Thursday, June 21, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, June Foster!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, June Foster!

Linda: Welcome back! It’s a pleasure to be able to visit with you again. You recently turned in your RV life to put down roots in a home? How has that worked out for you?

June: My husband had eye surgery so it became a necessity to settle down. We love our small town of Cullman, Alabama as we have a new home and doctors are nearby. My husband's family lives here as well. But, I'll be honest, I really miss our daughters and grandchildren who live in Seattle and El Paso, Texas. Since my husband's eye problem is resolving, we can travel again. So I'm sure we'll be going to see our kids. Just not in an RV.

Linda: Congratulation on your most recent publication, A Home for Fritz. What was your inspiration for the story?

June: Last summer, when we were still in the RV, we spent the summer in Shell, Wyoming at the base of the Big Horn Mountains. At the RV park where we worked and stayed, the owners had a precious dog named Fritz. A golden doodle, to be exact. About that time, my editor asked for stories in which the couple met because of a dog. So my tail, I mean tale, was born.

LM: Research is a necessary part to writing any book. What sort of “wow” or “aha” moment have you had when researching one of your books?

June: A Home For Fritz takes place at a dude ranch in Wyoming. Near Shell, an exclusive guest ranch, the Hideaway, is the destination for many wealthy visitors. The owner was gracious enough to take me on a tour of the grounds and the facility. I interviewed the wranglers as well as local ranchers. With each new fact I learned, I indeed experienced that "wow" moment.

LM: What writers influence you the most?

June: I love Julie Lessman's books. Her rich dialogue and the manner in which she "gets into the characters' heads" are stellar examples of good fictional writing. Fay Lamb, my freelance editor, influences me to improve my grammar and sentence structure. Joy Massengurge, one of my critique partners, guides my writing to get deeper into a character's head.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: green
Favorite Author: Frank Perretti
Favorite Food: Mexican

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

June: Ask: do you feel God called you to write for His glory? If yes, keep doing everything you can to get your stories out there. Improve your craft, go to conferences, get in a good critique group, get tough skin when rejections come, and pray hard. And at times, you may want to consider self-publishing.

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

June: I'm finishing a Thanksgiving story due this fall. Then I've got a contract to write a romance where a crazy adventure takes the couple through the chapters.

Linda: Where can folks connect with you?

June: Check out my website:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: Life in a WWII Kitchen

Wartime Wednesday: Life in a WWII Kitchen

Research turns up the most interesting information, and my favorite tidbits are those that include real-life incidents and insights. Saturday, I volunteered at the Wright Museum of WWII as I usually do, and when I got home my husband Wes was busy preparing treats for church on his six burner Viking gas stove. We upgraded the kitchen when we purchased the Bed and Breakfast we operated for twelve years, so it's not your everyday appliance.

A trained chef, Wes works magic in the kitchen (or on a campfire!). Watching him work got me thinking about what it was like to cook
in a WWII kitchen.

Look closely at the photo of the Wright Museum exhibit. What strikes you most about what's in the picture? For me, it's the size of everything. Granted our stove is larger than a standard household fixture, but even today's family stoves are much larger than the one in the exhibit. Can you imagine trying to bake a turkey or pot roast in that teeny-weeny oven?  Check out the size of the fridge. Again, our refrigerator is a good size because of running the business, but nowadays even apartment fridges would be larger than the one shown here. And with the compressor on top, storage space is lost.

Something else I noticed after studying the exhibit is the amount of metal used. In an "aha" moment (even after all the reading and researching I've done about the era), I realize why it was necessary to perform scrap drives. It seems that what wasn't made of wood was constructed of metal (steel, aluminum, and iron). From the skillet on the wall and pots on the stove to the containers of spices on the shelves and food items such as crackers and tea to the right of the stove, nearly everything was made of metal.

Other items of interest are the lack of a built-in pantry - those are a modern invention taking the place of pie-safes and shelving units such as the one shown on the left. Are you familiar with Fiestaware? I was fortunate to inherit several pieces when my grandfather passed away. Introduced in 1936, with a hiatus from 1973 to 1985, Fiestaware is glazed ceramic dinnerware that featured thirty-seven different pieces, with as many as sixty-seven pieces during its heyday. During WWII, the line was reduced and by the end of the war, with the more unusual serving items being discontinued. Initially produced in five colors: red, blue, green, yellow, and ivory. Turquoise was added in 1938.

What is not included in the photo because the items would have been stored elsewhere, are the jars of canned goods a housewife would have put by from her Victory Garden. Notice something else that's missing? There's no automatic dishwasher. Everything would have been washed by hand.

I imagine that days were long for a 1940s housewife. Most of the chores were done by hand: laundry - that included a wringer washer, hanging clothes to dry, then ironing them (note the ironing board and mangle to the right), dusting, sweeping (not everyone could afford a vacuum cleaner), mopping, and dishes (washing and drying). I'll try to remember that the next time I complain about having to empty my automatic dishwasher! How about you?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mystery Monday: The Many Names of Dolores Hitchens

Mystery Monday: The Many Names of Dolores Hitchens

I guess it's pride, but as an author, I find it gratifying to see my name on a book cover. It's fascinating to me when writers choose to publish their work under a pseudonym. There are as many reasons as there are nom de plumes, and most readers have no idea why an author makes that choice. Mystery writer Dolores Hitchens wrote under four different names, perhaps more.

Her most successful series featuring spinster Rachel Murdock and her cat Samantha included twelve books released between 1939 and 1956. Considered cozies today, the books are well-written and include lots of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. Rather than be a cliched little old lady, Rachel is sharp-witted and willing to take risks despite being 70+ years old.

A series she co-authored five "railroad mysteries" with her husband Bert who was a railroad detective, individuals responsible for the protection of railroad property, facilities, and personnel, and sometimes patrolling the public rail transit system.

Most of the more than two dozen other mysteries she penned tend to be traditional detective stories. Sleep with Slander has been called "the best traditional male private eye novel written by a woman." (A bit of a left handed compliment if you ask me!). Fool's Gold was made into a movie called Bande a Part by French director Jean-Luc Godard. It was released in North America as Band of Outsiders and met with good success.

Fourteen are standalone with two series featuring Lt. Stephen Mayhew and Professor Pennyfeather. In her later years, Hitchens wrote two "hard-boiled" detective stories in the flavor of Raymond Chandler that feature Jim Sader.

Born in Texas on Christmas Day in 1907, Dolores worked as a nurse and then a teacher before starting her writing career. An intensely private person, not much is known about her. She passed away in 1973.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Kimberly Rose Johnson

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Kimberly Rose Johnson

I love a good mystery, and I know you do too, so I'm thrilled to welcome Kimberly Rose Johnson to my blog today to talk about her latest release, The Sleuth's Miscalculation. Grab a cuppa and join us!

Linda:  Thanks for stopping by my blog, and congratulations on your latest release The Sleuth’s Miscalculation. What was your inspiration for this particular story?

Kimberly: Hi, Linda. Thanks for having me on your blog! Nancy Drew books inspired this story, which is the first in a series. My heroine, Nancy Daley, is the town librarian and the sleuth. She will be a point of view character in every book.

LM:  What a great idea. I loved reading Nancy Drew as a child. How do you decide where to set a story?

Kimberly: I like to use fictional towns so I have complete creative license over the story world. Lately, I’ve been setting my books in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, which is where I live.

LM: Lots of research goes into each story to ensure accuracy. What is an “aha” or “wow” moment you had while conducting research for one of your books?

Kimberly: Believe it or not, part of my research was reading Nancy Drew books. I was more of a Hardy Boys girl growing up, but I’ve really enjoyed the Nancy Drew books as an adult. I don’t do a lot of research in advance of writing. So when something comes up in the story that I need to know I either stop writing and research it, or leave a note for myself to come back after I’ve visited such and such.

LM:  You’re a prolific writer. Have you ever experienced writer’s block, and if so, what did you do to push through it?

Kimberly: Unfortunately, yes. How I deal with it really depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s a matter of creative fatigue, and I need a break. I give myself permission to take a short nap, or read some fiction, which usually gets my creative juices flowing again.

When I write myself into a corner and I don’t know how to get out of it, I have been known to cut thousands of words to get back on track. I’m a pantster, which means I don’t plot ahead very much. I start with a story idea and generally know where I want the story to go, and how I want it to end, but everything in between is a mystery to me until I’m actually writing. Most of the time being a panster works well for me, but not always.

LM: Who are some of your writing “heroes?” 

Kimberly: This could be dangerous because I know I’ll forget someone, but I’ll give it a whirl. I admire Margaret Daley, Dee Henderson, JoAnn Durgin and more. It’s really tough to name names.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite childhood book: Can I get there by Candlelight? By Jean Slaughter Doty. This is a story about a girl and her horse. They travel into the past when she steps through an iron gate in the woods. I still have this on my bookshelf. Telling you about it makes me want to read it again. J

Favorite season: Fall

Favorite place to vacation: Disney World

LM: What is your next project?

Kimberly:  I am going back and forth between my romantic mystery series and a contemporary romance series. The next book I need to write is for my Brides of Seattle series title TBD. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Kimberly: is my website and all my links are there. I would love for readers to follow me on BookBub and/or Amazon.

Thanks again for hosting me!

Book Blurb: Librarian Nancy Daley loves a good mystery and enjoys moonlighting as a consultant for the sheriff's department. When license plates go missing in Tilton County, she's on the case. This time things are different - she's been partnered with the new deputy, and he's not interested in her help. To make matters worse, she's angered the wrong person and now she's being threatened.

Sheriff Deputy Carter Malone expects Tipton County to be a sleepy small-town, but he's miscalculated. He'd come to town for a fresh start with his nephew-one without the issues big cities deal with. Had he made a mistake? To complicate matters, he told he must consult with the sheriff's daughter who is not in law enforcement. When the minor case they are working on morphs into something more, things quickly go from harmless to scary.

Can they solve the mystery before it's too late, and more importantly, what will they do about their growing attraction?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Ohio Does its Bit

Traveling Tuesday: Ohio Does its Bit

I recently read Tamera Lynn Kraft’s Red Sky Over America, a novel about Oberlin College, and the role it played during the Civil War. The book’s Afterward included lots of information about the college and Ohio’s stance on slavery. Fascinated, I got to wondering about how Ohio contributed to WWII, another war that heavily impacted the U.S.

The war hit Ohio immediately when it took dozens of its citizens during the attack at Pearl Harbor. Three Ohioans were posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism during the incident, including Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Machinst’s First Mate First Class Robert R, Scott, and Seaman First Class James Richard Ward. About twelve percent of the state’s population served in the armed forces during the war. Of that number approximately 23,000 lost their lives, making the ultimate sacrifice.

Like many other states, Ohio’s manufacturing plants were converted from civilian to defense industry production. (Click for photos of a Tire Plant Conversion). One of those businesses was Willys-Overland Motor Company, now famous for its Jeeps.

In 1940, the government asked over 130 automobile companies to submit designs for a lightweight vehicle that could travel over numerous types of terrain. The challenge included a deadline of just forty-nine days. Willys-Overland was the second of two companies that succeed in making a submission. The government initially chose Bantam as the winner, but Bantam’s facilities were too small and unable to meet the demand. Given Bantam’s design, Willy-Overland made modifications that included a larger engine. These changes enabled them to win the contract. As a result, they produced almost half of the 700,000 jeeps manufactured during the war.

Goodyear Aircraft Company located in Akron also participating in producing wartime materiel by manufacturing 104 airships for the military. The plant also manufactured the F4U Corsair for the Navy. From its humble beginnings of thirty-nine employees, Goodyear grew to over thirty-five thousand employees by 1942.

During the war, the US Army Air Force created numerous airfields in Ohio to train pilots and aircrews of fighter planes and bombers. After the war, some were converted to municipal airports, while others reverted to agricultural fields. Others remained as installations during the Cold War.

As with citizens all over the country, Ohioans collected scrap, grew victory gardens, and lived with rationing. They purchased war bonds, operated Red Cross and USO centers, and performed myriad Civil Defense duties. Their men went to war or worked in the defense industry, and their women joined the ranks of the employed, doing their bit to ensure the future of freedom.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Blog Tour: The Captured Bride

Blog Tour: The Captured Bride

About the Book

Title: The Captured Bride  
Author: Michelle Griep  
Release Date: June 1, 2018  
Genre: Historical Romance

A war-torn countryside is no place for a lady—but Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause . . . to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart. Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he’s offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he’s the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought. Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

The Captured Bride is an exciting, fast-paced story that contains a wonderful mixture of mystery and romance. The two main characters, Mercy and Elias are complex, realistic, and I loved both of them. Mercy is strong-willed yet struggles with insecurities and guilt. Elias deals with feelings of failure and regret. As much as I love history, I don’t know more than the basics about the colonial days in America, so I greatly enjoyed the information the author weaves throughout the story. There is also an afterward that contains additional interesting historic facts. The author uses all the senses in her descriptions giving me the ability to smell the forests, horses, and campfires; hear the jingle of bridles, bird song, and raging rivers; and feel the rain on my face. The time period is rustic and rugged, and there are some violent scenes, but they are not gory or gratuitous. I was breathless by the end of the book and look forward to reading it again and again.

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

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Guest Post from Michelle

A Visit to Fort Niagara  

Whether you’re a history buff or don’t have a clue what the French and Indian War was about, there’s a destination in upstate New York that’s fun to visit for the whole family . . .

My husband and I made the trek to this living history site last summer. I had no idea what to expect, other than what was advertised as a “reenactment camp.” For those who don’t know, this is when volunteers who adore history come together to present a particular event, such as a battle. These people usually choose a real person from the era upon whom they fashion their modern day persona. They dress, speak, eat and live as that person might have. Here I am with some of my new friends.

Generally around the 4th of July, the 1759 Battle of Fort Niagara is recreated in a 3-day extravaganza of soldiers, muskets, canons and an entire market place to peruse selling period-related items. Some of the things that surprised me about stepping back into the mid-eighteenth century were:
  • How much smoke muskets kick out
  • Once the battle begins, it’s hard to see who is your enemy or ally
  • Canons are really loud
  • Everything wasn’t as black and white as it seems in pictures—gowns and uniforms were very colorful
What makes this event so spectacular is that they take the entire 20 day siege and condense it into 3 days. If you visit every day, you’ll see and experience exactly what happened. You’ll be there to see the British, Colonial regulars and Iroquois allies sneak out of the tree line to shoot at some French soldiers who were pigeon hunting just outside the fort. You’ll hear the war whoops and barrage of angry French epithets roaring on the air. You’ll even get a chance to taste some of their food as you wander around inside the French Encampment set up inside the fort walls. To experience a bit of the danger, sights and sounds of what Mercy and Elias lived through in The Captured Bride, Fort Niagara really is a fantastic place to visit.

Blog Stops

June 11: Genesis 5020
June 11: Baker Kella
June 12: My Writer's Life
June 13: Among the Reads
June 13: Book by Book
June 14: Splashes of Joy
June 14: Artistic Nobody
June 15: Pause for Tales
June 15: Mary Hake
June 15: Big Reader Site
June 17: Novels Corner
June 18: Kathleen Denly
June 18: A Reader's Brain
June 18: Remembrancy
June 20: Mommynificent
June 22: Carpe Diem


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of The Captured Bride and a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Editor/Writer Tisha Martin

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Editor/Writer Tisha Martin

I'm sitting down today with writer and editor Tisha Martin. Grab your favorite beverage and join us!

LM: I read your delightful short story Puddle of Remorse. Where did you get your inspiration for the story?

Tisha: First off, it’s great to be here, Linda! Thanks for letting me join the blog today! So glad you read Puddle of Remorse because I enjoyed writing it. Great question! In college, I was sharing a meal with friends, and one of my friends told of her adopted deaf sister who got into heaps of trouble. I don’t remember what the little girl got in trouble for, but it inspired me to write the story. Plus, the Deaf culture is close to my heart because I have a deaf twin sister. (Even though she didn’t act like Bevy in my story, she was cantankerous. She chased me and my siblings with a garden snake one summer. . .)

Linda:  Ha! Siblings can be a challenge! You are both author and editor. How difficult is it to turn off your internal editor when you are writing?

Tisha: Haha, great question! Want to know the startling truth? I can’t. That’s why I do both! However, when I’m writing a scene and I know there’s issues to fix, I make a Comment in the page margin and I keep writing. It also helps that I think a lot about my topic before I write, so that I’m able to write more when I actually do sit down and write.

LM: What writers influence you the most?

Tisha: Ha! That’s a dangerous question . . . because you may get a huge list. If I had to choose, I’d have to say Sarah Sundin, Judith Pella, Cindy McCormick Martinusen, and Vian Smith, to name a small few. But really, following agent blogs, reading my authors’ manuscripts, and learning about editing have helped my writing tremendously. I love learning from others!

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: Every shade of green (except grass and forest greens)
Favorite Place to vacation: Um…wow, I don’t know! I’d love to vacation on Mackinac Island, Prince Edward Island, or travel to all the national museums in the US.
Favorite Food: Mashed potatoes

LM: What are your passions outside of writing?

Tisha: I love to garden, sew, read, ride horses, and guest blogging. And edit (oh wait, that’s my day job! Seriously, though, it’s an equal passion!).

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

Tisha: I’m so happy you asked! Love encouraging not-yet-published writers! If I could share two pieces of advice: 1. Develop a teachable spirit because we don’t know everything, and agents, editors, and publishers are there not to condemn us or our writing but to help us and encourage us to be the best author we can be and to write the best book that God has given us. 2. Start building your platform now. It’s crucial to our writing career. Platform is a fancy way of saying “relationships.” Think of it as a conversation with someone in the grocery store or the library, only it’s on social media. People like to talk about food and books. 😉 (By the way, I offer beginning social media coaching for authors with little to no platform, and I would love to talk with you should you have any questions or concerns at all!)

LM: It appears on your website that you are working on three different books? How do you decide
which project to work on, is one closer to completion than the others?

Tisha: I’m laughing. It’s a juggling act. My WWII book is in edits and some rewrite, but the rest are in serious outline form, maybe a chapter or two completed. I’m a slow writer because I like to mull over my ideas long before I write them, but on my website, I wanted to show readers what ideas I have in the queue. Most writers are always churning ideas and planning outlines and doing prewriting so that when they finish writing one book, it’s easy to slip right into another. At least that’s my plan.

Linda: Where can folks connect with you?

Tisha: Ooh! I’d love to connect with you and keep the conversation going! My main hub is my website, but please connect on social media, too, so we can help grow each other’s platform numbers and encourage each other!

Thanks for hosting me, Linda!