Thursday, December 14, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Say Hello to Jenna Brandt

Talkshow Thursday: Say Hello to Jenna Brandt

I'm sitting down today with author Jenna Brandt who saw a need for readers and did her part to fill it. Draw up a chair and get to know this interesting lady!

Linda:  You are part of an anthology of Christmas stories titled Under the Mistletoe. How did that collection come about?  

Jenna: I’ve noticed in the book industry, anthologies are a great way for readers to get to know new authors as well as for authors to share the work with a wider audience, but it wasn’t being used as often in the Christian writing world. I decided I wanted to create one for the Christmas season: romances themed around Christmas all with HEAs. I asked my good friend and critique partner, Lorana Hoopes, if she would be interested and she came into the project as my co-creator. We then put out a call to any writers who were interested in a couple of Facebook groups we both were in and narrowed it down to 8 authors total-featuring 2 historical novellas and 6 contemporary.

LM: Where did you find your inspiration for your story The Christmas Bride?

Jenna: It centers around a couple that was introduced in my series, Window to the Heart Saga. They are friends of the main characters in the fourth book, The Oregon Pursuit, which takes place in 1870 West Linn, Oregon.

LM: You obviously have a love for history. Your books range from the Victorian to the WWI era with the Old West tossed in for good measure. Which time period is your favorite and why?

Jenna: Oh, my, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child (I have four of those too). I love each of them for different reasons. I think I love reading the Victorian era, and Regency was my first introduction to historical romances. As a matter of fact, my current work in progress is set back in England during the Victorian era with characters from The Oregon Pursuit and The Christmas Bride. I love mixing sub-genres and having fish out of water scenarios. However, researching WWI was so much fun. Honestly, I don’t think I can pick. I love them all for different reasons.

LM: Lots of research goes into each story to ensure historical accuracy. What is your method for researching a story, and how much time goes into that before you begin to write?

Jenna: I research the era and the location extensively so I have a feel for the time period. For instance, The Christmas Bride and The Oregon Pursuit both take place in West Linn, Oregon at the end of the Oregon Trail. I have lots of tidbits of truth woven throughout the stories to make the book historically accurate. I also research as I go for descriptions and pictures so I can visualize an area where my book takes place.

LM: Have you ever experienced writer’s block, and if so, what did you do to push through it?

Jenna: I think every writer does experience writer’s block. Personally, I might set it aside for a couple of days if I’m not on deadline. If I am, I just force myself to keep writing. I may not like what I’m writing but I can always go back and edit it later. The key is to keep pushing through. Also, starting at the end and working backwards helps if the plot has already been figured out and I know the end.

LM: What is your next project?

Jenna: As I mentioned, I am currently working on the next book in my series called The Viscount’s Wife, featuring characters from my West Linn books which I hope to release in late January. I also have two other projects I’m working on-one coming out in March and June, respectively.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Go to to get the first two chapters of all my books for free!

Here's the buy link for Under the Mistletoe:

LM: Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mystery Monday: Christianna Brand - From Inspector Cockrill to Nanny McPhee

Mystery Monday: Christianna Brand - From Inspector Cockrill to Nanny McPhee  

I love the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and have read books written by dozens of authors from this era. I thought I had heard of nearly every one of these writers, but was pleasantly surprised recently to stumble on yet another one.

If you’re familiar with the Nanny McPhee movie starring Emma Thompson, then you’ve already been exposed to Christianna Brand who wrote the Nurse Matilda series in the late 1960s. Prior to writing short stories and children’s books, Ms. Brand penned mystery series for adults that featured three different inspectors.

Born in 1907 as Mary Christiana Milne in British Malaya, she was raised in India. She returned to England to attend a Franciscan convent school, but left at aged 17 to enter the workforce. One blogger surmised it was because her father lost his wealth. Whatever the reason, she held a wide variety of jobs such as governess, dress packer, ballroom dancer, model, and shop girl. It was during this last position she was inspired to write (under the pen name Christiana Brand) her first mystery, Death in High Heels as a result of an annoying co-worker. Six more books featuring Detective Inspector Cockrill followed as well as two other mystery series.

The second in the Cockrill series, Green for Danger, was optioned in 1944 by the J. Arthur Rank Corporation and made into a movie in 1946 starring Alistair Sim as the inspector. The plot takes place at Heron’s Emergency Hospital, and the victim dies on the operating table. The nurse is convinced the death was not an accident and Cockrill is brought in to investigate. Having served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment at the hospital where her husband, Roland Lewis, was working, Brand again used her experiences to help her craft her story.

Scholars and critics alike attest to her clever plotting, twists and surprises, and sense of humor. Three of her pieces were nominated for Edgar Awards; two short stories: “Poison in the Cup” and “Twist for Twist,” and the non-fiction Heaven Knows Who. She served as Chair of the Crime Writers Association from 1972-1973. In addition to her successful career as a mystery novelist, she wrote children’s books during the 1960s.

Brand said in an interview, “I write for no reason more pretentious than to simply entertain.”

She succeeded.

Have you read any of Christianna Brand’s books?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Archie Heron

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Archie Heron

Today I'm sitting down with Lord Archibald "Archie" Heron, the male protagonist in my novella A Doctor in the House, part of "The Hope of Christmas" collection that was released on November 24th.  I thought you'd enjoy learning a bit more about him.

LM: Thanks for joining me today, Archie. Can  you tell us a little bit about Heron Hall and how your family came to own it?

Archie: Like many English families, my family was awarded Heron Hall to recognize service to the Crown, in this case Elizabeth I. My great, great, great...well, you get the picture...grandfather was a high ranking official and an assistant to William Cecil who helped end the war with France after she became Queen. He was given a title and the estate. Records are sketchy, but I believe the property was taken from someone to give to my ancestor. The place was in disrepair, and it took nearly twenty years to renovate.

LM: You served in the war before coming home to take over the reigns at Heron Hall. Are you allowed to tell us about your experiences.

Archie: Now that the battles are over, I can share that I was in North Africa fighting Rommel, the Desert Fox. It was brutally hot, and Rommel didn't get his nickname for nothing. Skirmishes went on for weeks. We'd gain ground, and then the Germans would push us back. I was wounded at Tobruk. It took me months to recover and just before they were going to send me back, I got word my brothers had been confirmed dead (swallows heavily), and as the last remaining heir I was discharged.

LM: I'm sorry about the loss of your family. In addition to that loss, Heron Hall was requisitioned by the government for war use. Can you tell us about that?

Archie: I had three days to vacate the house, not much time at all, but that's the way it often was. Anyway, the estate was assigned to the Americans as a convalescent hospital. And to top it off, the administrator was a woman, Dr. Emma O'Sullivan. Rather unorthodox in her treatment methods and not one to take direction from others. Feisty, that's what she is. But Heron Hall served during The Great War, it only makes sense for us to do our bit again during this war. And the lads are so brave. It is my pleasure to do what I can to boost their morale.

LM:  The war has been going on for nearly three years. What has that been like?

Archie: We're fortunate at Heron Hall because of the amount of land we have. We are able to grow crops that supply us and the surrounding area. But there are many things we can't grow or get hold of such as coffee, sugar, and clothing. Not that we need lots of new clothes, but the material wears out, and we're unable to replace the items. Shoes too. Leather is impossible to come by and even if you have enough points and money, there are very few shoes to be found. And there's always the fear of being bombed. The Germans have been tenacious about attacking. But we British are resilient and we will get through it.

LM: It's hard to imagine the war being over, but have you thought about what you would do when the hostilities cease?

Archie: (shrugs) I'm Lord of the manor now. With that title comes great responsibility. I will continue to minister to the people in the village, ensuring they have enough to eat and jobs that will provide for them. We've already lost a few lads, and will probably lose a few more. I'll need to help them get past the grief. It's going to be a long road, don't you know?

LM: Thanks for taking time to visit. I'll let you get back to the boys.

Book Blurb: Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart?

Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?

Do you love Christmas stories? Love to read but you're a little short of time this season? The Hope of Christmas is the perfect solution: three heartwarming stories that don't take long to read at all. Pick up your copy today on Amazon.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Celebrate Lit Blog Tour: Holly, Ivy & Intrigue

Celebrate Lit Blog Tour: Holly, Ivy & Intrigue

About the Book

Title: Holly, Ivy & Intrigue
Author: Joanie Bruce, Alexa Verde, Denise Weimer
Genre: Mystery/suspense, Christmas
Release Date: November 13, 2017

Christmas Murder Mix-Up
“I have to get rid of her now.”
After four months of a blissful marriage, Paige is devastated to overhear her husband, Cooper, say those words to his best friend. Because of a suspicious Christmas gift, a gas leak, and a home invasion, Paige’s love for Cooper is tested to the limit. Will their marriage survive the Christmas Murder Mix-up?

Holiday Pursuit
When Brianna Rockwell’s brother finds himself in danger and disappears three days before Christmas, she does everything to rescue him. Brianna dodges bullets, escapes fire, and even turns to her longtime crush for help. But the closer she gets to solving the mystery and finding her only sibling, the more desperate someone gets to silence her forever…

Kelsey Jordan prefers upcycling junk and refinishing antiques for her store in a Georgia mountains town to being the center of attention. When a robbery and an unknown benefactor shove her in the middle of a decades-old mystery, and a real estate developer and a former baseball star compete for her attention, Kelsey isn’t sure who to trust.

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Authors

As an avid reader, Joanie Bruce welcomed the transition from reading to writing and considered it a wonderful new experience to please others with her words. She has three published Christian suspense novels, and enjoys writing from her home in the country. Thankful that God has given her the ability to write, draw and paint, Joanie strives to use them to encourage others and to honor Him in all her accomplishments.

Alexa Verde penned her first literary masterpiece, a rhymed poem, at the ripe age of eight, and since has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has a bachelor degree in Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her series Rios Azules Christmas and Secrets of Rios Azules.

DENISE WEIMER holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. An associate editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Denise is the author of The Restoration Trilogy, The Georgia Gold Series, romantic novella REDEEMING GRACE, and ACROSS THREE AUTUMNS: A Novella of The Backcountry Brides Collection through Barbour Publishing (May 2018). This wife and swim mom of two daughters always pauses for coffee, chocolate, old houses, and to write any story God lays on her heart.

My Thoughts

This delightful trio of mysteries are light, easy reads that I was able to finish in one sitting. I loved that they were all connected to Christmas, yet each had a different flavor.

Christmas Murder Mix-up: Anyone who has made assumptions that lead to misunderstanding and difficulties will appreciate this Christmas caper. Marriage isn’t easy, and as a newlywed of only four months Paige leaps to conclusions that create all kinds of angst in her life. I loved her husband Cooper, and enjoyed following Paige as she tried to figure out what was going on. The story tied up a little too quickly for my taste, but I loved the ending.

Holiday Pursuit: The story starts off with a bang, and the fast pace continues almost to the end. Brianna is a wonderful, older sister who puts her own needs ahead of her brother as she tries to help him out. Her loyalty to those around her is commendable. After the mystery was solved (which I didn’t figure out despite the clues!), there was a nice epilogue with a bit of unexpected “feel good.”

A Holiday Intruder: Denise Weimer is a new author to me, and after reading this story, I will definitely search for other books she’s written. I didn’t solve this mystery either, and the twist at the end was fantastic. The characters were well-developed, and I enjoyed learning about the antiques business. I felt for Kelsey as she struggled trying to make ends meet as a business owner. Tyler had his own issues, and yet he didn’t allow them to get in the way of helping Kelsey. A nice guy, I would like to meet in person.

I received a copy of this book for free from CelebrateLit Publicity, and a favorable review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, December 3
Mommynificent, December 6
Allofakindmom, December 7
Blogging With Carol, December 7
Janices book reviewsDecember 9
Carpe Diem, December 10
Mary Hake, December 10
Daysong ReflectionsDecember 12
Remembrancy, December 13
Multifarious, December 14
Margaret Kazmierczak, December 14
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 15
Pursuing StacieDecember 15
Vicky Sluiter, December 16
Bigreadersite, December 16


To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Celebrate Lit Tour: Runaway Romance

Celebrate Lit Tour: Runaway Romance

About the Book


Name of book: Runaway Romance  
Author: Miralee Ferrell  
Genre: Contemporary romance with Amish thread
Release Date: October, 2017

When a reality TV star meets the reality of life, will it be her downfall or her salvation? Ann Stanway had it all—a starring role in a reality show, an adoring boyfriend, and a sparkling future with limitless possibilities. Until the rules changed and the life she’d thought was real no longer existed. Leaving L.A. seems like her only option, and she lands in Kentucky at a quiet Amish inn—as far removed from her past as possible. Now she knows what was missing in her life–peace, true friendship and, dare she hope, a man who accepts her for who she is–or at least who he thinks she is. Hunter Lewis is intrigued by the new woman staying at his friend’s Amish inn. Annie appears to be what she claims, but she’s secretive and won’t open up. He’s been burned by a woman before and can’t tolerate deception. But his interest in Annie is growing, and the attraction seems to be mutual—until something happens that makes Hunter question everything he’d thought was real. Dare he risk his heart, when he’s certain Annie is keeping secrets? Can their new romance withstand the pressure, or will Ann choose to run again?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Runaway Romance effectively combines the cut-throat cultures of reality TV with the simple Amish community life to tell a story of second chances and forgiveness. Annie and Hunter are both “damaged goods,” having been scarred by relationships gone bad, yet both are open to the gentle leading of Sarah, who despite her grief at being widowed, has a strong faith in God’s goodness. I liked Annie who was resilient in the face of hurt and misunderstanding. There were a couple of times I laughed out loud at her foibles while trying to fit into the Amish community. I enjoyed learning about the Amish and their belief system. All the characters were well-developed, including the “bad guys.” I would have liked more description of the setting, but that is personal preference, not a criticism. A highly enjoyable read.

I received a copy of this book for free from CelebrateLit Publicity, and a favorable review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own

About the Author

I love life, love my family, love writing Christian fiction–reading, riding my horse and puttering in my garden are all ways I relax. I often have my little 7 lb Chihuahua, Lacey, on my lap when I’m working–there’s nothing like a warm ball of love on your lap to act as a stress reliever! First and foremost I’m a child of God and daughter of the King. I’ve been involved in women’s ministries for years, I’m married to a wonderful man, have two grown children, two cats, two dogs, 10 chickens and ride my son-in-law’s Arabian mare since my old mare passed in 2013. We live about 9 miles from the nearest town on 11 acres, in a peaceful setting surrounded by trees. I started writing shortly after I turned 50, and discovered I loved it so much I don’t want to stop. I have 15 novels out & a five book set of horse novels for middle-grade girls. I write both women’s contemporary fiction, historical & contemporary romance, and horse/mystery novels for girls. One of my Western romances, Love Finds You in Sundance, WY, was awarded the Will Rogers Medallion for Western Fiction, three books have been optioned as movies, and several books have been on the ECPA best seller list. You can find out more about me andmy books at

Guest Post from Miralee Ferrell

In the spring of 2015, I received an email from a Hollywood producer, followed by a phone call. Imagine my surprise when she asked if I’d be willing to write a book for them. They were no longer producing the Love Finds You books into movies and were working on a different project for UP TV, a possible three-movie series, and she hoped I might be able to work with them. She explained that she’d optioned Love Finds You in Sundance, Wyoming, two or three years earlier, and loved it. Of the thirty-five or so titles she’d read of the line, that was her favorite. However, UP TV didn’t want to make historical or old west movies, so she’d shelved it for now. During that time period, I’d gotten my rights returned to all of my LFY books and had retitled them Finding Love in Last Chance, California, Finding Love in Tombstone, Arizona, and Finding Love in Bridal Veil, Oregon. Sundance became Outlaw Angel, and all four are still in print. Here’s the amazing part. I came very, very close to turning down that contract offer with Summerside for Sundance. I was disappointed in the advance and royalty rate, and shortly after they released it, they sold the line to Guideposts, and that company didn’t continue the line much longer. Understandably, sales waned on their final releases, and I was disappointed with my sales from that final book as my others had done quite well. For a long time, I wished I hadn’t taken that contract and instead held out for one with another company for a three-book series. However, had I done that, I doubt Runaway Romance would ever have been written. It was Sundance that grabbed Chevonne’s attention and caused her to contact me. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Blog Stops

Here are Miralee's remaining tour stops:

December 4: Big Reader Site
December 4: the Power of Words
December 5: Kat's Corner Books
December 6: Baker Kella
December 7: Splashes of Joy
December 7: Karen Hadley
December 8: Quiet Quilter
December 9: Red Headed Book Lady
December 9:  Just the Write Escape
December 10: Cafinated Reads
December 11: Remembrancy
December 11: Carpe Diem


In honor of her tour, Miralee is giving away a grand prize of a Kindle Fire! Click the link below to enter! Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Fellow authors Terri Wangard and Jodie Wolfe

Talkshow Thursday: 
Fellow authors Terri Wangard and Jodie Wolfe

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today, ladies. I was thrilled when our publisher CelebrateLit invited me to be part of a Christmas collection with you titled The Hope of Christmas. I had just finished reading about the English country homes that were requisitioned by the government during WWII, so decided to wrap my story around that. How did you choose what to write about?

Terri: I learned about the USS Tabberer while doing research for Wheresoever They May Be. I loved the account of the crewmen’s heroics during the typhoon, but couldn’t use it in my book. When I heard about the short stories, I knew it was the perfect place to showcase the Tabby.

Jodie: : In my first collection with Celebrate Lit Publishing, Let Love Spring, my heroine was one of three sisters. So when I was contracted to write a second story with them, I decided to write about one of the other sisters. 

LM: When I was growing up, my paternal grandparents came to our home every Christmas. Even though they were staying the night, during their first trip into the house they would carry piles of gifts rather than suitcases. What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Terri: Going to church for Christmas Eve services. The children always took part, and one year, I was one of the angels who appeared to the shepherds. As we left the podium and went past the choir loft, one of the girls in the choir said to a friend, “They have bare feet.” Back in the day, it was scandalous to be barefoot in church, but do angels wear shoes?

Jodie: I was in second grade when our family moved from one town to another. We moved over Christmas break and I remember my parents were busy packing and I'm not sure what my brothers were up to. I remember sitting on the floor by the Christmas tree, with my back against the sofa and just staring up at the lights on the tree and enjoying the beauty of it.

LM: My story, A Doctor in the House, takes place in England, and I’ve been fortunate to visit, so I have experienced the country first hand. How did you research the settings for your stories?

Terri: Most of Typhoon Prompting takes place in the South Pacific. While I have been there on cruise ships, and even during rough weather, I haven’t been in a typhoon. So all my research came from books, one in particular that I bought used and have read several times.

Jodie: While my story Picking a Bride for Paul is set in a made-up town, it's based on a place in Kansas where my in-laws used to live. Since I had already come up with the town in my first story, it was easy to draw on it for this tale.

LM: I love to write stories, but I must confess that research is my favorite task. I can chase a factoid for days, ferreting out the details. What is your favorite aspect of the writing process?

Terri: I love the research, too. I do way too much.

Jodie: For me it's a toss-up between the research and the writing process. J

LM: What advice can you give to not-yet-published writers?

Terri: Have a lot of patience. Getting published can take years.

Jodie: Wait and trust God's timing.

LM: I’m currently working on a full length historical mystery about a young woman who joins the USO. What is your next project?

Terri:  I’m moving from World War II to World War I. My setting is the Lusitania.

Jodie: I have a full-length book coming out in May 2018 that is set in the back-drop of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893 in Oklahoma Territory.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Twitter: @TerriWangard



Purchase your copy today of The Hope of Christmas from Amazon

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wartime Wednesday: Children’s War Stories

Wartime Wednesday: Children’s War Stories

World War II impacted children and young adults at many levels, often because they had fathers, brothers, uncles, or cousins off in combat. But kids were also exposed to the war in the toys they played with (read my post about that here) or the books they read. Here are three of the era’s most prolific authors:

Wheaton College graduate and minister Roy Judson Snell wrote nearly one hundred children and YA books under his own name as well as several pseudonyms. Born in 1878, his first story was published in 1922. Most of his books were aimed at boys, however he did write a series about women in the uniformed services such as Norma Kent and the WACS, Sparky Ames of the Ferry Command, and Sally Scott of the WAVES.

Another author who wrote for young adults was Robert Sidney Bowen, Jr. A Boston native who served in WWI as an aviator, Bowen penned the fifteen volume Dave Dawson War Adventure series about a high school graduate who follows his father to Europe just before WWII begins. Dave befriends an English teen, and the two find themselves fighting beside the British troops. Bowen’s Red Randall series is about a young aviator who serves in the Pacific Theatre. In addition to his fiction career, he was a journalist for several newspapers and magazines.

Hilda Van Stockum was a Dutch native who lives for many years in the U.S. She published several children’s series about the war, some of which were based on her family’s experiences, such as The Mitchells: Five for Victory. Her best known book, The Winged Watchman tells how traditional windmills were used for signaling despite German occupation.

What books do you remember from your childhood?