Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wartime Wednesday: Who was the Mystery Chef?

Wartime Wednesday: Who was the Mystery Chef?

Although television had been invented in 1927, it was far from being the mainstream item it is today. In fact, very few households had one. When WWII rolled around, the manufacturing of TVs stopped, so radio remained the mass communication tool of government and industry. As such producers recognized that the population would desire entertainment in addition to news and public service announcements. Rather than thirty and sixty minute programs like today, many radio shows ran for a mere fifteen minutes.

One of those shows was The Mystery Chef. Airing from 1932 to 1945, it was one of many popular recipe programs. The host, James MacPherson, was a Scotsman who came to the U.S. via England, but he remained unnamed, so the general public had no idea who he was. Speculation abounds as to why he maintained his anonymity. One blog claims it was because his mother would be horrified that he had an effeminate hobby such as cooking. A museum exhibit claims because his family was well-to-do, they would be upset that he was doing such menial tasks. Whatever the reason, Mr. MacPherson was a huge success.

In addition to sharing recipes on his show, he discussed cooking on a budget as well as what he called artistry in the kitchen. “Always be an artist at the stove, not just someone who cooks.” He published his first cookbook in 1936: Be an Artist at the Gas Range: Successful Recipes by the Mystery Chef, and followed that up with The Mystery Chef’s Own Cookbook in 1943. Copies are still available on Amazon. In 1949, NBC launched the show one television, but it did not fare well and was canceled after only one season.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Unsung Female Sleuths of the 1940s

Unsung Female Sleuths of the 1940s

When asked to list famous fictional sleuths from the 1940s, you probably think of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Philo Vance. Maybe you also come up with Nick and Nora Charles, and of course, there are always Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

But with the 1930s and 1940s being the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction,” there are dozens of others, unfortunately many of whom have faded into obscurity. Here are just a few of the female sleuths, you’ll want to investigate:

Author Joan Coggin
Lady Lupin: A vicar’s wife, Lady Lupin was featured in only four novels written by Joan Coggin, the daughter of a vicar herself. Born in 1898 in Lemsford, Coggin and her family moved to Eastbourne, a small seaside village in England, after the death of her mother. She worked as a nurse during WWI, and after the war worked with the blind, writing novels on the side. Her character Lady Lupin is a 21 year old earl’s daughter who marries a vicar twice her age. They settle in Glanville (a town much like Eastbourne). She doesn’t do a lot of detecting, but her off-hand remarks and keen observations set the police on the right track to finding their culprit.

Lily Wu: Author Juanita Sheridan’s detective Lily Wu solves crimes in New York and Hawaii, and is most probably the first Asian female detective to be a principle character in fiction. Sheridan lived for many years in Hawaii and integrated herself into the diverse community, so wrote with authority as she created minority characters. Like Lady Lupin, Lily on shows up in four novels. Her “Watsonesque” sidekick is Janice Cameron who narrates the stories and gives the reader insight into Lily’s multi-faceted personality.

Maggie Bryne: Australian author June Wright created Maggie Bryne in the late 1940s, and only used  her in two novels. Born in Melbourne where June set most of her stories, she wrote her first, Murder in the Telephone Exchange, from experience, as she had been working in one for four years. June only published six books having to take a “regular job” when her husband became unable to work. In the first book, her protagonist, Maggie, is a single, career girl, and in the second, she is a married, stay-at-home mom. In both books, she is intelligent, sensitive, and sarcastic making her a realistic, complex character readers can fully enjoy.

Jeanie Halliday: Jeanie is only featured in one mystery written by Ianthe Jerrold (pen name Geraldine Bridgman). Ianthe was born into a family of writers. Her father, Walter, was a well-known author and journalist, and her grandfather was Victorian playwright, Douglas Jerrold. Published in 1940, Let Him Lie, is a traditional mystery set in a country home (a popular setting with many authors at this time.), and Jeanie is a fledgling amateur sleuth, learning as the story progresses. She is highly conversational, and uses that trait to interview witnesses, suspects, and anyone else who might help her solve the murder. Ianthe went on to write romantic fiction and psychological thrillers and left Miss Halliday behind.

Erle Stanley Gardner
Bertha Cool: Created by Erle Stanley Gardner while writing under the pen name A.A. Fair, Bertha is an overweight, penny-pinching widow who is a professional private investigator. As with all of Gardner’s characters, Bertha is not your everyday gumshoe. Alternately greedy, corrupt, dishonest, and offensive, she partners with attorney Donald Lam, and the two of them always get their man (or woman). The books are fast, fun reads filled with colorful characters, interesting plot twists, and in-depth plots. There are twenty-nine books in the series, with captivating titles such as Spill the Jackpot, Turn on the Heat, and Gold Comes in Bricks.

Have you ever heard of any of these unsung ladies?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Pegg Thomas

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Pegg Thomas

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your debut story “Embattled Hearts” with Barbour Publishing. How did this come about? Did you submit a novella and the publisher decided to add it to a collection, or did they contact you?

Pegg: It was a God thing. My son was dating a young woman whose sister is a Christian literary agent. We became Facebook friends and she gave me the ‘heads up’ that this Pony Express collection was in the works, but hadn’t been contracted by Barbour yet. They were three writers short and she asked me if I’d like to work up a proposal for it. Well … yeah! When Barbour picked up the project, I sent in my proposal and they took it.

LM: Congratulations! That’s exciting. Research is a huge part of writing, whether historical or contemporary. Do you have a research tidbit you stumbled on that caused you to thing “aha?”

Pegg: For “Embattled Hearts” that moment was linking the story to the Civil War. President Lincoln needed the communication between the coasts during the early years of the war. The fear was that California might side with the South. With the Pony Express – and then the telegraph – the line of communication remained open and the president knew what was happening on the west coast.

LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Pegg: The next new idea! The work is in fleshing them out.

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

Pegg: I turned our son’s old bedroom into my office and that’s where I work. I prefer quiet to work in, other than the natural sounds around me. I live in a rural area, so my sheep baaing, horses clip-clopping past on the road (we live in an Amish area), birds singing, that sort of thing.

LM: If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Pegg: I’m not a globe trotter. We camp weekends during the summer and that’s what I enjoy. I guess even if money were no object, you’d still probably find me on the shores of Lake Superior, camper behind me, cook fire in front, book in my hand. Doesn’t take much to make me happy.

LM: What is your next project?

Pegg: I have another story, “In Sheep’s Clothing,” coming out in January with The Bouquet of Brides Collection from Barbour. That one is set in Colonial Connecticut and the heroine is a spinner and weaver. It was fun for me to write. I raise sheep and spin and knit with the yarn. I have a few other proposals out to Barbour, but I’m also working on a new full-length novel I hope to have finish by the end of this year.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Pegg's Bio: Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” An avid reader and writer, she enjoys fiction stories threaded through historical events and around historical figures. Pegg is also the Managing Editor of Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not working on her latest novel, Pegg can be found in her garden, in her kitchen, at her spinning wheel, tending her sheep, or on her trusty old horse, Trooper. See more at

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Blog Tour: Alice's Notions

Blog Tour: Alice's Notions

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book: Alice’s Notions
Author: Tamera Lynn Kraft  
Genre: Christian historical romance
 Release Date: April 1, 2017

 In this quaint mountain town, things aren’t always what they seem.World War 2 widow Alice Brighton returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn’t know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasonsBetween her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn’t know who she can trust.

My Thoughts

Despite having won the war, Americans were struggling in the aftermath of WWII for many reasons, the worst being the loss of loved ones. Alice Brighton is a war widow and must figure out how to go on without the love of her life. Heading home to the small town of Burning Bush, WV, she opens a fabric shop as a way to earn a living. One difficulty after another strikes, yet Alice is determined not to let them get in her way. Tamera Lynn Kraft has created an uplifting, moving story despite dealing with a topic that could easily get maudlin. Alice and the other characters are realistic and well-developed. References to songs, actors, and products evoke the era, if readers are familiar with them. I enjoyed following the clues trying to figure out the “whodunit.” Well-researched, the book was fast-paced and exciting.

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

About the Author

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. Tamera has two novellas in print: A Christmas Promise and Resurrection of Hope. Her first full length novel, Alice’s Notions released in April through Desert Breeze.

You can contact Tamera on her website at

Guest Post from Tamera Lynn Kraft

How Classic Movies from the 1940s Made Their Way in My Latest Novel

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

One thing I loved about writing my post World War Two novel was my main character’s passion for movies. Alice Brighton and her late husband loved to go to movies on Friday nights. Now, even after the war made her a widow, Alice still loves movies and compares everyone she meets to a movie character.

Of course for Alice, all these wonderful classic movies and movie stars and a part of her culture, but for me, it was so much fun because I love classic movies. In the novel, Alice compares her landlord to Cary Grant. Cary Grant is one of my favorites. After starring in movies like Suspision, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Notorious, Grant was one of the biggest stars around in 1946 when Alice’s Notions takes place. My favorite Cary Grant movie wouldn’t be made until a few years later. An Affair to Remember, released 1957, with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr is one of my all-time favorites.

At one point in the novel, Alice thinks back to when her late husband always said she reminded him of Judy Garland. Garland would have been twenty-four at the time, just a bit younger than Alice, but she became a big star in her teens. She began acting at two years old when she debuted as Baby Francis and sang Jingle Bells. After playing in various roles including a few movies with Mickey Rooney, Garland had her big break in The Wizard of Oz. She went on to star in a ton of movies and had a thriving singing career until she committed suicide in the 1960s. One of my favorite Judy Garland movies released in 1945 during the war was The Clock. The Clock was about a woman who met and fell in love with a GI on leave. Their romance was intensified because they only had the weekend before he was shipped out again for the remainder of the war. This movie must have been in Alice’s mind since she had lost her husband shortly after the movie came out.

During Alice’s Notions, Alice goes on a date to see the movie, The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Lana Turner and John Garfield. It was released in 1946 and was considered scandalous at the time because the two main characters have an affair and murder her husband. The main theme of the movie is you can’t get away with your sin. The truth will be revealed. In Alice’s Notions, the truth being revealed is also a main theme.

So you may be wondering what classic movie Alice’s Notions reminds me of. Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn was released in 1963. In that movie, Hepburn is being pursued and doesn’t know who she can trust. The movie has light hearted intrigue, suspense, and romance just like Alice’s Notions. Alice, also, doesn’t know who she can trust.

Blog Stops

May 11: Genesis 5020
May 13: Carpe Diem
May 20: Mary Hake
May 22: Vicky Sluiter


To celebrate her tour, Tamera is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I'm looking for Book Brigade Members

I'm Looking for Book Brigade Members

Do you love historical fiction? Have you read any of my books? (It would probably be good if you enjoyed it!). Do you love telling people about books you like? Then perhaps you'd like to join my Book Brigade Street Team.

What's a street team, you ask?

In simple terms, it's a group of like-minded people who enjoy an author's writings (dare I use the word fans) and want to help get the word out about his or her books. It's also a fun place to hang out and socialize with the author and other fans. Does that sound good to you?

I'm recruiting folks for my street team during the month of May in order to get the team in place by June. I'll run the Book Brigade as a private group through Facebook. As a member of the Book Brigade, you'll receive "missions" such as sharing a post, pinning a book cover, or tweeting a bit of news. You'll also be asked (but not required) to vote in a contest, leave a review, or share another person's review. We'll also have discussions and parties to get to know each other.

What's the catch?

Nothing. Really.

You're not required to do anything but hang out, make friends, and get gifties.

Gifties?  Yes, indeed. As part of my Book Brigade you'll get exclusive content, sneak previews, bonus content, the chance to win an appearance or name a character in a future book, and Book Brigade-only swag.

Have I got your attention yet?

If so, click on Linda's Book Brigade Application to open the application, which hopefully answers all your questions. If you're still not sure, post a comment, and I'll get back to you.

Sign up today. Applications will only be accepted through May 31st.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blog Tour: Behind the Scenes

Blog Tour: Behind the Scenes

To order your copy, click here.

About the Book


Book: Behind the Scenes  

Author: Jen Turano  

Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance  

Release Date: April, 2017

Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”

Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country. When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.

As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated. . . .

About the Author


Jen Turano, author of nine books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at

Interview With Jen Turano

  1. What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you personally?
Amusing things happen to me all the time, but I think my favorite was back in college when I was a lifeguard. You see, there’s a lifeguard code – You will be cool at all times, especially when you’re sitting in a lifeguard chair, twirling your whistle exactly so, and, you know…looking cool. So, there I was, in my black lifeguard bathing suit – swinging my whistle. It was an unusually hot day, so I’d angled my umbrella exactly right as I watched the diving-board section. Now, I know this might come as a surprise, but being a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool isn’t exactly thrilling. It’s rare that anything exciting happens, and that particular day was no exception…until a large gust of wind came out of nowhere and the umbrella took it upon itself to close – right over me. And because it was now really gusty, the umbrella then lifted up, taking me with it right off the chair and into the depths of the deep end of the pool. From all accounts, it was quite the sight. First, there I was, swinging my whistle and looking groovy. Then all you could see were my legs flailing about as the umbrella covered the rest of me, and then…I was plummeting toward the pool, hit the water with the umbrella over me, and promptly sank. Obviously I managed to get out of the umbrella, but in the process, part of my bathing suit came off, and…well, that’s a story for another day.

  1. What is your favorite book from your childhood?
“Andrew Henry’s Meadow.” It was actually my little brother’s book, gotten from one of those book of the month clubs, but I loved it. I recently found a copy on an e-site and ordered it, and it’s just as delightful today as it was back in my childhood.

  1. Who does the cooking and cleaning in your house when you are on a deadline?
I don’t actually cook much even when I’m not on deadline, so that’s not really an issue. Al and I do a lot of salads or throw some chicken on the grill. We also have a lot of grocery stores that have wonderful deli and gourmet foods, so we get a lot of things there. As for cleaning, I’m one of those neurotic people who can’t work without everything being in place, so I do a lot of tidying up before I go to bed. And, because I do some of my best thinking when I clean, I’ve been known to abandon my writing when I get stuck and pick up a mop or cleaning rag, which means my house is rarely a disaster since I need to get unstuck a lot.

  1. Where is your favorite place to write?
I do the majority of my writing in my office, although I will occasionally take a pad of paper and a pen outside to handwrite when I get bored of my office or it’s a really nice day and I don’t feel like being trapped inside. It’s not that my office is my favorite place to write, it’s more that my writing is my job and I’m more focused on that writing when I approach it as such.

  1. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I really like when characters and new story ideas begin to fester. That normally happens when I’m in the midst of another series. By the time I’m done with whatever series I’m working on, the next series is pretty firmly set in my mind, which means I can jump right in as I wait for edits on recently completed work. My absolute favorite part of writing, though, is when I turn in the very final edit on a book and don’t see it again until it comes out in print. Although, I must admit, I’ve never, not once, read one of my books after it has gone to print. Seems rather pointless since I do always know how the book is going to end.

  1. Why did you choose the timeframe or setting this book is written in?
I’ve been wanting to set a book during Alva Vanderbilt’s famous costume ball of March, 1883, for years. Since I decided to slowly travel through the Gilded Age, I just reached 1883 on my plot timeline, so knew I was finally going to get to throw some characters into the very midst of Alva’s ball. It was a blast to write, loved going back to all my books on this particular ball and seeing the pictures, and only wish the Vanderbilt house at 660 Fifth Avenue was still standing so I could visit it in person to visualize the splendors located inside a little more clearly.

  1. What inspires you?
I think like most writers, I simply get inspired by the world around me. I love to people watch, and I love to imagine all sorts of outlandish scenarios as I do that watching. I also get inspired by reading the headlines of the daily papers, and by the research books I read. I also love to look through old photographs of the Gilded Age, and became intrigued with Alva Vanderbilt’s ball when I saw a picture of a young lady, Miss Kate Strong, with a stuffed cat on her head and wearing a choker necklace with the name Puss engraved on it. That was all it took for me to investigate the Vanderbilt ball further, delighted to discover it truly was a ball that only comes along every blue moon.

Blog Stops

April 27: The Scribbler
April 27: Genesis 5020
April 28: Back Porch Reads
April 29: Bookworm Mama
April 30: Radiant Light
April 30: Bigreadersite
April 30: Lane Hill House
May 3: Book by Book
May 5: Baker Kella


To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card and the four books: After a Fashion, In Good Company, Playing the Part, Behind the Scenes!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Forensic Friday: Forensics during the 1940s

Forensic Friday: Forensics during the 1940s

Although in some ways, forensic science was in its infancy during the 1940s, police officers and detectives took evidence collection seriously, recognizing that physical clues were a crucial part of any investigation. These 1940s photos show how much things have changed since then:

Crime lab employee James Haas compares an imprint of tire marks found near a murder victim with those of the car belonging to the suspect.

Police getting rid of "hooch," better known as moonshine. It looks to me as if it is being flushed down the town's water system. I don't think that's how it's done nowadays.

There was no indication of what they fellas were looking for, but it seems to me they might be contaminating a crime scene by standing in the middle of whatever that is on the ground!

An American soldier was convicted and hanged for the murder of three women in Melbourne, Australia. With any luck the barrier the police officers are standing behind kept too many folks from marching through the crime scene.