Thursday, December 29, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Allison

Do you ever get so involved in a book's character that you wonder about their backstory? I do, so I thought I take a few minutes and sit down with Allison White, the main character my upcoming post-WWII novelette being released by Celebrate Lit Publishing this spring. For those of you who read Love's Harvest, you may remember Allison. She was the young woman who befriended Rosa Hirsch, the German widow who fled to England in 1940 with her mother-in-law Noreen.

Inspiration for
Allison's character
Linda: Allison, it's a delight to have to stop by the blog today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Allison: Sure. It's a pleasure to be here. I was born on December 25, 1920 in Cotswold, England. I don't have any siblings, and unfortunately I lost my mum and dad in the Blitz, but I have a wonderful circle of friends, and Rosa's mother-in-law, Noreen treats me like a daughter.

Linda: Noreen is a basket-weaver and makes gorgeous willow baskets. What sort of creative activities do you like to do?

Allison: (laughing) Noreen tried to teach me to weave, but it was a disaster from the start. The only basket I made had a definite lean to it. Not unusable, but not my finest work. Then Rosa tried to teach me needlepoint and sewing, but those didn't work out well either. I finally found my niche in the kitchen. Apparently the chemistry of baking is a fit for me. I don't want to toot my own horn too loudly, but my bread and biscuits are lovely. Smooth texture and good taste. Rose usually has me make all the sweets.

Member of the WLA
Linda: I love to bake also. During the war, you worked for the Women's Land Army What was that like?

Allison: Brilliant. I loved it. I didn't want to be trapped inside a factory. Dark, dank, and dangerous. Sure, those girls made more money, but in the Land Army I didn't have to fear for my life. The days were long, especially during planting and harvesting seasons. We sometimes worked fourteen or sixteen hours days. But the weather was lovely, and we were making a real difference. Feeding the masses, you know. I learned to love farming thanks to the Land Army.

Linda: Is that why you chose to stay on at the Quincey's farm after the war? What sort of work are you involved in there?

Allison: With my parents gone, I have no family to speak of. There are a few cousins in Scotland, but I haven't seen them since I was a youngster. Rosa and Basil have been my family. It only made sense to stay with them. They still need help on the farm. Mr. Sullivan oversees the animals, and I handle the produce side of things. Although I must say I've seen enough potatoes to last a lifetime!

Linda:  Many young women your age don't go to university, yet you attended University of Manchester. Can you share about your experience?

Allison: My parents were keen on education, and they didn't care that I was a girl. They wanted me to get a degree, so I could be whatever I wanted. There were lots of rules, more so it seemed for the girls. Curfew and the like. But meals and laundry services were provided for us, and classes were wonderful. Lots of debate and discussion. I learned to think for myself at university. And I met lovely people, but the war changed all that. I had to do my bit, so I dropped out and joined the WLA.

Linda: How has your life changed since the war?

Allison: In many ways it hasn't. Many items are still rationed, although not as many on the farm. And even if something is available it's difficult to find. Shoes for example. I've patched my oxfords countless times. I'll be glad when I can find a new pair. But the country is moving on. We survived, so nothing seems so bad, although it's sad to see the families who have lost their boys and men. Some women lost husbands and sons. Before the war I never would have been promoted to manage anything, even part of a farm. Basil has given me a opportunity I probably would never have had. And Mr. Sullivan is coming round to working with a woman.

Linda: Thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit about yourself.

Allison: Thanks for hosting me. Folks should keep an eye on your blog and your Facebook page for information about our book coming out in the Spring. The publication date will be set soon, and a title will be forthcoming.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day! 

Never heard of it, you say? The origins of the holiday and its name are a vague, but several websites I looked at indicate that it began in England sometime in the Middle Ages. In the countries (most of which are or were part of the UK) where it’s celebrated, it’s a “bank holiday” – a day when banks, government offices and the postal service are closed.

Some historians believe the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but given the following day off and presented with gifts [boxes]. Others think it started because the alms boxes in churches were opened and the contents distributed to the poor. Regardless of how the day started, over the years it has developed into a time of charity, a time when service and tradespeople are typically given tips and bonuses for their work during the past year. It has been expanded to include giving to non-profit and needy organizations.

When I decided to blog about Boxing Day I recalled an episode of the TV show M*A*S*H during which the 4077 gives medical treatment to a British regiment who talk about the tradition of enlisted personnel and officers trading places on Boxing Day. I did quite a bit of research but found only two references to this custom. The first was in a blog by a man who tells a story about his son’s army regiment participating in the tradition, and the other is an episode of The Nanny during which Mr. Sheffield refers to the custom and suggests that he and Niles switch roles.

The lack of evidence makes me wonder just how “traditional” this tradition is. What do you know about Boxing Day? Do you have traditions of your own?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wartime Wednesday: Blitzmas

Wartime Wednesday: Blitzmas

By December of 1940, England had been suffering under Hitler’s Blitzkrieg for months. Yet as the British people proved over and over during the WWII, they were a resilient population. Time reported in a December 30 article from that year, that “despite the bombs, life in the big London air-raid shelters, where over 1,000,000 people regularly spend the night, had become so standardized that many shelter Christmas parties were elaborate communal affairs with mass harmony singing, skits and dancing.”

Even the royals exhibited a dark sense of humor about the impact of the war on the holiday when they sent out their annual Christmas card. Rather than using the typical family photo, the pair stood in front of the bombed out section of Buckingham Palace. The Times article referenced above also reported that a new sweet was making the rounds during the Christmas season. Plum pudding, a long held traditional dish of the holiday was replaced by Blitzmas pudding, “the same as the traditional Christmas pudding except that carrots were much used where the receipt
called for certain fruit.”

The Christmas goose was also missing, with Britons settling for mutton or something referred to as “cheap Empire beef.” (I don’t even want to think about what that could be!) Homes were decorated with lots of holly making up for usual mistletoe that could not be imported from France. Toys with a distinctive wartime flavor were all the rage: dolls in contamination suits for girls and war equipment for boys. No one wanted to be accused of being unpatriotic by purchasing peacetime items.

Perhaps the biggest change for the British people was that they were back to work on Boxing Day (December 26) for the first time since the holiday’s inception in 1871. But they knew that letting their guard down for even one day might prove fatal to the cause.

What is your most memorable Christmas?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mystery Monday: MC Beaton

Mystery Monday: MC Beaton

Ever heard of Marion Chesney? Probably not. How about M.C. Beaton? Probably so.

Author MC Beaton
M.C. Beaton is the pseudonym of Scottish-born writer Marion Chesney who published her first book in 1980 when she was in her mid-40s. Initially writing regency romances as a way to earn a living while staying home to raise her sun, she didn’t start publishing mysteries until five years later. By the 1990s she was so prolific, she was releasing multiple books in both genres every year. She has written novels in seventeen different series, but perhaps her most well-known characters are Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin. (Great character names!)

Hamish is a police constable in the fictional town of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands. Somewhat lazy, he manages to elude promotion while still keeping his job. Unsuccessful in love, Hamish is brilliant at solving crimes. Where he is a professional law enforcement officer, Beaton’s Agatha Raisin is the quintessential amateur sleuth. A retired public relations agent, Agatha is 53 years old and a spinster who is thrown into clearing her name when a food judge dies from poisoning after eating some of Agatha’s quiche. Both of these series have been made into TV programs.

Marion Chesney began her career as a bookseller for John Smith & Sons, Ltd. then moved into a Scottish Field magazine. However, her lack of typing and shorthand skills proved this to be a poor choice in jobs, and she was soon made fashion editor. Shortly thereafter she moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she was a crime reporter. Sometime later she moved to the Daily Express in London where she was chief woman reporter (An interesting title, yes? Did the paper have chief man reporter jobs? I doubt it!)
secretarial position at

Marion and her husband moved to the U.S. for a while for her husband’s job, but ultimately returned to Britain. Still writing at the age of 80, Marion published two books this year (one Hamish Macbeth, one Agatha Raisin) with another to be released in 2017.

Who is your favorite M.C. Beaton character?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Forensic Friday: Canine CSI

One of the workshops I attended while at Crimebake last month was given by a member of the Maine Warden Service, an organization that has been operating for over one hundred years. Because most of Maine is rural, the Warden Service regularly relies on canines to help with search and rescue.

Some dogs track on the ground, while others are “air scent” hounds, and the situation dictates which type of dog is used. Is the search for evidence or a person? Is the person purported to be alive or dead? Is the body on land or in water? The speaker also differentiated between “pointy-eared” dogs and “round-eared” dogs. Pointy-eared dogs such as German Shepherds are prey-driven, and round-eared dogs (such as Labradors) are play driven. His preference is to work with round-eared dogs.

The dogs start training at eight-weeks of age, and can work as long as ten or twelve years. Dogs never lose their ability, but are retired when their strength wanes. About 80% of the dogs who begin training flunk out, whereas fifty percent of the handlers quit or are fired.

Care of the dogs is paramount, and vets are typically on-site during a search because of the possibility of the animal getting injured. The dogs receive water and breaks on a regular basis as they are asked to do a hard job in a difficult environment.

The speaker told many fascinating stories from his career. He performed search and rescue after Katrina and shared that because voodoo is heavily practiced in New Orleans, his dog had many false “hits” due to the countless vials of blood and jars of body parts amid the wreckage.

The job of a Warden is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blog Tour: Meddlin' Madeline

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

It is my hypothesis that social conventions are created to test our fortitude. 

Rockland circa 1900-

As the mayor’s daughter, Madeline Brown enjoys a rich social life that many might envy. But a sharp mind but a growing talent for observation leaves Madeline torn between avoiding social censure and exploring the world around her.

With an aunt who considers higher education and employment equally unsuitable for the mayor’s daughter, there is little to amuse her save endless committee meetings, evening socials, and her favorite pastime: curling up with an exciting detective novel. The temperance and suffrage movements hold little interest for a young woman who has just endured the rigors of her father’s mayoral campaign.

So when a young man shows interest in her friend, Madeline’s interest piques–until his actions hint that he might not be the upstanding gentleman everyone presumes him to be. Unable to ignore her concerns, Madeline finds herself in the middle of an investigation into his character and discovers a side of Rockland she’s never encountered.

Will her new hobby reduce the tedium of her life, or will her “meddling” create tension for herself and her father?  Will she be forced to squelch this budding skill of hers or has Madeline finally found her calling in life?

Meddlin’ Madeline: Sweet on You.

Welcome to Rockland’s infancy.

Sweet on You is the first book in the Meddlin’ Madeline Mysteries. Watch for the second book in the series, Such a Tease, in winter, 2017  

About the Author

I am fortunate enough to live in the great state of California (in the Mojave Desert) with my husband Kevin and five of my nine children. My eldest is married with five children, so I have the fun of a son-in-law and grandbabies to enjoy. I’ve graduated six out of my nine children from our home school, and they’re all doing quite well in their lives. My younger children keep me from getting too selfish, and someday I’ll be fully retired as their teacher. I have to say, I’m lookin’ forward to it. Teaching about gerunds was fun the first time… not so much anymore. I salute all of those in the education field. You are my heroes.

When I’m not writing (which I admit isn’t often) I enjoy blogging (a totally different kind of writing, trust me), paper crafts, sewing, smocking, photo editing, and old music. No, really, I like OLD stuff… the Beatles are too newfangled for me. Yeah,I know they’re before my time… but I like stuff before my PARENTS time.  

Guest Post from Chautona

The idea for Madeline came while I was searching for photos for another book idea (one I still haven’t fleshed out yet!). I came across an intriguing picture of a girl wearing a bowler and loved it. I wondered who she was and what she was reading. Well… then I turned the page and… wow! Dozens of photos appeared—all in the same general theme. Bowler hat, gloves, late Victorian/early Edwardian clothes…. I could just see her riding through town on a “wheel” and solving crimes. And well, the rest was born. I had to narrow down about twenty pictures to five. I couldn’t do it. So, I did six. I just hope I can limit myself to six.

Fun Facts:

Fact #1:

This is a historical novel, so that meant lots of research. Well, in the sense that it takes place in another period, anyway. Research proved much more difficult than you might imagine. You see, the world was in a state of flux in 1901. Victorian mores gave way way to a new, modern era—a new century! Though an exciting time in history, because everything was in a perpetual state of change, finding truly historically accurate information was almost impossible!

Additionally, the writing style is very different. This is partly due to a quirk of Madeline’s, but it is also because people used broader vocabularies back then. I wrote the book with a style that fit the era. It was difficult not to lapse into modern vernacular or even something a bit more twenties. After all, the series title was inspired by a song from the 1920’s!

Fun Fact #2

This book begins a journey of self-discovery for Madeline. One of the things I wanted most to do with this book was to explore the “birth” of a detective—to show what it might be like for someone to realize that he or she notices things that others don’t. Through Madeline, I explored how people would react to having their secrets exposed, and I tried to show just how difficult it would be to investigate suspicious things without becoming deceitful or putting oneself in compromising positions. It’s easy to assume people would appreciate knowing if they were being taken advantage of, but would they really? Would pride not get in the way of things? I suspect it would.

Each book does have a definite “mystery”. But, these aren’t traditional mysteries. There won’t be a murder until the final book, but each one will increase in difficulty for Madeline and the reader to decipher the truth and will add a new element of danger and self-discovery. Addtionally, there’s an overarching story over the entire series that won’t be resolved until the end.

Fun Fact #3

We have five more books to go! We’re just getting started with Madeline’s adventures. A sneak peek into the rest of the series: we’ll get to learn more about her best friend, Amy. I haven’t decided just what kind of girl Amy is, but I suspect she’s quite beautiful. I think that’ll play a part in a future book. She’s also likely to meet someone in her European tour. Will she be the friend with the suspicious letter in book four? Who knows? Not me!

Madeline’s Unofficial Glossary

One of the best parts about writing this series is playing with words that I grew up using and reading, but most people don’t use anymore. I had parents of a literary turn of mind, so I grew up being told to, “Slow down and enunciate.” This began at age 3. So, while other kids were told to “go potty,” I was told to “use the facilities.” I’ll never forget in second grade telling a classmate, “That’s your prerogative,” when she said, “I don’t like you.” She was… confused, I think.

Add to that the fun slang of the day, not to mention a quirk I’m not giving away, and I can honestly say I had a blast writing this book. However, I know not everyone is fond of sesquipedalian words or erudite language. So, with that in mind, I decided to write this glossary of words you will find in the book. Please note: definitions are mine and written with my tongue super-glued to the inside of my cheek.

Diffidence: noun
  • Pretending to be reserved in an attempt to hide the truth. Desperate. A misguided notion that pretending not to notice someone will create interest.
  Vicissitude: noun
  • The quality of never being able to make up your mind. A woman.
  Multi-eloquent: adjective
  • The misguided notion that one must be like Nellie Olson in These Happy Golden Years and allow one’s tongue to go “flippity-flop.” Example: Gossips are often multi-eloquent.
  Jitney: noun
  • Slang for a nickel. Also, a horse-drawn “cab.” Because it has fewer syll–nope. Not that. Because people like to confuse one another in speech. “Hey, do you have a jitney?” Gee… let’s see. I’ve got a nickel, but I left my horse and carriage in my other pants at home…
  Copacetic: adjective
  • Doesn’t matter, because I had to remove it from the book. I didn’t read the entire dictionary entry when I chose the word, and only saw 1880 mentioned. Alas, the first known use is 1919. Eighteen years after this book takes place. I consider the coiner to be tardy, and would appreciate that in the future, words be coined by the dates I need. Thank you. (Do you see the amount of research I must do. I have to check if words were even IN USE before I use them. And I still almost flubbed it.)
  Recalcitrant: adjective
  • Madeline… wait. That’s not quite right. But close enough. Okay. Madeline Brown when she has a bee in her bowler. Resisting authority or convention.
  Dialogue de sourds: noun (French)
  • Literally: a worthless conversation where both parties speak to a glass wall, hearing only themselves. Example: political conversations, theological conversations, ideological conversations, Facebook wall “discussions,” and arguments with toddlers.
  Asinine: adjective
  • Ridiculous or silly–like the assertion that someone saying the word is using foul language.
  Penurious: adjective
  • Marked by an inability to part with money. A lickpenny. (see how I did that?)
  Scintillating: adjective
  • A word meaning amusing or extremely interesting that lends itself more to sarcasm than plain speaking.
  Hawkshaw: noun
  • A nosy person who gets away with it under the guise of “helping.” Sometimes known as a detective.
  Fustian: noun
  • Um… yeah. This glossary. Madeline does lend herself to the fustian.
  There you go. It’s just a taste of what’s ahead. Happy reading!

Blog Stops

December 13: Bigreadersite
December 13: Jeanette’s Thoughts
December 14: Daysong Reflections
December 14: Baker Kella
December 15: Back Porch Reads
December 15: Moments Dipped in Ink
December 16: Pause for Tales
December 16: Quiet Quilter
December 17: cherylbbookblog
December 18: ASC Book Reviews
December 19: A Greater Yes
December 20: Lane Hill House
December 21: Reader’s cozy corner
December 22: Two Girls and a Book
December 22: Blogging With Carol
December 23: 1983
December 24: Neverending Stories
December 24: Carpe Diem
December 25: Bibliophile Reviews
December 25: The Scribbler
December 26: For The Love of Books
December 26: Ashley’s Bookshelf


To celebrate her tour, Chautona are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! Click the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this blog post to claim nine extra entries in the giveaway!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Linda Weaver Clarke

I'm pleased to welcome author and family historian Linda Weaver Clarke to my blog today. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and hear about her wonderful new series The Rebel.

The Rebel Series–Stories of Love and Liberty

There was a time when swashbuckling men and brave women engaged in daring and romantic adventures, those who fought with bravery and valor. These courageous men and women were looked up to because they defended the people.

“This creative take on a Robin Hood-like story is charming and touching, and teaches some great morals about agency and choice. It reminded me of childhood fairytales of good versus evil, with a nice romance weaved into it.” –Author Charissa Stastny

In The Rebels of Cordovia, a group of men and women who called themselves Robin’s Rebels realize they must help the people survive this oppression. In this battle for freedom, a love story begins to blossom. Daniel, a rogue and a leader of the Freemen, doesn’t realize that the sweet feminine woman he has met and is falling for happens to be the leader of Robin’s Rebels. Realizing the importance of uniting all the rebel groups, Daniel tries to recruit Robin’s Rebels but they refuse. Now he has to find a way to convince them. When he finds out the leader is actually a woman, what will his reaction be?

After reading this story, Susan Ortlieb from Suko’s Notebook Reviews wrote: “Linda Weaver Clarke writes with passion and grace, and the love story in this book is simply wonderful. In fact, this aspect of the story was the strongest draw for me. (Are love stories set in the past more romantic than those set in the present day?) I thought that Robin and Daniel sounded perfect for each other, and I enjoyed the steady development of their relationship. This charming book was a pleasure to read, and I relished it.”

The tales from The Rebel Series have adventure, sweet romance, and delectable kisses. These are stories of love and liberty that takes place between the 18th and 19th Century. In the sequel, The Highwayman of Cordovia, the people enjoy their new-found liberty but all is not well. One year after Cordovia gains its freedom, a group of powerful men plan to take over the small country and replace the leader with a king.

With the help of a bold highwayman and a pastor’s daughter, they try to save their country from being taken over by a power-hungry leader. As they strive to stop the Kingmen and thwart their plans, Christine finds herself falling in love with Austin Knight. The only problem with their relationship is that she thinks he is her knight in shining armor instead of a highwayman. If she finds out his trade, what will her reaction be? As a pastor’s daughter, will love override her values?

“Linda Weaver Clarke has a storyteller's talent for enchanting and mesmerizing the audience. There are also some exciting surprises and twists that will delight the heart. Definitely a must read!” --Cindi Clubbs, Mommasez Reviews

The Highwayman of Cordovia, the second book in The Rebel Series, will be available on Dec 3rd, 2016. Read sample chapters of both books at

About the Author
Linda Weaver Clarke has traveled throughout the United States, teaching people to write their family history. She is the author of historical romances, mystery/adventure series, a children’s book, and a cozy mystery series. All her books are family friendly. Visit

Watch the book trailer below!

The Rebels of Cordovia from Linda Weaver Clarke on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blog Tour: Undiscovered Treasures

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Caroline Gibson is co-owner of Undiscovered Treasures, a shop of antiques, collectibles, and junk in rural West Virginia. Inside the shop is a music box that Caroline particularly relates to, believing that her own life is similar: forever spinning and never going anywhere.

She dreams and prays for the right man to turn up. But when family and friends hint that the local artist could be the guy, Caroline forgets about trusting God and takes matters into her own hands.

Besides, she could never love a man who paints such depressing pictures.

Andrew Carrington, painter of said depressing pictures, insists there’s always one redeeming trait to each of his works.

He’s loved Caroline since they were kids and thinks he’s not handsome enough, strong enough, or rich enough to impress this woman. But when God—or is it?—suddenly sends contracts begging for his signature, Andy thinks this just might be the way to win the only woman he can ever love.

But there’s a hitch in their plans. Someone is stealing Andy’s pictures, and why would they do that when he’s an unknown–so far? Do they know something Caroline and Andy don’t know? Is it mischief? Or something deeper that neither understand? Andy gets the chance to work with Caroline, and she must put aside her on-going battle to avoid Andy and his art so they can discover the art thief in Appleton before Andy loses the chance of a life time to ‘make it big.’

About the Author

Besides being an active participant of many writing groups, Carole enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense, tough topics, romance and whimsy into her books, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Guest Post from Carole Brown

Fun Tidbits About Undiscovered Treasures (Book Three of the Appleton, WV Romantic Mystery series) By Carole Brown
  • Why did I write this book? Several years ago, my agent urged me to write a romance novel for a certain publishing group. I did, and while I was at it, decided to write about three friends, all living in the made up town of Appleton, WV. Each had their own story, but the romance books didn’t go anywhere (because I’m not a “per se” romance writer. But when a current editor asked me for a new series, I thought about these three books and wondered if I could turn them into light mysteries. Ta da: the Appleton, WV series was born!
  • How much of myself do I put into my books? Almost always little dabs of this and that. I love antiques and flea markets, cats, flowers (including Caroline’s favorite: daisies) and coffee. If I drink tea, I’m a Tea Snob (same as Caroline). I’m clumsy and fall over practically nothing (Caroline too!).
  • What is your main characters like? In Undiscovered Treasures, Caroline Gibson, is a “home-town” girl. She doesn’t have a lot of confidence in her own looks, is clumsy, and sometimes quite outspoken. But she’s loyal, trustworthy, and soft-hearted, always watching out for the “underdog,” helps her brother run a successful business, writes plays, and oversees the local youth organization at her church.
  • Andy Carrington, on the other hand, is quiet, but confident in his own abilities, friendly, a dedicated Christian, and an up-and-coming famous artist. He’s best friends with Caroline’s brother, and grew up with him and Caroline. Best of all, he’s loved Caroline forever and trusts God to direct his and her life.
  • Where did I get the title for this book? When I plotted for the third friend (Caroline), I decided a junk/antique/collectibles store would be fun and unique. It also fit her personality. Having a brother and sister run the store worked well with the plot and giving them both a bit of wittiness added interest to the novel. I also thought this title played into the emotional love story part of the plot. Caroline, always dreaming of a real live prince for her life, doesn’t realize that she already has one. It’s only when she discovers Andy’s virtues that she finally clasps the truth: Andy is her treasure, chosen by God, just for her.
  • Why a cat in the story? It played into Caroline’s personality very well. I can just see her volunteering at the local pet shelter. Angel, the cat, also was a ready (or not) listener when Caroline needed a sounding board.
  • How does the music box play into the plot? It’s a constant reminder–and not a very welcome one–that her life is somewhat unsatisfactory. She thinks it’s because she doesn’t have a “prince” riding up to save her from a mundane existence, but really, it’s more like the proverbial ostrich inserting his head into the sand, and unwilling to accept the will of God for her life.
  • Why have Caroline travel out of the U.S. when she’s such a homebody? Having her travel, which she isn’t totally fond of, forces her to climb out of her comfort zone. She knows what she has to do–make an apology–whether everything turns out the way she wants it to or not, and because she has to travel a distance, she has plenty of time to ruminate on her “follies.” Overall, a good disciplinarian action for her.
  • Is there a spiritual thread? Yes. Accepting God’s will for our lives. We can’t make things happen the way we want, and if we force the issue, most times, it turns out to be an unsatisfactory situation. Caroline has to learn that, and once she does, she couldn’t be happier.

Blog Stops

November 30: autism mom
November 30: Carpe Diem
December 1: Quiet Quilter
December 3: On Jenna’s Shelf
December 4: Pause for Tales
December 6: bigreadersite
December 8: Karen Sue Hadley
December 9: A Reader’s Brain
December 10: Moments Dipped in Ink
December 11: Blogging With Carol


To celebrate their tour, Carole is giving away a themed basket including (but not limited to) 2 kitchen towels, 4 fun coasters, a travel journal w/ photo frames, a “happiness” picture, a recipe box and recipe cards, a fridge magnet, a magnetic phone list w/notepad, and a print copy of Undiscovered Treasures! Click the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this blog post to claim nine extra entries in the giveaway!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mystery Monday: Kurt Steel

Mystery Monday: Who was Kurt Steel?

Doesn't Kurt Steel sound like a great name for a Detective? In reality it was the pseudonym for mystery writer Rudolph Kagey who published ten novels between 1935 and 1943. All but one of the books feature Hank Hyer, former welterweight boxer turned private detective. (Now there's an interesting protagonist!). The Hyer series was very popular, and two of the stories were made into movies: Murder Goes to College and Partners in Crime.

Born in 1904 in the small town of Tuscola, IL, Kagey grew up in Flint, Michigan where his father was a successful banker with Guaranty Title and Mortgage Company. A professor at New York University, according to The Passing Tramp, Kagey came from a long line of educators. I couldn't find any information as to why he chose to write mystery novels, nor how he managed to get two of them turned into films before he died at the young age of 41. He left a wife and young daughter when he passed away.

His "hard-boiled detective" pre-dates Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe by a few years. Hank is described on the back cover of the Dell edition of Judas, Incorporated as a "tough and well-muscled private investigator, takes himself and the world with adequate salt, and rarely allows sentiment to intrude upon the fundamentals of life. Hyer likes things stirred up and is not adverse to giving fate a stimulated prod. Only a fat fee check can lure him from Broadway."

The only standalone novel Kagey published as Kurt Steel was The Imposter which tells the story of a man who goes up against a Nazi spy ring as he doubles for his double. Here's what the Kirkus review had to say about the book in their July 1942 review: Morgan, key airplane power, finds the corpse of an impersonator in his room, and rightly deciding that the wrong man has been killed, takes on the alias of his impersonator. The alias leads him to a clique of Nazi penetrators, with whom Morgan plays a fast game of ball as he circumvents them. Fancy, fictitious, but fun as these things go."

Sounds like we found another great writer from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Jenna Victoria

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Jenna Victoria

I'm pleased to introduce you to Jenna Victoria, author of the newly released War of the Heart. Thanks for visiting, Jenna!

Linda:  How long have you been writing, and when did you decide to pursue publication?

Jenna: Back in the year of the dinosaurs (ha!) I began first in non-fiction as a reporter for my high school newspaper. I pursued journalism studies in college and worked as a reporter for many years before switching to write romantic Christian fiction. I've always felt God wanted me to use my abilities for His glory.

LM: Where did you find your inspiration for your story?

Jenna: In War of the Heart, with the help of a holiday snow globe, my American heroine Louise and British hero George go back in time to 1940's England. They, along with all of the country, face incredible deprivation and trials during Christmas in WWII-- yet their collective spirit is one of hope and incredible patriotism. I sensed many people today needed to read a story with that same message of encouragement and perseverance, as life is hard.  

LM: Do you have an unusual research story to share?

Jenna: I disliked history in school, but was immediately drawn to details of "Blitzmas" in London, as the holiday season became known, in December 1940. I wanted to be accurate in my overall depiction. Every moment of newsreel footage and every photograph showed Londoners filled with hope and ingenuity, going about their days and fearful nights with optimism. They carried boxes with gas masks when they went outside and made meals out of the few ingredients allowed in rationing, yet were determined to carry on. I was especially encouraged by photographs of parties being held in tube (subway) stations used as bomb shelters on Christmas eve, with children being thrilled with makeshift decorations and sightings of Father Christmas. I wrote a (hopefully) realistic party scene taking place in one of those tube stations on Christmas eve as these stories touched my heart.

LM: The age old question for writers-are you a “pantster” or a plotter?

Jenna: I used to proudly wave my "write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" pantser flag but have realized it causes me more editing problems later if I don't at least plot out each chapter in a general way ahead of time. So now I'm a hybrid flag waver.

LM: What is your favorite scene in the story?

Jenna: Louise and George try to use the same method of returning to the current time period as they encountered while being sent to 1940 to begin with. Let's just say things don't go as planned. It was fun writing about their attempts. I'll let the readers find out if they are successful or not. 

LM: What is your next project?

Jenna: I'm finishing up "Love Among the Lilacs," a contemporary love story where two elderly spinsters meddle in the lives of their beloved nephew and a skittish, pretty stranger in Grady Cove, New York.

LM: What are your passions outside of writing?

Jenna: I use social media to inform women about metastatic breast cancer (MBC for short), which affects 30% of patients who receives a breast cancer diagnosis. More than 40,000 women die every year, with virtually no research dollars going towards MBC. We call it the "pink" secret. We are already aware of breast cancer. We need to move from education to a cure!
I've been a recurrent metastatic breast cancer patient for over four years now. God has given me strength to get through each surgery and continuing chemo treatment--even today--with praise and giving Him all the glory for every blessing in life. Most of all that I am still here.

Linda: What else do you want folks to know about you?

Jenna: I'm a sucker for a happily-ever-after, whether in romance books or in movies but I also enjoy action-adventure films where good overcomes evil. So if you  ever want someone to watch a rerun with you of Sleepless in Seattle, a Hallmark Channel flick (especially at Christmas!), The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars,  or any Marvel superhero blockbuster (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man), I'm your girl!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Thankful for our Readers!

Thankful for our Readers!

Join Celebrate Lit and guest authors as we show our thankfulness to YOU - our readers. Chat with authors, enter to win great prizes, find out about new books, and more! The grand prize is a $75 Amazon gift card.

It is a two day event that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. It begins at 10:00 AM (Eastern time) on Monday, November 28 and ends at 8:00 PM (Eastern time) on Tuesday, November 29.

Each author gets a thirty minute time slot. My time slot is Monday, November 28 at 6:00 PM (Eastern time). Hope to see you there!

Click HERE to attend the event.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Blog Tour: Finding Margo

Blog Tour: Finding Margo

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book


Off the charts and on the run.

International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions . . . the kinds that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or the just the beginning . . . ?

My Thoughts

Jen Turano is a multi-book published author, but Finding Margo is the first of her stories I’ve read. I was drawn in immediately and enjoyed getting to know the plucky Margo Hartman who is up against her formidably meddling mother and over-achieving assistant. Stuck in the small Amish town of Millersburg, Margo meets an interesting cast of characters who can’t quite figure her out, least of all deputy Brock Moore. Brock is dealing with his own issues, but must set them aside when an attempt is made on Margo’s life. The dialogue is clever, and I laughed out loud on several occasions. Vivid description enabled me to imagine the community and its surrounding area. This is the first in a series, and I look forward to reading the next book.

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required, and all views expressed are my own.

About the Author


USA Today best-selling author Jen Turano writes contemporary and historical romances with quirky characters and unusual storylines. Just outside Denver, Colorado, Jen and her husband live as empty-nesters, and they do so fabulously. Contact Jen at

Guest Post from Jen Turano

The Making of “Finding Margo”

By Jen Turano

To say that my entrance into the publishing world was a tad difficult is certainly an understatement. My very first attempt at writing was centered around a middle grade book, specifically written for my son who was in the third grade at the time. After finishing that, and sending it out to all of five companies, none of whom represented middle grade, I then moved on to young adult with a little more interest sent my way, but no success story to report in the end. Not one to embrace the idea of complete and utter failure, I then tried my hand at a contemporary romance, moved on to what I assumed was a delightful regency romance, but one that turned out to be not that delightful, at least according to numerous agents, and finally landed on gilded age stories, filled with quirky heroines. That is when I finally received my very first publishing contract, which then saw me catapulted into the very weird world of publishing. After completing the second gilded age story of my two-book contract, I found myself with some time on my hands as I waited to see if anyone would read my stories, which might then result in an offer of additional book contracts. As I waited, I decided I might as well keep writing, so decided to try another contemporary story, although my agent at that time suggested I try to write an Amish book since she had numerous requests from publishers for those specific books. Because my writing voice is not what anyone might consider normal, I really didn’t believe I’d be able to do justice to an authentic Amish story.

Because of that, I settled on the idea of writing a contemporary romantic suspense, being a huge fan of that genre. I had a vague notion of exploring a theme centered around a dog walker who might stumble on a body while walking her pack of dogs, or perhaps have a storyline that centered around a makeup artist who witnessed a crime while setting out her makeup for a client, but those ideas went straight away when I pulled out the vacuum one fine day.

Vacuuming, as well as staining the deck, cleaning the shower, and power-washing the garage, are my go-to activities when I need to get the muse working right before I start a first draft. On that particular day, as I pushed the vacuum around the house, I suddenly had the most intriguing idea – an idea that started off with two delightful little words…What…and…If.

That was all it took for a premise to begin festering through my mind, a fester that grew into this – What if three Amish children were stolen straight out of their beds, never to be seen or heard from again until… Now here’s where it gets interesting. I decided to have a woman by the name of Margo Hartman, an international superstar no less, stumble into this small Ohio town quite by accident, and…she happens to bear an uncommon resemblance to an Amish woman who lives in this town. To add an addition sense of intrigue, someone immediately begins trying their very best to kill poor Margo.

By the time I was done vacuuming, the storyline for “Finding Margo” was firmly cemented in my mind, which translates into Jen had no choice other than to write the story. However, before my agent at that time found a home for the manuscript, I signed another contract for more gilded age books, which meant I did not have the time to commit to what was certainly going to have to be a three-book series since, well, there were three Amish children who’d gone missing.

Fast forward around five years and I found myself a little ahead of schedule at exactly the right time. There was a new publishing house in town, my current agent remembered me talking about this quirky book I’d written long ago, and as luck would have it, I found the flash drive that’s been home to “Finding Margo” for all these years.

Since my writing style has certainly changed since I first wrote Margo’s story, I ended up rewriting the entire book, and I must say that I’m still just as intrigued with the storyline as I was when it popped to mind while vacuuming what seems like ages ago. I’m just tickled to death that Margo Hartman has finally found her way out of a flash drive and onto the pages of a book. I’m hoping readers will enjoy her as much as I enjoyed writing her.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me today, and for supporting my books over the years. I cannot properly express how important all my readers have become to me, and I’m incredibly thankful for every one of you. You’ve brightened up my life and without you, well, I wouldn’t have anyone to share the stories that always seem to rumble around my mind.

God bless!

~ Jen ~

Blog Stops

November 17: Book by Book
November 17: cherylbbookblog
November 18: A Reader’s Brain
November 18: I Hope You Dance
November 18: Blogging with Carol
November 19: ASC Book Reviews
November 19: Bibliophile Reviews
November 20: Lighthouse Academy
November 20: Karen Sue Hadley
November 20: Back Porch Reads
November 21: Genesis 5020
November 21: 100 Pages per Hour
November 22: Pause for Tales
November 22: Quiet Quilter
November 22: Bigreadersite
November 23: Just Commonly
November 23: A Greater Yes
November 23: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
November 24: Smiling Book Reviews
November 24: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 25: inklings and notions
November 26: Daysong Reflections
November 26: The Scribbler
November 28: The Power of Words
November 29: Faithfully Bookish
November 29: Christian Bookaholic


To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and signed copies of her book! Click the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine entries on the giveaway!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mystery Monday: Todd Downing

Mystery Monday: Todd Downing

Always on the lookout for mystery writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, I have stumbled on yet another relatively unknown author. Part Choctow Native American, George Todd Downing was born in Atoka, Oklahoma in 1902. Able to speak five languages, he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma before securing a position there as a Spanish professor. Working as a tour guide in Mexico during the summers of the 1920s and 1930s, Downing then wrote book reviews for the Daily Oklahoman from 1930 to 1937.
His ten mystery novels were published between 1933 and 1941. Written after a local act of violence threatened to sever diplomatic ties between the US and Mexico, the first of his eight books that were set in Mexico, Murder on Tour, sold well enough for him to quit his teaching job. As with many authors, it was his second book that brought him greater acclaim.  
Published by Doubleday’s Crime Club, The Cat Screams received high praise from them: “Only in exceptional instances is the first book of a new writer on the Crime Club list made a Crime Club Book of the Month. Here is the exception. The author, as a creator of atmosphere, suspense, and horror, is reminiscent of Mignon G. Eberhart. His plot, though exotic, is plausible and logical, and stylistically he is far superior to the average mystery writer.” High praise indeed.

The Cat Screams was published in England, and also translated in Italian. In 1942 it was adapted into a Broadway play, but closed after only seven shows. Downing did well with his mystery fiction, but published his last book at the age of 39. He moved back to the family home in Atoka and taught French and Spanish at Atoka High School. Never marrying, he died in 1974.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Traveling Tuesday: Nottingham

Traveling Tuesday: Nottingham

What comes to mind when you hear the town of Nottingham? Do you think of Robin Hood and his merry men? Perhaps the Sheriff? My latest novella, Love Found in Sherwood Forest, came about as the result of a request by one of the mid-sized Christian publishers. A broadcast went out for submissions. Parameters for the stories included word count and the requirement to use word trios in conjunction with a certain location.

Enamored with the legend of Robin Hood ever since I saw the 1938 movie featuring Errol Flynn with my dad on late night television, I selected the triplet that included Nottingham. My story didn't get chosen by that publisher, but was picked up recently by a small publisher in Texas. The publisher subsequently went out of business, but that's a whole other post!

Nottingham is proud of its association with Robin Hood, but did you also know the city has close ties
to the lace making, bicycle, and tobacco industries? I was surprised to discover that Nottingham was considered a borough until granted its city charter in 1897 under Queen Victoria's reign. It does have its very own castle that was constructed in 1068. When Richard the Lionhearted returned from the crusades, the castle was occupied by Prince John's supporters who included the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Located in the lower valley of the River Trent, Nottingham's northern border is Sherwood Forest (yes, THE Sherwood Forest). The weather is fairly temperate averaging mid-40 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter and mid-60s (F) during the summer. The architecture is varied and beautiful. The Lace Market has streets lined with red brick factories and iron railings, and throughout the city there are pubs built from timber. Cultural venues include Albert Hall where the Rolling Stones performed in 1964, and the Royal Concert Hall. Nottingham is home to the oldest football (soccer for you Americans) club in the world, Notts County, founded in 1862.

I was fascinated to discover there are hundreds of man-made caves below the city streets. Nottingham stands on sandstone, which is apparently perfect for cave making. According to "there are all kinds of imaginative uses for their manmade excavations - from cave dwellings to underground bowling alleys and jail cells." The largest cave in the Creswell Crags is named Robin Hood Cave, of course!

Who knows, perhaps he hid there while on the run from the Sheriff.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mystery Monday: Crimebake!

Mystery Monday: Crimebake!

Yes, you read that correctly - Crimebake, not clambake. Although this incredible mystery writers conference is held in New England, so any confusion is understandable. For nine of the last ten years, I have traveled from New Hampshire to Boston to learn about the craft of writing, meet agents, publishers, authors, and not-yet-authors, and immerse myself in the writing community. Every year I say, "This is the best Crimebake yet!" and this year is no different.

William Kent Krueger, author of the Cork O'Connor series, is this year's keynote speaker. Storyteller extraordinaire, he regaled us with episodes from his personal writing journey and encouraged us in our own. The panels included famous and not-so-famous authors,  and traditionally published and indie published authors - all of whom were down to earth and informative.

I attended two masters classes and was overwhelmed with the helpful information conveyed by the instructors, Author Jen Blood (yes, that's her real name), and PR Maven Nancy Marshall. Panels about plotting, researching, writing series, creating fictional towns, and writing suspense were interspersed with seminars about branding and reading like a writer. An ask the expert session gave attendees access to a former police officer, a crime scene investigator, a private investigator and and indie author.

Hosted by Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, the conference is affordable and well-run. Haven't we all been to events that start late and experience myriad "fits and starts?" At Crimebake, timekeepers and room captains ensure each segment is effectively and efficiently executed. The stop just short of using a hook to get folks off the stage at the end!

It was an exciting weekend during which I rubbed shoulders with Hank Phillippi Ryan, Hallie Ephron, Joseph Finder, Kent Krueger, and many more. As always I left with a head full of knowledge and a heart full of motivation. And I've already marked my calendar to attend next year!