Monday, September 26, 2016

Mystery Monday: Helen Reilly

Mystery Monday: Helen Reilly

Author Helen Reilly
During my search for more Golden Age Mystery novelists, I have unearthed Helen Reilly. Born in 1891 in New York City, Reilly’s early books have been categorized as police procedurals, although the term was not in use at the time she was being published. To ensure accurate, realistic writing, Reilly conducted research with the New York Homicide squad. (Shades of Rick Castle, perhaps?) With a career that spanned from 1930 until her death in 1962, she published almost forty books. Her most popular character is Inspector Christopher McKee.

Helen’s biography is sketchy. She married Pittsburgh, PA native and cartoonist Paul Reilly, who may have been somewhat older than she was; he passed away in 1944. Part of a creative family, two of her daughters, Ursula Curtiss and Mary McMullen were also mystery writers, as was her brother James Kieran.

Blogger Mike Grost has written an extensive analyses of Helen’s work. He made several observations about her stories such as: the use of scientific detection, McKee’s fondness for high-tech phone and radio equipment, the inclusion of technological based communication and transportation centers, and the use of light and architecture throughout her stories. Interestingly, artists show up in many of her stories, as do many elite New Yorkers on a downward spiral.

Helen published her last novel, The Day She Died, in 1962, the year of her own death.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Guest Blogger: Michelle Griep

Meet author Michelle Griep 

High school teenager. What kind of cartoon bubble does that create in your head? Angst-filled girls shopping for prom dresses? Party-hearty boys cruising for a good time after a football game? Nerds holed up in a basement playing video games? Those are common high school experiences—but not mine. I spent the majority of my teen years swapping chapter after chapter with a writer buddy of mine, drafting the great American teenage novel. Don’t look too hard for it on bookshelves, though. It never got published. That friend of mine moved on, but the writing urge never went away, and yes indeedy, I made more friends . . . one of which had the same writing itch as me. And so was born OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, a story of two zany sisters-in-law that my new zany writing friend and I co-authored.

Here’s a blurb: ABOUT THE BOOK ~ OUT OF THE FRYING PAN Murder in Paradise whips life into a froth for FERN and ZULA HOPKINS. When the retirement center’s chef is found dead, the two ladies get folded in with the case. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective JARED FLYNN. Should he be concerned about their safety—or the criminal’s? But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts, especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene. Life at Sunset Paradise Retirement Village will never be the same.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. Her latest release is OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, but historical romance is her usual haunt. THE CAPTIVE HEART releases in October. Follow her escapades at or or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Traveling Tuesday: Egypt

Traveling Tuesday: Egypt

Between the 1870 and 1900, European countries used imperialist aggression, diplomatic pressures, and military invasions to colonize Africa. As a result, at the height of African colonization, seven different countries owned pieces of the continent.

Libya had been occupied by Italy since 1912 as an “economic expansion.” A few years prior to WWII, Mussolini sent thousands of Italians, mostly farmers and other rural type workers, to the country. But the dictator wanted more, specifically countries that had been part of the “old Roman empire.” The apple of his eye was Egypt.

However, he had a problem. As part of a 1936 treaty, British troops occupied Egypt to protect the Suez Canal and the Royal Naval bases in Alexandria and Port Said. But this was September 1940, and the London Blitz had commenced. Also Mussolini thought a German invasion of England was imminent. So he hedged his bets that the British troops would be vulnerable, and on September 13, 1940 sent his forces into Egypt.

Fighting primarily took place in the Western desert, and the Italians eventually captured Sidi Barrani where they left six divisions. But as with many wars, the tide changed, and two months later the British attacked the Italian camps. In three days, they took more than 40,000 Italian prisoners. By January 1941, the British had advanced and took another 35,000 prisoners. By February Italians were surrendering in droves. But once again the tide turned, and it would be another two years before the British gained success against Italy in Africa.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Blog Tour: The Color of Danger

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book

Life as the sister of a serial killer is never easy, especially when former runaway Mari Del Lobo becomes a target herself. A recent crime has her late brother’s signature and MO, which Mari finds highly unusual, as she still blames herself for her only sibling’s death. Soon Mari encounters an unexpected — and a very attractive — ally in Dr. Luke Goodman.

Luke couldn’t save his fiancĂ©e from the Smiling Killer, but he’ll do anything to prevent more murders, even ask for help from the serial killer’s sister. Finding a kindred tortured soul in Mari, Luke is determined to keep her alive, but it’s not easy to protect the stubborn ex-rebel.

To solve the mystery, renew her faith, and find love and redemption, Mari has to face her most dangerous enemy — herself.

”One of the best Christian romantic suspense novels I’ve ever read.” – JoAnn Durgin, JoAnn Durgin, USA Today bestselling author.

My Thoughts

Color of Danger drew me in from the very first page. I’m usually not a fan of prologues in a story, because more often than not while trying to be mysterious, they end up being confusing. Not with this story. The prologue gave me just enough information to make me want to know more. Author Alexa Verde has created believable characters that I can relate to. Luke is strong yet sensitive without being sissified, and Mari is stubborn without being unlikeable. Color of Danger is fast paced and packed with vivid description and realistic dialogue that kept me guessing about the culprit’s identity to the end. I look forward to reading other books by Ms. Verde.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Alexa Verde writes sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder. She penned her first literary masterpiece, a rhymed poem, at the ripe age of eight, and since has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She can claim her 15 seconds of Amazon fame with her books climbing to the #1 spot in Hispanic American and #3 in Christian Mystery & Suspense. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her popular series Secrets of Rios Azules. For giveaways (for example, Russian souvenirs), news, and recipes, please sign up for her newsletter Twitter: @AlexaVerde3. Facebook:

Guest Post from Alexa Verde

Thank you, Sandra, for having me on the CelebrateLit tour, and heartfelt thanks to all the bloggers who read and reviewed my novel Color of Danger. Every review, every kind word, every blog post matters tremendously to me. Very excited to be here!

In some ways, the first book is like the firstborn child. There is no feeling comparable to the one when your “baby” is born. While Color of Danger is not the first book I’ve written, it is the first book I’ve published, and I’ve done the latter with much apprehension and trepidation. But this was a story I needed to tell, about love, forgiveness, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

By then, my published works had ranged from senryu (Japanese poetry) to travel portraits to interviews, but it had taken me a while to find my voice in full-length books. However, once I realized I wanted to write Christian novels, I never veered off that road. I’m currently working on my first Christian contemporary romance, so my tagline might change. But for the Christian romantic suspense series, Secrets of Rios Azules, it is “Sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder.”

I was told Mari was an unusual heroine. She’s tough, strong-willed, and fearless, and at the same time, vulnerable and hurt. Color of Danger is not just a combination of a Christian romance and a serial killer mystery. It is more than a story of friendship between “Danger Girls,” though Mari is loyal to a fault and would give up her life in a heartbeat for those she loves. First and foremost, it’s about believing in God again. And that’s what I strive for every one of my books to be.

A love letter to God.

Blog Stops

September 8: Daysong Reflections
September 9: Christian Bookaholic
September 11: SueStinnett
September 12: Carpe Diem
September 14: Mary Hake
September 16: Quiet Quilter
September 17: The Power of Words (Spotlight)
September 18: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 20: Bukwurmzzz
September 21: Blogging With Carol
September 22: Rhonda’s Doings


To celebrate her tour, Alexa is giving away a $50 amazon gift card! Click here to enter:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Author Mary Ball

Meet Author Mary Ball

I'm pleased to introduce you to author Mary Ball, who took time from her busy schedule to stop by for a visit.

Author Mary L. Ball
Linda:  Welcome, Mary. You have several books out, with another coming soon. When did you know you want to pursue publication?

Mary: After writing many Christian articles a desire rooted in my heart to scribe fiction. It took seven months to complete my manuscript, then a year of editing and polishing. I began submitting to publishers, another year later my debut novel, Escape to Big Fork Lake was accepted by Prism Book Group.    

LM: In your second book “Stones of Destiny” where did you find your inspiration for the story?

Mary:  I was passing by my oldest grandson one day; his nose was deep into one of those YA books about magic. The thought came to me that there all kinds of captivating wonder around and real miracles. So I set out to write a fictional story that starts with a simple object but becomes hope to hang onto through faith and prayer.

LM: Do you have an unusual research story to share?

Mary: No. LOL I wish I did.

LM: The age old question for writers-are you a “pantster” or a plotter?

Mary: I’m a little of both. I will note a short outline of the way I think the novel will go, but it never gets written that way. As my characters evolve they always surprise me by talking different approaches. Sometimes, the Lord will quicken my spirit to changes that need to happen along the way too.

LM: What is your favorite scene in the story?

Mary: There are several but the one that stands out is when Taylor finds the heirloom ring and slips it on her finger and experiences unexplained feelings.     

LM: What is your next project?

Mary: I’m working with my editor for the release of Sparks of Love later in the fall. I would like to share the blurb.

Sparks of Love

Misjudged and accused, Lynette Cunningham walks away from God and everything she loves.

Ten years later, a phone call from father offers hope when he announces he may have a clue to the unsolved crime that forced her to run. She’s scared, but encouraged. Maybe this will clear her name from slander in her small North Carolina hometown.

Before Lynette returns tragedy strikes. A Fire destroys her childhood home and kills her father.

While she sorts through the ruins and hopes to find the clue, Lynette meets the new pastor, Price Fletcher.

 She must face the two things that scare her most. The past and a man of God.

 Can Lynette acknowledge her love for a man who represents the One she believes let her down? Will she stay alive long enough to prove her innocence?  

LM: Sounds very interesting! You’ve got a full plate as an Associate Pastor’s wife, author, and a singing ministry. What advice can you offer for fledgling writers about balancing the areas of their lives?

Mary: Life is busy, not everyone can shut themselves up in their office and write six hours a day. Don’t put yourself into the stereotype where you believe that you can’t accomplish being an author if you don’t set a certain time each day to write for hours. For some it’s fine, but for others (me) we have to go with the flow. Pick out times to write each day that work for you and don’t beat yourself up if your schedule only allows for a little writing time. The most important thing is to write as much as possible, and stay focused on your goal of completing your book.

LM: What are your passions outside of writing?

Mary: Lol. Well like you mentioned, I sing. Praising God in songs is my way of destressing. It may not seem relaxing to stand in front of people and sing but it’s a joy to love the Lord with a song. I also enjoy the being outdoors and fishing.    
LM: Thanks for visiting today! Find Mary Ball on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blog Tour: The Wedding Shop

Blog Tour: The Wedding Shop

History, Mystery and Faith is pleased to be the first blog tour stop by Rachel Hauck's latest release The Wedding Shop.

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book


Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

My Thoughts

The Wedding Shop is a well-written story about two women - one set in present day, the other in the 1930s. I don’t read a lot of romance novels, but I was familiar with Rachel Hauck as an author, so decided to give the book a try. I am glad I did. The characters are fleshed out, realistic individuals with dreams, strengths and struggles I can relate to. Initially I wanted Cora to be more confident, then I realized she is a product of her times (1930s), and the perfect counterpart to Haley (a former Air Force Captain). I loved Charlotte Malone, who was the protagonist in book one and plays a secondary role in The Wedding Shop. She is an intelligent, big-hearted woman filled with wisdom. At one point she tells Haley, “You can’t let your past define you, or your future...What you did isn’t who you are now or who you’ll become. Isn’t that the point of the cross?...You can’t punish yourself into righteousness.” I finished the book in two sittings, and the characters have stayed with me long after I turned the last page. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Her book Once Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist.

Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at, Facebook: rachelhauck, and Twitter: @RachelHauck

Guest Post from Rachel Hauck 

 Hey everyone! I’m so excited to share The Wedding Shop with you. This book is one of my favorites.

While all books are my “babies,” this one found a special place in my heart.

This standalone novel is part of the Wedding Collection – The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel – and it came to life when I discovered the story of Cora Scott, a 1930s wedding shop owner.

At 30, she’s an old maid, but the best “bride’s maid” in fictional Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. But she’s in love with a charismatic, charming river boat captain.

The contemporary heroine, Haley Morgan, is a retired Air Force captain returning to Heart’s Bend to restart her life. She’s recovering from a broken heart. The handsome, dynamic, charming man she loved was nothing but trouble.

Returning home, Haley is set on keeping a childhood promise she made with her best friend—to open the old wedding shop.

The shop is legend in Heart’s Bend. Haley grew up with stories of Miss Cora and the shop, hearing the town’s mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers reminiscing about their “day in the shop,” walking down the grand staircase in their wedding gown.

But in 2016, the shop is dilapidated, neglected and in need of more money than Haley possesses.

While writing this story, I had to ask a lot of questions. Why reopen the old shop? Why not just open a new one?

Haley was a combat veteran, deployed to Afghanistan twice, why would she want to open a wedding shop?

I also investigate the meaning of the shop to the town? To Cora? To Haley?

As I developed the backstory for the characters, the shop and the town, Cora’s came to life. She fascinated me. I admired this fictional woman. She exuded ingenuity, courage, and deep, deep devotion.

On the other hand, Haley was a bit of a mystery but from the start, she saw value in something no one else did.

What if we all saw value in people or places others wanted to reject?

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us?

The heroes of the book, Birch and Cole, are just stellar guys. Princes among men. I love writing about slightly wounded but strong and tender men.

The theme of family and community populates the story. Also, how misconceptions and preconceived ideas often ruin relationships.

Booklist gave The Wedding Shop a Starred Review and called it, “Spellbinding.”

There’s a lot of fun drama in this book! I hope you enjoy spending time with Cora and Haley, the men they love and the shop they bring to life.

 I’d love to hear your thoughts! Connect with me at

Blog Stops

September 13: A Holland Reads
September 14: Giveaway Lady
September 14: Daysong Reflections
September 15: Bibliophile Reviews
September 16: Bigreadersite
September 16: The Scribbler
September 17: Books,Dreams,Life
September 17: ASC Book Reviews
September 18: Book Babble
September 18: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 19: Pause for Tales
September 19: Book by Book
September 20: The Power of Words
September 20: Lighthouse Academy
September 21: Proverbial Reads
September 21: Splashes of Joy
September 22: Faithfully Bookish
September 23: Tell Tale Book Reviews
September 24: Quiet Quilter
September 25: For The Love of Books


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away her Wedding Collection Series! Click here to enter:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Norma Gail!

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Author Norma Gail

Linda: Welcome to my blog, Norma Gail. I'm thrilled to introduce you to my followers. I greatly enjoyed your book, Land of My Dreams.  Congratulations on publishing your first novel. Where did you find your inspiration for the story?

Norma Gail: I have wanted to be a published author since I was a child and read Little Women. Jo March was my hero. Life, a nursing career, kids, all got in the way, but I always said, “Someday.” When I broke my foot and spent 8 weeks in a wheelchair, my boredom led me to start working on a story idea that had been churning in my brain for a couple of years. Once I had it down on paper, I got the courage to attend a writer’s conference and see if I had what it took. I learned a lot and a little over a year later, following my second conference, I had a contract.

LM: Do you have an unusual research story to share?

Norma Gail: Much of the research for Land of My Dreams was done prior to ever sitting down to write. It involved a trip to Scotland for our 30th wedding anniversary. My most interesting research story involves a work in progress. I love history, if it’s family history, I love it more. My great grandfather and great uncle were murdered on their ranch in southwestern New Mexico in 1918. The killers were never brought to justice and I took that very personally. I attended nursing school with the great granddaughter of one of the men involved. We had to agree to disagree and ended up working together for 7 years. 

Years later, I began researching on the internet and came across cousins who were sisters, also searching. Our mothers met once. Our grandmothers were sisters, but the families lost touch over the years. They came for a visit with another sister and their mom. I rented a Suburban and we went off for a week to see what we could dig up in libraries, newspapers, and the scene of the crime. We are a little closer to the answers, but in the process, I have reunited the descendants of my great grandparent’s eight children who had lost touch with each other. We now communicate regularly, share photographs and some of us have met. I continue to be the principle researcher. I have even talked on the phone to the great grandson of one of the murderers who has many questions of his own. We plan to get together soon and discuss our shared tragedy. He now owns a portion of my great grandfather’s ranch. It is a story begging to be told.

LM: The age old question for writers-are you a “pantster” or a plotter?

Norma Gail: Absolutely a pantster! I plot when I get stuck, but I have to just write and get the story on paper before I can begin to make it flow coherently. I’ve tried plotting first. I find it tedious and boring. 

LM: What is your favorite scene in the story?

Norma Gail: I have two. The first is when Bonny Bryant, an American college professor, teaching in Scotland, goes fly-fishing with Kieran MacDonell, a bagpipe playing, kilt-wearing, Highland games athlete in Scotland. He is a full-time sheep farmer and part-time math professor. My husband played a huge part in writing the scene, and I love the electricity between Bonny and Kieran and the fun they end up having over an event that parallels a true-life fishing experience of my husband.

The second would have to be when Kieran takes Bonny to Urquhart Castle, the castle on the shores of Loch Ness. The experience of a very special rainbow is taken from an experience my husband and I had on top of that very castle on our trip to Scotland. For that reason, it holds a very special place in my heart.

LM: What is your next project?

Norma Gail: I am completing the sequel to Land of My Dreams. The tentative title is Within Golden Bands. The characters, one in particular, had their own ideas about how to behave and totally messed with my plans for the story, however, it is shaping up as a pretty exciting romantic suspense. I am loving returning to my beloved characters who have become my dear friends!

LM: Now that you’ve published your first book, what advice can you offer for fledgling writers?

Norma Gail: Don’t think because you made good grades in school and have always loved writing that you know everything and can write a bestseller on your own. Take time to learn your craft. Attend writing conferences early and often. Take the advice you’re given from critiques, good or bad, and never, never give up!

LM: What are your passions outside of writing?

Norma Gail: Teaching the Bible. I recently had to give up the Bible study I led for 13 ½ years, for health reasons. I miss it terribly. My real passion is teaching the Old Testament, especially Genesis, because so many Christians tend to be ignorant of the power of those books. I love Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and helping women develop a biblical worldview. My other passion is family history research. I can get totally carried away with either.

LM: What else do you want folks to know about you?

Norma Gail:  I love romantic fiction, but my favorite Christian author is Michael Phillips. He is not known for romance or light, easy reads. He is known for beautifully woven stories that have deep and powerful Christian lessons. My goal is to write stories that entertain, but also move the reader to examine their lives and relationship to Jesus through the experiences of the characters and grow through their reading. I like fiction with spiritual depth, yet great, heartrending romance.

LM: Thank you so much for visiting today! Readers you can find Norma Gail's book Land of My Dreams on Amazon.