Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How One Man Changed the War

Chicago Pile-1
Without the help of my high school lab partner, I would have flunked out of Physics class. Despite my ineptitude for the topic, I was fascinated by the concepts that my teacher, Mr. Baum, would impart while sitting on top of his desk. He was excited about Physics and wanted us to be too. I still understand very little about Physics, but appreciate those people whose mind can grapple with science and ask lots of “what if” and “why” questions (kind of like authors do when they’re making up stories!).

One such man who, credited with creating the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction and awarded the Nobel Prize in 1938 for his work with neutrons, was Enrico Fermi. Born in Rome, Italy, he was the son of a railroad executive and a schoolteacher. His older brother, with whom he was very close died at a young age, and Enrico threw himself into his studies to cope with the loss.

Physicist Enrico Fermi
Initially a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Rome, Enrico used the opportunity of his Nobel Prize trip to immigrate to the United States to escape Mussolini’s recently implemented Italian Racial Laws that impacted his Jewish wife, Laura. He joined the faculty at Columbia University and then became a member of the Manhattan Project. Transferring to the University of Chicago, he led a team of experimental physicists who were tasked with creating the first nuclear reaction, without which a bomb would not be feasible.

Built on the squash court under the school’s football stadium, the nuclear reactor was originally referred to as an “atomic pile,” then later dubbed “Chicago Pile-1.” Fermi himself described it as “a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers.” The last of twenty-nine attempts was assembled in November 1942 and was comprised of 45,000 graphite blocks and fueled by six tons of uranium metal and uranium oxide. Because it operated at a low level there were no shielding or cooling systems included.

Members of the Manhattan Project
Fermi determined that critical mass could be achieved without completing the pile, and on December 2nd the first human-made nuclear chain reaction occurred. The success of the reactor made crucial progress in The Manhattan Project in their efforts to create an atomic bomb. Fermi moved to Project Y where he was named assistant director of the laboratory at Los Alamos, NM. After the war, he served on the Atomic Energy Commission and returned to teaching at the University of Chicago where some of his graduate students became the leading physicists of their time.

A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett is the author of several romance novellas. Under Fire, the first in her trilogy about WWII War Correspondent/Amateur Sleuth Ruth Brown is available from eLectio PublishingAmazon, or your favorite independent bookstore. Visit Linda at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Candy Cane's Story

The simple little candy cane
Has a wonderful story to tell.
The story of our Savior’s love___
Perhaps you know it well.

Long ago on a wintry night
A star shone in the sky.
And angels came to sing the song
Of praise to God on high.

They sang their song where shepherds
Guarded flocks near a babbling brook.
And you can see in the candy cane,
The sign of the shepherd’s crook.

The red stripes stand for the Savior’s blood
Which was shed for you and me,
As He paid the price for all our sin
When He died on Calvary.

The white part of the candy cane
Shows the purity God imparts
To each new believer when he invites
The Lord Jesus into his heart.

Now turn your candy cane upside-down,
It forms the letter “J”,
Which stands for the name of Jesus Christ
Who was born on Christmas Day.

Ó Copyright 2001, Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, December 1998

About the author:
Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Historical Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 41 years. They have two adult children. If you’re interested in connecting with her, you’re to follow her blog, or join her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Bidding on the Bouquet Character Interview


Catherine: Today I have a character interview with the heroine, Marietta Wilson, from my newest inspirational romance Bidding on the Bouquet. Marietta, I’m guessing from the book title that the story has something to do with a wedding, or at least a wedding bouquet.

Marietta: It does, and it’s quite a different sort of wedding, especially from the wedding party’s point of view.

Catherine: The wedding party?

Marietta: Yes, you see the bride is selling off her bridesmaid spots to the highest bidders.

Catherine: What? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Is it some sort of new fad?

Marietta: I’m not sure, but I do know the notion sparked quite a few stories. The editor of Forget Me Not Romances is doing a whole collection, called Auditioning for Love, based on the idea.

Catherine: So, tell me how you got invited to bid.

Marietta: I received an invitation to bid on a bridesmaid spot from Chrissy Vandermere. I don’t know her very well. We were only in a study group together. Since she sent me an invitation to bid, apparently, she remembered me.

Catherine: Do you know why she’s making girls bid to be in her wedding? Is she hard up for money?

Marietta: Hardly. Chrissy’s family has money. Lots of money. The invitation didn’t say why she was having an auction. From the little I know about Chrissy, I supposed it was a bridezilla thing for her. She was a bit of a diva in the study group.

Catherine: So if you’re bidding on a bridesmaid spot, where does the bouquet come in?

Marietta: That’s the other twist. The bride will be throwing her wedding bouquet, the one she carries down the aisle, only to the six bridesmaids who win the auction bids.

Catherine: Why?

Marietta: Because that bouquet contains a 14 karat solid gold rose in it. I suppose it’s some sort of incentive to make us want to bid.

Catherine: And did it make you want to bid?

Marietta: Not at first, but now I’m hocking everything of value I own to try and win a spot in Chrissy’s wedding party. And from what I’ve heard, the competition will be very stiff.

Catherine: Well, I wish you luck, Marietta.

Marietta: Thanks. I’ll need it.


And here’s a sneak peek from


Bidding on the Bouquet

By Catherine Castle



You are invited to participate in the season’s most prestigious event.

Date: June 17

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Place: The Vandermere Estate

Event: The auction of bridesmaids’ positions for Chrissy Vandermere’s wedding

Light refreshments will be served

Chrissy is auctioning off a chance to be an attendant in her wedding.

Winners will be escorted down the aisle by New York’s finest bachelors,

and they will procure a bridesmaid-only spot at the tossing of the bride’s bouquet event.

Chrissy guarantees one of the bridesmaids will catch the bouquet,

containing a solid 14-carat rose-gold flower.

Opening bids begin at $100 and are non-refundable. Cash only.

You may make an opening bid higher than $100 if you choose.

Please RSVP by April 30


Marietta dug into the envelope again and retrieved a smaller card and matching envelope.


I, ________________________, will be pleased to attend the auction.

My opening bid is $_______

Should I win a spot, I will be available on August 9

to be part of the wedding party

for Chrissy Vandermere


Jock Sterlingson


Stunned, Marietta reread the invitation. Chrissy Vandermere? The only Vandermere she knew was her wealthy classmate Chip Vandermere, and they weren’t on real talking terms. Nor did they run in the same circles. They only had a few of the same classes and a couple of case studies together in which he had commandeered the group. The guy thought himself a born, or rather a privileged, leader. His attitude had driven her nuts, and, although he was one hot guy who knew he had undeniable sex appeal, she’d stayed away from him as much as she could. She was at the MBA program to learn and conquer, not be someone’s conquest.

Is he related to this Chrissy?

If so, the whole auction idea was totally insane. Chip Vandermere had so much money he could afford to pay bridesmaids to be in a wedding. No need to auction off the spots. Besides, why should anyone spend money to be in her wedding—or any wedding for that matter? And why had the bride invited her to participate? Even though she’d spent the last six years at an elite private college, she didn’t hang around with the sort of people who had money to throw away on frivolous things such as bridesmaid auctions. She’d spent her undergrad and postgrad years nose-to-the-grindstone, studying and pinching her pennies.

Then she remembered. As a college senior, she had contact with a Chrissy, a rich, air-headed girl, who talked of nothing but herself. She’d never mentioned having siblings. The beautiful, but not-very-bright, student, had asked Marietta to help her pass an exam—and not in the study-hard-so-you-can-pass way. She’d refused, convincing Chrissy to join the study group instead. Chrissy got a D plus, but she’d at least done it honestly. Marietta wasn’t certain the rich debutante had appreciated being spared the indignity of cheating. But if the Chrissy she knew was this Chrissy Vandermere, and if she remembered who she was after two years and invited her to bid on her bouquet, maybe she’d learned a lesson.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe taunting her with the idea she might win something of great value—a 14-carat rose-gold flower—was some sort of joke.


Don't forget to comment to be entered in this Week's Giveaway:

Handmade Dish Clothes by Gail Kittleson!
This week we have a special treat! Author Gail Kittleson is giving away a pair of dish clothes handmade with love by the author. Thank you so much for such a special gift, Gail!

About the Author:
Catherine Castle is the author of the multi-award-winning inspirational suspense romance, The Nun and the Narc, and the sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama. Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she quilts and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place is in her garden. She’s a passionate gardener who won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. 
Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing.  Her newest release is an inspirational contemporary romance, Bidding on the Bouquet, All three books are available on Amazon.