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!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Latest Release: Love Found in Sherwood Forest

My Latest Release: Love Found in Sherwood Forest

I am thrilled to once again work with Celebrate Lit Publicity Group for a blog tour. For two weeks - from today, November 10 through Wednesday, November 23 I will be visiting sixteen different blog sites to talk about my latest release: Love Found in Sherwood Forest. There is an exciting giveaway, so be sure to stop by and leave a comment for your chance to win.

The festivities kick off tonight with a Facebook party at 8:00 PM Eastern time (7 PM, Central time/5 PM Pacific time). There will be lots of fun discussion and a giveaway.   Click here  to join us.

Here is where you can find me over the next two weeks:

Blog Stops

November 11: The Power of Words (Spotlight)
November 12: Karen Sue Hadley
November 13: Daysong Reflections
November 14: A Greater Yes
November 14: Mary Hake
November 15: Bibliophile Reviews
November 17: Lighthouse Academy
November 18: inklings and notions
November 19: Sue Stinnett
November 20: Christian Bookaholic
November 21: Carpe Diem

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Blog Tour: Love in the Seams

Blog Tour: Love in the Seams

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She has no hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own. Instead of dwelling on what she doesn’t have, she throws herself into her work as the recent sole owner of the local dress shop.

As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn’t counting on his five-year-old daughter’s search for a new mother when they arrive. His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?

My Thoughts

I was hooked on Love in the Seams from the very first sentence. Having met Mae in book one of the Threads and Needles series, I was anxious to read her continuing story, and I was not disappointed. As with “real people,” she is a combination of traits – hers being stubbornness, insecurities, faith, and doubt. I loved Johannes who is a strong, yet sensitive man. I was immersed in the era through colorful, descriptive, and realistic dialogue. I finished the book in one sitting and look forward to more stories by Ms. Wolfe.

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

About the Author

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests and is a member of ACFW. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more

Guest Post from Jodie Wolfe

I’m so excited to be a part of a Celebrate Lit tour. Thank you for the opportunity to give a small peek into my world. J Love in the Seams is book two in my Twins & Needles series. Mae Stafford’s journey to believe and have hope that God will give her the desires of her heart echo the ups and downs of my writing adventure.

I wrote my first novel as a teen quite a number of years ago. Ahem. We won’t say how many years that have passed since then. J Let’s just say it’s quite a few. My next novel didn’t get written until my early twenties…and then soon after I had children. Fiction writing took a back seat as I raised my sons and home schooled them all the way through high school.

Over seven years ago I felt God nudging me back to writing. I still had a son at home, so the progress was a little slow at first. Since then I’ve written four novels, three novellas, and have pitched a half dozen other ideas at various conferences or through my amazing agent.

God dropped my agent, Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency, into my lap when I least expected it, but that’s a different story. I’ve had quite a number of rejections over the past few years as she’s tried to drum up interest for my books. We’ve had some nibbles and times when an editor or two was interested, but things didn’t progress any further than that.

I’ve entered contests and have experienced mixed results. I semi-finaled in American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest a few years ago, and this past summer I found out I’m a finalist in three different contests. But there also have been quite a few where the responses weren’t so great.

Earlier this year I decided to put out a novella independently and Hearts Tightly Knit was the result. It told the tale of Mae’s twin sister, Ellie, and their pact to always stay together and never marry. When Ellie ended up with her happily-ever-after, I knew that Mae needed one too. The only thing is Mae isn’t sure if her hopes for a family will ever come to fruition.

Highs and lows are part of a writer’s life. Well, actually for all of us. J Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the negatives, the ‘rejections’ and not be able to see past them. Believe me, at times I wallow there for a little bit, but my aim is to write books that share about the hope we have in Christ. How can I convey that if I don’t believe and experience it myself?

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) which says, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” One of the things I have hoped for many years was a writing contract. That finally happened in September when I signed for a novelette with Celebrate Lit that will be coming out in the spring. In the process of waiting, I’ve found God has refined and honed me in this journey of hope.

My prayer is that my books will touch your heart and give you a glimmer of the hope we have in Christ. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity into your world.

Blog Stops

November 10: Pause for Tales
November 12: Quiet Quilter
November 13: A Greater Yes
November 15: Lane Hill House
November 15: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 16: ASC Book Reviews
November 17: Christian Bookaholic
November 18: Daysong Reflections
November 19: bigreadersite
November 20: Splashes of Joy


In honor of her tour, Jodie is giving away a wooden decorated basket, a 24 thread spools with needles and threader, a pack of 30 needles, a tape measure, a tomato pin cushion, embroidery scissors, a thimble, 15 piece sewing kit, and a $10 Amazon gift card0! Click the link below to enter; be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine bonus entries for this giveaway!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Forensic Friday: Crime Scene Clean Up

Forensic Friday: Crime Scene Clean Up

I’ve been making my way through several BBC and Acorn TV mystery shows. One I stumbled on recently is called Mr. and Mrs. Murder. An Australian show, it only lasted for one season in 2013. The main characters own a crime scene clean up business and discover clues as they decontaminate the area, and as a result, solve the crime. The program sprinkles quirky, humorous scenes in between drama and sleuthing.

In all my research for the mystery stories I write, I had not thought about what happens after the crime. Until fifteen to twenty years ago, not many other people thought about it either. With the advent of shows such as CSI and NCIS, there was a boom in the industrial clean up profession. “Crime scene clean up” yielded 3,550,000 internet results, and “crime scene cleaners” 965,000. A booming business to be sure.

Not for the faint of heart, crime scene cleaners are responsible to remove blood, body fluids, and other potentially infectious materials. The company’s job is to remove any sign of what happened and any biohazards that resulted from the incident. Employees are trained how to safely handle the biohazardous material and what to look for are the scene. For example, if there is a thumbnail size bloodstain on the carpet, there’s a strong possibility there is a large stain on the floor under the carpet.
Tools of the trade include personal protective gear, biohazard waste containers, cleaning supplies, hospital grade disinfectants, industrial strength deodorizers, and enzyme solvent. Carpentry and restoration tools are also necessary. The area has to be truly clean, not just apparently clean. A job can take from one to over forty hours, and cost from $1,000 to $5,000 on average.

I read several interviews to research the blog, and I was struck by one common denominator. Each interviewee, whether a clean-up company owner or employee, said the same thing about their work. They see it as an “important service to grieving people…helping a family or individual through a very difficult time that will never be forgotten by the clients. They will always remember the team of individuals who were present in their time of need.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Blog Tour: Blue Ribbon Brides

Blog Tour: Blue Ribbon Brides

About the book: Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all - the devoted heart of a godly man?

My thoughts: The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection is a delightful mix of nine stories set in the mid-west during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The characters are well-developed and are easy to related to as they deal with realistic issues of doubt, distrust, and forgiveness. Having attended 4-H and county fairs as a child, the stories took me on an enjoyable trip down Memory Lane. I like historical fiction that teaches me, and these novelettes didn't disappoint, especially Carrie Fancett Pagel's "Requilted by Love" that centers around two balloonists, a topic I knew almost nothing about prior to reading her story. Information is effectively woven into each novelette through description and dialogue. Highly recommended as a light and uplifting read. (I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.)

Guest post from Author Gina Welborn: 

Bravery God's Way

Naturally brave people exist. I'm not one of them. And I think I'm all right with that. Or at least I used to think that I'm not brave. As I starting writing "Altered Hearts," I finished reading "Let's Be Brave" by Annie K. Downs. In it she writes:

"To see yourself the way God sees you is the first stop in being brave. If you are seeing yourself the way God sees you, then you can see your strengths and weaknesses. And you can see they are different from mine. You an see the unique ways you are wired and the rare combination of qualities and desires that make you uniquely you. And you, my friend, have a unique call to be brave."

In the beginning of my Blue Ribbon Brides novella, my heroine's father tells her, "You are braver than I have ever been." She's also braver than I have ever been. Then again, maybe we demonstrate our bravery differently. I can't help but remember the day my oldest son's choir teacher belittled him and his friends in front of the whole class. She said, "These are the failures in life." I could have said nothing. I chose to be brave and have a talk with her. Not only did she apologize to my son (and he to her), she also apologized to the class.

For my son's 18th birthday, he gave me a letter with eighteen reasons why he loved me. One of those reasons - for standing up to his choir teacher and helping raise his grade from a C- to an A.

Bravery begins with seeing yourself for how God sees you.

According to Colossians 1:22, God see me-you-us as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach.

That right there is enough to make us brave!

A Giveaway! To celebrate their tour, the Blue Ribbon Brides Collection authors are giving away an award winning themed basket that includes a quilt and an Amazon Kindle Fire. Be sure to comment on this post, and if we have ten people who comment (not including the authors), I will be picking one person to win a book! Click  here to enter.

Visit these blogs to meet the other authors of Blue Ribbon Brides Collection:

November 1: Simple Harvest Reads

November 2: D's Quilts and Books

November 3: Bibliophile Reviews

November 3: Smiling Book Reviews

November 5: A Greater Yes

November 6: Artistic Nobody

November 7: Cheryl B Book Blog

November 8: Jeanette's Thoughts

November 9: Inklings and Notions

November 10: Lighthouse Academy

November 11: The Scribbler

November 12: Karen's Krayons

November 13; Daysong Reflections

November 14: Splashes of Joy

November 14: Blogging with Carol