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I’ve shared my little quirk before of how I find a song that fits the story I’m writing and play it on a continuous loop while I work on the book

There is no doubt it drives our poor Lil’ Miss straight up the wall when she comes home and hears me playing the same song for the billionth time. However, the song creates a background noise that blocks out the rest of the world. And the perfect song helps bring the story and characters to life.

The first time I heard Chris Janson sing “Holdin’ Her,” I knew I had to use it while I wrote one of my books.

HOHH PPB rightAs soon as the characters for Klayne and Delaney from Home of Her Heart started banging around in my head, I realized “Holdin’ Her” was perfect for the book. It fits so well with the story and the characters.

I can’t tell you how many times I just sat back in my chair and listened to the words, envisioning Klayne and Delaney.

The really cool thing about this song is that Chris Janson wrote it for his wife and kids. It’s a true story, based on how he met her, married her, and began a whole new life with her.

Give it a listen. If you haven’t heard it before, you are in for a treat.

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HoHH Meme 4

One of the things I love about getting ready to write a new story is creating the characters.

Once I decide on how the character looks in my mind’s eye, I start searching online for visuals to help reinforce my vision for the main characters (and sometimes the secondary characters, too).

For Home of Her Heart, I knew right away I needed a visual of a man who looked like a soldier for Klayne Campbell’s character.

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Brendan Penny fit the bill particularly well. I could totally see him as Klayne.

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It was easy to picture him as the loner Klayne. As someone quiet yet sensitive, even if he didn’t always know how to express himself.

Brendan Penny

It’s no wonder Delaney fell head over heels in love with him.

The character of Delaney… she’s tough and strong, sassy and bold, yet softhearted and gentle.Jana 2

I thought Jana Kramer made a perfect Delaney…  from that winning smile

 

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right down to the smirk that so enchants Klayne.

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I could just picture Delaney standing at her bedroom window, wondering if Klayne will ever come home.

 

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For Delaney’s nephew, Ryatt, I chose Levi Miller. He’s such a little cutie and I could just picture him as the wounded yet loving boy.

As for Delaney’s dad, Dill, I didn’t have a clear vision in mind.

Who do you think would be a good visual represenation of Dill Danvers?

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HOHH long 1

Today, I thought you might like to meet some of the real Doolittle Raiders who helped shape my sweet romance, Home of Her Heart.

Flight Crew #1, Doolittle Raid                                     NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE US AIR FORCE

General James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle (pictured above second from left)

Doolittle was an aviation pioneer, aeronautical engineer, combat leader and military strategist. His career stretched from World War I to the height of the Cold War. Born in California, he spent his childhood in a rough Alaskan town where he learned to fight. Although small of statute (he was just 5’4″), he never let his size hold him back from pursuing his dreams. When his mother brought him back to California, leaving his father in Alaska, Doolittle began boxing. This upset his mother, so he assumed a fake name and went on to become a professional boxer.  In 1917 Doolittle became a flying cadet in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and joined World War I in 1918 as a commissioned first lieutenant who served as a flight leader and gunner instructor. In the years between then and America’s entry into World War II, Doolittle received the Distinguished Flying Cross (more than once), graduated from MIT, flew ground-breaking transcontinental flights, and served as a test pilot. Doolittle pioneered instrument flying and made great contributions to aeronautical technology in his civilian work. Following the reorganization of the Army Air Corps into the United States Army Air Force in June 1941, Doolittle wanted back in the military. He was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in January 1942 and volunteered to lead the secret mission being planned to drop bombs on Japan.  After the raid, Doolittle was sure he’d be court martialed due to the plans all crashing. Instead, he returned home a hero and was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Roosevelt.  He went on to serve in North Africa and then England where he commanded the Eighth Air Force as a Lieutenant General.  If you’d like to know more about the man who not only organized but flew on the Doolittle Raid, I highly recommend reading I Could Never Be So Lucky Again, written in Doolittle’s own engaging words.

Among the many things that impressed me about Jimmy Doolittle was how much he cared about the men he commanded, in particular, the Doolittle Raiders. He wrote in later years how close he felt to those brave men.

L1/Japan, Tokyo Raid/1942/pho 30

Crew of Plane #4 – Navigator Lt Harry C. McCool, Gunner Cpl Bert M. Jordan, Pilot Lt. Everett “Brick” W. Holstrom, Bombardier Sgt Robert J. Stephens, and Co-Pilot Lt Lucian N. Youngblood

Brigadier General Evverett W. “Brick” Holstrom was the pilot of plane #4. Brick was born and raised in Oregon and began his military career at Fort Lewis, WA, in 1939. The reason I mention Brick is because in Home of Her Heart, I have Klayne flying on patrol with a crew off the West Coast. There really were crews flying patrol right after Pearl Harbor, and with good reason. Although it is either lost to history or was never really shared, but on Christmas Eve, 1941, Brick (along with fellow raider Ted Lawson) was flying a submarine patrol and spotted a Japanese sub where the Columbia Rivers opens into the ocean. Brick and his crew dropped bombs and sunk the sub.

Crew of Plane #5 – Navigator Lt. Eugene Francis McGurl, Pilot Cpt. Davy Jones, Bombardier Lt. Denver Vernon Truelove, Co-Pilot Lt. Rodney Ross Wilder, Gunner Cpl.  Joseph W. Manske.

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Major General David M. Jones, (Captain Davy Jones at the time of the Doolittle Raid) was born in Oregon and graduated from high school in Arizona. Doolittle referred to him as the “top pilot” on the raid. Davy had the closest thing to an ideal landing of those who made their way to China. He flew his plane as close as he could to a friendly Chinese city then ordered his men to bail out. None of them were injured or captured. Davy remained in the area and flew in to pick up the injured men Doc White was attending.  He went on to command the 319th bomb group in North Africa where he flew B-26 Marauders against Rommel’s forces. In December 1942, the Germans shot down his plane and he was taken a prisoner of war.  Davy developed a reputation of defiance and harassment of his captors in his prison camp, Stalag Luft III. He served on the camp’s escape committee and inspired the character of Virgil Hilts played by Steve McQueen in the movie “The Great Escape.”  Davy remained in the military after serving with distinction during the war. He retired from the Air Force after 37 years of distinguished service. During his career, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Commendation Ribbon, and the Chinese Breast Order of Yung Hui.

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Captain Ted Lawson

The crew of plane #7 (humorously titled The Ruptured Duck), was piloted by Ted Lawson. Ted had only been married a few months to Ellen. I think she must have been a great sport, because when they decided to get married they rousted a Justice of Peace out of bed in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, and two of Ted’s comrades served as attendants. Later, they joked about Pilot Bob Gray(also a Doolittle Raider) being her bridesmaid.

L1/Japan, Tokyo Raid/1942/pho 10

The crew of the Ruptured Duck included Co-Pilot Lt. Dean Davenport, Pilot Lt. Ted Lawson, Navigator Charles L. McClure, Bombardier Lt. Robert Stevenson Clever, and Gunner Cpl. David J. Thatcher.

These five men were the inspiration behind the crew on Klayne’s plane. In reality, their plane did flip over and crash before they could safely land. Davenport, Lawson and Clever were all shot out of the plane. McClure, he had been leaning against the backs of the two pilot seats had both shoulders broken. Thatcher was knocked out but only sustained a bleeding bump to the head.

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Lawson with Chinese Doctor

Lawson was in bad shape, although he didn’t immediately realize how bad. Numbed and in shock, the first thing he discovered when he made his way to the beach was that his voice sounded strange. He reached up to his mouth and found his bottom lip had been cut through and torn down to the cleft of his chin. His upper teeth were bent in. When he pushed on them to straighten them, they broke off in his hand. The same thing happened with his bottom teeth, bringing along pieces of his gums. The biceps of his left arm had been ripped down to where it rested in the crook of his arm. But the worst injury was to his left leg. Sliced open from upper thigh to his knee, the wound was so deep, it exposed the bone. Ted would endure a grueling trip to a crude hospital where Lt. Thomas White (who really did qualify as a gunner to be able to fly with Crew #15) amputated the leg. Lawson was so distraught over his injuries and appearance, he refused to write to his wife once he finally made it back to the states. Jimmy Doolittle found out about it and arranged for Ellen (eight months pregnant at the time) to fly from California to Washington D.C. where Ted was in the hospital.

Ted’s reluctance to see Ellen is what inspired the idea for Klayne to refuse to contact Delaney in the story.

Clever’s injuries are similar to Klayne’s in the story, although I don’t believe Clever sustained any injury to his eye. Lawson said in his retelling of events that he thought Clever had been shot out of the front of the plane like a ball out of a cannon. The man’s scalp had been ripped back, his back injured to the point he couldn’t walk, and he sustained so many cuts, they feared he would bleed to death.

Davenport injured his leg and couldn’t walk and McClure suffered to move with two broken shoulders. Thatcher was the one who took care of the men as they made the arduous journey to the hospital.

I very much enjoyed reading Ted’s account of the raid in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. You can also watch a movie by the same name starring Spencer Tracy as Doolittle. It closely follows Ted’s story.

This is a great clip from the movie (you get a real feel for the compact quarters, the noise, what these men experienced).

When Doolittle first asked for volunteers for a “secret, dangerous mission,” he knew some of the men would not make it home. That was a fact.

Of the 80 men who flew on the mission, three died in the crash landings. Only one of those was for certain until after the war. Two of the men died when the plane crashed in Japanese-occupied China. Their crew-mates hastily buried them on the beach before they were taken captive by the Japanese. One other crew was taken captive, for a total of eight men who were prisoners of war. Three were executed in October 1942, leaving five in some of the most horrific conditions you could imagine. One of those died (some say of starvation) in prison. At the end of the war, the Japanese did not readily release the remaining four prisoners. A crew was sent in to find them. It was then the deaths of the crew members were shared. Until then, no one had a firm knowledge of who had lived or died (although they were fairly certain on the three who had been executed). One of the men suffered from delusions that the rescue was just another trick by the Japanese. He attempted suicide and was left penniless in an institution until Doolittle found out what had happened to him and set the matter aright.

Member of famed 'Doolittle Raiders' dies

Of the other three prisoners of war, Jacob DeShazer went on to become a missionary in Japan. It was during those dark days in prison when found help and solace in a Bible. Born and raised in a small farming community in Central Oregon, DeShazer joined the Air Corps when he was 27, eager to be a pilot. He didn’t qualify, but did become a bombardier. He survived 40 months of torture before returning home. He enrolled at a college in Seattle and received a bacherlor’s degree in biblical literature. In December 1948, he returned to Japan where he preached his first sermon to a congregation of Methodists in a church in a Tokyo suburb.

In 1950, his missionary work paid great dividends. Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese naval flier who had led the Pearl Harbor attack and had become a rice farmer after the war, came upon the DeShazer tract. Fuchinda became  an evangelist and made several trips to the United States to meet with Japanese-speaking immigrants about Christianity.

***

The stories of these eighty men (all of them braver than I can fathom), so touched my heart and gave me such a deep appreciation for all they sacrificed, of all their families sacrificed, to give us a better world today.

 

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In the midst of my research for Garden of Her Heart (Hearts of the War Book 1), I happened upon an old map that showed airfields around the state of Oregon during World War II. One of them happened to be in Pendleton, where I’d already based my Pendleton Petticoats series that takes place at the turn of the century and continues into the early 1900s.

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Photo by Bus Howdyshell – August 1941

Further digging into the past revealed the airfield was established months before Pearl Harbor was bombed. With war looming on the horizon, the U.S. Army Air Force was already gearing up for it with extensive training.  It took the Corps of Engineers six months to expand Pendleton’s municipal airport and to construct new runways, hangars, and other buildings to serve the 2,500 personnel that would be stationed at the base.

In June 1941, the 17th Bombardment Group, were stationed at Pendleton Airfield. This move  played a key factor in their involvement in a mission that changed the course of the war.

After Pearl Harbor was bombed, the nation’s morale fell to all-time lows. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was determined to show the enemy America would not roll over and give up. Through a series of discussions, secret plans were implemented to take the war back to Japan. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle was tapped to make it happen. He ended up choosing seventy-nine men from the 17th Bombardment Group because they had the new B-25 Mitchell Bombers and a little training in flying them.

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For Doolittle’s daring plan to succeeds, the pilots of the planes would have to fly off a carrier in the Pacific ocean (something that had never been done with a medium bomber).

In early February, Doolittle transferred group to Columbia, South Carolina. The conditions there were less than ideal. The men slept in tents and reported freezing in the cold rain that fell and turned the ground to a muddy mire. Despite Pendleton having below zero temperatures that winter, many of the men longed to return there where at least they had warm bunks to sleep in.

Doolittle asked his team leaders to choose the men they’d like see go on the mission (although those leaders didn’t have full details of the mission either). So they tapped the men they’d like to see go and asked for volunteers. Every single man who went volunteered to go although what they knew of the mission was limited to the facts it would be dangerous and some of them would not make it home.

Yet, they still volunteered.

In March, the men were transferred to Eglin Field in Florida where they were required to put in more than fifty hours of training. They practiced take offs in short distances at high speed. The flew over open water, dropped fake bombs and got in as much practical experience as possible before Doolittle ordered them to fly across the country to California where sixteen crews of five men each along with sixteen planes would board the U.S.S. Hornet and head out to sea.

Because Doolittle had trained additional crews in case something happened, all of them made the trip to California. Fearful one of the crews left behind might leak information (although the men still knew nothing at this point, although many had guesses of where they were heading), Doolittle brought them all along.

 

It wasn’t until they were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean before Doolittle called the crews together and finally told them the mission plans – to bomb Tokyo and a handful of other cities.

The plan was for the crews to fly to Japan (one plane would be piloted by Doolittle – an aeronautic acrobat, test-pilot, and all-around amazing flier), drop the bombs, then make their way to China to refuel.

 

However, an enemy boat spied them the day before they were ready to embark on the mission and they immediately prepared to take off. On April 18, 1942, they dropped bombs on Tokyo and a handful of other cities. The devastation to Japan came not in the bombs that were dropped, but in the psychological damage done to a country that assured it’s people they were untouchable.

The other benefit of the bombing was the boost in morale it made to America. When radio reports and newspaper articles began flooding the nation, people pulled themselves up out of their despair and renewed their commitment to win the war – together.

If you’ve never heard of the Doolittle Raid or the eighty incredibly brave men who flew on this mission, I highly recommend looking it up. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (available as a book or movie) offers an amazingly insightful look into the mission.

Of the eighty men who flew on the mission, seventy-nine of them were based at Pendleton (Doolittle was the only one who wasn’t).

aftermath

Fifteen of the planes crashed near or in China, none of them reaching the friendly airfields they had hoped to make it to before their fuel supplies ran out. One plane made an emergency landing in Russia (and the crew was interned for fourteen months before escaping).

Although the number of men who died on the mission wasn’t as many as Doolittle anticipated, there were deaths and life-altering injuries, not to mention the men who were captured by the Japanese as prisoners of war.

Some families didn’t know until after the end of the war what had happened to their loved ones who served on this top-secret mission.

The men who flew in the raid knew they might never come home again. The families they left behind knew it, too. Yet they did what they could for a country that needed their service and sacrifice.

And that is why I think the men and women who helped win World War II are more than worthy of the title of the Greatest Generation. They shaped a nation where future generations of children don’t have to face the hardships or sacrifices they so willingly made.

HoHH Meme 4In Home of Her Heart, Klayne Campbell is a loner with nothing to lose. Then he volunteers for a secret, dangerous mission he’s convinced will get him killed. Unable to bear the thought of dying without leaving something behind, someone behind, he asks Delaney Danvers to marry him. He’d fallen in love with Delaney the first time he set eyes on her, but he had no intention of letting emotions get involved. He promised her a marriage in name only, and she agrees. But the feisty, fiery woman has something far different in mind than a marriage on paper in…

 

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Today is the release of Home of Her Heart!

Hooray!
Home of Her Heart

All he needed was a bride. . .

Who said anything about falling in love?

Orphaned at birth and a loner all his life, the last thing Sergeant Klayne Campbell needs is for feisty Delaney Danvers to entangle his thoughts. Bravely volunteering for a top-secret mission almost certain to get him killed, Klayne can’t bear the thought of dying utterly alone. All he wants is to face death knowing his life meant something to at least one person. Offering Delaney a marriage of convenience, he plans to leave behind a war bride as his beneficiary. After just one night as her husband, Klayne realizes he’ll do anything to survive and return to her.

The moment she met handsome Sergeant Campbell at a holiday party, Delaney’s whole world shifted off kilter. Full of fun with an unquenchable zest for life, she isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. And what she wants is Klayne. When he prepares to join a hazardous mission, she seizes the opportunity to give him a reason to fight his way back home — to her heart.

A tender, sweet romance rich with history and enduring love, Home of Her Heart captures the era and emotions prevalent during America’s entry into World War II.

Get your copy today for just 99 cents! Available on Amazon

HoHH Meme 4

Excerpt:

His breath blew across her neck as he placed a heated kiss to the pulse rapidly pounding in her throat. He lifted his head and the sparks in his eyes ignited into liquid fire. Intrigued, uncertain, and longing for something she couldn’t explain and didn’t fully understand, she couldn’t tear her gaze away from his.

A sound of tortured misery escaped his throat on a low groan. “Delaney, you need to step away and show me to the door, right now. If you don’t, if you wait one more minute, I won’t be able to leave. Do you understand what I’m telling you, sweetheart? If you want me to leave, now is the time to tell me.” He started to move away but she wouldn’t let him, clasping her arms around his waist and holding on tight.

He held his arms out to his sides, not touching her. Even so, she felt a tremor pass through him as he fought to hold onto his control.

“Delaney Marie, if you don’t turn me loose, I won’t be held responsible for my actions. I know I promised you a marriage in name only, but you can only push a man so far before he lands beyond the edge of reason.”

“I plan to hold you responsible for your actions, Klayne.” She gave him a smirk as her hazel eyes darkened. “Fully and completely responsible…


Hatfield Party 5

Home of Her Heart marks my 50th published book! Come join in the fun and help me celebrate today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Pacific Time) with a Release Party on Facebook. Giveaways, games, free books and guest authors will make it three hours of great shenanigans and entertainment!

Hope to see you there!

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HoHH Meme 4

I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of Home of Her Heart. It’s the second book in the Hearts of the War series and is set in Pendleton (and yes, some of those fun Pendleton Petticoats characters will make guest appearances in the story!).

Here’s a little about the book.

Home of Her Heart

All he needed was a bride. . .

Who said anything about falling in love?

Orphaned at birth and a loner all his life, the last thing Sergeant Klayne Campbell needs is for feisty Delaney Danvers to entangle his thoughts. Bravely volunteering for a top-secret mission almost certain to get him killed, Klayne can’t bear the thought of dying utterly alone. All he wants is to face death knowing his life meant something to at least one person. Offering Delaney a marriage of convenience, he plans to leave behind a war bride as his beneficiary. After just one night as her husband, Klayne realizes he’ll do anything to survive and return to her.

The moment she met handsome Sergeant Campbell at a holiday party, Delaney’s whole world shifted off kilter. Full of fun with an unquenchable zest for life, she isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. And what she wants is Klayne. When he prepares to join a hazardous mission, she seizes the opportunity to give him a reason to fight his way back home — to her heart.

A tender, sweet romance rich with history and enduring love, Home of Her Heart captures the era and emotions prevalent during America’s entry into World War II.

You can find  Home of Her Heart  on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073V5H2PR/.  The pre-order price is just 99 cents!

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You’re also invited to attend the release party Aug. 10 on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/events/1030975103706325/ Hope to see you there!

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And if you missed it, the first book in the series is Garden of Her Heart.

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Can forbidden love blossom amid the constraints of war?

The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.

After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.

A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.

Kindle: https://amzn.com/B01LYTC7IG

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1125098241

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1173687544

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/garden-of-her-heart

Audio: http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Garden-of-Her-Heart-Audiobook/B01N9ECC0U/

Paperback: http://a.co/aWqNawz

Large Print: http://a.co/iNmKvIF

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