Thursday, August 31, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Debut Author Rachel L Miller

Talkshow Thursday: Debut Author Rachel L. Miller

Linda:  I'm pleased to welcome debut novelist, Rachel L. Miller to today's Talkshow Thursday. She feels very strongly that God has led her to a simpler lifestyle, thus her deep kinship with the Plain People. She enjoys spending time with her family and doing fun, simple things like swimming, making sun tea, sitting outside watching the sunrise, or listening to rain fall on the tin roof. 

Rachel, thanks for joining me today. Your debut novel, A Mother for Leah sounds intriguing. Where did you get the inspiration for the plot?

Rachel: Well, first you need to know that A Mother for Leah was written spontaneously-in answer to a challenge from my mother. As far as inspiration, it was mostly a combination of my own dependence on God's will, combined with the curiosity of what would happen when someone in the Amish community chose not to remarry immediately.

LM: The journey to publication can sometimes be long and frustrating. As a debut novelist, what advice can you give to not-yet-published authors?

Rachel: Do not give up. Pray a lot. Trust that God has a plan and that He will get you where you need to be in His time, which is more perfect than anything we can imagine!

LM: Your novel is set in “Windy Gap.” Is that a real location or did you make it up, and if so is there a location you based it on?

Rachel: "Windy Gap" is a made up community. In fact, so far all the locations for my series are made up. Creating my own locations and communities made it easier for me to take full creative license. Also, I knew that was the name of my town from the very beginning and since there was no town that I could find in New York that matches it , I made one up. For those who enjoy knowing geographical locations, Windy Gap is roughly twenty miles north of Allegheny State Park in Cattaraugus County, NY.

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing? For example do you listen to music or set up in a specific place?

Rachel: I must have coffee, music, and no distractions. Once I am in my story world, if I get pulled away, often it proves impossible for me to immerse myself again. This is why I tend to get up very early to write.

LM: Writing about a different culture must take a significant amount of research to ensure accuracy. Do you have an unusual or favorite research story to share?

Rachel: Unusual, yes. On one of our most recent research trips, I stood outside in twenty degree weather, with cars rushing past me on a highway bridge because I was determined to get a particular shot of an older bridge that was tucked back in the woods off the main road.

LM: What new skill would you like to master at some point (e.g., a foreign language, etc.)?

Rachel: Since moving in our new house, my daughter and I have been learning archery. She doesn't have much distance yet, but her accuracy far outstrips mine.

LM: Tell me about A Mother for Leah.

Rachel:  Here is the book blurb: 

Will Leah Fisher find love because of a buggy accident?

Could love soften Leah's heart so that she is able to see her answered prayers in Naomi Yoder or will she drive a wedge between her father and the only woman he has shown an interest in since Elisabeth Fisher's death?

Leah Fisher lost her mother ten years ago. She is rapidly approaching womanhood, and the lack is becoming more difficult every day. Will she be able to recognize love when it is right in front of her? Could love be the key to Leah opening her heart, making room for the woman her father intends to marry...or will she stubbornly cling to the memory of her own mother? Will Leah be able to let go of her own ideas and realize that God truly does know best for her or will she allow love to slip through her fingers, destroying Samuel Fisher and Naomi Yoder's happiness at the same time?

LM: What is your next project?

Rachel: Currently I am working on book 2 of the Windy Gap Wishes series.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


LM: Thank you so much for visiting! Best wishes on the success of your novel.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mystery Monday: The Award Winning Author - Helen Eustis

Mystery Monday: Author Helen Eustis

Like an industry, the publishing industry has ebbed and flowed with its own set of "rules and regulations." Recently, there seems to be a trend for authors to write under a pseudonym if they change genres or series (e.g. Nora Roberts, Roberta Isleib, J.K. Rowling). I wonder what publishers would have thought about Helen Eustis who worked as a copywriter and wrote two mysteries, children's books, and short stories. She also translated numerous books from French into English.

She only published one mystery, The Horizontal Man, that won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1947. Based loosely on her experiences at Smith College, about which the author said in an interview, there were plenty of people at college she wanted to murder. Her undergraduate degree was in art, and she attended Columbia University for a time to study literature, but did not finish, instead pursuing a writing career.

The Horizontal Man includes psychologically unstable students and professors, and her 1954 release  about a boy's adventure traveling the Midwest with an amnesiac Civil War veteran, also included psychological drama. In 1965, the book was made into a movie starring Anthony Perkins and Edward Albert. Perkins's role is said to have been quite like his Psycho character Norman Bates.
The Fool Killer

Eustis won the O. Henry prize for her short story, An American Home, and her other stories appeared in Harper's Monthly, The Saturday Evening Post, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and other notable publications.

Unfortunately, her personal life was not as successful as her writing live. She married twice. Her first marriage to her professor, Alfred Young Fisher, with whom she had a son, and her second marriage to press photographer Martin Harris, both ended in divorce. Her mother died when she was a young child, and father committed suicide shortly before her first book came out.

Check your local library for her classic stories.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Barbara Britton

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Barbara Britton

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Your Tribes of Israel series sounds intriguing. You fictionalize little-known Bible stories. Where did you get the inspiration for the characters, and how do you weave them into true stories?

Barbara: I’m happy to be here, Linda. Thank you. It’s a joy to talk about ordinary people in the Bible who did extraordinary things. I found my first heroine—Hannah—after I read about the brave servant girl in II Kings 5. Naomi is caught in the chaos of Judges 19-21. I had no idea this crazy story finished the book of Judges. I found my third heroine in the names of all the builders who helped Nehemiah restore the wall around Jerusalem. I enjoy discovering new events and people in the Bible and making them into novels, so others can learn about their stories.

LM: You write for children and adults. What do you do differently in your writing to appeal to these very different audiences?

Barbara: Fortunately, I write in Biblical Fiction, under the Christian Fiction umbrella, which sets high standards for readers. Language is kept fairly clean in Christian Fiction and we don’t place “behind the tent flap” scenes on the page. Weaving a faith thread into the story reminds us how awesome our God is, and it shows us how God is there for us in difficult situations. I write fast-paced stories which appeal to both adults and teens.

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing? For example, do you listen to music or set up in a specific place?

Barbara: If only you could see my messy writing desk. When I sit at my desk, I’m working on some part of my writing. I love to listen to music, but not when I’m drafting a scene. I do have songs that inspire each of my stories. When I hear the music, I’m right into my story world (I guess that’s not good if I’m driving).

LM: Writing about ancient cultures and locations outside the U.S. must involve a lot of research. Do you have an unusual or favorite research story to share?

Barbara: “Building Benjamin” takes place in parts of modern day Syria. I had to research the border of Israel and Syria during a time of conflict. I was sure Homeland Security was going to show up at my door.

LM: LOL! You have lived in two beautiful areas of the country, but if money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Barbara: I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a chicken right now to travel outside the US and Canada. I would love to return to Hawaii, or visit Israel. Walking where Jesus ministered would be surreal.

LM: What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Barbara: Since I just outed myself as a chicken, and a non-adventure seeker (except in my stories), I don’t have many quirky memories. I love to dance though, and I will dance pretty much anywhere there’s a dance floor and 80’s music.

LM: Good for you! What is your next project?

Barbara: “Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey” will release in e-book on November 10th and in print on December 1st. Pre-orders are up now. I follow a daughter of Shallum who helped Nehemiah restore the wall around Jerusalem. There’s action, adventure and a boy-next-door romance. I tackle Nehemiah 1-8 in my third Tribes of Israel story.

LM: Both of these sound fascinating. I can't wait to read them. Where can folks find you on the web?


Pre-order Jerusalem Rising here.

Author Bio: Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb brings little-known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series.

Building Benjamin: Love Grows Where God Grafts the Tender Shoot.

Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife.

As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her tribe.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Blog Tour: Out of Darkness

Blog Tour: Out of Darkness

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book


Book title: Out of Darkness  
Author: Erynn Newman  
Release date: May 18, 2017  
Genre: Romantic suspense

Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life–until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare. As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew–his best friend and CIA partner–he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more.

Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go. Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still her husband, and she’s determined to build something new and leave her relationship with Gabe in the past, if her heart will get the memo. When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives–one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.  

My Thoughts

Out of Darkness is a well-researched, well-written thriller that left me breathless. I was stunned when I discovered this was Ms. Newman’s debut novel, and that she is not a long-time CIA operative. I lived in the DC suburbs for years and enjoyed my virtual visit to the area through the pages of this story. The book started off with a bang (literally) and moved at breakneck speed until the last page. I wasn’t crazy about the amount of violence, but it was not gratuitous. I loved Drew, Elizabeth, and Gabe. Each was a unique blend of struggles, personality, and faith. There were a couple of surprising plot twists, and I was fascinated to see how they would work out. I didn’t give Out of Darkness five stars because of the violence, but that is my personal taste and not a criticism. Recommended to those who enjoy clean versions of Robert Ludlum and Ken Follett type books.

I received this book for free from Celebrate Lit Publishing. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author


Erynn Newman is a pastor’s kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. Since earning her degree in Christian Studies, she has traveled the world and served as a missionary, a counselor, an ESL teacher, and a nanny. Though she has never worked with the CIA, her DVR contains a veritable Who’s Who of international spies. She is a Carolina girl, a wife, and Mama to a very busy little boy, two cats, and a gaggle of characters that live inside her head.

20 Facts About Out of Darkness

  1. I write novels while the rest of the house sleeps. That’s also when I do most of my editing work and social media stalking. During the day, I get to hang out with an awesome 4-year-old who is the reason I get up in the morning (both because he’s my heart and because he’s staring into my soul asking me to make pancakes).
  2. I don’t like wine or coffee. My writer fuel is partially frozen Cherry Pepsi.
  3. It took me a long time to realize I was a writer. I thought that everyone made up imaginary people and back stories for them and imagined the lives they lived and sometimes talked to them in traffic. Turns out no. Fortunately other writers found me and helped me figure it out.
  4. My greatest nemeses are also my greatest inspirations. Facebook and Netflix. Finding the balance of hanging out with other writers and readers and being inspired by great story telling and actually doing the work is the hardest thing for me.
  5. I am obsessed with casting characters. Finding the perfect actor/actress or model who embodies my characters is one of my favorite parts of the process. I also do this for every single book I read.
  6. So, of course now you want to know who I chose for Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe. I’m glad you asked.
    • Drew is based on Matt Bomer’s portrayal of Bryce Larkin in the show Chuck (there are quite a few nods to this show hidden throughout Out of Darkness).
    • Elisabeth is partially based on a character from a show I watched when I was in college (also a waitress and artist), but she looks like this model.
    • Gabe is based not that loosely on (young) Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS.
  7. Our house has a really great office with a nice desk and comfortable chair that looks out on our wooded back yard. But I work almost exclusively while sitting on the couch with my laptop propped up on the back of it. My uniform is yoga pants and an old t-shirt. The author life is G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S.
  8. I got my start writing fan fiction. Most of it has been obliterated from the interwebs, but there may still be a few Star Wars stories floating around out there (I owe this to my love for Ewan MacGregor and my hatred of Annakin Skywalker). Fan fiction is also the way I found my very first critique group. And our leader, Susan Kaye Quinn, best-selling author and real life rocket scientist, helped me realize I could be a real author. And later she taught me how to publish. I want to be her when I grow up.
  9. Speaking of fan fiction, the original idea for Out of Darkness was a fan fiction based on that character from that show I talked about above. The waitress/artist who lost her first love and then fell for someone else. And then when her love returned, he was… recast. And terrible. And she forgot who she was and made every wrong decision. And everyone was miserable ever after. And I was like, what even IS this show?!?! So I started writing my version of how it should have gone. But then a surprising thing happened. My characters took on lives of their own, and I fell in love with ALL of them, and I knew I had to tell their story. So I started creating a different back story for them (and I introduced them to Jesus), and then they became their own characters and started telling me what to do. And I’m a little insane now, but I’m not even mad because I love what this story has turned into (and turned ME into).
  10. I started writing Out of Darkness in its earliest form in 2006. I stopped and restarted several times. I wrote other things that may or may not ever see the light of day. I learned that I was writing all wrong, and I ripped it apart, started over and stitched it back together piece by piece. In fact, my original chapter one is now chapter FOURTEEN. And all of that is after the first fifty pages that now comprise First Light, the prequel novelette that tells the story of how Drew and Elisabeth met and fell in love.
  11. Of all the exotic locations mentioned in Out of Darkness: Venice, Italy; Paris, France; Cordoba, Spain; Trim, Ireland; and even Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, I have been to two—Baltimore and Paris. Google Maps Street View and Wikipedia are an author’s best friends.
  12. Music inspires me to write, but I can’t write to music. I often hear a song that makes me think of a scene or helps me get the emotion right. And I add those to my play list, but when I write, I prefer quiet (or instrumental music).
  13. I want the Gospel to be front and center in every story I write (including my own), but there were two scenes in particular that I really felt like the Holy Spirit guided me in writing. One is when Drew finds his Bible in the backpack Gabe packed for them, and the other is Gabe’s argument with God when he decides to let Elisabeth go. In both instances, I feel like God really led me to the right Scriptures and gave me the words in a way I didn’t experience with any other scenes.
  14. The hardest scenes were all of the ones with Drew and the gas. Both because I don’t like to torture my characters (contrary to what you may believe) and because the science behind the weapon is way above my head. I worked with a couple of microbiologists to get it at least to plausible/possible, but I’m sure there are still some issues with my science there.
  15. I cried several times while writing this book. Elisabeth and I grieve much the same way, so I saw a lot of myself in her moments crying out to God—especially in the ones where she just wanted to feel Him and couldn’t. I cried when Drew fell apart reading his Bible, and I cried at the end when I wasn’t sure who would live or die.
  16. Gabe was the biggest surprise of the writing process. He was supposed to be out of the picture after chapter sixteen. He was just supposed to be a supporting character in the first half of the book, but at every turn he was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “there’s so much more to my story.”
  17. A few scenes didn’t make it into the final book. Two of them are in the outtakes section of my website, but don’t read those until after you’ve read the book. Seriously.
  18. After being told by one agent that Out of Darkness would never sell because it didn’t fit neatly into a genre category, I signed with my current agent in 2012, and we submitted it to several publishers. I received lots of compliments on my writing, but ultimately, people didn’t seem to like the fact that both of my leading men were good guys, and there was no one to root against. One even suggested that I make Gabe complicit in Drew’s abduction. And one suggested I kill Drew (again!) so Elisabeth and Gabe could end up together. Both interesting ideas, but neither were the story I wanted to tell. In the end, I decided to indie publish, which has been really challenging, but I’m so happy with the way everything turned out. We all got the ending we were supposed to have.
  19. Speaking of endings, the one in the final version is very different from the original. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but let’s just say that the original ending was far less happy, but I felt like it was the only way out. One of my characters made a choice that I couldn’t see any way around. And I thought that a happy ending would be too fake. I didn’t want to tie everything up with a pretty pink bow and say “they all lived happily ever after,” because after everything they’d been through, that wouldn’t be real life. But a very good friend of mine convinced me that I could instead tie everything up with a frayed knot. It’s still messy and difficult and a little raw, but I think it’s real… and full of hope and possibility.
  20. So what’s next, you ask? There’s more to explore here perhaps, but I honestly don’t know what comes next for these characters. That’s something I’m still thinking about. The story I’m working on right now also begins in D.C. but takes place mostly in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of an ex Army Ranger who has to protect his three little brothers when the youngest witnesses their parents’ murder. And there may also be a girl involved.

Blog Stops

Here are Erynn's remaining tour stops:

August 21: Blogging With Carol
August 22: Faithfully Bookish
August 22: Mommynificient
August 24: 100 Pages an Hour
August 25: Carpe Diem
August 26: JE Grace Blog
August 26: Karen Sue Hadley
August 27: Back Porch Reads
August 28: Daysong Reflections
August 29: Remembrancy
August 30: Henry Happens


To celebrate her tour, Erynn is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Out of Darkness, a signed copy of First Light, The Joy Eternal~A Sweet and Bitter Providence CD, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Cookies.!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet author Ada Brownell

Talkshow Thursday: Meet author Ada Brownell

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Your latest book, Peach Blossom Rancher, sounds intriguing. Where did you get the inspiration for the plot?

Ada: Since the book is the sequel for The Lady Fugitive I knew John Lincoln Parks, Jenny’s twin brother, would be the leading man and own the ranch. But he’d have a mess of trouble since his uncle sold all the horses and neglected the peach orchards.

He met the beautiful Valerie at his sister’s wedding, and they have stayed in touch and he has his eyes on her. Yet, she’s a widow whose young husband was murdered, and she’s not over her mourning period.

I knew I’d have two other eligible young women in the book, but I didn’t know myself which one would own his heart.

A complication with Valerie occurs when she decides to try to get three people wrongly diagnosed freed from the state asylum.

A young gal who works a neighboring ranch because her father had been injured, is a pest, has a temper, but she thinks she’s been in love with John since they were kids. She provides humor and some suspense.

John Parks and Polly, a fantastic woman from the last book who has been in John’s home since he was born, try to help an orphaned young lady when they find her about to give birth in their barn. We learned in The Lady Fugitive that the pregnant girl was assaulted by her employer’s son.

LM: You have made a career in writing, first as a journalist, and now as a novelist. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Ada: I’ve also written non-fiction books and articles for Christian publications all my adult life. My The Springfield News Leader was “Why Do People Risk Using Heroin?”
favorite thing is when a character seems to take the story and I feel like I’m reading it instead of writing it. In non-fiction, I enjoy the inspiration and truths that come only through the Holy Spirit as I meditate on a subject and research what the Bible says. My favorite part of newspaper work was meeting people, getting the facts about what is happening or happened, as well as picking their brains about what they know, what they do and what they’ve experienced. I still write op-ed pieces for newspapers. My most recent one in

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing? For example do you listen to music or set up in a specific place?

Ada: I have devotions when I get up in the morning, but the most important thing I do for fiction or non-fiction is think. I often lie awake at night with characters and their troubles coming alive and sometimes I get writing ideas.

LM: Part of Peach Blossom Rancher revolves around an insane asylum. What sort of research  
did you do, to ensure historical accuracy?

Ada: As a journalist a former asylum was on my beat. I was given historical documents, extensive information, and I interviewed the superintendent (numerous times), the mentally ill, workers, including psych techs and guards, and visited most of the divisions in the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (in Colorado).

LM: You live in Colorado which many say is heaven on earth. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Ada: A great family reunion on Grand Mesa or Glade Park. Visiting again the area around Grand Junction such as the Colorado National Monument; the Fruita and Grand Junction churches we attended; as well as the two homes in Fruita where we lived.

LM: What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Ada: I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life. When I got married I knew a couple where the man had an affair and the woman didn’t have a clue. So I decided to be unpredictable because my husband worked shifts at the railroad, often coming and going at midnight. Sometimes I’d be up; others I’d be in bed. One night I stayed up and it was near 2 a.m. when I, in a panic, wondered what I was going to do after I threw my husband out. We had no phone and only one car. Suddenly I remembered I’d kept the car—and I was supposed to pick him up! That cured me of suspicions and we’ve been married 64 years in October.

LM: What is your next project?

Ada: I have several thousand words done on the third book in the Peaches and Dreams series, and I’m enjoying using a few events from my mother’s life. The leading lady, Ritah, is spunky, and believes women should become achievers because they might need to support the family. I also have about 100 articles published by The Pentecostal Evangel I’m making into a book. Many were written in typewriter days, and I’ve had to enter them in the computer. Interesting true stories, and interviews—stories such as “Are Christian Marriages Better?” “The Crutches on the Wall,” and “What Prayer Can Do.”

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Amazon Author Page:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Traveling Tuesday: A Bridge Too Far

Traveling Tuesday: A Bridge Too Far

As I continually research WWII for my novels, I am constantly reminded at just how far reaching the war was. It was not called a world war for nothing. The conflict seemed to impact every corner of the globe. An area I have only recently begun to study is the Netherlands, also known as Holland. The European portion (there are three Dutch islands in the Caribbean) borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest. Invaded by Germany on May 10, 1940, the country remained occupied for nearly the entire war.

The Battle of Arnhem was fought in September 1944 with Operation Market (airborne forces who would take the bridges) Garden (ground forces) being the Allied plan of attack. It was a brutal and unsuccessful campaign resulting in nearly 20,000 casualties. The road bridge over the Lower Rhine was the final objective of the operation. Troops were to secure the rails, road, and pontoon bridges and hold them until they could be relieved by the XXX Corps. However, German resistance was stronger than anticipated, and they overwhelmed the Allied troops after eight days. A later assessment by military commentators and historians indicated that priority should have been given to securing Nijmegan Bridge.

The bridge was later destroyed during a bombing raid in October, 1944. Arnhem was liberated the following year, and a new bridge was erected shortly thereafter. Because it was a truss-style bridge, it was too low for ships to pass under and subsequently replaced. In 1977, it was renamed the John Frostbrug (literally John Frost Bridge) in honor of the Major General who commanded the British forces that reached and defended the bridge.

Although the operation was a failure, Arnhem became a byword for the fighting spirit of the British people. A Bridge Too Far was written in 1974 by Cornelius Evans, and adapted for film by William Goldman in 1977. The cast is a who’s who list in Hollywood including Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Liv Ullmann, Elliott Gould, James Caan, and Michael Caine. The book’s title is supposed to have come from an unconfirmed comment by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery: “I think we may be going a bridge too far.”

Initially received with mixed reviews, the film has since become a WWII classic. Have you seen it?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Varis Gladstone, Plucky Sidekick

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Varis Gladstone, Plucky Sidekick

As part of the launch for Under Fire, the first book in my mystery trilogy, I interviewed the main character Ruth Brown. Today is your chance to meet Ruth’s BFF and “plucky sidekick.” But first a little bit of background.

Varis is named for one of my great aunts. I was very young when she passed away, but I often heard tales about her; a strong personality, but gracious. From what I understand she followed her own path, never marrying and working as a schoolteacher. She enjoyed traveling and did so extensively (unusual for a single woman to travel alone at that time). When I was looking for a secondary character who could hold her own next to Ruth, I knew someone based on my great aunt was perfect, and why not give her the name too!

LM: Thanks for joining us Varis. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Varis: I’m glad to be here. I’m an only child, and my parents were older than most when they had me. I was born in Hazelton Falls, NH and still live there. I met Ruth on the first day of kindergarten. We took to each other and have been pals ever since. My one vice is clothes. I’m always on the lookout for the next great outfit. Rationing makes it tricky, but fortunately I love to sew which keeps my wardrobe budget in check!

LM: You work for Coltrain Enterprises. What do you do for them?

Varis: I’m Mr. Coltrain’s secretary. He owns the company, having inherited it from his uncle. I type lots and lots of letters, reports, and contracts. I also take the minutes at meetings such as the union negotiations that got a bit out of hand. Because we’re a war contractor, I can’t give you specifics. I’m sure you understand.

LM: Absolutely! You had some close calls with danger during the investigation surrounding Jane’s disapperance. Would you consider yourself very brave?

Varis:  (Laughing) Hardly! When I’m around Ruth, things just seem to happen, so I’ve learned to be on my toes at all times. Most times that works!

LM: What is the greatest challenge you face with the war on?

Varis: The loss of our young men. Hazelton Falls was well-represented at Pearl Harbor and several of our boys perished that day. More have enlisted, and not everyone may return. I’m proud that they have chosen to serve, but it is a scary time waiting for them.

LM: Do you have a special young man?

Varis: Not at this time. I’m enjoying my career, and I’m very busy with hobbies and serving in the Red Cross. My life is quite full.

LM: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

Varis: Under Fire is available online at eLectio Publishing or Amazon. When readers purchase the paperback directly from the publisher they receive the ebook version for free! And please don't forget to leave a review once you've read the book.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mystery Monday: Wilkie Collins

Mystery Monday: Wilkie Collins

Last month I wrote a blog post about W. Somerset Maugham and his book Ashenden, or The British Agent which was touted as the first spy novel written by someone who served in that capacity. A follower pointed out that Wilkie Collins and his book The Moonstone was the first detective novel since it was published in 1868. I had never heard of Collins, and many of you may not have either, so without further ado, here’s a bit about the man and his novel…

Williams Wilkie Collins, named for his father, painter William Collins, and godfather, Sir David Wilkie, was born in the Marylebone district of London on January 8, 1824. He and his family lived in Italy and France for two years, then he returned to England to attend boarding school. After leaving school in 1841, he worked for a tea merchant, but disliked the job immensely. He began to write stories and in 1850, after his father died, he published his first, The Memoirs of the Life of William Collins, Esq., R.A. It received good reviews, so he continued to write, ultimately publishing thirty books, over one hundred articles, a dozen plays, and numerous short stories.

By all reports, Collins lived against the social mores of the time. Rather than adhere to the strict Victorian code, he ate and drank to excess, wore flamboyant clothing, and formed long-term relationships with two women he didn’t marry, one of whom bore him three children. He also suffered from ill-health and took opium as a result, which he ultimately became addicted to.

The Moonstone was not well-received by critics or Collins’s mentor and friend, Charles Dickens, but according to T.S. Eliot, “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels…in a genre invented by Collins, not by Poe.” Dorothy Sayers commented that it was “probably the very finest detective novel ever written.”

Containing many thriller elements, the plot of The Moonstone revolves around the theft of a large diamond inherited by a young woman on her eighteenth birthday. Incorporating some of the elements of the origins of the Hope Diamond, the story is told in a series of narratives (similar to Maugham’s Ashenden. The complex plot involves many twists and turns and includes many of the fundamentals now part of many mysteries: red herrings, a celebrated, skilled investigator, a bumbling local police force, lots of false suspects, and the “least likely suspect.”

Over the years, The Moonstone has found its way into radio, film, and television adaptations, the most recent one in 2016 by the BBC. Check your public library, they are sure to have a copy of this classic.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Blog Tour: Wounded in the Church

Blog Tour: Wounded in the Church


To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book


Book title: Wounded in the Church  
Author: Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward  
Release date: March 14, 2017
 Genre: Non-fiction

Church should be a safe place, right? Then why do so many get hurt there? Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward combine their years of ministry experience to address head-on the elephant in the room: church members and church leaders hurt Christians. All the time. And the long-lasting effects—rejection, shame, despair, loneliness, fear—can be devastating. The authors have witnessed the rise of the “dones,” those who are just done with God thanks to scars from church. With first-person stories of hurt and loss, this book is a wake-up call for any who deny woundedness in the church but is also a redemptive message for any who hurt from church wounds. Leaders and laypeople alike will learn how to grieve over abuse, to leave unhealthy attitudes and patterns that cause pain, and to trust in God’s real, delivering work through churches that build up, not tear down. Thanks to the grace of God, there is always hope beyond the pain.

My Thoughts

Wounded in the Church is a book that should be read by everyone, not just those who have been hurt by Christians and/or church leaders. Written in a conversational style, the book is split into two parts. The first half, titled “The Pain,” shares personal experiences of the authors and others, and many of the vignettes are difficult to read. It was sad to read about the harm done to people. The second half, titled “The Hope,” shares ways those who have been hurt can find healing. Through the use of Scriptures as well as coping mechanisms offered by those who have risen above their pain, the book offers caring and realistic answers. Other books on the topic are referenced, giving readers additional resources. Well-written, Wounded by the Church covers a volatile topic with sensitivity and professionalism.

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

About the Authors

Ray Beeson is the director of Overcomers Ministries, a teaching ministry with a special emphasis on spiritual warfare and prayer. Ray teaches seminars on spiritual warfare, prayer, and Christlike living and is the author of numerous books including Signed in His Blood (Charisma House, 2014) and The Hidden Price of Greatness (Overcomers, 2000). Ray and his wife, Linda, live in Ventura, CA. Chris Hayward has had over thirty-six years of pastoral ministry and is currently serving as president of Cleansing Stream Ministries, a discipleship ministry that works with the local church around the world. He is also the author of God’s Cleansing Stream (Chosen Books, 2004) and The End of Rejection (Chosen Books, 2007). Chris and his wife, Karen, live in Castaic, CA.

Guest Post from Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward

When we tell people we’ve written a book entitled “Wounded in the Church,” many nod knowingly. Sadly, the pain and heartache that happens in churches is all too common. Collectively, the two of us have spent more than 70 years in ministry. During that time we have seen neglect, tactlessness, and blatant insensitivity fostered by some leaders and congregations resulting in the wounding of others. We realize it is not prolific in every church, but the wounding is significant and it needs to be exposed. That is why we wrote this book – we share real stories of real people who were wounded in church, a place that should be a shelter of God’s love and peace. Sometimes people are abused by leaders or church members. There are also times when leaders are abused by people within the congregation. As you read, perhaps you’ll identify with some of the situations described. If so, be assured you are not alone. If you have been wounded, it is our hope and prayer God uses this book to facilitate healing. Because of Jesus Christ, there is hope beyond the pain.

Blog Stops

Here are the remaining blog stops:

August 5: The Power of Words
August 7: Just Jo'Anne
August 8: Lots of Helpers


To celebrate this tour, Whitaker House is giving away:

Grand Prize: Kindle Fire and Wounded in the Church by Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward

First Place Prize: Walking by Faith mug with matching pen OR Bouquet of Blessings mug and Wounded in the Church Second Place Prize: Walking By Faith pen and Wounded in the Church

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wartime Wednesday: The Shetland Bus

Wartime Wednesday: The Shetland Bus

I recently discovered a BBC mystery show called “Shetland.” Well-written and realistic without being gruesome, the series is set on the Shetland Isles, an archipelago made up of over 100 islands (15 of which are inhabited). Located northeast of Britain in the subarctic region, the islands are part of Scotland. They are closer to Norway than mainland Scotland, and the history of the two countries is strongly intertwined.

The first episode solved a cold case that occurred during WWII (my favorite period in history!) and involved sailors who were part of the Shetland Bus. I was unfamiliar with the Shetland Bus, so as soon as I finished watching, I dug out my computer and started researching.

The Shetland Bus was the nickname given to a loosely formed group of commercial fisherman who agreed to work for the British Secret Intelligence Service and Special Operations Executive. Their main purpose was to ferry agents, supplies, communications equipment, and weapons in and out of Norway. They also helped Norwegians, who feared arrest by the occupying Germans, to escape.

Initially there were fourteen fishing crafts used, but after several losses of boats and men, it was decided that faster ships were required. The new boats were powered by 1,200 hp diesel engines and could reach a top speed of 25 mph. In 1943, the U.S. Navy assigned three submarines to the operation, and it became an official part of the Royal Norwegian Navy. Most of the crossings were made in the winter under cover of darkness. (Like Alaska, Shetland experiences nearly 20 hours of darkness during the winter months, and the same number of hours of daylight during the summertime.) I cannot imagine how cold it was in an open boat going over the North Atlantic in winter – brrr!

Leif Larson was one of the most famous of the “Bus” men, conducting fifty-two crossings and becoming a highly decorated Naval Officer. A memorial erected in Scalloway commemorates the operation and the brave men associated with it. More information can be found in David Howarth’s Shetland Bus: A WWII Epic of Escape, Survival, and Adventure. I haven’t read the book, but over 80% of its ratings are four- and five-star.