that had illegally been brought ashore. Dozens of barrels of brandy, gin, rum and wine lay stacked neatly by racks of muskets, powder and shot. Three small barrels of gun powder sat alone on a wooden rack with a dark lantern sitting by them. Rebecca, using the candle she had brought, quickly lit this before passing the candle on to her shaking sister. “Look,” she hissed as she examined a crest on one of the barrels of black powder. “It says Republique Francois, They’re not just smugglers. They are damned Jacobins! That is why they have all these muskets. They intend to bring the Revolution here. We risk suffering the Reign of Terror right here in Fife!”

Sarah, her heart thudding painfully in her chest, clutched her cloak about her shivering body as she edged forward a few inches to look at the gunpowder before shaking her head. “I think it is more likely it signifies no more than something else those rogues can sell for easy profit.”

Rebecca dismissed her words with a wave of one hand as she stalked the length of the cellar pointing the lantern light into every corner. Finally, she stopped and turned to face Sarah. “They mean to kill us!”

“I know,” came the frightened reply.

“Well then, we just have to make sure that doesn’t happen, won’t we?”

Stuart LaingAbout the Author:

Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie.

He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spent most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him.

Despite the vast panorama of Scotland’s history, he always finds himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters.

He would urge all visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.

Author Website 

Stuart’s books on Amazon 

Part I

Part II

Part IV will be posted next Friday.

Don’t Lose Sight

Me outside October 2017

Previously published at L.A.P. it Marketing LLC

I have worked in the book industry for five plus years and have worked with international bestselling authors, award winning authors, publishers, and I am a big supporter of self-publishing. I continue to help authors create a brand on social media to reach a wider audience. Branding is vital for the success of your book and creating new marketing strategies is a must. Having said this, you must not lose sight of why you tell stories or you will lose your readership. When marketing, put yourself in the reader’s shoes, what would you like to see from your favorite authors? What do you want to hear them talk about? What inspires you to want to read stories? Ponder on these things and you’ll find yourself coming up with new ways in showcasing your stories in far more interesting ways than the “buy me” marketing strategy.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

L.A.P. it Marketing LLC

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Far Too many Elephants


Janet Stafford’s opening line to her recent blog post, “There’s no place like home,” captured my attention because I entirely agree with her. That line led me to read on and I discovered just how much more meaning her novel Seeing The Elephant means.

“There’s no place like home. Unless there are a quantity of elephants about you’re not in India or Africa…”


Another quote from Janet’s Far Too many Elephants:

“Speaking of big bugs, one had already moved in during our absence. His name was Josiah Norton, an industrialist who already owned several mills out east around Paterson and now possessed a woolen mill and uniform factory south of Blaineton. The man knew how to take advantage of the war. The government was more than willing to pony up the cash for his merchandise. But then again, Maggie’s brother Samuel was doing the same thing over at this carriage factory after he had converted to making wagons for the Army.”

“So that’s the set up for a tale woven around human frailty and foibles as they do battle with the power of love and hope. Yessir, Blaineton was headed toward a big blow up of some sort. It was far too many elephants for me to take in.”

Read the full blog post and learn more about Janet’s books  HERE

Stephanie M. Hopkins