Friday’s Feature with Donna Schlachter

Giveaway ~ Win a FREE copy by commenting on this blog! Winner chosen 5/6/2022!


I always like to have a theme verse for every book I write. I find it helps keep me on track for the story I have in mind. For Calli, I chose:

The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow…

Psalm 146:9

This story has both the fatherless and a widow. Calli’s husband recently died in an accident while on military duty, and she’s not completely recovered from that. Bot does anybody, really? However, as we know, most don’t want to be reminded of death, so she feels both alone and scared, as if she’d never known and loved her husband. Is that what his death meant? That this was it? She’s angry with God and cannot reconcile the notion of a loving God with One who would take her husband.

Here’s the short description of the story:

Calli works as a nurse with the US Army at Fort Bridger, Wyoming in 1880. When a wagon train full of discouraged emigrants passes through on its way east, a pregnant widow delivers her baby then dies. Bradley Wilson, leading this train, has few options. He asks Calli to travel with them until they find a relative to take the child in St. Joe, Missouri. Calli, drawn to both this dark and quiet man and the child, resists. But when she disappears, he wonders if she’s run away or been kidnapped. Can these two put their pasts behind them and move into a new future together? Or will Calli insist on having things her own way?

I set this story in 1870, a time when wagon trains were still heading west, but now some were straggling back, not having found what they’d hoped for. Unofficial estimates put these “returners” in the tens of thousands. I felt that was a story I wanted to tell.

I’ve visited the historic Fort Bridger site, and as I wrote the story, I envisioned the buildings as they were then and are today. That’s a great benefit for me as an author, because I immerse myself in the story and can focus on the characters and what’s going on.

Here is where you can find out more about Calli: 

About Donna

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

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Friday’s Feature with Donna Schlachter

Giveaway and Excerpt

Question: Answer the following question to enter a random drawing for a print (US only) or ebook copy of Hollenberg Hearts: What’s your favorite genre and why?

Hollenberg Hearts

Hearts of the Pony Express

Book 1

Most people know something about the Pony Express, but few realize it only operated from April 1860 through to November 1861. The first ride left St. Joseph, Missouri heading west, and from Sacramento, California heading east, on April 3rd, 1860. 

The idea for a Pony Express was conceived in the minds of its owners because of the possibility of winning the contract for the overland US mail. Another company, Butterworth, was running a southern route that took up to three weeks to deliver to the west coast, and Majors and Waddell thought they could beat that time by taking the shorter northern route.

The time period, 1860, fascinates me as there were so many changes happening in America. The train is a dream; the cross-country telegraph is nearing completion; the country is brewing for civil war; women are campaigning for voting and civil rights. In just a few short years, cameras will photograph war for the first time; telephones will be installed in people’s homes; electricity will light our lives into the dark of night.

When the final rider left Sacramento in November 1861, carrying letters going east as far as St. Joseph, Missouri, the company was already about $600,000 in debt. Although the project was well-conceived and well-executed, it was never designed as a long-term system. And when the Overland Express lost its bid to garner the mail contract, the company ended up merging with its competitor Butterworth to deliver mail that kept the country united through the coming war and for many years to come.

About Hollenberg Hearts

Catherine Malloy escapes a poor past in response to a mail order bride ad her best friend answered. However, Margaret dies before meeting the man who owns horses and property in Kansas.

Benjamin Troudt works for the Hollenberg family at their way station in Kansas, and owns nothing but the clothes on his back. Unbeknownst to him, his pastor is corresponding with a potential wife from back East for him.

When Catherine, now calling herself Maggie, arrives, Benjamin knows nothing of the pastor’s match-making, and rejects her. However, a seriously ill pregnant woman needs tending. Perhaps Maggie can prove herself useful.

Not only does she do just that, but she finds herself attracted to the very man who is looking for ways to send her away.

About Donna

Donna writes historical and contemporary mysteries, and has been published more than 50 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of several writing communities; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; blogs regularly; and judges in writing contests. She lives in Denver with her husband and two cats, finding mysteries wherever she travels. You can find her books on Amazon under both her name and that of her former pen name, Leeann Betts. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!



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Thursday’s Throwback with Pat Jeanne Davis

Excerpt and Giveaway!

After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith.

When Valleys Bloom Again

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Then Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S.Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?

Read an Excerpt

December 7, 1941

After attending church with her aunt and uncle, Abby parked the car, ran into the house and raced upstairs. She would meet Jim on the river bridge for a walk, then they’d attend the concert in the park. Perfect weather for a perfect Sunday.

She switched on the radio and sat at the vanity dressing table, half listening. Even before that mad dash a few minutes ago, she was breathless. Tugging at the snags in her long hair, she replayed that enchanted scene in the conservatory, unable to take in fully the rapid turn of events. First, she was friendly with Jim, then forced to be aloof, then more than friends, and—who knows what next? She still couldn’t believe it.

At the full-length mirror on the door, she turned sideways. “Best I can do,” she said out loud, before glancing at the clock. It would take ten minutes to reach the bridge.

Dropping on all fours, she rummaged beneath the bed for her walking shoes.

The symphonic music stopped, followed by a burst of staccato speech. Cocking her ear, she caught one sentence.“The Empire of Japan has attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.” It was enough. Her spine stiffened and she sucked in her breath. It’s here.

In her stocking feet, she ran down the hall to her uncle’s office.

He sat at his desk, head resting in his hands.

She tapped on the door, trembling.

He looked up. “You heard, then?” He sighed. “I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. All the signs were there. Still …”

She dropped into the chair beside him. “Does this mean America will go to war?”

He stared out the window “Nothing short of it.”

“Where is Pearl Harbor?”

He eased himself out of his seat, shuffled to a large world map mounted on the wall and peered at it through a magnifying glass. “Right here.”

Abby went over to where he stood.

“See. Hawaii,” he said, stepping aside for her. “A big naval facility.”

Abby turned away. “Do you think Aunt heard?”

“I’ll go and break the news to her myself.” Uncle Will put his arm around Abby’s shoulder, and they walked across the room.

At the door he stopped and half-turned, his voice quivering. “I’m sorry for all you young people. I think our generation has let you down.” He shook his head. “The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children once more.”

Taken aback and unable to think of anything to say, she watched him disappear down the hallway.

She whirled around and caught sight of her parents in the photograph her uncle kept on his desk. It was an old one, early 1920s, taken when their own bitter memories of the Great War were probably still fresh. Now she would be a comrade with them in their present suffering back in England. But even this meager consolation yielded to a fear closer at hand. What would all this mean for Jim?

End of Scene

            Eighty years ago this week on December 8, 1941 in the chaotic hours after radio bulletins alerted US residents of the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt on a national radio broadcast went before a joint session of the U.S. Congress and began with the following words: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” The President requests a declaration of war against Japan.  Link to Newspaper with Headline:

This horiffic act by the Empire of Japan and the President’s course of action that swiftly followed would forever have a significant impact on the life of Abby Stapleton, daughter of a British diplomat, and her future with Jim Wright, the man she loves. 

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When Valleys Bloom Again can be purchased here:

More about Pat

PAT JEANNE DAVIS  has a keen interest in 20th Century United States and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Her longtime interest in that era goes back to the real-life stories she heard about family members who served during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is a debut inspirational romance set in WWII. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her British-born husband. She writes from her home in Philadelphia, PA. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Faith, Hope, & Love Christian Writers. Please visit her at 

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