Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: Making your Own Clothes

Wartime Wednesday:  Making your Own Clothes

I once lost the button on a pair of pants, but my sewing skills are so abysmal I ended up using a decorative lapel pin in place of the button. The last thing I had made for myself was a poorly executed blouse in 9th grade Home Ec., so I didn’t keep needles or thread in the house. To be fair, to make the repair I would have had to go to the store and purchase the items, only to be left with a huge spool of thread I would never need again. Seemed like a waste, and the solution I came up with was fast and easy.

My mom made all our clothes while we were growing up, and I have a friend who is a professional seamstress. Meanwhile, I still can’t sew.

Several times a month, I conduct speaking engagements about a variety of World War II topics, and as part of the event I wear one of two costumes that I had made from vintage patterns. The first is from Vogue and is for a jumpsuit that was worn as a uniform for the Women’s Land Army and some factories. The other is a Hollywood brand pattern and is for a day dress.

A fascinating discovery my seamstress friend and I made is that the craft of sewing has changed over the years. Some supplies had different names in the 40s such as the zipper that was called a slide closure. And techniques have also changed. When I was in school, we were taught to sew seams “right side together.” Simple enough, right? Apparently, that approach was developed later. The dress pattern I purchased advised the seamstress to create the skirt and top separately, rolling the seams and then connecting them. What?

The tissue paper pieces of the Vogue pattern are also vastly different than pieces sold now. Modern patterns are imprinted with indications for seams, darts, and button holes. The vintage pattern pieces are blank with small holes punched in various locations to indicate sizing, and small triangle cutouts to indicate darts. Talk about confusing.

But as usual the government set out to help its citizens and issued helpful films. Sewing Simple Seams is from 1947, but there were plenty other movies created during the war.

The more I learn about what women did to provide for themselves and their families, the more in awe I am.   

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mystery Monday: Drew Farthering Mysteries

Mystery Monday: Drew Farthering Mysteries

This spot has typically been reserved for information about writers from The Golden Age of Detective Fiction or other similar topics. Today I want to introduce you to Juliana Deering's Drew Farthering Mysteries that I discovered a couple of years ago as a review blogger.

The books are set in 1930s England, and Amazon describes the series as Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie, but I would have to disagree. To me the books are a mixture of Dorothy Sayers (Lord Wimsey) and Dashiell Hammett (Nick Charles without the liquor). Dapper and dashing, he is young enough to be cool, but as a titled, English gentleman who comes from a long line of English Lords, Drew is proper when the situation calls for it.

The author, interestingly, is a fifth generation Texan, yet has obviously done her research, because the dialogue is decidedly British with no anachronisms or Americanisms (which I find too often in historical or books set in England). The descriptions of dress, social customs, and day-to-day life are vivid and sprinkled throughout, effectively evoking the era. The mysteries are clever, and red herrings, Macguffins, and clues abound, as to the possible suspects.

I enjoy historical fiction that informs and educates in addition to entertaining, and the Drew
Farthering series does that. With every book, I have come away with new knowledge which is tough to do, considering the amount of reading and research I've done for my own books.

Thus far there are six books, and I'm looking forward to the next installment of this delightful set.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet award winning author Amanda Cabot

Talkshow Thursday: Meet award winning author Amanda Cabot

Linda:  Thanks for stopping by my blog, and congratulations on your latest release A Borrowed Dream. I appreciate that your books can be read in any order, even those part of a set. What was your inspiration for this particular story?

Amanda: I’m delighted to be here, Linda, and thank you for the opportunity to be part of your blog.  As for the inspiration for this book, if you’ve read the last of my Westward Winds trilogy, With Autumn’s Return, you know that I’m interested in nineteenth century medicine, especially the advances that occurred when the horrors of what was called Heroic Medicine (techniques like bleeding and purging) were replaced by more modern theories such as cleanliness. I still shudder when I think about those leeches, not to mention the bleeding cups!

Since I’d already created a heroine who was a doctor (Elizabeth in With Autumn’s Return), I didn’t want to repeat that. That would be boring for you and for me. Instead, I decided to pair a woman who’s seen just how barbaric Heroic Medicine can be and who has a justifiable mistrust of all physicians with a highly skilled surgeon. You can imagine the conflict that caused.

LM:  Wow! You're right - I can only imagine the conflict! How do you decide where to set a story?

Amanda: The short answer is: carefully.  The full answer is a bit longer.  First of all, the setting needs to be someplace I’ve actually visited.  While I know some authors are comfortable doing their research about places online, I believe it’s important to know what the air smells like, to see and touch the plants that are growing there, to listen to residents’ accents, to taste the local cuisine.  In other words, I need all my senses engaged before I can begin to write a book.  It also has to be a place that ignites my imagination, and it’s an easier sell to a publisher if it’s a reader favorite.  The Texas Hill Country meets all those criteria, which is the reason the majority of my books are set there.

LM: Lots of research goes into each story to ensure historical accuracy. On your website you indicate that a great place to start researching is the children’s section of the library. What is an “aha” or “wow” moment you had while conducting research for one of your books?

Amanda: When I started thinking about what became my Texas Dreams trilogy, I knew I wanted to set it in the Hill Country and expected my fictional town to have been settled by Germans like so many of the Hill Country communities.  But as I was reading T.R. Fehrenbach’s Lone Star (not something I found in the children’s section!), I found a reference to a town whose settlers came from Alsace and were both French and German.  That was a definite aha! moment, because it gave me a readymade conflict based on the centuries-old enmity between those two countries.

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

Amanda: I’ve never had a full-fledged attack of writer’s block, but there are times when I’d rather be doing anything – even cleaning house, which is my least favorite thing in the world – than writing.  When that happens, I take a walk.  I’m a firm believer in the therapeutic effects of exercise, not only for burning calories but also for releasing endorphins and breaking through mental barriers.

LM: Great advice! What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

Amanda: Without a doubt, it’s the first draft.  I refer to them as the skeletons.  Like real skeletons, first drafts are essential, because they’re the framework on which everything else rests, but they’re ugly.  I’m always thrilled when I finish that first draft and can start adding the flesh and blood, which is my term for the second draft.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite childhood book: Little Women
Favorite season: Spring
Favorite place to vacation: Yellowstone

LM: What is your next project?

Amanda:  The publishing cycle is so long that you may not be surprised to know that I’m currently working on the first book in a new series.  This one, which has only a working title at this point, will be released in 2020.  Like the Cimarron Creek books, it’s set in a fictional town in the Texas Hill Country, but unlike them, it takes place in an earlier time, specifically 1856.  Meanwhile, A Tender Hope, which is the last of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, has been through its first round of edits, and the cover is being designed as we speak.  That book will be released in March 2019. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


The first place to start is my web site,  That’s the go-to spot for information about each of my books, including excerpts, discussion group questions, and – new for A Borrowed Dream – bonus features.
You can also find me on Facebook at either my author page or my personal one
If you prefer Twitter, I’m there too.

And, if you’d like to learn a bit more about my adopted home, be sure to look for my Wednesday in Wyoming posts on my blog

Book Blurb: 
There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . .

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor’s treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

Purchase Links: 

Amanda's Bio: Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroads trilogy, A Stolen Heart, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: A book review

Wartime Wednesday: A book review

Today's Wartime Wednesday post is a review of Tamera Kraft's Resurrection of Hope set immediately following WWI (also known as The Great War). I'm not as familiar with this era as others I've heavily researched so I enjoyed the author's ability to set the stage and educate me without being dry or textbookish. I highly recommend this book - read on to find out why.

Resurrection of Hope started out with an attention-grabbing beginning and kept me turning pages late into the night. I finished the book in two sittings. The story was set immediately following WWI (The Great War), a time period I’m unfamiliar with, so I enjoyed the details and descriptions that educated me as well as helped immerse me into the era. Vivien and Henry both have so many issues, which frustrated me at some level, but created exquisite tension between them. Childhood baggage, misunderstandings, insecurities, and an inability to effectively communicate made their marriage a rocky road that seemed doomed to failure. Wounded by inept and cruel parents, both struggled to understand how God could care about them, and I wept for them as they sought answers to the difficult questions of life, especially why God allows those we love to be taken from us too early. The minor characters were not as well developed as I would have liked, and some of the solutions a little too pat, but the climax at the end was absolutely gripping. A story of grace and forgiveness, especially of ourselves. Highly recommended.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Wyoming and WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Wyoming and WWII

Situated in the Mountain Region, Wyoming is the least populous state and the second least densely populated state. At 253,600 square kilometers, Wyoming is about half the size of Spain and slightly larger the UK. Bordered by Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho, the state had a population of about 250,000 people in 1940.  

About ten percent of the Wyoming’s men served in the Armed Forces, but the state played many more roles during World War II.

Army Air Bases: The Army Air Force (the Air Force separated from the Army in September 1947) established numerous airfields for training fighter and bomber pilots and air crews. The two major fields were located in Casper and Cheyenne. The fate of the bases is varied. Some became municipal airports while others were retained by the Air Force. Some were left to go back to the agricultural fields they had been. Meanwhile, the hundreds of “temporary” buildings still survive.

Camp Douglas POW Camp: From 1943 to 1946, the camp of 180 buildings housed Italian and German prisoners-of-war. Very few of the buildings remain, but the Officer’s club still stands. Inside the walls are covered in murals depicting western life and folklore. Painted by three Italian prisoners, the murals are now on the National Register of Historic Places with the National Park Service. The installation of the camp created a housing shortage for military personnel (not housed in the camp), so most residents of the city rented out rooms. In addition, because of the number of men who left to serve, there was a shortage of workers in the agricultural industry. Therefore, the some of the prisoners were used to fill the void. At its peak, the camp housed more than 3,000 inmates.

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp: Many people are aware of the internment of Japanese citizens from the west coast states, but did you know there was a large population of Japanese, Italian, and German folks in Wyoming? Forced to register and carry photographic identification cards after the attack on Pearl Harbor, many of these people eventually lost their jobs. According to one article, railroad employees were fired, but miners continued to work. (Did no one else want the job? Did the government decide they couldn’t do any harm working deep in the mountains?) Eventually the Japanese were evacuated to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center located between Cody and Powell. Japanese from California were also transported there. The camp closed November 10, 1945, more than three months after the end of the war.

Mining: Coal mining in Wyoming commenced in 1867 with the arrival the Union Pacific Railroad. Coal was necessary to power the locomotives. Working this hard, dangerous job thousands of miners lost their lives from explosions and fires. In the early 1900s laws were passed to ensure worker safety. Coal had many uses, and its demand skyrocketed during WWII. Wyoming also mined iron and produced oil for the war effort.

A beautiful state with a proud history. Have you ever visited?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Blog Tour: Treacherous Trails

Blog Tour: Treacherous Trails

About the Book

  Title: Treacherous Trails  
Author: Dana Mentink  
Genre: Inspy Romanctic Suspense  
Release Date: March, 2018  
Falsely accused… Can she escape the real killer? In this second installment in the Gold Country Cowboys series, farrier Ella Cahill is accused of murder—and only former marine Owen Thorn, her brother’s best friend, can help clear her name. Now with someone trying to kill Ella, Owen must protect her…despite his promise to her brother to stay away from her. But can they work together to find the true killer before she becomes the next to die?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

Treacherous Trails is the second book in Dana Mentink’s Gold Country Cowboys series, and if possible, is better than the first which is excellent. The intrigue and suspense kept me turning pages and were deftly woven with the romantic thread of the developing relationships between Luke and Ella. Each struggled with insecurities and doubts in realistic and relatable ways. Luke’s family was warm and hospitable without being contrived or cliché. I felt Luke’s and Ella’s frustrations as they hit dead-end after dead-end while trying to prove Ella’s innocence. The plot twist at the end was a surprise, yet as I thought about it realized the author had laid the groundwork for it. Highly recommended.

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

Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over thirty five titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House. Dana was thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the Jeanne Robertson Comedy With Class Competition. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the nutty terrier, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet. You can connect with Dana via her website at, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

Guest Post from Dana Mentink

Howdy, friends! I am so thrilled to be galloping into the second book in the Gold Country Cowboy series with you. This book was a hoot to write. It’s got a nice twisty mystery and plenty of danger! Our hero, twin Owen Thorn, is a Marine doing his darnedest not to fall in love with his brother’s little sister, but you know how these things go, don’t you, partners? There’s trouble ahead in cowboy country and this story will take you on a wild gallop to the happy ending! God bless and thanks for coming along!

Blog Stops

Here are Dana's remaining Tour Stops:

April 15: C Jane Read
April 15: The Power of Words
April 16: Among the Reads
April 16: Genesis 5020
April 18: Carpe Diem
April 18: Cafinated Reads
April 19: Maureen's Musings
April 20: Pause for Tales
April 22: A Greater Yes
April 23: Texas Bookaholic
April 23: Artistic Nobody
April 24: Kat's Corner Books
April 24: Big Reader Site
April 25:  Remembrancy


To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away a grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, Cornbread Mix, and Cowboy Caviar Salsa!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Introducing TM Brown

Talkshow Thursday: Introducing TM Brown

I'm pleased to welcome author TM Brown today. It is always fun to discover new authors, so I hope you'll take some time and get to know this interesting writer!

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your latest release Testament: An Unexpected Return (Shiloh Mystery Series, Book 2). Did you set out to write a series or did that just happen? Where did you find your inspiration for this story?

TM: Nope. I ventured down this road facing the formidable task of writing my first full-length novel. It wasn’t until the BETA reads did someone suggest I consider doing a sequel. By that point, my writing coach encouraged me to do so also. Thankfully, Testament proved to come together much smoother compared to the time and effort invested in creating Sanctuary.

LM: The age old question for writers – are you a planner or a “panster,” and what is your favorite part of the writing process?

TM: Okay. Sanctuary was written literally as a “panster.” Without an outline I allowed the characters to develop and share their story. Ergo, the final version of Sanctuary emerged after several rewrites and story tweaks consulting with my editor and writing coach. By the time I began creating Testament's story, I had attended a writing workshop and learned about the value of plotting and outlining before any writing begins. I became sold and now I am a planner. Of course, an occasional twist or turn occurs in all creative writing, but creating a preset outline and organizing the scenes prevents the characters from taking me down rabbit trails.

LM: Research is an important part of the writing process. How did you go about researching Testament: An Unexpected Return and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?

TM: Being old school I have hundreds of printed out setting details, character profiles, and photos that I have used throughout the development of my stories. Yes, my stories are fiction, but I want readers to buy into the plausibility of the setting, characters, historical links used to create the backstory for time-lost Shiloh. The most satisfying feedback I received from readers came when they asked how accurate my story was? Was it based on actual events? And, where is the real Shiloh located? A smile always accompanies my responses.

LM: You started your writing career after a full career in the business world. What prompted you to start writing?
TM: My grandkids! I wanted to leave a legacy of love to them. However, my wife gets the credit.
She told me plainly that my grandkids are unlikely to read the hundreds of devotions, bible studies, and sermons I’ve written, but they would likely read a story written by their Poppy. So I reminded myself that Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables to relay truths and they followed him wanting to hear more. I just expanded the concept into a novel idea. I pray that long after I am kicking up cloud dust, my grandsons and granddaughter will slide a dusty copy of one of my books and read some of it to their kids.

LM: Who are your literary heroes?

TM: John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway from my younger days. In recent years, John Grisham, especially his earlier books, influenced my love for writing about the South, just like he wrote about Ford County, Mississippi as the setting for many of his novels. The Painted House likely sparked my belief I could write my Shiloh stories. I would be remiss not to include Charles Martin - When Crickets Cry struck a chord in me and inspired me to write my own contemporary, heart-wrenching story about a time-lost Georgia small-town with links to Atlanta.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite food: Any sit-down meal that might include, "pass the black-eyed peas and fried okra please.” In other words, any country meal shared with family around a dining room table.

Favorite vacation spot: A mountain cabin overlooking a lake or river where laughter and giggles fill the air around an open-fire as S'mores get passed around.

Favorite place to write: Alone at home, scooted beneath my desk at home tapping on my iMac keyboard after several hours scribbling notes and sketching scene ideas into my notebooks.

LM: Book three in your series is slated for publication in 2019. What other projects do you have in the works?

TM: After these three books I have a couple more ideas floating around in my head, but I am also enjoying the recent opportunity of helping aspiring authors. I have already conducted workshops and spoken in front of groups about “Authorpreneurship.” Today it takes more than writing a good story to get your book read, and I try to help authors understand how to confidently market and promote their books. My wife and I also have plenty of plans to travel and spoil our grandchildren, which will take precedence in setting my writing calendar in the months ahead.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


About the book: In this sequel to Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories, Theo and Liddy are finally sinking deep roots into their new hometown of Shiloh. Friendships are blossoming as Liddy ponders an offer to become the new art teacher at Shiloh High while Theo sends off his manuscript for Jessie's Story to be published. Life appears to be settling down,  but ominous shadows from the town's past herald more tragedy in little old Shiloh.