Travel Writing: Chasing the Janes

By Jarm Del Boccio

“And of this place,” thought she, “I might have been Mistress!”

So says Lizzie when she visits Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate, with her aunt and uncle. Because her sister Lydia, through her improper behavior, has tainted the family’s reputation, Lizzie is sure — especially after refusing his offer of marriage once — that he will never ask her again.

My daughter and I, both writers and avid Brontë and Austen fans, took a memorable trip to England on what I call a “Chasing the Janes” tour. It was quite the challenge to plan from over the pond, but well worth it.

We planned on one of our days to visit both ‘Pemberleys’ from the 1995 BBC film with Colin Firth (our favorite), and the latest Kiera Knightley version. We tried the impossible and succeeded to see those two and Haddon Hall, which is where our favorite 2006 BBC version of Jane Eyre was filmed. Two were only three miles apart, but our favorite Pemberley was over an hour away. I can’t tell you all the people who helped us get to our destinations, and the situations that made it possible, but, it was truly amazing to us.

First, we visited Chatsworth House, which is where Kiera’s version was filmed:

The outside was featured, as well as two locations in the house itself:

The Great Hall, and, of course, the sculpture gallery (not my usual photography, but I wanted to be discreet):

A little angel caught my eye . . .

This house’s original owners were Bess of Hartwick (Henry VIII) and her husband. It was eventually completely remodeled and became the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The present D&D love modern art, and have pieces in almost every room. It was a little irritating to see it mixed in with Tudor and Medieval art. But, there were a few fascinating pieces:

A cozy library and seating area. . .

A chair in the sculpture gallery. . .

And the DNA of the present family interpreted as a 3D wall covering!

Well, this post isn’t about art, so on we go to our favorite Pemberley, (Lyme Park is its true name) owned by Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth), the handsome heart throb of many a young lady’s heart:

They call this the ‘iconic’ view of Pemberley. The one you see in all the photos. Funny thing is, in the film, Lizzie and her aunt and uncle were brought to the back door via the circular drive:

Here is the area where Lizzie and Darcy took a ‘turn’ in the garden together, which is to the right of the back door:

And just look at the beautiful scenery around Lyme Park:

Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the afternoon to take the tour of the interior, but, since nothing was filmed inside, we didn’t really mind. We were just thrilled that we made it onto the grounds so we could take pics. The Visitor’s Center was just closing as we walked up, but the young lady gave us ample information to make our visit a success!

In between the Pemberley visits, we toured Haddon Hall, the location for the filming of our favorite 2006 BBC version of Jane Eyre:

I can’t even describe what it was like to see this castle. We were ooo-ing and ahh-ing the entire visit. Feeling as if we fell back into time, we fully expected to see Jane walk down these stairs:

Here is the great hall where many scenes were filmed. I was disappointed that the ‘Tudors” were doing their reenactments, but you can get an idea of the space:

Here is the little room where Adele, her charge, took her lessons:

Then we went into the garden and were completely overwhelmed with its charm:

Some views of the backside of Haddon Hall (Thornfield in the 2006 BBC version of Jane Eyre):

And the beautiful surroundings:

We just couldn’t get enough of this place!

It’s always my goal, whenever I visit a new locale, to find an interesting site related to an author or piece of literature. We found a goldmine on this day.

Writing Prompt: Imagine Lizzie and Darcy strolling in the Pemberley gardens. Relate their conversation after Darcy changes clothes and Elizabeth realizes she has misunderstood Darcy’s character.


 The Heart Changer

Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission—far beyond what she could imagine.

This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.

Link: https://amzn.to/2SCcPnx


Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.

Jarm loves to travel, is passionate about visiting new places and determined never visit the same location twice. Unfortunately, sometimes she has to break her own rule. Having journeyed to six out of seven continents, she’s slowly checking off destinations on her bucket list. Jarm’s next dream destination is a stay in a Mongolian yurt with plenty of yak milk to drink!

Some interesting factoids about the author: Her first job was working in — no kidding — a Chinese laundromat! After meeting a bat head-on, Jarm had the distinct privilege of sporting black eyes for eighth grade graduation. Her secret desire? To get caught up in a flash mob singing a tune from a favorite musical.

Jarm has a background in elementary and high school art education, and served four years as school librarian. She spent two years in Papua New Guinea, teaching three missionary children in an isolated bush village without modern conveniences.

Jarm is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and American Christian Fiction Writers, Children’s Book Insiders and has published two articles in The Old Schoolhouse magazine.

Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago. Her debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at: https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/  or her author’s Facebook or Instagram accounts.

My Passion is to Make Scripture and History Come Alive for my Readers: Illuminating the Past. Making Sense of the Present. Offering Hope for the Future

Christian Devotions: The Birthing of a Ministry

By Cindy K. Sproles
Acquisitions Editor
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Christian Devotions Ministries was born in August of 2008. We became a 501c3 shortly after our inception. God called two friends together to make this ministry happen and it came about like this:

Eddie Jones and I met at Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference and it was there we both sat across the table from editors and publishers handing out the same responses. No experience. Not only us, but many others new to the industry simply didn’t have the experience necessary to rise to publication at that time. We were good with that, understanding that new writers have to learn to write before they can become published so our prayer became, “Lord will you allow us to provide the opportunity for new writers to gain their first publication credit? Will you help us build a reputation of goodness, kindness, and willingness to teach others? Will you groom our writing so that we might be able to share your word to the world? And finally, will you grant us the opportunity to get to know publishers, agents, and editors so that we might gain the platform necessary to be able to offer this to others?”

I’m not sure why we were surprised, but God did answer yes to all our requests and www.ChristianDevotions.us was born. Currently, we publish devotions daily year round. Our goal is to help new writers gain that first publication credit and have it mean something in the industry. We work to mentor writers as they send us submissions, grooming them to write a touching and impactful devotion that can be used on the website and distributed worldwide.

Christian Devotions now is home to over 800 authors, many who continue to submit to the site as well as a continual flow of new, unpublished authors on a daily basis. We are blessed God saw the potential in us and this work to bless us. The daily devotional ministry reaches some 171 countries and emails over 20K emails weekly to our subscriber list. Folks and receive the devotions free of charge by going to the site and signing up in the email box. Christian Devotions holds the Asheville Christian Writers Conference each February at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center, in Asheville, NC with an amazing faculty each year. We welcome all writers to the conference and offer tracks for both new and seasoned writers. www.ashevillechristianwritersconference.com

Christian Devotions also has www.DevoKids.com – our site for homeschooling families as well as children from 5-10 years old.  Then for adults who are looking for a place of encouragement, we offer InspireAFire.com.

Next to ChristianDevotions.us comes our blog talk radio show www.christiandevotionsspeakup.com hosted by Scott McCausey. Visit the Speak Up site and listen to hundreds of amazing interviews from theologians, sports figures, Christian music artists, and even actors. Scott talks with them all about the impact God has had in their lives.All that to say, Christian Devotions Ministries is well rounded. We have something for everyone.

God has blessed us by growing the ministry of Christian Devotions greater than we ever imagined, but then our God is greater than we can imagine anyway. For those who want to submit to ChristianDevotions.us, visit our site at www.christiandevotions.us, click on the tab that says Write for Us, and download our guidelines and the sample devotions that teach you how we write devotions for the website. You may submit to christiandevotionsministries@gmail.com. Our Managing Editor is Martin Wiles.

Visit us at any of our sites. Invite us to your conference. Spread the word about the daily devotions and help us make a greater impact on a hurting world.


Cindy K. Sproles  is an author and speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the cowriter of the popular He Said, She Said Devotions written with her cofounder, Eddie Jones. She is a novelist and best-selling author. Cindy’s devotions and articles are published in Christian newspapers across the eastern seaboard, including having been used to represent legislature for protection of the elderly. She is a speaker to women’s conferences addressing not only the heart of women, but also their biblical responsibilities to their families.

As a teacher and speaker for Christian Writers Conferences, Cindy teaches writing skills and how to write placing God in the forefront.  She is a contributing author to CBN.com and is the Executive Editor for www.christiandevotions.us and the Managing Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ imprints: SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books. She is a certified life coach and mentor, an eldercare specialist and a special needs advocate. Her book, New Sheets – Thirty Days to Refine You Into the Woman You Can Be is being used to help raise funds for Hope House, an abortion crisis center and her novel, Mercy’s Rain, is giving a voice to children who suffer sexual child abuse. Cindy is also the coauthor of He Said, She Said – A  Devotional Guide to Cultivating a Life of  Passion.

She is the mother of four adult sons and  lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her husband. Cindy can be contacted at www.cindysproles.com or by emailing cindyksproles@gmail.com.

1st Saturday Extra: It’s More Than Sales

By Sandra Ardoin

Phyllis Keels

When I was first asked to share about an author who made an impact on me, several came to mind. I wasn’t sure which person to choose.

Did I write about how Dee Henderson introduced me to the O’Malleys and taught me that Christian fiction can be both exciting, suspenseful, and heart-touching?

Did I write about becoming absorbed by Tamara Alexander’s gentle writing voice and how it made me long to write like her? Did I mention how she brought her research to life through story and all I learned of those who “lived” in a previous century?

Did I discuss the many critique partners, editors, and mentors who have helped me to see where I need to improve my writing and what works or doesn’t?

In the end, I’ve chosen to tell you about my friend, Phyllis Keels. Phyllis and I went to the same church and discovered we both had a love for writing. I’d been looking for a local Christian critique group to attend and hadn’t found one, so she and I decided we would become our own group—or duo.

When we were both pretty green in the ways of novel writing, we met at the library in a tiny tutoring room and shared our stories with the intention of teaching one another. As with most critique partners, she had special talents and I had others.

For Phyllis, I emphasized the need to put her characters through the wringer. She wanted them to look perfect, be perfect, and always prevail. You see, like so many authors and readers, Phyllis considered her characters as friends, and she hated making them suffer as much as she hated seeing real friends suffer.

As for me, she’d say, “I want to see the poetry.” She wanted to read the beauty of description in my stories, not “just the facts, ma’am.” So, I learned how to use more similes and metaphors. I learned how to let a train’s engine drag “its cars down the track like a caterpillar dragging its body along a tree limb.”

We had fun in those hours and, one night, attracted too much attention. I think I was in elementary school the last time I’d been shushed by a librarian. Of course, that brought on more giggles.

Phyllis’s talent for whimsical drawings were showcased when she illustrated a couple of children’s books. She wrote Emma and the Paper especially for her dad. She used her fur baby, Emma, as the main character in the story. Her charming watercolors also illustrated Kimberly Rae’s book When I’m With Jesus: For Any Child with a Loved One in Heaven.

And Phyllis was a fount of spiritual knowledge, willing to share it with whomever crossed her path. She learned much of it from her mama and daddy. In fact, several times, she wrote the narrative for the church choir’s Christmas and Easter programs.

In my opinion, Phyllis’s greatest talent rested in non-fiction and her ability to share the gospel through her blog posts and devotions. God used her posts to show His love to all readers, but especially those in the midst of grief. It became her ministry after experiencing her own tragedy. At book selling events, I’d see her sympathize and empathize with people who were going through tough times, often gifting them one of her books if she felt it might help.

In Phyllis Keels, I saw the value of poetry, following God’s will, and viewing a reader as more than a customer. So, with this post, I hope I’ve honored my friend on the cusp of the one-year anniversary of her presence with the Lord where she now rejoices with her father, daughter, and sister.

Phyllis’s books remain on Amazon. If you need encouragement, please check them out.

Click to tweet: How an author inspired me. Phyllis’s greatest talent rested in non-fiction and her ability to share the gospel through her blog posts and devotions. #faith #amreading


Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. She’s the author of the heartwarming novella, The Yuletide Angel and the award-winning novel, A Reluctant Melody. Rarely out of reach of a book, she’s also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

Visit her at http://www.sandraardoin.com. Subscribe to receive updates and specials. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and BookBub.


A Reluctant Melody

Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.

A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life. 

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage. 

Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?

Writing Romance

February is the month of love and romance. So what better topic could we offer this month besides romance writing? Stay tuned to learn about everything romance…

By Fay Lamb

Not so long ago, if anyone would have asked me if I wrote romance, I’d have say, “Uh-no” in that haughty way that tells someone they consider themselves above all that.

Today, I tell you proudly that I do write romance. The truth is, I was writing it way back then, too. I just didn’t realize it. Romance really does make the world turn. I’m sure if I tried I might come up with one movie or book that is absolutely void of romance, whether it be a simple attraction, a hint of romance, or the story is all about falling in love, but romance, even if it doesn’t play out, is what makes a story memorable.

Yet, writing romance isn’t always as simple as it seems. I’m one of those authors that balk at formula, but I have to tell you, formula works—especially if you’re targeting a publisher that lives or dies by that formula. Actually, the Hallmark channel is enough proof that publishers will thrive on formula romance.

So what is the formula? It’s a simple recipe: Boy meets girl, preferably by the first scene or at least by the end of the first chapter, and certainly no later than the first scene of the second chapter. Boy and girl must share an attraction that will grow into love, but there must be an overriding conflict that keeps them from taking the plunge. In my novel, Charisse, the heroine was always attracted to her hero, even in high school. She just didn’t think he cared for her. They drift apart, and many years later, after they reconnect, the big dope, who did care about her in high school, has done something unforgivable—at least as far as the heroine is concerned. Still, circumstances cause her to work for him. Her cold shoulder toward him due to her anger and also another woman who blatantly desires him, are both roadblocks to their finding happily ever after.

Formula does seem monotonous, though, so there are elements to a story that can make it rise above the others. One thing is character. My friend, June Foster, writes romance where the characters aren’t the golden-haired beauty queens or the blond Adonis of every woman’s dreams. Nope, her delightful stories include a woman who lost a leg, a man who is obese and closing in on being a diabetic. She writes about women who are compelled to buy things and men who struggle with unbecoming issues, and those stories work. Don’t underestimate the idea of a flawed human being as a hero or heroine. Readers like the underdog.

Another angle to take could be humor. In my very formulaic romance, Libby, the poor woman is traumatized by a perceived lack of self-worth while those around her see her shine brightly. Her hero is a man who believes that his past might cause him to hurt her. In the background are two of the worst matchmakers imaginable, and everything they do to keep the hero and heroine together turns into tragic hilarity.

Finally, a little mystery or two might add to the formula. No, I’m not saying get out of the romance genre and write a romantic suspense or a cozy mystery. Simply layer in a question that begs to be answered. Currently, I’m watching an Australian show where they bill the hero as having an “undetermined number of ex-wives.” Every mention of an ex-wife makes the viewer want to know more. This type of question can tantalize readers as well.

Find something unique for each romance, and weave it into the story. Turn monotony into a story with flair, and shout to the world, “I am a writer of romance!”

 Writing Prompt: Look at the photo above. Describe who is giving this gift and who is receiving. Develop a strong character in your description.

Click to tweet: Romance really does make the world turn. But how do you write a love story? Read on. #romance #ValentinesDay


Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories with a Romans 8:28 attitude, reminding readers that God is always in the details. Fay donates 100% of her royalties to Christian charities.

Storms in Serenity is the first book in Fay’s Serenity Key series. Fay’s other series include, Amazing Grace and her novels, Stalking Willow, Better than RevengeEverybody’s Brokenand Frozen Notes. The Ties that Bind Series includes Charisse,Libby, and Hope. Delilah, is coming soon.

Fay’s is also the author of The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

911: A Tuesday Morning That Would Change Our World

By Steve Connolly

It began like any other Tuesday morning for me. A casual drive to work. Fall colors dancing in the trees. Crisp cold air with no frost. It was the perfect day. Arriving at the office, I’d planned an early morning conference call with the west coast to update a current project. The meeting started on time and was running smoothly. Suddenly, a west coast co-worker said we needed to end the meeting because a jet plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. At the time, it didn’t make sense. I thought it must have been a small plane. I looked at my watch. 9:50 AM.

Walking back into my department, I mentioned to a manager a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. She gave me a look which reflected how I felt. Someone must have gotten the event confused. We had another conference room in the front of the building equipped with a TV. When I turned on the set, a breaking news banner appeared. What I had been told by my west coast colleagues was true. The newscasters looked as if they were trying to decide what was happening. As I watched the screen, another plane crashed into the South Tower of the Trade Center. It was hard to comprehend. Just a few months earlier, on a business trip, I’d switched planes in NYC. I remembered seeing the World Trade buildings and thinking how massive they were.

Throughout the morning, acts of terror continued to advance. Next, a plane crashed into the Pentagon, and then another plane was forced to crash in the fields of Pennsylvania. Later, both towers of the trade center collapsed. Buildings were burning and parts of the city were evacuated. It was surreal. Never to be forgotten.

The result of the terrorist acts caught everyone off guard.  Regular travel was paralyzed and all US air traffic grounded. My boss was stranded in Los Angeles. My cousin and her mother had an unplanned extended stay in Las Vegas. A co-worker in Florida was forced to take a train home.  Everyone I talked to became hesitant to fly as we wondered what would happen next.

Was the terror over?

As the week went on, I kept close track of the news broadcasts. I watched as rescue personnel and volunteers combed through the rubble searching for survivors. The fires at the sites continued burning. I learned that my younger brother, Frank, a fireman from Miami Beach, volunteered to help in the search and rescue. This caused me to worry because my brother has a tender heart, and I wondered how this would impact his life.

Before I knew it, an opportunity opened for me to go to New York City. Our church was sending a group to hand out water and offer support to the people. This was not my thing, but thinking of my brother in the thick of the rescue effort, I figured I could do something to help. Once there, I found myself surrounded by New Yorkers who wanted to be comforted, either to talk or have prayer. I hugged many people that weekend.

Everywhere you looked there were flyers of the many loved ones still missing and unaccounted for from the towers. It was a sad time. At one point, we could walk down toward Battery Park. The route we took was several streets over from where the trade center buildings had stood. I was shocked by the destruction. The storefronts, several blocks away, were filled with ash.  Seeing glimpses of the tower’s rubble made it a challenge to grasp the reality of the terror. Fires continued burning filling the air with the smell of destruction. I was thankful I could be there to help, even if it was just a little.

So many changes were precipitated by the events of 9/11. The United States entered into war, attacking Iraq and sending forces into Afghanistan (the longest running war with US involvement). Today, we still have troops in both locations.  Many Americans have sacrificed their lives in these two countries. New words and phrases became part of our everyday vocabulary. ISIS, al-Qaida, Taliban, and Ground-Zero just to name a few.

The Department of Homeland Security was created, and the Patriot Act was implemented. The TSA was created (Transportation Security Administration) and assigned strict screening at all US airports. Only ticketed customers could go through security checkpoints to board flights. Airplanes were fitted with security cockpit doors.  So many changes, too many to list.

One day of events drastically changed our lives. The repercussions of that day continue to shape and change the daily routine of America. We cannot become complacent and let such a time of terror repeat itself.

Click to tweet: 911: A Tuesday Morning That Would Change Our World. #911 #NYC 

Writing prompt: It was two weeks after 9/11. I was on the street handing out water to those working in the rubble. I reached out to give the fireman approaching me a bottle of water. As I did he embraced me in a bear hug and whispered in my ear…