Thursday, October 29, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Wendy Wilson Spooner


Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Wendy Wilson Spooner

Linda: Welcome back, and thanks for joining me today. Your debut novel Once Upon an Irish Summer came out in March of this year. Can you tell us about your writing journey to publication? 

Wendy: Well, after researching someone who lived 200 years ago in my family, who was a abolitionist long before the Civil War, and who made the best choices in life time after time, and who left a legacy so profound that three of his descendants—granddaughters—made a remarkable difference in the world, even though they were women in a time women rarely excelled in the ways they did, I had to write his story! 

LM: You are a professional genealogist. How did your skills and abilities associated with your vocation help you with your story (writing, research, etc.)? 

Wendy: Research. I’m such a research nerd! And it’s incredibly important to me to stick to the truth and honor a person’s life based on the records they left behind. These records are anything from personal letters, journal and diary entries, Census records, voting records, land and property records, newspaper articles, and so much more. Really, I leave no stone unturned when telling a person’s story, so I can tell a story as accurately as possible. 

LM: You are a self-proclaimed history nerd, so I would imagine you visit lots of historic sites and museums. What was your favorite place and why? 

Wendy: In pertaining to the story of Once Upon an Irish Summer, my favorite history site was the Chief John Baptiste Richardville, house. He was the Chief of the Miami Indian tribe in Indiana in the first half of the 1800s. Allen Hamilton, main character of this story, was a close friend and frequented the Chief’s treaty house for many years. When I entered the home myself, on a tour, I could feel the presence of the people from the past so strongly it overwhelmed me. And to know my ancestor had touched the doorknobs I was touching and had walked on the same plank floors I was walking; was an experience I’ll never forget. It was like I had gone back in time. 

LM: Once Upon an Irish Summer is a dual time story that encompasses antebellum America. Is this your favorite time period? What is it that drew you to that time period for your story? 

Wendy: I love United States history in general, so really any time period in which this country was
forming lasting ideals, fighting for freedom on any level, or pushing settlements West, I’m there; researching and learning, and sharing with others so we keep the good things with us but also so we learn from past mistakes, so we don’t repeat them. 

LM: What is one thing you’d like to learn how to do? 

Wendy: Oh, my goodness. This is a tough one because this world is full of so much opportunity!! But right now, on my mind is to learn to sculpt. The art of creating sculptures. I’d love to learn everything about it! 

LM: Here are some quickies: 

Mountains, lakes, or ocean: Ocean 
Cookies, cake, or ice cream: Cake 
Sandals, sneakers, or high heels: Sandals 

LM: What is your next project? 

Wendy: I’m almost done with the sequel to Once Upon an Irish Summer. It should release in the Spring of 2021! Also, the anthology book, From Ashes, in which my story of when I was lost in the dark, alone in the mountains, is included, along with other true stories of overcoming and hope from other authors. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 


About Once Upon An Irish Summer

Two teenagers, two centuries, one city.

1817 Ireland: Allen Hamilton crosses the Atlantic alone to find a way to save his family from imminent and social ruin before it's too late. Instead, he's met with prejudice, sickness, and starvation.

2018 Fort Wayne, Indiana: A gifted young artists suffers from debilitating grief after a sudden death in her family. When she unearth's Allen Hamilton's noble rise from rags to riches in Antebellum America, their shared connection inspires her own healing and renewed inspiration.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Traveling Tuesday: Iowa in the 1800s

Traveling Tuesday: Iowa in the 1800s 

One of twelve midwestern states, Iowa is the only state whose east and west borders are formed almost entirely by rivers (the Mississippi to the east, and the Missouri and Big Sioux to the west). Populated by Native Americans for thousands of years, the area didn’t see European explorers until the late 1600s. Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet from France traveled from France to document indigenous villages. The French claimed the territory and it remained in their hands until 1763 when they transferred it to Spain just before losing the French and Indian War. 

By all reports, Spain practiced loose management of the region known as Louisiana, granting trading licenses to French and British traders who established posts along the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers. Highly successful, the traders obtained lead and furs from the indigenous people. By 1800, Napoleon was given control of the territory in a treaty with Spain. Two years later President Thomas Jefferson obtained information that Spain planned to cede the land back to France, and he brokered a with the French to purchase approximately 827,000 square miles for fifteen million dollars. Over the course of several years, the territory was subdivided, and much of Iowa was mapped by Zebulon Pike. 

Settlers didn’t move into the Iowa until 1833. Mostly from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana,
Kentucky, and Virginia, families built homes on the banks of the Mississippi River, founding Dubuque and Bellevue. On July 4, 1838, Congress established the Territory of Iowa, and President Van Buren appointed Robert Lucas governor. 
Almost immediately, the inhabitants began to push for statehood, but their dream would not become a reality until eight years later. In an effort to attract more citizens, the state organized campaigns to reach settlers and investors, touting the states rich farmlands and “free and open society.” 

 Des Moines, the town where my upcoming release A Bride for Seamus takes place, was incorporated in 1851 as Fort Des Moines, no doubt named for the Des Moines river on which it sits. Six years later the capital would move from Iowa City to Des Moines in order for the government to be more centrally located within the state. Very little growth occurred during the Civil War, but within a year after the cessation of hostilities, the railroad link was completed and the population exploded. 
In addition to agriculture, coal mining became a huge industry in the area and by the mid 1870s, the city was shipping twenty carloads of coal every day. Fifteen years later there were twenty-three mines in operation. Railroad tracks crossed the state, and even small towns had six passenger trains a day. In addition, railroads provided year-round transportation for Iowa’s famers, so that the corn, wheat, beef, and pork could be shipped through Chicago to markets all over the U.S. and worldwide. Additional industries included oat processing plants (Quaker Oats) and meat packing plants. 
The 1870s also brought hundreds of thousands of foreign-born immigrants to Iowa. Competition among the states for immigrants had increased, and the states took a variety of measures to attract them. Having created its own Board of Immigration in 1870, Iowa printed promotional materials in English, German, Dutch, Swedish, and Danish. One of the brochures was Iowa: The Home of Immigrants, and included physical, social, education, and political descriptions. The campaigns were successful and by 1890, the state had attracted nearly one million foreign nationals. 
Have you ever visited this beautiful and interesting state? 


About A Bride for Seamus 

Can two people set aside presumptions, prejudices, and pain to find love? 
When her father dies after a lengthy illness, Madeline Winthrop is horrified to discover his will bequeaths their home to his business partner, a cruel and dishonest man, leaving her destitute. With no job or marriage prospects, she seeks help from her pastor who suggests she considers becoming a mail order bride. There’s just one catch. She’s to marry the man by proxy before ever meeting him. 
After three mail order brides refuse to stay and marry Seamus Fitzpatrick because of his brother’s mental health issues and two rambunctious children, Seamus decides a proxy marriage is the only way he’s going to secure a wife. When the Boston-bred socialite arrives with few practical skills, he wonders if he made the biggest mistake of his life. Iowa's earliest white settlers soon discovered an environment different from that which they had known back East. 

Purchase Link:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Mystery Monday: Murder of Convenience

 Mystery Monday: Murder of Convenience

October marks the second birthday of my mystery Murder of Convenience. In celebration, the ebook edition is on sale for a limited time. You can pick up your copy of this exciting WWII mystery for only $0.99!

May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. 

Set in the early days of America’s entry into WWII and featuring cameo appearances from Hollywood stars, Murder of Convenience is a tribute to individuals who served on the home front, especially those who did so in spite of personal difficulties, reminding us that service always comes as a result of sacrifice. Betrayal, blackmail, and a barrage of unanswered questions… Murder of Convenience is the first  novel in the “Women of Courage” series.

Purchase Link:

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Christine Paxson and Rose Spiller

Talkshow Thursday: Christine Paxson and Rose Spiller 

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on the release of No Half Truths Allowed. For those who are not familiar with your ministry, please tell us a bit about it and how the book/study came about? 

ROSE and CHRIS: About four years ago, we felt led to create a ministry called Proverbs 9:10 Ministries. That verse is, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom; knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Helping others to know God and learn more and more about Him is what we’re all about! First, through proclaiming the Gospel; and further through understanding Scripture better and better through our writing and teaching. We created the ministry during a time when our families spent a couple of years in a church that did not put any priority on reading and understanding the Bible, nor on theology and doctrine. This was after we’d both spent decades in churches that highly valued all of those. Encountering that lack of Scriptural knowledge made us start writing and teaching Bible studies together, start the ministry, and eventually turn the No Half-Truths Allowed – Understanding the Complete Gospel Message Bible study into the book and companion study guide. 
LM: You co-authored this book. How did the two of you break up the work, and were there any challenges to writing with another author? 

ROSE and CHRIS: We split it in half. That’s how we’ve always done the writing in our studies, our
books, our podcasts, and our conferences. We’re very much on the same page theologically, but if one of us is not sure we’re comfortable with wording on something we discuss it and work on it till we’re satisfied. God has been so good to us in so many ways, and that is one area in which He’s really blessed us. We do both have our strengths when it comes to the other things that go along with the ministry like editing podcasts, doing the artwork for advertising, and things like that. And the social media we both work constantly on! 
LM: You have sold your home and are now living fulltime in an RV. What sort of adjustments did that entail? (Personally, I’d have trouble downsizing my book collection!) How has traveling changed your ministry? 

ROSE: Downsizing my book collection was as painful as getting rid of some sentimental things. Thankfully, many of my favorites I was able to get on Kindle, and I did save all of my seminary class notes. Traveling has helped our ministry because I have met so many new people, made new friends, and had a lot of opportunities to share the Gospel and share our ministry and podcast. Thankfully, Chris’ house has been our home base. For one thing, it gives me a place to get all my packages delivered to! Seriously, though, I spend 5 months a year in Lancaster, PA where Chris lives so we cram a lot of work into those months. Also, I save up airline points so I can fly in when I need to, like for book launches and stuff. Chris even has a guest room always ready for me. It has stretched us both in a lot of ways, and we have had to learn other ways of doing things, but the Lord has been so gracious and so good to us, that even when things seems impossible, they always work out! 
LM: You teach Bible studies, write, and co-host a podcast. How do you balance the different responsibilities? 

ROSE and CHRIS: Some days the task seems impossible and looking at the amount of work to do in a day sometimes seems daunting. One key component is prayer. Praying when the tasks seems overwhelming is the one thing that can keep calm us and help us focus on the day ahead. Also, when one of us seems overwhelmed or has other responsibilities that come up, the other one of us steps in and does what needs to get done. 
LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process: research, writing, or revising? 

ROSE and CHRIS: Definitely not revising! Both of us love the research probably the best! For us that’s studying and taking seminary classes, something we’re both passionate about. We also love contextualizing Scripture, reading lots of commentaries and learning new things. That’s what we both love to do! 

LM: Here are some quickies: 

Favorite season: Rose: Fall. Chris: Spring 
Favorite childhood book: Rose: Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books Chris: Richard Scary books 
Favorite place to visit: Rose: Any place where one of my 4 kids live, or Chris’ house! Chris: Either place where my kids live, and the beach.

LM: What advice do you have for fledgling writers? 

ROSE and CHRIS: keep doing what you love and strive to get better and better at it. Seek out people who will give you constructive advice and criticism. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Link to “No Half-Truths Allowed” FB page:
Twitter: @prov_910

About No Half-Truths Allowed: Understanding the Complete Gospel Message

When it comes to proclaiming the Gospel message, half-truths, vague notions, and generalizations can be dangerous. 

What are the important truths we need to know and share with others? 
• Is it enough to believe that God loves us and wants a relationship with us? 
• Is it enough to “ask Jesus into our hearts? 
• Is it enough to recite the “sinner’s prayer,” or do we need to repent of our sin? 
• Is going to church and serving others enough? 
• Is what Jesus suffered more than a gruesome death on a cross? 
• If Jesus, who is fully God, was crucified, did God die on Good Friday? 
• Is God mad at us when we sin and happy when we are behaving? Can we lose our salvation? 

If  you’re not sure of the answers to any of these questions, you are not alone. There are a lot of false ideas out there about Christianity and the Gospel. Learn what Jesus did for you, why He did it, and how you can articulate the Gospel to others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wartime Wednesday: Charlie Chaplin and The Great Dictator

 Wartime Wednesday: 

Charlie Chaplain and The Great Dictator 

Most folks are familiar with the silent film character The Little Tramp, but you may not know much about his creator Charlie Chaplin. Born in England to parents who were in the entertainment industry (his mother was a sometimes actress and his father a singer), Charlie and his brother Sydney had a difficult childhood. By the time Charlie was two years old, his parents had separated, with his alcoholic father doing nothing to help financially. With little income, the family was soon destitute, and the boys were sent to a workhouse. 

After his mother entered a mental asylum in 1898, Charlie and his brother were sent to live with their father, who they barely knew. Two years later, he died of cirrhosis of the liver. Thanks to connections of this father, Charlie became a member of the Eight Lancashire Lads dancing troupe. He toured for two years, but wanted to pursue acting. He worked at a variety of odd jobs while periodically performing in local and short-run plays. He eventually landed a role that he held for more than two years in a stage production of Sherlock Holmes. 
In 1907, Sidney found work with the Fred Karno Repertoire Company and secured a position for
Charlie a short time later. The boys were highly successful, and by 1910 Charlie was on his way to America. The troupe returned to England in 1912, and Charlie was offered a motion picture contract. He agreed to appear after he fulfilled his vaudeville commitments which he did so in November 1913. The following year “Kid Auto Races at Venice” was released – the first film in which Charlie wore The Little Tramp costume. 
Success followed success, and by 1917 Charlie built his own studio after the expiration of his latest contract. He became even more successful, and in 1919 along with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffiths founded United Artist Corporation a company, that distributed films over which the artists had complete control, creating an entirely new method of producing films. 

Charlie continue to produce his own films, but struggled to make the transition to “talkies.” He felt The Little Tramp character would not do well, so he ignored sound films, and in 1931 issued “City Lights” with a complete musical score he’d written himself. 
Preoccupied by the economic and social problems of the Great Depression, he left Hollywood and embarked on an international tour of observation and study. The result of his tour was Modern Times, released in 1936. 
Then came war, and Charlie decided to use his celebrity to poke fun and comment on the dictator with
the same bristle brush mustache, who erroneously stated that the actor was Jewish. Chaplin later responded “he didn’t have that honor.” “The Great Dictator” which he wrote, directed, produced, scored, and starred in would become his most commercially successful film. According to one source, Chaplin decided to do the film after he saw the Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will” by Leni Riefenstahl. He repeatedly watched the film in order to mimic Hitler’s mannerisms then went on to prepare the storyline over the course of 1938 and early 1939. Filming began shortly after the invasion of Poland in September of that year. 

The film was wildly popular with Americans and British alike, but Chaplin would later write in his autobiography “Had I known of the actual horrors of the German concentration camps, I could not have made The Great Dictator; I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.”

Have you seen “The Great Dictator?”

About A Doctor in the House

They’re supposed to be allies, but mutual distrust puts this pair on opposite sides. 
Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart? 
Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?

Purchase Link:

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Patty Smith Hall

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Patty Smith Hall 

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your release, If Not for Grace in The Heart of the Midwife collection. This is your eighth novella published with Barbour. How do you come up with the ideas for the collections. 

Patty: Thank you for having me, Linda. The ideas for the collections are a joint effort, spearheaded by my friend, Cynthia Hickey. A group of us will get online and throw around ideas until one ‘sticks,’ then we brainstorm different angles until we have four distinct stories to pitch to our editor at Barbour. 

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

Patty: In my early days, I was a diehard seat of the pants writer. But I realized it was leading me down inescapable rabbit hole, so I took a year off from submitting and signed up for Laurie Schnebly’s class, Plot Via Motivation. It changed my writing completely! Now, I would say I’m a planner with some pantster tendencies. 

LM: What draws you to writing historical rather than contemporary fiction? 

Patty: I’ve always loved history. Even as a child, I was drawn to biographies and historical accounts more than regular fiction. Not that I wouldn’t write a contemporary if I had a good story to tell, but most of the books on my bookshelf are historical. 

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing? (e.g., listen to music? Go to a certain place in your home?) 

Patty: I spend time in my devotions and pray. For me, writing is a ministry. 

LM: Research is an important part of writing, especially historic fiction (and you’re a professional researcher!). What did you do to research If Not for Grace? How did you delve into the era? 

Patty: Well, in my former life, I was a pediatric nurse specialist, so I’ve been a part of the birthing
process from start to finish. Things haven’t changed much over the years so that was relatively easy to write. As far as researching the era, one of the women I’ve always admired was Jane Addams who made a name for herself caring for the poor despite being an heiress. My character, Grace, is modeled after her. 

LM: Here are some quickies: 

Favorite childhood book: Little Women by Lousia May Alcott 
Favorite food: My Mom’s German Chocolate Cake 
Favorite vacation place: Sitting on the beach in the Bahamas! 

LM: What is your next project? 

Patty: I have another novella collection with Barbour next fall so I’ll be working on that as well as finishing up the edits on two books I hope to release in the new year. 
LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 


About If Not for Grace (Part of The Heart of the Midwife)

New York City, 1889: After her friend's death in childbirth, Grace Sullivan converts her family home into a haven for immigrant families preparing for the birth of a child. But when the city threatens to close her down, her only hope is to ask for help from an unlikely source-her former fiance, Patrick O'Leary.

Release Day: A Doctor in the House

 Release Day: A Doctor in the House

I'm excited to announce the release of A Doctor in the House. Originally published as part of The Hope of Christmas collection, this story is about one of the milestones American women achieved during World War II: the opportunity for women doctors to hold equivalent rank as their male counterparts in the Army and Navy medical corps. A short time after the Sparkman Act of 1943 was signed, Dr. Margaret Cahill became the first female doctor in the Army Medical Corps. After hearing about this remarkable woman I knew I wanted to spotlight her and others who served in this manner. Hence, the idea for A Doctor in the House was born.


They’re supposed to be allies, but mutual distrust puts this pair on opposite sides. 

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

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