Thursday, December 28, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Historical Fiction Writer Elaine Manders

Talkshow Thursday: Writer Elaine Manders

Linda: I am so pleased you could stop by to chat with me today. I’m a big fan of your writing, and I’m excited to hear that book 3 in your Intrigue Under Western Skies series is coming out. Can you tell us a bit more about it, and when is the release date?

Elaine: It was just released yesterday and is available on Amazon right now. Here's the book blurb:

When her father dies, Katherine Levinson discovers her parents have kept secrets that render her happy childhood a farce. She and her gravely ill mother face eviction, and she has no choice but to appeal to the brother she’s never seen, the famous cattle baron, Rhyan Cason. Over her gravely ill mother’s objections, they move to Nebraska and the sprawling cattle ranch, Sollano.

Instead of the warm welcome Katherine expects, she and her mother are met with whispers and scorn in the little prairie town near Sollano. Gradually, the sins of her parents’ past surface, and Katherine begins to doubt her very identify. With her brother busy with cattle rustlers and her mother too ill to be bothered, Katherine turns to Colt Holliman, a soft-spoken neighboring rancher, for comfort.

Tired of waiting for the right woman to come along, Colt has promised to wait for Charley Ryder, an acclaimed female sharp shooter and equestrian acrobat with the Wild West Show, but it’s becoming clear Charley loves the show more than him. As his attraction to Katherine grows, he finds himself spiritually conflicted. How can he break from past commitments and follow his heart?

Then unexpected danger strikes, testing Katherine’s and Colt’s faith in God—and each other.

 Linda: What was the inspiration for this story?

Elaine: I wanted to tell what happened to Rhyan Cason’s (hero in the first 2 books) mother and give Colt Holliman (Rhyan’s best friend) a love interest. Also to show how Carianne’s (heroine of first 2 books) “culture” center had grown from a library to a theater and Wild West show.

Linda: You write historical fiction with this novel set in Nebraska during the late 1800s. How did you go about researching the era and location, and did you have a significant “aha” moment you’d like to share?

Elaine: Oh, I’m glad you asked that, Linda. You’re the first person to ask me that question, and it’s truly a God moment in my writing career. When I started this series I didn’t know where to put it. All I knew was it had to have space for a big ranch and be located on the transcontinental railroad. The ranch was based on the real 101 Ranch in Kansas and Oklahoma. The railroad didn’t go through either of those states, so the most logical place was Nebraska. Besides, the Platt River ran along the railroad, which worked into my plot beautifully. Now this is the God thing. I didn’t know anything about Nebraska except it was in the plains. The first book I came across in my research was a 900 page book called a Collection of Nebraska Pioneers put out by the Nebraska Daughters of the Revolution. It became my bible, and had recollections of Nebraska’s first settlers. Many of my secondary characters were inspired by that book. Then I mentioned my book to my eye doctor, and he said his family settled from Germany in Nebraska, and they had put out a 400 page book, which he lent to me. It was complete with land plats, house plans, maps, and incidents. I gave the doctor in my book this kind man’s name. From these two books, I feel I know the Nebraska of the 1880s as well as anyone.

Linda: Very cool! What do you do to prepare yourself to write? (e.g. do you listen to music, go to a specific location, etc.)

Elaine: I sometimes listen to classic rock and roll, but I do my best thinking pacing around the house. I used to twirl a baton as I did this—one of the nutty things I did to get the creative juices flowing.

Linda:  What is your favorite part of the writing process? (e.g. research, dreaming up characters, developing plot, etc.)

Elaine: Dreaming the story. It plays out like a movie in my mind. I’m not the type of writer who can write out of sequence, because one scene must follow the other. But this helps to keep the plot straight. There’s a lot of suspense in this series, (Actually, in all my books, so far) and like a mystery, it requires foreshadowing, clues, and logical conclusions. The hard part is sitting down and typing out what I see and hear.

Linda: Family is very important to you, and I’m sure you must spend as much time with them as you can, but do you have hobbies or activities you like to pursue?

Elaine: I love crafts, especially crocheting. Other than that, I try to keep up with my almost grown grandchildren, and reading. I read a lot.

Linda: Quickies:

What’s your favorite color? Red
What’s your favorite food? Chocolate
What’s your favorite Bible verse?

Elaine: Many, but one is Isaiah 40:31 – Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.

Linda: Thank you so much for stopping by. Where can folks connect with you on the web?

Twitter: @ehmanders

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wartime Wednesday: Better Meals in Wartime

Wartime Wednesday: Better Meals in Wartime

I received a wonderful Christmas gift from one of my close friends. Knowing my love of all things WWII as well as my need for research items, she gave me a cookbook she stumbled on in a used bookstore. Better Meals in Wartime: The Point-Saver Cook Book was published in 1943 by Crown Publishers. Advertising itself to be  "a simple, practical guide that shows how to prepare tasty and appetizing meals despite shortages, rationing and high prices," the book claims "this book will not solve all your food problems but it will help you to provide better meals now."

What I found most fascinating is the first chapter called War Time Extenders, Remedies and Economies. Author Lola Wyman whose credentials are not listed anywhere in the book or on the flyleaf writes as if she is talking directly to the home cook. She says, "I have experimented with 8 different methods of whipping light cream employing  various commercial products, powdered vegetable gums, gelatin and lemon juice. Only the latter method is satisfactory." She provides advice on potato water (the water used to boil potatoes): "Of course, you will save all other vegetable waters, but have you though of saving the water in which you cooked peeled potatoes? This has splendid flavor. Simply add milk and seasonings and, if you have it, a cooked, mashed potato."

Her section on Kitchen Catastrophes exhorts readers that "in these war time days it is more important than ever to avert kitchen catastrophes whenever possible. However, with the most careful attention, accidents may happen." She goes on to provide solutions for burned pans, gravy gone wrong, curdled sauces, burned cakes, and unsuccessful frosting.

The introduction is three pages of "a variety of well-balanced menus. Each contains a suitable proportion of the necessary calories, vitamins, minerals, etc." But perhaps the best chapter is the one on leftovers. Not too imaginative, I usually just reheat the meal. Ms. Wyman includes a two page index of a wide variety of leftover foods from bacon fat and fish to creamed vegetables.

How many of you have inherited a cookbook that contained handwritten notes from the former owner? Better Meals in Wartime includes Ms. Wyman's editorial comments on many of the recipes:

  • Salisbury Steak - Our old friend, the hamburg, improved and disguised
  • Bitochky - An excellent Russian recipe to try when you have a cup of sour cream
  • Baked veal hearts - Gamey like squab
  • Imperial crab - This is a famous crab dish and is served hot
  • Tamale Pie - Nourishing yet delicious
Taped inside the cover is a recipe cut from the Miami Daily News for Chocolate Ice Box Cake and tucked in between the pages are four index cards clipped together that contain recipes for French Dressing (dated 1937 and signed S. J. Kennedy, Ft. Meyers, Florida), and two copies of a recipe for Hollandaise Sauce.

A true treasure, I can't wait to dig further into Better Meals in Wartime. What is your most special gift?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Cindy Thomson

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Cindy Thomson

I'm a bit of an Anglophile. Included in that is an interest in Ireland and Scotland, so when I discovered author Cindy Thomson's books I knew I had to "meet" her. She was gracious enough to take time from her busy schedule to answer my questions. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.

Linda:  Cindy, thanks for joining me today. You have two fictional book series. One is set in the 5th Century and the other in the early 1900s. What prompted you to write in such different eras?

Cindy: My first book is set in ancient Ireland. I had trouble selling any more to publishers so my agent at the time suggested I write about Irish immigrants at Ellis Island. We sold that and then after that I went back to the 5th-6th century. That’s how it happened, but I enjoy history in general.

LM: You write fiction and non-fiction. How is the writing process different for each one?

Cindy: Fiction for me is more creative. It takes more out of me and takes longer to write. Non-fiction is reporting, hopefully in a story-telling manner. More documentation is required for non-fiction, but since everything I write is history-based, I enjoy it all.

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

Cindy: I’m a pantser who wishes she was more of a planner. I think if I was I wouldn’t write myself into quite as many corners. That has been a learning process for me. I learned that I could not change it, that is how stories come to me, but I also learned that a certain amount of plotting is critical and necessary. My favorite part of the process is after I’ve written the first draft. Getting the story down is hard, but once I have it I love going back and fixing it and making it better.

LM: Writing about a different era and culture requires lots of research. What tidbit did you discover during that phase of writing that created an “aha” moment for you? 

Cindy: There certainly wasn’t just one so I’ll just pick one. My latest book, Pages of Ireland, is about  the value a book had in ancient Ireland. I read about a story that was recorded in the 17th century about a man named Conal Mac Geoghegan of Lismoyne who recorded in the Annals of Clonmacnoise, "I have seen myself part of that book which is at Durrow in the Kings County in the custody of an ignorant man. When sickness came upon cattle, for their remedy put water on the book and suffered it to the rest there a while and saw also cattle return thereby to their former or pristine state and the book to receive no loss." A man dunked the ancient book into a cattle trough! According to The Ancient Books of Ireland by Michael Slavin, The Book of Durrow does show signs of water damage and "a hole in the top right-hand corner of the leaves indicates that they could have been suspended by a thong in the 'cure' process." This “tidbit” led to me writing Pages of Ireland and to include a scene like that.

LM: That is fascinating! What’s the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Cindy: Ever? I guess you mean in the process of writing a book. When on a research visit to New York City, I attended a cocktail party held at the Police Museum, given by the Irish American Historical Society. There was no cost so I went simply because I was writing about a policeman in NYC in 1900. My husband and I knew no one there and had no idea why were invited or what the purpose was. They were recognizing someone for his contribution to something. But novelists go to all kinds of places in the name of research.

LM: What is your next project?

Cindy:  I am finishing up the third in my Daughters of Ireland series. It should be out by mid-2018. The title is Enya’s Son and like the others in the series it’s based on legends. This one is about St. Columcille and his mother and the quest to hold on to things that enviably will slip away from you, and the discovery of what is really eternal.

LM: What advice can you give to not-yet-published writers?

Cindy: Don’t rush. It’s so easy now to rush to publication, but a professional takes his/her time, researches the industry and the process, and does not cut corners, especially not with editing. Find a writers group. That will be the most valuable thing you do because you can learn so much from other writers and make good contacts.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Thanks for having me today, Linda!

LM:  It has been a pleasure! You can purchase Pages of Ireland on Amazon.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Blog Tour: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Blog Tour: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor

About the Book


Name of book: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor  
Author: Michelle Griep  
Genre: Historical Christmas  
Release Date: September 1, 2017  

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane. Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

Clue meets Survivor in this Victorian-era story in which seven invitees be the last person standing-so to speak-to gain their hearts’ desires (which is different for each character). I loved the descriptive way the author wrote which allowed me to visualize “ancient buildings with rheumy windows” and feel the fog “cold as an embrace from the grim reaper.” Clara and Hunter are well-written complex characters with real life struggles and insecurities. I enjoyed following their journey toward a deeper faith. Despite the large number of characters, each was unique with her or her own voice, and thus I was able to keep track of them. I was surprised at the solution of the mystery, but perhaps I missed some of the clues along the way. I love historical novels that educate me about the era in which they are written, and 12 Days didn’t disappoint. There were a couple of “laugh out loud” moments which lightened the tension. The good news is that this is the first in a series. Dickens fans will especially enjoy the book.

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

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of both Regency and Colonial historical romances but also leaped the writerly fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. Keep up with her escapades at or stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Guest Post from Michelle Griep

Go Green With Victorian Christmas Décor

Walk in any store and you’ll be bombarded with displays of Christmas lights, gaudy ornaments, and inflatable life-size lawn characters. Commercialization at its worst. 150 years ago, that wasn’t the case. Yearning to decorate in a simpler fashion this year? Here are some ways you can bring a bit of the nineteenth century to your home this Christmas…  


Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the German Prince Albert, introduced the concept of a Christmas tree to Windsor castle. And you know, if it’s good enough for royalty its good enough for the common folk, right? So, the tradition spread. Generally trees were brought inside on Christmas Eve and taken down on January 6th. Trees were decorated with homemade ornaments from paper or fruits and nuts, strings of popcorn or cranberries, or hanging cookies such as gingerbread men from the branches. And remember, an authentic Victorian Christmas tree would’ve been small, like small enough to stand on a table.  


Holly. Evergreens. Mistletoe. Most Victorians couldn’t afford store-bought decorations even were there a commercialized industry at the time (which there wasn’t). So the next best thing was to bring in some free/natural ornamentations. Greenery would’ve been perked up with berries, ribbons, dough ornaments or flowers. Pinecones were also scattered throughout the house.  


“Writhen” is the root word where we get the word wreath from. It’s an old English word meaning “to writhe” or “to twist.” While the art of hanging wreaths goes back to Roman times, Victorians continued the tradition.  


Candles were primarily placed in one of two spots during a Victorian Christmas. A single candle in a window was lit to show that the house was willing to provide food and shelter to travelers. Candles were also used on each and every branch of a Christmas tree, which meant a huge danger of fire. Usually a servant would stand nearby with a bucket of water just in case the thing started to burn.  


Dresdens are ornaments hung from the tree, from a window, or really hanging pretty much anywhere. These were handmade by cutting out shapes (usually animals or trains) and painted with metallic paint so that they looked like metal. And that’s about it. No obnoxious Santas or reindeer inflated on the front lawn. No psycho Christmas lights strobing enough to give every passerby a seizure. Just plain and simple decor that made the home feel cozy. And speaking of cozy, how about grabbing a blanket and a cup of hot tea and settling in for a holiday read that’s sure to put you in the Christmas spirit? My latest release is 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, a Victorian blend of Dickens and Agatha Christie.

Blog Stops

Here are the remaining stops in the Tour:

December 18: Simple Harvest Reads
December 19: AmandaInPA
December 19: Kat's Corner Books
December 19: Mommynificent
December 20: Bookworm Mama
December 20: Vicky Sluiter
December 21: D's Quilts and Books
December 21: To Everything a Season
December 22: Readers Cozy Corner
December 22: Fizzy Pop Collection
December 22 (interview): Reading is my Super Power
December 23: My Writer's Life
December 23: Janice's Book Reviews
December 23: For the Love of Books
December 24: Tell Tale Book Reviews
December 25: Red Headed Book Lady
December 26: Bibliophile Reviews
December 26: Blogging with Carol
December 26: Mary Hake


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift card and a signed copy of 12 Days of Bleakly Manor!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Blog Tour: Solve by Christmas

Blog Tour: Solve by Christmas 

About the Book


Name of book: Solve by Christmas  
 Author: Amber Schamel  
 Genre: Historical Christmas  
Release Date: September 1, 2017

When sabotage threatens the Rudin Sugar Factory, Detective Jasper Hollock believes this will be his first real case. But dear Mr. Rudin—the only father Jasper has ever known—holds a different assignment for his private investigator. “I’ve struck a deal with God, Jasper, and you’re my angel.” Mr. Rudin charges Jasper to build a “case” of reasons for his employer to continue his life. If he fails, Mr. Rudin will end it in suicide on Christmas night. As the incidents at the factory become life threatening, Jasper’s attempts at dissuading Mr. Rudin prove futile, and Jasper is left staring at the stark reality of his own soul. Time is ticking. Jasper must solve both cases by Christmas before Mr. Rudin, the company, and Jasper’s faith, are dragged to perdition. Will this be the Christmas Jasper truly discovers what makes life worth living? “Amber Schamel’s engaging prose weaves together not one, but two edge-of-your-seat threads in this historical mystery. With the hero racing against time to solve the two cases readers will be kept guessing as they attempt to crack the case. “ ~ Laura V. Hilton author of Christmas Admirer (Whitaker House)

My Thoughts

Solve by Christmas is a charming mystery with a plot line that brings to mind It’s a Wonderful Life. Detective Jasper Hollock wants to be taken seriously as an investigator, and he gets a chance when two cases fall into his lap. Outwardly, he’s a bit of a curmudgeon, but inside he’s more accepting than he lets on. It takes the hero-worship of an upstart street-kid to soften Hollock when he realizes not everyone is out to hurt him or do him wrong. The story is set in 1913, and I enjoyed learning about the era. Because of the lack of modern technology (fingerprinting, DNA testing, etc.)  Hollock has to use other means to solve the case. I enjoyed following the clues with him and trying to determine the culprit. Messages of salvation and God’s mercy are threaded throughout the story without being preachy.

I was provided a free copy of this book by the author, and a positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and has been awarded the 2017 CSPA Book of the Year Award in Historical Fiction. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites. Amber is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Pick up your copy here.

Guest Post from Amber Schamel

Thank you so much for joining us on the Celebrate Lit blog tour for Solve by Christmas!! I am so excited you’re here. For this special event, I wanted to share the inside scoop behind the story.

Solve by Christmas is a historical Mystery set in Denver during the great blizzard of 1913. It has a unique storyline, so people often wonder where the idea came from. Honestly, it was one of those ideas that just popped into my head, then took on a life of its own and evolved over several weeks.

I wanted to give my readers a new story before the year was out, but I didn’t have a specific plot in mind. I did know I wanted to write a Christmas story. So, I had that much. Then I decided I wanted something with a firm deadline.”

If this doesn’t happen by this date, everyone dies” sort of thing. Then “By Christmas” popped into my head and flicked on a light. What if Christmas was the deadline? I’ve always loved detectives and mystery stories, and they go perfectly with deadlines. So, then I thought, what if a detective must solve the case by Christmas or death wins?

Sometimes, as an author, there are ideas and thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere. Almost like God dropping a card into your mental mailbox. The next point of Solve by Christmas was that way. What if a detective was assigned a case that he had to solve by Christmas, but it wasn’t a real case –at least not the type of case he wanted—but something completely different? From there, the story began to really take shape.

The next step, of course, is to come up with a character to be the detective. I wanted the story to have a Sherlock Holmes feel, so I started by studying his character a bit. But my story also has a less serious side since it isn’t a murder mystery and takes place at a sugar factory. I wondered…what would happen if you took Sherlock Holmes and meshed him with Barney Fife?

Now THAT would be hard to pull off. But I was determined to try. So, I made a list of Sherlock Holmes traits, and one of Barney Fife’s traits. I began to see that they actually DO have several similarities. They’re both a bit socially awkward. They both have a very similar flavor of pride. And they both have this air of authority…although Sherlock can back his up while Barney struggles in that area. Then I began to pick and choose between the traits that were left, this Barney trait, this Sherlock trait, and pretty soon I had Detective Jasper Hollock forming on the page. Whether you will get a Barney Fife and Sherlock feel when you read Solve by Christmas, I can’t say. But I do believe I was successful in creating a unique, quirky character that will bring this Christmas mystery to life.

There you have it. The scoop behind Solve by Christmas. I hope you enjoy the story, and best wishes in the giveaway! I will be stopping by along with Jasper and Denny (the two main characters) to answer any questions you may have about the story or the characters, so please do leave us a comment.

Blog Stops

Here are Amber's remaining blog stops:

December 16: Karen Sue Hadley
December 17: Locks, Hooks and Books
December 18: Aryn The Librarian
December 18: A Reader's Brain
December 19: Bibliophile Reviews
December 19: Mary Hake
December 20: Texas Book-aholic
December 20: Simple Harvest Reads
December 21: Babs Book Bistro
December 21, Interview: Reading is My Superpower
December 23: Just The Write Escape
December 23: The Power of Words
December 24: Live.Love.Read
December 24: Carpe Diem
December 25: Blogging with Carol


To celebrate her tour, Amber is giving away a grand prize of a Christmas themed basket which will include a paperback copy of Solve by Christmas and The Swaddling Clothes (my two Christmas books) as well as a Christmas terrarium jar, and a Solve by Christmas notepad!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Say Hello to Jenna Brandt

Talkshow Thursday: Say Hello to Jenna Brandt

I'm sitting down today with author Jenna Brandt who saw a need for readers and did her part to fill it. Draw up a chair and get to know this interesting lady!

Linda:  You are part of an anthology of Christmas stories titled Under the Mistletoe. How did that collection come about?  

Jenna: I’ve noticed in the book industry, anthologies are a great way for readers to get to know new authors as well as for authors to share the work with a wider audience, but it wasn’t being used as often in the Christian writing world. I decided I wanted to create one for the Christmas season: romances themed around Christmas all with HEAs. I asked my good friend and critique partner, Lorana Hoopes, if she would be interested and she came into the project as my co-creator. We then put out a call to any writers who were interested in a couple of Facebook groups we both were in and narrowed it down to 8 authors total-featuring 2 historical novellas and 6 contemporary.

LM: Where did you find your inspiration for your story The Christmas Bride?

Jenna: It centers around a couple that was introduced in my series, Window to the Heart Saga. They are friends of the main characters in the fourth book, The Oregon Pursuit, which takes place in 1870 West Linn, Oregon.

LM: You obviously have a love for history. Your books range from the Victorian to the WWI era with the Old West tossed in for good measure. Which time period is your favorite and why?

Jenna: Oh, my, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child (I have four of those too). I love each of them for different reasons. I think I love reading the Victorian era, and Regency was my first introduction to historical romances. As a matter of fact, my current work in progress is set back in England during the Victorian era with characters from The Oregon Pursuit and The Christmas Bride. I love mixing sub-genres and having fish out of water scenarios. However, researching WWI was so much fun. Honestly, I don’t think I can pick. I love them all for different reasons.

LM: Lots of research goes into each story to ensure historical accuracy. What is your method for researching a story, and how much time goes into that before you begin to write?

Jenna: I research the era and the location extensively so I have a feel for the time period. For instance, The Christmas Bride and The Oregon Pursuit both take place in West Linn, Oregon at the end of the Oregon Trail. I have lots of tidbits of truth woven throughout the stories to make the book historically accurate. I also research as I go for descriptions and pictures so I can visualize an area where my book takes place.

LM: Have you ever experienced writer’s block, and if so, what did you do to push through it?

Jenna: I think every writer does experience writer’s block. Personally, I might set it aside for a couple of days if I’m not on deadline. If I am, I just force myself to keep writing. I may not like what I’m writing but I can always go back and edit it later. The key is to keep pushing through. Also, starting at the end and working backwards helps if the plot has already been figured out and I know the end.

LM: What is your next project?

Jenna: As I mentioned, I am currently working on the next book in my series called The Viscount’s Wife, featuring characters from my West Linn books which I hope to release in late January. I also have two other projects I’m working on-one coming out in March and June, respectively.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Go to to get the first two chapters of all my books for free!

Here's the buy link for Under the Mistletoe:

LM: Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mystery Monday: Christianna Brand - From Inspector Cockrill to Nanny McPhee

Mystery Monday: Christianna Brand - From Inspector Cockrill to Nanny McPhee  

I love the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and have read books written by dozens of authors from this era. I thought I had heard of nearly every one of these writers, but was pleasantly surprised recently to stumble on yet another one.

If you’re familiar with the Nanny McPhee movie starring Emma Thompson, then you’ve already been exposed to Christianna Brand who wrote the Nurse Matilda series in the late 1960s. Prior to writing short stories and children’s books, Ms. Brand penned mystery series for adults that featured three different inspectors.

Born in 1907 as Mary Christiana Milne in British Malaya, she was raised in India. She returned to England to attend a Franciscan convent school, but left at aged 17 to enter the workforce. One blogger surmised it was because her father lost his wealth. Whatever the reason, she held a wide variety of jobs such as governess, dress packer, ballroom dancer, model, and shop girl. It was during this last position she was inspired to write (under the pen name Christiana Brand) her first mystery, Death in High Heels as a result of an annoying co-worker. Six more books featuring Detective Inspector Cockrill followed as well as two other mystery series.

The second in the Cockrill series, Green for Danger, was optioned in 1944 by the J. Arthur Rank Corporation and made into a movie in 1946 starring Alistair Sim as the inspector. The plot takes place at Heron’s Emergency Hospital, and the victim dies on the operating table. The nurse is convinced the death was not an accident and Cockrill is brought in to investigate. Having served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment at the hospital where her husband, Roland Lewis, was working, Brand again used her experiences to help her craft her story.

Scholars and critics alike attest to her clever plotting, twists and surprises, and sense of humor. Three of her pieces were nominated for Edgar Awards; two short stories: “Poison in the Cup” and “Twist for Twist,” and the non-fiction Heaven Knows Who. She served as Chair of the Crime Writers Association from 1972-1973. In addition to her successful career as a mystery novelist, she wrote children’s books during the 1960s.

Brand said in an interview, “I write for no reason more pretentious than to simply entertain.”

She succeeded.

Have you read any of Christianna Brand’s books?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Archie Heron

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Archie Heron

Today I'm sitting down with Lord Archibald "Archie" Heron, the male protagonist in my novella A Doctor in the House, part of "The Hope of Christmas" collection that was released on November 24th.  I thought you'd enjoy learning a bit more about him.

LM: Thanks for joining me today, Archie. Can  you tell us a little bit about Heron Hall and how your family came to own it?

Archie: Like many English families, my family was awarded Heron Hall to recognize service to the Crown, in this case Elizabeth I. My great, great, great...well, you get the picture...grandfather was a high ranking official and an assistant to William Cecil who helped end the war with France after she became Queen. He was given a title and the estate. Records are sketchy, but I believe the property was taken from someone to give to my ancestor. The place was in disrepair, and it took nearly twenty years to renovate.

LM: You served in the war before coming home to take over the reigns at Heron Hall. Are you allowed to tell us about your experiences.

Archie: Now that the battles are over, I can share that I was in North Africa fighting Rommel, the Desert Fox. It was brutally hot, and Rommel didn't get his nickname for nothing. Skirmishes went on for weeks. We'd gain ground, and then the Germans would push us back. I was wounded at Tobruk. It took me months to recover and just before they were going to send me back, I got word my brothers had been confirmed dead (swallows heavily), and as the last remaining heir I was discharged.

LM: I'm sorry about the loss of your family. In addition to that loss, Heron Hall was requisitioned by the government for war use. Can you tell us about that?

Archie: I had three days to vacate the house, not much time at all, but that's the way it often was. Anyway, the estate was assigned to the Americans as a convalescent hospital. And to top it off, the administrator was a woman, Dr. Emma O'Sullivan. Rather unorthodox in her treatment methods and not one to take direction from others. Feisty, that's what she is. But Heron Hall served during The Great War, it only makes sense for us to do our bit again during this war. And the lads are so brave. It is my pleasure to do what I can to boost their morale.

LM:  The war has been going on for nearly three years. What has that been like?

Archie: We're fortunate at Heron Hall because of the amount of land we have. We are able to grow crops that supply us and the surrounding area. But there are many things we can't grow or get hold of such as coffee, sugar, and clothing. Not that we need lots of new clothes, but the material wears out, and we're unable to replace the items. Shoes too. Leather is impossible to come by and even if you have enough points and money, there are very few shoes to be found. And there's always the fear of being bombed. The Germans have been tenacious about attacking. But we British are resilient and we will get through it.

LM: It's hard to imagine the war being over, but have you thought about what you would do when the hostilities cease?

Archie: (shrugs) I'm Lord of the manor now. With that title comes great responsibility. I will continue to minister to the people in the village, ensuring they have enough to eat and jobs that will provide for them. We've already lost a few lads, and will probably lose a few more. I'll need to help them get past the grief. It's going to be a long road, don't you know?

LM: Thanks for taking time to visit. I'll let you get back to the boys.

Book Blurb: Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart?

Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?

Do you love Christmas stories? Love to read but you're a little short of time this season? The Hope of Christmas is the perfect solution: three heartwarming stories that don't take long to read at all. Pick up your copy today on Amazon.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Celebrate Lit Blog Tour: Holly, Ivy & Intrigue

Celebrate Lit Blog Tour: Holly, Ivy & Intrigue

About the Book

Title: Holly, Ivy & Intrigue
Author: Joanie Bruce, Alexa Verde, Denise Weimer
Genre: Mystery/suspense, Christmas
Release Date: November 13, 2017

Christmas Murder Mix-Up
“I have to get rid of her now.”
After four months of a blissful marriage, Paige is devastated to overhear her husband, Cooper, say those words to his best friend. Because of a suspicious Christmas gift, a gas leak, and a home invasion, Paige’s love for Cooper is tested to the limit. Will their marriage survive the Christmas Murder Mix-up?

Holiday Pursuit
When Brianna Rockwell’s brother finds himself in danger and disappears three days before Christmas, she does everything to rescue him. Brianna dodges bullets, escapes fire, and even turns to her longtime crush for help. But the closer she gets to solving the mystery and finding her only sibling, the more desperate someone gets to silence her forever…

Kelsey Jordan prefers upcycling junk and refinishing antiques for her store in a Georgia mountains town to being the center of attention. When a robbery and an unknown benefactor shove her in the middle of a decades-old mystery, and a real estate developer and a former baseball star compete for her attention, Kelsey isn’t sure who to trust.

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Authors

As an avid reader, Joanie Bruce welcomed the transition from reading to writing and considered it a wonderful new experience to please others with her words. She has three published Christian suspense novels, and enjoys writing from her home in the country. Thankful that God has given her the ability to write, draw and paint, Joanie strives to use them to encourage others and to honor Him in all her accomplishments.

Alexa Verde penned her first literary masterpiece, a rhymed poem, at the ripe age of eight, and since has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has a bachelor degree in Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her series Rios Azules Christmas and Secrets of Rios Azules.

DENISE WEIMER holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. An associate editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Denise is the author of The Restoration Trilogy, The Georgia Gold Series, romantic novella REDEEMING GRACE, and ACROSS THREE AUTUMNS: A Novella of The Backcountry Brides Collection through Barbour Publishing (May 2018). This wife and swim mom of two daughters always pauses for coffee, chocolate, old houses, and to write any story God lays on her heart.

My Thoughts

This delightful trio of mysteries are light, easy reads that I was able to finish in one sitting. I loved that they were all connected to Christmas, yet each had a different flavor.

Christmas Murder Mix-up: Anyone who has made assumptions that lead to misunderstanding and difficulties will appreciate this Christmas caper. Marriage isn’t easy, and as a newlywed of only four months Paige leaps to conclusions that create all kinds of angst in her life. I loved her husband Cooper, and enjoyed following Paige as she tried to figure out what was going on. The story tied up a little too quickly for my taste, but I loved the ending.

Holiday Pursuit: The story starts off with a bang, and the fast pace continues almost to the end. Brianna is a wonderful, older sister who puts her own needs ahead of her brother as she tries to help him out. Her loyalty to those around her is commendable. After the mystery was solved (which I didn’t figure out despite the clues!), there was a nice epilogue with a bit of unexpected “feel good.”

A Holiday Intruder: Denise Weimer is a new author to me, and after reading this story, I will definitely search for other books she’s written. I didn’t solve this mystery either, and the twist at the end was fantastic. The characters were well-developed, and I enjoyed learning about the antiques business. I felt for Kelsey as she struggled trying to make ends meet as a business owner. Tyler had his own issues, and yet he didn’t allow them to get in the way of helping Kelsey. A nice guy, I would like to meet in person.

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

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, December 3
Mommynificent, December 6
Allofakindmom, December 7
Blogging With Carol, December 7
Janices book reviewsDecember 9
Carpe Diem, December 10
Mary Hake, December 10
Daysong ReflectionsDecember 12
Remembrancy, December 13
Multifarious, December 14
Margaret Kazmierczak, December 14
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 15
Pursuing StacieDecember 15
Vicky Sluiter, December 16
Bigreadersite, December 16


To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!