I cannot believe it is here! With all life’s circumstances, today has snuck up on me, and I feel unprepared. For me, this officially kicks off the Christmas season. Sorry Halloween, I never liked you anyway, and Thanksgiving, I’m still going to have a wonderful feast and celebrate time with family. But there is just something special about the Christmas season and its ability to refocus us on Christ our true King. It settles me. It brings about a reverent awe that sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day grind of life. And that’s what I hope you will feel about this collection of novellas from me, Cara Putman, and Angela Ruth Strong–the awe, wonder, and power of Christmas to refocus us on what truly matters, Christ.
I thought it would be fun to check out some behind-the-scenes information from We Three Kings. So for the next two weeks, I’m going to share some fun information. If you haven’t already, you can pick up your copy of We Three Kings from your favorite retailer now.
How did We Three Kings come about?
While many books come about because the author sends out a proposal and the publisher accepts it, Kregel reached out to me, Cara Putman, and Angela Ruth Strong to see if we would be interested in writing a set of novellas connected with their Christmas novella collection series based on Christmas hymns. This year’s hymn was to be “We Three Kings.” But it wasn’t just free reign, they wanted our heroes to be from one family line of moguls (yes, I had to look that up, so don’t feel ashamed if you had to too), and they would like us each to have our books connected with each gift of the kings: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The stories didn’t have to connect to our current series with them, but that was an option if we desired it.
At first, I explored the idea of something new. What would be a fun twist on gold? Liquid gold–oil? Nope, by the time of my book, there would have been only one major oil mogul, and while I could have twisted that for fiction, I didn’t want to. Gold bars or someone who dealt in gold? Eh. Too on the nose, and I wasn’t a fan of trying to dig into gold mining history at that point. Not with the turn-around time I’d need to work with for research. I can’t exactly remember how, but I landed on the concept of ocean travel via the predecessors to the Titanic. Once I struck on that, remembered the influx of Italian counterfeiters who printed in their home country and then swindled new immigrants, and realized I could connect it to my Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series, I was off to the races.
Originally, Counterfeit Faith was set to release after We Three Kings, so I set up my story to happen in my story-world timeline before Josiah had his story, and gave his sister who has an appearance in Counterfeit Faith, her own story. It was a joy to dive into Josiah’s family, bring out some of their dynamics, and then develop the beginning of the Weise family line.
And yes, Cara, Angela, and I were goofy enough to use the Weise name as a play on the wise men of the Bible. It was so fun to work with these amazing women who are much further along in their careers to develop a legacy that left me in awe and wonder of my characters. I hope when you get the chance to read our stories, you will be left with the same sense of awe of how one family can have such an impact on those around them and leave a legacy of Christ that is passed down through the generations.
When it came to choosing a title for each of our stories, Kregel told us we didn’t have to use lines from the song like it had been done in the other stories. After examining the lyrics, some of which are really depressing and difficult for use as a Christmas title, we put titling on the back burner until the last minute. For me, “Star of Wonder” had always fit, but finding uplifting titles for the other two was difficult until we realized that all three stories are tied to the Light of Christ. Then we were able to select phrases from the lyrics that fit the stories and didn’t break with the tradition of the other Christmas novellas that came before us.
This is the background I used while writing this story, aka, my inspiration board. You can also check out my Pinterest board which has more for you to browse through.
About We Three Kings
IN THIS CHRISTMAS COLLECTION, WEISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS–AND LOVE
Best-selling romance authors Caudill, Putman, and Strong follow three generations of the Weise family in this third collection of Christmas novellas from Kregel that will prove just as popular as the previous award-winning volumes.
“Star of Wonder” by Crystal Caudill
The Christmas-themed maiden voyage of his family’s grand steamer ship was supposed to be Aldrich Weise’s chance both to instill investor confidence and to romance Celestia Isaacs. Instead, he must foil a criminal and leave his lady love behind forever.
“Beauty Bright” by Cara Putman
Lieutenant Charles Weise served as a Monuments Man after World War II and now works to restore stolen art to rightful owners. Captain Lillian Thorsen pairs up with him not only to return treasures but also to fix the war-torn lives around them.
“Perfect Light” by Angela Ruth Strong
Essential oils mogul Brendon Wise is drawn to Lacey Foster, the event planner for his huge Christmas lights festival. But when he inadvertently makes a spectacle of her on television, Lacey wants nothing to do with him. Will a chance to give gifts to those in need at Christmas be the key to discovering common ground–and maybe love?
Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!
- The hunt BEGINS on 6/15 at noon MST with Stop #1 at LisaTawnBergren.com.
- Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).
- There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 6/18 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books and learn new things about them.
- Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at the final stop, back on Lisa’s site. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!
Whether you’re already a fan or I’m a new-to-you author, welcome! I’m Crystal Caudill, and I love to write spiritually rich historical romances fraught with danger and suspense. I do a ton of research with each of my books, and I have an entire shelf dedicated to what my children call “the murder shelf,” aka my criminal investigation, how to commit crimes, and poisonous plants books. You can find out more about me, my books, and my monthly reading challenge here on my website and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, GoodReads, or BookBub. Despite what my “murder shelf” indicates, I’m not a criminal. I just write romance stories that often contain crimes. You can read about my latest crime-related release, Counterfeit Faith, below:
As Matron of Final Chance House of Refuge, Gwendolyn Ellison is responsible for the care and reformation of children deemed delinquents by society. When she discovers someone is abusing the children, she seeks to expose the abuse. But someone wants to keep it and their other secrets hidden, even if it means committing murder. Secret Service operative Josiah Isaacs can’t help but rescue a damsel-in-distress, but saving Gwendolyn leads to his discovery of a counterfeiting scheme that jeopardizes both Gwendolyn’s and the children’s lives. As they work together to solve the case and protect the children, attraction sparks between them. But Josiah is put off by Gwendolyn’s faith in a God he no longer trusts. If they survive, is a future together even possible when their beliefs are at odds?
The idea for this novel’s crime came from newspaper clippings I found while researching counterfeiting and the Secret Service. And now, it is my nerdy little joy to teach you something criminal . . .
How to Con a Con
I think everyone on the internet has received at least one email where a scammer tries to trick you into buying something fake so they can take your money. Generally, these con men are preying on innocent people. However, late 19th-century con men had their eyes on a completely different mark for their scheming ways: other con men. This tactic was so often used and so well-known that the newspapers consistently printed warnings and example letters. This con even had its own special name: The Green Goods Game.
So for your entertainment purposes only, I present “How to Con a Con.”
Example circular of a Green Goods Game scheme as printed in the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette on 8/10/1890.
The Target: Merchants and shop owners who are likely to pass counterfeits off to their customers as they conduct regular business. Identify struggling merchants, particularly those who are more likely to bend their moral stances to save their stores or those you already know or suspect will buy counterfeits.
The Strategy: Mail circulars to targeted businessmen and indicate you have counterfeit money of good quality to sell at a reasonable price. Flatter and appeal to their sense of working with a friend. Have them respond to you by mail with their signature, address, and the phrase: “Please send me terms, particulars, &c.’
If they respond, provide an “example” of your work in the form of a genuine one-dollar note. Then, when they purchase said counterfeit money, either have them meet you to pick up their product or mail it to them.
1880 One Dollar Legal Tender Bank Note
The Trade and the REAL Product: If your client wishes to see the product before exchanging money, it may be necessary to set up a switch. Show them some genuine notes, cause a distraction, and then provide them with a roll of green-dyed paper with a genuine note facing out on each side. Otherwise, if they mail you the money, there is no need to mail them anything back.
Why It Works: What person will report to the police that they were conned while attempting to purchase counterfeit money? After all, purchasing counterfeit money is a punishable crime in and of itself.
WARNING: If the Post-office Inspector discovers you are participating in this scheme, you will be arrested and held with a default bail of $2,500 (about $83,000 today).
So reader, are you willing to take the risk to con a con?
Here’s Your Critical Stop #13 Info:
If you’re interested, you can order Counterfeit Faith on Amazon, Baker Book House, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com or at your local bookstore!
Clue to Write Down: and just
Link to Stop #14, the Next Stop on the Loop: Roseanna M. White’s site!
But wait!!! Don’t go yet!!
I’m holding my own giveaway right here! All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter. (You’ll get Counterfeit Truth free out of the deal too!) Bonus points to those who follow me on Bookbub and/or Facebook. Just use the King Sumo widget below. This is open to everyone who is legally able to participate, but if you are an international reader, I will send you an Amazon gift card and some bookmarks, stickers, and a signed bookplate instead. The winner of this giveaway will be selected on June 19th and notified by email afterward. What are you winning? Glad you asked . . .
Prize: Homemade Booksleeve, Set of Page Flags, Bible Journaling Stickers, Set of Book Quote Stickers, Metalic Ink Pens, Counterfeit Love Notebook (to journal in or better yet! Keep track of all your great reads), Counterfeit Money Detector, and a Set of Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age bookmarks.
And if you are having trouble getting entered, just shoot me a note through my contact form, or comment below. Bonus entries for signing up for my newsletter, following me on BookBub, GoodReads, or Facebook.
Best of luck, and happy hunting! – Crystal
a Rafflecopter giveaway
There is a lot to be thankful for this month, and one of those things is the fact that Counterfeit Truth, my Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age novella prequel is out in the world. If you like historical romance with a good dose of danger, swoony Secret Service heroes in pursuit of counterfeiters, and feisty independent women who get in the way, you’ll want to check out this series. And you can stick your toes in the water with this novella.
While you can buy it on Amazon, you can get it FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Just sign up on the sidebar or bit.ly/CaudillNews. This is a great way to try my writing without having to spend a penny. My newsletters go out only once a month, and I pray over every subscriber on that list while striving to make them beneficial to you. I hope to see you there and have the opportunity to get to know you better.
Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age Series:
Counterfeit Truth – Novella Prequel
Read for Free by subscribing HERE. Already a subscriber? Click HERE.
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She wants to prove the Secret Service is corrupt. He just wants to keep her safe.
Felicity Richmond is determined to prove her place at her male-dominated family newspaper. If Father wants a story on the Secret Service’s corruption, then that’s what she’ll get him—at any cost. But Gregory Thompson is willing to kill rather than be exposed. When her plan to catch him goes horribly wrong, her rescue comes in the form of Secret Service operative Hayden Orton. The one man she longs for but can never have.
Hayden Orton nearly had former operative Thompson in his grasp . . . until Felicity interfered. Now it’s his responsibility to keep her out of the way until Thompson is arrested. Disguising her protection as a chance at an exclusive story, he invites her to join him on an investigation of the Philadelphia Mint robbery.
But Felicity isn’t content to just observe. As they work together—and at odds—to discover the culprit, Felicity stirs up trouble and emotions that leave Hayden wondering if finding the truth might cost him more than he’s ready for.
Counterfeit Love – Book 1 – Available Now
*To purchase a signed copy or request a signed bookplate, use the contact form to email me.
Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves–or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he’s been sent to track down?
After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name–and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors’ threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn’t all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home–and the truth.
After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a notorious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiancée is connected. Can he really believe the woman he loved is a willing participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career–but that’s better than failing her twice in one lifetime.
They must form a partnership, tentative though it is. But there’s no question they’re both still keeping secrets–and that lack of trust, along with the dangerous criminals out for their blood, threatens their hearts, their faith, and their very survival.
Combining rich history, danger, suspense, and romance, Crystal Caudill’s debut novel launches this new historical series with a bang. Fans of Elizabeth Camden, Michelle Griep, and Joanna Davidson Politano will be thrilled to find another author to follow!
Counterfeit Hope – Book 2 – Releases 2/14/2023, Preorder Available Now
*To purchase a signed copy or request a signed bookplate, use the contact form to email me.
Add to “Want to Read List”: BookBub | Goodreads
Trapped by their pasts, is there hope for a future?
When Secret Service operative Andrew Darlington is brought in to support a US Marshal case involving counterfeiters in rural Indiana, he thinks it’s simply the next rung on his climb to the top of his career. But liars can only climb so high–and Andrew is keeping a dangerous secret he doesn’t ever want to get out. When he clashes with the criminal family that took over the town of Landkreis and killed the Marshal he was sent to assist, his past life is in danger of being exposed.
Widow “Lightning Lu” Thorne has only one goal: escape the clutches of the Thorne family with her son. Her decision to be an informant and testify against the Thornes looked like the perfect answer. Until the Marshal ended up dead. Now the tether keeping her tied to her felonious family is tightening, and a forced marriage to someone else in the Thornes’ clutches threatens to kill any hope of escape.
Andrew and Lu find themselves on the same team–unwillingly. They each believe the other to be the enemy to their future plans. And even if they could learn to work together, the secrets they hold could shatter all hopes and dreams. Despite the encouragement of the local preacher, they’re not even sure God can be trusted–much less other humans. Can either of them escape their past–and the family that is willing to kill their own when they smell betrayal?
On the heels of her smashing debut, this second entry in Crystal Caudill’s historical series maintains the excitement that readers of Michelle Griep, Liz Tolsma, and Elizabeth Camden will love.
We Three Kings Christmas Novella Collection – Tentatively Called “Star of Wonder” – Coming Fall 2023
(Unofficial blurb) Josiah Isaacs’s younger sister, Celestia, knows what she wants for Christmas, a proposal from her friend and fellow astronomy club member, Aldrich Weise. With an entire Christmas-themed voyage from New York to Germany, she has no doubt she can convince him.
News from Germany destroyed Aldrich’s plans for a future with Celestia. Now the two-week voyage he’d long looked forward to sharing with her would be a painful reminder of all he’d soon lose. How was he to protect his heart while still working closely with her brother to discover the counterfeiter lurking aboard his ship?
When exposing the counterfeiter takes a dangerous turn, more than hearts are at risk. Can Aldrich and Celestia survive and hold fast to hope for a Christmas miracle of a future together?
Counterfeit Faith – Book 2 – Coming Early 2024
She’s lost her faith in man. He’s lost his faith in God. Can working together restore their faith?
As matron of Final Chance House of Refuge, Gwendolyn Ellison has dedicated her life to serving the children society has deemed criminal delinquents. When she suspects someone within is using the children for criminal purposes, only one man on the board believes her and is willing to investigate. On the same day he’s murdered, a gallant hero rescues Gwendolyn from being abducted at knifepoint, but not before those involved threaten her family if she continues to investigate. She won’t leave the children defenseless, but who can she trust to help?
Widower and Secret Service operative Josiah Isaacs can’t turn his back on a woman in trouble, but neither can he commit to one when his heart remains faithful to his deceased wife. When a green goods game is tied to the house of refuge where Miss Ellison works and his nieces and nephew are housed, he reluctantly agrees to partner with her to expose the criminals before more children are hurt despite his immediate attraction to her.
As they work together and their relationship grows, Josiah wonders if marrying again might be in his future. However, with the ghost of his wife between them, Gwendolyn isn’t convinced. When evil prevails, her faith in God challenges his doubts. But can he really trust the God who didn’t save his wife to save the children and Gwendolyn?