Behind the Scenes at Last week’s sale of The Erie Canal Brides Collection

Here are some “Behind the Scenes” at last week’s book signing. My husband took several pictures and my daughter Christy posted them on her blog of my book signing for The Erie Canal Brides Collection last weekend at Barnes and Noble. But I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you this week and especially a delightful video of the grandkids playing at the wonderful kid’s stage in the back of Barnes and Noble! If you have children or grandchildren, you are missing out on a wonderful place to take them if you haven’t been there yet.

The manager Taylor set up a table for me and my husband to the right  of the entry to the store. We were busy almost the whole two hours we were there with friends and family stopping by and several others I had never met who were interested in hearing about and purchasing a Christian historical novel collection.

Of course, I enjoyed it immensely, but I was blown away when I saw this video with all the fun our grandkids had in the back of the store. While we grownups had fun talking books up front, they acted out their own stories in the back. It is a wonderful place where the stage makes story time come alive for children! Wish I had one for my house–for the grandkids and ME! ‘Nuff said! …Except I hope you will make a trip soon even though this video has some glitches.

to the play stage of Barnes and Noble with one or two little ones!

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Erie Canal Brides Collection with a Recipe

Christy Miller is the seventh and final author in our Erie Brides Collection and she decided to do something different for her story–send the recipe she used in the book for the heroine to feed her beau, which is also the one she won her preacher husband’s heart with:  True story!

Betsy Wells’s Chicken and Dumplings


(For cooking chicken)

1 whole chicken

1 diced onion, optional

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

(For making dumplings)

2 cups water

½ cup butter

4 cups white flour, plus extra for rolling out dumplings

1 tablespoon salt


Boil the chicken, onion, and poultry seasoning for at least an hour and a half. If you like your meat and onion “falling apart,” boil up to three hours. (This is Betsy’s preference.) Remove meat to a platter and cover with an old towel to keep the meat moist. Reserve the broth.

In a medium saucepan, heat the water and butter. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. When water/butter has boiled, pour it into the flour and stir very quickly to make dough. When dough has cooled enough for handling, dust a wooden board with flour and use a floured rolling pin to roll ¼ of the dough thin. Cut dumplings with a sharp knife. (Betsy would have used a pizza cutter if she’d had one.) Repeat with remaining dough.

Bone the chicken and add to the broth. Season the broth with salt and pepper. If you want a soupier dish to serve in a bowl, use all the broth. If you want to put the chicken and dumplings on your plate, or place them atop mashed potatoes, just use about ¾ of the broth. Bring it to a boil. Drop dumplings one by one into the broth as you get them rolled out. (If Betsy had had a freezer, she would have made her dumplings ahead of time and laid them in layers on cookie sheets, with waxed paper between each layer, and frozen them before using. She would not have thawed them before dropping. Betsy also knows from experience that waxed paper is flammable, so she now makes sure she keeps the paper away from the flame.)

When all the dumplings are in the broth, use a flat-ended spatula or turner to lift the dumplings from the bottom, but never stir them. Stirring will make them clump together. Simmer until the dumplings are tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. If serving on the plate or atop mashed potatoes, use a slotted spoon.

(This is the author’s family recipe. She once made it and served it to a handsome young preacher who came calling. The preacher proposed marriage almost before his bowl was empty. Thirty years later, the author still serves chicken and dumplings to the handsome preacher.)

Bio for Christy Miller:

Christina Miller has always lived in the past. Her passion for history began with her grandmother’s stories of 1920s rural southern Indiana. When Christina began to write fiction, she believed God was calling her to write what she knew: history.

Bethany College of Missions graduate, pastor’s wife, and worship leader, she lives on the family’s farm with her husband of thirty years and Sugar, their talking dog

Blurb for “Return to Sweetwater Cove” by Christina Miller

Setting: Sweetwater Cove, New York (near Lockport), summer 1825

The Reverend Josiah Wells is excited to come home to serve at Sweetwater Cove Church, until he finds that the head deacon’s quirky wife has concealed Josiah’s identity from the congregation. When they realize the new minister was once the troubled young orphan who nearly destroyed their little village, a surge of controversy whips up trouble in the once-peaceful canal town. And pretty widow Betsy Bennett is the one most intent on dousing Josiah’s dream of repaying his long-ago debt to his hometown. His biggest regret is the harm he’d caused Betsy’s late husband, Gil, when they were only fourteen. So Josiah vows to make it up to Betsy—the girl who’d stolen Josiah’s heart all those years ago—and to Little Gil, her eight-year-old son. Although Josiah is confident that God has washed away his sins and granted him a new life, his past has left him believing he’s unworthy of love.

When he arrives, Josiah brings with him the news of the Marquis de Lafayette’s plans for an epic tour of the nearly finished Erie Canal. Hearing this, all Betsy wants is to make the town worthy of a visit from this man who was commander over Sweetwater Cove’s soldiers at snowy Valley Forge. Perhaps, if she could give the Marquis a reception he’d never forget, she could finally free herself from her guilt over Gil’s death. But she doesn’t anticipate opposition from Josiah’s renegade brother, Hiram, a slick local businessman. Josiah seems determined to stand by her side … and maybe even prove that God’s plan for her includes more than just a misty dream of love.

Rose here: Now that you have met all the authors in our collection and learned a little about each story, I hope it has inspired you to find a copy of these seven delightful stories all set along the Erie Canal. I know Barnes and Noble has copies since I am having a signing at the one in Lexington, KY this coming Sunday, April 14, 2019 from 1-3 P.M. Happy travels back into the 18th century!






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!!! Book signing at Barnes and Noble in Lexington, KY on Sunday, April 14 !!!

I am happy to invite all my friends and all readers of historical fiction to a book signing of my latest book–The Erie Canal Brides Collection. At Barnes and Noble in Hamburg in Lexington, KY next Sunday, April 14th from 1-3 PM. I hope you will all stop by for an autographed copy! I don’t know if the Erie Canal is even taught in schools anymore, but it should be as it helped our country grow and expand exponentially! I even rode on one of the canal boats up in Ohio a few years ago. Such a beautiful, peaceful trip as shown in this lovely cover shot! The Barbour Publishing staff chose well.

And I hope you will read any or all of the last five Friday’s guest blogs which contain info from the other authors in the collection about the variety of stories in the book. They are all from the 1800s and locations range “from Albany to Buffalo” plus two cities in Ohio. Verrrry interesting!

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Wedding of the Waters by Rita Gerlach

Rose Here: I am happy to introduce you to my newest writing friend, Rita Gerlach, whom I recently cyber-met by working on this novella together. So glad she joined us in the Erie Canal Brides Collection.

Wedding of the Waters by Rita Gerlach
Goshen Creek, New York. 1819
Short blurb: Charlotte Verger, a physician’s niece, is unexpectedly reunited with her first and only love, Blaine McKenna. When word comes that the Erie Canal builders at the Montezuma Swamp (where Blaine is working as a surveyor) are stricken with malaria, Charlotte risks a journey to reach him.

As long as I can hold a pen and have all my faculties, I will never turn down the opportunity to write a story. When I was asked if I’d like to be included in the Erie Canal Brides Collection, I had to pause at first. I knew nothing about the Erie Canal and found it to be an unusual title. I wondered how could a writer write a romance set along a muggy ditch, a swampy canal, a place of sinners and saints among surly boatman, during the time of its building. That feeling some of us writers get when a story pops into our minds welled up inside me. Here was an exciting challenge set before me and I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to it. The research was absolutely fascinating.

Wedding of the Waters is the first novella printed in the collection. I chose this title for two reasons. One was the historical significance of two bodies of water meeting after years of labor to connect them, a nice metaphor for love. The other was the chance to bring to readers a romantic, inspirational story of two people brought together after many years apart all due to the building of the canal and the needs of a little New York village in want of a physician.

The year is 1819. In the Wedding of the Waters, readers meet Charlotte Verger, the niece of a country doctor, and Blaine McKenna a surveyor for the Canal. When malaria breaks out among the builders, their love for each other is tested. I say this because we all know that true love is selfless and often times tried under difficult circumstances. You might not find ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ in Wedding of the Waters. But you will find a story reflective of the times the characters live in, that is meant to inspire you to live a life of loving others unconditionally.


Best selling author Rita Gerlach lives in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains in central Maryland, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts. In many of her stories, she writes about the struggles endured by early colonists. Her first book in the historical series for Abingdon Press, ‘Daughters of the Potomac’, was nominated for an Inspy Award. She is currently writing in the Edwardian era, and writing novellas for Barbour Publishing.

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Digging for Love by Ramona Cecil


Digging for Love by Ramona Cecil

Rose here: I am so happy to introduce Ramona Cecil to my readers today. She is one of my longest friends from ACFW, back when it was called ACRW! She has a lot to tell us about her story idea and location, so let’s get started!

Ramona: When I chose the setting for Digging for Love, I knew nothing about Rochester, New York. As I scanned the names of the towns along the Erie Canal in upstate New York, Rochester jumped out at me. I’m not sure why, but I’m glad it did. I soon learned that Rochester wasn’t just another sleepy little burg along the Erie Canal. Already a bustling town of 2,700 by the opening of my story in 1822, Rochester would come to be known as the Young Lion of the West when the canal finally connected the town to New York City. Split in two by the Genessee River, Rochester required an aqueduct to carry the Erie Canal across the river and I enjoyed working the building of the aqueduct into my story.

I love using family names in my stories. In Digging for Love my heroine, Emily, is named for my fifteen-year-old granddaughter. Since my Emily loves animals, especially dogs, I, of course, had to give my fictitious Emily a dog. My granddaughter’s hobby is taking pictures. Since photography hadn’t been invented yet in 1822, I decided that the Emily in my story would be an artist.  I knew my hero would be an Irish immigrant working on building the aqueduct. For his name, I settled on Seamus, which is Irish for James—my husband’s name.

Another thing I love is when what I call “God moments” or “God winks,”—I don’t see them as coincidences—happen while I’m writing a story. I can think of a couple that happened during the writing of Digging for Love. I’d already stated that my hero, Seamus, hailed from Dublin, Ireland when I discovered that a part of Rochester was named Dublin and settled by Irish immigrants. It not only turned out to be the perfect place to house my hero, Seamus, but brought Terrance and Iona Maguire, two unplanned characters to my story. Iona becomes an important friend and confidant to both Seamus and Emily. A second “God wink” was when I learned that a traveling art exhibit had come to Rochester a couple years prior to my story, which fit beautifully into the narrative of my budding artist heroine. Perhaps a third “God wink” happened at the very beginning when I searched for a setting for my story and the name Rochester captured my imagination. Like I said, I don’t believe in coincidences.

When I write I begin by staring at the blank white computer screen, then I give it all to God and I’m always amazed at what He does. “Glory be to God, who by His might power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare ask or even dream of. . .” Ephesians 3:20 NIV Rose again: That is my favorite Bible verse Ramona!

And my Emily? She’s loving Digging for Love. She says she especially likes the character Seamus, which makes me smile.


Ramona K. Cecil is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance poet and award-winning inspirational romance writer. Now empty nesters, she and her husband of 46 years make their home in southern Indiana. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers Indiana Chapter, her work has won awards in a number of inspirational writing contests. To date, she has fourteen published novels and novellas. Over eighty of her inspirational verses have been published on a wide array of items for the Christian gift market. She enjoys a speaking ministry, sharing her journey to publication while encouraging aspiring writers. When not writing, her hobbies include reading, gardening, and visiting places of historical interest.


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Sherri Wilson Johnson on her debut novella by Barbour!

Rose here: Many of Sherri Wilson Johnson’s writing dreams came true this past week when her debut novella “The Bridge Between Us” was released by Barbour in “The Erie Canal Brides Collection.” I’ve already read this book, and really enjoyed it.

Guest post by Sherri Wilson Johnson

In The Bridge Between Us, Susannah Higley is waiting to find out if her wax flowers have won the prize in the Orleans County Fair. If she wins, her flowers will go to New York City for the state competition. Winning the prize money in the state competition will not only allow Susannah the opportunity to sell her flowers in Manhattan businesses, but will also help her Pa’s struggling lumberyard.

Wax flowers have been popular for generations. In fact, Queen Victoria loved them so much, it is said that between 10,000 and 15,000 wax flowers were crafted for her wedding on February 10, 1840.

Continue reading

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