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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

On Bur Oak Ridge by Jenny Knipfer


It is my pleasure to welcome Jenny Knipfer as my guest today with an excerpt from her new book. If you loved Luminous, you might consider On Bur Oak Ridge for your next read.

Welcome, Jenny!

~ Samantha


Excerpt from On Bur Oak Ridge

Guest Post by Jenny Knipfer

Molly - Late September 1919

I see him, but I can’t move. I stand rooted in place like a tree with my arms outstretched.

“Momma!” he giggles with glee, and he runs toward me, dangerously close to the vat of boiling water.

Water vapor rises from the vat and hangs suspended in the air in a slow, surreal way. Some soap bubbles float large and free, growing until they burst, appearing like a shimmer of glitter around the halo of Lonny’s blond ringlets.

My frozen-in-place arms strain to rescue him, but they are immovable. I’m helpless to prevent what’s coming next—what I’ve seen over and over and over again. The vat supports creak and groan, the mechanism tips, and Lonny is lost in a sea of boiling water and bedsheets. Next, I feel the hiss and pain. My hands fly to my face, where the burning-hot, carbolic water sears my skin. My voice strains to scream, but no sound issues from my wide-open jaws…

“Molly? Molly!”

It takes me some seconds to realize that Mabel’s form hovers over me, grooves edged on her face, set deeper in the faint glow of the candle she holds in one hand.

“You must have been dreaming,” she says, somewhat breathlessly, and she sits on the side of the bed next to me.

I blink my eyes several times and try to make sense of her words.

Her eyes, flecked with questions, reflect the flame. “We heard you moaning.”

She reaches out and smooths some hair away from my face.

I’m grateful she doesn’t inquire about the origin of my dream. I push up on my elbows and raise myself into a sitting position, working to calm my breathing.

“I’m sorry I’ve disturbed you,” I growl out, my throat dry.

She sets the candle on the nightstand. “There’s no need to apologize.” Turning back, she asks, “Do you want to tell me about it?”

How do I explain?

Swallowing, I begin, “I was dreaming son.”

One of her brows hunches lower. “It must not have been a pleasant dream.”

She tilts her head, waiting. Patient as ever.

“No.” I pause and search her eyes in the candlelight. “Did...Robin tell you about the accident?”

She nods. “Some. I know you got burned, but I didn’t know your son was also involved.” She shakes her head. “Well, I know you had a son, but Robin didn’t say how he...” She lets her explanation hang and squints her eyes. “What did happen?”

I don’t want to talk about it now. It’s not that I don’t trust Mabel, but I don’t want to relive it again, not twice in one night.

“I think I need to rest. Do you mind if I tell you the whole story another time?” I plead.

She stands. “Of course. I...shouldn’t have asked.”

I intercept her hand as she reaches for the candle. “I want you to know the truth, Mabel, but I just can’t bear thinking about it anymore tonight.”

She nods and barely smiles.

Linc appears in the open doorway to my bedroom, his hair on end and his eyes droopy. “Is everything all right?”

Guilt pricks at me for interrupting my hosts ’sleep.

Mabel steps close to her husband, a confident tone to her words. “Nothing we can’t handle.”

I value my friend’s loyalty and protection so much.

“Nothing but a dream,” I say and moisten my dry lips with my tongue.

But dreams have more substance than nothing. At times, they seem like my reality and the life I lead upon this Earth a woeful, fictional tale.

“Good, good.” Linc runs a hand through his hair and yawns. “Tomorrow comes early. Let’s get back to our rest.”

Mabel steps through the doorway, offering a consoling lift of her lips to me before disappearing into the hallway. Linc nods once more, steps back, and closes the door behind him.

I lean my head on the metal bedframe, close my eyes, and breathe—in...and...out. Several bouts of this rhythm help quiet my yet pounding heart.

That particular type of dream hasn’t manifested in some time; they sporadically reoccur. I tire of the burden and wish to have them as aptly erased as rubber erases lead off paper. But their stain remains, in my mind, on my body, and forever within my heart.

I lie back on my pillow in the darkness and pray quietly for peace.

“God, You’ve helped me again and again through my struggles. You never relinquished me to the darkness of my own thoughts or dreams but called me into the light. When my heart broke from grief, you comforted me with the thought that I will see my son again and that You are with him. I like to envision him picking daisies in a wide-open field with other small children while You watch. Your word says that Your eyes are ever on Your children."


“The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith.” Readers’ Favorite five-star review


In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons ’farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face.

Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons ’hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel–seeing past Molly’s scars–draws her out of her self-protective shell.

Molly and Samuel form a friendship, but just as their hearts lead them deeper, an unexpected guest comes calling, demanding what’s his.

Will Molly and Samuel find a way to be together or will they be separated, due to impediments beyond their control? Can they trust in God’s plan and travel a path that heals the hurts of the past?

Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, and Christian historical romance will delight in this beautifully wrought story of the healing power of love.

“A heartwarming story of healing from external and internal scars. Through some of life’s harder lessons the characters learn to trust, forgive, and find second chances out of the ashes of pain and loss.” Anne Perreault, author of eighteen inspirational novels, including the Yellowstone series

Trigger Warnings: Grief, trauma from burns, accidental death, time in an insane asylum

Buy now on Amazon - Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited

Connect with Jenny

Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to dis-ability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

All of Jenny’s books have earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers As-sociation, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Inde-pendent Book Publishers Association.

Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.

She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.

Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesota’s Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons and a three-part fantasy series entitled: Retold Fairy Tales.

Connect with Jenny on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, BookBub, Amazon Author Page, and Goodreads.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Nathan Hale & the Linonian Society Library

College students today have become accustomed to libraries of almost infinite resources. Items not directly placed into one's hands upon request might be available online or through an interlibrary loan. Such was not the case at Yale College in the 18th century.

Pickings were slim, especially for undergraduate students in their first and second years. In 1755, only twenty-eight books were made available for check-out by freshmen and sophomores. Even upperclassmen found their options often did not include books that they were hoping to read.

Connecticut Hall
Yale dorm where Nathan Hale roomed with his brother, Enoch

In 1770, the young men of the Linonian Society decided to do something about this problem. The Linonian Society was a club formed for the purpose of rhetoric and debate covering a wide variety of topics. It is no wonder that such a group of erudite students would desire greater access to the types of titles they wished to discuss.

The notes of their 16 July 1770 meeting record the founding of the Linonian Society Library. Nathan Hale donated some of the initial supply of books. He would also later become the scribe who wrote the minutes for Linonian Society meetings. The Travels of Cyrus by AM Ramsay was one of his contributions.

Nathan also provided a share of the cost of subscribing to The Spectator. One of the founders of The Spectator was Joseph Addison, who wrote the play Cato, which might have inspired Nathan Hale's final words when he was hanged by the British as a rebel spy on 22 September 1776. 

If Hale did say something like, 'My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country,' it is likely that he was inspired by Cato when he says of his son's death in battle, 'How beautiful is death when earn'd by virtue! What a pity is it, that we can die but once to serve our country.' Another report quoted Hale as saying, 'If I had ten thousand lives, I would lay them all down.' This line is also a paraphrase from Addison's Cato when he insists that it would be, 'Better to die ten thousand deaths than wound my honour.'

Cato is also often named as one of General George Washington's favorite plays, and it was put on by soldiers during the harsh winter of 1777-8 at Valley Forge. Nathan Hale probably wouldn't have known of the general's preference and died before this production, but it makes his choice of last words more poignant since it was Washington's desire for information on the enemy that led to Nathan's death. 

The Linonian Society continued to build and care for its library for a century. In 1871, the titles were transferred to the Yale library, which had also improved in the intervening decades. These titles, bearing a bookplate designating them as Linonian property remain part of the Yale library today.

Read more about Nathan Hale in But One Life, available worldwide in paperback and for Kindle.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Raleigh and the Lost Colony of Roanoke

Tony Riches is a prolific writer of Tudor era fiction who has joined me as a guest before. I am happy to welcome him today with a journey into early American history involving his latest protagonist, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the lost colony of Roanoke.

Welcome, Tony!

~ Samantha


Raleigh and the Lost Colony of Roanoke

Guest Post by Tony Riches

I’d always been intrigued by what has become known as the ‘lost colony’ and was keen to find primary sources to understand what might have actually happened. Once he gained influence at court, Raleigh promoted the idea of creating English colonies in North America to challenge Spanish colonial policy. The Roanoke adventure began when Raleigh was granted the right to explore the New World and send colonists in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.

In return for a fifth share of all gold and silver discovered, (or looted from Spanish and Portuguese ships) Raleigh could seize any land not already claimed by any ‘Christian prince’. Raleigh was well aware of the opportunities on the coast of the New World, and identified the island of Roanoke as a base for his first colony.

Unluckily for Raleigh, the queen refused permission for him to sail to Roanoke in person, so he sent Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to find a suitable site for colonisation. They arrived at Roanoke Island in July, 1584, and met the native tribes, the Secotans and the Croatans. Barlowe returned with two Croatoans, named Manteo and Wanchese, who told Raleigh all about the Roanoke area. He presented them to Queen Elizabeth, which cause quite a stir at her Court, and announced he’d claimed the New World in the queen’s name, as the empire of Virginia.

Raleigh sent a second expedition of five ships, led by Richard Grenville, with his appointed governor, Ralph Lane, who had experience of establishing the English settlements in Ireland. The expedition sailed to Roanoke Island in 1585. This first attempt failed due to disagreements between Grenville and Lane, poor provisioning, and trouble with the local people, so in 1587 Raleigh replaced the military men with craftsmen, farmers, and their families, and sent another expedition, led by John White, to set up a new colony.

John White was an artist, a surprising choice for his new role as governor of the colony at Roanoke Island. They built the ‘Cittie of Raleigh’, a substantial base, with houses for each family, but White had to leave his daughter Elinor, her husband, and their infant daughter, Virginia, (the first English child born in America) when he sailed for England to report back to Raleigh in 1587 and bring back fresh supplies.

He was not to know that the Spanish Armada would be sighted soon afterwards, and White was not allowed to return to Roanoke until 1590. To his despair he found the settlement abandoned, and his possessions ransacked. The single word ‘CROATOAN’ was found carved on a tree. John White hoped this was a sign to show where the colonists had gone, but he was unable to search nearby Croatoan Island and returned home to tell Raleigh of the disaster.

The fate of the lost colony has been a mystery for many years, but archaeologists have uncovered new evidence suggesting that the survivors divided into different settlements, and at least some were assimilated into the local population.

I enjoyed researching the life and times of Sir Walter Raleigh, and discovering his strengths and weaknesses, as a courtier, explorer and failed politician, soldier and poet, a man ready to speak up for the poor and to honour his debts. My hope is that my new book, Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer, will help readers see beyond the myths and half-truths, and have a better understanding of the man who has been called the last true Elizabethan.

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

Connect with Tony:

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular ‘Stories of the Tudors ’podcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website and find him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


Monday, June 13, 2022

But One Life Blog Tour

Have you been following my But One Life blog tour? If not, you can get caught up now!

Day 1 - Failed Spies: Nathan Hale and John Andre at History the Interesting Bits

Day 2 - My Inspiration for writing But One Life at The Writing Desk

Day 3 - Life during the American Revolution at The Coffee Pot Book Club

Day 4 - Did You Know...Nathan Hale at Historical Novels R Us

Day 5 - Nathan Hale at Yale at the blog of Author Salina B Baker

I'm excited to see some reviews coming in on Goodreads and Amazon! If you have written a review, please leave a link in the comments. Thank you, dear readers!

Monday, June 6, 2022

But One Life: The Story of Nathan Hale

Available on Amazon TODAY!  

Revolution. Friendship. Sacrifice.

But One Life: The Story of Nathan Hale is an intimate retelling of the life of a great American patriot. As a young man, he debated philosophy at Yale and developed his personal politics of the revolution. Shortly after graduation, he joined the Continental Army and volunteered a spy in 1776. How did Nathan become a man willing to sacrifice himself with just one regret – that he had but one life to give for his country?

Experience the American Revolution alongside Nathan, his brother, Enoch, and good friends like Benjamin Tallmadge. They dream of liberty and independence. But at what cost?

Friendship, faith, love, and loyalty motivate young Nathan to become a name recognized throughout America as the quintessential patriot.

If I had ten thousand lives, I would lay them all down.

But One Life: The Story of Nathan Hale is available worldwide on Amazon in Kindle and paperback format. Read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!