Donna Everhart

First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday!

Hello readers,

Welcome again to this week’s installment of First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday! This week the winner gets a signed Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of When the Jessamine Grows and an item or two of the story-related swag as pictured here! ????????



NOTE, for website blog commenters only

When you answer the question in the comments area, (how you get the chance to win a book) be sure to add your name at the bottom because some of you are showing up as Anonymous.


The difficulty in writing this story so readers would view it as authentic and realistic involved several challenging areas. One of the main ones had to do with Joetta’s neutral position as discussed previously. History tells us if you didn’t choose to support the Union or Confederates, you stood a good chance of being hung for treason, or at the very least, thrown into prison. My quest on how to keep Joetta legitimately (and by that I mean realistically) alive resulted in many hours of fact-finding and investigation of historic events. What was apparent, there’s very little historical data out there regarding anyone with a neutral position. If you think about it, that makes sense. No one wanted to risk prison or death. You might say to write of a character like Joetta can’t be realistic, but I’d argue it’s an accurate depiction, given a few facts I uncovered. For example, I mentioned the border states before. They didn’t want to choose sides. They took a wait and see approach, until, at least in NC’s instance, the battle at Fort Sumter forced them to join states who seceded. NC was one of the last of the twelve states to make that decision.

Here are a few examples of actual people who were neutral, each due to reasons very different from Joetta, but this shows it did happen:

Clara Barton’s brother, Stephen Barton, born originally in Oxford Massachusetts, lived in NC. He opposed slavery and secession, but took a neutral position and was left alone by local Confederates.

Another, Robert Andrews Hill, born in NC, but living in Mississippi during the war, opposed secession, and because of that, maintained a neutral position.

A political cartoon of the day, seeming to suggest both sides need to be taken to task

Another fact that proves not everyone wanted to be part of the war were the Conscription Acts, where males were drafted and forced to go and fight. While NC sent more men and suffered the greatest losses, they also had the prestigious rank of highest number of deserters. Most of the volunteers, now conscripted, were farmers, and they needed to get back to their families, and their farms.

Joetta’s neutrality and her resistance to conform was bound to come to a head. One morning, after a period of extreme caution with regard to her and her family’s personal movements, their guard is down, and this results in a situation where they’re forced to flee from their home.


Chapter 27

They finally stopped to catch their breath, and with heaving chests and darting eyes, they waited to see if anyone had followed.



To win a signed copy of an ARC, and some story related swag, let’s keep it simple! Do you like to read books associated to the season/holiday? I.e. do you read scary books at Halloween, and holiday themed books when it’s Christmas, Hannukah, or another type of holiday?


Sneak Peek!

Now you can read an excerpt of When the Jessamine Grows in this special Sneak Peek Kindle version! Hopefully, it will encourage your fingers (or legs!) to pre-order a copy. ????????


Unsure if you want to pre-order? Read the first 50 pages for free and find out! Go to one of these sites to download (in e-book formats only):


Barnes & Noble

Rakuten Kobo



Pre-orders gauge the interest and signal to the publisher readers are eager for an author’s work! Please consider pre-ordering because it really does help! If you’re holding out because you might win an ARC or a finished copy, remember you can always give away the extra as a gift to one of your reader friends. ????

Pre-order links for your convenience:

Kensington Publishing Corporation

Barnes & Noble




Social Media

Last, but not least, don’t forget to:

13 thoughts on “First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday!”

  1. I have just become a holiday reader. I didn’t used to understand the hype But, so far this year, I’ve read 7 Christmas books. Merry Christmas!!

  2. I can read any book at any time, but I do set aside a few Christmas themed books to read this month. – Jan Phillips

    1. I’ve never read books at a certain time of year b/c they match the season, but I can understand the appeal.

  3. To tell you the truth, I read Christmas books year round but not really any other holiday books. I tend to read more during the actual season. By the way, I once had a bulldog named John Bull as a teenager. (like the man in the cartoon above) Now I wonder why my Mom named him that?

    1. Interesting on all accounts – but especially about the bulldog named John Bull! My dad never had a bad word for anyone. He never cussed, but I recall he used to say, “That John Brown so and so. . . ” Then I ran across who John Brown was during the writing of this story . . . and wonder if he knew the backstory.

  4. I do enjoy reading Christmas-themed books during the holidays and often reread some of my favorites. It’s a guaranteed boost to one’s Christmas spirit. (I also watch Christmas episodes on TV too – some of my favorites to rewatch are the Christmas specials from Call the Midwife and West Wing’s “In Excelsis Deo”, season 1 episode 10.)

    1. I definitely enjoy the holiday themed shows! Even down to the ones I watched as a kid, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, etc. ????

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