For Spacious Skies: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Guest Post

FOR SPACIOUS SKIES
KATHERINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL”
by
Nancy Churnin
illustrated by Olga Baumert

Picture Book Biography / Women’s Suffrage / Woman Poet
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32

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As a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist. She not only wrote “America the Beautiful” but gave this anthem to America as a gift. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference. In “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.




PRAISE for For Spacious Skies: 
“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist
 
“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland

 

 

Guest Post by Nancy Churnin

There’s so much confusion and conflict about what patriotism is. One reason I wanted to write about Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote one of our most patriotic songs, “America the Beautiful,” is that she goes to the heart of what patriotism truly is. Her scrupulously sculpted words are not just about how beautiful America is, but how beautiful America can be if we crown our good “with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea.” To me, that is true patriotism—not just loving your country, but helping your country live up to her ideals of equality and kindness. Katharine was a little girl during the Civil War, when Americans hated and hurt each other during conflict and for years afterward.

A minister’s daughter and fierce advocate for help and support for the poor as well as equal rights for women, she gave the song to America for free, as a gift, hoping to inspire fellow Americans to see themselves as part of one inclusive family. Most people don’t know the name Katharine Lee Bates, and I wanted kids to know the name of this extraordinary woman who refused to accept the limitations that women were given in her time and went on to get an education, become a poet and professor, live an independent life in a world of women, and leave the world a better place.

I am also thrilled to pay tribute to her this year, the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. People have many ways of standing up for equal rights, and those different ways deserve to be acknowledged and honored. Katharine Lee Bates spoke up, but she also relied, more than anything, on the power of her pen.

Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021. 
 
Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. 
 
Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats. 

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ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown 
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April 16-26, 2020

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Out of the Embers: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Excerpt

OUT OF THE EMBERS
MESQUITE SPRINGS, BOOK ONE
by
Amanda Cabot
Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 336

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Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.


At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

PRAISE FOR OUT OF THE EMBERS:

Out of the Embers is part prairie romance, part romantic suspense. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book more. Amanda Cabot has written an intriguing, chilling mystery and she winds it through the pages of a sweet romance in a way that made me keep turning the pages fast to see what was going to happen next. An absolutely excellent read. And now I’m hungry for oatmeal pecan pie!” 

Mary Connealy, author of Aiming for Love, book #1 in the Brides of Hope Mountain series
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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE, PART THREE FROM

OUT OF THE EMBERS

BY AMANDA CABOT

Click to read part one, previously featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Click to read part two, previously featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours

One Friday, December 21, 1855

As they rounded the final bend in the road, the cause of the smoke was all too clear. The light from the almost full moon revealed the ashes and rubble that were all that was left of the building that had been Evelyn’s home for the past ten years. She stared at the blackened foundation, trying to make sense of something that made no sense. Well aware of the danger fire posed to a frame structure, Mrs. Folger was vigilant about safety. Yet, despite her caution, something had happened. The orphanage was gone.

So were its inhabitants. There should be close to two dozen children swarming around, yet Evelyn saw nothing more than a few men. Though her heart was pounding so violently that she feared it would break through her chest at the realization that she’d lost her home, she clung to the hope that Mrs. Folger and the children had escaped and had been taken in by some of the town’s residents. If not . . .

The possibility was too horrible to consider. Her mother had told her not to borrow trouble, and Evelyn wouldn’t. Instead, she’d ask the men what had happened. Surely everyone had been saved. But though she tried to convince herself that she would be reunited with the matron and the other orphans, in her heart she knew that was one prayer that would not be answered.

Evelyn bit the inside of her cheek, determined not to let Polly see her fears. But she failed, for the child began to tremble.

“What happened to the ’nage?” Though Polly’s diction was far better than one would have expected from the shabby clothing she’d worn when she was abandoned, whoever had taught her hadn’t included “orphanage” in her vocabulary.

Evelyn wrapped her arms around Polly and willed her voice to remain steady as she said, “It’s gone.” And, if what she feared was true, so were Mrs. Folger and the children who had been her family.

As she descended the small hill and approached the front drive, Evelyn saw that the men were wandering around the yard, their casual attitude belying the gravity of the situation.

“Ain’t no one left,” one called to the others, his voice carrying clearly through the still night air. “Smoke musta got ’em.”

No. Oh, dear God, no. It couldn’t be true, and yet it was. Once again, she had lost everyone she loved, everyone except the girl who clung to her, her own fear palpable. Once again, it was night. Once again, she was powerless to change anything, but at least this time it had been an accident.

Evelyn shuddered and said a silent prayer that Polly wouldn’t realize the extent of the tragedy. Somehow, she would protect her. Somehow, she would help her recover from all that they had lost in this terrible accident.

“Can’t figger it out,” another man chimed in. “Who woulda wanted to do ’em in? No mistakin’ them kerosene cans, though. Somebody set the fire.”

Evelyn gasped, feeling as though she’d been bludgeoned, and for a second everything turned black. The fire wasn’t an accident. Someone had deliberately destroyed the orphanage, planning to kill everyone inside. Including her.

Where is she?” The memory of the voice that still haunted Evelyn’s dreams echoed through her brain, shattering the fragile peace Mrs. Folger’s assurances had created. Tonight proved that she wasn’t safe, not even here. Someone wanted to kill the last of the Radcliffes.

Why? That was the question no one had been able to answer ten years ago, the question that had kept Evelyn from leaving the sanctuary the orphanage had promised. Now that promise was shattered.

She closed her eyes as fear and sorrow threatened to overwhelm her. The life she had built was gone, destroyed along with the building that had been her refuge and the people who had become her family. Oh, God, what should I do?

The response was immediate. Leave.

It was the only answer. She could do nothing for Mrs. Folger and the others, but she could—and she would—do everything in her power to give Polly a safe future. The question was where they should go. Evelyn stared at the stars for a second, then nodded. Gilmorton, the one place she would not consider, was east. Resolutely, she headed west.

“What happened?” Polly asked again, her voice far calmer than Evelyn would have expected. Either the child was too young to understand the magnitude of what had happened, or she’d experienced so much tragedy in her life that she was numb.

“We need a new home.” For the first time, Evelyn gave thanks that Polly had formed no strong attachments to anyone other than her. That would make her transition to a new life easier. While grief had wrapped its tendrils around Evelyn’s heart, squeezing so tightly that she had trouble breathing, Polly seemed to be recovering from her initial shock.

“Okay.” Though the child tightened her grip on Evelyn’s arm, her trembling had stopped. “Where are we going?”

“It’ll be a surprise.” At this point, Evelyn had no idea where she and Polly would find their next home. All she knew was that it had to be far from here, far from whoever had set the fire, far from the Watcher.

Polly was silent for a moment before she said, “It’s okay, Evelyn. You’ll be my mama, and you’ll find me a new daddy.”

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.
 

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Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook
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March 10-March 20, 2020
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Chasing the White Lion: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Character Interview

CHASING THE WHITE LION
(Talia Inger, Book Two)
by
JAMES R. HANNIBAL
Genre: Contemporary Christian / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 384

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Cover hi res Chasing the White Lion

Young CIA officer Talia Inger has reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn’t mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she’s trying to put behind her. Still, she’ll need him–and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie–if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she’ll run right up against the ragged edge of her family’s dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it’s win . . . or die. And in times like that, it’s always good to have someone watching your back.

Former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James Hannibal takes you deep undercover into the criminal underworld where everyone has an angle, and no one escapes unscathed.

WANT TO BE A REAL HERO?

Want to be a real hero? Compassion International, a real organization fighting child poverty, stars in Chasing the White Lion. By giving hope and a sense of identity to these kids, they’re helping families slam the door on human traffickers. A portion of every book sold will go to support Compassion’s work. You can join the fight simply by buying a copy of Chasing the White Lion.

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Character Interview

An interview with stuntman and rumored thief, Michael Finn,

from Chasing the White Lion

By James R. Hannibal

Duxford Airfield

Cambridge, UK

Last week, I caught up with the infamous Aussie Michael Finn at the Flying Legends Air Spectacular in Duxford. Pulling him away from his, shall we say, highly-dedicated local fan club was no easy task, but I wanted to pin him down with a few questions about his past and his recent extracurricular activities. The answers were worth a few scratches.

Read on.

    Q: First, I noticed a big change in your stunt routine. Your signature airshow entrance is a wingsuit drop from an exploding weather balloon. This morning you shocked the crowd with a motorcycle stunt. Explain.

    A: A stuntman must keep things fresh, you know—push the envelope a little farther every season. Last year, I got some backing from a heaps great investor, and I pitched the idea of a drone big enough to carry me and my bike straight to show center. He went all in.

    Q: For a certain percentage of the take, right? I mean, your investor should get a return on his cash.

     A: Defo, mate. He’ll get his money. Always does. But he was an easy sell. He likes to play with drones and motorbikes too, if you catch my drift. We recently did this job in Bangkok. Massive bridge. Railway line running right beside it. The cable supports almost cut me in . . . Well, that’s another story for another day.

   Q: It certainly is. Sounds dangerous—right up your alley. What about loved ones? Any special girl in your life wringing her hands every time you strap on a parachute or pop a wheelie?

     A: There may be a special someone, but her life is as dangerous as mine, so no worries there. The situation is in flux. Right now, we’re struggling to see eye to eye on a few things. Matter o’ fact, let’s change the subject.

     Q: Your love life is off limits. Got it. Okay, let’s return to this mystery investor of yours. According to rumors, international businessman Adam Tyler has hired you and others for contract jobs like the one you mentioned in Bangkok—jobs outside the law. You detractors claim Mr. Tyler is a thief and assassin. They say he should be locked up, and you as well. Your response?

      A: I can neither confirm nor deny any association with this Adam Tyler you speak of. But I’ll tell you what. You come out to Wolf Trap, Virginia and spend a day with my mystery investor and his team. If you don’t think what we do makes the world a better place—refugee kids rescued, warlords disappearing, criminals locked up—then you can write whatever you want about us, expose my boss to the world.

     Q: Deal. Although, I’m not sure he’ll agree. I might cut my losses and steer clear. Might I ask just one follow-up question on this topic before I let you go?

      A: Shoot.

      Q: You mentioned refugee kids. Care to elaborate?

      A: One of our recent excursions may or may not have involved a crime syndicate with its fingers in the human trafficking market. The world needs to know that refugee kids are a prime target for traffickers. Anything our team did to stop this activity and rescue some kids is small potatoes compared to the work of an organization called Compassion International. They are the heroes. My investor calls them God’s special forces. We’re talking unconventional warfare. Compassion attacks from the flank, where the enemy least expects them, by providing hope, care, and a sense of identity. When kids and family’s living in poverty gain hope and self-worth, the doors to human traffickers slam closed. That’s all I’ve got. I’ve gotta run, you know? My fans miss me.

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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March 3-13, 2020

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