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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Historic Cities Along the Ohio-Erie Canal by Johnnie Alexander

Rose here: I don’t know about you, but I have been learning so much this month just by reading my fellow author’s stories in The Erie Canal Brides Collection and the great research they did on the settings of their novellas. Below you will find a guest post by Johnnie Alexander. Which reminds me, have you signed up for our great giveaway for five books yet? If you already have a copy, you could gift this one to a friend. http://bit.ly/NUG-1903

Historic Cities Along the Ohio-Erie Canal

By Johnnie Alexander

Sometimes it’s hard to trace a story back to its origins. Why the heroine and the hero became the characters they turned out to be. Why the story opens when it does. Why a specific theme became part of the narrative.

That’s true of my story, “Journey of the Heart,” in The Erie Canal Brides Collection.

It’s hard to trace all the creative origins, but I can tell you why I chose the story’s setting—two specific cities, Circleville and Chillicothe, along the Ohio-Erie Canal.

I grew up in Ohio, about thirty miles or so from Circleville. One of my mom’s sisters lived there, and her husband worked at the local school. Every December, our large extended family held a Christmas potluck and gift exchange at the school.

To me, it was an ordinary small town where my older cousins lived. I had no idea, until I needed a setting for my story, of Circleville’s unique history.

The town was originally laid out in a circular arrangement on a Hopi burial mound in 1810. A few decades later, the townspeople tired of their circular streets. The Ohio General Assembly established the Circleville Squaring Company in 1837 to convert the layout to a squared grid.

I found this so fascinating I decided that the hero of my story, Tavish Dunbar, would be an architect hired to “square” the town’s curved buildings, including the post office where my heroine, Charity Sinclair, and her father lived and worked. And operated a station on the Underground Railroad.

Now to Chillicothe. When I was growing up, my dad’s parents lived south of Chillicothe, notable as both the first and third capital of Ohio. During the pre-Civil War days, white abolitionists and free blacks worked together to help runaways. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 hindered but could not stop this important work.

When Charity is caught transporting a runaway on the Canal, Tavish comes to her rescue. But it’s Charity’s ingenuity that rescues the runaway from her captors and reunites her with her escaped family.

I can’t trace all the elements of my story back to their origins.

But I can say that the historical settings—both Circleville and Chillicothe—played a huge part in the story’s development. And allowed me—a child of the Buckeye State—to honor two historic Ohio towns.


Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget. Her award-winning debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, is a CBA bestseller. She writes contemporaries, historicals, and cozy mysteries, serves on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, co-hosts an online show called Writers Chat, and interviews inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. She also teaches at writers conferences and for Serious Writer Academy. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at https://www.johnnie-alexander.com and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.

Rose again: This is the second Barbour collection I have had the pleasure of doing with Johnnie Alexander, and she is so much fun to work with! Also, her book Where Treasure Hides is one of my fave WWII novels. And I hope you will check out a video Johnnie and I did for our readers tomorrow on her blog. http://bit.ly/NU-RAM01 Also don’t forget to enter the 5 book giveaway here: http://bit.ly/NUG-1903

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Why the Erie Canal Story for a Story? by Lauralee Bliss

here: This whole month, I want to introduce you to some of the other authors in this collection with my novella which releases today! Happy release day, ladies!

Why the Erie Canal for a Story? by Lauralee Bliss

Thus began the foundation leading to my novella – “The Way of a Child” in The Erie Canal Brides Collection. The setting of my book is in a particularly beautiful region of the Mohawk River of New York State called Little Falls. The many hazards in large rocks in the river prompted the building of a canal in Little Falls as far back as the times of George Washington. It then led to further construction and improvements of the Erie Canal in the 1800’s. Gazing upon the humble farms in this region, I thought it would be interesting to talk about those who had to part with their land for the canal system to be built. It reminded me also of my childhood home near the Ashokan Reservoir and the many families that gave up their lands for progress so a reservoir could be built and supply New York City with water.

This is a story of conflict between David Marshall, whose prosperous farm exits in the very land agent Roy O’Neil must have to fulfill the land acquisitions for the canal. His daughter Melanie acts as the liaison between her father and David, of which she has some unlikely help in the venture – David’s children who come to adore her. This sets up an interesting challenge among them that carries the reader through many twists and turns.

In researching the novella set in Little Falls, I was blessed to have the historian from the Little Falls Historical Society give me a thorough tour of the falls area, thus strengthening the novella’s authenticity. He shared stories and river views, including the rocky areas of the river which the canal now bypasses, and the lay of the land. All this added flavor and depth, allowing me to paint a portrait of the area for the reader.

So why set stories on the Erie Canal? I believe the reason can be summed up in this quote from an exhibit at the New York Sate Museum in Albany New York, devoted to the Erie Canal:

“No single act – no public measure- except the Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States Constitution has done so much to promote the public prosperity and produce a new era in the history of our country as the construction of the Erie Canal.” – Jesse Hawley, 1840, a flour merchant and assemblyman

I hope you enjoy the collection.

Buy links: CBD https://bit.ly/2tIBCs1

Amazon https://amzn.to/2MMEo8d

Rose here again. I had never thought of the Erie Canal as being as important as the Declaration of Independence and  U.S. Constitution in promoting our nations’s prosperity. I don’t think most schools even teach about it any more. What do you think?

And a special thank you to Lauralee Bliss for sharing her photos with us. They truly give us a bird’s eye view of the places she wrote about! She is a very prolific writer and a wonderful photographer and an avid hiker!

Website: http://www.lauraleebliss.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraleeBliss/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lauraleebliss


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New booklet by Gina Diorio about Promises in the Wilderness.

Gina Diorio has written a great Scripture-based booklet on Promises in the Wilderness. Here’s her reason for writing this book:

This booklet came out of another study I did last year (via a series of Facebook posts!) looking at things that happen IN the wilderness. The verse that struck me as the core verse for this study is Exodus 16:10: “And it came to pass as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” God’s glory appeared to the Israelites when they looked toward the wilderness. 

I wanted to see what else Scripture had to say about things that happen IN the wilderness—and it turns out, a lot of things happen! Not only does God reveal His glory, but Scripture says He fights for us, He knows our walking, He guards us—the list goes on. This booklet looks at 20 things that happen in the wilderness—and I’m sure the list is by no means exhaustive.

When I’ve faced wildernesses in various areas of life—whether brief or multi-year with still no end in site—I just want to get OUT of my discomfort. But often it’s in our wilderness experiences that God meets us and we come to know Him more closely. I thought for several months about turning the informal study into a booklet—and then recently, as I went back to it for my own encouragement, I sensed strongly that I needed to publish this now.

It seems that so often as believers we encourage others going through wilderness experiences by focusing on how God brings us through the wilderness. And yes, that is absolutely true! But we can also find encouragement in what God does in our wildernesses.

The Amazon links are now live (paperback booklet & eBook)

And the e-book is also available for free from several other sites (including for iBook & Nook)

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From Infamy to Forgiveness: A Pearl Harbor Story by Linda Thompson

On this 77th Pearl Harbor Day, in honor of those who served and those who lost their lives in World War II I hope  you will read this stirring guest post.

Guest blog by Linda Thompson, author of A Plum Blooms in Winter

From Infamy to Forgiveness: A Pearl Harbor Story

I’m sure anyone with an interest in twentieth-century history is aware that today marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—arguably the most pivotal event of the past century here. But you may not know that the captain who directed the entire 350-plane aerial attack, who issued the famously triumphant “Tora-tora-tora” (“Tiger, tiger, tiger”) radio signal that announced that the Japanese had achieved complete surprise, would go on to provide a riveting testimony for Christ. And you probably don’t know how that came to pass. Continue reading

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