Monday, October 15, 2018

Mystery Monday: Murder of Convenience

Mystery Monday: Murder of Convenience

For an author, the road to publication, whether it be for that first book or the tenth, release day is a cause for celebration. That manuscript that is dreamed up then put to paper, then revised and rewritten, perhaps countless times, is finally “birthed.” It is “out there” for everyone to see—the most nerve-wracking part of the process.

Let me give you a little story behind the story of my “book baby.”

My employment background is primarily in Human Resources (referred to Personnel by some folks), and even though I’m no longer in the field, I am intrigued my women who work in jobs traditionally held by men. I’m especially fascinated by the women during WWII who left their homemaking roles to take up jobs or volunteer positions that were unlike anything they had ever done. I admire these women who went out of their comfort zone to answer their country’s call, sometimes overcoming great difficulties to do so.

About eighteen months ago, I was considering my next project and decided to create a series of books about a group of women friends who “do their bit” for the war effort through some of the organizations. For the first book, I chose the USO and you’ll hear more about that organization this week on Wartime Wednesday.

Next, I had to figure out how to get my character to the USO. I didn’t want it to be just because she wanted to volunteer, but rather more of a “running away to join the circus” scenario, so I had to create a reason for her to run away.

Having read several fiction books about mail order brides and arranged marriages, I decided to subject Geneva to a marriage of convenience, but because they were no longer the norm, I had to come up with a reason for her parents to choose this route for her. At that point, I knew she needed some sort of physical challenge that was incurable during the 1940s.  

After quite a bit of research I discovered a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Still incurable, this condition causes tunnel vision and eventual blindness. In order to understand the disease from a character’s point of view I read quite a few articles, memoirs, and autobiographies by individuals who suffered from this and similar diseases. Each one of the people who wrote these works focused on the solutions they found to live with their condition and prepare for eventual blindness. One women even wrote a “how to” book. I also put myself in several disconcerting situations where my vision was blocked or limited.

I hope in some small way, my book honors those folks who served on the Home Front during WWII.

For a limited time, Murder of Convenience is available for $0.99: B07JVT42FW

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Lynn Tagawa

Talkshow Thursday: Author Lynn Tagawa

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your most recent release, The Shenandoah Road. I love that your story is wrapped around the Great Awakening which was a fascinating point in our country’s history. What was your inspiration for the story?

Lynne: Another author. My friend Douglas Bond wrote something in the time period for teens. I thought, “Wow, it can be done well. He does a great job at including scriptural truth without overwhelming the story with it, and it inspired me to tackle the same time period—for adults. My unique tweak was to choose protagonists with different backgrounds. I had no idea how different Bostonians were from those in Williamsburg and so forth. My young lady from Boston meets a Scots Irish backwoodsman, and things happen from there.

LM: You are an author and an editor. How difficult is it to turn off your internal editor while you are drafting a story?

Lynne: Good question. Typically I write a scene, come back and do a basic revision the next day, and then leave it alone for a bit. Or try to.

LM: You have written contemporary and historical fiction which require different types of research. Can you describe a time you had an “aha” moment?

Lynne: Halfway through writing The Shenandoah Road, I stumbled across more information about a (real-life) character, the minister in the valley. Turns out he was highly skeptical of the “enthusiasm” generated by the Great Awakening! Another plot twist!

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

Lynne: No, I’ve rejected the “muse” theory. I simply tell myself, “Need to write a bit today,” and I open up the file. I find that once I’m writing, things start flowing. The biggest obstacle is leaving off too long. The story starts to fade in my head.

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

Lynne: Color my hair red. That is SO not happening again.

LM: LOL! Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: blue
Favorite Food: is coffee a food? Like espresso?
Favorite Actor/Actress: Tom Hanks / Sandra Bullock

LM: What is your next project?

Lynne: A sequel! I am already working on what (Lord willing) may become a trilogy.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Author and Editor website:
Devotional blog:

Book blurb: 
John Russell’s heart aches from the loss of his wife, but the Shenandoah Valley frontiersman needs to marry again for his daughter’s sake. At first he believes he has found the right young woman, despite their differences in background, but his faith falters when time reveals she isn’t quite what she seemed. Can he truly love her? And what about his own failings?

Unlike her disgraced sister, Abigail Williams obeys the Commandments. At least, she thinks herself a Christian until a buckskin-clad newcomer courts her. He treats her kindly but also introduces her to a sermon by the controversial preacher, George Whitefield. Her self-righteousness is shattered, and she wonders about their relationship. If she confesses her lack of faith, will John continue to love her?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Mystery Monday: Dame Margaret Cole

 Mystery Monday: Dame Margaret Cole

British mystery writer Margaret Cole who co-wrote over thirty detective stories with her husband G.D.H. Cole was a prolific author. Part of the Postgate family from the North York moors, Margaret also penned poetry and several nonfiction books. She later went into politics and was awarded a DBE. Her ancestor’s land grant was awarded in the year 1200, and through the centuries the family was notable in many fields including science, music, education, journalism, and entertainment. Film and stage actress Dame Angela Lansbury is Margaret’s cousin.

Margaret attended the Roedean School where she was very unhappy, later saying, “Roedean was, emphatically, the wrong sort of school for me. But I would go further and say it was not a good sort of school at all. It was very expensive; I only got in as the winner of the single annual scholarship.” She later attended Girton College (part of Cambridge), and finished all the requirements for a degree. (At that time most universities did not grant degrees to women.)

She and her family were staunch socialists and became pacifists during WWII. Her brother was jailed after his exemption as a conscientious objector was denied and he refused military orders. Her poem “The Falling Leaves” is one of her most famous works and is one of the first anti-war poems from a woman’s perspective. When Hitler began to overrun Europe, Margaret abandoned her pacifism, however she continued to be active in the socialist cause.

During a campaign against conscription, she met and married G.D.H. Cole. They joined the Fabian Society, an organization whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialist via reformist efforts rather than revolutionary overthrow. The couple eventually moved to Oxford where they taught and wrote. Their first mystery novel “The Death of a Millionaire” was published in 1925. Published in 1948, their final novel was “The Toys of Death.” Series characters were Superintendent Henry Wilson, Everad Blatchington, and Dr. Tancred.

Their book “Murder at the Munition Works” was published in 1940, and the story is woven around wartime production, shop stewards, and walk-outs. Because of its topic, one scholar theorizes that Margaret’s husband wrote the book in its entirety rather than as a collaboration with her, however, there is no proof. Most readers agree that the Cole’s early works are their better novels with ingenious ideas, complex characterizations, and sharp satire.

And despite being considered as good as Agatha Christie’s stories, the Coles and their books have faded into obscurity.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Beth Steury

Talkshow Thursday: Author Beth Steury

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on the release of before I knew you, Book #1 of the “Choices Matter” fiction series. Prior to publishing that, you wrote non-fiction. What made you decide to enter into the fiction realm?

Beth: Hi, Linda. Thanks for chatting with me today. I have to admit, I started the “Choices Matter” fiction series several years before I began my “Waiting Matters . . . Because YOU Matter” blog. I started the blog as part of my platform to promote saving sex for marriage, a theme that is woven through the novel series. I love how a story that is relatable and really pulls in the reader can leave a lasting, beneficial, even life-changing effect. And I’ve always loved losing myself in a great story.

LM: How did you find writing a fiction book different from writing non-fiction?

Beth: I found that fiction takes more time and creative energy to complete. It’s like watching a slow-motion movie in my mind as the characters and storyline come together. But there are similarities as well, as I try to “paint” a visual picture in the reader’s mind with both my fiction and non-fiction.

LM: Research is a large part of any book. How did you go about researching before I knew you and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?

Beth: Well, no spoilers, but I did have to look up some legalities and procedural scenarios specific to the state of Indiana. And some health-related research is required for the second book of the series. Because of my commitment to a story that’s realistic and relevant to today’s YA audience, some of my research took the form of observing teenagers and even benefited from a bit of eavesdropping on their conversations in public settings. I also queried high school students while substitute teaching about likes/dislikes, trends, etc.

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

Beth: I’ve wanted to write my entire adult life. I can’t remember one particular incident that ignited the desire. I feel that God has given me a variety of messages to share, through both fiction and non-fiction avenues. I wrote short pieces of both fiction and non-fiction for multiple publications before I put writing on the backburner while raising my children. About ten years ago, I made a conscious decision to take my passion for writing more seriously and focused greater time and energy toward a writing career.

LM: You are one busy lady. What do you do for fun and relaxation?

Beth: I have to admit, I’m not very good with down time. But I do enjoy dinner out with friends and family and watching a few select TV series with my husband. And of course, reading. There’s never enough time to read!

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite season: I’m a “seasonal” person who loves something about each season, and part of what I like is the change itself. I would really miss the inspiration of a new season approaching if I lived where the weather was consistent year-round. Fall edges the other seasons by a slim margin as my favorite. Bring on the pumpkins and leaves, campfires and hoodies, football and sweatshirts.

Favorite food: CHOCOLATE

Favorite childhood book: That’s a tough one because I liked so many. I read my way around the “biography room” at my elementary school’s library, and then read my way through the Boxcar Children series. But three titles that always come to mind immediately are “The Pink Motel” and “Caddie Woodlawn” by Carol Ryrie Brink and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” by Richard and Florence Atwater.

LM: What is your next project?

Beth:  I am wrapping up the second book in the “Choices Matter” series, and then it’s on to the final (maybe?) book in the series. I plan to publish the third book in the “Waiting Matters” non-fiction series in the coming months as well. After all of that, I will tackle putting my adoption search and reunion story, “A Doorstep Baby’s Search for Answers” into book form.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Facebook:     Beth Steury, Author
Twitter:         @Beth_Steury
Pinterest:      Beth Steury, Author
Goodreads:   Beth Steury, Author

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Iowa Isn’t Just Corn

Traveling Tuesday: Iowa Isn’t Just Corn

One of the items on my “bucket list” is to visit every one of the United States. As an East Coast girl, it’s been fairly easy to make my way from the tip of Florida to the end of Maine as well as many of the states this side of the Mississippi River. Only in the last few years have I been able to expand my travel opportunities toward the west.

Each time I’ve visited one of the Great Plains states or the Southwest, I’m struck by the vastness of this country. During a visit to South Dakota we drove pass several miles of sunflower fields. The sight of those gorgeous flowers remains with me to this day. Iowa is one of the next states on my list.

Part of the “Corn Belt,” they were an integral part of WWII in more areas than food production, however, farm production more than doubled from 1940 to 1945, with a value over $1.2 million. As with many states, Iowa factories converted from domestic products to war materiel, such as Solar Aircraft in Des Moines, John Deere in Ankeny, and the Army Ordnance Plant in West Burlington.

Several POW camps were located in Iowa, from which the German and Italian prisoners were sent as laborers at the farms. During flood season, the prisoners were also used to help levee the rivers. Additional tasks performed by the POWS were fence construction and repair, repair of farm machinery, processing hemp, detassling corn, canned vegetables, and processed lumber. The men were paid $.80 per hour, but received the money in “credits.”

As with all states, Iowa’s men and women served with distinction all over the globe. One of the most famous story about Iowan’s service men is that of the Sullivan brothers. They enlisted with the caveat that they be allowed to serve together, and the Navy granted their request. Less than a year into the war, their ship, the USS Juneau was torpedoed, and all five were killed in action. Because of that incident, the Armed Forces instituted the “Sole Survivor” policy.

Toward the end of the war, Japan launched nearly 10,000 “Fu-Go” balloon bombs. The first weapon with intercontinental range, the hydrogen balloons were loaded with incendiary and antipersonnel bombs. Designed as an inexpensive weapon, each balloon was expected to travel along the jet stream from the Pacific Ocean and drop their bombs into America and Canada. Highly ineffective because of extreme weather conditions. Only 300 of the bombs were ever found to have reached their intended targets resulting in one incident that caused the deaths of six people who touched the balloon causing it to detonate.

Have you visited this diverse and lush state?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Sit down with Sharon Rene

Talkshow Thursday: Sit down with Sharon Rene

Linda: Welcome to my blog. Congratulations on your recent release, A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace. You write children’s/middle grade and YA fiction. Why did you select that genre? Have you always have a heart for kids?

Sharon: I’ve taught Sunday school for over fifteen years in both the children’s and youth departments. I enjoy working with this age group because they’re fun and eager to learn. I tried to make my lessons as creative as possible and I think that gave me the desire to write for children and youth.

LM:  Where do you get your inspiration for stories?

Sharon:  The biblical section of A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace was easy because I had the entire Bible for inspiration. I chose old England for the historical section because I’ve always been fascinated with English history. The contemporary section was more difficult. A couple of the stories I originally wrote for magazines according to their theme lists. Unfortunately, the stories weren’t accepted by the magazines but they landed in my book.

LM: What was your favorite book while you were growing up?

Sharon: I loved Nancy Drew. I think I had about every Nancy Drew written at the time.

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

Sharon:  Dance with a feather boa in prison.  Please, let me explain. I worked with my church prison ministry for a while. We performed a powerful mime drama for the prisoners before the pastor spoke. My character danced with a feather boa around my neck. It was an unusual but awesome experience.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite season:  Fall
Favorite Place to vacation:  Hawaii
Favorite Food:  Red beans and rice with cornbread. Can you tell I’m a southerner?

LM: What are your passions outside of writing?

Sharon: I’ve been involved in church ministry for years. I’ve taught Sunday school, worked with puppet ministry (which was the inspiration for one of my contemporary stories), worked in prison ministry and been on mission trips.

LM: What advice can you give to not-yet-published writers?

Sharon:  Don’t give up.  Many times I want to stop but God always spurs me on. Everything you write has value even if it just helps you improve your craft. I’ve been published in flash fiction and nonfiction. Keep submitting articles, entering contests and querying publishers. And above all – pray.

LM: What are you working on now?

Sharon: I am currently working on a young adult speculative series, tentatively called the “Divine Destiny” series. I’m writing the third book now.

Linda: Where can folks connect with you?

Sharon:  My email is  I would love to hear from my readers and fellow writers. I also have a website:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: Sweetheart Jewelry

Wartime Wednesday: Sweetheart Jewelry

Many of us ladies receive jewelry from our beaus and husbands. Those items are wonderful tokens of their love: flowers, chocolates, or cards. Maybe a piece of art or an article of clothing. Have any of you received something that was handmade? I have. Several years ago, my husband crafted a rocking chair for my dollhouse. Each part of the chair from the seat to the spindles was hand cut, shaped, and sanded. That tiny rocker holds a very special place in my heart, and is one of my favorite gifts.

War is a terrible thing, and the young men who went to fight were exposed to unimaginable brutalities. In an effort to keep a grasp on their sanity and a hold on their loved ones at home, they sent letters and keepsakes they either made or purchased. The keepsakes were often jewelry for sisters, mothers, girlfriends, and wives. What started as a small custom during WWI, grew exponentially during WWII.

Sweetheart Jewelry display
at the Wright Museum of WWII
In addition to jewelry, the men also sent pillowcases, compacts, and handkerchiefs. Made from a variety of metals and alternate materials such as wood or plastic , the jewelry often included the American flag, eagle, or stars. A pearl and "Remember Pearl Harbor" was also popular. Costume jewelry manufacturers such as Trifari and Coro were two of the main producers of patriotic jewelry.

Victory pins featured a large "V" and were crafted from "Bakelite," wood, brass, or plastic. For those who could afford the cost of gems, some pins were available with precious or semi-precious stones. Wings were another widespread design for pins and brooches. Not surprisingly, heart-shaped necklaces, pins, and bracelets were the most popular.

The production of sweetheart jewelry ceased after the war, but many pieces can be found in museums and on auction sites. But during the war, it seemed everyone had at least one item.