Thursday, November 7, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: A Guest Post by Julie Arduini

Talkshow Thursday: A Guest Post by Julie Arduini

Restoring Christmas by Julie Arduini
Highlighting the Misunderstood World of Special Needs Students
One of the most exciting aspects of this time of year is the release of Christmas romances. Hallmark knows their popularity; they are now showing movies outside of December. I love losing myself in a love story surrounded by snow and sleigh bells. 
Last year I was honored to participate in a Christmas box set. Although it is no longer available, my novella, Restoring Christmas, has been re-released in both print and Kindle format. I had so much fun writing this story using another Upstate NY area and characters who need to surrender their issues and come together to save a beloved tourist attraction in fictional Geneseo Valley.
One element I used in Restoring Christmas was having the hero, Kevin Holt, bring his students with special needs to help at the failing Christmas mansion. These young teens wanted to make a difference, and Holly Christmas had to decide if she would let go of her pride and allow the community to come in for help. What I enjoyed about Holly was she approached the special needs class with love and a little anxiety, and I think that’s normal.
I have volunteered with ministries that involve families with special needs and in Restoring Christmas, I was intentional in not giving specific diagnoses because sometimes an issue isn’t visible, and people are misunderstood. Sometimes touch is very important, and in other cases, even a pat on the shoulder can be scary. Changes to schedules are a big deal sometimes, and so are different noises we might take for granted. For Holly, she wants to be understanding, but the mansion her parents worked on for years as the premiere Christmas stop each year holds a lot of valuable items. Will the students break things? Will there be tantrums that interrupt her deadlines? How will Holly handle it all and how involved will Kevin be in the process?
Answering those questions truly were a delight. There is so much I love about Restoring Christmas, and one was that I was able to bring awareness to the special needs community. I also gave a nod to my hometown, Corning, with the mention of glass ornaments. More than anything, I believe there’s a sweet romance readers can escape with.
Do you have a connection with the special needs community? If so, you are in the presence of the most amazing group God created. 
Connect with Julie:
Monthly Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dCFG

About Restoring Christmas: 
Filled with grief and regret, Holly Christmas returns to Geneseo Valley and the family business, The Christmas Mansion. Can Kevin Holt restore her love for the season and the memories she left behind?
***
Holly Christmas left Geneseo Valley and her family’s holiday tourist attraction, The Christmas Mansion, as soon as she graduated.  Now both her parents have passed, and Holly returns when her uncle needs her help running the mansion. On Holly’s first day back, a blunt middle-schooler proclaims Holly hates Christmas. His comment forces her to reconcile the past while planning for the mansion’s future.
Kevin Holt is invested in offering hope to students with challenges. His best friend’s son is in Kevin’s class, and Nathan needs guidance. Their community project placement at The Christmas Mansion is an opportunity to make a positive difference. When Nathan blurts out his thoughts to the beautiful co-owner, Kevin wonders if he has what it takes to help restore the mansion to its former glory, mentor Nathan, and convince Holly Christmas she’s exactly where she needs to be.
Purchase Links:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Sami Abrams


Talkshow Thursday: Meet Sami Abrams

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. You indicate on your website that you weren’t a big reader in your teen and young adult years. During your 30s you discovered authors who could capture your attention. What made you keep looking for something to read, and was there one particular book that stands out as the one that clinched the romantic suspense genre for you?

Sami: Thanks for having me! With undiagnosed ADD, I have always struggled to enjoy reading. I couldn’t focus. What took most people five minutes to read, took me twenty or thirty. My mind would wonder and I’d have to read the same sentence over and over again. It was frustrating. It was when my husband and I had planned a trip to the beach that I decided I needed something to occupy my down time. I love TV police dramas, and mysteries, so suspense made sense. Enter Terri Blackstock, Dee Henderson, and Lynette Eason. I’m not saying it solved my focus problem, but I wanted to finish the books so I plodded through and I’m so very glad I did. But, the book that started my obsession was Terri Blackstock’s Private Justice. It had everything I was interested in: Firefighting, law enforcement, great suspense, and a message that spoke to my heart. I was hooked from that point on.

LM: What was the impetus for you to make the jump from reading romantic suspense to writing it?

Sami: Haha! I laugh because I had no intention of becoming a writer. Writing a novel was simply a bucket list item. I did it. Check the box and move on. God had other plans. I argued with Him, but He nudged me to seek out workshops and critique groups. He placed amazing people in my path that pushed me beyond my comfort zone. He’s given me encouragement through contest finals. And then, He blessed me with an AMAZING agent. I can’t wait to see what else He has planned.

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing? For example do you listen to music or set up in a specific place?

Sami: I don’t really have a specific place to write. I tend to sit on the couch or at my office desk. It all depends on my mood. When I’m ready to write, the earbuds go in and I jam out to worship music. However, once the words are down and I’m in revision or editing mode, it has to be quiet.

LM: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on the path to publication?

Sami: Where do I start? J  I have a feeling no matter who you ask in this business, everyone would put patience toward the top. I’m a goal-oriented person, so the waiting game in publishing is very difficult. I’m learning, little by little, to give it to God and let him do His thing. Learning to trust my instincts is another big lesson. At a point in the writing process, I have to consider the suggestions my critique group has made then go with my gut. It’s taken me several years to trust myself to make the decisions I feel are right for my story.

LM: You live in a beautiful area of the country, one which many people choose to visit. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Sami: I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled extensively throughout my life and I enjoy seeing new places. But my ultimate vacation would be watching the Northern Lights from a glass igloo in Finland. (I think I might have to start leaving brochures or printouts around the house for the hubby. J )

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

Sami: I made the mistake of asking my family this question. Sigh. According to them, attending MurderCon was quite bizarre. I thought it was pretty awesome. This summer I attended The Writers Police Academy’s MurderCon conference. I guess my excitement and discussions about blood evidence, arson, and decomposing bodies didn’t seem normal to them. Lol!!

LM: What are you currently working on?

Sami: I finished my first draft of a long novel a couple of weeks ago and am currently deep in revisions. I’m excited about this story since it’s a tribute to my law enforcement consultant.
Here’s a sneak peek:

Jennie Nelson trusted the wrong man and nearly paid with her life. Five years later, her daughter attracts the attention of a child predator, and Jennie’s flesh and blood nightmare returns. With the help of her new friend and protector Detective David Weston, can she shield her daughter from danger and live long enough to trust and love again?

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Sami: I’m an extrovert, so I love connecting with readers and other writers. 
You can follow my blog and sign-up for my newsletter at www.samiaabrams.com
Like my author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/samiaabrams/


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Traveling Tuesday: WWII in the Cornhusker State


Traveling Tuesday: WWII in the Cornhusker State


Twice the size of Ireland, and half against the size of England, the state of Nebraska encompasses the prairies of the Great Plains, the towering dunes of the Sandhills, and the rock formations of its panhandle. In 1867 Nebraska became the 37th state and given its anglicized name from an Otoe (Native American) word meaning “flat water.”

Nebraska’s distance from both U.S. coasts, and its vast expanse of unpopulated land made it an ideal location for defense manufacturing facilities. The state was a major producer of aircraft and munitions as well as other war materiel. The largest manufacturer in Nebraska was the Cornhusker Ordnance Plant located west of Grand Island. The facility manufactured 90-, 220-, 260-, 1,000-, and 2,000-pound bombs and employed over four thousand workers at its peak. The company was so large, a small town sprang up around the plant to accommodate the employees. The plant ultimately grew to include 645 buildings with fifteen miles of electric distribution lines and twelve miles of sewer lines.

Twenty-three prisoner-of-war camps dotted the landscape and primarily housed Italians and Germans taken during North African campaigns. The main camps were located in Scotts Bluff, Atlanta, and Fort Robinson, housing more than 12,000 prisoners. Inmates were used to fill jobs, especially those in the agricultural industry.

Military bases were also numerous in the state, training thousands of soldiers, pilots, and air crew. Located in the North Platte train depot, the North Platte Canteen provided food, magazines, and entertainment to over 3,000 soldiers every day.

Fort Robinson was home to the War Dog Training Center. A sprawling kennel area housed more than 1,300 canines who were trained as guard, scout, messenger, and sled dogs. Training last eight to twelve weeks (depending on how quickly the dog learned), and accounted for more than half of the 10,000 dogs used by the Army.

As with other states, civilians got involved with rationing, scrap drives, bond rallies, and volunteering in one of the many relief or support organizations.

__________________________________

With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.


Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.

Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?
Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/32U9Us8



Thursday, October 24, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Debut Author Kathleen D. Bailey


Talkshow Thursday: Debut Author Kathleen D. Bailey

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your upcoming release Westward Hope. It sounds like a wonderful book. Where did you find your inspiration for the story?

KATHLEEN: I have always been fascinated with the West, and especially with the wagon train period. It brought out the best and the worst in people as they threw themselves against the wall of this great continent. It’s one of the things that embodies the spirit of America. I gorged myself on TV westerns as a child.

LM: Research is an important part of the writing process. What sort of research did you do for Westward Hope? Did you unearth anything that was totally unexpected?

KATHLEEN: Well, I learned that the wagons themselves were far smaller than the ones shown on TV or the big screen. The TV show “Wagon Train” shows people traveling with pianos and bookshelves. Um, no way. I did make my wagons larger in the story, but I addressed that early on. Still no pianos, though.

LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

KATHLEEN: Seeing my characters come to life.

LM: In addition to be a novelist, you are also a journalist. What sort of similarities and differences are there in the two fields?

KATHLEEN: Both demand accuracy and the ability to put together a good English sentence. But fiction is more subjective, and the market now is unpredictable. I can write a nonfiction piece and be almost certain it will be printed. Fiction is a roll of the dice.

LM: What has been the most challenging part of the road to publication for you? What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

KATHLEEN: Don’t lower your expectations for yourself or your book. But be aware of what’s happening in the market and the book world in general. It could change at a moment’s notice. Write what’s on your heart but make it marketable.

LM: Here are some quickies:

KATHLEEN:
Favorite season: spring
Favorite vacation spot:NH lakes or mountains
Favorite place to write:my desk

LM: What was your favorite childhood book?

KATHLEEN: The Betsy-Tacy series by Maude Hart Lovelace. Similar to “Little House” but half a century later, just before World War I, in a small Minnesota town. Childhood pranks and scraps and coming of age. Betsy Ray, the heroine, wanted to be a writer and scribbled on a five-penny tablet in her treehouse. She made me realize it was possible. And a childhood dream took place this fall at the age of 68. God’s timing.

LM: What are you currently working on?

KATHLEEN: The sequel to “Westward Hope,” “Settler’s Hope,” will be published by Pelican/White Rose in 2020. “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” a loosely-related novella, will come out in Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza” Dec. 1 of this year. I’m researching the third book in “Western Dreams” and also working on one more related novella, “The Widow’s Christmas Miracle.”

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

KATHLEEN: Kathleen D. Bailey on Facebook and LinkedIn; @piechick1 on Twitter; and my Web site, www.kathleendbailey.weebly.com.

About Westward Hope:
Why him? Why here? Why now?

Caroline Pierce O'Leary expects to work hard to earn her passage to the Oregon Country. She doesn't expect to find that the wagon train scout is a man with whom she shares a troubled past. Thought Caroline is a Christian now, thanks to her late husband, she find forgiving Michael to be the hardest part of her journey, harder even than the trail.

Michael Moriarty thought he'd left his past behind in "green and hurting Ireland." Seeing Caroline on his wagon train brings his past to the forefront. With a price on his head, he doesn't want her to get hurt, but he can't deny what they were...and could still be.

Michael once betrayed Caroline in the worst possible way. Can she trust him to get her across the Oregon Trail? Can he trust himself to accept her forgiveness and God's?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/32GGpts

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


Wartime Wednesday: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


With meat being rationed, recipes that were heavily vegetarian became popular. Found in Better Meals in Wartime, this recipe claims to be from Sweden:

½ pound raw veal, pork, or beef, ground
1 small onion
1/8 C grated carrot
½ t pepper
1 t salt
½ C bread crumbs softened in ¼ C warm milk
1 medium-sized cabbage

Remove 10 outer leaves from cabbage and scald them. Then chop enough of the remaining cabbage to make one cup. Mix this with the meat, onion, carrot, seasons and crumbs. Form the mixture into 10 small rolls.

Place one roll in each cabbage leaf, and roll up. Secure the rolls tightly with toothpicks which can be removed before serving. Place folded side down in a kettle. Half cover with boiling water and simmer for an hour. If you like you may use half fresh stewed tomatoes or tomato juice and half water. These rolls may be served plain, with sour cream or tomato sauce.
_______________________________

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 the exciting new “Women of Courage” series.


Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2OZ8t7T


Monday, October 21, 2019

Mystery Monday: Pinkerton's Lady Detectives


Mystery Monday: Pinkerton’s Lady Detectives


Kate Warne was Allan Pinkerton’s first female detective, but neither was she the last or only woman he hired. Here is a bit about three of his lady “private eyes.”

Hattie Lewis Lawton: a widow, she was described by Allan as “delicate and driven.” She often went undercover assuming numerous identities. One of her most dangerous assignments occurred during the Civil War. Posing as the wife of fellow operative Timothy Webster, they traveled to Richmond, VA where they pretended to be Rebel sympathizers from Maryland. Prior to this Timothy infiltrated the underground Sons of Liberty organization. Over the course of several months, the pair collected and conveyed information to the home office about troop movements, battle plans, and other intelligence.

Vinnie Ream: After the plan to assassinate President Lincoln in Baltimore was unearthed, Allan Pinkerton was placed in charge of the president’s protection. Rumors of plans abounded, and he investigated every report. He felt that some of the threats originated from within Lincoln’s cabinet, so in an effort to get inside the closed circle without suspicion, he hired Vinnie to sculpt a bust of the president. During her time of creating the sculpture, senators and congressmen wandered in and out of her work area to watch her work, giving her the opportunity to overhear conversations that she passed along to Pinkerton.

Elizabeth Baker: According to Pinkerton, a “genteel woman agent” who was “more than suitable” for her assignment. He had her contact two sets of friends she’d known from her days of living in Richmond and inform them of her intent to visit. She was invited to say with Captain Atwater of the Confederate Navy and his wife. There, Elizabeth met influential socialites, Confederate officers, and politically ambitious Southerners. During the many parties held at the Atwater’s home, she was able to collect vast amounts of information about the Confederate’s plans. Perhaps her most important opportunity was the time she was invited to watch a submarine demonstration. Afterwards, she successfully made her way to Washington where she reported everything she’d seen and included a sketch of the sub.

Although women were not admitted to any police force until 1891 or widely accepted as detectives until 1903, Kate Warne and her “Lady Pinkertons” paved the way for future female officers and investigators.
_______________________________

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 the exciting new “Women of Courage” series.


 Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2OZ8t7T

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Kathy McKinsey


Talkshow Thursday: Meet Kathy McKinsey

Linda:  Welcome to my blog. It’s such a pleasure to have you. Congratulations on your upcoming release next week, Millie’s Christmas.  This seems very different from your first book, All My Tears. What was your inspiration for this story?

Kathy: I wanted to establish a project to make me write every day. It was December, so I chose to do a Christmas story. I started without any plan of what the story would be, except that I decided to write it in the POV of a kitten. Then God gifted me with this fun story.

LM: Research is an important part of writing any book. How do you go about doing research for your stories?

Kathy: I am growing in doing research. I use the internet, and I’m getting better at asking other people to give me information about things they are expert at.

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself to write (e.g. listen to music, set up in a certain location)?

Kathy: I’m still trying to get myself to write daily. So, as soon as I’ve finished whatever first things I need to do in the morning, I’m working on just sitting down in my armchair and writing.

LM: What was your favorite book or author when you were growing up?

Kathy: Whoa, that’s a long time ago to remember.:) I had to think about it. I learned to read braille when I was eleven, and then I could read as much as I wanted. Before then, my mom read to me, and she was a busy lady, a farmer, and mother of four. Plus, she had to work with me on my school work. So she couldn’t read just fun books to me a lot.

A fun memory I have is when she read MY FRIEND FLICKA. She would often read things from the book to my dad the next morning, things that had to do with farmers’ lives.

LM: What is something you have always wanted to learn how to do?

Kathy: this is another tough one. God has given me the gift of doing many of the things I wanted to do. Such as writing.

But also, as a blind person, He has given me the opportunity to do things I may have feared I couldn’t do, such as raise children, have a job, cook and bake, make pretty things—by crocheting and knitting and drawing tactile pictures using braille characters.

I have been allowed to do so many of the things I wanted to do.

LM: Here are some quickies:
Favorite Season:
Favorite Movie:
Favorite place to visit:

Kathy: Summer, because I hate to be cold. The Sound of Music. I love to visit my children’s and my mother’s homes.

LM: What is your next project?

Kathy: I am working on another collection of women’s fiction novellas, to be published in 2021.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Kathy: 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathymckinsey


About Millie's Christmas: 

Ruthie says Millie will love Christmas. Ruthie is Millie's best friend, s she's sure Ruthie's right, but why does Millie keep finding Ruthie and her brother Jake crying?

Millie, an orange kitten, shares about her first Christmas. Her best friend Ruthie, six years old, teaches Millie about Christmas-food, decorations, music, presents, and Jesus! Millie's friend Bruce, the family dog, also helps her celebrate Christmas, and sometimes gets her in trouble.

When Ruthie's big brother Jake breaks his ankle, Millie learns about sad things, like divorce, when Jake can't visit his mommy for Christmas. Millie watches Ruthie's family love each other through the sadness and find joy in Christmas.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/327m6pb