My Visit to Fort Sumter

November 21, 2014

After a surprisingly lovely trip on a boat, on the ocean where I did not feel woozy in the slightest, we departed for a one hour trek through the entirety of Fort Sumter. Honestly--my head was swimming with elation at actually walking the same grounds where the Civil War began. 

My favorite Rachelle. She walked alongside me the whole way through, listening and enthusing along with me and is the photographer behind any photo with me actually in it. She is a gem and I couldn't imagine going to Fort Sumter with anyone but her.

Fun history fact. There were two more levels to this outer wall of the fort before the attack in April 1861

Beautiful, beautiful day. A very bright, beautiful day. I think this was one picture I shut my eyes till when Rachelle finished counting to three...

Legit artillery. Because why not?

Look at the interior of this brick! 

The parade grounds of the fort.

My helpful, patient and gracious tour guide.

Me and artillery. Of course. The guns at Gettysburg weren't this big!

Blondie and a cannon. *smile*

This shot was Rachelle's idea. 

The upper level of the fort.

Looking towards England! Have ya'll gathered I am thoroughly enchanted and in love with the ocean?

Sister selfie time. Love this girl.

The South Carolina state flag. Palmetto tree and a crescent moon.

Mountain Howitzer artillery. Confederates used several field pieces like this 12-pounder mountain howitzer to defend against a surprise landing by Union forces.

The South Carolina flag that eventually flew above Fort Sumter in 1861

Heading back on the boat after the tour. I didn't want to leave. 
But we were hungry and needed lunch. Such an amazing time. 
I have now officially been to the place the Civil War began; arguably the place where the Civil War's tide turned--Gettysburg. Now I just need to get to Appomattox where it ended.

And that is just a fraction of the 150+ photos I took during my Southern vacation. I had an amazing time and so enjoyed chronicling my journey here to share with ya'll. 

How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes | New Release + Giveaway!

November 19, 2014

I am so pleased to share with you all my dear friend Amber's latest release, How a Star Falls. A sweet, new-adult contemporary romance novella. Having loved her historical series--you can find them on her Amazon page--I greatly look forward to this intriguing new genre of new-adult, and if you're a romantic--you'll be sure to love the tender way she writes romance.

Sweet NA Contemporary Romance Novella
How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.
Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he'll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it's far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won't stop trying to run his life.
Then Brielle falls into his world.
She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she's crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can't just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.
And his whole world falls apart.
A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

Author Bio
Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she's always considered home. Learn more about Amber’s books at
Twitter | Blog | Website | Pinterest | Goodreads | Google+


"Amber Stokes has perfectly expressed the challenges of twenty-something life in her sweet contemporary new adult novella, How a Star Falls. Brielle and Derrick's journey reminds us all of the search to find ourselves in the midst of young adulthood. Their story is charming and wistful with emotions we can all relate to experiencing at some point in our lives. It is a tale about letting go in order to find yourself once again while never losing the importance of who you are...and who you can be." 
- Cerella Sechrist, author of Gentle Persuasion and The Paris Connection

"Perfect for when you want a whimsical, heartwarming read, How a Star Falls is more than an inspirational's a wink and a smile." 
- Joanne Bischof, award winning author of This Quiet Sky 

"Though not typically a reader of contemporary fiction, I found How a Star Falls to be a wonderfully told story of both sweet romance and coming to terms with the fact that even though life doesn't always turn out exactly as we dreamed it would, even our undesirable circumstances can lead to a bright future.
- Jaye L. Knight, author of Ilyon Chronicles

Where I Wrote in the South

November 17, 2014

Rachelle had to work short shifts two days I was there, so I happily bebopped over to the cutest little coffee shop called, Single Smile to write while she worked. It is a pleasantly cluttered, old-tyme yet hipster joint with the biggest, sweetest lattes. Their large has four shots of espresso. Part of the reason I got so many words written in my novel down there!

This place had it all--great music streaming, yummy scents and just the perfect ambiance for this introverted writer. I got to people-watch in between writing, even unplugged my earbuds for a time to be ensconced in the atmosphere and classic coffee shop sounds. Suffice it to say there's nothing remotely close to where I live that compares. There's a coffee shop in our city's South Side...but it's not worth the gas to get down there. Plus I'd have to pay for parking. 

Four beautiful shots of espresso--and even the steamed milk was poured all pretty!

In total on my vacation, I wrote over 10K words. About half of which were at this amazing little coffee shop.
And I went down there doubting I'd even look at my novel very often if at all! Thank you, Lord.
Some history nut irony ahead. You've been warned.
I began writing my characters into the Battle of Gettysburg whilst on vacation in South Carolina--the state where the war began. I'm still quite a "Yankee" but suffice it to say my heart was utterly captured by the South.

My last photo post about my time in the South chronicles my trip to Fort Sumter, and an inordinate amount of artillery photos. Check back Friday!

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

November 15, 2014

This book will leave an impact on you.

I read it in one lovely sitting, and quite honestly I was left changed. With tears in my eyes. Okay, on my cheeks. What can I say? I'm a crier.
Joanne's trilogy, The Cadence of Grace series, is one of my all-time favorites. She writes with a profound, gracious, simplicity with moments of the lyrical, the heart-rending--and from beginning to end, her books are truly lovely and refreshing. This novella is no exception.

The young-love story of Sarah and Tucker in the beginning has the traditional markings of classic young literary couples But Tucker has a fatal illness--a subject Joanne tackles with tact and grace. At first I went into reading the novel with a feeling of, "Oh this is going to hurt..." but as it went on, and the friendship blossomed into confusing feelings, and then into a young love, it didn't hurt. I can't even use the word bittersweet to describe Sarah and Tucker's love story that blossomed through him tutoring her in algebra. When the end came--there was such a joy I was left with even as I cried from the depth of emotion that welled in every word Joanne penned.

About the Book: 
There is nothing extraordinary about
Tucker O’Shay’s dreams. 
Go to college. Become president. Fall in love. 
And pretend like he has enough time to get it all done. 
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Miller doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when she begins her first day at the one-room-school house in her new hometown of Rocky Knob. But when she meets seventeen-year-old Tucker O’Shay—the boy with the fatal illness who volunteers to tutor her in algebra—she finds herself swept up in a friendship that changes the way she sees the world and a love that changes her life.

About the Author:
Christy Award-finalist and author of The Cadence of Grace Series, Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.

The Beauty of the South

November 14, 2014

What girl doesn't love beautiful things? I could go into an antique shop and get lost, flip through a wedding magazine and smile at the beauty while not thinking about the costs, but God's beautiful creation is incomparable. The palm trees, "Spanish" moss and the ocean{!!!} were wonders to behold for this Northern belle. Not to mention the architecture of the South is swoon-worthy. 

The Pennsylvania stone marked with it's namesake, the Keystone, at the base of a monument in Whitepoint Gardens, Charleston.

The ocean! I know Pittsburgh has three rivers, but there is nothing that compares with the ocean.

Palm trees are as common as oaks here in Pennsylvania!

My second favorite city...

Colonel Moultrie from the Revolutionary War.

Classic plantation-esque pillars on a historical home behind the Whitepoint Gardens park.

photo credit Sarah
Be still my heart.

The Pineapple Fountain was unfortunately undergoing some repairs at Waterfront Park and the Pier, but it's a Charleston tourist staple to see.

The Pier! Looking towards England...

Completely unedited photo looking towards Fort Sumter if memory serves me correct. Yes--the South during the autumn is this gorgeous.

Isle of Palms, South Carolina. I may have acted like a little girl stooping to look for seashells and sighing happily walking along the shoreline.

My first visit to a legit, actual beach in over fifteen years. This is my awkward concentrating selfie face, by the way.

My time down South was refreshing in every way possible--not the least of which was the beauty I was able to discover and praise God for every moment I was down there.

The Fragrance of Geraniums Debut and Giveaway

November 13, 2014

Told from multiple perspectives, this is a powerful story of three women – of the threads of mercy that connect them – and of heart-wrenching sorrows alchemized by the Heavenly Father’s overwhelming redeeming grace. 
Rhode Island - 1934 

Grace Picoletti has nothing going for her – but she’s determined to succeed in life, nonetheless. Born to severe destitution, she claws her way up from the pit of family shame and secrets. She avoids close friendships – even with the likable, persistent Paulie Giorgi... 

Despite her own agonizing emotional pain, childless Emmeline Kinner reaches out to a young woman so far beneath her. She could never have known whom else God would set in her path through her friendship with Grace... 

Long ago, Sarah Picoletti resigned herself to a loveless, abusive life – and she believes that her daughter Grace must inherit the same fate. Yet Sarah’s own soul cries out for the blessed peace and hope of which the radio minister speaks...

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Alicia G. Ruggieri graduated magna cum laude from Rhode Island College with her B.A. in Communications and History, receiving Departmental Honors. She has worked in diverse fields ranging from small business ownership to children’s theatre production/direction to freelance writing. Alicia spent her childhood on the New England coast, where she currently resides with her husband.
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