Downton Abbey Exhibition

Hi Friends,

Last Saturday I took the train into New York City and met my daughter, Melissa. We had tickets to see the Downton Abbey Exhibition, and we were looking forward to learning more about the history, fashion, and setting of this world-famous TV series.

The exhibition website promised, “You’ll be transported to post-Edwardian England where the characters and the iconic house come to life. You’ll be immersed in the fascinating social history, culture, and some of the most memorable moments from the show’s six season run. You’ll see Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen and the servant’s hall, Mr. Carson’s butler’s pantry, Lady Mary’s bedroom and much more.

The exhibition is laid out on three floors. The first floor included sets and information about the staff. It was fun to be greeted by Mr. Carson (via multimedia) and see Mrs. Hughes step into a doorway and greet us. The second floor has sets and multimedia displays about the Crawley family and their life “upstairs.” The third floor focuses on the beautiful costumes, hats, and jewelry worn by the cast. I enjoyed seeing Mary’s wedding dress and Edith’s two wedding dresses, plus the outfits worn by Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes on their wedding day. Each outfit was beautiful and many had beading or some special decoration that made it unique.

The designers of the exhibition did an amazing job recreating Downton Abbey. Walking through the sets made you feel like you were at Highclere Castle where Downton was filmed. Scott and I visited Highclere in 2014, so it was a treat to compare the sets to the actual rooms.

If you plan to see the exhibition, I’d suggest going on a weekday, rather than a Saturday, when it might be less crowded. The tickets are timed, but we had to wait in line outside about 20 minutes because they only allow groups of 30 people to go in every few minutes. You can learn more and purchase tickets online at: DowntonExhibition.com. 

 

 

The wonderful displays made me miss Downton Abbey all the more and wish they would make a Downton Abbey movie. If you live nearby or are traveling to New York City I hope you’ll plan to see the exhibition. It was a wonderful experience and well worth the trip and price of the tickets! 

 

If you live too far away, you might enjoy reading my English historical novels that are set in the same time period as Downton Abbey and include upstairs and downstairs characters, family drama, romance, and inspiration! Just click on the image to learn more and order your copy.

Until next time  . . . happy reading!

Carrie

 

Across the Blue Pre-Order Giveaway!

Hi Friends, I’m excited to tell you about a special giveaway we have planned during this month leading up to the release of Across the Blue! First, let me tell you about the story and how you can have it in your hands on Release Day, February 20th!

Across the Blue is an English historical romance with the charm of Downton Abbey and the adventurous spirit of the Wright Brothers. Set in Kent, England, in 1909, the heroine, Isabella Grayson, dreams of becoming a journalist in an age when few women could accomplish that dream. Isabella secretly writes a series of articles, profiling the aviators who are training for the first flight across the English Channel, but rather than fulfilling her dream those articles get her into more trouble than she ever expected!

One of the aviators she features is James Drake, a daring young man who is determined to be the first to make the harrowing flight across the Channel. When James crashes his flying machine on Isabella’s family estate, the two meet, and their friendship eventually leads to romance. Will they follow the dictates of society, or will they follow their hearts and accomplish their dreams?

Pre-order Across the Blue at this link. Then visit the WaterBrook website and enter the giveaway!

You could win these lovely tea cups, tea, and a  loose tea leaf filter, a fun History of Aviation Playing Cards Set, and the Spring Fiction Collection from WaterBrook Multnomah including:  Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews, Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Sawyer, No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert, and Across the Blue!

This giveaway is for US residents only and runs from 1/20/18 – 2/19/18. You’ll find all the details at this website: https://waterbrookmultnomah.com/across-the-blue-pre-order/

Thank you for your support and encouragement! I hope you’ll enjoy reading Across the Blue! 

Until Next Time, Happy Reading,

Carrie

 

Across the Blue Cover Design

Hi Friends, Only about one month until the February 20th release of Across the Blue! I’m very excited to share this new story with you, and I thought you might enjoy seeing what was involved in creating the beautiful cover.

In December 2016 I filled out an author questionnaire and sent cover ideas to the team at WaterBrook. At that time I’d only written about 1/3 of the book! I created a Pinterest board for my book and saved images of the setting, characters, and clothing. These images helped me picture the story as I was writing, and they were a great resource for the cover design team. 

In April  2017 Kristopher Orr, the designer at WaterBrook who has created all my lovely covers, started corresponding with me via email. We wanted the cover to truly reflect the time period and the story, and that takes time and research as well as great design skills. They planned to rent a costume for the photo shoot, so they showed me these three outfits and asked me which one I thought would look the best. I chose the ivory suit in the middle. The story takes place in the spring and summer, so the light color and Edwardian style looked like something Bella Grayson would wear.

We needed a different hat than the one pictured, so we contacted our friend Darna as East Angel Harbor Hats. She has designed special hats for my last three book cover shoots. And once again, she rose to the challenge in record time and sent us this lovely hat.

Sophia Alessi, from the Donna Baldwin Agency, was chosen as the model for the photo shoot, and she did a great job portraying Bella!

 

 

A few more months passed, and I eagerly waited to see the final cover design. They sent me these four mock ups and asked for my input. I liked them all, but I felt the fourth design was the strongest. The color, the type, and the photos all worked together to create a stunning design. The team at WaterBrook agreed, and they moved ahead to finalize the cover for Across the Blue.

 

Adding the back cover copy and the spine is the final step in the cover design process. Here’s a peek at those elements.

So, what do you think? Did you realize all that went into designing a cover? I’m grateful to Kristopher and the team at Waterbrook for “dressing” Across the Blue so beautifully!

I hope you’ll pre-order your copy of Across the Blue so you can have it in your hands the day it releases!

Happy Reading,

Carrie

Until We Find Home Giveaway

Hi Friends, today I am excited to tell you about Cathy Gohlke’s latest novel, Until We Find Home!  This moving WW2 story will capture your attention from the first page and keep you up until the wee hours to see what will happen to her characters. Cathy and I traveled together to England’s Lake District on a research trip, including a visit to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, which is featured in Until We Find Home. I know you’ll enjoy reading her thoughtful answers to the questions below. For more info and for links to purchase your copy, visit Cathy’s website or click on the cover.

Welcome Cathy! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about Until We Find Home with us!

1. What inspired you to write Until We Find Home?

Cathy: Alarmed by the plight of young refugees fleeing gangs in Mexico to cross United States borders, and heart heavy for victims and refugees worldwide who’ve suffered and continue to suffer under oppressive regimes, I looked for a moment in history to tell their tale as I wish it could play out. I didn’t have to look far.

The Kindertransport of 1938-1940, brought 10,000 predominantly Jewish children to Great Britain for refuge from Nazi oppression. Accounts abound of men and women who rescued children through resistance, often at great cost to themselves—even life itself. But what happened next? What happened when those children entered countries of refuge? I wondered about the average person and what role they might have played once the children were out of immediate danger. . . and what role we might play in the world’s need today.

World News reported that in 2015, 51% of the world’s refugees were children. Scripture tells us to care for widows and orphans. How do we do that from where we live, and as Christians, how do we reconcile this directive with the world’s reality and our need for safe borders?

Characters’ personalities were in inspired, in part, by people I know (the youngest character, Aimee, was inspired by my young granddaughter). Some of the children’s antics (embarrassed to say), and some of the older characters’ struggles were inspired by my own life stories—including Miranda’s journey with cancer. Bluebell Wood’s secret garden and many of the books and poems Claire loves in the story are based on books and poems I grew up knowing and loving—thanks especially to my dear grandmother, who read to me.

This novel embodies a great many things important to me. It is, in some ways, my victory book through battling cancer.

Carrie: I loved the personal touches you added to the book, especially your love for classic children’s stories, C. S. Lewis, and Beatrix Potter!

Cathy at Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm.

2. Can you tell us about the historical research that went into writing this novel? Did you learn anything new that surprised you?

Cathy: Knowing I would set this story during WWII in England’s Lake District, in 2014 Carrie and I traveled to England and Scotland where we both did research for our book projects.

For me, we travelled to Windermere and the Lake District to research Beatrix Potter and her renown Hill Top Farm, the poetry and world of Wordsworth, and to learn just what happened to refugees and evacuees in the District during WWII.

As a result I learned more about the Sunderland Flying Boat Factory and its village of Calgarth, camps for German prisoners of war, including Grizedale Hall, wartime homes for British evacuees and foreign refugees, the Keswick Pencil Museum and the famous spy pencil, the after-war arrival of the Boys of Windermere (children deeply in need of rehabilitation who’d survived Europe’s concentration camps), and so much more.

I ran my fingers over the desk where Wordsworth had carved his name as a boy, visited his burial ground, and fell in love with that poet’s fields of golden daffodils, the heady perfume of lilacs, the glory of woodlands spread in sapphire carpets of bluebells, and newborn lambs tottering across the fells, butting tiny heads against their mother’s sides in search of lunch. We ferried across Lake Windermere, ate Grassmere’s famous gingerbread, and took tea with jam and bread. Nowhere is the grass greener or the air purer than in the Lake District in springtime.

Beatrix Potter Heelis’s Hill Top Farm, with its rooms and their contents reminiscent of her books was a real treat. During WWII, Hill Top Farm housed British evacuees.

Our research trip culminated when we joined a ten-day tour of Scotland’s “Highlands, Islands and Gardens,” guided by Liz Curtis Higgs. Forty ladies followed in Liz’s wake as she inspired us through Bible study each morning, then guided us through magnificent Scotland by day. As a result of that trip, I could not help but include in my story a good Scottish doctor, as well as memories of the terrible feud between the MacDonalds and Campbells. In regard to that feud, we visited Glencoe and the site of that terrible massacre.

That was the travel portion of my research. Internet investigations and the reading of books, old and new, continued for months. Included in those books were wartime diaries, especially those compiled from Britain’s Mass Observation Project, day by day histories of the war waged against Britain, journals and letters from Beatrix Potter Heelis, journals, letters and biographies of C. S. Lewis, the books and notes of C. S. Lewis, the history of Glencoe, biographies and history of Sylvia Beach and details of Shakespeare and Company, the American bookstore in Paris, studies of Europe’s child refugees housed in Britain, and so much more. Perhaps the most fun was found in rereading childhood classics.

Carrie: That was such a wonderful trip to England! What a treat to travel together and share those experiences! 

Cathy and Carrie at Tyntesfield.

3. A number of classic authors are mentioned in Until We Find Home, Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, particularly. How have these authors and others inspired you in your life and writing?

Cathy: Beatrix Potter, her stories and illustrations, have been dearly loved since childhood. To me, it was as if she spoke the language of children and animals. I seemed to me that if she could learn their language, I could learn the language of my characters, too, and tell their stories in ways readers would understand. I loved learning that the stories and illustrations of Beatrix Potter influenced C. S. Lewis and his brother as children and inspired them to write the story of and illustrate an entire kingdom. It felt as if they—and I—rode the current of a continuing stream, a stream that brought readers and writers together.

C. S. Lewis is a voice of reason. He came to faith not through Scripture or through an appreciation of divine design in nature. He was not born with an innate faith. In fact, he was an atheist that struggled against faith. But he came to belief in God—to Theism—through reason. Coming to belief in Jesus as Lord and Redeemer was a separate journey. I’ve known many people who seemed to have been born without faith. It is something I observe, but don’t fully understand. I wanted to highlight Lewis’s writings in the hope that those who believe will be encouraged, and in the hope that those who do not believe will be encouraged to consider his reasoning. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, describes some of his journey through reason, and was taken from his WWII radio broadcasts that began at the time Until We Find Home takes place. I was able to include some from his earlier book, The Problem of Pain, in this story, and those things help in Claire’s journey, as they did in mine.

It’s important to me to highlight the writings of classic Christian writers for a new generation, to share with others the blessing those books have been in my own life.

Carrie: Introducing a new generation to these believers and their writing is such an important aspect of all your books. I love that so much! 

Cathy and Carrie in a field of bluebells in Scotland.

Thank you, Cathy! What a treat it is for me to share in the creative journey of this novel. I’m sure readers will be delighted with the story and it will give them much to consider. It’s the kind of book to savor and enjoy in a cozy spot this winter. 

You can connect with Cathy through her beautiful website where you’ll find links to purchase her books, photos from her travels, and interesting information about her writing journey. It’s well worth your time, so pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a visit! You’ll also find Cathy on Facebook where she shares interesting and encouraging posts.

Leave a comment and answers one or more of the following questions and your name will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Until We Find Home. (US mailing addresses only.) Which of Cathy’s books have you read and enjoyed? If you could travel to England what would you like to see? What’s your favorite classic children’s story? Giveaway runs 1/16 – 1/19. I’ll email the winner.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Carrie

New Releases January 2018

Hi Friends, I hope you had a great New Year celebration. Today I’m sharing the new releases from American Christian Fiction Writers authors. You’re sure to find your next great read here!

Contemporary Romance:

Her Handyman Hero by Lorraine Beatty — Reid Blackthorn arrives in Dover on a personal mission—to make sure his terminally ill brother gets a chance to meet his daughter. Deceiving little Lily’s guardian isn’t his intention. Yet once Tori Montgomery mistakes Reid for her new handyman, he knows it’s the only way to be close to his niece. Tori is honoring her friend’s last wish by keeping Lily away from her father’s family. And once she learns who Reid truly is, she realizes there’s too much at stake—including custody of Lily—for her to fall for the former DEA agent. But in keeping a promise, is she losing out on her chance for a happily-ever-after? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin — It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward. Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Ain’t Misbehaving by Marji Laine — True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air-conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school daycare in the worst area of town. Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundation’s after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her. (Contemporary Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Finding Grace by Melanie D. Snitker — Single dad Tyler Martin can’t be more grateful to the woman who finds his missing daughter. Even though he feels a spark between them, falling in love is a risk he shouldn’t take. Too bad chance encounters and his stubborn heart keep trying to convince him otherwise. After escaping a nightmarish relationship, Beth Davenport is content with her safe and blessedly normal life. Yet something about Tyler and his adorable daughter makes her wish for more. With the walls around her heart finally starting to crumble, she’s afraid of a future she can’t predict. Can they let go of their fear and trust God to lead them to the love they desperately need? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Marrying Mandy by Melanie D. Snitker — Mandy Hudson swore she’d never marry. Abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandparents, she has a hard time trusting that real love will last. When her grandmother dies, Mandy’s shocked to discover a stipulation in the will. Considering marriage to her best friend may be the only way to keep her family’s beloved bed-and-breakfast. The loss of his job threatens Preston Yarrow’s shaky financial stability. Besides, he can’t watch his best friend give up the only real home she’s ever known. Frustrated by Mandy’s stubborn refusal to let him help, he’s certain they are stronger together than they are apart. A marriage of convenience might be crazy… or an answer to both their prayers. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Historical:

Son of Promise by Caryl McAdoo — Can a wife find the grace to forgive when her husband’s withheld the truth? Travis Buckmeyer has a secret son, and the morning’s come to tell his sweet wife. He hates breaking Emma Lee’s heart. She promised him one ten years ago, but hasn’t been blessed to carry a baby to term. Every miscarriage made the telling harder, but now his clock’s run out. He’s going for his son, praying he won’t lose her.
Cody knows who his mother claims his father is, but he’s only interested in getting sprung from reform school then boosting enough from the do-gooder to bust out on his own.
Can Travis find redemption, Emma Lee forgiveness, or Cody the love he’s been longing for? (Historical, Independently Published)

Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke — For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.

With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing—spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends—has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.

Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms. (Historical, Tyndale House Publishers)


Historical Romance:

Hearts Entwined by Mary Connealy, Melissa Jagears, Regina Jennings, and Karen Witemeyer — Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Love Knot,” Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister’s arrival by train. Mary Connealy’s “The Tangled Ties That Bind” offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede. Regina Jennings offers “Bound and Determined,” where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels? And Melissa Jagears’ “Tied and True” entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])



A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Kathleen E. Kovach, Paula Moldenhauer, Suzanne Norquist, Donita Kathleen Paul, Donna Schlachter, and Pegg Thomas — For seven bachelors, this bouquet of brides means a happily ever after. Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



A Mother For His Family by Susanne Dietze
Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for.
All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



His Forgotten Fiancee by Evelyn M. Hill — Liza Fitzpatrick is stunned when her fiancé finally arrives in Oregon City — with amnesia. Matthew Dean refuses to honor a marriage proposal he doesn’t recall making, but Liza needs his help now to bring in the harvest, and maybe she can help him remember… Matthew is attracted to the spirited Liza, and as she tries to help him regain his old memories, the new ones they’re creating together start to make him feel whole. Even as he falls for her again, though, someone’s determined to keep them apart. Will his memory return in time to save their future? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White — Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I–to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales. Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe. But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Mystery:

Surgeon’s Choice by Richard L. Mabry, MD — Dr. Ben Merrick thought his biggest problem was getting his fiancé’s divorced parents into the same room for the wedding–and then, people started dying. (Mystery, Independently Published through White Glove)


Romantic Suspense:

Innocent Lies by Robin Patchen — Desperate to be safe from the man who held her captive and ruined her life, Kelsey must ensure her child is protected before she can take her enemy on. But a string of bad luck gets her arrested and lands her face-to-face with the only man she’s ever loved—the only man who can destroy all her plans. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Cold Truth by Susan Sleeman — When research chemist Kiera Underwood receives the cryptic phone call about her twin brother, she tries to contact him to no avail. Her twin sense tingles, warning her that something is wrong. Kiera’s not prepared when an attempt is made on her life and Blackwell Tactical operative Cooper Ashcroft delivers her second shock of the day. Someone killed the supervisor at the research lab where her brother works and stole a deadly biotoxin. The main suspect? Her brother, and Blackwell Tactical has been hired to bring him in. If that wasn’t shocking enough, she’s suspected of colluding with him. Setting out to prove herself and her brother is innocent, she is almost abducted before Ashcroft rescues her. He’s faced with the reality that she’s telling the truth and someone has likely abducted her brother—perhaps killed him—and now Kiera’s very life is in danger, too. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Until Next Time — Happy Reading!

Carrie