About the Book
Book: The Scarlet Pen
Author: Jennifer Uhlarik
Genre: Christian Historical Suspense
Release date: July 2021
Engaged to a Monster
Book 12 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History
Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of a 19th century serial killer whose silver-tongued ways almost trap a young woman into a nightmarish marriage.
In 1876, Emma Draycott is charmed into a quick engagement with childhood friend Stephen Dee Richards after reconnecting with him at a church event in Mount Pleasant, Ohio. But within the week, Stephen leaves to “make his fame and fortune.” The heartbroken Emma gives him a special pen to write to her, and he does with tales of grand adventures. Secret Service agent Clay Timmons arrives in Mount Pleasant to track purchases made with fake currency. Every trail leads back to Stephen—and therefore, Emma. Can he convince the naive woman she is engaged to a charlatan who is being linked to a string of deaths in Nebraska?
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a preteen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a BA in writing, she has won five writing competitions and was a finalist in two others. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenage son, and four fur children.
More from Jennifer
Hello, Readers! For all who might never have read one of my stories or come across me, it’s great to meet you! I’m a wife, a mom, a (young!) grandma, and an author—among many other things. My author tagline is “Where Grit Meets Grace.” If you’re familiar with my writing at all, you’ll know that most of my stories at least touch on a bit of the difficult side of life. Death, abandonment, war, addiction, or who knows what else you might find. The Scarlet Pen is no different.
Given that this novel is the final installment in Barbour’s True Colors series, the story revolves around a true crime from history—in this case, the murders of serial killer Stephen Dee Richards—AKA the Nebraska Fiend. Anytime you’re dealing with someone so depraved as he, you’ll find plenty of “grit” to write about. But that’s only half of my tagline. Remember, it’s “Where Grit Meets Grace.”
While I love a story that delves into difficult topics and, in some cases, pushes the characters right to the edge of what they can handle, I also love a truly redemptive story. When I was asked to write for this series, the ideas that drew me the most were the ones that had something redeeming in the actual history. There were plenty of interesting historical killers I could’ve chosen where I could have manufactured a positive, even happy ending through the fictional characters in the book. In the case of Stephen Dee Richards, there was no manufacturing needed. The “grace” part was already written. The end of Stephen’s story is precisely why I chose to write about him. I hope you’ll find it as though-provoking and compelling as I did. Happy reading!
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I always love this question. LOL I think I must have come out of the womb with a wiring to write. I have pictures of myself as a toddler in diapers, sitting at my dining room table, pencil in hand just scribbling away on a pad of paper. By the time I was five, I was sneaking out of bed at night to “write” (read: illustrate) books about earthworms and other creatures. But the real moment came when I was twelve. I was in 7th grade at the time, and my friends were moving out of the stage where we’d play pretend and were now moving on to makeup, teen magazines, and oohing over the cute boys in our class. That was okay, but I still had so many exciting adventures in my head that I wanted to explore. So when a good friend announced to me that she was writing a book, and proceeded to show me a spiral notebook with her scribbled story, everything clicked. I quickly realized then that I could still continue to explore all the adventure stories floating in my head—I just had to write them down rather than act them out with my friends.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Most of the time these days, I veg out on the couch and watch TV with my hubby, though I love to read, do crafts, go to flea market and craft shows, or do lunch with a friend.
- What’s your favorite part about being a writer? Research? First Draft? Editing?
There are things I can enjoy about each stage of the writing process. I love the feeling of success when I come across those little factoids in my research that make the story feel real. I also love the sense of accomplishment when I take the very rough draft and polish it up to that finished-product shine. But my favorite stage, by far, is the getting the story from my brain to the page. I’ve found with the last several books that I will tend to have a picture in my mind of how a scene is supposed to go, and if I can just embrace that picture rather than overthinking it and changing things up, the process is really enjoyable and the story really flows. And while I have an outline or synopsis that I work from, there’s still so much of the story yet to discover that things tend to pop up in the writing and surprise me. I love that sense of discovery in the midst of the process.
- What do you think makes a good story?
As I’ve already stated, I love a good adventure. And I love a story with some true-to-life issues to be dealt with. But what really makes a story sing for me is when it deals with those issues in a way that brings about redemption and reconciliation to the characters involved.
- What project are you working on now, and how do we find your books?
I am currently writing a dual-time novel for Barbour’s Doors to the Past series. It’s titled Love’s Fortress and takes place at the Castillo de San Marcos (the oldest masonry fort in the U.S.) in St. Augustine, Florida, with timelines in both 1875 and present-day. I’m super-excited to have the opportunity to write this novel for several reasons. It’s my first dual-timeline story. It’s the first I’ve written in my home state of Florida. And outside of a couple of short stories I wrote some twenty-odd years ago, it’s my first foray into writing anything with a contemporary element to it. I’m having a ball with it! Love’s Fortress will release on March 1, 2022.
You can find my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Christian Book Distributors, and other online and brick-and-mortar sellers. And if you don’t find the books on local store shelves, ask if they can order a copy for you. In my experience, they’re always happy to help, and it lets the stores know which books/authors readers are finding enjoyable!
Thanks so much, Gina, for giving me the opportunity to share with your readers! Blessings to everyone!
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To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Scarlet Pen!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.