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Monday, April 24, 2017

"Surrendered" by Elaine Manders Book Tour and Giveaway On tour with Celebrate Lit

"Surrendered" by Elaine Manders Book Tour and GiveAway

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

 Book: Surrendered  
Author: Elaine Manders  
Genre: Christian Historical Romance  
Release Date: December 28, 2016  

The fight never ends until someone surrenders.

Having vanquished his political enemies, Rhyan Cason is anxious to get home to his beloved Carianne. Then he receives word an anthrax outbreak threatens his ranch. Even as he ponders how he can afford to take a wife, dark secrets from the distant past shake his beliefs to the core and convince him he’ll never be able to find forgiveness or make Carianne happy.

Carianne Barlow is stunned when Rhyan breaks their secret engagement. She leaves Sollano, the beautiful ranch house she loves almost as much as its owner, and returns home to Westerfield. While waiting for her shattered heart to heal, she shifts her attention to building the library she’s promised the town.

Even though Colt Holliman offers her a new courtship, circumstances keep drawing her back to Sollano and Rhyan. Torn between her affection for Colt and her love for Rhyan, Carianne realizes almost too late Rhyan’s troubles lie deeper than saving the ranch. He fights an evil that threatens more than his love for her—one only God can defeat.

About the Author

Elaine Manders writes wholesome Christian romance and suspense about the bold, capable women of history and the strong, dependable men who love them. She prefers stories that twist and turn and surprise, told by characters who aren’t afraid to show their love for God and each other. She lives in Central Georgia with a happy bichon-poodle mix. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, crafts, and spending time with her friends, daughter, and grandchildren.

Guest Post from Elaine Manders

I was born with the gift of story. The make-believe of childhood never left me, but it wasn’t until my daughter left for college, and I was left with the empty nest, that I decided maybe it was time to start writing the stories crowding my mind. I joined a local writers’ group, took a fiction writing course, developed the craft, went to conventions, and started pitching to editors.

Since I wrote romance, I found the publishing industry pushing me to a place I didn’t want to go. The secular publishers wanted steamier writing, and I complied as much as I could. Then when I was offered a chance for publication, I couldn’t allow my name to go on the book. The Christian publishers had a very narrow marketing concept. Again, I tried to comply until I felt the joy of story being squeezed out of me. I took a twelve year hiatus from writing.

Then in 2012, I was sitting in church listening to the familiar parable of the talents. When my pastor asked the question, “Are you hiding your talent?” I immediately visualized that closet filled with my unpublished manuscripts. I rededicated myself to putting my talent to use, and I asked God to send me a new story, if this was what he wanted me to do.

Later that week, I was on the golf course when I laid down on a little hill waiting for my husband to chase a ball in the woods and stared into the deepest, bluest sky I’ve ever seen. The sun was high in the sky, but the shade of blue was so dark I could actually see, not only the moon, but some of the stars. Looking into that sky, I experienced a strange sensation, as if I’d lost contact with the earth and was moving into infinity. I wondered, as I had many times before, how an atheist could look into the heavens and not believe in the Creator. This led me to an investigation of scientific atheism, Darwinism, and the entire series, Intrigue under Western Skies, was born. My protagonist is a Darwinist of the 1880s. Book 1, Pursued, is his spiritual journey to belief in Christianity, and Book 2, Surrendered, takes him to acceptance. The heroine, of course, helps him on this journey, while dodging all the dangers the old west has to offer. Incidentally, Pursued will be free on Amazon Apr 18-19.


I just love the 1880's time period. It's probably my favorite time periods next to Civil War and Reconstruction. I really enjoyed taking a step back in time and reading this story. This is the first book that I have read from this author and I really enjoyed it. 
This is the second book in a series, and while I have not read the first book (I will be now!) I did not have too many issues following along. 
This book is a great reminder that you need to be completely surrendered to God to understand his will and to be happy. 

I was given a complimentary copy by Celebrate Lit and the author. These opinions are my own.

Blog Stops

April 11: 100 pages per hour
April 11: Karen Sue Hadley
April 14: Bigreadersite 
April 17: cherylbbookblog
April 17: Baker Kella
April 18: I Hope You Dance
April 21: Pause for Tales


To celebrate her tour, Elaine is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mary Bowser - Union Spy

Things have been very crazy in my household  over the last few months - I have been doing a lot of book reviews.
Our small town library does not get a lot of the new releases that I love to read, and now that I am not in grad school I have been on a lot of blog tours and have been able to read a lot of new books.

So, somehow it's been almost 4 months since I have shared more parts of my capstone .

I have been writing a lot. With trying to break into the Christian Historical Fiction realm I have been researching lots of fun things. So, hopefully I will be sharing some of that soon ,..

But until then - here is Mary Bowser --- Union Spy

Mary Bowser
Union Spy

            Mary Bowser was a fearless African American Woman.  She was born in the year of 1839. As with the slaves during the American Revolution they did not record the exact birth of Civil War Era slaves either. She was a slave in the household of Elizabeth Van Lew and her family. There is not much documented of her early life. Once John Van Lew died, Elizabeth and her mother freed some of their slaves. Mary would become a servant in the household until the late 1850’s. At this time, Elizabeth had recognized her intellectual abilities. Mary was sent to the Quaker School for Negros. The school was located in Philadelphia.
            Van Lew was instrumental in creating records to make everything look legit. She knew that African Americans were essential to the operation. They used both free and enslaved blacks. There were two identities that were created for Mary. Van Lew had registered Mary as Mary Jones in the 1860 census. She was registered as the only free black servant in the Van Lew Family. There was also a record that showed up in April of 1861 in St. John’s Church as a wedding of a Van Lew servant. It is unsure if this was a real wedding or if this was one to create records.
            Once she returned she met and married Wilson Bowser. Wilson was a free black man. Interesting thing to note is that she married on April 16, 1861. This was just a few days before the Civil War begun. There was mostly whites that attended this wedding. They settled in Richmond, Virginia. They do not appear to have had any children. She still remained close with Elizabeth Van Lew. With the addition of her intelligence she also had incredible acting skills per Van Lew Records. Mary Bowser became Ellen Bond. “Ellen” would be a slow thinking but stable servant. “Van Lew urged a friend to take Bowser along to help out at functions held by Varina Davis, the wife of the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Bowser was eventually hired fulltime, and worked in the Davis household until just before the end of the war.”[1] This would allow her access to the Confederate President’s daily activities.
            Once inside the Davis household, Mary worked as a servant. She would clean and cook meals. “Bowser spied on the South from inside the lion’s den – in the Richmond, Virginia, household of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. During that period, she provided the Union with invaluable information about Southern military forces.”[2] They had no idea that she was literate. She was able to read documents that were laying on tables or that she was able to gain access too. She also was able to understand the conversations that she would overhear. One of the things that was important is that since there was such great racial prejudice during this time. Servants were expected to be invisible. Bowser was able to secure this during her time of service.
            She would pass her information to Richmond’s spymaster, Thomas McNiven. McNiven was a baker. While he would be out making deliveries he could collect information from other Union spies that had infiltrated the Confederacy. Bowser was a valuable asset since she was able to repeat things word from word. When he would make his deliveries to the Confederate home – she would make sure she greeted him and dropped her information.
            After the war, Jefferson Davis’ wife, Varina (who was now a widow) denied that there was ever a spy in their household. “In a 1905 letter to the regent of the Confederate White House Museum, Mrs. Davis wrote that she never “had in her employ an educated negro ‘given or hired’ by Miss Van Lew as a spy” during the War.”[3] However historian and author, William Gilmore Beymer felt that Mary Bowser did indeed work for and in the Jefferson household. It is also noted that her actual name was: Mary Ann Richards.   
After the war – the Federal Government sought to destroy discriminating evidence to protect identities of those involved. “When the fighting was over, War Department records on Union spies were destroyed to protect those who’d worked for the North from Southern retaliation.”[4] While we may never know the full effect the information that Bowser and Van Lew extracted and passed – we do know that they had a significant place in history.

[1] "Bowser, Mary Elizabeth (1839? - ?), Union Spy during the Civil War..." Hutchins Center. Accessed July 1, 2016.

[2] Martin, Paul D. Secret Heroes: Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World. New York: William Morrow, 2012. Pg. 39

[3] Winkler, H. Donald. Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War. Naperville, IL: Cumberland House, 2010. Pg. 79-80

[4] Ibid. Pg. 43