Thursday, March 29, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Alice K. Arenz

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Alice K. Arenz

Linda:  Alice, it’s so nice to have you. Thanks for joining me today. You’ve got a new book out which is always exciting. This one is titled The Wedding Barter. Where did you get the inspiration for the story and how did you come up with the title?

Alice: Hi, Linda, thanks for inviting me to join you.

Late last August I was asked if I would like to join a group of authors from my publishing house, Forget Me Not Publishers, in writing a novella for boxed set (now available on Amazon—Trying Out for Love). In the beginning, the stories were going to be joined together under the idea of a “bridesmaid’s auction,”—inspired by an article one author found in the paper. Not only had I never done a “piece of the story” like this before, but my genre has been mystery/suspense, so writing a romance was really a stretch for me. Though I found the idea intriguing, I really didn’t think it would be the right venue to pursue. But, after the scope of the novellas changed to stand alone books, I softened. Within a few weeks, the germ of an idea was gifted me after some time in prayer, along with the title. Gotta love how God works!

LM: Research is an important part of writing any book. What sort of research did you conduct for this book?

Alice: For a short novel—49,000 words—there was more research than I’ve ever done before. And it was mostly on the fly as I dictated—cold turkey, no notes or forethought—to my husband. It’s the first time I could actually call the Internet my friend! From the Army, to PTSD, IEDs, traumatic brain injuries in general, to getting the correct name for Avon pieces my children and I owned in the past, we were constantly looking things up and trying to learn all we could. I even got four or five books on barn architecture from our local library so I could learn a little about both the interior and exterior of the structures. I’d always wanted to know what to call my favorite style and quickly learned about the “gambrel roofed barn.” My publisher found the perfect example of it for Barter’s cover!

LM: You’re a prolific writer. How do you decide what project or genre to start next?

Alice: Honestly, I don’t know any other way than to let God lead me. If He isn’t on board, it’s not going to happen. Right now—after almost ten years—the third in The Bouncing Grandma Mysteries is on the agenda.  

LM: What is your favorite childhood book?

Alice: Books—The Black Stallion series

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: most blues
Favorite vacation spot: Multnomah Falls, OR
Favorite season: any that isn’t too hot!

LM: What else would you like readers to know about you?

Alice: A good deal of what Riley—the lead character in The Wedding Barter—describes about her brain injury is from personal experience.

LM: What is your next project?

Alice: A cozy mystery called The Case of the Stolen Identity, a Bouncing Grandma Mystery.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

About Alice: Though Alice K. Arenz is known for her cozy mysteries and romantic mystery/suspense novels, the Carol Award winning author has branched out with her newest release, The Wedding Barter, a romance that is both serious and funny.  Arenz is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her first three novels were honored by two finals and one win in ACFW’s Carol Awards: cozy mysteries The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (a 2009 finalist), The Case of the Mystified M.D., (2010 winner), and mystery/suspense Mirrored Image (a 2011 finalist). These novels have been followed by An American Gothic, Portrait of Jenny, and short story, Home Cookin’.

About The Wedding Barter: Riley Carr has been best friends with Amy Lawton since they were toddlers.  While Amy awaits her discharge from the Army, Riley's been left in charge of helping to arrange "a very small, intimate ceremony with no fanfare" for Amy and her fiancé. But, Riley has something else in mind.

With the aid of two other friends, Riley presents her “wedding barter” idea to groom, David Herron. He agrees, providing best man, Mike Todd, stays in the loop to keep things from getting out of hand.

It doesn't help that the giant of a man is threatening, overbearing, and just doesn’t seem to like her or her ideas. But, when Todd gives Riley an ultimatum of producing results in three weeks or he’ll take over, she’s determined to prove him wrong. . .in more ways than one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: Boomtowns!

Wartime Wednesday: Boomtowns!

One of the myriad ways WWII impacted America was the migration of huge numbers of people from farms and rural areas to the cities, mostly in search of well-paying defense jobs or to volunteer with one of the many organizations created as a result of the war. Already industrial centers, many cities grew at phenomenal rates to became "boomtowns."

For example, Richmond, California more than quadrupled in population from less than 24,000 to well over 100,000. Washington, DC was another city that exploded in growth as tens of thousands of workers joined the swelling ranks of bureaucracy. Mobile, Alabama burgeoned with humanity with the influx of workers to the shipyards.

One issue that arose in most of these boomtowns was the shortage of food; even if a person had the appropriate ration stamps required to purchase an item, it was difficult to find items. Why did this happen? Food allotments were made to areas based on the 1940 census (before the growth occurred)! Didn't see that one coming, did you?

Listen to what Melissa Meethe, Mobile, Alabama says about her experience: "There was no meat. If you found any it looked so bad...that you were afraid to buy it. After some months we found a farmer thirty miles up in the country who would sell us chickens and eggs. One of us women would drive up every couple of weeks and bring back a dozen chickens and a case of eggs to be shared among four or five families. Those with the plentiful shrimp and fish provided our protein for years."

According to Melissa there were lines everywhere and grocery shopping could take more than an hour to complete because of waiting. I dislike grocery shopping - a lot! I can't imagine adding the frustration of limitations, poor quality, and long lines.

Following the war, many of the people who relocated to the cities stayed in their new homes. How about your family? Did your parents or grandparents migrate as a result of the war and then remain in the new location?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Blog Tour: The Tempering Agent

Blog Tour: The Tempering Agent

About the Book

 Book Title: The Tempering Agent  
Author: Victoria Pitts Caine  
Release Date: February 14, 2014
Dr. Priscilla Hackling finds herself thrown back into the murder investigation of her fiancé, Trey Whittington. While she was a suspect three years ago, she’s now working with the police to find the murderer, Egyptian artifact trafficker, Zarka El-Din. During a sting operation in Siwa, she and Agent Donnie Barnes are drawn to each other but Priscilla, overcome by personal ghosts from her past, decides a relationship isn’t possible. Priscilla realizes she’s the bait in the ruse and uncovers others involved with El-Din. Will she and Donnie reconcile and unravel the reason behind Trey’s death before El-Din kills her, too?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

I have a mixed reaction to The Tempering Agent. This is the first Victoria Pitts-Caine book I read, and I enjoyed it enough to want to read the others in this series. The cover captured the essence of the series and the genre, and I was drawn into the story almost immediately. What I wasn’t crazy about – the relationship between Priscilla and Donnie developed too quickly for my taste, and when they were each struggling with whether to pursue the other person, most of what came to mind was memories of kisses and physical attraction. In addition, Priscilla is a British citizen, yet her word usage and mannerisms seem American. The few British references were cliché: greeting each other with “cheerio” and lots of tea drinking. The author seems more comfortable conveying Egyptian and Middle Eastern dialect, mannerisms, and customs and have obviously either done lots of research or had personal experience. Information about archaeology, digs, history, and government oversight is interesting and well-presented, sprinkled throughout rather than dumped onto the reader. The suspense and intrigue steadily increases as the book progresses to the point that I wasn’t sure who to trust, and I began to see “bad guys” in every corner. I loved that! The action sequences are exciting, and kept me reading. Each chapter heading includes information about a gemstone which I found very interesting, but the reference during a conversation to “the tempering agent” felt forced and dropped into the story as if to justify the book’s title.

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

About the Author

Victoria Pitts Caine is a native Californian and lives in the central portion of the state. Her varied interests include genealogy and exotic gemstone collecting both of which she’s incorporated into her novels. The author has received recognition in both fiction and nonfiction from: Enduring Romance top 10 picks for 2008, William Saroyan Writing Conference, Byline Magazine, Writer’s Journal Magazine, Holt International Children’s Services Magazine, and The Southern California Genealogical Society. Her first novel was published in 2007 followed by two more as well as novellas and short stories in anthologies. Victoria is a former staff technician in air pollution control. She is the mother of two daughters. Now retired from the work force, Victoria and her husband enjoy travel, cooking, and are self-appointed “foodies”.

Guest post from Vicki Caine

Since childhood, I have been interested in genealogy and ancient Egypt. Two of my prior novels, Alvarado Gold and Cairo, let me follow my fantasies into those two areas. Donnie the hero in The Tempering Agent is also in the other two books, and it was his turn to find his own romance. When archaeologist Dr. Priscilla Hackling finds herself drawn back into the murder investigation of her fiancé and the missing breast plate of the high priest, Agent Donnie Barnes, is just the man to help her out, even if she doesn’t think so. Traveling along with Priscilla and Donnie, I discovered some interesting facts about ancient Egypt, from the ruins in the Siwa Desert to the mystery of the Valley of the Kings. The genealogy factor in my novels is Donnie is loosely based on my cousin. Alvarado Gold tells the story of my family while Cairo and The Tempering Agent fueled my inquisitiveness about Egypt.

Blog Stops

Here are Victoria's remaining blog stops:

March 25: Big Reader Site
March 26: A Greater Yes
March 29: Carpe Diem
March 30: Pause for Tales
March 31: Mary Hake
April 2: Among the Reads
April 2: Pursuing Stacie


To celebrate her tour, Victoria is giving away
Grand prize: Murano type heart necklace with lampwork bracelet and $25.00 Amazon gift certificate
1st Place: Green and white lampwork pendant and earrings
2nd Place: Set of three lampwork earrings
3rd place: Set of three holiday themed earrings
4th place: One ten $10 Amazon gift card
5th place: One ten $10 Amazon gift card!!

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

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Blog Tour: The Heart's Appeal

Blog Tour: The Heart's Appeal

About the Book

Book Title: The Heart’s Appeal  
Author: Jennifer Delamere  
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance

Strong-minded and independent, Julia Bernay has come to London to study medicine and become a doctor–a profession that has only just opened up to women. When she witnesses a serious accident, her quick action saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson. It’s only later that she learns he could be instrumental in destroying her dreams for the future. Coming from a family that long ago lost its status, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to regain the path to wealth and recognition. His latest case puts him in the middle of a debate over the future of a women’s medical school. He’s supposed to remain objective, but when the beguiling and determined Julia reappears with an unexpected entreaty, he begins to question what he’s made most important in his life. But Julia may be hiding her own motivations. As the two are tangled into spending more time together, will their own goals be too much to overcome?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Starting off slowly with what feel like lots of backstory, The Heart’s Appeal gains traction and tells an entertaining story of two people who struggle to get out of their own way trying to achieve their goals while fighting their growing attraction. The story is set in England, but at times the dialogue feels modern and American which I found distracting. The character development is well-done, and the relationship between Julia and Michael realistic and enjoyable. They are drawn to each other by more than physical attraction. Each appreciates the other’s intelligence, humor, and integrity which creates a solid foundation and authentic bond. Descriptions about attire and social customer immersed me in the era of the latter part of the 19th century. I enjoyed the fact the author used the real location of the London ­School of Medicine for Women and its founder Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and the information about them was interesting. I like a book that makes me want to do further research about a topic, and The Heart’s Appeal successfully intrigued me to find out more.

I was given a free copy of this book by CelebrateLit Publicity, and a positive review was not required. All opinions expressed area my own.

About the Author

Jennifer Delamere’s debut Victorian romance, An Heiress at Heart, was a 2013 RITA Award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, A Lady Most Lovely, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She’s been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.

Guest Post from Jennifer Delamere

Power couples?

Perhaps that’s not a concept that initially comes to mind when one thinks of Victorian England! And yet, they did exist. I love to include real people from history in my books, and in The Heart’s Appeal, Julia Bernay meets two inspiring real-life couples who will make a positive impact in her life.

In 1865, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first woman to qualify as a physician in Britain. She did this through a legal loophole, but soon the laws were changed to open the medical field to all women. In 1874, Dr. Anderson co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women. She remained involved in the school in various capacities for the rest of her life, even as she continued to run her own busy practice. In The Heart’s Appeal, she becomes a mentor for Julia, opening doors for her education and introducing Julia to people who can help her succeed in medical school.

Dr. Anderson’s husband, James Anderson (Jamie), was the joint-owner of a successful shipping line and also served on the boards of several organizations (including a children’s hospital). He was a handsome man, very much in love with his wife, and fervent in supporting her choice of a career.

In a letter he wrote to her while they were engaged, Jamie explained his vision for their future—how they could keep their professional and private lives separate, yet still give each other plenty of love and support:

“I think we had better lay it down once for all as a rule that I am under no circumstances to bring people ‘favorably under your notice’ or ‘exert any influence’ or anything of the sort. It will give people a wrong idea of you unless I take a decided line in this matter — and as I mean to be if I can a successful man of business, neither interfering with your pursuits nor being interfered with by you (but having our confidences on all feasible subjects at off times of the day and week and mutually advising and fortifying one another), I must let people know unmistakably not to come bothering me about your public affairs. Will you think about this, dearest?” 

Who couldn’t love a man like that?

Jamie Anderson’s outlook on life comes into play later on in The Heart’s Appeal, when he provides advice and aid to Michael Stephenson, the book’s hero, at a critical time.

Julia also has an inspiring encounter with Dr. Anderson’s sister, Millicent Fawcett. Millicent was married to a Member of Parliament and actively supported her husband’s career in many ways, including acting as a scribe for him since he was blind. She is most remembered for her role in the women’s suffrage movement. In fact, a statue of her will be placed in Parliament Square in London this summer. She was not a militant suffragette, but rather campaigned for suffrage under the banner “Law-Abiding Suffragists.”

Both couples raised families, too, and their children’s successes in life show they were raised to have the same energetic and “can-do” attitudes that their parents had.

Julia initially believes she must remain single to achieve her life’s goals. But soon she finds her heart drawn to successful barrister Michael Stephenson, who admires Julia’s intelligence and ambition. She learns that love and the freedom to pursue her dreams do not have to be mutually exclusive. A meeting of minds to spark a true romance? Yes, please! I hope readers will agree this can be the most satisfying of all.

Blog Stops

Here are the remaining blog stops:

March 25: The Power of Words
March 25: Mary Hake
March 25: Remembrancy
March 26: Cordially, Barbara
March 26: Genesis 5020
March 27: Kat's Corner Books
March 27: Maureen's Musings
March 27: Carpe Diem
March 29: Baker Kella
March 29: All of a Kind Mom
March 30: Pause for Tales
March 30: Cafinated Reads
March 30: Pursuing Stacie
March 31: Book by Book
March 31: Big Reader Site
April 2: Vicky Sluiter
April 4: Karen Sue Hadley
April 4: Live Love Read


To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a grand prize package of that includes All four March Bethany House historical releases (The Heart’s Appeal, plus A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason, A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears, In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson) and a $20 Starbucks gift card!!

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: A Guest Post by Donna Schlachter

Talkshow Thursday: A Guest Post by Donna Schlachter

Transformation: a chronological walk through the Bible in a year

Have you ever noticed that the voice of God often comes in the most unexpected moments asking the most unexpected things of us? This happened to me early in January of 2017 during my daily reading. Without a doubt, He stood beside me and said, “Write this book”.

Now, normally when God tells me to write a book, I don’t have any problem. I mean, I have so many stories floating around inside my head, I don’t think I’ll live long enough to get them all written down.

So, naturally, I asked, “Which book?”

“This book.”

“This isn’t a book.” Like I need to tell God that, or anything for that matter. “It’s just my daily journal.”

“Yes. That book.”

Honestly, that was the last thing I wanted to hear. Like I said, I have plenty of other books to write without God adding a devotional to the list. But I couldn’t escape the instruction.

So, here are three things I learned while writing this book:

  1. Because it was also my daily reading and quiet time, I had to be honest with my own thoughts, feelings, and understandings, but also be willing to be completely transparent with my reader. In fact, when I transcribed this book into my computer, I only changed about three words, and that’s because I’d written the wrong word in my journal.
  2. I waited until almost the end of the year to transcribe the book. Stupid me. I could have started almost immediately. The lesson learned is never put off what God is telling you to do.
  3. The process of writing a book kept me on track so I couldn’t skip days or skim the reading. At the end of every reading, I asked God what He wanted me to learn, and what He wanted the reader to learn. As a result, I didn’t use any of the “usual” verses we see in devotionals, and God gave me fresh insight every single day.

So this book has been a true transformation for me. The way I read was different; I expected God to show up every day; and I was able to be more real in what I wrote. As I transcribed, I saw days where I was upbeat; days where I was discouraged; days where I was angry. And yet God used every one of those days.

If we let Him loose in our lives, He is faithful to change us—to transform us into His likeness and image.

Answer this question for the opportunity to win a free print (US only) or digital copy of Transformation: How would knowing you were writing a book change the way you journal your quiet time?

About Donna:
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Visit Donna on the Web:

Website: (receive a free ebook just by signing up for our free newsletter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: A Bicycle Built for Two (or not!)

Wartime Wednesday: A Bicycle Built for Two (or not!)

Anyone who has read about WWII knows that rationing played a major role. One of the many challenges associated with rationing was that the alternatives were also rationed or found in limited supply.

Civilian car production ceased, and gasoline was rationed based on an individual’s needs. “A” was the most common and issued to the general public. It was worth four gallons per week. “B” was given to business owners and worth eight gallons per week. “C” was for professionals such as doctors, nurses, ministers, farm workers, etc. “M” was for motorcycles and “T” was for truckers. “X” was for individuals who held high mileage jobs such as traveling salesmen, however, many rich people and politicians also received X stickers.

Walking was one alternative to driving, but was not realistic if the individual had far to go.

Enter the bicycle.

Many people already owned bicycles and took to them in droves. However, many more people had to purchase bicycles, and it was difficult to find them as the government had put a freeze on bicycle sales and allocated over 10,000 bikes to war production plants. The remaining bikes available were rationed by the OPA and an adult who was gainfully employed or contributed in some way to the war effort or public warfare had to cite a compelling reason (such as inadequate public transportation or responsibility for delivery service) in order to purchase one.

New bikes under production had to adhere to the manufacturing requirements imposed by OPM – weighing no more than thirty-one pounds and made of steel only (no copper or nickel parts). Chrome plating was limited and most of the accessories such as chain guards, bells, and luggage racks were eliminated. Tire size was also reduced and whitewalls were abolished.

And in keeping with the times, they were called Victory bikes.

Do you still ride a bike?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Blog Tour: Storms in Serenity

Blog Tour: Storms in Serenity

About the Book

Book Title: Storms in Serenity  
Author: Fay Lamb  
Release Date: February, 2018  
Genre: Romance, Mystery  

How can one man save the town he loves when he’s the reason for the destruction? Serenity Key, Florida, has seen its share of hurricanes, but this time, one foul weather system is about to collide with another storm, and this one has nothing to do with atmospheric pressure. David New has guarded his secrets for years, but when two brothers, John and Andy Ryan, arrive in town and he gets news that the daughter he’s never told anyone about has disappeared, possibly the victim of a heinous crime, and the lives of many of the town residents begin to unravel in the gale force consequences of Jake’s past, he has nowhere else to turn. God is the only one Who can calm the storms, but can David and the good folks of Serenity Key survive until He does? A tempest has been brewing for thirty years, with only one island town in its path.
Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

A deeply moving, well-written story, Storms in Serenity addresses the topic of infidelity in a modernization of the aftermath of David and Bathsheba’s unfaithfulness. In one sense, the book was difficult to read because of the subject matter and the tension and high level of emotions never let up; the characters were in a constant state of upset. Having said that, I liked the characters-they were everyday people trying to handle the difficulties in their lives. I felt sorry for them as they struggled to reconcile their issues with their faith (or lack thereof). Storms in Serenity is told from multiple points of view which sometimes led to confusion, but most the time led to a deeper understanding of the characters. The mystery element of the story was well-done, and I enjoyed trying to figure out who the villain was (I did!). The plot twist at the end kept me reading late into the night. This is the first in a series, and I look forward to seeing whose stories will be told in the next book.

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

About the Author

Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories with a Romans 8:28 attitude, reminding readers that God is always in the details. Fay donates 100% of her royalties to Christian charities. Storms in Serenity is the first book in Fay’s Serenity Key series. Fay’s other series include, Amazing Grace and her novels, Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, Everybody’s Broken, and Frozen Notes. The Ties that Bind Series includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope. Delilah, is coming soon. Fay’s is also the author of The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Guest Post from Fay Lamb

ONCE UPON A STORM I’m one of those people who love storms. I revel in the lightning that streaks across the sky, the rumble of thunder as it rolls over the air, and I dance to the eerie sound of the wind coming through a crack in the window. Storms don’t frighten me. I’m an East Coast Floridian. I’ve lived through many a tempest. However, so that you won’t think me completely insane, I have also fled a few hurricanes. In our house, a Cat III storm is something to debate as we watch to see how low the millibars fall at the storm’s center. A Cat IV means gather the important documents, place them into plastic bags and tuck them into plastic tubs, batten down the hatches, and depending upon its projected proximity, hunker down or flee. A Cat V is a no-brainer. Run! If only the storms in our lives had categories so that we know when to stand and face the winds of life or to debate the direction, or to decide when to flee. Sometimes, the storms of life come at us without warning, with no stirring up of the waters by our own hands. Other times, the storms can be abated by the stance we take, the decisions we make, and by failing to move out of harm’s way, perhaps in an opposite direction. That’s what my first novel in The Serenity Key series is about: one man stirred up a storm many years prior. The destructive force of that storm amassed because he didn’t take a stand, he failed to make crucial decisions, and he choose to run from a situation that God would not allow him to outrun. Storms in Serenity is a modern-day retelling of the Biblical truths of the aftermath of David’s sin with Bathsheba and the destruction the storms of life that blew apart not only David’s family but also those he called friends. Mostly, though, Storms in Serenity, is a novel that proves that when it comes to sin, truly, no man is an island.

Blog Stops

Here are Fay's remaining blog stops:

March 22: Texas book-aholic
March 23: Carpe Diem
March 24: Pursuing Stacie
March 26: Among the Reads


To celebrate her tour, Fay is giving away a grand prize of an Echo Spot!!

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Suspense Author Theresa Lynn Hall

Talkshow Thursday: Suspense Author Theresa Lynn Hall

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. My readers love a good mystery or suspense novel, so they will be very excited to hear about your latest release, Ransom in Rio.  

Here's the blurb: Private investigator Braden McCoy wants nothing more than finishing out the week doing a little fishing from his boat. The ex-special ops vet enjoys his peaceful life and loves his new career. Until a mourning redhead walks into his office and changes his plans. 

Lexi Ramos always knew her family was dysfunctional. Until the sudden death of her brother, she never knew exactly how much. Consumed with questions surrounding his accident, she seeks the help of a private investigator. What starts out as a murder investigation in Cozumel quickly crosses borders and escalates into a race against time to save them both from Brazilian kidnappers who somehow know more about her family secrets than she does. Lexi soon learns that life comes with a price.

It sounds intriguing! What was your inspiration for the story?

Theresa: Thank you so much for having me here, Linda. My publisher, Pelican Book Group, has a series called Passport to Romance. They request books from different international locations that include 3 particular items to show up in the book. One location was Rio, Brazil with the items being a formal event, a family secret, and an emerald necklace. The significance of the items can vary.  As luck would have it, my husband was assigned to go on a business trip to Sau Paulo, which included a few days in Rio. The man assigned to host him while he worked there showed him the culture and language. He took a lot of pictures and brought back many stories. I even had to learn some Portuguese so that I could call his hotel. I also learned very quickly that this Texas girl can’t pull that off!

LM: How do you come up with your characters? Are they based on any real people in your life?

Theresa:  Great question! And one my friends and family are going to want to see the answer to! Actually, I do not base my characters on real people intentionally. I have found that my husband tends to influence my hero quite a bit and some of my quirks sneak into my heroine. In Ransom in Rio, Lexi is very determined and strong. She’s a fighter till the end. In the book I’m writing now, my heroine is a bit more vulnerable and less sure of herself. The two women have completely different personalities but each strong in her own way. Neither of them are based on any one person intentionally.

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

Theresa: I am typically a “pantser” but it does get me bogged down. I’ve learned to change my process a bit. I’m a full-time, first grade teacher and my job is mentally and physically exhausting. There are weeks when I can’t write at all. On another side note, I also have an autoimmune disease which causes extreme fatigue. When I was a full-blown “pantser” I would find myself getting lost when I came back to the story. I couldn’t focus and I had no real plot. Now, I start out the first few chapters without an outline (which is always the most fun!) and then I stop and outline the rest of the book. It helps me stay on track. However, I always change the outline as I write because my characters usually have a way of doing what they want anyway. But, yes, if I have to identify as one or the other then I’m a “pantser”—with a few modifications.

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

Theresa: I think we all have our fantasy writing spot. Like that deserted island, watching the waves roll in with my laptop, while having food and drinks handed to me. Lol! But in reality, I have an office at home where I have everything set up. I also have a laptop and an iPad. I have strike it while the iron is hot, so to speak. I’m one of those people who can write in front of the TV with people talking around me. I can tune out pretty much anything if I’m in the zone.

LM: What one thing would you like to learn how to do?

Theresa: I’m loving your questions! I’m having to really think on this one. Well, this answer is probably boring…but, writing related I’d have to say I’d love to learn how to successfully use social media for promoting my books. I’m such an introvert and never know what to say! On a personal level, I’d love to learn how to play the piano. I have one and can hardly play it. I took lessons as a little girl but have forgotten a lot.

LM: Quickies:

Favorite Color: blue
Favorite Book: Bible
Favorite Movie Actress: Sandra Bullock

LM: What is your next project?

Theresa: I always have a few going but one I’m focused on now is about a young woman who thinks she’s finally getting herself together and is suddenly thrown into something so corrupt that she’s running for her life. The officer trying to help her soon finds himself running with her, not knowing who to trust next. Underneath the suspense and drama, it’s about two people who have to learn how to trust not only each other, but God’s plan for their lives.



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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Bletchley Park

Traveling Tuesday: Bletchley Park

Winston Churchill once called Bletchley Park his “goose that laid the golden egg but never cackled.” Often referred to as Station X by those who worked there, Bletchley Park was a mansion located fifty miles outside of London. As the central codebreaking location of the Allies, the golden egg was the ability to decode the secrets of the German war machine, Enigma.

With 150 million million million (not a typo!) because of its lettered rotors, Hitler and his men were convince the machine was unbreakable. Enigma looked like an oversized typewriter with lights. Many experts feel the war was shorter by two to four years because of the Allies’ cracking of the code.

Ultimately, Bletchley would house more than 10,000 employees in a collection of small wooden huts who were a hodgepodge of personalities and skills. Many were mathematicians from Cambridge, but there those who were geniuses at chess, linguistics, and hieroglyphics. But one requirement was the same for all: they must be able to solve The Daily Telegraph’s crossword puzzle.

About 75% of the workforce was women, although few worked at the higher levels, instead operating cryptographic and communication machines, performing traffic analysis, translating Axis documents, and of course, doing clerical tasks. It was only after documents were declassified that the female analysts received recognition for their work.

Today, Bletchley Park is a heritage attraction and receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Blog Tour: Soul's Prisoner

Blog Tour: Soul's Prisoner

About the Book

Book Title: Soul’s Prisoner  
Author: Cara Luecht  
Genre: Historical fiction with some suspense and romance  
Release Date: December 15, 2015  

Chicago, Winter, 1891 Rachel is in danger. She’s seen too much. She creeps along the cement walls through the dank underbelly of the asylum. She’d never planned to leave her quiet farm life, never thought she’d find a place in the city, never imagined she’d be in the kind of danger that would have her cowering in Dunning’s cold, labyrinthine basement. Jenny has finally found her place. After a childhood of abuse, she has friends, a real job, and her only wish is to give her adopted son the kind of life she never had. A life of stability, without the risk and uncertainty of a father. But when Jeremy, Rachel’s brother, stumbles into their warehouse, asking for help to find his missing sister, Jenny’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble.

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My Thoughts

A powerful, moving novel, Soul’s Prisoner started off slowly and took 50-60 pages to get moving. The author uses several points of view which creates a deep, multi-faceted story. However, having not read the first book in the series I found the constant changes between characters confusing. Once I got to knew the characters and became immersed in the story, I was hooked. Obviously well-researched, the book uses vivid descriptions to portray the sordid and sometimes tragic life in a late 19th Century asylum. With its page-turning suspense and many plot twists, Soul’s Prisoner kept me reading late into the night. It is not an easy story to read in that it deals with difficult issues such as prostitution, rape, and abuse, but the author handles each subject with sensitivity. The characters are a realistic combination of strengths and flaws, and I especially liked Miriam and Michael. Although Christian fiction, I was disappointed that references to God and elements of faith were marginally included. Prayer only seemed to be used when in dire straits. I enjoy historical fiction about real people, places, and events, and appreciated the additional information included at the end about the history of the Dunning asylum.

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

About the Author

Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Guest Post from Cara Luecht

The Setting for Soul’s Prisoner: Dunning Asylum for the Insane Dunning Asylum for the Insane was built in the 1850s and housed psychiatric patients until the early 1900s. It has since been demolished, and a small park currently stands as the only remaining testament to the people who lived and died on the grounds. The original plot of land also included a poor farm and a cemetery. A railroad used to connect the grounds to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Milwaukee. It was nicknamed the “Crazy Train”—a phrase that still survives in our language today.

Those buried in the cemetery include Civil War Veterans, victims of the Chicago fire of 1871, orphans, paupers, and the residents of the asylum for the insane. Most estimates agree that nearly forty thousand people were buried on the grounds. There is no doubt that mental illness is hard on families, but in the 1800s, having a family member who struggled with mental illness was an embarrassment.

With little understanding of mental health in general, and even less compassion for those who suffered, examples of this tragic response to the threat of mental illness can be seen in the numerous inmates who were there simply due to addiction or depression. There are even cases where women were committed because their families were humiliated by their giving birth outside the bonds of marriage. Often times, challenges with mental health were synonymous with the notion of moral failure or vice. Because of this, even many charities looked the other way when corruption or abuse was exposed. Reporters sometimes wrote about the horrors of the institutions, but once the sensational story was out, and the initial outrage worn away, few worried about the people who suffered on a daily basis. And because of the moral implication of mental illness, families commonly turned over their suffering members to the county, and later simply explained to friends that the person had died.

 And that is exactly what the mentally ill would do in the institution. Live there until they died, forgotten. And that’s how the story played out at Dunning, until late in the 1900s when developers began to dig the roads and foundations for a new neighborhood on the grounds of what was once the Asylum. At that time, Dunning, and the people who had resided there, were still within living memory, so when bones were unearthed, it was no mystery how they ended up on that patch of land.

What had slipped from memory was the magnitude of the collective stories of suffering and hardship. For this novel, the people and events are fictitious. However, when examining old news stories from an institution known for corruption, it is not hard to imagine situations like the ones in the novel. The details that are true are the nearly one thousand inmates, no hot water, little to no heat in the winter, bad food, and the general feeling of living ghosts, intentionally forgotten, and doomed to never leave the grounds.

Blog Stops

Here are Cara's remaining blog stops:

March 12: amandainpa
March 13: Texas Book-aholic
March 14: Carpe Diem
March 15: Maureen's Musings
March 17: A Greater Yes
 March 20: Simple Harvest Reads
March 20: Pursuing Stacie
March 21:  Big Reader Site


To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Soul’s Prisoner and sketching art supplies!!

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