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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sundays in Fredericksburg with 4 Guest Authors


EILEEN KEY retired after teaching school for thirty years. She is a freelance writer and editor. Her publications include stories in God Allows U-TurnsGod's Way for TeachersOur Fathers Who Art in HeavenSoul MattersPrayers for the Armed Forces, and numerous articles, devotionals and book reviews. Her first novel, Dog Gone, from Barbour Heartsong Presents, released in the fall of 2008. A Barbour novella, Door County Christmas, released in the fall of 2010. Mother of three, grandmother of three, Eileen resides in San Antonio, Texas, where she is an active member of Grace Community Church.

LYNETTE SOWELL is the author of over a dozen titles for Barbour Publishing, with one title winning the Carol Award and two others finaling. When Lynette’s not writing, she works as a medical editor and part-time newspaper reporter. Lynette lives on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well trained. You can keep up with Lynette at,, and

CONNIE STEVENS lives in north Georgia with her husband of thirty-nine years. She has been a member of ACFW since 2000 and had her first book published in 2010. She loves wandering through century-old cemeteries to find interesting names, and exploring antique shops and old houses for inspiration for her historical novels. She has been known to forget what time it is—or for that matter, what decade it is—when immersed in research. Visit Connie’s website at and look for her on Facebook at

MARGIE VAWTER is a professional freelance editor who proofreads for CBA publishers, edits for individual clients, and writes. An avid reader, she also judges for several prestigious awards in the inspirational marketplace and serves as conference director’s assistant for the Colorado and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conferences. Her first fiction, a novella in Sundays in Fredericksburg, released in April 2013. And she has two nonfiction books also releasing in 2013. She lives with her husband, Roger, and cat, Sinatra, in southwest Missouri

by Eileen Key, Lynette Sowell, Connie Stevens, and Margie Vawter
Published by Barbour


Come on down to Fredericksburg, Texas, where four generations of couples encounter romance in Sunday Houses. Having become a schoolteacher to avoid marriage, Amelia Bachman finds her resolve crumbling before a smitten carpenter. Determined not to fall in love, Mildred Zimmermann carefully nurses an army medic crippled in love and war. Somewhat of a homebody, Trudy Meier isn’t sure she has the courage to love a roving reporter. Gwendolyn’s beautiful wildflower field is threatened by a geologist’s search for knowledge. Will these four women risk their hearts for the love a stranger?

Readers, buy your copy of Sundays in Fredericksburg today!


Eileen Key
A Change of Perspective

Writing is a solitary journey, and sometimes we writers are asked to move from behind our computer screens and step out of our comfort zones. I find myself quaking in my boots when asked to speak to a group about me, myself and I. Yes, I’m proud of my work; yes, I can tell you how a book is published. But golly gee, talk about me? Hard to do.

Yet as I left a speaking engagement recently, I realized I was using the power of my testimony to brag on what the Lord has done in my life. I’m constantly amazed at His good and wonderful gifts. Telling others how He has led me on this writing journey only enforces the scripture in Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I am delighted to be a daughter of the King and I am blessed to be a part of our writer’s community. American Christian Fiction Writers has been a wonderful gift to me—given directly from His hand. Acquiring my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, was a gift to me—given directly from His hand. All of my sales are gifts—given directly from His hand.

When I focus on His hand reaching out to give me gifts, suddenly I’m eager to be “outta da box” and in front of others to tell them of His wonderful goodness. It’s the change of perspective which has helped me overcome my fear. Jesus is the tale not me.

Reader Question: What wonderful gifts has the Lord given you?

Lynette Sowell
Sunday Houses

During the summer of 2010, I didn't want to go to Fredericksburg, Texas. Not at first. My plan for an ideal summer vacation was renting our favorite condo for three nights at the Texas Gulf Coast, where we could walk the beach, browse the shops in town and watch the sunset from under the palm trees. Not visiting the small town with German roots in the Texas Hill Country.

My husband and I decided to take a stay-cation that year instead, and planned a few day trips within two hours or so of home. We chose Fredericksburg for one of our destinations, mostly because we'd never been there and had always heard of its charm.

The hot July Texas sun beat down on us as we walked Main Street and wandered through shops, enjoying the air conditioning, la delicious lunch, and rounded out the afternoon with ice cream sundaes. We'd noticed the town was steeped in history, including the Admiral Nimitz Museum and the Museum of the Pacific War. The idea of a Pacific War museum almost smack-dab in the center of Texas didn't make sense to me until later and I'd grown to know Fredericksburg and its history better.

Sweating, but happy and full of ice cream, we paused at the windows of a realty office on the way back to our truck. "Stay in one of our Sunday houses during your next visit to Fredericksburg," a sign proclaimed. I went inside and got a brochure.

Sunday houses? What in the world are Sunday houses?

My husband is accustomed to life with a writer. Anything, anyone, anywhere, any time can end up as fodder for a story idea. The idea of the Sunday houses followed me home and wouldn't leave.

I'd written a book set in Texas before, Riverwalk Christmas, and one of my dear writer friends, Eileen Key, had told me, "If you ever come up with another Texas idea, let me know."

Then in late 2010, Barbour opened up submissions for novella collections and I told Eileen about my idea. She rounded up her posse, and the rest is what they call history.

Sometimes life disappoints us, even if it's something as simple as not being able to take the vacation you'd planned. In this case for me, this literal "re-routing" of my summer plans ended up taking me down a wonderful road.

Reader Question: Have you ever had a disappointment turn into a blessing?

Connie Stevens
Hope's Dwelling Place

Since this was my first novella, I depended on the members of our team with more experience. It didn’t take long, however, to be drawn into the excitement of brainstorming the four stories, especially since we decided to make this collection generational.

My story appears first in the collection, and it is set in 1897. My main characters are Amelia, the new schoolmarm, and Hank, the son of a local farmer who has no intention of following in his father’s footsteps.

When working out the details of this generational collection, the team had to frequently be in touch to exchange information regarding the names and ages of the characters and specific timelines. As a bit of different twist, I also have three orphaned children in my story—Hank’s young cousins, who not only play a major role in my story, but also add to the next generation. Margie Vawter’s story is set twenty years after mine, at the end of World War I, and one of her main characters is the daughter of my characters. Fast forward another generation to Lynette Sowell’s story, set during World War II. One of her main characters is the son of one of the orphaned cousins from my story. Eileen Key wrote the final segment in the collection, and her story is set in current day. I was intrigued to read and critique her manuscript with her heroine as the great granddaughter of my characters.

In addition to keeping the family tree straight over four generations, there are some unique common threads that connect the four stories as well, besides the Sunday houses. A gazebo built by Hank, and a field of wildflowers sown by Amelia appear over the generations, and the team had to make sure we remained consistent in the location of landmarks. Even though the gazebo falls into disrepair and eventually crumbles away over the many decades, its foundation remains—much like the foundation of our faith.

Additionally, the foundation of friendship between four authors was bonded and strengthened as the team put their heads together during the writing of this collection. It was sad to say goodbye to our characters when we finished the editing process, but our friendship remains with each other—probably the sweetest thing about writing a novella collection with three other authors.

Reader Question: Have you ever collaborated on a project with other people? What kind of friendship bonds were created by working together?

Margie Vawter
The Writer and Research

Research is probably one of my favorite parts of writing historical fiction. I’m one of those people who didn’t mind learning dates, etc., in history class in either high school or college. In fact, I minored in history, where in addition to two-semester courses in American and English history, I also studied world history.

The hard part for me is narrowing down a time period to write about. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to English history. Maybe because there’s so much more of it than there is in America. And maybe because my paternal great-great-grandparents didn’t immigrate to the States until the 1870s and my maternal grandfather not until the mid–1910s.

For A Shelter from the Storm, I drew from family history for the time period and story spark. A story that has always fascinated me was that of my maternal grandmother’s first marriage, which lasted less than a year as her husband Harold contracted the Spanish influenza and died. She didn’t marry my grandfather, Nelson, until several years later. But the spark for the story came from Harold’s death. While I used their first names, nothing else in A Shelter from the Storm parallels my grandparents’ love story.

One very interesting tidbit of information that sealed the story for me came about as I was researching World War 1 nurses. I had already decided on Winters for Nelson’s last name. I came across a 2007 obituary in The Boston Globe about a woman who was influential in getting nurses into active duty with the navy during World War I. Her name was Charlotte Winters. (You can read about it here: Chills went down my spine. I had inadvertently picked the perfect last name for Nelson. She became Nelson’s sister-in-law, though she’s not an active character in my story.

This is one reason why I love research.

Reader Question: What time period and/or country in history interests you most?

* * * * *

Thank you, Connie, Eileen, Lynette, and Marjorie for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to any one of the reader questions above for your chance to win either a free autographed copy of the book featured above or a McGuffey's Reader. There will be at least TWO winners, perhaps more if the authors decide to choose more than one. If you do not answer a question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to contiguous US residents for the physical products (books) and international or Alaska/Hawaii residents for an eBook copy.


Eileen Key said...

Thanks, Tiff, for inviting us. Sundays has been great fun to research and write. Since it's in "my backyard" of San Antonio, it has a special place in my heart.

Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

I had the privilege of reading these stories BEFORE they were published--what a treat! Each are delightful. Thanks for featuring this set, Tiff!

Kelly Irvin said...

This sounds wonderful. I love the generational aspect. Can't wait to read these stories!

Marjorie Vawter said...

Thanks, Tiff, for hosting us. This was such a fun project to work on, and now that it is published it's fun to interact with readers and see what appeals to them as they read these novellas.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Connie is having difficulty with her computer and browsers allowing her to post a comment. She's hoping to iron it out and post as soon as she can.

Lynette Sowell said...

One of the best parts of writing this book was visiting Fredericksburg with Connie and Eileen. I felt like we'd stepped right into the history of the place.