Thursday, January 16, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Sandra Ardoin

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Sandra Ardoin


Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your latest release, Unwrapping Hope (Widows Might novella). Where did you get the inspiration for the story and its characters?

Sandra: I’m honored to be on your blog, Linda. Thanks for having me.

In all honesty, I wanted to write a Christmas novella for release in 2019. As I pondered the story, it became more than that. It turned into a prequel novella for what will be my Widow’s Might series. Unwrapping Hope begins a little before Thanksgiving and goes up to Christmas. It has a holiday backdrop, however, I don’t consider it thoroughly Christmas. Besides being set in 1896 (as opposed to a contemporary setting), I wouldn’t call it a Hallmark story, though **spoiler** , it does have a happy ending. 😊

LM: Your website indicates you are “passionate about horses and history and a fan of old westerns.” What is it that draws you to that time period?

Sandra: I’ve always loved horses and owned three in my earlier years. It may also be the time period in which I grew up—the sixties with its westerns such as Bonanza, High Chaparral, The Big Valley, as well as actors such as John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Oddly enough, so far, none of my published books take place in a western setting. They are all set in an 1890s small or mid-sized town. I do have some unpublished (hope for the future) manuscripts with an earlier, Texas setting.

For me, there’s something romantic about the past, even though I think we can sometimes see it through rose-colored glasses. I like to think there was a certain moral code most people lived by, although, they clearly dealt with the same behaviors we see today.

LM: Research is an important part of writing a book, especially historicals. How did you go about researching Unwrapping Hope, and did you unearth a particular fun fact you knew you had to include in the story?

Sandra: For one thing, I’m a big fan of Google Books and Chronicling America. They’re incredibly helpful for in-the-period language, advertisements, illustrations, even weather, train schedules, etc.
I grew up in Indiana and travel through there to see family but needed to research the history of the area in which I’d set my story, along with the landscape. On my latest trip, my husband and I made a short visit to the area. I wanted to see it for myself before the book came out.

In my story’s era, department stores were hitting their stride and five and ten-cent stores were coming into being. I wanted to incorporate both, so my department store-owing hero’s goal is to gain financing for a new venture into five and ten-cent stores. At one point, it takes him to Chicago and the historic Prairie Avenue where people like Marshall Field owned a mansion. Including it was a personal plus for me, because I remember going to Chicago at Christmas and seeing the animated decorations in the windows of Marshall Field’s.

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

Sandra: I think it’s exploring the ideas that pop up for a new story. I wish I could say I enjoy writing them down as much, but that’s just downright hard. After getting the draft down, though, I enjoy the rewriting, rediscovery process.
LM: What do you do to prepare for writing (e.g. listen to music, set up in a certain location, etc.)?

Sandra: I retreat to my office. After that, I have a routine for my day. I take care of the “business” part of writing first...emails, blog posts, marketing, etc. I usually begin writing in late morning or after lunch. I don’t listen to music while writing. I like quiet. But I’ve been thinking of trying it after reading how music sparks creativity.

LM: What is your next project?

Sandra: I’m working on the first novel in the Widow’s Might series, Enduring Dreams. It takes a secondary character from the novella, Claire Kingsley, and introduces her to an architect named Mark Gregory. It was a tremendous period for illustrious architecture and the skyscrapers we take for granted these days. Again, I get to incorporate some Chicago history and drop in the names of some of the great architects of the age. The book is planned to release the second half of 2020.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Sandra: All over. 😊 You can find me through my website at http://www.sandraardoin.com. Connect with me on BookBub, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. I also have a Facebook launch group, Sandra Ardoin’s CornerRoom.

I keep in touch monthly through the Love and Faith in Fiction newsletter. It’s a great way to inform everyone about what’s new, what’s upcoming, book deals, and my reading recommendations.

About Unwrapping Hope

A talented musician struggling to support her child.
A wealthy businessman seeking to prove himself worthy.
A little girl searching for her mother’s prince.

Phoebe Crain naively trusted her heart to an affluent man who broke it, leaving her penniless and guarded around men with wealth. Unable to give her small daughter the Christmas gift she desires and deserves, Phoebe appeals to Spence Newland—a skilled craftsman…and department store heir. She'll work with the man, yes. Trust him, no.
A mistake threatens Spence’s effort to gain his family’s respect as a businessman, and Phoebe uses it to pressure him into building her daughter a dollhouse. Though shocked and angry, when he hears her brilliance as a pianist, he’s drawn to uncover the mystery surrounding the young widow and her frosty attitude toward him. But it’s the mystery of missing store merchandise that could destroy everything Spence has sought to achieve.
As scandals come to light will Phoebe run and Spence lose hope? Or will they overcome their hurts to make a little girl’s fairy tale come true?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2MSYgYw


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Release Day! Under Ground

Release Day! Under Ground





Under Ground is the second adventure in the Ruth Brown mystery series. Here's a bit about the book:

It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people.

When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman.

Will she get to the bottom of the story before the killer strikes again?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2t9TOhy


Under Cover (book three in the series) is now available for pre-order and will release on February 15.

Pick up your copies today!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Traveling Tuesday: England During WWII


Traveling Tuesday: England During WWII


Do twenty-one miles seem like a lot to you? Perhaps if you’re walking, then yes. In a car, not so much. How about one hundred and fifty miles. Now, that’s a fair distance no matter what mode of transportation you’re using. Unless your opponent in a war is at the end of those miles.

The English Channel is twenty-one miles wide at its narrowest point and one hundred fifty miles at its widest. In May, 1940 during the Battle of France, Germany captured Boulogne and Calais creating difficulties for a retreat of the British Expeditionary Forces. Fortunately, thanks to hundreds of boats, hard fighting by the troops, and German indecision, the port of Dunkirk was kept open allowing 338,000 Allied troops to be evacuated. When Germany began the occupation in France a month later, the threat of invasion became a constant fear of the British people. Street and directional signs were removed as an impediment to invading forces.

That summer, rationing began in earnest as did blackout regulations, plane spotting, and women rushing to the workforce to help produce planes, tanks, and munitions. With September came the Blitz as well as flying bombs and rockets. Germany conducted multiple air raids across the country every night. The raids went on for months…well into May 1941. Identity tags were issued to the population in the event they would be unrecognizable if killed. Barrage balloons were put into place and shelters were created in the Underground system. Citizens also built personal shelters on their properties.

By early 1942, the Americans arrived to shore up the British defenses and take the offensive getting to Italy, France, and Germany. Troops were met with mixed reactions. Many people were relieved. Others wanted nothing to do with the men who were “overpaid, oversexed, and over here.”

The war ground on until May 8, 1945 when Victory in Europe was declared with surrender of Germany. By the end, England’s citizens were exhausted and malnourished, but proud that they survived. The troops were months getting home, some of them not demobbed until 1947, and rationing would continue for some items until 1952.
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It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people.

When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman.

Will she get to the bottom of the story before the killer strikes again?

Pre-Order/Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2t9TOhy

Monday, January 13, 2020

Mystery Monday: Under Ground The Story Behind the Story


Mystery Monday: Under Ground
The Story Behind the Story


A common adage says that truth is stranger than fiction. That axiom is why some of my books have been inspired by news reports. As time passes, the world loses hundreds of people from the “Greatest Generation.” As a result, their children and grandchildren are finding numerous treasures and associated stories when they go through their loved one’s personal effects. One such incident became the kernel of an idea for Under Ground, the second installment of the Ruth Brown mystery series.

About ten years ago, there was a newspaper headline about a family who tried to sell a painting they’d inherited after their grandfather passed away only to discover the piece had been stolen during WWII. Stunned, the descendants immediately returned the piece to its rightful owners.  Intrigued, I began to research artwork stolen during the war. There were numerous reports about Nazis and German soldiers who had commandeered sculptures, oil paintings, water colors, and other masterpieces.

As I dug deeper, I began to unearth articles about looting that occurred throughout the war, especially during the chaotic last days of the conflict…looting that was perpetrated by soldiers from the Allied troops. Many of the items were shipped home, through the postal system.

Were the military clerks complicit in the activities? What did the soldier’s family think when priceless artifacts showed up in the mail? Did the soldiers think they could get away with the thievery? Apparently, a large percentage of them did.

With dozens of articles in my hands about artifacts coming to light decades after the war, I knew I had my story. I added a twenty-year old skeleton just for good measure.

Under Ground releases tomorrow, but you can pre-order your copy today. Don’t miss the next exciting adventure for WWII war correspondent/amateur sleuth Ruth Brown.

______________________________

It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people.

When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman.

Will she get to the bottom of the story before the killer strikes again?


Pre-order/Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2t9TOhy


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Linore Burkard


Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Linore Burkard

Linda:  Welcome back and thanks for joining me today. My readers love historical fiction, so they will be very excited to hear about your latest release, Forever, Lately: A Regency Time Travel Romance. It sounds intriguing. What was your inspiration for the story?

Linore: The idea of a novelist traveling between Regency England and the current U.S. was with me a long time. I wrote dozens of scenes over the years of how it would go. Even after my agent failed to sell the proposal back around 2012 or so, I couldn’t let go of the story. I battled with several ideas, changed it and rewrote much of it. In the end it became a crossover book, clean but not “Christian,” and it turned out that’s exactly what it needed to be. When I was struggling to keep it distinctively Christian, the story was floundering. When I let go of how I felt I “should” write it, and just wrote the story as it came to me, it grew much stronger and focused. And a lot of fun, incidentally!

LM: How do you come up with your characters? Are they based on any real people in your life?

Linore: I never intentionally write anyone into a story, but I think all writers are inevitably influenced by their experience of people. In some stories, I think about what type of person I need to fulfill a role, and so character creation starts there. Other times, I may be writing a character and realize their traits aren’t adding to the plot. So I’ll decide what trait they need to make the story stronger, and give it to them. If I need to go back to chapter one and rewrite that character, I’ll do it. I believe it’s all about story. 

LM: Research is an important part of writing, but since time travel wasn’t an option, how did you research Forever, Lately?

Linore: I began researching the era back when I decided to write a Christian Regency romance. At the time, there were no authentic Regencies for Christian readers and I wrote my book specifically to fill that gap. The first book took tons of research and that was before the internet. (I became very familiar with the resources of my local library.) After that book and two sequels, I took time off to write books in other eras and a series of contemporary suspense novels. But my love of the Regency has never faded. It’s great fun to be back in it.    

LM: You write YA and adult fiction. How do you decide which genre to work in for a particular theme or topic?

Linore: There was never a question in my mind about whether to write the Pulse Effex Series any other way than for young adults. The three main characters are all sixteen years old—so it made sense to write it from their viewpoint, first person. The conflict of the series is about surviving without technology when the grid goes down after an electromagnetic pulse, and there’s no segment of the population that would be more devastated, emotionally, than teens who have grown up with today’s gadgets.  The story I wanted to write was from their viewpoint; I wanted to capture the strong emotions and situations they’d encounter, so it wasn’t really a decision I had to make. It just worked that way.   

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

Linore: A few months to explore Jane Austen’s England, and literary London and the National Gallery, followed by a long cruise.

LM: Quickies:

Favorite childhood book: I have so many! One was Old Yeller. Another, Little House on the Prairie.  I started writing after reading My Side of the Mountain.

Drink of choice: Coffee, tea, or soft drink. Morning coffee, and after that, tea. No soft drinks.

 Would you rather walk, bicycle, or drive a car:
 I love to drive. I especially love to drive fast on a lonely road.

LM: What is your next project?

Linore: I’m in the middle of book two of another Regency series, The Brides of Mayfair. The first in the series should be out by early spring if not sooner.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Linore: My homebase is currently being redone by a wonderful web designer. In the meantime, I’m on FB and Twitter and Pinterest, but to keep up with new releases and book sales, readers should join my mailing list. One subscriber wins a free book every month.  They can join at the website: http://LRBurkard.com.    


About Forever, Lately: 
1816, England: Julian St. John needs a wife. An oath to a deceased guardian must be kept. Miss Clarissa Andrews, a vexatious beauty, has dangled after him all season bu this has not intention of choosing such a she-devil.

Maine, Present Day: Author Claire Channing is desperate to write a bestseller to save her failing career. She moves into her grandmother's abandoned cottage to write the book, but a local resort baron wants to raze the place. Without the deed, the clock is ticking on how long she can stay. She thinks she's writing St. John's story. But when she discovers an old prayer shawl and finds herself in his Regency world, she falls in love with him, a man she thought she invented! Miss Andrews, however is also real-and she'd rather see Julian dead than in another woman's arms!

Claire must beat the clock to prevent a deadly tragedy, but can love beat the limits of time itself?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2QoNviW

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wartime Wednesday: Daredevil Adeline Gray


Wartime Wednesday: Daredevil Adeline Gray


Prior to the outbreak of World War II, parachutes were made of silk. When Japan became an enemy of the U.S. after the attack at Pearl Harbor, trade relations were cut off, and the military needed to find another fabric that would be as effective. Enter nylon.

Invented in 1935 by Wallace Hume Carothers at DuPont’s research facility, nylon was first used for toothbrushes bristles in 1938. Women’s stockings were exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and weren’t sold commercially until 1940. However, the product was met by distrust and fear by the general public because a newspaper article claimed that one of the chemicals used in nylon’s production was extracted from corpses. A lengthy advertising campaign finally squelched the rumors by 1942.

The government was tentatively optimistic about producing nylon parachutes and contracted with Pioneer Parachute in Manchester, Connecticut to have a prototype manufactured. As with any new piece of equipment, tests had to be conducted to determine viability. By June 1942 it was time to make the first jump with the nylon parachute. Who would be selected?

Twenty-four-year-old Adeline Gray had been working as a parachute rigger with the company for five years. Prior to her employment at Pioneer, she had been a sky diver who made her reputation as a female dare devil jumper. Born in 1917 and raised in Oxford, Connecticut, she was infatuated from a young age with the idea of parachuting. Stories are told about her jumping from the loft of a barn into bales of hay, holding an umbrella to slow her fall. After high school she learned how to pack and repair chutes, and made her first jump from a height of 2,000 feet at the New Haven Municipal Airport.

With thirty-three jumps under her belt, and as the only female licensed parachute jumper in the state, Adeline made an excellent candidate. More than fifty senior military officers lined up at Brainerd Field in Hartford to watch her jump. The leap and landing were a success, moving the manufacture of chutes from silk to synthetics.

The New York Times marveled at her confidence: “As calmly as if she were going out on the porch to bring in the daily paper…[she] stepped out of an airplane.” Adeline’s new-found nationwide fame opened other doors, and she found herself featured as a heroine in True Comics.
_____________________________

It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people.

When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman.

Will she get to the bottom of the story before he arrests her for interference?

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER (Book 2, Ruth Brown mystery series)

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/35oUFbo




Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Traveling Tuesday: South Carolina During WWII


Traveling Tuesday: South Carolina During WWII

Bordered by North Carolina, the Atlantic Ocean, and Georgia across the Savannah River, South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788. Less than one hundred years later, the state would be the first state to vote in favor of secession.

As with all states during the 1930s, South Carolina was caught in the throes of the Great Depression. However, prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, federal money began to flow through the construction and expansion of military and naval installations such as Camp Croft in Spartanburg, Fort Jackson in Columbia, and the Charleston Navy Yard.

After the war began, South Carolina’s agricultural sector more than doubled as farmers tried to keep up with wartime demands for cotton and produce. Labor shortages and low wages created challenges for the farmers who ultimately used German POWs as well as members of the Women’s Land Army.

The textile industry also saw a boom as manufacturers geared up to meet wartime needs, such as cotton consumption that increased over sixty percent. Before 1940, heavy industries such as aircraft and ammunition plants did not exist, so manufacturing had to be built. Kline Iron and Steel went into Columbia, and Carolina Industries of Sumter produced ship components that were delivered to Charleston for assembly.

An estimated 900,000 men received their military training in South Carolina, and over 180,000 South Carolinians (including 2,500 women) joined the armed forces. An interesting aside is that forty-one percent of those examined statewide were rejected for service, making the recruit rejection rate in South Carolina the second highest in the nation. Eight hundred posts were “manned” by over 12,500 aircraft spotters, while over a quarter of a million of the state’s residents supported the war effort through volunteerism. South Carolinians joined the rest of the U.S. in rationing from tires and gasoline to vegetables and seafood. By 1943, more than 330,000 Victory gardens dotted the landscape.

The state struggled as segregation laws came under pressure. A huge influx of non-South Carolinians brought different ideas and social customs which led to temporary changes, especially on the military bases. In 1944, the federal district court order the state to provide equal salaries to black and white teacher, and although segregation would remain firmly in place in the early post war period, seeds of change were planted leading to even more court decisions.
_____________________________

It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people.

When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman.

Will she get to the bottom of the story before he arrests her for interference?


AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER (Book 2, Ruth Brown mystery series)

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/35oUFbo