Thursday, May 17, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet author Johnnie Alexander

Talkshow Thursday: Meet author Johnnie Alexander

I'm pleased to have author Johnnie Alexander with me today. Her novel Where Treasure Hides is one of my favorites. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and draw up a chair to meet this interesting lady!


Linda:  Thanks for stopping by. I love your books and Where Treasure Hides is my favorite. What was your inspiration for the story?

Johnnie: Thanks for having me, Linda. You’ve warmed my heart by loving Where Treasure Hides!

The inspiration came in a round-about way, so I’ll share the condensed version. While working on my first WWII novel (affectionately known as Sparrow and still unpublished), I watched two documentaries that “called” to me.

The first, The Rape of Europa, discussed the Nazi looting of art; the other, The Hidden Child, was about the plight of children during the war. I was astounded and saddened by both these videos.

When friends who had read Sparrow asked for a sequel, I decided to join these motifs—the hiding of the art and hiding children—into a story. Where Treasure Hides isn’t a sequel, but a secondary character from Sparrow is the hero of Where Treasure Hides.

LM: Research is necessary to any book, but more so in a historical. What sort of research did you do for your story, and did you find any unusual?

Johnnie: I read a great many books and watched several documentaries on topics ranging from Vermeer, art forgeries, the Monuments Men, Holland, Colditz Castle (a POW camp) to the stories of hiding, rescues, and captures. I also watched videos on the battle at Dunkirk and the amazing rescue. I made a timeline of important WWII events and built my story around which ones I wanted to include.

LM: You’ve written historical and contemporary fiction. Do you prefer one genre over the other?

Johnnie: Historicals, whether I’m writing them or reading them, touch a deep place in my spirit. But my contemporary Misty Willow series is deeply rooted in family history and legacy. It’s inspired by a mid-19th century brick house I lived in when I was teen. The past influences the present—we can’t escape that but we don’t have to let it define us.

LM: What writers influence you the most?

Johnnie: Um, I’ve had to think about this one. (Back again from tending to dogs and laundry!) I’m
told my writing has a lyrical quality, and I think that comes from reading a wide variety of literature and poetry.

LM: What’s the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Johnnie: This may not be quirky, but here goes: when my apartment lease ended in mid-December, I put my belongings in storage, loaded my car with the essentials, and embarked on a three-month road trip from Tampa to Memphis to Tulsa to Arizona to Tulsa to Missouri and back to Memphis.
I stayed with different family members and traveled with my daughter and her family as they moved from Arizona to Missouri. (That’s the reason behind that leg of the trip.)

Now I’m settled in the Tulsa area and an official Oklahoma resident. Though, as I’m writing this, I’m back in Memphis!

LM: Here are some quickies:

Johnnie: 
Favorite Color: almost all shades of green

Favorite Author: This is so hard! I can never choose just one. Ann Tatlock is one of my favorite inspirational authors. I recently read two of Jolina Petersheim’s novels, The Alliance and The Divide, and she’s a fantastic writer. I couldn’t put those books down.

Favorite Food: My sister’s pizza and her roasted chicken.

LM: You’ve traveled extensively. What was your favorite trip?

Johnnie: I do seem to be on the road quite a bit. That’s what happens when your family settles hundreds of miles from each other.

Last fall, my sister and I flew to Europe and spent our first week taking the Eurail from one place to another. We didn’t really have a plan, and it was so fun to pop into these major cities. Then we spent a week in a Lisbon apartment (thank you, HomeAway!) just a few blocks from the Mediterranean Sea. It was a fantastic vacation. I’d love to do it all over again!

LM: Can you tell us what writing projects are on your plate right now?

Johnnie: I’m so excited about the projects I have lined up. This year, I’m working with an editor on Sparrow, that unpublished WWII story I mentioned earlier, writing a novella for the Barbour Erie Canal Brides Collection, and imagining my first indie project—a novella in the Resort to Romance Series which will be released early next year.

Linda: Where can folks connect with you?

Johnnie: My website has a fun new header—it shows my Instagram feed! So please stop by and see my latest photos at http://www.johnnie-alexander.com. Remember to sign up for my newsletter so we can stay in touch!


More connections:
Twitter            https://twitter.com/johnnie_alexndr

You’re also invited to Novelists Unwind (http://novelistsunwind.com) where I feature video interviews with inspirational authors.

Book Blurb: 
Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family's renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She's certain that true love will only lead to tragedy-that is, until a chance meeting a Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life. Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison starts to question her fear of love as WWII breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow. As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Idaho is more than potatoes


Traveling Tuesday: Idaho is more than potatoes


When I was growing up, there was a TV commercial that touted Idaho potatoes were the best in the world. There's even a museum! The ad must have run incessantly, because I have never forgotten its claim. However, during WWII, Idaho did more than just raise produce to “do its bit.”

Pilot and air crew training: With three Army Air Force bases located in the southern part of the state: Gowen, Pocatello, and Mountain Home, Idaho trained thousands of airmen how to fly, navigate, and handle fighter jets and bombers. Because of its remoteness, Mountain Home was used for bombing practice. The presence of the bases brought diversity to the state when, according to one site, it nearly doubled the state’s African-American population of 595. Gowen was one of the bases where Women’s Air Service Pilots served.

Japanese-American Internment: Like other western states, Idaho was home to War Relocation Centers where Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during the war. Many of the inmates were brought to the camp from California, Oregon, and Washington. The center at Minidoka housed more than 10,000 inmates, many of whom worked as farm laborers, then on the irrigation project and construction of Anderson Ranch Dam. The Kooskia center was located at the site of a former Civilian Conservation Corp work camp. The internees were used to construct Highway 12.

Soldiers, sailors, and airmen: Like the other forty-eight states, Idaho’s men and women served in the military and auxiliary branches. Thanks to oral history projects these brave citizens’ stories have been captured. Visit http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/military/article112889748.html and http://idahoptv.org/productions/specials/homefront/wwii/interviews.cfm to hear memories of the war.

Museums: Idaho is home to two WWII museums: the Idaho Military Museum and the War Hawk Air Museum. With personal memorabilia and historic artifacts both facilities recount US involvement in the war, at home and overseas.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Author Tracee Garner

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Author Tracee Garner



Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on the release of your latest novel Fatal Opposition. This is book three in the Parker family series. Did you set out to write a series, and where did you find your inspiration for this story?

Tracee: Thank YOU so much, Linda, for having me. Regarding my series, I wish I could say yes, yes, I had it all planned out but sadly nope, I didn't. I didn't set out to write a series. In fact I only recently consciously decided to do a series and do it right with a story bible readers may often hear writer's talk about. 

I really try to write standalone's often. Honestly, in  my defense however, I think it can be better for me, at least, that I don't initially set out to write a series simply because I can be assured with some mind trickery that this story cannot have a cliffhanger. I personally hate those so I likely wouldn't do it anyway but if I tell myself that I'm NOT writing a series, it seems easier for me to wrap up all the loose ends. The other reason I don't plan or know that I'm writing a series is because some of my readers have told me that they want to hear "so and so's" story. I'm like, really? Mouth hanging open, dimpled brow, "You want him (or her)? I hadn't thought about him or her initially..." and then it begins, that character seems to pester me and as soon as I start thinking about him/her, they kind of breathe life and I get the story. 

As far as Fatal Opposition, my inspiration for the story comes from the headlines often. I'm a news junkie and thus there is always something that I can use running with the story and my vivid imagination to create a beginning and an end. This story is about a football career gripping the rails of becoming great or a path that can also lead the hero, James Parker, awry. James is on the brink of being the leading QB on a team but he's dogged by his past, his biological family that he's looking for and digging could bring about shady characters he wishes he hadn't started looking for at all.

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

Tracee: Definitely a pantser. In my eight books that I've written, I've  plotted only once. While I got to page 300 fairly quickly with that "plotting" try, the book has been sitting for almost five years and I haven't been back to it. So I think plotting hindered my ability to finish so I haven't plotted since. I will go back and finish the story and you would think it being so far along would entice me but sadly it doesn't. 

My favorite part is probably the end. It's hardest for me to wrap up all the loose ends and actually WRITE the end (because I do fret about it being strong enough sometimes), but it is sheer joy to see the number of pages I've amassed and realizing again that God has given me all of this.  

LM: Research plays a huge part in any book, and Fatal Opposition has several topics you probably had to investigate. How did you conduct your research, and was there anything unusual you found?

Tracee: I had to research about Football, I do like Football a lot, it's probably the only sport I really watch for the entire season, but I still didn't know a lot about it. I also had to research some mental health issues such as dementia and post-partum depression which James's mother has -which led or caused her to give him up as a baby. I mostly use internet and libraries, those are favorite go to sources. What's also wonderful now is the number of blogs that people have to share and gain support over what they're going through. I don't have children and so reading about birthing and some post-partum / mental health accounts added unique perspective and ideas that you don't get from national medical journals however respected, endorsed and accurate they are, they tell more of the clinicians approach for other doctors obviously rather than what someone really experiences. As writing and the internet has evolved, that's an exciting platform to add to ones research toolbox. 

LM: You’ve been writing for a while. How did you get started as a writer, and how did you decide to seek publication?

Tracee: I really wrote out of depression. I should say I asked God in my depression over poor grades in school to help me, and my exact words were: "give me something else in case this whole school thing don't work out". School was not easy for me, UNTIL I started writing. Once I felt I found something I was good at, I received recognition through winning a contest, I started getting A's and B's in school when I had been more of a "C-average" type of student. God really supplied, I entered my first novella I'd ever written into a national contest, won it and part of the wins were a trip to NYC to get an award at the luncheon, a 500 dollar advance and publication in the book with the three finalist. It was awesome and I simply kept going, kept writing and here I am now. 

LM: You live in my old stomping grounds, the Washington, DC area. What is your favorite thing about living there?

Tracee: I love that DC has all of the amenities you like without traveling far. I also feel we're some of the most progressive. I have a disability and every time I think about moving further south for the warmth, I feel like as far as my disability goes, (California would be the best place) I'd be hard pressed to feel as if I didn't travel a bit backwards and really have to rebuild the network of support I have here. Attitudes, acceptance, provision and access are really what keep me in the area and the Kennedy Center and every other live stage I frequent helps too. I love live theatre and hope to have a full length play some day. The Motown story will be at Wolf Trap this summer and it will be my third time seeing it. 

LM: Okay, here are some quickies:

Tracee:
Favorite color: it changes between red and turquoise    
Favorite vacation spot: home, I'm a staycation advocate 
Favorite movie: Dirty Dancing and Footloose - I love Dancing movies and many musicals.

LM: If you were to cast any actor (living or dead) to play your two main characters in Fatal Opposition, who would you select?

I'd actually love an actual football player to play the part of James, either Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks or Jordan Reed a tight end from the Washington Redskins (who the team is loosely based off in Fatal Opposition) only in my book they're the Washington Rebels of course. LOL 

The heroine could be played by Nia Long who I have watched for quite some time, since she was on my favorite soap opera Guiding Light more than twenty years ago. She seems nice and happens to be petite much like Cashell, the character and of course, she's just beautiful too. Nia Long, for any crime scene show fans, has recently got a recurring role on NCIS Los Angeles.

LM: What is your next project?

Tracee: Later this year, I'm planning to release the start of a new series about the Jameson Family, with four siblings each with their own book. Two of those in the series are reissues, released in my early twenties my second and third book in my career. Now the rights have been reverted back to me from my publisher. I'm finishing the second half of the series, thus two in the series will be new offerings but everything is new to someone. The first in the series, Whatever May Come, is about the youngest daughter, Tisha Jameson who moves to a small town in order to escape her overbearing family and a scandal that rocked the school where she taught kindergarteners.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Tracee:  Please, visit my website at Teegarner.com
Twitter - @Teegarner, and
I've been giving some awesome live videos around writing tips on my Instagram page @teegarner, so follow me there and my Facebook pages are 
/TraceeLydiaGarner and 
/TeeGarnerWrites

Thanks so much for the opportunity, Linda!



Monday, May 7, 2018

The Secret Identity of Roger Scarlett


The Secret Identity of Roger Scarlett


It was not unusual for female authors to use male pseudonyms during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction – think Anthony Gilbert or Ngaio Marsh – but Roger Scarlett is actually the nom de plume of two women who met while working at the publisher Houghton Mifflin in Boston. Graduates of Bryn Mawr and Vassar respectively, Evelyn Page and Dorothy Blair came from well-to-do, prominent families.

Evelyn was from Philadelphia and Dorothy from Bozeman, Montana where her physician father had recently brought the family from Bridgewater, MA. (There’s a story there, but I couldn’t find it!) Not much is written about Dorothy, but it appears that Evelyn was quite active at Bryn Mawr. She was both Vice President and Treasurer in her senior year while serving as editor for the school paper, The Lantern. In addition, she also wrote for The Sportswoman, the first periodical devoted exclusively to women’s athletics.

After working at the publisher for several years, the women must have felt they could be successful as authors, because in 1929 they left their jobs and created the name Roger Scarlett. The following year, the first of their five “puzzle box” mysteries was published. Set in Boston, as is the entire series, The Beacon Hill Murders is about the murder of a member of the nouveau riche, Frederick Sutton. The protagonist, the intelligent Inspector Kane, does not have the usual accoutrements of the typical Golden Age detectives such as a waxed mustache or walking cane.

Scarlett’s works have been compared to those of S.S. Van Dine and Ellery Queen and have recently been reprinted by Coachwhip. In addition to their popularity in the States, the books also garnered a following in Japan. Disappointingly only five novels were published before Roger disappeared into obscurity.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Author Amy Anguish

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Author Amy Anguish


Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your debut novel An Unexpected Legacy. Where did you find your inspiration for the story?

AMY: Thanks so much, Linda. I guess you could say the inspiration started at a Smoothie shop in Round Rock, TX. It’s where I got my idea for the setting of the opening scene. When I first got the scene in mind, it’s basically all I had. Eventually, I figured out the conflict (her aunt doesn’t want them to date, but why?), and then had to really work to find out why the conflict existed. I was almost finished writing the book before I found the answer.

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

AMY: I sort of answered this above, didn’t I? I guess you could call me more of a “pantser,” because oftentimes when I start, I don’t plan everything out. I usually know the beginning and where I want the characters to end up. My husband makes fun of me because I tell him I let my characters tell me where the story is going. He says, “But didn’t you make them up? So, shouldn’t you know?” But once you get in their heads and get to know them, characters really do determine what happens.

LM: Research is an important part of the writing process. How did you go about researching An Unexpected Legacy and did you discover anything…unexpected - LOL?

AMY: I didn’t have to do a whole lot of research for this story. I like to stick with the old adage of “write what you know.” But there does always seem to be something in each story that needs a little digging. In this one, it was the war in Vietnam. I am so blessed, though, because I’m married to a history teacher and he’s a huge help in things like that. I think the most unexpected part was that my original timeline for the story didn’t match up with the actual dates of the war so I had to shift a few things around at the end to make them historically accurate.

LM: As an English major, you must have studied plenty of literature. Who are your literary heroes?

AMY:  This is sort of a hard one because there are so many, but the books I continue to go back to that I fell in love with in school are Anne of Green Gables (what’s not to love?), Jane Austen’s Emma, and of course, Jo from Little Women.

LM: Here are some quickies:

AMY:
Favorite food: chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce (of course with all the sides, especially chips and salsa) – although a big old ice cream sundae ranks right up there, too.
Favorite vacation spot: What’s a vacation? Ha! One of the favorites we’ve gone on was to St. Simon’s Island, GA. Although I’m dreaming of the day we can go to Disney World.
Favorite place to write: my comfy chair by the window, a colorful throw over my legs, my laptop in lap, and a cup of tea at hand.
LM: What are you currently working on? 


AMY: Several things, actually.

Edits on a story about two sisters forced to spend the summer together. While they both work through their own problems, they also have to work out their estranged relationship with each other.

Trying to write a novella loosely based on my Grandparents’ story because I’ve loved hearing it over the years.

And of course, always more ideas floating around in my head, waiting for Nanowrimo (my big writing time each year).

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Book Blurb: Smoothies brought them together, but would the past tear them apart?

When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it's like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationships with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond. Chad and Jessica must figure out if their relationship has a chance or i there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies.



Purchase Link for An Unexpected Legacy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B076MDGFS4



Tuesday, May 1, 2018



Traveling Tuesday: Montana During WWII


Home to Glacier National Park, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and Yellowstone National Park, Montana is a combination of mountain ranges, prairies terrain, and badlands. Located in the northwestern United States, it is bordered by Idaho, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and three Canadian provinces. Despite being the third least populous state in the union, Montana made significant contributions to World War II.

War Dogs: Dogs for Defense was a program started by dog fanciers (mostly members of the AKC). The program asked US citizens to volunteer to give their dogs to the military for use as sentry dogs initially. Ultimately, dogs were also trained  and sent overseas to be used for mine detection, delivering messages, and scouting out the enemy. If you want more information about this interesting segment of US WWII history, watch my podcast about Dogs for Defense on YouTube.

Camp Rimini is now a ghost town just outside of Helena, but was once a training camp for sled and pack dogs during WWII. Journalist Karen Fischer states in her article: “Rimini’s long winters and deep snow...were also ideal for training men and dogs in Arctic rescue and survival techniques, so the camp became the source of the teams and equipment used by the Arctic Search and Rescue Units of the Air Transport Command.”

Mining:  The need for copper, zinc, manganese, and other minerals skyrocketed during the war and revived the Montana mining industry. The metals were used to produce materiels such as weapons, vehicles, and other tools. Robert I. Nesmith was the chief photograph of the "Copper Commando" newspaper during the war, and he took hundreds of picture in Montana that displayed the work of everyday miners.

Because of the labor shortage as men went off to war, mining companies struggled to find employees, and the federal government pressured them to hire nontraditional workers, including women. The move met with resistance. Union officials and copper workers argued that women could not work in mines or smelters because they lacked the physical strength and stamina to do the job. Women worked in a variety of positions from picking up debris to bending wire to oiling machinery. Many of the women expressed pride that they could hold their own doing "men's work." Ursula Jurcich recalled that smelter work "wasn't any more strenuous than housework."

Fort Missoula: Built in 1877 by the US Army to protect settlers in Western Montana from possible threats from Native Americans, the fort was remodeled between 1908 and 1914 before becoming a military training center during WWI. Nearly abandoned, it was taken over by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1933 then handed to the Department of Naturalization and Immigration in 1941 for use as an Alien Detention Center. The 1,200 Italians house here were primarily merchant seamen, World's Fair employees, and the crew of an Italian luxury liner seized in the Panama Canal. About 1,000 Japanese-Americans and a few German-Americans were also interned at the fort.

Have you ever visited this majestic and historic state?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Blog Tour: Presumption and Partiality

Blog Tour: Presumption and Partiality


About the Book


Title: Presumption and Partiality  
Author: Rebekah Jones  
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Release Date: November 27, 2017

Among the cotton fields and farmland of Gilbert, Arizona in the early years of the Great Depression, Mr. and Mrs. Bailey live a simple, but happy life with their five daughters on a cotton farm. When the wealthy Richard Buchanan moves to town, bringing his family, a friend, and a desire to learn about cotton, Matilda Bailey is convinced that he is the perfect candidate to marry her eldest daughter, Alice. Richard is cheerful, friendly, and likable. His friend Sidney Dennison doesn’t make such a good impression. Eloise Bailey decides he’s arrogant and self-conceited, but when Raymond Wolfe comes to town, accusing Sidney of dishonorable and treacherous conduct, Eloise is angered at the injustice of the situation. When the Buchanan household leaves town, Alice must turn to the Lord and face, perhaps, her most difficult test in trust, while Eloise takes a trip to visit her friend and may well discover a web of deceit that she doesn’t really want to believe exists.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

I enjoy “retelling” books and thought the premise of Presumption and Partiality (love the title) being set during the Great Depression was interesting and unique. The author kept very close to the original Pride and Prejudice plot points, which gave the book credibility, but I was disappointed at some of the execution of the story. In the beginning I struggled to keep up with which character in the retelling was supposed to be which character in the original, but it got easier as the story progressed. The writing style and dialogue felt more like the Georgian/Regency era than the American 1930s, and I had trouble feeling the Depression era. The occasional references to Sidney’s Navajo heritage felt more like an aside than an integral part of the story. I would have liked to have seen this aspect developed more fully. Eloise’s mother was closely aligned with Austen’s original character, but I would have preferred the use of fewer exclamation points in her dialogue. I liked how the Collin’s character was portrayed, and also Eloise’s and Jane’s work with the poor and needy. It gave them extra depth and introduced an opportunity to explore Christian service. The other characters were also true to the original which I liked. The situation with the “Lydia” character had a creative slant to it, and the subject matter handled with sensitivity.

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


Rebekah Jones is first and foremost a follower of the Living God. She started writing as a little girl, seeking to glorify her King with her books and stories. Her goal is to write Bible-Centered, Christian Literature; books rich with interesting characters, intricate story lines, and always with the Word of God at the center. Besides writing, she is an avid reader, songwriter, pianist, singer, artist, and history student. She also loves children. She lives with her family in the Southwestern desert.




Guest Post from Rebekah Jones

Why is he a Navajo?

I’ve had more than one person ask me why I chose to make Sidney Dennison, the “Mr. Darcy” of my novel Presumption and Partiality, a Navajo Indian.

When I commenced planning and research for placing a retelling of Pride and Prejudice in the 1930’s United States, I found myself drawn to the desert of Arizona rather early on. Specifically, the tiny farm town of Gilbert. I knew, however, that few rich people lived in that area; certainly not enough to create social rifts large enough to recreate the social differences of the original novel.

I experimented in my head with a few different ideas, but the idea of Sidney as a Native American came to me one day and just clicked. I knew that I couldn’t fully pull off a Navajo who lived on the reservations. As much as I researched, I couldn’t quite get the feel. Yet, a man whose ancestry included a white man as a grandfather, who lived outside the reservations, though with relatives who clung to some of the old traditions, I thought I could do.

I used to wish I were an Indian, in part because I wanted to have great tracking skills, live in a tee-pee, possess superb bow and arrow abilities, and I wanted to ride a horse. True, most of that did not enter a 1930’s novel, despite my Navajo cowboy, because the eras are different. Though, Sidney did get a horse. Or technically, several.

Further, something about the silent, good-looking Indian appealed to me, much as I tend to shy away from writing about handsome and beautiful people, since they feel so common in fiction. The minute I began imagining the man with his Navajo ancestry, he just felt perfect.

By the end, Sidney turned out to be one of my favorite characters. (I can’t ever pick just one in my novels.) I think I made a good choice and I hope my readers will agree!

Blog Stops

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rebekah is giving away a grand prize of the complete set of the Vintage Jane Austen Collection!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cc8f