Thursday, June 20, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Alice Arenz!


Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Alice Arenz!

Linda:  Welcome back! You’ve got two new books out which is exciting. Dark of Night seems like a story that could have been torn from the headlines. Where did you get your inspiration? Any chance it’s based on a true story?

Alice: Hi, Linda. Thanks for inviting me to join you. The story is total fiction—based on inspiration from God and my imagination. And, a correction here. Dark of Night is my only new book—for the Kindle ebook, my publisher attached the one-liner “Where nightmares become reality.” But the ebook and print are the same.

I pray a lot before beginning a project and then wait to hear an answer. First, I heard the title. Next came the lead character’s name and just a bit of the scenario. It’s a process that sometimes takes a little longer than I’d like and, at others, hits me all at once. Maybe it depends on how much I’m really listening. I’m not sure.

LM: How do you come up with your characters?

Alice:  Once again I have to say it’s prayer—and a mixture of what comes about organically as I write. As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I never know what’s going to happen until I’m in the middle of something. Even then I don’t know the specifics and end up spending a lot of time asking questions on the computer and to members of ACFW loops.

LM:  If Dark of Night were made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?

Alice: Wow. This is a question I can’t really answer. It would be awesome to have that happen, but I wouldn’t have the first idea who would be good in the roles. I’m just not up on the latest actors and actresses. Other than watching movies now and again on the Hallmark channels, I’m at a loss.

LM: Did any of your characters do anything surprising while you were writing the book?

Alice: All of them. Constantly! As a pantster, I never really know what’s going to happen next. God reveals enough to get me from one point to the next—especially when I need to research something. But, that only gives me a generalized idea. I mean, there have been times I’ve been “urged” to research something that doesn’t even end up in the current story. All this to say that it’s exciting when the characters suddenly divert from the direction I thought they were going.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Alice:
Dinner or dessert? Dinner
Walking or driving? For now, driving
Dog or cat? Cats

LM: What is your next project?

Alice:  I’ve started working on a Christmas book/novella. I’m hoping it will be a romantic comedy. But, since I never really know. . .

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Alice:  My web site is www.akawriter.com. Unfortunately, the computer and program I used to update it, quit working—broke my heart! As a result, the site hasn’t been updated with DARK.  😢

About the book: Determined to get justice for the brutal murders of her parents twenty years ago, Kelsey Carol returns to the scene of the crime—Seaton, Missouri. But what she quickly learns is that every clue brings more questions than answers. And, nightmares really do come true.


Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2Rfz3Zi


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: DIY Anderson Shelters


Wartime Wednesday: DIY Anderson Shelters


As someone who suffers from claustrophobia, I can’t imagine enduring a night in a bomb shelter let alone weeks or months. However, that’s what folks in Britain experienced during World War II.

In cities such as London, the population would often hide out in Tube stations, tunnels, railway arches, or basements available under some of the larger buildings, but for most people personal shelters were the only option.

Dark and damp, the shelters measured six-and-a-half feet by four-and-a-half feet. They tended to flood if built in low-lying areas, and the design didn’t keep out the sound of the bombings, probably making it tough to sleep.

Anyone earning £5 a week (the equivalent of £300) or more could purchase an Anderson Shelter for £7, which may not seem like a lot of money, but consider that the amount is twenty-five percent of their monthly salary. A large, but necessary expense. Shelters were given to families who earned less than £5 weekly.

An interesting fact to note is that the shelter was designed in 1938 by William Paterson and Oscar Kerrison in response to a request from the Home Office. Obviously, they didn’t believe Chamberlin was going to be successful negotiating “peace in our time.” Named for Sir John Anderson, Lord Privy Seal who had the responsibility of preparing air-raid precautions, the shelters could hold up to six occupants.

The shelters were purchased or distributed unassembled so it was up to the families to build them. By all accounts, the shelters were easy to build and featured six corrugated steel panels that curved and were bolted together at the top. Three straight sheets were used on the sides with two more straight panels on each end, one of which contained the door. They were buried up to four feet into the ground hen covered with a minimum of fifteen inches of soil which could then be planted with flowers or vegetables. Some people built them inside their homes and covered them with sandbags.  

More than 1.5 million shelters were distributed to people in areas considered at risk for German bombing. The first shelter was built in an Islington, London garden in February 25, 1939. An additional 2.1 million were constructed over the course of the war. However, indications are that only about twenty-five percent of the population regularly used one.

At the end of the war, households who received an Anderson shelter were expected to dismantle it and turn it in to local authorities. Folks who wanted to keep it (providing them with valuable metal) could pay a small fee.

Want to see a replica? Visit the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon.

_______________________



Set in 1942, Under Fire tells the story of Ruth Brown whose missing sister, Jane, is declared dead. Convinced her sister is still alive, Ruth follows clues from their small New Hampshire town to war-torn London trying to find her. Discovering that Jane has been murdered results in a faith crisis for Ruth, and she decides she must find Jane’s killer.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/31E8Qs6

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Sarah Hamaker

Talkshow Thursday: Sarah Hamaker


Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. You write both fiction and non-fiction. How is the process for writing both genres the same for you? Different?

SARAH: Totally different! For fiction, I have a general idea where the story’s going, but let the characters “tell” me what’s going to happen next. For nonfiction, I follow a more specific outline.

LM: How do you decide what project to work on next?

SARAH: It depends on if I have any contracts. Naturally, I’m working on projects that have a firm deadline over projects that might not have found a publishing home yet. It’s always good practice to fulfill your obligations first, then write what you want.

LM: Research is an important part of the writing process. What are some of the ways you have researched your books?

SARAH: I’ve based my fiction books so far where I live, and so I use my own knowledge of the geography, plus Google maps to fill in the gaps. The Internet can be so wonderful to look up quick facts and find statistics, but it can be difficult to make sure you’re looking at reputable sites and not getting sidetracked down too many rabbit holes. I also belong to a crime-writing listserv, where I can ask technical questions to make sure my romantic suspense novels are as accurate as possible.

LM:  How do you balance working from home with the chaos and activity that can be associated with family?

SARAH: Now that all of my four kids are in school, it’s a little easier to put in the hours with just my cats for company (although they can be rather needy at times too!). But I’ve also been purposeful with my time and have learned to say no in order to meet my deadlines. Also, by thinking about my writing as a business and not a hobby, I guard my writing time and structure my day in order to have time for both my freelance writing clients and my book projects. If you don’t think of yourself as having a writing career—whether or not you’re published—you will find it easier to put off writing or let your writing time be consumed with other projects.

LM: What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

SARAH: Write every day! And stick with it for the long haul. I’m still learning what I don’t know about writing. Have a teachable spirit, and for writers, that means, have an editable spirit, one that takes feedback on your work and seriously considers the merits of the suggested changes. No one writes perfectly the first draft (or second, third, …), and learning how to receive critiques will help you grow in your writing a lot faster than if you don’t.

LM: Here are some quickies:

SARAH:
Favorite vacation spot: It’s a tie between East Machias, Maine, and Sanibel Island, Fla.

Favorite childhood book: Nancy Drew, the original 1930s editions

LM: What are you currently working on?

SARAH: The first of a planned romantic suspense trilogy.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: World War II DIY


Wartime Wednesday: World War II DIY


During the 1920s a large number of women set aside their sewing machines in favor of affordable ready-made clothing. The industry boomed, and little girls stopped learning how to sew.

Then came World War II when the War Production Board issued Regulation L-85 rationing natural fibers because domestic supplies of wool, cotton, linen, rayon, silk, and nylon were diverted to the military for uniforms and supplies (tents, parachutes, etc.) To save on fabric, the War Production Board even regulated style, limited color choices, and restricting skirt length and the fullness of pants. Cuffs were prohibited, and dresses were limited to one and ¾ yards of fabric. The number of ration stamps needed for clothing was high, and people were limited on how many items they could purchase per year.

The result? It was now considered patriotic to sew. Women dragged out their sewing machines and taught their little girls how to “make do and mend.”

Patched clothing became a fad, and women would piece together garments from remnants, mixing and matching colors and patterns. Feedsacks were popular sources for aprons, dresses, and children’s play clothes. House wives would swap with friends so each woman would have enough matching sacks to create an outfit. The pattern industry boomed. Hollywood Pattern Company put a star on the upper left corner of their envelope to indicate the pattern complied with Regulation L-85. Reminiscent of pioneer times, women cut down their cast off adult clothing to make garments for their children. There were even patterns for making slippers.

Women also used their sewing skills to support the war effort directly. Projects were created and raffled to raise funds for organizations such as the Red Cross. Items were also knitted and sewn for military members as well as victims of war-torn countries. One newspaper article touts the work done by a volunteer group in Texas that created 446 woolen garments, twenty-eight knitted garments, and two quilts.

My mother is an excellent seamstress, and now an avid quilter. She made nearly everything my sister and I wore as well as our bedspreads, curtains, and chair covers. Me? I gave away a pair of pants rather than re-attach the button that had fallen off.

How about you? Do you sew or shop for your clothes?

______________________________

Midwife Pia Hertz and her mother Sabine have been delivering babies long before the Nazis came to power. Now, the Third Reich has implemented mandates that require Jewish babies and other “undesirables” to be killed as part of The Final Solution. Is Pia’s new faith in Christ strong enough to defy the laws of man?

Despite the agony of the injury at the Battle of Drøbak Sound that took his arm, Dieter Fertig is relieved he’s no longer part of Hitler’s army. He returns to Berlin and discovers Jews are being deported by the thousands. When he realizes the Nuremburg Laws require his best friend’s baby girl to be killed, he must find a way to spirit the child out of Germany before the Nazis discover her existence. 

Inspired by the biblical story of Shiprah and Puah, the midwives who saved Jewish babies during Pharaoh’s reign, Love’s Belief shows how one person’s actions can change the world.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2MB3Elo

Monday, June 10, 2019

Mystery Monday: Dashiell Hammett's Thin Man

Mystery Monday: Dashiell Hammett Thin Man

Thanks to novelist Dashiell Hammett (whose 125th birthday past last month), hard-boiled detective fiction came into its own during the 1930s. Devised a decade earlier by Carroll John Daly, the genre typically features an anti-hero protagonist, such as Sam Spade, Philip Marlow, and Mike Hammer, organized crime, prohibition, a corrupt legal system, and inept police departments.

Hammett’s last fiction book was The Thin Man and featured Nick Charles, reluctant detective. First published in Redbook Magazine in 1933, the story came out in book-form the following year. The difference about Nick Charles is his “soft, gooey inside.” He may be a serious, yet cynical PI, but when it comes to his wife Nora, he’s solicitous, loving, and overly affectionate. At the time, their witty banter was a new twist in the genre not seen in Chandler, Greene, or prior Hammett novels.

Hollywood knew a hit when they saw one, and they eagerly offered the author $40,000 for the rights to the characters that scholars posit were based on Hammett himself and his mistress Lillian Hellman. Two sequels followed the first, but the remaining three movies were not made until after WWII (when Myrna Loy returned to Hollywood after leaving to serve with the Red Cross).

Initially serving on the “Keep America Out of War Committee,” Hammett attempted to re-enlist after the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to one source, he was “a WWI veteran, a victim of tuberculosis, and a Communist, but he pulled strings and managed to be admitted.” However he managed to get in, he was stationed in the Aleutian Islands where he edited an Army newspaper The Adakian. Later, he co-authored a book The Battle of the Aleutians with Cpl. Robert Colodny.

Hammett lived another twenty-five years after writing The Thin Man, but he never published another story.

________________________________

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 in Linda Shenton Matchett’s exciting “Women of Courage” series.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2MBfA6S

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Julie Arduini!


Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Julie Arduini!

Linda:  Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on your newest release, Match Made in Heaven. I love the premise for the story. Where did you get your idea?

Julie: Thanks for having me! Match Made in Heaven started as my desire as a new Christian to write something I could share with friends that would be quality content to pass on. I’d written lots of little stories over the years that weren’t Christian that my friends loved. I wanted to write for God. The matchmaking element was based on my job at the time that I thought would be a fun premise.

LM: Did you always want to be a writer or did that desire come later, and if so, how?

Julie: I think that desire was always there, but I struggled with confidence. I didn’t have the best teachers, and grammar remains a weakness for me. I feared rejection. It took until my mid-thirties before I finally surrendered the fears and promised God I would write what He wanted, when He wanted.

LM: You are one busy lady. What does a “normal” week look like for you?

Julie: It truly depends on the week. This time of year is extra busy with school wrapping up and my husband is traveling quite a bit for work. When that happens, I tend to be busier with household and school activities. I make a point to read devotionals and spend time in my prayer journal. I try to get some bike riding and yoga in a few days a week. I help out with our youth group. Every morning I spend time on the laptop marketing my books and answering emails. Writing sadly doesn’t happen as often as I want with a season like this. Either late at night or when our daughter is home from school and watching her shows, I’ll sit in the same room and work, while interacting with her.

LM: If your story was going to be made into a movie, who would you like to see play the main characters?

Julie: I think Sandra Bullock could pull off the comedy that often is my life. A lot of people think my husband looks like Richard Dreyfuss, so that’s a possibility.

LM: How have you dealt with writer’s block or is that something you haven’t suffered?
Julie: I don’t know if it was writer’s block or if I worked myself into worry with the second book syndrome. Entrusted was my first book and was so easy to write. Readers loved it and were clamoring for the next, Entangled. I struggled hard writing that second book. I had to put the fears down and give them to God once and for all. I have a prayer team that prays for me, and I asked them to be intentional in helping me finish the book. It was all God in how Entangled came to be, and how readers still say it was their favorite in the series.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Julie:
Mountains or ocean? Mountains
Sweet or salty treats? Sweet
Coffee or Tea? Coffee

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

Julie: I’m still working on my new contemporary romance series, Surrendering Opinions. The first book, Anchored, I’ve started three times now. It’s a six book series about sextuplets who stay in the national spotlight after tragedy, and now that they are grown, each sibling is trying to find their identity and love like their parents had. In a couple weeks, our daughter is out of school and she will help me write the final book in the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series, You’re Brilliant.

Linda: Where can folks connect with you?

Monthly Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dCFG


Match Made in Heaven: 

Beth Prescott wants to make a difference with the senior citizens she serves as a volunteer coordinator but their matchmaking efforts leave her guarded. She's experienced too much pain to make that leap again. Dean Kellerman returns to the Finger Lakes area to help his grandfather and heal his own broken heart. He's recommitted his life to Christ, and doesn't want any distractions. When his grandfather needs assistance with a senior program, it places Dean right in Beth's path. Can these two surrender their pasts to Christ and have faith in each other and their future?

Purchase Link: http://amazon.com/dp/B07QR29X51

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: Wartime Cake

Wartime Wednesday: Wartime Cake

Here's this week's recipe from Betty Crocker's "Your Share," published by General Mills in 1943. An eggless, milkless, butterless cake. I've made this several times. Believe it or not, it's delicious!

Mix in saucepan:
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C lard or other shortening
2 C raisins
1/2 t nutmeg
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves

Boil for three (3) minutes, then cool.

Blend 2 Cups flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder. Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda in 2 teaspoons water. Combine the two mixtures, then combine with cooled mixture from above.

Pour into greased and floured 8X8 pan. Bake about 50 minutes at 325 degrees.

It's very tasty uniced, or you can sprinkle powdered sugar over it.

___________________________________

Midwife Pia Hertz and her mother Sabine have been delivering babies long before the Nazis came to power. Now, the Third Reich has implemented mandates that require Jewish babies and other “undesirables” to be killed as part of The Final Solution. Is Pia’s new faith in Christ strong enough to defy the laws of man?

Despite the agony of the injury at the Battle of Drøbak Sound that took his arm, Dieter Fertig is relieved he’s no longer part of Hitler’s army. He returns to Berlin and discovers Jews are being deported by the thousands. When he realizes the Nuremburg Laws require his best friend’s baby girl to be killed, he must find a way to spirit the child out of Germany before the Nazis discover her existence. 


Inspired by the biblical story of Shiprah and Puah, the midwives who saved Jewish babies during Pharaoh’s reign, Love’s Belief shows how one person’s actions can change the world.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/2EPR37x