Thursday, February 15, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Award-winning Author Hallee Bridgeman

Talkshow Thursday: 
Award-winning Author Hallee Bridgeman

I'm thrilled that Hallee Bridgeman took time from her busy schedule to sit down with me and tell us a bit about herself and her latest release. Pull up a chair and get to know this interesting lady.

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Your most recent book is part of a collection of connected stories. How did that come about and where did you get the inspiration for the plot?

Hallee: Thank you for having me! Author Amanda Tru is the brainchild of the Out of the Blue Boxset Collection. She came up with an idea to have several novellas about misdelivered flower deliveries, and then have her book be the last in the collection and have it be about the florist who has all of the delivery issues.

That was the only criteria for our books: they had to be Christian romances, take place in November, and be contemporary in setting. Amanda worked around everything else.

LM: You have published lots of books. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Hallee: Getting to the end. I struggle with insecurities in the beginning of every book. Can I do it again? Is the story going to be good enough? By the time I get to the end of a book, I know I’ve done it again, and that the story is good enough.

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

Hallee: I had written my book A Carol for Kent who is a prosecutor in the city of Richmond, Virginia. In talking to an attorney friend about the book, I found out that prosecutors don’t go to crime scenes. My entire book needed her to be at crime scenes, and I was very frustrated with trying to figure out how to put her there without it feeling like a convenient coincidence. I talked to another attorney friend and another, and they all backed what my original friend said – prosecutors don’t go to the crime scenes.

I finally went to Richmond, Virginia, and spent the morning interviewing the woman who does my character’s job. She told me that Richmond is different from other cities in that she gets called to the crime scene as the police are called, and she’s on the ground floor of all of the investigations. PERFECT! I was able to go home and finish the book with confidence.

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing? For example do you listen to music or set up in a specific place?
Hallee: I write every day that my kids are in school. After I drop them at school, I walk my two dogs for two miles and use that time to pray, listen to my Bible, or think about my current book. When I get home, I sit at my desk and pray again, asking God to work through me and speak through my fingers on the typewriter.

I listen to classical music when I write. It’s the least distracting, and drowns out the sounds from the neighborhood.

LM: As an Army brat, you probably traveled to countless locations. Now, you live in central Kentucky, a beautiful area of the country. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Hallee: My husband and I are travelers – we often talk about retirement being a motor home and the open road. Both of us dream of a long stretch of vacation in the British Isles. I would also love to visit Israel during the Passover.

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

Hallee: I flew to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, alone. I was meeting my husband, who’d been in Afghanistan for a couple of years. He was waiting for me on the other side of customs, but I had to go through customs, entering a Muslim country, as a white woman traveling alone. I’d taken off my cross necklace and had a hijab (head covering) in my bag in case I encountered any issues.

A couple of months later, I did the same thing – but flew into Kuwait instead. It was a little less nerve wracking, because it was the 20th anniversary of the American’s liberation of Kuwait during the first Gulf War (my husband was part of the front wave of that liberation), so it was cool that I got to be there for that.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Food: Salad bar (I know that’s cheating, but it’s an honest answer – lol)
Favorite Season: Summer

LM: What is your next project?

Hallee: I just released a book last week that takes place during the Winter Olympics. My character is a hockey player for Team USA. Now, I’m starting the next book in my Dixon Brothers Series – Book 1 is Courting Calla – the book about the misdelivered flowers. This book is Valerie’s Verdict – the story of Brad Dixon and Valerie, the woman he’s loved since they were children.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Ellis Island

Traveling Tuesday: Ellis Island

I love discovering tidbits of history and then researching to dig up additional information. Recently, I read a post in one of my favorite blogs (Heroes, Heroines, and History) about Ellis Island and the fact that it was used as an internment camp during WWII. With all the research and reading I’ve done about the war, I was surprised I had never stumbled on this fact. When searching my own genealogy, I started with Ellis Island, but soon found that as some of the thousands of Germans who immigrated to the US, my family came through Baltimore. Perhaps I gave up my study of the Island too soon.

The history of Ellis Island goes back to before the colonial days of our country when much of the Upper New York Bay was oyster flats. Samuel Ellis acquired it at some point then tried to sell it without success shortly after the Revolutionary War. Eventually it was leased by the State of New York then ceded to the Federal Government in the early 1807. A fort was erected on it and used during the War of 1812 and remained until 1890 when it was converted to an immigration station.
Then, interestingly, and perhaps ironically the port became a detention center during WWII. 

Immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, hundreds of German, Italian, and Japanese individuals were arrested and relocated to the Island. They were detained as being possible Axis spies, saboteurs, and fifth columnists. Many of those individuals were U.S. citizens, and it would be months before they could prove their allegiance and be released.

Ellis Island was designated as a permanent holding facility, and more than 8,000 foreign nationals were held during the war. Over 2,500 Germans and their American-born children back to Germany in “exchange voyages” made on Swedish ships. Personal accounts as well as government reports indicate that conditions were not good on the island. Overcrowding, poor food, and poor medical care were just three of issues associated with the detention center.

When the war ended, many of the internees were deported, while other remained awaiting their fate and submitting petitions to be allowed to stay in the U.S. The last German internee was released in 1948.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Blog Tour: No Small Storm

Blog Tour: No Small Storm

About the Book

Title: No Small Storm  
Author: Anne Mateer  
Genre: Historical/Historical Romance 
Release Date: August, 2017

September 1815, Providence, Rhode Island Thirty-year-old Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins loves her solitary life running the farm and orchard she inherited from her father and has no plans to give up her independence. Especially not for the likes of Mr. Graham Lott. But when Mem is unable to harvest the apples on her own, she accepts the help of the man she despises. Fresh off a boat from Ireland with his four-year-old son in tow, Simon Brennan secures a building in which to ply his trade as a cobbler. Still healing from the grief of his wife’s death a year earlier, he determines to focus only on providing a good life for his son. But when he intervenes in an argument on behalf of the intriguing Miss Wilkins, sister-in-law of the tavern owner who befriends him, he suddenly finds himself crossways with his landlord, Mr. Lott, and relieved of his lease and most of his money. With no means of support, Simon takes a job helping Mem with her harvest, relieving her of the need of Lott’s help. But their growing attraction to each other makes them both uneasy. Mem gladly escapes to town when her sister begins labor, and Simon, believing it best to distance himself from Mem, takes his son and leaves. But neither anticipates the worst gale New England has ever seen—or that the storm will threaten all they hold dear.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

No Small Storm is a heart-warming story that drew me in from the beginning. Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins inherits the family farm after her father dies, which is unusual for the time period. Because of the associated wealth, local men come calling, much to Mem’s dismay. I liked Mem; she is a great mix of strength and insecurities. The relationship she has with her sister is realistic, their dialogue authentic whether they are bickering or getting along. I fell in love with Simon immediately. His love for his son and his integrity in business and personal situations show his true character. Seeing the “bad guy” through both Mem’s and Simon’s eyes was fun because of their different perceptions of the man. I also liked that the story centered around a real incident in history, one of which I was unfamiliar, so I enjoyed learning about it. For me the story tied up a little too obviously and quickly, but the ending was satisfying and who doesn’t love “happily ever after?” The cover is beautiful and does a nice job of capturing the essence of the book. The book was an easy read, and I finished it in one delightful afternoon. I look forward to reading other works by this author.

I received a copy of this book for free from CelebrateLit Publicity, and a positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own. 

About the Author

Anne Mateer has loved reading and writing stories since childhood. She is the author of 4 historical novels, 1 historical novella, and a few contemporary short stories. Anne and her husband of 30 years, Jeff, love to visit their grown children and tour historical sites. They are currently living an empty nest adventure in Austin, TX.

Guest Post from Anne Mateer

I’m always up for a good historical story. It’s what I enjoy reading. It’s what I enjoy writing. But I find that my pleasure in any historical fiction increases exponentially when the story at hand is based on at least a kernel of historical fact. All four of my full-length novels share this trait. So it stood to reason that when turning my mind to a historical novella I would seek the same grounding in truth I’ve sought before.

So what historical fact inspired No Small Storm? It was a combination of them, actually. Which I think always makes for the best tales!

I like an overarching historical event to help frame a story. Things like war or economic crisis or natural disaster. Situations in the historical record which required courage or resilience or sacrifice from the people who lived through them. When I stumbled upon the Great Gale of 1815, which hit Providence, Rhode Island particularly hard, I knew it could provide obstacles for my characters to overcome.

As I began to read about this event—a hurricane before such storms were commonly called hurricanes—I happened upon some first hand accounts of that day. Fascinating remembrances about a storm arriving without much preamble, then departing and leaving bright sunny skies with which to view the destruction.

And destruction there was! Not only from wind and water, but also the fact that both of those things unleashed the ships moored in the harbor and sent them sailing down the main street of town! Can you imagine looking out of the second or third story window of a building which was likely flooded on the ground floor and seeing a ship coming at you?

That, in itself, was dramatic enough. Especially when coupled with the fact that those ships often broke apart, whether from wind and waves or from contact with the buildings and bridges they encountered on land. Then I considered the in those ships? What happened to them? Many were flung into the water, searching for purchase.

It was just such a circumstance that brought one man to the window of a young woman. She helped him inside. They were later married. And if finding such a story that isn’t a romance writer’s delight, I don’t know what is!

Finally, as I continued to read about the destruction in the area, I discovered a few lines about area orchards. The hanging fruit was found covered with a dusting of white. When tasted, it was discovered to be salt. Salt from storm surge and sea spray. Salt that saturated, even miles inland. Water and wind—and they salt they carried—ruining fruit crops ready for harvest. What could be more devastating to a farmer than that?

And so No Small Storm was born, with Remembrance and Simon each trying to make a good life for themselves, each trying to trust God as they work hard. Each keeping careful watch over their heart. But sometimes circumstances take things we don’t want to give. And give things we never imagined possible.

Historical fact and spiritual truth. Characters who are a product of their times as well as universal in their struggles and desires. It’s the kind of story I love to read. And the kind of story I’m proud to write.

Blog Stops

Anne's Remaining Blog Stops:

February 11: Bukwurmzzz
February 12: By the Book
February 12: Maureen's Musings
February 13: D's Quilts and Books
February 13: Mary Hake
February 15: A Greater Yes
February 15: Janice's Book Reviews
February 16: Jeanette's Thoughts
February 16: A Baker's Perspective
February 17: Bibliophile Reviews
February 17 (Interview): Margaret Kazmierczak
February 18 (Guest Post from Anne): Simple Harvest Reads
February 18: Bigreadersite
February 19: Pink Granny's Journey
February 19: Pursuing Stacie


To celebrate her tour, Anne is giving away a grand prize of a reader bag of goodies—including a Pride and Prejudice fleece throw, a “reading” charm necklace from Storied Jewelry, a Secret Garden lithograph tote bag, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet DeAnna Julie Dodson

Talkshow Thursday: Meet DeAnna Julie Dodson 

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. I’m a huge fan of your Drew Farthering novels and was delighted to discover that you’ve written other series as well. Before we get into that, I’d like to chat about your latest “Drew” book that was published in November 2017, Death at Thorburn Hall. It sounds intriguing. Where did you get the inspiration for the plot?

DeAnna: Thanks so much for letting me visit! Before we go on, I want to make sure your readers know I write under my real name, DeAnna Julie Dodson, and under my pen name, Julianna Deering. If they’re looking for Drew Farthering Mysteries, they’ll have to look under Deering, not Dodson. Anyway, to answer your question, I got the basic idea for Death at Thorburn Hall because I wanted to set the book in 1935. Drew and Madeline have had a lot of cases to solve since they met in 1932, so I didn’t want to set this one too close to the last one. With 1935 in mind, I had a look at some major events in Great Briton during that year. When I saw the British Open was played at Muirfield in Scotland in ’35, it gave me a place to start. I’ve never played golf, but my dad used to play at least once a week, and he still watches the tournaments on television. He’s taught me enough about the game for me the watch it intelligently, and having already established that Drew is an avid golfer, I thought the Open would be the perfect setting for his next mystery.

LM: Two of your books are part of “Annie’s Mysteries,” a series of books written by different authors. How did that come about and what was that experience like?

DeAnna:  Actually, I have eight books out from Annie’s Fiction, four from “Annie’s Attic Mysteries” (Letters in the Attic, The Key in the Attic, The Diary in the Attic and The Legacy in the Attic), one from “Annie’s Secrets of the Quilt” (Decadent Deceit), one from the “Antique Shop Mysteries” (A Ring of Deception) and two from the “Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library” (An Autographed Mystery and Pride and Publishing). Each of these is part of a multi-book series written by a variety of authors. I was connected with Annie’s by my agent who was, at the time, working on finding a home for my Drew Farthering Mysteries. She thought Annie’s would be a great fit for me, since I enjoy writing mystery so much, and it has been. Everyone there is SO nice to work with. It’s interesting working on a series with many other authors, because you have to be very careful to keep the continuity right from book to book. If the heroine has blue eyes in Boon One, she’d better not have brown eyes in Book Four! And I just signed on for three (or more) books in a new series: “The Inn at Magnolia Harbor.” For a nice change of pace, these books are romance/women’s fiction and not mystery, though I might work in a bit of mystery here and there where appropriate.

LM: You have published lots of books. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

DeAnna: Having written!
Honestly, writing is a very laborious process for me. I’m a very slow writer, too, and I have to force myself to stay on schedule if I’m ever to get anything done. I never fail (about three-quarters of the way along) to wonder if it’s even possible to make the book work and wonder why I didn’t just go into ditch-digging before getting involved with this infernal writing career. But when I get to the end, when the story comes together and starts to work, when God somehow takes the mess I’ve made and makes something coherent out of it, I know I have done the thing for which I was created. There is absolutely nothing more satisfying than that.

LM: Your novels have featured eras from contemporary to medieval, Civil War, and the 1930s. What do you do differently to write a historical rather than a contemporary novel?

DeAnna: There is much more research involved for historical works. Yes, in a contemporary, I definitely have to research the area where the book is set and do some research on how particular characters might talk and act given that setting, but most things are going to be pretty much like how I live every day (television, computer, cars, etc.). For historicals, a writer has to bear in mind the technology of the time, popular culture, current scientific discoveries, clothing, food, current events, manner of speaking and on and on and on. For me, that aspect of the process is fascinating. I always prefer historicals over contemporaries, but even in the contemporaries, I try to add a bit of the historical. For example, in The Diary in the Attic, they mystery was centered around the fate of a young man who left to fight in World War II and never returned. Yes, it’s set in modern times, but I got to write a few flashbacks to the early 1940s, and that was very interesting for me.

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

DeAnna: I almost always write at my desk in my home office. If I’m under deadline and have to be somewhere else (waiting at the doctor’s office, for example), I might bring out my little notebook and scribble a few lines. I’m not one to go out in public on purpose to write. Many writers like background noise, but I’m not one of them. As far as music is concerned, I don’t usually play anything. If I do, it has to be music only and no words, like a movie soundtrack. If there are words, I start hearing them and not the words that are supposed to be coming out of my own head. I’m pretty much a “sit down and write” kind of writer. I have been known to motivate myself to read my daily word count with M&Ms or Milk Duds.

LM: You live in North Texas, a beautiful area of the country, and a place that many people visit on vacation. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

DeAnna: Ultimate? I’d definitely go back to England. I’ve been a few times, but that was several years ago. Now that Drew “lives” in Hampshire near Winchester, I’d love to go back there and see it again. My second choice would be a trip to Canada to see my Dallas Stars play the teams up there.

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

DeAnna: Quirky? Hmmm, well, I always wear green socks on the days the Dallas Stars play. I don’t have any scientific proof that this helps the win percentage, but I do it anyway. Yes, I’m that much of a fan.

LM: Here are some quickies:
Favorite Color:  Usually blue, but as a Dallas Stars fan, it has to be Victory Green!

Favorite Food: Oooh, that’s tough. I’d probably have to pick chocolate if there could be only one.

Favorite Singer or Musical Group:  That’s a tough one too, because I like a lot of different kinds of music. If I had to stick to just one, I think I’d have to go back to Bryan Duncan. If you don’t know who he is, check him out. Whether it’s high energy or smooth and soulful, he’s got an amazing voice and an infectious faith.

LM: What is your next project?

DeAnna: I just started on the first book in the “Magnolia Harbor” series, Where Hope Blooms. I’ve also started sketching out a Regency romance that I might publish independently. (We’ll see about that one!) I just turned in my second book for Guideposts, Water Flows Uphill, and will be plotting out a third for them shortly. And, of course, I’m toying with the idea of writing four more Drew Farthering adventures. I’d love to get him into World War II. I have some delicious predicaments to put him in. But that, of course, depends on how successful the first six books are.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

On the web:

On Facebook:

On Twitter:


 On Goodreads:

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Blog Tour: This Treacherous Journey

Blog Tour: This Treacherous Journey

About the Book


Title: This Treacherous Journey  
Author: Misty M. Beller  
Genre: Christian historical romance  
Release Date: February 6, 2018

Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing from the reward offered for her arrest. She’s innocent of the dirty dealings her deceased husband orchestrated, but the angry townspeople didn’t stop to listen to her defense before she narrowly escaped with her life. Now, she and her twin brother, Joseph, must battle the mountain wilderness of the Rockies to reach Canada and the clean start she craves. But when a fall from the rocky cliff leaves Joseph wounded and weak, could the strange mountain man they encounter be God’s gift to see them to safety? Simeon Grant makes bad choices. His deceased wife and twin babies are lost to him now because of his reckless decisions, and the penance he pays by living alone in this mountain wilderness is only a small piece of what he thinks he deserves. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on his doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects the memories he’s worked so hard to forget. And when she asks for his help to travel deeper into the mountain country, he can’t help wonder why God would force him to relive the same mistakes he’s already suffered through. Or maybe taking these two to safety could be the way to redeem himself. But when their travels prove more treacherous than he imagined, Simeon finds himself pressing the limits of his ability to keep Emma and her brother safe. Can he overcome the past that haunts him to be the man she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

This Treacherous Journey is aptly named as it follows the physical and emotional journey of Emma Cason and Simeon Grant as the two travel through the wild and primitive interior of the Rocky Mountains with Emma’s brother Joseph. Anything that can beset them does, as author Misty Beller ratchets up the danger and suspense as to whether the trio will arrive at their destination. The descriptions are vivid enough for me to see, smell and hear what happens. I’m not usually a fan of prologues but this one set the story and helped me understand Simeon at a deeper level early in the book. I was hooked from the beginning, and the pace moved quickly. Simeon, Emma and Joseph are complex characters who I enjoyed getting to know. I was sad to see the book end. There are isolated incidents of violence, and some descriptions are graphic but neither are gratuitous.

I received the book for free from CelebrateLit Publicity, and a positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Misty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love. She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy. God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters. Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family–both immediate and extended–is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream. Learn more at

Guest post from Misty M. Beller

The Treasure of Family

I’m an old-fashioned girl. Always have been. And growing up on the family farm, with grandparents in the old farmhouse next door and cousins living all around us, I can’t imagine my life without family. Now that I’m married with three daughters of my own, I treasure my family even more—both immediate and extended! In my books, I tend to weave the importance of family into each story somewhere, and This Treacherous Journey is no exception! I first wrote the prologue as a standalone short story, the account of the birth of the hero from another of my books (Reuben Scott from The Lady and the Mountain Call). It was the story of a father, grieving the loss of his wife and feeling as if he has no choice but to give his newborn twins to another family to raise. I wrote this part of the story a week after my third daughter was born, and I cried buckets through the writing! The story has an even stronger emotional connection for me, because my younger brother and sister were both adopted into our family. I can’t imagine their birth parents having the courage to give them up for adoption unless they knew without a doubt it was the best choice for those sweet babies. So, as you read This Treacherous Journey, it’s my prayer that you’ll take a moment to cherish your own family. Remember all the special moments. Spend extra time with those you love. Relish the treasures God placed in your life!

Blog Stops

February 4: A Greater Yes
February 4 (Interview): Margaret Kazmierczak
February 5: Kathleen Denly
February 5: Blogging with Carol
February 6: Faithfully Bookish
February 6: Books N Baubles
February 7: Mommnificent
February 8: Fizzy Pop Collection
February 9: Mary Hake
February 10: Blossoms and Blessings
February 11: Texas-bookaholic
February 11: D's Quilts and Books
February 12: Zerina Blossom's Books
February 12: Bigreadersite
February 13: Kat's Corner Books
February 13: Janice's Book Reviews 
February 14: Jeanette's Thoughts
February 14: Carpe Diem
February 15: A Baker's Perspective
February 15: Karen Sue Hadley
February 16: Pursuing Stacie
February 16 (Guest Post from Mindy): Simple Harvest Reads


To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Multi-genre author Kelly Irvin

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Multi-genre author Kelly Irvin

I'm pleased to be sitting down the Kelly Irvin who writes both Amish fiction and Romantic Suspense fiction-a fascinating combination! Draw up a chair and meet this interesting author.

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. You’ve written more than a dozen Amish books, and last month released the second in your Every Amish Season series, Beneath the Summer Sun, available on Amazon. Here’s the book blurb:
Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry. Can she overcome a painful secret and open her heart to love?
 It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.
Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.
Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?
In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.

Where did you find your inspiration for this story?

Kelly: Beneath the Summer Sun is part of a four-book series that examines the role widows play in Upon a Spring Breeze, is about a young, pregnant Amish woman who suffers a terrible tragedy. Beneath the Summer Sun focuses on Jennie Troyer, a thirty-something widow with seven children. The third book features a grandmother and the fourth book, a great-grandmother. The different seasons of life. It’s been a pleasure to write this series. Each heroine is so different, and I love writing older men. So much fun.

Amish community life. I saw a blurb by an Amish scribe in The Budget newspaper that listed the annual stats for their district, which included number of births, deaths, school graduates, baptisms, weddings, etc. It included number of widows/widowers. They were singled out as an important statistic. I wanted to explore how they fit into the family unit that is so important to Amish communities. I also wanted to write about older women. The first book,

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

Kelly: I’m totally a panster. I’ve gotten a little better about thinking ahead but mostly I know who the main characters are and what the central conflict is. After that, I let my imagination go wild. I love having a new character pop up or learning something about my heroine that I didn’t know until it appears on the page. That’s my absolute favorite part of writing. I have to do a lot of editing and some rewriting, but it’s working it to have that creative process unleashed.

LM: You write Amish fiction which requires an extra layer of research to ensure accuracy about their culture and beliefs. How did you go about researching Beneath the Summer Sun and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?

Kelly: Regardless of the genre, a lot of research is necessary to get the details right. We’re so fortunate to have tons of information at our fingertips through the Internet. With all my Amish stories, I go to Donald B. Kraybill’s The Amish to better understand issues of faith, how they’ve been affected by changes in the mainstream world, and many details of day-to-day life. I read The Budget newspaper for glimpses into daily life as well. The Amish scribes are wonderful about sharing about family and community life. It’s a fantastic peek into their world. I enjoy reading’s blog which also includes great photographs to get a good visual of how things look in different communities. My husband and I went to Jamesport, Missouri, where this series is set, a few years ago and attended their school fund-raiser auction over Fourth of July weekend. I observed their buggy styles, clothes/colors, whether they had phone shacks, took a look at the schools, and learned about setting. It’s an on-going process of learning.

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

Kelly: I always wanted to be a writer. I decided in high school to become a newspaper reporter so I could write and make a living. I did that for about 10 years, before I jumped into public relations, but I always wanted to write novels. When I turned 45, I realized it was now or never. I spent a few years writing, learning the craft, going to conferences, and finally got an agent. It took another three years to get my first book published, a romantic suspense novel called A Deadly Wilderness. My agent suggested I try writing an Amish romance. She ended up selling my first one, To Love and to Cherish, before I finished writing it. I’ve loved every minute of writing these stories and have been blessed to get them published by Harvest House and Zondervan publishing houses.

LM: You live in a beautiful area of the world, a place many people visit. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Kelly: I’d love to do an extended tour of Europe, with stops in France, Spain, and England. I have a physical disability that makes traveling a challenge, but I’ve always wanted to visit Paris, Madrid, and London.

LM: What is your next project?

Kelly: I’m finishing editing the fourth book in this series, With Winter’s First Frost so that I can jump into a new project. I recently signed a contract with Thomas Nelson Publishing to write two romantic suspense novels. The first one, Tell Her No Lies, will debut in January 2019. It’s already written, but I need to get started in January on the second one, which is due in August. I’m thrilled and excited to get back to my first love, romantic suspense. I’ll continue to write Amish romances too. It’s the best of both worlds and writing in different genres helps keep me fresh.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Cheesecake, Anyone?

Cheesecake, Anyone?

Long before Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable struck their sultry poses for WWII GIs around the world, there were pin-up girls. As early as 1889, the advertising pair Thomas Murphy and Edmond Osmond printed calendars with advertisements on the bottom and a luscious young woman at the top. Charles Dana Gibson followed in 1895 with his famous “Gibson Girl” who had an hourglass figure, upswept dark hair, and pouting lips.

During WWI, President Hoover formed the Division of Pictorial Publicity, and almost immediately propaganda posters featuring pretty women, many of whom were dressed in sexy military outfits, began to appear. Considered a “men’s magazine,” Esquire teamed with Alberto Vargas during the 1930s and 1940s to feature 180 of his paintings of “Vargas girls.” They became so popular, their images were reproduced as nose art on military aircraft.

Pin-up posters (also known as cheesecake photos) seemed to reach the pinnacle of their success during WWII. Used by the government to boost morale by presenting the all-American girl worth fighting for, these photos were included in Life, Yank, and Stars & Stripes and shipped to troop overseas by the millions where they hung in submarines, were pasted to barracks’ walls, or tucked in men’s pockets.

Dozens of Hollywood’s “glamour girls” were photographed, but the three most popular ladies seem to be Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Jane Russell. It is estimated that the picture of Betty Grable in a bathing suit looking over her shoulder was the number one pin-up of the war. Known for her legs, she was featured in a June 1943 Life Magazine article that informed readers her legs were insured for one million dollars. An impression of them had also been made in February of that year for Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Far from home, missing their girlfriends and wives, many soldiers, sailors, and airmen found solace in these fantasy girls.

What do you think of pin up girls?