Donna Everhart

First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday!!!

Hello readers!

Welcome to this week’s installment of First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday!  For the foreseeable future, the free book is an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of When the Jessamine Grows. ????

In this week’s sentence I get to share some of the fun facts I found out about correspondence, mail delivery and the challenges people of this time faced when it came to keeping in touch. One of the favorite things for Civil War soldiers was to receive a letter from home. It was actually recognized by those in charge that it was a morale booster. Soldiers kept letters on them, in a breast pocket close to their hearts where they could take them out to re-read them when they were feeling lonely or having a melancholy moment.

Interestingly, the United States Postal Service implemented several changes during the Civil War in order to make it easier for soldiers to get their letters home. For one, they usually had trouble getting stamps, and if they could get them, they would often turn into sticky, lumps that were unusable. (from sweat, or marching through creeks, rivers, etc.)

Here are a few of the changes:

  • Beginning in July, 1861 – almost immediately – soldiers could send a letter without a stamp and with the simple words written on the front, “Soldier’s Letter.” The payment of a stamp was made by the recipient.
  • 1863, postage rates were simplified and in some cases reduced when distance based letter rate categories were eliminated and letters were all given a lower rate.
  • The Confederacy created it’s own postal service in February, 1861, two months before the war started. It was self-sustaining until the end of 1863 when blockades, the invading Northern army and the scarcity of postage stamps hampered operations
  • What we know as envelopes were often called covers. They were decorated with time-period scenes. Below is an example as well as a USPS tent set up as a point to receive mail.

Army of the Potomac Hdqs., Falmouth, VA, 1863 (photo courtesy Library of Congress)

For Joetta, there was always this never-ending wait for correspondence, but when she received a letter, it changed her entire mood.



With the treasured letters tucked safely in her reticule, she strode along with energy, smiling at everyone and nothing.



For this week’s chance to win a signed ARC of When the Jessamine Grows, tell me, when was the last time you handwrote a letter, or received one?????????????️



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




Last, but not least, don’t forget to:

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

  1. I actually wrote a letter to my son last weekend for him to read after we moved him into his dorm for his freshman year of college!

  2. Letters are always such a lifeline, especially during really hard times. I have a box filled with all the letters my husband and I wrote each other when he was gone during desert storm. It was the early 90s, and we sent faxes to each other, too! I went to a weekly base support group and during that time we sent and received faxes from our spouses. Disneyland offered a free day for families of those deployed, and they offered faxing services, as well!

    1. That is super special – the act in of itself, and the idea of keeping them, it’s like preserving the history of a relationship. It was good, the things done for spouses. In a sense, you were like Joetta, one of the ones left behind. Please tell Rick I thank him for his service! ????

  3. I have a dear cousin in Virginia who handwrites a letter to me, describing the highlights of her year, as her annual Christmas card. Being a recipient of her Christmas letter, always provides me a moment of getting another cup of coffee, relaxing with her family news, and “spending time” in her life as I catch up on her life. It’s always my favorite Christmas present!
    Colloquialisms of various regions have caught my interest for years! I remember calling my dear mother-in-law for a sweet conversation, and asking her what she was doing. Many times she would be “backing” envelopes. She was raised in the North Carolina mountains, and continually used colloquial words and phrases of her childhood. “Backing” envelopes meant writing addresses on them! I loved hearing her speak and use her special words and phrases very nonchalantly and purposefully.????

    1. That is really special, for sure. I have a work colleague – he used to be my boss, and he’s getting on up in age. I do the same thing, write to him at Christmas and catch up with what’s going on with him.

      I completely understand what you mean about your mother-in-law and the colloquialisms. I’m VERY much into that, and you made me think of my novel, The Road to Bittersweet, which is full of them. Like saying it’s “airish,” meant windy. Or, the word “sigogglin'” meant something was running crooked. I love that phrase she used, “backing.” That’s truly fascinating – and worthy of using in a book if I write one set in the mountains again.

  4. I usually only write letters on special occasions. I’ve been thinking about joining a pen pal group though!

  5. jillhannahanderson

    I grew up states away from my grandparents. Letter writing with them was common, and the years later when I moved away from my friends after high school. Probably the last letter I wrote was to my mom, who is in the last stage of dementia. And my last letter from her (from two years ago) is treasured on top of my desk.

    1. Oh, my gosh. I know that letter must be so very special, and I know you’re grateful to have it!

    1. Throughout the years of my life, I recall not only my mother, but my aunts, and cousins writing to those who were serving. Once, at my aunt’s house, I recall her packing up a box full of non-perishable food for a cousin of mine who served in Viet Nam. I was eight, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The last thing she did was put a letter on the top of all it contained.

  6. I love to write ✍️ letters and send cards. I always
    write to my friends and family. I think it’s uplifting to get
    get mail that isn’t bills. And not everyone is tech savvy or
    pays so much attention to their phone. And it’s always
    exciting when someone travels and u get a ???? card

    1. I keep thinking it’s like a lost art, you know??? I have an aunt that saves post cards, so yes, it’s very special to many who aren’t up to speed with the technology.

  7. I wrote my sister last week. I live in Virginia and she lives in West Virginia. We write each other about once a month.

    1. I think I expected most to comment and say they didn’t. It’s good to know it’s not completely lost to our society yet!

  8. Lenora Begley Picolet

    I wrote a letter to one of my friends in Kansas recently. It just hit me to sit down and let her know, how much I appreciated our friendship. We have been on Face Time and chat and chat,,,,but I just thought a letter would be appropriate for her to just know,,,I am blessed knowing her.

    1. I think the meaning definitely comes across more significantly and so sincerely when something like this is done. I imagine she really appreciated it.

  9. I love hand-written letters! The one I received most recently was from one of my yoga instructors, recognizing that I’d attended a certain number of sessions. I like to send hand-written notes when I really want to emphasize my appreciation, concern or offer congratulations. The last one I think I sent was to a neighbor for her birthday.

  10. I don’t know if you consider it a letter but I hand wrote thank you notes for our 40th anniversary party gifts.

  11. I’m sure my last handwritten letter was to my niece in Colorado! A handwritten letter is more personal than just sending a Birthday or a Holiday card! Looking forward to reading When The Jessamine Grows! Thanks for the chance!

  12. The last time I wrote a letter was last month to my great aunt who is 91 years old. The last time I received a hand written note was from her, this past Spring. I would love to connect with a pen pal in a different county. I remember my elementary school connected us each with a pen pal in, I think it was, first grade.

  13. It has been far too long since I wrote a letter. I used to write and receive so many letters. I miss it!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top