Friday, February 3, 2023

Arc de Triomphe

by: Rebecca May Davie

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, is almost as synonymous with the City of Lights as is the Eiffel Tower. Movies depict daring drivers as they circle the great monument at breakneck speeds. A recent event covered the entire arch in fabric, honoring artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Daily, visitors strive to climb the stairs for the view from above. Through these arenas and more, many see the 162-foot tall and 150-foot wide Triumphal Arc from around and on top. Rather than looking within the typical scope, let's take a gander from another angle.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

Base: Underneath the Arc lies the tomb of the unknown soldier. With World War I, repatriation of fallen soldiers became difficult. The volume of lost lives caused France to bar this practice and inter soldiers in the countries where they were slain. To provide a location for French families to mourn, France repatriated and buried one unknown soldier from WWI. On Armistice Day, November 11, 1920, the Unknown Soldier was laid to rest beneath the Arc de Triomphe. This soldier represents the French service members who were not identified and those who were buried in other countries. The eternal flame burns in their memory. The inscription reads: “Ici repose un soldat Français mort pour la patrie 1914-1918.” Here lies a French soldier who died for the Fatherland.

Looking up: Peering at the underside of the arch, lists of generals' names can be seen on the arcades at the sides. The attic above features 30 shields engraved with the names of the main victories.

The Arc as a structure honors the individuals who fought for
France and died during the French Revolution as well as the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon I commissioned the arch in celebration of the victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. The first stone was placed on his birthday in 1806. The construction spanned 36 years. He did not see the completion of his project.

On the outsides of the Arc are four relief sculptures. The "Entry of Napoleon" is visible in the photo at left. The other three sides feature "The Departure of the Volunteers" or "La Marseillaise," "The Battle of Austerlitz," and "The Conquest of Alexandria."

Going up: After climbing 284 steps, a small museum is available to peruse. It contains interactive exhibits explaining the history. Climb 40 more stairs to ascend to the roof.

On top: from the observation deck there is a 365 degree panorama of the twelve streets emanating from the Arc. This location at the western end of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées was named Place de l’Étoile (Star Square - because of the streets meeting at the circular plaza - renamed Charles de Gaulle Étoile. The 19th century Haussmannian architecture is easily seen from this vantage point. The majority of these buildings are six stories high with similarly shaped roof structures, stone facades, and second floor balconies of wrought iron with elaborate stone around the windows. Major landmarks are visible such as the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, the Montparnasse Tower, and Sacre Coeur.


Several events transpired at this edifice over the years. Many important French figures such as Victor Hugo have lain in state at the Arc before they were buried. Soldiers marched in victory, both German and French. The last major soldier parade occurred in 1945 after the end of World War II in Europe.

Today, the Arc serves the purpose of honoring victories and the fallen. In addition, it provides people with history and a view of the city. Personally, I enjoy the sights from this location more than from atop the “Iron Lady" (Eiffel Tower). 

The next time you see an image, video, or clip in a movie of the Arc de Triomphe, perhaps you will remember the meaning behind the symbol. Men and women fought for freedom. While the victories are celebrated, we also honor their sacrifice.

As a child, Rebecca loved to write. She nurtured this skill as an educator and later as an editor for an online magazine. Rebecca then joined the Cru Ministry - NBS2GO/Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO, at its inception. She serves as the YouVersion Content Creator, with over 75 Plans on the app.

At left, Rebecca visited the top of the Arc de Triomphe for the first time in the summer of 1991. Bottom Right is the latest visit from a 2022 research trip with fellow Heroes, Heroines, and History blogger, Cindy Stewart. All photos in this post were taken by Rebecca and friends.

Rebecca lives in the mountains with her husband and a rescued dog named Ranger. If it were up to her, she would be traveling - right now. As a member of ACFW, FHLCW, and Hope*Writers, Rebecca learns the craft of fiction while networking with a host of generous writers. She is working on her first fiction novel. This story unfolds from the 1830s in Northern Georgia.

Connect with Rebecca:

Clubhouse Facebook Goodreads Instagram Pinterest Twitter Website

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Margaret Knight: The Most Famous 19th Century Woman Inventor

Blogger: Amber Lemus

Newspaper article about Margaret Knight
Public Domain.

Continuing from our post on shopping bags last month, today we explore the fascinating and inspiring life of female inventor, Margaret Knight. February happens to be her birth month also!

Young girl working in a cotton mill
Public Domain

"Mattie" was born to Hannah Teal and James Knight on February 14, 1838 in York, Maine. She was known as a very odd little girl, because instead of dolls she preferred woodworking tools. Her father died when she was very young, so she and her two brothers were raised by her widowed mother. Life was very hard for them, and she didn't receive much education, since she had to leave school as soon as she was old enough to start working in the cotton mill with her brothers.

Mattie's first invention was spurred by yet another traumatic event. At age twelve, she was working in the cotton mill when a nearby machine malfunctioned, and sent a steel-tipped shuttle shooting out of the machine and into a young boy. Terrorized by the event, she immediately set to work and conceived a safety device to shut off the machine if something went wrong. Her device was developed and put into use, supposedly by mills all over the country. However she would never see a dime from that invention.

Before long, Mattie developed health conditions that prevented her from continuing to work in the cotton mill. She tried many different things to earn a living, including home repair, engraving and furniture upholstery. In 1867, near age thirty, Mattie moved to Springfield, Massachusetts and began working in a paper bag factory. The bags they made were envelope style, but they had several issues that made them less functional. However, flat-bottomed bags were more expensive to produce, since they had to be made by hand. Mattie's mind set to work on that problem.

About a year later, in 1868, Mattie invented a machine that cut, folded, and glued paper to form flat-bottomed brown paper bags, much like the ones we know today. This machine would greatly increase the speed of production for these bags, allowing a mass manufacturing of the more efficient design.
Another of Knight's Patents for a rotary engine.
Public Domain

This time, Mattie knew the value of what she had, and she intended to go about it in a way that would allow her to patent the machine and reap the rewards of her labor. She made her own wooden prototype, but she needed a working iron model in order to apply for a patent. So she went to a machine shop to get it built. But when Mattie went to patent her design, she discovered that someone else had already done so.

Charles Annan was either working at the shop to build the prototype, or was near enough to see the design as it was in the making, and he stole the design and filed his own patent. During this point in history, patents hadn't been awarded to women, at least not openly. Women would disguise their names by only using initials so their names were not perceived as female. But this was something Mattie was willing to fight for. She took Annan to court, shelling out over $100/day in legal fees (something around $2,143 today) to win back her patent. Annan argued that his invention was different than Mattie's, and that she never developed a fully functional machine. He even went so far as to state that "she could not possibly understand the mechanical complexities of the machine". Most consider this comment to stem from his prejudice against women, although some debate that point. Either way, Mattie had to bring witnesses, and copious amounts of evidence to prove the invention was actually hers. After a sixteen day hearing, which would have cost her over $1600 (over $34,000 in today's market.) she won the case and her patent was awarded in 1871.

From there, Mattie was able to sustain herself from the royalties of her patents. She continued to invent and registered more than 80 patents during her lifetime. Later in life, as she reflected on her accomplishments she said, "I'm only sorry I couldn't have had as good a chance as a boy, and have been put to my trade regularly." She is one of the most saluted women in the suffrage movement, because she demonstrated women's cognitive abilities and succeeded in a predominately male field.

Some articles have claimed that she was the first woman to receive a U.S. Patent, however that doesn't seem to hold up to fact checking.

Regardless, Margaret E. Knight is an inspiring person who despite countless trials, setbacks, and even having to fight for a place in the world, rose above it all to succeed at what she loved.

Today, I'd love to know what that would be for you. If you could rise above it all and succeed in a field, what field would that be? Leave me a comment below the blog post and let me know.

Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Lemus inspires hearts through enthralling tales She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".

She lives near the Ozarks in her "casita" with her prince charming. Between enjoying life as a boy mom, and spinning stories out of soap bubbles, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples.

Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera House)

by Cindy Kay Stewart

Palais Garnier Opera House (Deposit Photos)

During my summer 2022 trip to Europe, I toured the Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, which will play a part in one the WWII books I'm currently working on. During the German Occupation, the show went on. 

The Palais Garnier was commissioned by Napoleon III but opened in 1875 after his death. It's located in the 9th Arrondissement and sits at the intersection of several wide boulevards. The architect, Charles Garnier, utilized several different styles to create the exterior of the opera house. When Empress Eugenie asked Garnier what architectural style he was using, he replied that "he'd created a new Napoleon III style."

Garnier experienced a few setbacks during the building of the opera house. A lake was discovered under the site, and it had to be drained. A cistern was built to collect water, which is still in use today. French firefighters train to swim in the dark in this huge cistern or underground lake below the opera house. Although the ornate exterior was completed in 1869, the Franco-Prussian War brought construction to a halt.

The Grand Staircase (Deposit Photos)

The interior of the opera house is so opulent that it earned the moniker "Palais" from the beginning. The steps of the Grand Staircase are made of white marble, and the railing and its supports (balustrade) are made of red and green marble. The stairway leads to various floors and foyers of the theater.

The Grand Foyer (Deposit Photos)

Garnier designed the Grand Foyer to rival Marie Antoinette's Palace at Versailles. The foyer is absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking.

A Closer View of the Ceiling of the Grand Foyer. Courtesy of Author isogood via Wikimedia Commons 

The auditorium, which seats just under 2000, was designed in the classic Italian opera house style. The horseshoe shape allows patrons to view each other as well as those on stage. An enormous eight-ton bronze and crystal chandelier hangs below a colorful painting, and the stage curtain is painted, providing the illusion of many curtains.

Several legends about the Palais Garnier inspired The Phantom of the Opera book and later the musical. Some of these legends are based on real events which took place long ago. In 1896 during a performance of the opera Helle, one of several counterweights holding up the chandelier in the auditorium broke off and fell through the ceiling. It killed one person in the audience and injured several others. A fire on the stage of the Paris Opera's former location killed a ballerina and disfigured her fiance, a pianist. He supposedly went to live underground at the new opera house for the rest of his life. There's also the rumor that a faceless man lived in the lake.





These true, heartwarming stories portray the love and bravery shown by many individuals who risked their lives to save those in danger and help win WWII for the Allies. Some found themselves at the mercy of their conquerors but managed to escape. Others sacrificed their lives. From snow-covered Norway to Japanese-occupied China, from remote northern Russia to the flatlands of Belgium, larger than life stories give credence to the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. 

You can click here to download this free e-book by subscribing to my newsletter. 


Cindy Kay Stewart, a high school social studies teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical romance author, writes stories of hope, steeped in faith, and grounded in love. Her manuscripts have won the Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers Touched by Love Award, ACFW’s First Impressions contest, the Sandra Robbins Inspirational Writing Award, finaled in the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award of Excellence and the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Awards, and semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer's Genesis contest. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of forty-one years. Her daughter, son-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren live only an hour away. Cindy’s currently writing two fiction series set in WWII Europe.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

What is Scherenschnitte by Vickie McDonough

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Scherenschnitte, pronounced SHARE-en-shnit-tah, is almost as difficult to articulate as it is to create. Scherenschnitte, the art of “scissor snipping” or “scissor cutting,” probably originated in China, although some sources say Switzerland. Early paper cuttings in China were made by wealthy nobles as a form of entertainment. The intricate craft traveled across Asia and Europe, and later, made its way to America in the eighteenth century as German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania. Scherenschnitte literally means "scissor cuts" in German. The term “Chinese shadow” was also used for early paper cuttings but was replaced by the term “silhouette” in France—a term it is still referred to today.

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Early cutwork often consisted of religious themes. Monks and nuns painstakingly created religious hand-lettered texts with elaborate cut designs. Scherenschnitte focuses on life’s significant events like birth, schooling, courtship, marriage, family, and death. Farm life, flowers, trees, animals, birds, hearts, and other figures are also incorporated in the intricate designs. Profiles of people were a popular subject. Scherenschnitte resembles a stitched sampler, and fancy scrolls were often inscribed with verses, names, and locales.

Breman's Town Musicians
Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Experienced paper cutters generally worked freehand, without the aid of drawings or guides. For less practiced cutters, a design was planned before any cuts were made, making sure that all parts of the design connect to one another so that the entire paper stays together. Using sharp scissors, or sometimes sharp knives, they cut their motifs with exact precision, most often from a single piece of intricately folded paper. Cutting techniques varied with some designs created from cutting folded paper while others were cut from flat sheets. A finished piece of scherenschnitte is usually displayed against another piece of paper. The Swiss developed a method of layering cut paper, which gave it a 3-D effect.

Scherenschnitte is nearly a lost art, although some Dutch people are determined to keep it alive. You’ve probably made a scherenschnitte creation yourself without even knowing it. Remember when you were a child and you folded paper then cut away small pieces to make a snowflake? Viola! You made a scherenschnitte design. Next time you come across a paper cutting, maybe you’ll consider the rich history of the art. 

Gambler Gabe Coulter is confronted by a drunken cowboy who wants his money back. Gabe refuses and a gunfight ensues. The dying man tells Gabe the money was for his wife and son. Though the shooting was self-defense, Gabe wrestles with guilt. The only way he knows to get rid of it is to return the money he fairly won to the man’s widow. Lara Talbot sees Gabe as a derelict like her husband and refuses his help. But as she struggles to feed her family, she wonders if God might have sent him to help. 

Vickie McDonough is the CBA, EPCA and Amazon best-selling author of 54 books and novellas. Vickie grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead, she married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie’s books have won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, OWFI Best Fiction Novel Award, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice awards. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:


Monday, January 30, 2023

HHH January 2023 Book Day





The Quilting Circle (Book 5)

A Sweet Historical Romance Series

By Mary Davis

Will Cordelia abandon her calling for love? Cordelia wants to escape the social norms for her society station. Unless she can maneuver her father into relinquishing her trust fund, she might have to concede defeat—as well as her freedom—and marry. Every time Lamar finds a fascinating lady, her heart belongs to another. When a vapid socialite is presented as a prospective bride, he contemplates flying off in his hot air balloon instead. Is Lamar the one to finally break the determination of Cordelia’s parents to marry her off? Or will this charming bachelor fly away with her heart?




By Debbie Lynne Costello

A broken heart, controlling father, and intrusive Scot leave Charlotte reeling. Accused of stealing an heirloom pin, she must choose between an unwanted marriage and the ruin of her family name. With her and her sister’s futures at stake, Charlotte must navigate through injustice to find forgiveness and true happiness. Eager to find the traitor who caused the death of his brother, Duncan comes to America attempting to fit into Charleston society. But when the headstrong Charlotte catches his eye, Duncan acquires a second mission—winning the lass's hand. After several spurnings, he uses unconventional ways of winning her heart.




By Johnnie Alexander

A Cryptographer Uncovers a Japanese Spy Ring

FBI cryptographer Eloise Marshall is grieving the death of her brother, who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, when she is assigned to investigate a seemingly innocent letter about dolls. Agent Phillip Clayton is ready to enlist and head oversees when asked to work one more FBI job. A case of coded defense coordinates related to dolls should be easy, but not so when the Japanese Consulate gets involved, hearts get entangled, and Phillip goes missing. Can Eloise risk loving and losing again?




By Linda Shenton Matchett

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree. Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus Rafferty’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.




A Time-Slip Novel

By Kathleen E. Kovach, et al.

A secret. A key. Much was buried on the Titanic, but now it's time for resurrection. Follow two intertwining stories a century apart. 1912 - Matriarch Olive Stanford protects a secret after boarding the Titanic that must go to her grave. 2012 - Portland real estate agent Ember Keaton-Jones receives the key that will unlock the mystery of her past... and her distrusting heart. Review: “I told my wife to move this book to the top of her reading list... This titanic story is more interesting than the one told in the Titanic movie... She will absolutely love it.”




By Mary Dodge Allen

2022 Christian Indie Award Winner, First Place – Mystery Suspense

2022 Angel Award Winner – Mystery Suspense

While Roxy Silva is working her hometown mail route, a sinkhole opens up and uncovers the car used in her husband’s murder. Determined to solve the cold hit and run case, Roxy turns amateur sleuth, using her amazing photographic memory. Her relationship with handsome detective Kyle grows close as they uncover shocking secrets. When the killer takes Roxy captive, she must use her wits to survive.




By Terrie Todd

From an Amazon Review: Todd’s engaging dual timeline novel “Lilly’s Promise” explores the connections between family past and present. I was as eager as Diana, the main character, to learn the story of her father’s mother Lilly as he revealed more and more of the story. The power of redemption and God’s love are woven throughout Lilly’s past and Diana’s present and future. “Lilly’s Promise” is perfect for readers who enjoy historical fiction that incorporates a Christian message. Also, the story provides the opportunity to learn more about Canada and Canadian holidays.




By Molly Jebber

Rachael has suffered an injury and tragedy in her young life, but she's happy working with her friends in the Amish bakery. She's smitten with Caleb, but he wants children. She's barren. He says it doesn't matter. She's afraid he'll have regrets. Widower, Nathan, offers her a marriage of convenience, and she's close to his children. Other obstacles blindside her, and make her life-altering decisions difficult. What does the future hold for Rachael?




By Vickie McDonough 

Sarah Worley rejects Luke McNeil’s marriage proposal to pursue property in the Oklahoma Territory land lottery in 1901, but the ranch hand follows her. The lottery could enable Sarah to finally have a home of her own, but with it comes challenges she never considered. When her dream becomes a nightmare, she must decide whether to stay on her land or give up and return to the life she left. Luke hopes to win a claim and give Sarah the home she’s always wanted. Can he prove his love and show the stubborn woman he’s the right man for her?




By Michelle Shocklee

1961. After a longtime resident at Nashville’s Maxwell House Hotel suffers a stroke, Audrey is tasked with cleaning out the reclusive woman’s room. She discovers an elaborate scrapbook filled with memorabilia from the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Love notes on the backs of unmailed postcards inside capture Audrey’s imagination with hints of a forbidden romance . . . and troubling revelations about the disappearance of young women at the exposition. Audrey enlists the help of a handsome hotel guest as she tracks down clues and information about the mysterious “Peaches” and her regrets over one fateful day, nearly sixty-five years earlier.




Runaway Brides of The West

By Kimberly Grist

A semi-retired bootlegger and a beleaguered sheriff- because no good story ever started with cookies and milk. She’s shaking off the dust of her well-worn boots, not looking back and hoping for a transformation. Daughter of a traveling merchant, Bethel is tired of peddling her Daddy’s “Special Sauce” and being run out of town by every sheriff east of the Mississippi. So it’s time to head west. She just needs to sell a few more bottles to help fund her trip. If only she could shake off that irritating detective waiting at the stage stop.




By Janalyn Voigt

Hills of Nevermore (book 1) - Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on protecting her?
Cheyenne Sunrise (book 2) – After her wagon journey goes terribly wrong, a woman disillusioned in men must rely on a half-Cheyenne trail guide.
Stagecoach to Liberty (book 3) – A young Hessian girl must decide to trust a handsome Irish stranger or remain with her alarming companions.
The Forever Sky (book 4) - Can a young widow with no faith in love hope for a future with the man who broke her heart?
The Promise Tree (book 5) - A preacher’s daughter shouldn’t encourage a troublemaker’s advances—no matter what her wayward heart desires.




By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Spinster Rachael Rothburn is eager to leave her life of luxury in Boston to share the gospel with Native Americans in the west. The only problem is the missionary alliance won’t let her go unless she’s married. When Dr. Jonathan Wheaton learns about the restrictions, he offers Rachael a marriage of convenience. The pair sets off for Oregon to share Jesus with the natives, but in the process, they discover God doesn’t create coincidences—He designs possibilities. “…one gripping, compelling read. Wilted Dandelions… had me eagerly turning pages and sighing over the love story premise as well as taking comfort in the spiritual message…” ES