Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Traveling Tuesday: Arizona

Traveling Tuesday: Arizona

Have you ever been to Arizona? I had a chance to visit there several years ago, and I can tell you, it is vastly different than the East Coast where I live. In my latest book, On the Rails, Katherine Newman moves from Warren, OH to Williams, Arizona to take a job as a Harvey Girl. She is not quite prepared for what she experiences.

She would have arrived via train. The trip would have taken several days. I decided not to make her suffer too badly and allowed her parents enough money to purchase her a sleeper berth.

The Williams Harvey House would have been the first thing Katherine saw when she stepped off the train. As you can see from the photo the restaurant is located on the other side of the tracks. Williams is located about thirty miles from Flagstaff. Summer time temperatures averaged in the 80s (F) but could soar to over 100. In fact, the year before Katherine moved there, Williams had a record high of 102 degrees!

Located at the base of Bill Williams Mountain, the town had a population of about 1,200 in an area covering forty-three square miles. Her home town of Warren had a population slightly more than 11,000. The mountain peaks at 9,259 feet-like nothing Katherine would have seen in Ohio.

During the story, Katherine and her friends visit the Grand Canyon, located about sixty miles north of Williams. In those days it would have been quite a drive, but fortunately Williams was on the south terminus of the train line, so the girls could ride for free (a benefit of working for Fred Harvey). The Canyon was definitely not like anything Katherine had ever seen.

Katherine and her friends also took a trip to Sedona, known as Red Rock Country, and vastly different from the rolling, green hills and farmland of Ohio.

Where are you from? Have you visited somewhere that was significantly different from where you live?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: The Latest from Terri Wangard

Talkshow Thursday: 
The Latest from Terri Wangard

I am thrilled to welcome back Terri Wangard who has recently released the third and final book in her Promises for Tomorrow series. It's an exciting conclusion, and you'll want to pick it up. Meanwhile, grab your favorite beverage and read on to learn more about Terri and her book.

Linda:  The third book in your Promise For Tomorrow Series has recently been released. Did you set out to write a series or did it just sort of happen?  

Terri: At an ACFW conference, an editor told me I would be likelier to get a contract if my Friends & Enemies was part of a series. I’d already started a contemporary story. That got shelved and I jumped back into World War II.

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

Terri: I wanted something different. Friends & Enemies featured a German widow and No Neutral Ground had an American woman working with the OSS in Sweden. At first I thought about the train canteens, but that would be difficult since the main characters would meet once and then be separated for the rest of the war. Plus, Cara Putman did a canteen story. While I was researching the canteens, I discovered the Red Cross clubmobiles. That’s it!

LM: You obviously have a love for the WWII era. What draws you to that time period?

Terri: Friends & Enemies was inspired by a batch of letters written by distant cousins in Germany to my grandparents in the postwar years. My grandparents sent them care packages while Germany was destroyed and the population desperate. Once West Germany turned an economic corner, the cousins no longer needed help and contact was lost. Using those letters, I crafted a story about their lives during the war.

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?

Terri: I read memoirs. Lots of memoirs. People telling of their experiences offer lots of ideas for my characters. Often, I buy used books so I can refer to them throughout my writing. I have notes all over the place, and usually can’t find them when I need them. I tend to obsess about getting everything exactly right, which slows me down. My first book took about a year to write. Later, I had to go back and rewrite much of it to a narrower time span. I’ve also gotten ideas from WWII TV shows, like Hogan’s Heroes (No Neutral Ground) and 12 O’Clock High (In Soar Like Eagles, the ditched crew uses a Gibson Girl radio with balloon to hoist the antenna).

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

Terri: I’ve never had anything long-term. If I can’t figure out how to move a scene forward, I’ll leave it. Go for a bike ride or use the treadmill and let ideas percolate.

LM: What is your next project?

Terri: I have a stand-alone WWII book, Wheresoever They May Be, coming out late this year with Celebrate Lit. That will be my last WWII book. My current series project takes place thirty years earlier, and I have an idea for something thirty to forty years before that, inspired by my family tree again.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Terri:  My website is www.terriwangard.com, and you can also visit my Facebook or Pinterest pages.

Linda: Thanks for stopping by, Terri. As always it's a pleasure to chat with you.

Readers be sure to stop by CelebrateLit Publishing to pick up Terri's latest: Soar Like Eagles.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blog Tour: Carrie Turansky's Shine Like the Dawn

Blog Tour: Carrie Turansky's Shine Like the Dawn


Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book


Book: Shine Like the Dawn  

Author: Carrie Turansky  

Genre: Historical

In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible tragedy reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. But Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart and she begins to wonder if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident.

When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his son Nathaniel, who is Maggie’s estranged childhood friend, returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate—and reconciling with God? Will their search for the truth about her parents’ death draw them closer or will it leave them both with broken hearts?

My Thoughts

Margaret “Maggie” Lounsbury’s life changes in the blink of an eye, and she is left to care for her younger sister. Rejected by various relatives, she ends up living and working with her elderly grandmother. The incident leaves her bitter and mistrusting of God and others. Shine Like the Dawn uses realistic dialogue and well-researched description to effectively evoke Edwardian England. Unfamiliar with the time period, I learned quite a bit about the developing technology of the early 1900s and its impact on the cultural and social mores of the era. I related to Maggie and her childhood friend, Nate Harcourt, who tried to reconcile their knowledge of God to their everyday struggles. The story moves at a steady pace, and I enjoyed the small element of mystery included.

I received Shine Like the Dawn for free from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to provide a favorable review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

CARRIE TURANSKY is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has been the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Maggie Award of Excellence. A prolific writer of contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals, Carrie lives in central New Jersey with her husband Scott. They have five adult children and four grandchildren.

Guest Post from Carrie Turansky

Hats, Glorious Hats!


By Carrie Turansky


One fun part of my research for Shine Like the Dawn was learning about hat making in the early 1900s. My heroine, Maggie Lounsbury is a milliner who designs women’s hats. She learned this skill from her grandmother who owns a small shop in the village of Heatherton. Maggie has an artistic eye and she enjoys making stylish hats, but she doesn’t like the overdone designs some of their customers request, so that creates some humorous conflict in the story.

Hats in the Edwardian era were large and often covered with feathers, flowers, lace, netting, berries and bows. The “bird nests,” as Coco Chanel called them, were held on with large hat pins stuck through piles of hair on the crown. These hats were called Gainsborough or Picture hats because of the way they framed a lady’s face. They often featured huge dried flower arrangements and sometimes included real leaves and twigs! No doubt the Garden hat was a fitting name. 1907 The Merry Window hat became very popular after the leading lady in the play by that same name wore a hat that was even taller and wider than usual. Some people complained these hats were too big and obtrusive in public places like the theater or picture shows. But English women loved them and wore them to all kinds of events.

The popularity of using large feathers and stuffed birds on hats caused concern for the welfare of birds. Many protective laws took effect and milliners had to use more ribbon and tulle and only large ostrich feathers to decorate hats. Those ostrich feathers came from birds that were raised on farms and their feathers were collected as they fell out naturally. The movement toward smaller hats began around 1913 when hats still had high crowns but smaller brims. Straw boaters, small top hats, and mini versions of picture hats were very common.

Motion pictures had the greatest influence on Edwardian hat fashion. After the release of The Three Musketeers many ladies wanted to wear tricorne and bicorne shaped hats. They were still very large but now had shapes other than just round. Hat brims were folded up on the side, at an angle, or all around to create drama. Veils disappeared in the early 1900s only to come back again as a long scarf that wrapped over the hat and under the chin for the new sport called motoring.

I’ve had fun dressing Edwardian style for book launch tea parties and other book events. It made me feel very special to wear these lovely hats. What do you think of Edwardian Hats? Would you like to wear one?

Thanks to friends at the Vintage Dancer website for some of this information.

Stop by Carrie’s Facebook author page and view her live videos February 21 – 25, 3:00 pm Eastern. She’ll be talking about the story behind Shine Like the Dawn and giving away a fun prize each day to one person who leaves a comment. Even if you can’t catch the live video you can still enter for 24 hours after it’s posted. She is also hosting a book launch celebration and giveaway on her blog February 25 – March 6.

Like to my Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorcarrieturansky/
Link to my Book Launch Blog Post: http://carrieturansky.com/index.php/blog/

Blog Stops

February 21: New Horizon Reviews
February 21: Bookworm Mama
February 22: Book by Book
February 23: Bibliophile Reviews
February 23: Smiling Book Reviews
February 23: A Readers Brain
February 23: Faithfully Bookish
February 23: Lane Hill House
February 24: Back Porch Reads
February 24: The Scribbler
February 24: I Hope You Dance
February 25: Stuff & Nonsense
February 25: The Power of Words
February 25: A Greater Yes
February 26: cherylbbookblog
February 26: Moments Dipped in Ink
February 26: Splashes of Joy
February 27: Genesis 5020
February 27: inklings and notions
February 27: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
February 28: Karen Sue Hadley
February 28: Neverending Stories
March 3: Pause for Tales
March 3: Mary Hake
March 4: Radiant Light
March 6: Baker Kella


To celebrate her tour, Carrie is giving away all 4 books: Shine Like the Dawn, The Governess of Highland Hall, The Daughter of Highland Hall, and A Refuge at Highland Hall.! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b0fb

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Katherine Newman

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Katherine Newman

On The Rails is my most recent publication. Set during 1910, the novella is about Katherine Newman and her experiences as a Harvey Girl in Arizona. What’s a Harvey Girl? Draw up a chair and let Katherine tell you all about it.

Linda: You were a schoolteacher prior to heading West. What was that like?

Katherine: I am from a small town in Ohio, so our school only had one room. That meant I had students from Kindergarten all the way through the end of high school. Although most kids dropped out after eighth grade. So many of them had to work to help provide for their families. Many families felt their children didn’t need what they would call higher education (high school). The best way to learn a subject is to teach it, so I used the older students to help teach the younger students. That also helped control the classroom by keeping them all busy.

Linda: What was the process of getting hired as a Harvey Girl?

Katherine: I had a bit of an in because my mother had been a Harvey Girl. But I still had to complete the application process. I was interviewed extensively and had to provide three character references. Then I waited and waited. Finally out of the blue, I got a letter telling me I had been hired and to report to Williams, Arizona in a week. That didn’t give me much time to prepare.

Linda: What is a typical day for a Harvey Girl?

Katherine: Our days are quite busy. We work a split shift, and serving the meals is the least of our responsibilities. In between the trains we shine the silver, dust, fold napkins, water the plants, iron our uniforms, and any other task the Head Waitress tosses our way. The idea is to create a warm, inviting atmosphere for the diners.

Linda: Fred Harvey had already passed away by the time you were hired, but his sons were running the company. What is it like to work for the Harvey organization?

Katherine: From what I understand, Mr. Harvey’s sons run the company exactly as he did. Mr. Harvey started the company in the mid 1880s because a traveler took his life in his hands eating at the establishments along the railroad lines. Mr. Harvey had already owned a restaurant so he knew he could do a better job. He managed to secure a contract to provide food on the entire Santa Fe line and became very successful. Attention to detail and extraordinary customer service are watch-words in the Harvey Company. Known for our well-cooked food, extensive choices, and generous portions, we are expected to create an exquisite dining experience that will keep our customers returning over and over. We never know when there will be an inspection, so we’re always ready. There are a lot of rules, but they make sense so the business can run smoothly.

Linda: What kind of rules?

Katherine: We have a very specific dress code including the fact that we are not allowed to wear make-up. We’re also not allowed to date during the first six months of our employment, and after that we have to seek permission from the House Manager. A strict curfew is enforced, and we sleep in a dorm. The rules protect our reputation, because in some places waitresses are considered not much better than soiled doves, although I don’t know why.

Linda: What do you like best about your job?

Katherine: I have met people from all over the country. It has been very exciting, and I’m glad to be a Harvey Girl.

On the Rails is available on Amazon and your independent bookstore: www.amazon.com/dp/B01MUYAGU3. Pick up your copy today!

About the book: Warren, Ohio, 1910: Katherine Newman loves being a teacher, but she loves Henry Jorgensen more, which is why she’s willing to give up her job to marry him. But instead of proposing, Henry breaks up with her. Devastated, Katherine seeks to escape the probing eyes and wagging tongues of her small town. A former Harvey Girl, Katherine’s mother arranges for Katherine to be hired at the Williams, Arizona Harvey House. Can she carve out a new life in the stark desert land unlike anything she’s ever known?

Henry Jorgensen loves Katherine with all his heart, but as the eldest son of a poor farmer can he provide for her as she deserves? The family’s lien holder calls in the mortgage, and Henry must set aside his own desires in order to help his parents meet their financial obligation. But when Katherine leaves town after their break up, he realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. Can he find her and convince her to give their love a second chance?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Growing up, Valentine’s Day was always extra special because it is also my mother’s birthday. Yep, she’s a Valentine’s baby, so for me the holiday is also about cake and presents. Who doesn’t love that?

Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is big business. With over 1 billion cards sent annually, it is the second most popular card-sending day (Christmas is the most popular). Chocolate and flower sales also spike on this day.

But for the men and women affected by World War II,Valentine's Day was probably another difficult holiday to get through while separated by thousands of miles. In 1943, Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured a series of pictures of farewells at Penn Station referred to as “True romance-the heartache of wartime farewells.” 

So when did Valentine’s Day begin? Apparently, no one is really sure. Some accounts claim the holiday has Christian roots, while others are adamant that pagan and Roman traditions are where it all started. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

One story talks about a man named Valentine who defied Claudius II’s edict prohibiting his soldiers to be married. Valentine performed marriage ceremonies in secret, and when he was caught was executed. Another story claims Valentine played an integral part in helping Christians escape from Roman prisons. Then there’s the viewpoint that the Christians moved St. Valentine’s feast day to February 14 in order to Christianize the festival of Lupercalia. The festival was later outlawed. During the Middle Ages the concept of romance was added to the day because it was believed that February 14th was the beginning of the mating season for birds.

It wasn’t until the 1700s that Americans started to exchange Valentine’s Day cards. Known as the Mother of the Valentine, Esther Howland began to mass produce and sell cards around 1840. Her family owned a book and stationery store in Worcester, MA. Previously Valentine’s Day cards were imported from England, hence not affordable for many people. Esther created dozens of samples made with lace paper and ribbons, hoping to secure at least $200 in orders. Needless to say she was stunned when her brother returned with over $5,000 in advance sales. Ultimately the family would do over $100,000 each year, cementing Esther’s position in history.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Deborah Piccurelli

Talkshow Thursday: Deborah Piccurelli

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

Deborah: I have been writing for somewhere between 20-25 years, and I decided at the beginning that I would write for publication, although my first book wasn’t published until 2004.

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

Deborah: Two ways. As a romantic suspense writer, I saw a clip about fetal harvesting on Good Morning America that was introducing the full story to be aired on the next 20/20 episode. I scribbled a quick note on a piece of paper and inserted it into my “Story” folder. For the characters, I noticed there were a lot of talk shows on TV exploiting little people. I vowed to the Lord that I would one day write a novel showing that, even though different, they can have normal lives.

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

Deborah: Yes, since the main characters in Hush, Little Baby are little people, I wanted to interview some, if they would be willing to speak with me about their difference. I went online and found an organization called Little People of America. There was a phone number for the president, so I called it. The person who answered was none other than Matt Roloff, star of the TLC show, Little People, Big World. At that time, the show was not yet on the TV. He spoke with me for a short time, then suggested I order his book, Against Tall Odds, which I did. A few weeks later, I still hadn’t received the book, so I called again. This time, Matt’s wife, Aimee answered. I asked about the book, for which she solved the problem, but then I asked if I could interview her from the perspective of a female little person. She agreed and we chatted for a while about many different things, even how kind or receptive some of the talk show hosts were. All in all, I have to say that both Matt and Aimee Roloff were so giving of their time and of information without hesitation. Only thing is, once the show took off, Matt was no longer the president of LPA, and due to busyness, he had an assistant who would not grant access to either of them.

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

Deborah: Mostly a “pantster.” I usually know the beginning, some things in the middle and the end. I make a list of those things, and then start writing.

LM: What is your favorite scene in the story?

Deborah: Writing that book was so much fun, that I have so many scenes I am fond of. If I have to choose one, it would be the one where Evan discovers Amber’s secret.

LM: Sounds intriguing! What is your next project?

Deborah: Right now, I’m working on a TV script the Lord has led me to do. I have a few books started that I’ve put on the back burner, as a result.

LM: What are your passions outside of writing?

Deborah: Reading, spending time with the Lord, family or friends. There are some other creative things that I used to enjoy, which I don’t have time for, anymore. Things such as crocheting, sewing, drawing.

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

I would like readers to know that I am an advocate for sanctity of life. That includes in every area: abortion, assisted suicide, and anything else that affects the quality of the precious life that God has gifted us with. Most of my books will reflect that through either the story or the characters, or both.

Ten percent of the proceeds from Hush, Little Baby go to Life Dynamics, an organization that works to prevent abortion, along with all of its components, fetal harvesting being among them.

Want to know more about Hush, Little Baby? Here's the back cover blurb: 

Investigative journalist, Amber Blake, is a little person bent on payback for the death of her average-sized twin sister. Enlisted by her former partner and estranged husband, Evan, she poses as a counselor in an abortion clinic to expose the doctor responsible for fetal harvesting. As a Christian, she struggles with concealing her beliefs to maintain her cover, while the doctor’s romantic overtures tumble her stomach. Amber agrees to date him for the sake of the story . . . but nothing prepares her for what’s behind a mysterious door in his office.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mystery Monday: Mystery Fiction Awards

Mystery Monday: Mystery Fiction Awards

It seems to be awards season. We've seen the Grammys and the SAG programs on TV, and the Oscars are coming up shortly. Even the NFL has created an awards show that was aired the night before the Superbowl. Literary awards are spread throughout the year, most associated with an annual conference. For you mystery lovers out there, here are a few of the more well-known honors:

The Agatha: Malice Domestic is a mystery fan conference held in the Washington, DC each Spring. The focus is on traditional mysteries, and The Agatha Award is given to an author whose book came out the previous year. Nominations are made by conference attendees, and the final decision is made by the Board of Directors. Past winners include: Rhys Bowen, Laurie King, Louise Penny, and Hank Phillipi Ryan

The Anthony: Boucheron is an annual conference that moves its location between Canada and the United States. The Anthony Award is given in honor of the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), New York Times writer and critic and co-founder of Mystery Writers of America. The honoree is chosen by attendees. Past winners include Margaret Maron, Laura Lippman, Jeffrey Deaver, and William Kent Krueger

The Dilys: This award was given by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association at the Left Coast Crime Conference from 1993 to 2014, and is named for Dilys Winn, the first mystery-specialty bookseller. The award is given to titles that Association members most enjoyed hand selling. Past recipients include: Anne Hillerman, Susan Elia MacNeal, Chris Pavone, and Archer Mayor.

The Edgar: Begun in 1946 and named for the author Edgar Allan Poe, this award is given by Mystery Writers of America to member authors for "the best in mystery fiction and non-fiction." Any book, short story or television show is eligible to win and must be submitted through a nomination process. The Mary Higgins Clark Award is a special subcategory in this award. How many of these past winners have you read? Jane Casey, Lois Duncan, Stephen King, and Chris Abani.

The Macavity: Named for T.S. Eliot's "mystery cat," this award is given to authors nominated and chosen by members of the Mystery Readers International organization. There are five categories: best novel, best first novel, best short story, best nonfiction, and the Sue Feder Award (begun in 2006). The most recent recipients include: Julia Spencer-Fleming, Jacqueline Winspear. P.D. James, and Michael Connolly. 

So if you're looking for a great mystery to read, try some of these award winning books.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wartime Wednesday: Stars who Served

Wartime Wednesday: Stars Who Served

In the 1940s film stars were seen as glamorous people who had little to do with "real life." (The perception is probably still true!) For some performers that may have been true. Earning hundreds of thousands of dollars ,which are the equivalent of millions today, allowed them to purchase gated homes with servants and staff who handled every detail of their lives. Others saw their careers as a job that gave them the opportunity to raise a family in comfort-important because of the recent Great Depression.

Then World War II came, and Hollywood had trouble staunching the flow of actors and actresses who signed up in droves to serve their country. Here are just a few who served before their careers began:

Bea Arthur: Born Bernice Frankel, Bea enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943. As with most women in the Corps the majority of her duties were administrative and clerical in nature. She eventually was reassigned as a truck driver before being honorably discharged in September 1945.

Bob Barker: This famous game show host is 1/8 Sioux and grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. War started after he entered college, so Bob put his education on hold and enlisted in the US Navy where he became a fighter pilot. 

Marcel Marceau: French actor and mime, Marcel Marceaux was sixteen when war came to his country, but that didn't stop him from serving. Marcel joined the French Resistance to do his part against the Axis countries. As a member of the Resistance, he forged documents and identity cards before posing as a Boy Scout leader and smuggling Jewish children out of France. When he was old enough for combat he joined the Free French Forces.

Tony Bennett: Drafted into the Army in 1944, Tony was part of the unit (63rd Infantry) that "cleaned up" after the Battle of the Bulge before moving into Germany to ferret out enemy troops in bombed-out towns. He also took part in the liberation of the concentration camp in Landsberg, Germany.

Art Carney: Comedic actor Art Carney is well-known for his part in The Honeymooners, but long before that he was drafted into the infantry during WWII where he became part of a machine gun crew. A member of the replacement troops after the Normandy invasion, Carney was injured by mortar shrapnel. The wound left him with a life-long limp.