Thursday, December 6, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Bonnie Engstrom

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Bonnie Engstrom

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your 5 Star Readers Favorite Award for Restoring Love at Christmastime! Where did you find your inspiration for this story?

Bonnie: My parents and I used to visit Cambridge Springs every summer, so I had fond memories of the old hotel and where I first rode a horse named Traveler. There was a cute stable boy there, too, but not as cute as Jake on the book cover. (Isn’t he adorable?)

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

Bonnie: I am an off the cuff, maybe sometimes off the wall, writer. I do have ideas for every story I write, but each story evolves by itself. No outline, no plotting. Too boring, too restrictive. Although I admire authors who can do that. Just not my style.

LM: Research is a large part of any book. How did you go about researching Restoring Love at Christmastime, and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?

Bonnie: Most of the actual details of the hotel were embedded in my memory. But, sadly, I decided right before I sent the manuscript to my publisher to check out the three turrets to be sure there was an angel one. I was devastated to learn the historic hotel had burned down just a week prior to my search. I was torn about the story but decided to honor the old inn and publish it.

LM: What is one thing you wish you knew how to do?

Bonnie: Knit! Deb Macomber is one of my favorite authors, and she centers many of her books and her life around knitting. I always thought it would be fun to join one of her knitting meetings. I do know how to quilt, though, and used to own a children’s shop that featured just about everything quilted. My poor sons had to wear quilted patchwork shorts when they were two and four. I don’t think they’ve ever forgiven me!

LM: You live in a beautiful area of the world, a place many people visit. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Bonnie: We’ve dreamed of going back to Sweden to connect with our roots, but I’m not sure I want to endure the long flight. Besides, we are so busy with our four Arizona grandkids, we are tied down. We have visited our son and his two boys in Costa Rica, but not recently. Instead we pay for them to come here to connect with their cousins ~ all of whom adore each other.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite movie: Dirty Dancing! In spite of what some Christians might say, I think it was a poignant and powerful love story. That’s another thing I wish I could do – dance like that.
Favorite food: Sushi. Actually, sashimi. Salmon and crab are close seconds.
Favorite childhood book: Anything Nancy Drew.

LM: What is your next project?

Bonnie: I promised my publisher I would write one more book in the Candy Cane Girls Series. Doreen needs her own story. After that . . . I have several books started – a love story about an older couple (sort of like my debut novel Butterfly Dreams) and one that involves a family secret and a trip to Sweden.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

I’m running a weekly contest, WACKY WEDNESDAY, on my Facebook author page I hope everyone reading this will stop by every Wednesday and answer my question to win fun prizes.

My website will be updated soon, but it’s still a place to see all those grandchildren. See if you can pick out the two surfing boys and the little imp who got baptized with me recently.

My favorite way to connect with readers is via email where we can chat and exchange ideas. I do ask that they put BOOK in the subject line so they don’t fly off into cyberspace.

I’m not very good at Twitter, but my handle is @BonnieEngstrom1.

I’ve given up on Instagram – don’t understand it.

Book blurb:
Why was Jenni taking this journey back in time during the Christmas holidays? Surely, she didn’t expect to see Jake the stable boy. She had moved on from sneaking kisses in the barn after trail rides. He must have, too. Who on earth would stay in the tiny town of Cambridge Springs?

She planned for a respite from teaching, time to read, take quiet walks and indulge in delicious hotel meals. At least no one knew where to find her, none of her friends, and not even her family.

She wanted to soak up memories, alone. Unless by a Christmas miracle Jake was still there to share them.

Can romance still flourish after fifteen years? Will a teacher and a former stable boy remember their first kiss?

Bonnie will gift two Restoring Love at Christmastime books to two people who comment; an eBook and a signed print copy. She hopes you will give a review on Amazon or Goodreads after you read and enjoy it.

Author Bio: Bonnie spends her time between writing and driving four Arizona grandkids to and from school, with Starbucks stops on the way. Her psychologist husband, Dave, takes his turn, too, when he isn’t on a Skype meeting with his University of Phoenix colleagues or preparing dinners as the resident chef. Life is busy for Bonnie and Dave, but filled with love and blessings, soccer games, spelling bees and strings concerts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: The Italian Resistance

Traveling Tuesday: The Italian Resistance

Much is made over the French Resistance, and the thousands of French citizens who put their lives on the line to fight German Occupation. Less well-known are the activities of the men and women of the Italian Resistance.

An intriguing aspect of the Italian Resistance is that in some ways it was a Civil War. Members not only faced “faceless” enemies, but also neighbors, friends, and family members who stood behind the Nazi-Fascist cause. This added a personal level to the conflict that many have never forgotten. At its peak, the Resistance boasted somewhere around 300,000 members who opposed occupying German forces as well as Mussolini’s Fascist government.

One of the most famous incidents occurred at Piombino after the armistice. German forces made their way to the town, and citizens asked the Italian Army to respond, but despite hostility shown by the Germans indicating they planned to occupy Piombino, General DeVecchio commanded his troops not to intervene. Junior officers went against orders and outfitted the townspeople with weapons. The Germans were repelled and taken prisoner, but again DeVecchio stepped in and freed the prisoners. Senior Italian commanders fled the city and the troops disbanded, allowing the Germans to take over the city. 

Soldiers, sailors, and airmen retreated to the nearby forests and formed several partisan units. Armed resistance involved ambushing and harassing the Germans and their allies through the use of guerilla tactics. Supported by locals with food, blankets, medicine and other supplies, the partisans would provide citizens with “promissory notes” that could be redeemed after the war. Other types of resistance were aid networks that assisted escaped POWs to reach Switzerland or Allied lines. Italian Jews were assisted by the Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants with food, shelter, and money.

A brave group of men and women, the Resistance lost approximately 50,000 over the course of the war.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Mystery Monday: Who was Milton Propper?

Mystery Monday: Who was Milton Propper?

I’m always intrigued when I discover an author who has written multiple books (in this case fourteen), and yet I’ve never heard of him.

A native of Philadelphia, Milton Morris Propper was born in 1906, yet almost nothing is known of his upbringing. He attended the University of Pennsylvania where he obtain a law degree, and upon graduation in 1929, he was admitted to the Bar.

That same year, his first novel, The Strange Disappearance of Mary Young was published. A police procedural, the book features Tommy Rankin, a specialist detective in the Philadelphia Homicide Bureau. Scholars and critics often compare Milton’s books to those of Freeman Wills Crofts, an Irish writer whose career spanned nearly forty years. Not surprising as Milton admitted he was a great fan of Crofts’s work.

There are conflicting reports as to whether Milton practiced law, but it is certain that by the mid-1930s he worked for the Social Security Administration and wrote his mysteries on the side, all of which take place in Philadelphia.

Most of his novels are formulaic: the discovery of a body under unusual circumstances, suspicion scattered among lots of characters with lots to hide, the police are above the law, and the rich and powerful can do now wrong. Estate issues and legal questions are an integral part of many of his stories which speaks to his Law degree. Toward the end of each book, Detective Rankin puts together some piece of the puzzle not formerly revealed to the reader and determines the killer is part of the victim’s life and avenging something from the past. A chase entails in order to catch the murderer.

Despite his literary success, Milton’s personal life was difficult and “messy,” as one scholar put it. He was estranged from his family, had run-ins with the police, and mismanaged his funds to the point he was living in poverty. Sadly, he lost his writing markets and deciding that life was no longer worth living, killed himself in 1962.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Sitting Down with Hope Toler Dougherty

Talkshow Thursday: 
Sitting Down with Hope Toler Dougherty

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. It’s nice to have you back again. I love the cover for Rescued Hearts, your romantic suspense novel. Is there a real building that gave you inspiration for the plot? Did you have any input about the cover photo?

Hope: Thanks so much, Linda. The talented Diane Cretsinger Turpin created that cover for me, and yes, it’s a real house on my road. I thought it looked like the perfect abandoned house in the story. I took a picture and sent it to Diane to show her what I was thinking. She took it from there. I had some input with the font and changed the bike from red to purple to match the one in the story.

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

Hope: I’m mostly a “pantster.” Since I write love stories, I have the normal main story arc of girl meets boy; attraction occurs; conflict happens; conflict is resolved, and they live happily ever after. I may have a few scenes that I know will happen, but I don’t plan the whole outline. Sometimes writing the story is like reading it because I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the next scene. That’s when I pray really hard!

I love writing dialog. I like writing the first draft when it’s going fast and smooth. I really like editing, though, when I tinker with a sentence until it’s close to perfect. I’m such a nerd. I love looking for the exact word that fits a situation.

LM: How did you get started as a writer, and how did you decide to seek publication?

Hope: As an old English major/English teacher, I always wanted to write a book, but the reality of doing it was daunting. I couldn’t figure it out, so I wrote sporadically for local newspapers and magazines—never enough to make a living at it, but enough to keep my clippings file current.
When our oldest daughter was weeks away from high school graduation, I knew my life was beginning to change. Her siblings would follow right behind her, and my cushy but demanding gig as a domestic engineer would be over.

I wanted to focus on my freelance writing and decided to write a piece for Guideposts Magazine. As soon as I wrote what I thought would be the topic, I began daydreaming about Ireland. That daydream became one of the early scenes in my first novel, Irish Encounter. It took quite a while, however, before I admitted I was writing a book. I called it a writing project even as it grew to 60,000 words and beyond!

My husband pushed me to “do something with it,” so I went to my first writing conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and started meeting other writers, editors, and agents.

LM: I love the story on your blog about your rose garden. I’ve had terrible luck with growing most flowers, especially roses. How do you juggle your gardening with your writing?

Hope: I’m so flattered that you think I juggle writing and gardening! Ha! Unfortunately, I always have too many weeds. This is the first year of the rose garden, and we wanted it to get established well. We had some help with the planting and spraying. I love seeing those plants when I drive down our driveway. I love cutting the roses and bringing in bouquets. Spending a half hour in the garden is a nice break from writing and a good way to loosen any blocks in the creative process!

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite childhood book: The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Favorite color: Lapis blue

Favorite vacation place: We’ve spent several vacations in Ireland. In fact, Irish Encounter is partially set in Galway, my favorite city. My passport is up to date, and I could go back any time. We also love Deer Valley, a YMCA family camp in central Pennsylvania. My husband went there as a child, worked as a counselor for a few years, and our family loves every minute we get to spend there.

LM: What is your next project?

Hope: My agent, Jim Hart, is looking for a publishing home for my fourth manuscript. I’m taking notes for my fifth. I know the characters and the meet cute. I’m still trying to figure out a few more things before I actually begin writing.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Thank you for having me on your blog. You asked some fun questions, Linda!

LM: You're welcome! I hope you'll come back to visit again!

Book Blurb: 

Children's clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball's soft spot for animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar-entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Beaten, bound, and gagged by the two thugs inside, Mary Wade loses hope for escape when a third villain returns with supplies.

Discovering the kidnapped woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Weighing the difference of ruining his three months' investigation against the woman's safety, Brett forsakes his mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind.

When Mary Wades' safety is threatened once more, Brett rescues her again. This time, her personal safety isn't the only thing in jeopardy. Her heart is endangered as well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Nevada and WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Nevada and WWII

Nevada gets short shrift in comparison to its famous city, Las Vegas. The state offers much more than gambling and chorus girls, and during WWII stepped up to “do its bit” like the other U.S. states and territories.

Mining was a major industry in Nevada well before the war began. However, as demand for copper, silver, and other important raw materials rose, mining companies expanded operations, hiring thousands of personnel who worked around the clock. In just two years production almost doubled when it rose to $43,864,107. One of Nevada’s most important contributions was magnesium. At its peak, the state mined five million pounds per day for a total or more than one hundred sixty six million ingots by war’s end, one-quarter of all magnesium used by the War Department for munitions casings and aircraft parts.

As with other states in the West, Nevada’s weather, wide open spaces, railroad connections, and proximity to California made it an excellent location for training pilots. Four airfields (Reno, Tonopah, Indian Springs, and Las Vegas) became the major installations, but there were others throughout the state. Targets were set in the deserts so that B-17 and B-24 crews could prepare for missions. Six hundred gunnery and 215 co-pilots graduated every five weeks, and by the end of the war 45,000 gunners had completed training in Nevada, including those who were tasked with dropping the atomic bombs on Japan.

Despite its remoteness from either coast, Nevada was not used as a site for the internment of Japanese or prisoners of war. Governor Edward Carville refused on the grounds that he didn’t not want his state used “as a dumping ground for enemy aliens.” The few enemy aliens who did reside in Nevada were faced with mixed response. Not all Japanese were forced to move to relocation camps, but many who stated were required to adhere to new restrictions and laws such as registering themselves and turning in all weapons and short-wave radios.

Hoover Dam Bunker
Built between 1931 and 1936, Hoover Dam (formerly Boulder Dam) is located over the Colorado River on the border of Nevada and Arizona. A major provider of hydroelectricity for the defense factories in California, the facility was considered a vulnerable target. Government agencies monitored possible German and Japanese threats and precautions were taken to ensure its safety. In addition to being protected by over eight hundred men from Camp Williston, access to the dam by visitors was restricted, and navigation on Lake Mead around the dam was prohibited.

Men and women from around the state served in uniform with distinction, and nearly 600 soldier, sailors, and airmen lost their lives.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Allison Garcia

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Allison Garcia 

Linda:  Welcome to my blog! You are one busy lady. You recently released a book in September and just published another as part of a novella set called A Merry Navidad. How did that project come about and what was your inspiration for the story?

Allison: Thanks for having me, Linda! Well, I was looking for sensitivity readers for Finding Amor and Cindy Flores Martinez accepted the offer, and I found out she also wrote Latino Christian fiction. I was soooo excited because I thought I was the only one writing in the genre. She told me she knew a couple more writers of Latino Christian fiction, and we formed a Facebook group called Latino Fiction Writers in the Light, where Cynthia Marcano (one of the members) brought up the idea of a Christmas novella set featuring Latino Christian fiction. That was the birth of A Merry Navidad. My novella in the set is called “Navidad & Familia” and takes a look at a couple side characters from Finding Amor, Nancy and her daughter, Kayli. They are new Christians, so I wanted to capture the joy of Christmas understanding its true meaning for the first time while also celebrating traditional Mexican holiday food and emphasizing the importance of loving your family.

LM: Research is a necessary part to writing any book. What sort of “wow” or “aha” moment have you had when researching one of your books and you knew you had to include the information?

Allison: For my current project, I have been looking for information about the U.S.’s involvement in some of the chaos in Central America (as in the Buscando Home series, the main characters are from El Salvador). I learned that decades ago Guatemala was going to do reparations towards their indigenous populations because of land taken from them, but that the U.S. didn’t want to lose their banana plantations there, so we sent arms and money to overthrow their government, which led to a brutal decades-long war that made their country unstable. That broke my heart for so many reasons, and I knew I had to have one of the characters, Lauren, stumble across that information at some point so the reader learns it too. There’s so much we don’t learn about in school!

LM: What do you come up with first: Title, character names, or plot?

Allison: I think plot first….then a combo of title and names. I usually get an idea for a character(s) and what is going to happen to them in the story. Then I like to think about a name that fits them and also a name that fits the book. I usually get character names before book titles, I think. Sometimes I have loads of fun looking up names!

LM: What writers influence you the most?

Allison: I really enjoy Reyna Grande, Barbara Kingsolver, the Bronte sisters, Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, and the authors and the Author of the Bible. J

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Actor/Actress: Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep
Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 5:3-5
Favorite Season: Spring

LM: What is something that you wish you knew how to do?

Allison: Skateboard. I loved playing Tony Hawks games and watching videos. I don’t even think I could stay on it for ten seconds…

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

Allison: Currently I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I’m working on book 2 of the Buscando Home series, Finding Seguridad. So far, I’m closing in on 30k words. I’m getting to an interesting spot so I’m excited about writing it!

Linda: Where can folks connect with you?

Allison: There are lots of ways! I love connecting with fans!

Instagram: @allisonkgarciaauthor
Twitter: @athewriter

A Merry Navidad: Four Latino Christmas novellas-each story with a set of traditional Latino Christmas recipes.

Purchase Link:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: The Sunshine State Does its Bit

Traveling Tuesday: The Sunshine State Does its Bit

Like all other U.S. states, Florida sent its sons and daughters into war zones. More than a quarter of a million Floridians served in uniform, approximately 3,000 of whom gave their lives. The state also participated on the home front in many ways.

Because of Florida’s warm climate and an extensive amount of vacant land, it was an excellent choice for housing and training soldiers, sailors, and airmen. In 1940, there were eight military installations. Just three years later, there were over 170, ranging from extremely large to relatively small camps. Two of the larger complexes were Camp Blanding, near Starke, and the Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

Blanding became Florida’s fourth largest city during the war, growing to 180,000 acres and housing 55,000 soldiers and several thousand POWs. Construction entailed the use of over 22,000 civilians. Unfortunately the pace of construction created severe housing problems, forcing some workers to sleep in their cars or pitch tents for lack of lodging facilities.

Flat lands and beaches offered training opportunities for myriad campaigns including the landing at Normandy. Military facilities became so overcrowded that the government turned to the hotel industry. Some billeted troops while others were converted to makeshift hospitals for personnel returning from overseas.

The shipbuilding industry exploded, and many began to refer to Florida as the Steel State.  Wainwright in Panama City built 108 vessels with 15,000 workers. Another 9,000 employees worked in Tampa, and even landlocked Orlando produced 9,000 assault boats using in amphibious landing operations.

One of Florida’s largest contributions to the war effort was their agricultural industry. For the first time, the state surpassed California’s production of citrus. In 1942, Florida growers patented a process to make frozen concentrated orange juice. Much of this such was a result of importing more than 75,000 Bahamians and Jamaicans to work in the fields, taking the place of citizens who had left for the armed forces.

War arrived in Florida in the shape of German U-boats who managed to sink over twenty-four ships off both coasts. One of the most famous of these incidents occurred near the Jacksonville Pier. The Gulfamerica, an 8,000 ton steam tanker, was on its maiden voyage. One scholar commented about the “chivalrous” actions of the German commander: rather than finishing off the tanker by shooting toward the pier crowded with civilians, he surfaced the sub between the pier and the ailing ship and shot toward the open ocean.

As a result of these attacks, patrols were formed to defend the coastlines. Mr. Guy Allen of Tampa is credited with establishing an unofficial motorcycle corps which later became part of the State Defense Council and escorted military convoys.