Thursday, July 19, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Carrie Daws

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Carrie Daws

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Kindling Embers is the first book in a series. Where did you find your inspiration for this story, and did you set out to write a series or did that just happen?

Carrie: The Embers Series came about because a friend who was a local fire inspector kept bugging me about writing a book about her. I kept pushing her off because I wasn’t sure I was ready for that, but the more she told me about her adventures on the job, the more intrigued I became. As the story developed in my mind, I wanted to keep the books purposely short—I love to reach out to women who enjoy reading but don’t think they have time for it. So I released the novelettes individually for those women, later combining all three into one paperback for those who like longer reads.

LM: You write both fiction and non-fiction. How do you decide what to work on next, and do you have a preference for one over the other?

Carrie: I try to keep a balance between my fiction and nonfiction books, alternating a bit to keep both groups of my readers happy. But it can be tough, and writing books in a series can really add pressure to get them all done for my readers. Trading off like that also keeps me from getting bored or overwhelmed with a blank page too. Although I need to read a lot for writing fiction, I must also learn a lot to write nonfiction. It helps me to stay disciplined to push forward in my personal growth, consistently refill my spiritual well, and not get apathetic about fun reading.

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

Carrie: I used to be a die-hard pantser—but I think that’s mostly because planning ahead is lots of hard work and I didn’t want to do it. I do a bit more plotting now, working ahead enough to know the one or two major events for each chapter. It challenges me on the front end of writing the book, but definitely helps when I’m staring at a fresh, blank chapter page.

LM: Research is an important part of writing. What “aha” moment or extraordinary tidbit did you experience during the research process of one of your books?

Carrie: For the Embers series, I got to shadow my friend as she went about her job, doing inspections, walking secure warehouses and an outdoor kid’s camp. It was very interesting, and I learned a lot about fire and fire safety. But I found it absolutely amazing some of the common fire safety mistakes people make—like plugging a refrigerator or stove into an extension cord rather than directly into the outlet which was designed to handle the power they require.

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

Carrie: With a bit of humor and total humility, I freely admit that God tricked me into writing. It was never my dream or intention, but baby step after baby step, God led me in this direction. I started by writing weekly devotions for my own little website. Then I enrolled in a two-year writing course, which introduced me to fiction writing. Prior to that, I always imagined any future book projects would be nonfiction, but my mentor and teacher encouraged me to get more serious about fiction after he saw the work I did as part of the course. As I developed my first book, a couple of friends got ahold of it and pushed me to published. When I sent those pages out to a few publishers, I never thought I’d get a positive response! Boy, was I surprised! And elated. If I’d only known then how much work was involved in publishing, I might have run away. But God knew I needed protected from that, and wisely kept me in the dark until I was too far along the path to turn back.

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?

Carrie: This past spring, my husband and I took our first cruise. While the destinations were wonderful, the staff was amazing, and the entertainment incredible, the hands-down, without-a-doubt, best part of the whole week was not having Internet. No email, texts, or social media to interrupt our enjoyment or divert our attention. It was the most relaxing week I’ve had in a long time.  

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

Carrie: Oh, goodness. I’m an interesting mix of routine and quirkiness. The items siting around my office alone have people wondering about my eccentricities—from superheroes to favorite book characters to a Dr. Seuss quote. But probably the best thing I’ve ever done is to help a friend’s husband kidnap her for their anniversary. I snatched their kids without her knowing while he packed an overnight bag and made reservations. She was so surprised!

LM: What is your next project?

Carrie: Well, I just released the first book in my Home Town Heroines series earlier this month. It will be five stories about five different military families, one from each branch of service, all caught in the middle of a heart-wrenching time. I’m also about to release the first book in my Sacred Trust series, a follow-on series to Embers.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Kindling Embers: 

She never thought she'd be raising her daughters alone.  But when Deputy Fire Marshal Cassandra's husband died unexpectedly, she was forced to find a career. Now, working beside a retired Special Operations soldier and veteran fireman, she serves her North Carolina town, protecting them from hazards they don't understand.

But things must change. First, a paramedic starts to work at one of her firehouses, irritating her with the most ridiculous names. Then the evidence in a series of unexplained fires points in a direction she doesn't like.

Can she continue to do her job with integrity and passion when she doesn't like where it leads her?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Mystery Monday: Alabama Mystery Author Sarah Elizabeth Mason

Mystery Monday: 
Alabama Mystery Author Sara Elizabeth Mason

One of my favorite aspects of writing is research. Over the years of writing this blog I have enjoyed searching for female writers of the 1930s and 1940s. I recently stumbled on the writings of Sara Elizabeth Mason.

Sara authored three mystery novels during the latter half of WWII and one in 1948. It is curious that she only published those four novels. The researcher in me wonders why? She never married, so it wasn't because she had a family to care for. Did the books not sell well enough for a publishing house to pick up further books? Did she tire of writing? Did she decide it was more important to focus on her "9 to 5" career?

She was born in Alabama in 1911, she was the second of two children born to her parents, Fenton Amelia Brasfield and Edwin Bolton Mason, a hardware merchant. Her brother, Stanhope, graduated from West Point and rose to the rank of Major General having served with distinction during WWII. Sarah earned degrees from the University of Alabama and the University of Chicago before going on to receive her Masters in Library Science from Peabody College in Nashville (later part of Vanderbilt).

Ancestral Home
During WWII, she returned home where she became a teacher at Gadsden High School. It is interesting to note that after the war she moved to Frankfurt, Germany to teach in the American High School (a school for the children of diplomats, government workers, and military personnel). Why choose a country that until recently had been an enemy?

Ultimately, she returned to Alabama where she took a position at the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, then the Birmingham Public Library and finally the Gadsden Public Library where she became Assistant Director.

The first three books were set in Alabama in towns very much like where she lived, and the fourth in Chicago. Well-received by critics they were not the typical "Golden Age Hard-boiled" novels. William Weber said of The Whip, it was a believable brain-prober" and Isaac Anderson said, "the excellent novel was a moving narrative of unfeeling cruelty practiced upon a sensitive girl by a selfish old woman and her relatives."

Sara said of her writings "Three easy steps to writing a mystery novel: take a villain and a victim; toss in some love interest, and scatter some clues around."

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Gail Pallotta

Talkshow Thursday: Author Gail Pallotta

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. You’ve got a new book coming out. Can you tell us a bit about it, and where did you get the inspiration for the plot?

Gail: Thanks for having me. Different cultures, colorful characters and unexplained events create mystery and humor in Hair Calamities and Hot Cash, a contemporary romance. New York stockbroker Philip Wells crashes his rental car into Eve Castleberry’s beauty shop in Triville, North Carolina. On the same day the young widow’s defective hair products cause wild hairdos. Philip comes to her rescue and they fall for each other. Then Eve stops dating him because she believes he’ll leave and break her heart. However, when he needs her to help find his client’s stolen cash, she agrees. Their romance blossoms amid danger, suspense and Eve’s hair-brained plan to get back the money.
My mother’s beauty shop in the small town where I grew up inspired the book. Discussions about employers, illnesses, weddings, births, and deaths filled the room while hair flew. Sometimes I thought my mother a social advisor and psychologist as well as a hair stylist, but the caring attitudes and camaraderie of those who came there are the two things I remember most. Today society seems so divided. I wanted to capture the small-town spirit of community.

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

Gail: It’s a tie between the beginning when I can’t wait to write about the new plot and characters and the end after all of the work, re-writing and editing when I see them come to life.

L.M.: Research is an important element in writing. Can you describe a time you had an “aha” moment or discovered something extraordinary?

Gail: I enjoy research and sometimes get so involved in it the book I’m working on goes to the back burner for a while. I wrote a teen book with the theme, “We don’t have to be number one for God to love us.” My main character’s father was pushing her brother, Sean, to be a great quarterback, and the young man was not athletic. I wanted to add mystery to the sports novel, but had no idea for a crime. My “ah-ha” moment came when I discovered steroid use among teens as well as professional athletes. Sean took a steroid, has a stroke and ends up in the hospital. The main character and her friends become amateur sleuths to find out who sold him the drug. The book is Stopped Cold and will soon be re-released by Pelican Book Group’s Prism Imprint.

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

Gail: I can’t believe what I do, and I’ve tried to stop it. I procrastinate, which is ironic because I have so little time. However, I go over and check e-mail then Facebook, Twitter and other groups I belong to. If I join any more, I won’t get any writing done. LOL.

L.M.: What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? 

Gail: I asked my husband what he thought I’d done that qualified as quirky, and he said, “Make a list.” However, I’ll say going to the beach in a private plane on the spur of the moment. I was in my small, hometown at the foothills of the North Carolina Mountains one summer when a friend from college flew over and announced on his loud speaker that I should come to the airport. He wanted me to fly to the beach with him for the day. The phone rang off the hook. Each caller asked if I heard the airplane calling me then suggested I get to the airport. My father, who was at work, also listened to the announcement, came home and drove me to meet my ride. We flew to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had a great time and returned that evening. Definitely a carpe diem moment.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color:  Purple
Favorite Food:  Fresh fish
Favorite season:  Summer

L.M.: What is your next project?

Gail: I’m working on a several novels about young women who are entrepreneurs.  

L.M.: Where can folks find you on the web?

Facebook  Authors and More page -
Twitter - Gail Pallotta @Hopefulwords (

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: West Virginia During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: West Virginia During WWII

West Virginia is the only state in America to form by seceding from a Confederate state. (Wikipedia has an interesting article about how that occurred). Nearly eighty years after joining the Union, West Virginia played a large role in World War II. Factories, mills, and mines expanded their workforce to produce huge quantities of materiel for the U.S. military and its Allies. Interwoven Hosiery manufactured socks for the army and navy, while other companies made tires, planes, jeeps, trucks, and parachutes. The railroad was kept busy transporting goods and servicemen and women.

The state is proud of the fact that it provided the fifth highest percentage of soldiers: nearly 220,000. Additionally, more than 1,000 of its women donned uniforms to serve in the auxiliary services.

Here are some of West Virginia’s award recipients: 
Hershel Williams
  • Hershel Williams received the Medal of Honor for his bravery on Iwo Jima.
  • Harrison Summers took out thirty-one German soldiers during exceptionally heavy fighting.
  • Foster Feathers searched for landmines on Normandy.
  • George Roberts, the Army Air Corps first black cadet was a combat pilot.

Now the Greenbrier Valley Airport, the field was used by the Army Air Force during the war. Other air fields include Cumberland, Elkins, Moundsville, and Buckhannon.

And what about those enemy alien diplomats?  Rather than immediately shipping them home, the U.S. interned the Germans and Italians at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs. Diplomats from Hungary also stayed at the Greenbrier. The Japanese were sent to The Homestead Resort in Virginia. One article I found indicated that despite being allies in the war, the Germans and Italians did not get along (read: acrimonious), and the Italians were moved to the Grove Park Inn.

Children of German Diplomats
at the Greenbrier
Reasoning for a “high-end” experience for these individuals was the idea that if they were well-treated, U.S. embassy personnel would receive the same treatment. Internment was only supposed to last a couple of days, but instead dragged on for seven months because of red tape. Prisoners were exchanged during the summer of 1941 by way of Madagascar, South America, and other locations.

In late 1942, the Army purchased the property and converted it to the 2,000 bed Ashford General Hospital. Opening in October 1943, the facility served over 25,000 casualties before closing in 1946.

Thank you for your service, West Virginia.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Blog Tour: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Blog Tour: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

About the Book


Title: Sons of Blackbird Mountain  
Author: Joanne Bischof  
Genre: Historical Romance

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family. But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength. As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world? A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

My Thoughts

Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a gripping novel about the complex relationships among family and community members. Yes, the book is a romance story, but it is much more than that. Serious issues such as racism, domestic violence, and segregation are explored and addressed with sensitivity and realism, making the story difficult to read at times. Each character has his or her own demons to fight, often resulting in tension with other characters or within themselves. Especially moving is Thor whose deafness and addiction to alcohol impacts his brothers and himself. The descriptions are vivid, effectively immersing me in 19th century Appalachia. Strong dialog enabled me to feel the characters’ emotions as strongly as if they were mine. Ms. Bischof did an excellent job of conveying Thor’s deafness and his ability to lip read and use American Sign Language. Themes of forgiveness, mercy, and salvation are woven throughout the story without being preachy. As with all of Ms. Bischof’s books, I will read this one over and over. Highly recommended.

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

JOANNE BISCHOF is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at, Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof, Instagram: @JoanneBischof.

Guest Video from Joanne Bischof

Blog Stops

Here are Joanne's remaining blog stops:
July 9: Kathleen Denly
July 11: Novels Corner
July 11: Just Commonly
July 12: Book by Book
July 13: Pause for Tales
July 13: Radiant Light
July 14: Remembrancy
July 15: Vicky Sluiter
July 16: By the Book
July 17: Big Reader Site
July 18: Amanda in PA


To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away
Grand prize of a country crate, a jar of apple butter, a bag of gummy berries, journal, bath salts, honey spoons, copper earrings, and a blackbird sign!!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Leeann Betts!

The Story Behind the Story of A Deadly Dissolution
By Leeann Betts

A series is a completely different animal to write than a stand-alone. In a stand-alone novel, you write about characters and events that you hope resonate with your readers, perhaps including an issue or topic that’s close to your heart, such as sex trafficking or the breakdown of the family. And then you’re done, and you can move on to the next collection of characters, settings, maybe a new issue or even the same one told from a slightly different context. A series, however, involves the same or at least some recurring characters, perhaps recurring locations, but different events.

So how to make every story in a series new and fresh, without confusing new readers starting in the middle, or losing existing readers who want some continuity without boredom?

In the case of A Deadly Dissolution, I took a recent event that thrilled me: I had the opportunity to go to Guernsey, Wyoming in October 2017 to see the total solar eclipse. The area was busy but not packed, because most people went to larger metropolitan areas in Wyoming and Nebraska to view the event. However—and isn’t there always a ‘however’?—those other places clouded over and where we were was the perfect viewing location.

I figured—and I say this a lot—“that has to go into a book”.

I did some research, and unfortunately, there were no solar eclipses—total or otherwise—in 2004 or even early 2005 on the east coast. I wanted this story set in Bear Cove, Carly’s hometown, because the last two books were set elsewhere, and I felt I needed to bring readers back to Bear Cove. But I did find out there was a lunar eclipse, and that everything west of New York was clouded over. Which fit perfectly into my story.

To write an effective mystery, we must have several elements:
  1. A compelling premise—mine was that the eclipse brought people to town who would leave as soon as the eclipse was over, so the suspect pool tended to be fluid.
  2. A personal interest—with Carly’s grandson going missing, she now has a murder and a kidnapping to solve, not to mention that somebody was trying to frame Mike for drunk driving. Are the three connected?
  3. A ticking time bomb—if Carly doesn’t solve these cases soon, the culprits could get away, so I closed the highway with Mike’s accident to slow that down.
  4. Red herrings a.k.a. suspects—I introduced several characters that might have done the deed, making sure each one had a good reason to be suspected.

The title was the tricky element this time around. Usually I have the title in my head and simply write the story that goes with it. This time I had the story but no satisfying title. Because of the accounting connection, I wanted something to do with accounting, of course. I settled on A Deadly Dissolution and referred to it near the end of the book. A dissolution is when a partnership dissolves, and it’s not usually amicable.

Question: Do you choose a book based on the cover design, the title, or the back cover copy?
A randomly-drawn winner will receive a free ebook of A Deadly Dissolution.

About A Deadly Dissolution:
The total lunar eclipse of October 2004 leaves more than Bear Cove, Maine, in the dark. The town’s newly-elected mayor, Walter Akerman, hires Carly to audit the town’s books but is then caught in a compromising situation with his secretary Evie Mack. A journalist in town to cover the eclipse turns up dead. Tom and Sarah’s adopted son Bradley comes to stay overnight to see the eclipse, then goes missing on a walk in town. When Mike’s car is in a serious wreck which the police say is an accident, Carly thinks somebody is trying to send her a message to stay away. How can she solve all these mysteries while not completely wearing herself to a frazzle? 

About Leeann:
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released seven titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with number 8, A Deadly Dissolution, releasing in June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published two books on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold and More Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at or follow Leeann at All books are available on in digital and print, and at in digital format.

Website: Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.
Books: Amazon  and Smashwords:

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Blog Tour: Enduring Love

Blog Tour: Enduring Love

About the Book

  Title: Enduring Love  
Author: Toni Shiloh  
Genre: Contemporary Romance  
Release Date: June 28, 2018

Belle Peterson is hiding a secret. Seeking sanctuary in the small town of Maple Run, she’s intent on starting her life over—one she hopes honors Christ. The plan was going great until an undeniable attraction to Micah has her wondering if she’s changed at all. Micah Campbell can’t understand why Belle is so uptight and wants nothing to do with her until the gentle whispers of God tell him to befriend her. He didn’t count on the feeling of protectiveness to rise up or that spark of attraction. Can love really conquer all or will Belle’s past be too much for Micah to handle?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Enduring Love is Toni Shiloh’s third book in the Maple Run series, and having read the first two books, I enjoyed catching up with the characters and meeting new ones. As with all of the author’s books, the characters are well-developed and complex. Belle is a new believer, and her struggle to assimilate her faith with day-to-day living is realistic and endearing. Friends and acquaintances help her without being preachy or using platitudes. The issue from her past (won’t say what - don’t want to give any spoilers!) is serious, ugly, and difficult to overcome, and the author did a good job of addressing it. I could feel Belle’s pain, guilt, and shame. Micah is a “man’s man,” yet sensitive to God and his friends – a man any girl in her right mind could fall for! The story tied up suddenly with an epilogue to explain the resolution, and I would have preferred a fuller handling of the ending. Highly recommended.

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

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter. You can find her on her website at

Guest Post from Toni Shiloh

Hey there, Reader Friends!

I’m so excited for the kickoff of Enduring Love. This is book 3 in the Maple Run series and features the story of Belle Peterson and Micah Campbell. You may remember meeting Micah in book 2 of the series, he is Luke Robinson’s best friend. I tell you, this book has a special place in my heart, one that brought out all the emotions in me.

Belle Peterson is living a life filled with shame and regret. She knows mentally that she’s been forgiven, but can’t reconcile the fact to how a redeemed life should look. And when Micah Campbell walks in her life, she’s certain that she has to stay as far from him as possible to keep from back sliding.

Y’all know our wants rarely meet with reality. I had fun throwing Belle and Micah together in Maple Run. Sometimes to their chagrin but always to my pleasure. J Characters from Buying Love (book 1) and Finding Love (book 2) will make an appearance, rounding out the family that has been created in my fictional town of Maple Run, Virginia.

As you take the time to read Belle and Micah’s story, I pray you keep this verse in your mind. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1 KJV

God does not want us to live a life of shame and guilt. Once we ask for forgiveness, He gives it to us freely. Walk in an abundant life, my friends, and bless others with the grace you so freely received. 

Blessings to you, Toni

Blog Stops


To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!