Thursday, April 26, 2018

Five Secrets With Author Donna Wichelman & Her Latest Release ~ Undaunted Valor

It's my pleasure to bring you Donna Wichelman and 
Book 2 of The Waldensian Series, Undaunted Valor 

Thanks, L.A. for hosting me again, it's a pleasure to be on your blog.

I discovered my true passion for writing novels at the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, where I focused on English Literature. I loved all the classics, reading books by Jane Austin, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Ellie Wiesel and Victor Hugo. They awakened a desire in me to write books that touched the human spirit.

While I was at Atlantic College, I wrote a thesis on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and visited the Brontë parsonage in Haworth, England. Walking the heather-dressed moors on a drizzly day is forever etched in my mind, because I happened upon an old man with a cap and a cane whose ancestors knew the Brontës. Not only was he the quintessential British gent, but he fascinated me with stories about the family. I felt like I was actually living a storybook tale.

When I returned to the States, I majored in sociology and political science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, but writing was still in my blood. Several years later, I mastered in Mass Communication/Journalism and worked as a communications professional before writing full-time.

Since writing as a full-time career, I’ve authored short stories, essays and articles in various inspirational publications and live my dream writing novels and screenplays.

Hi Donna, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about Undaunted Valor, Book 2 The Waldensian Series or you, but will after today!

1)      Undaunted Valor went through three stages before the book found its rightful story. In the original plotline, after Jamie found a letter from her ancient cousin Anne Charbonnier, she felt a desire to go on a pilgrimage to understand the heart and soul of her ancestors. Though such a soul searching story had its merits, the plotline didn’t feel compelling enough. So I added the element of the mob coming back to avenge the death of their mob boss from Book 1 Light Out of Darkness. Still, the book needed something more sinister that Jamie and Alessandro cared deeply enough about to fight for. That’s when the plot took a turn and Alessandro’s grandmother was kidnapped and a ransom demanded for her return. Now they had a cogent reason to hike a part of the trail of the Glorious Return with all its danger and pitfalls.

2)      As the plotline for Undaunted Valor evolved, so did the working titles for the book. The first working title was The Glorious Return based on the original plotline when Jamie wanted to go on a pilgrimage. Against All Odds, suggested by a good writer friend, became the working title when the mob element developed and could have worked as a permanent title. However, given the Waldensians’ historical reputation for valor and enduring faith during centuries of persecution from the Church in Europe, Undaunted Valor, also suggested by a writer friend, seemed fitting as Jamie and Alessandro traveled the same roads as their ancient ancestors and fought against formidable foes for their beloved grandmother’s life.

3)      I fell in love with the idea of Jamie and Alessandro’s love story paralleling the story of one of Anne’s ancient ancestors. I thought the notion was so compelling that I wrote Anne Charbonnier’s letter in one sitting. Anne’s love affair with the son of her people’s enemy is a universal love story, pitting family members against one another. Since Anne’s story is also based on a historical period of time, I am currently turning the story into a screenplay with a little bit of twist at the end. I’m also contemplating turning the letter into a full-length novel. Stay tuned for further developments.

4)      I’ve always loved the name Anne. I had intended to give Anne to my daughter as a middle name, but half drugged in the delivery room, she received my middle name Lynn. If my husband and I had been able to have another daughter, we would have named her Anne. As fate will have it, after Anne Charbonnier became a character in my book, I found the name in the actual genealogical records of the Waldensian Church in Italy.

5)      I am a history buff. Always have been. American History and Geography were my two favorite subjects in junior high school, and I did well in those subjects. That’s why, though I’m writing contemporary stories, something related to history will probably always appear in my books.

For nature lovers, ski aficionados, travel enthusiasts and history scholars, the French Alps offer some of the most spectacular scenery and outdoor recreation in all Europe with its majestic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, unspoiled forests and quaint mountain villages. People come to get away from the daily grind and rejuvenate their spirits.

But when Alessandro Marianni’s grandmother Luciana is kidnapped during a church conference in Chamonix, the same landscape becomes an ominous height to scale, and Jamie Holbrooke and her fiancé Alessandro have difficulty distinguishing between friend and foe on the race to find her. They will have to weather a rainstorm on a mountain trail, negotiate a dangerous waterfall, outmaneuver a car chase, and defy an assassin’s gun in their search.

Will they find their beloved Luciana before it’s too late? Who will die on the way to the finish line? Who can they trust? And where will Jamie find the courage to confront her adversaries?

In this sequel to Light Out of Darkness, the answers will lie in unanticipated places and with unexpected allies and require Jamie to discover what it means to trust God with undaunted valor.


Find Donna: 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Author Spotlight Featuring Jill Haymaker's New Release ~ Mountain Hearts

Please welcome Jill Haymaker and take a peek at her lastest novel 
in the Peakview Series, Mountain Hearts.

Thanks, L.A., it's good to be back.

I’ve always wanted to write a book about someone who’d lost a child. It’s the most devastating thing anyone can live through. My heroine starts the story in this very dark place. This book is about recovery and coming through on the other side of grief. Love can help us get through just about anything. I decided to make my hero have his own past ghosts so they could heal together.

We’ve all experienced some kind of grief in our lives. My goal is to show hope to those who need it. I hope everyone will be able to relate to this story on some level.

Suzy Quinlan kicked the dark gray slush in front of her tire with the pointed toe of her high-heeled black boot. The clump fell off her car with a thud, as she grabbed the door handle with her free hand to avoid the same fate. In her other hand, she clung to the large, black umbrella. The cold, icy drizzle continued to fall from the sky. She glanced back in the direction she’d come, in time to see the coffin being lowered into the cold ground. She quickly turned away. The grave side service was bad enough—she didn’t want to think about what happened next.

She carefully walked to the driver’s side of her car. A solid layer of ice had formed on her windshields. Could this day get any worse? She slid her way to the trunk and grabbed out her ice scraper. This was a two-hand job. She collapsed the umbrella and threw it in the trunk. Her long, red hair, which she had so carefully straightened this morning, was sure to turn into a frizz ball in about ten seconds flat in this weather. It didn’t matter. Nothing really mattered anymore. She made her way back to the front of the car and started chipping away. Reaching across the snowy hood, she cursed as her ankle twisted in a pothole. Icy, cold water entered her boot which was made for fashion, not function.

She gave up and climbed behind the wheel and cranked the defrost button to high. She’d wait while the car did the rest of the work. She sighed and laid her head on the steering wheel. She wasn’t going to cry, not now.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Suzy looked up to see her mom knocking on her window. She pushed the button, and slush flew as the pane descended.

“You’re coming to the house, right?” Mom’s pretty face was creased with worry.


“Do you want to ride with us?” Mom pointed over at Dad sitting behind the wheel of the next car.

“It would be silly to leave my car here at the cemetery. Besides, my feet are soaked. I want to stop at the apartment and change. You go ahead.”

“Alright, but don’t take too long. Aunt Julie says people from the church have been bringing food by all day. I know everyone wants to see you. Don’t forget that Grams and Alice have to catch a plane tonight.”

“I’ll be there.” She rolled the window back up and watched her mom climb in their vehicle, and her dad drive away.

Her windshield had semi-cleared. She turned on the wipers, pulled away from the curb, and drove down the slushy street. Not toward her apartment—not toward her childhood home—just ahead. She knew everyone wanted to give her their condolences, but she’d lose it if she heard one more person say, “I’m sorry for your loss” or “It’s going to be alright.” It wasn’t going to be alright—ever. No amount of casseroles could change that.

SUZY QUINLAN’S heart dies the day she buries her five year old son, Mason. Leaving the cold cemetery, she flees to the Colorado Mountains searching for peace. Unexpectedly caught in a blinding snowstorm, she seeks shelter in the tiny town of Peakview.

JERRY DECKER is known as the town’s hermit. Since returning from his service in Iraq eight years earlier, he lives a solitary life hiding from his demons, with only his dog, Bear, as company.

Two hearts damaged by grief drawn together as kindred souls. To move forward, they’ll have to face their pasts and lay their ghosts to rest. Can broken hearts dare to hope again?


Jill Haymaker was born and raised in Indiana and Ohio. After high school, she attended Bowling Green State University before moving to Fort Collins, Colorado.  Ms. Haymaker made her home in Fort Collins until her recent move to East Texas. She practiced family law in Fort Collins for the past 20 years. She has three grown children, a son and two daughters.  She also has three granddaughters.

Jill has always had a passion for writing.  Colorado Sunset was her first full length romance novel in her Peakview, Colorado series. Her latest book, Mountain Hearts is the eighth book in the series. If you love small town romance, you will love the characters in this series. She also has had several short stories published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, the most recent in the book Random Acts of Kindness.

When not practicing law or writing, Jill enjoys The Colorado mountains, horseback riding, gardening, long walks with her Shetland Sheepdog, Laddie, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. She enjoys their numerous sporting events. She is also an avid football fan and can be found on autumn weekends cheering on her favorite teams. She has a passion for working with high school youth- she is a youth group leader at her church, coaches a high school mock trial team and is a volunteer at cross country and track meets.

Find Jill: