Monday, July 13, 2020

Mystery Monday: Dame Margaret Cole

Mystery Monday: Dame Margaret Cole

British mystery writer Margaret Cole who co-wrote over thirty detective stories with her husband G.D.H. Cole was a prolific author. Part of the Postgate family from the North York moors, Margaret also penned poetry and several nonfiction books. She later went into politics and was awarded a DBE. Her ancestor’s land grant was awarded in the year 1200, and through the centuries the family was notable in many fields including science, music, education, journalism, and entertainment. Film and stage actress Dame Angela Lansbury is Margaret’s cousin.
Margaret attended the Roedean School where she was very unhappy, later saying, “Roedean was, emphatically, the wrong sort of school for me. But I would go further and say it was not a good sort of school at all. It was very expensive; I only got in as the winner of the single annual scholarship.” She later attended Girton College (part of Cambridge), and finished all the requirements for a degree. (At that time most universities did not grant degrees to women.)
She and her family were staunch socialists and became pacifists during WWII. Her brother was jailed after his exemption as a conscientious objector was denied and he refused military orders. Her poem “The Falling Leaves” is one of her most famous works and is one of the first anti-war poems from a woman’s perspective. When Hitler began to overrun Europe, Margaret abandoned her pacifism, however she continued to be active in the socialist cause.
During a campaign against conscription, she met and married G.D.H. Cole. They joined the Fabian Society, an organization whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialist via reformist efforts rather than revolutionary overthrow. The couple eventually moved to Oxford where they taught and wrote. Their first mystery novel “The Death of a Millionaire” was published in 1925. Published in 1948, their final novel was “The Toys of Death.” Series characters were Superintendent Henry Wilson, Everad Blatchington, and Dr. Tancred.
Their book “Murder at the Munition Works” was published in 1940, and the story is woven around wartime production, shop stewards, and walk-outs. Because of its topic, one scholar theorizes that Margaret’s husband wrote the book in its entirety rather than as a collaboration with her, however, there is no proof. Most readers agree that the Cole’s early works are their better novels with ingenious ideas, complex characterizations, and sharp satire.
And despite being considered as good as Agatha Christie’s stories, the Coles and their books have faded into obscurity.


About Murder at Madison Square Garden
The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare.
Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit?

Private Investigator Ric Bogart wants nothing to do with women after his wife cleaned out their bank account and left him for another man, but he can’t ignore the feeling he’s supposed to help the scrappy, female reporter who is arrested for murder at the America First rally. Can he believe her claims of innocence and find the real killer without letting Teddy steal his heart?
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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Author Johnnie Alexander

Talkshow Thursday: Author Johnnie Alexander

Linda:  Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on your recent release The Mischief Thief. I absolutely loved the story. What was your inspiration for the plot?
Johnnie: I’m so glad you enjoyed the story, Linda. The reviews have been very encouraging. (And that makes me smile big-time! LOL!!)
Very early on, I hit upon the idea of a Les Miserables meets Leverage story.
Most people are familiar with the powerful scene in Les Mis when the bishop gives the silver candlesticks—and amazing grace—to Jean Valjean. The television show, Leverage, is about a team of reformed criminals who help people in need of justice.
I enjoy stories of “bad guys doing good” so it was fun to write about a con artist with a conscience.
LM: Through your book, I learned a great deal about the horse racing industry as well as other interesting topics? How did you conduct your research, or did you already have a knowledge base?
Johnnie: The internet was definitely my friend! Since you’ve read the story, you know that part of the con (slight spoiler alert here!) involves a claiming race. My sister told me about there was such a thing, then laughed because I looked up the legislation for such races in the Florida Statutes. I also looked up information about the racing industry and what’s known as the Horse Murders.
LM: In addition to writing and publishing, you support authors through your podcast Novelists Unwind. How did that come about, and how do you balance the different parts of your writing life?
Johnnie: Oh, wow! I’m in my third year of interviewing inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. It’s a joy to talk about writing journeys and characters and whatever else happens to come up in the conversation.
I was already cohosting a weekly show called Writers Chat. Interviewing authors seemed like a natural next step. Thanks to you, Linda, for being one of my recent guests!
Balance is not one of my favorite words. I prefer to think in terms of ebb and flow. As writers, we have responsibilities that go beyond imagining stories. For me, that includes scheduling two to three Novelists Unwind interviews a month, a monthly newsletter, mentoring responsibilities, and other platform-building interactions.
I usually have weekly word count goals to meet, too.
It may sound like a lot, and sometimes it is overwhelming. But I’m so grateful for the opportunities God gives to me. Writing stories is my dream!
LM: Turnabout is fair play. What do you do to unwind?
Johnnie: I love this question! Right now, I’m in a season where I’m starting a new story almost before I’ve finished the current one. I love going to the movies which isn’t possible right now. So I unwind by stretching out in the recliner with either a book or a binge-worthy TV show.
LM: If your story was going to be made into a movie, who would you like to see play the main characters?
Johnnie: I rarely cast characters as I’m creating them, but this story was an exception. Early on, I searched for someone to “be” Adam Thorne, the male protagonist who is a minister without a ministry. He’d be played by Liam Hemsworth who played Gale in the Hunger Games movies.
I also found a photo of a cute pixie-like girl with short blonde hair and trendy glasses to be Chaney Rose, my con artist with a conscience. AnnaSophia Robb would be a great choice to play her!
LM: Here are some quickies:
Coffee or tea? Neither! Strange as it may seem, I don’t like coffee or tea. But I love cocoa!
Walk, bicycle, or drive a car? I don’t have a bike right now, and I love road trips!
Lake or ocean for vacation? A lake—as long as there are also lots of trees.

LM: Can you tell us what writing projects are on your plate right now?
Johnnie: I’m writing a romantic suspense novel for Annie’s Fiction Sweet Intrigue Series, planning a WWII novel, and keeping my eyes open for another Rose & Thorne story.
Linda: Where can folks connect with you?
Johnnie: One of my favorite places to interact is through my newsletter which features updates and a monthly Let’s Chat giveaway. Readers can sign up at my website:
Here are a few other links:
Amazon Author Page:
Facebook Author Page:
Facebook Profile:

About the Mischief Thief
Two wrongs don’t make a right...except when they do. For con artist Chaney Rose, life hasn’t been easy. In desperate need of cash, she readily agrees to find Mischief, a stolen racehorse. Hunting for clues, she breaks into the suspected horse thief’s home only to be caught—with a few pilfered items in her pockets—by the police detective who’s tailing her. By-the-book Adam Thorne was fired from his church because of his father’s involvement with the valuable thoroughbred In a burst of Les Miserables-inspired grace, Adam tells the detective that he gave Chaney the stolen items. Adam wants Chaney to find his missing father. When Chaney learns that Mischief’s owner intends to kill the racehorse, she needs Adam’s help to expose the cruel plan before it’s too late. Will a con artist with a conscience and a minister without a ministry risk imprisonment to do the wrong thing for the right reason?

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Fiction Friday: New Releases

Fiction Friday: New Releases

Here are new releases coming out this month. Be sure to pick up your copies!

Explosive Situation by Terri Reed (07/01/20): With a serial bomber on the loose, will a K9 officer and an internal affairs investigator be able to put aside their differences to stop the bomber before it's too late? (Romantic Suspense)

A Father's Promise by Mindy Obenhaus (07/01/20): He doesn't think he deserves a family...but now he has a daughter. (Contemporary Romance)

Guarded by the Soldier by Laura Scott (07/01/20): He'll put his life on the line to protect a little boy and his pregnant mom. (Inspirational Romantic Suspense)

Rocky Mountain Revenge by Rhonda Starnes (07/01/20): To survive her deadly homecoming, she'll need to trust a man from her past. (Inspirational Romantic Suspense)

How Sweet It Is by Robin Lee Hatcher (07/14/20): Lonely hearts find love and purpose in the final installment of Robin Lee Hatcher's Legacy of Faith series. (Contemporary Romance)

Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett (07/15/20): The dream of a lifetime turns into a nightmare. (Historical Mystery)

Raising Honor by Jill Lynn (07/21/20) Could a shared love for little Honor unite their reluctant hearts? (Inspirational Romance)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Kristen Terrette

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Kristen Terrette

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on the release of the devotional Anchored & Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace with Wholly Loved ministries. Can you tell us a bit about your association with the organization and how the project came about?
KRISTEN: Thank you for having me. Wholly Loved Ministries was founded by Jennifer Slattery, and we came to know each other through our American Christian Fiction Writers Association memberships. Much like guest blogging here, we did the same on our personal blogs and became friends. She asked me to come on board, and since I loved her drive to spiritually grow women because I share the same drive, it was an easy yes.
Our latest devotional book, Anchored & Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace, came about because it was noticeably a hot topic amongst the needs of our group’s women, a theme that kept coming up. Typically, when the subject is settled on, we find verses that deal with it and assign them to the Wholly Loved writers who have agreed to contribute to the project. We all follow guidelines to write these devotionals, including studying/reading commentary about the verse and the section it’s in, and making it personal. It’s challenging, but so worth it when the book is complete, and your words hold the potential to help someone on their journey with God.
LM: You also write fiction and young adult books as well as nonfiction articles. How is your process different for the various genres? The same?
KRISTEN: I’d say different. Though writing in the morning is absolutely a must for me to get anything “good” down, my fiction writing is all about having a general outline of where the story is going, but then winging how to get from scene to scene. Writing devotionals, at least for me, is more of an approach I used in college to write essays or papers. We want to remain biblically sound, so it’s important to really understand what the writer of the verse meant when it as written. And though I love researching history for my fiction books, writing about fake characters is much more about letting my creative mind run wild and hoping for the best.
LM:  What is your favorite part of the writing process?
KRISTEN: I love getting to the end of writing a story and realizing it’s come together better than I could have imagined. God is crazy awesome! There have been times where I wasn’t sure how a scene would play out, and He worked it in a way that surprised me. So, basically, I’d say my favorite part is writing the endings. There’s also an excitement that happens when you’re one step closer to bringing the characters—who you’ve gotten to know VERY well—to readers so they can love them too.
LM: Who are your literary heroes/heroines?
Victor Hugo
KRISTEN: Yikes, I don’t know what to say! I have loved Les Miserables by Victor Hugo since I was a child, so definitely a hero would be Jean Valjean. I also love Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, so Michael Hosea is another one.
LM: What has been the most challenging part of the road to publication for you? What advice do you have for fledgling writers?
KRISTEN: Publishing happens at a snail’s pace, so have patience and don’t give up. Without a doubt, I get better as a writer with every book I write, so keep writing and learning. Don’t think you know everything. Take criticism well and listen to it when coming from someone you trust to have your best interests at heart. I struggle with wanting to be further along on this journey, but it’s just that, a journey. And everything is on God’s timing. Keep taking steps forward, and God will orchestrate things to “happen” at exactly the right moment.
LM: Here are some quickies:
Favorite season: Fall
Favorite vacation spot: Seagrove Beach, Florida
Favorite place to write: My desk. Boring!
LM: What is your next project?
Photo: Pixabay/11778011
KRISTEN: I’m currently seeking representation for my latest YA Contemporary novel, but while doing that, I have started writing another story, a book idea that’s brewed for years. It’s another YA time slip novel (like the one I have releasing with Elk Lake Publishing later this year or early spring), and the setting is the Mississippi Delta. It’s about a sixteen year old girl finding out where she comes from, and the mysteries surrounding her parent’s families—who hate each other like the Montagues and Capulets! Of course, she’ll have new friends and a love interest to help her along the way. Hopefully, I can make it all come together on paper like it plays out in my head!
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

About Anchored & Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace: Thanks to Christ's death and resurrection, we don't have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive; to live as He intended. That's when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God's grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Mystery Monday: Daphne du Maurier and Rebecca

Mystery Monday: Daphne du Maurier and Rebecca

Most avid mystery readers are familiar with Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, having heard of it even if they haven’t read the book. Published in 1938, the novel is considered part of the gothic subgenre of mystery due to its gloomy and decaying setting, damsel in distress, psychological terror, romance, and last but not least, mystery.

In 1937, Daphne signed a three-book deal and accepted a £1,000 advance. Stationed in Egypt with her husband who was a lieutenant colonel with the Grenadier Guards, she managed to get about 15,000 words into the novel before tearing up the fledgling manuscript. She cabled her agent to notify him of her anticipated failure to finish the book on schedule. Upon her return to Britain in December of that year, she sequestered herself from friends and family and pounded out the story in four months. After reading the manuscript, her agent predicted that it would be “a rollicking success.” His prediction was an understatement.

Rebecca’s initial print run was 20,000, and sold almost twice that number in the first month. The books has never gone out of print. Between 1938 and 1965, the novel sold almost three million copies. One report indicates that the book continues to sell about 4,000 copies each month, and has been translated into almost two dozen languages. It has been adapted to stage, screen, and radio numerous times, with Daphne herself writing a play in 1939. Hitchcock’s 1940 adaptation starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, and Judith Anderson won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Hollywood Production Code required Max to be punished if he had murdered Rebecca, therefore, the plot was changed to make it seem her death was accidental.

Daphne’s accomplishments should be no surprise. She was born in London on May 13, 1907 into a creative and successful family. Her parents were both actors, and the author’s official website calls him a “matinee idol of his day.” Her grandfather was an artist and writer. She and her two sisters were raised in a privileged environment in Hampstead, and the family purchased a holiday home in Cornwell when Daphne was in her teens. Perhaps the hours spent there combined with her love of the literature of the Brontë sisters is what inspired Rebecca. (More than a few commenters have noted parallels with Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.)

In intriguing aside involves the use of the book by the Germans during World War II as the key to a book code. Sentences would be made using single words from the book, referred to by page number, line, and position in the line. One copy was kept in Rommel’s headquarters, and the other carried by Abwehr agents into Cairo. It is believed the code was never used because of the radio section of the headquarters was captured, and thus the code suspected of being compromised.

I couldn’t find any references as to whether Daphne found out about the Germans’ usage of her book and wonder how she felt had she known. I would imagine, it was a dubious honor to be so well-known.

Have you read or seen Rebecca?


About Murder at Madison Square Garden (releasing July 15, 2020)

The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare.

Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit?

Private Investigator Ric Bogart wants nothing to do with women after his wife cleaned out their bank account and left him for another man, but he can’t ignore the feeling he’s supposed to help the scrappy, female reporter who is arrested for murder at the America First rally. Can he believe her claims of innocence and find the real killer without letting Teddy steal his heart?

Preorder Link:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Welcome back, Jennifer Slattery!

Welcome back, Jennifer Slattery!

Linda:  Welcome back! Congratulations on your latest release, Building a Family. Where did you get your inspiration for the story?
Jennifer: Thanks so much! That’s such a great question, and one I often struggle to answer. Sometimes story ideas just seem to emerge in my brain and slowly build, either as I write or as I think on them. This story touches on foster care through kinship, which is where family members (aunts, uncles, etc.) or those who’ve already developed relationships with children who’ve been removed from their homes take over care.
Our family fostered for a while and got to know others who were fostering, including those who were fostering nieces and/or nephews. Their stories were hard, heart-wrenching, and beautiful and stuck with me and initiated some of the scenes in Building a Family.
LM: Your male protagonist is a bull rider. What sort of research did you have to do to learn about his job? Did you ride any bulls per chance? J
Jennifer: Oh, my, that was hard! First, I should clarify, he’s a former bull rider. He quit after a serious injury and also the death of a bull riding friend. That said, in researching Noah’s background, I had to watch a lot of rodeo footage and read numerous articles, and that was tough. I have very low tolerance for anything even remotely violent or seeing or thinking of others in pain. Don’t worry, I didn’t include any blood or gore or broken bones in my story. J For my own sanity!
 LM: How do you decide where to set your story?
Jennifer: I’ve set all my Love Inspired stories, so far, in a small fictional town in Texas, primarily because I love the hill country. The area is so beautiful, and when I visit, I find the relaxed pace and sense of community comforting.
LM: Like many women, you wear many hats: wife, mother, writer, speaker, and podcaster. How do you juggle your many responsibilities?
Jennifer: I manage my time carefully. Haha! I’ve also got great teams surrounding me. My husband spoils me and has made it his personal mission to do all he can to free up my time to write. I can’t remember the last time I went grocery shopping, and just recently he completely took over the laundry. (Can I get a hallelujah??) I’ve also got a great team behind me, in terms of podcasting also. I podcast for Life Audio, owned by Salem publication, and they handle all the editing and getting it loaded and what not. All I have to do is create the content, and that part’s fun! I also have a great ministry team (Wholly Loved Ministries), where we all do our part and together, God turns our efforts into something beautiful.
We truly weren’t meant to live, and write or serve, alone.
LM: What advice do you have for fledgling writers?
Jennifer: Don’t quit, but don’t expect the journey to be quick or easy. They say only about 10% of writers get published, to which I respond, “That’s because the other 90% quit.” I’ve known so many writers who begin with passion and determination, godly confidence, who quit a few years later. I don’t think they understand it takes, on average, about 10 years for a serious writer to receive their first publishing contract.
LM: Here are some quickies:
Favorite childhood book: I was just talking about this on Facebook the other day! When I was young, my dad read me a book called Mr. Bun. Rather, he sang it to me. It’s funny how some memories stick with us. That memory—of his voice, as he sang through the story—has stuck with me, and it’s so clear. I’ve referenced that story so many times, he finally found it online and bought it for me. J If I ever have grandkids, that will be one of the first books I read … er … sing, to them.
Favorite Bible verse: Ephesians 2:10 because it reminds me God has a plan, always. He’s working out that plan, now, through all things. He’s molding me for that plan. All I have to do is keep stepping and obeying. He takes care of everything else. I like to remember this verse in regard to my daughter, now an adult, also. Whenever she’s struggling or hurting, I remind myself God is molding her for His good and hope-filled plan also.
LM: What other projects are on the docket for you this year?
Jennifer: Oh, my, so many. I’m working on more podcast episodes and have really been enjoying those. I’m working on ministry content. (We have devotionals, Bible studies, reading plans, and more.) I’m finishing up a romance novel, as well. After that, I have some video devotions I need to complete, then we’ll see where God leads.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Jennifer: They can find my website at, my ministry at, and they can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram. (I have a Twitter account also but rarely use it.)

About Building a Family:
Can love for two little matchmakers unite their reluctant hearts?

Worried that Noah Williams is still the reckless bull rider she remembers, Kayla Fisher is convinced he isn’t the right person to care for their orphaned niece and nephew. Now she’s back home, determined to fight for custody. But Noah is a changed man, and he intends to prove it. When Noah and Kayla start falling for each other, could raising the children together be the perfect solution?

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Traveling Tuesday: Kentucky

Traveling Tuesday: Kentucky

Known as the “Bluegrass State, Kentucky was admitted in 1792 as the 15th state. Louisville and Lexington, Kentukcy’s largest cities are home to over twenty percent of the population. Located in the south, Kentucky is one of four commonwealths of the United States; the other three being Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Massachusetts. Bordered by Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri, Kentucky is part of the southern region of the U.S.

Kentucky was heavily involved in World War II. The Army Air Force established numerous airfield for training pilots and crews of fighters and bombers. The First Airforce operated Godman/Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Air Technical Service command operated Louisville Aircraft Modification Center, and Troop Carrier Command operated Bowman Field and Lexington Air Field. Many of the bases were converted to municipal airports and some were returned to agriculture. Several remained Air Force installations.

The commonwealth was home to eleven prisoner-of-war camps with the largest being at Campbell, Knox, and Breckinridge County. The bulk of the prisoners were German. Many of the prisoners were used to fill the labor void in construction projects and the agricultural industry. Farmers would contract with the government to use the POWs.

Fort Knox was also the temporary home to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

As with the rest of the country, Kentucky was the location of manufacturing plants that converted their facilities to war materiel production. The Louisville Slugger factory switched its production from baseball bats to rifle stocks. One of only five percent of businesses to do so, they were award the Army Navy E Award for their contributions. In Lexington, factories produced parachutes. Ford switched from cars to Jeeps and produced more than 100,000 vehicles by the end of the war. Distillers stopped making bourbon to produce industrial alcohol.

More than three hundred thousand Kentuckians served in the armed forces, with nearly 4,000 wounded and 8,000 giving their lives. One Kentuckian, Franklin Sowsley was one of six Marines who raised the second flag on Iwo Jima. He would be killed weeks later by a sniper.


Are a new life and new love possible in a country devastated by war?

Barely married before she’s widowed after Pearl Harbor three years ago, journalist Cora Strealer travels to England where she’s assigned to work with United Press’s top reporter who thinks the last place for a woman is on the front lines. Can she change his opinion before D-Day? Or will she have to choose her job over her heart?

A sought-after journalist, Van Toppel deserves his pick of assignments, which is why he can’t determine the bureau chief’s motive for saddling him with a cub reporter. Unfortunately, the beautiful rookie is no puff piece. Can he get her off his beat without making headlines…or losing his heart?

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