Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Great State of Texas During WWII

The Great State of Texas During WWII

When World War II began, Texas held fewer people than New York City. According to one source, less than 40% of the population had a high school diploma, and only one in five owned a car. Furthermore, only one in ten had access to a telephone and one in six owned a radio. Folks were probably too busy operating the farms and ranches that peppered the state.

How quickly things change!

By the end of the war, there were 175 major military installations and dozens of smaller ones. Over one and a half million trainees made their way through the state. Texas was also home to sixty base and prisoner of war camps.

Manufacturing quadrupled to nearly two million dollars by 1944. From Port Arthur to Corpus Christi, a multitude of petrochemical plants dotted the Gulf Coast, producing millions of gallons of fuel for military equipment. The Gulf Coast also boast extensive shipyards in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Houston, Galveston, and Corpus Christi. Aircraft factories went up in Garland, Grand Prairie, and Fort Worth. The paper and wood-pulp industry was revitalized. The largest tin smelter in the world was in Texas City, and steel mills popped up in Houston and Daingerfield. Like many other states, Texas produced munitions by the truck-load. More than 500,000 Texans (men and women) moved to the big cities to work in these manufacturing plants to do their bit.

Dennison, Texas is proud to be the birthplace of one of WWII’s greatest leaders, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the National WASP WWII Museum in Sweetwater tells the story of the more than one thousand women who were the first females to fly military equipment.

Over 750,000 Texans served in the armed forces during the war, over 22,000 of whom gave their lives. Thirty-three Texans were awarded the Medal of Honor (including Audie Murphy and Samuel Dealey, the most decorated army soldier and naval officer respectively). Born in Killeen, Oveta Culp Hobby, studied law before beginning a career in journalism. She went on to become the first secretary and first female secretary to the newly created Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and later the first director of the Women’s Army Corps.

Many wartime facilities still exist such as those at Fort Sam Houston and Fort Bliss, while other sites have been abandoned or forgotten that were once air bases, factories, enlistment centers, and USO canteens.

Have you visited any WWII sites in Texas?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Ada Brownell

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Ada Brownell

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your upcoming release, Love’s Delicate Blossom. Where did you get the inspiration for the story and its characters?

Ada: Some of the characters were fashioned somewhat from some of my family. Some big events that happened to them, happen to my fictional people. Some hard times were reality in that era a century ago. Part of my inspiration came from growing up in Colorado’s peach country. That’s where the comparison between love and a blossom comes from, and Love’s Delicate Blossom is the third romantic suspense in my Peaches and Dreams series. First, The Lady Fugitive; then Peach Blossom Rancher. Now Love’s Delicate Blossom.  I do need to tell you I had hoped the book would be out by now, but nearly three months ago I came down with shingles—after having the immunization! It has been so painful, making it difficult to work. Hopefully I’m doing the last edits now, and the pain is finally easing.

LM: You write for teens and adult, fiction and nonfiction. What do you do differently in your writing to appeal to these very different audiences?

Ada: My brand is Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement, which has a large reach. My “real job” to make money and put our five children through college was as a newspaper reporter, mainly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. I loved my job, but I’ve been writing for Christian publications since I was 15, so that’s in my blood too and part of me. But I had fiction stories to tell, the first being Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, and biblical truths to share. That came out in Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal—which grew from my medical writing and losing a daughter to cancer. Also since I taught church teens for 30 years, I wrote Imagine the Future You, and Facts, Faith and Propaganda. I have a total of eight books. The most recent is What Prayer Can Do, testimonies of how God intervenes and answers prayer.

LM: Research is an important part of writing a book. What sort of “aha” moment did you had while researching one of your books?

Ada: In Love’s Delicate Blossom I discovered what I’ve always known that “Love is dynamite.” meaning it’s similar to the dynamite that will make a tunnel through a mountain, and can help people ram through their troubles cleanly without blasting away the whole hillside and hurting others. Yet love is delicate and should be cared for. Yes, a blossom is delicate and can be killed with just a little frost—but a blossom also is filled with God-given power to do great things, and I explain that in the book. It was awesome to discover in my research that amazing power.

LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Ada: Creating characters—even the animals—but especially humorous folks.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: Fall shades
Favorite authors: Josh McDowell, Max Lucado, Mark Batterson, Liz Tolsma, Jennifer Hudson Taylor, Lillian Duncan, and dozens more.
Favorite Food: Green chili and Tamales made by my great friend, Gloria Vigil.

LM: What is something you wish you knew how to do?

Ada:  Computer design.

LM: What is your next project?

Ada: After Love’s Delicate Blossom I plan to do short works, fiction and non-fiction, and more op--ed pieces for newspapers.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Twitter: @adellerella
Blog: http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com Stick to Your Soul Encouragement
Amazon Ada Brownell author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06
Join my mailing list at: ada@adabrownell.com

By Ada Brownell

Ever thought about the DNA in a flower? Or the wonder of love?

In my new book, Love’s Delicate Blossom, being edited now after I was sidelined by the shingles—not those on my roof, but a disease that feels like you’ve had something nailed to your body—I discovered fruit blossoms are much more than pretty flowers. Maybe that’s why bouquets are part of weddings. Here’s what the leading man in the book has to say about blossoms and love.  Joe Nichols, explains it to the beautiful redhead, Ritah O’Casey, who has another fellow after her.

They were almost to Aunt Charlotte’s house, and Joe slowed the team to a crawl. He turned his dark-haired head toward Ritah. “The way I figger it—“He paused, looked away and then back to her. “Love is sort of like growing peaches in an orchard. Doesn’t you uncle have a peach ranch?”
She adjusted her pretty hat trimmed with white roses and moved the hat pin a little to hold it atop her head. “Yes. In Colorado. Uncle John and Mama inherited it.”

Ritah wondered where he was going with his thought. “He grows wonderful tree-ripened peaches and it’s the best fruit I’ve ever eaten. It’s so sweet, juicy and wonderful.”

Joe smiled at her, his white even teeth reflecting the evening sun. “That’s what I think love is like. Some of the girls I know are like a sour pie cherry. Others are like a plum, sweet but still a little sour. I’ve gone out with one or two who never laughed, smiled, and I felt after I got home like I’d been eating green apples. Yet peaches aren’t as easy to raise as many other fruits. The blossoms are so delicate it doesn’t take much cool weather to kill them. Real love is something special that must be cared for, like a peach.”

Ritah jerked her head up and blinked at him. “That’s awesome. I’ll have to think on that, and sometime maybe I can tell you why Edmund is in love.”


“That’s his name.”

He grinned. “Interesting.”

Then she realized she’d never said she was in love. Her smile flashed back at him and the connection they made with their eyes sent sparks through her.

Toward the end of the book Ritah discovers lots more about peach blossoms, and it has to do with the pesky seed.

Hopefully Love’s Delicate Blossom will be published by Sept. 15.

Here’s the summary and links to the other two books in the series, The Lady Fugitive and Peach Blossom Rancher.

Love’s Delicate Blossom Summary:

Ritah Irene O’Casey has three goals: Graduate from college, teach school, and persuade other women to use their brains, talents and ministries. But in 1917 few women attended college and in many districts teachers weren’t allowed to marry. Some women in their Iowa town are throwing their lives away working as prostitutes in the new brothel. Yet, a few don’t even have basic skills for survival as old maids or widows.

Ritah knows the war will make widows of many more women. Too many already sent their children to orphanages when illness, death, or alcohol invade their home.

Ritah believes a woman is as intelligent as a man, and a woman shouldn’t view herself as a slave or a plaything for men. In her mind, women should be respected. First they need to live for God. Then even though they might not have much schooling, they should study like their lives depend on it, because they often do.

The week before Ritah leaves for college, she rescues Tulip, whose parents died of cholera and a man tries to enslave the young lady, only age 14, in prostitution. Ritah finds a feisty widow lady for the gal to live with, but there’s still a mess of trouble.

PEACH BLOSSOM RANCHER, an historical romance

The sequel to The Lady Fugitive; Book 2 in the Peaches and Dreams series.
Suspense, romance, humor, murder, insanity, hope
For Christians who love a great book they feel good about reading.
By Ada Brownell
A handsome young man inherits a ranch in ruin and a brilliant doctor is confined to an insane asylum because of one seizure. Yet their lives intersect.

John Lincoln Parks yearns for a wife to help rebuild the ranch and eyes Valerie MacDougal, a young widow who homesteaded, but also is an attorney interested in helping patients wrongly held at the asylum.

Will the doctor ever be released from the asylum? Will John marry Valerie or Edwina Jorgenson, the feisty rancher-neighbor he constantly fusses with? This neighbor has a Peeping Tom whose boot prints are like the person’s who dumped a body in John’s barn. Will John even marry, or be hanged for the murder?

Ada’s Qualifications to write this book

The author is a journalist who spent a good chunk of her life in the newsroom at The Pueblo Chieftain. She grew up in peach country, knows a little about horses, but more about the mentally ill. The Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, a former asylum, was on her beat.

Get e-book or paperback on Amazon now at http://amzn.to/2arRVgG

Look on Amazon for the first book in the series, The Lady Fugitive


Jenny takes off on her horse in the middle of the night dressed as a young man to escape abuse from her uncle, a judge. He offers a reward for her return. The judge, who gambled away his home, won’t inherit Jenny’s father’s ranch unless he keeps her until she’s age 21.

William, a peddler who travels around Colorado in a covered wagon showing one of the first Passion of the Christ moving pictures, searches for his brother because their father is near death after being attacked by an enemy.

William saves Jenny when she’s threatened by a rattlesnake in an abandoned house. The two cross paths often. Will they fall in love? Or will William claim the reward when he discovers she’s wanted?

Published by Elk Lake Publishers, a division of Book Club Network.

Available in paper and for Kindle.

The Lady Fugitive 2015 Laurel Award runner-up. http://ow.ly/QzlIP

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: New Jersey During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: New Jersey During WWII

I’m a native Baltimorean, but spent a large portion of my “growing-up” years in New Jersey, first in Edison, then in West Milford. Despite living in the state for so long, until recently I knew very little about the contributions New Jersey made to WWII. Here is just a bit about my “adopted” home:

War Production: Already a heavily industrialized state and home to countless factories, New Jersey manufacturing plants produced shells, cartridges, fighters and bombers, propellers, gyroscopes, tanks and tank destroyers, trucks, cannons, machine guns, sub-machine guns, motors, fuses, ball and roller bearings. (A full list of items produced by GM can be found here)

Picatinny Arsenal ran three shifts of over 18,000 employees to turn out bombs and artillery shells. In addition, research at the facility was responsible for the invention of a delay fuze for skip bombing and special bombs for dams and oil fields. In 2012, during renovations at the Arsenal murals were uncovered in one of the buildings. You can see photos here.

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation produced 139,000 aircraft engines (more than any other firm in the U.S.) Shipyards in Camden and Kearney built destroyers, and Bethlehem Steel and Todd Shipyards repaired over 8,000 ships. According to one website the number of people employed in New Jersey doubled from 1939 to 1945!

Troop Training Centers: Fort Dix served as a reception and training center for 1.3 million soldiers (at the end of the war, the facility was converted to a separation center). In addition, Fort Monmouth trained over 21,000 members of the Army Signal Corp. Hotels at Atlantic City were used to house Army Air Corps members while they trained on New Jersey beaches. New Jersey was also home to pilot and aircrew training centers at Fort Dix, Millville Army Airfield, Newark Army Airfield, and the Linden Airport.

Internment: After the attack at Pearl Harbor, citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and sent to detention camps, most located in the western and southwestern United States. The Charles Seabrook Company brought thousands of them back. A major supplier of food to the military, the company needed to fill the hundreds of positions vacated by enlisted/drafted soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Initially, about 1,000 internees were relocated to Seabrook from the camps, and by the end of the war nearly 3,000 Japanese Americans worked for fifty-five cents an hour harvesting and dehydrating produce for the food processing division. Many of these families remained in New Jersey after the war.

Some famous and not-so-famous NJ citizens:

  • Newark Evening News war correspondent Warren Kennet, referred to as “Newark’s Ernie Pyle.” He was the first journalist ashore at Normandy.
  • William Foley, a rifleman in the 94th Division whose wartime sketches (seen here) led to a post war career as a professional artist.
  • Albert Meserlin was a combat photographer for most of the war, then he became Eisenhower’s personal photographer during the final months which allowed him to witness Germany’s surrender in May 1945.
  • Sergeant Curtis Culin’s idea of attached steel prongs to tanks created the “Rhino Plow” that enable troops to cut through dense Norman hedgerows.

And not to be forgotten are the over a half million men and women who served in the armed forces throughout the state, 12,507 of whom lost their lives.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Blog Tour: Cowboy Bodyguard by Dana Mentink

Blog Tour: Cowboy Bodyguard by Dana Mentink

About the Book

Title: Cowboy Bodyguard
Author: Dana Mentink
Genre: Western, Mystery
Release Date: July 3, 2018

In this Gold Country Cowboys novel, Jack Thorn gets a surprise call from the woman he married in secret years ago. Shannon Livingston needs his protection for herself and the baby she’s hiding from a biker gang targeting the mother. Now Jack must help Shannon, even if shielding her means pretending to be a true husband to the only woman he’s ever loved.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Having read the previous books in this series, I was eager to read Cowboy Bodyguard to spend time with Dana Mentink’s familiar characters and meet new protagonists, Jack and Shannon. The premise was intriguing, and the action started on the third page. A fast-paced read, the suspense rarely let up. Subplots and twists created depth to the story, and I kept turning pages to see how things would turn out. The book was obviously well-researched for the many facets of the story from being an ER physician intern to life on a horse ranch. The bad guys were believable and I felt the danger they presented to the characters. The cowboys were heroic without being cliché and can come to my rescue anytime! Highly recommended.

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.

Guest Post from Dana Mentink

I’ve spent a bit of time in emergency rooms lately. Not to complain, mind you. The asthma related treatments worked like a charm and we were blessed by good care, so I am not grateful. There’s a bonus, too. The emergency room is a great place for people watching! Hour upon hour I spent surveying patients, relatives, nurses and doctors. I came away pondering what it must be like to work in the strange bustle that is an emergency room. That’s where character Shannon Livingston was born.

The E.R doc and nurses must be brilliant problem solvers with nerves of steel because they never know what will roll through their doors. Since they are not responsible for follow up care, they have only a short term relationship with their patients. But what would happen, my fictional mind wanted to know, if one emergency room treatment ensnared Shannon in a “run for your life” scenario? And what if her incredible life saving skills weren’t nearly enough to save her own life, or the baby she’s suddenly become responsible for? Ah me! The perfect scenario for a suspense novel, no? I hope you enjoy Cowboy Bodyguard. I can promise it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

About the Author

Dana’s Bio: Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over thirty five titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House. Dana was thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the Jeanne Robertson Comedy With Class Competition. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the nutty terrier, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

Blog Stops

Here are Dana's Remaining Blog Stops:

July 24: Big Reader Site


To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away a Mentink Bundle that includes a horse tote book bag, a three book collection, and a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/ced1/cowboy-bodyguard-celebration-tour-giveaway

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Carrie Daws

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Carrie Daws

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Kindling Embers is the first book in a series. Where did you find your inspiration for this story, and did you set out to write a series or did that just happen?

Carrie: The Embers Series came about because a friend who was a local fire inspector kept bugging me about writing a book about her. I kept pushing her off because I wasn’t sure I was ready for that, but the more she told me about her adventures on the job, the more intrigued I became. As the story developed in my mind, I wanted to keep the books purposely short—I love to reach out to women who enjoy reading but don’t think they have time for it. So I released the novelettes individually for those women, later combining all three into one paperback for those who like longer reads.

LM: You write both fiction and non-fiction. How do you decide what to work on next, and do you have a preference for one over the other?

Carrie: I try to keep a balance between my fiction and nonfiction books, alternating a bit to keep both groups of my readers happy. But it can be tough, and writing books in a series can really add pressure to get them all done for my readers. Trading off like that also keeps me from getting bored or overwhelmed with a blank page too. Although I need to read a lot for writing fiction, I must also learn a lot to write nonfiction. It helps me to stay disciplined to push forward in my personal growth, consistently refill my spiritual well, and not get apathetic about fun reading.

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

Carrie: I used to be a die-hard pantser—but I think that’s mostly because planning ahead is lots of hard work and I didn’t want to do it. I do a bit more plotting now, working ahead enough to know the one or two major events for each chapter. It challenges me on the front end of writing the book, but definitely helps when I’m staring at a fresh, blank chapter page.

LM: Research is an important part of writing. What “aha” moment or extraordinary tidbit did you experience during the research process of one of your books?

Carrie: For the Embers series, I got to shadow my friend as she went about her job, doing inspections, walking secure warehouses and an outdoor kid’s camp. It was very interesting, and I learned a lot about fire and fire safety. But I found it absolutely amazing some of the common fire safety mistakes people make—like plugging a refrigerator or stove into an extension cord rather than directly into the outlet which was designed to handle the power they require.

LM: How did you get started as a writer, and how did you decide to seek publication?

Carrie: With a bit of humor and total humility, I freely admit that God tricked me into writing. It was never my dream or intention, but baby step after baby step, God led me in this direction. I started by writing weekly devotions for my own little website. Then I enrolled in a two-year writing course, which introduced me to fiction writing. Prior to that, I always imagined any future book projects would be nonfiction, but my mentor and teacher encouraged me to get more serious about fiction after he saw the work I did as part of the course. As I developed my first book, a couple of friends got ahold of it and pushed me to published. When I sent those pages out to a few publishers, I never thought I’d get a positive response! Boy, was I surprised! And elated. If I’d only known then how much work was involved in publishing, I might have run away. But God knew I needed protected from that, and wisely kept me in the dark until I was too far along the path to turn back.

LM: You live in a beautiful area of the world, a place many people visit. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Carrie: This past spring, my husband and I took our first cruise. While the destinations were wonderful, the staff was amazing, and the entertainment incredible, the hands-down, without-a-doubt, best part of the whole week was not having Internet. No email, texts, or social media to interrupt our enjoyment or divert our attention. It was the most relaxing week I’ve had in a long time.  

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

Carrie: Oh, goodness. I’m an interesting mix of routine and quirkiness. The items siting around my office alone have people wondering about my eccentricities—from superheroes to favorite book characters to a Dr. Seuss quote. But probably the best thing I’ve ever done is to help a friend’s husband kidnap her for their anniversary. I snatched their kids without her knowing while he packed an overnight bag and made reservations. She was so surprised!

LM: What is your next project?

Carrie: Well, I just released the first book in my Home Town Heroines series earlier this month. It will be five stories about five different military families, one from each branch of service, all caught in the middle of a heart-wrenching time. I’m also about to release the first book in my Sacred Trust series, a follow-on series to Embers.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Kindling Embers: 

She never thought she'd be raising her daughters alone.  But when Deputy Fire Marshal Cassandra's husband died unexpectedly, she was forced to find a career. Now, working beside a retired Special Operations soldier and veteran fireman, she serves her North Carolina town, protecting them from hazards they don't understand.

But things must change. First, a paramedic starts to work at one of her firehouses, irritating her with the most ridiculous names. Then the evidence in a series of unexplained fires points in a direction she doesn't like.

Can she continue to do her job with integrity and passion when she doesn't like where it leads her?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Mystery Monday: Alabama Mystery Author Sarah Elizabeth Mason

Mystery Monday: 
Alabama Mystery Author Sara Elizabeth Mason

One of my favorite aspects of writing is research. Over the years of writing this blog I have enjoyed searching for female writers of the 1930s and 1940s. I recently stumbled on the writings of Sara Elizabeth Mason.

Sara authored three mystery novels during the latter half of WWII and one in 1948. It is curious that she only published those four novels. The researcher in me wonders why? She never married, so it wasn't because she had a family to care for. Did the books not sell well enough for a publishing house to pick up further books? Did she tire of writing? Did she decide it was more important to focus on her "9 to 5" career?

She was born in Alabama in 1911, she was the second of two children born to her parents, Fenton Amelia Brasfield and Edwin Bolton Mason, a hardware merchant. Her brother, Stanhope, graduated from West Point and rose to the rank of Major General having served with distinction during WWII. Sarah earned degrees from the University of Alabama and the University of Chicago before going on to receive her Masters in Library Science from Peabody College in Nashville (later part of Vanderbilt).

Ancestral Home
During WWII, she returned home where she became a teacher at Gadsden High School. It is interesting to note that after the war she moved to Frankfurt, Germany to teach in the American High School (a school for the children of diplomats, government workers, and military personnel). Why choose a country that until recently had been an enemy?

Ultimately, she returned to Alabama where she took a position at the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, then the Birmingham Public Library and finally the Gadsden Public Library where she became Assistant Director.

The first three books were set in Alabama in towns very much like where she lived, and the fourth in Chicago. Well-received by critics they were not the typical "Golden Age Hard-boiled" novels. William Weber said of The Whip, it was a believable brain-prober" and Isaac Anderson said, "the excellent novel was a moving narrative of unfeeling cruelty practiced upon a sensitive girl by a selfish old woman and her relatives."

Sara said of her writings "Three easy steps to writing a mystery novel: take a villain and a victim; toss in some love interest, and scatter some clues around."

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Gail Pallotta

Talkshow Thursday: Author Gail Pallotta

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. You’ve got a new book coming out. Can you tell us a bit about it, and where did you get the inspiration for the plot?

Gail: Thanks for having me. Different cultures, colorful characters and unexplained events create mystery and humor in Hair Calamities and Hot Cash, a contemporary romance. New York stockbroker Philip Wells crashes his rental car into Eve Castleberry’s beauty shop in Triville, North Carolina. On the same day the young widow’s defective hair products cause wild hairdos. Philip comes to her rescue and they fall for each other. Then Eve stops dating him because she believes he’ll leave and break her heart. However, when he needs her to help find his client’s stolen cash, she agrees. Their romance blossoms amid danger, suspense and Eve’s hair-brained plan to get back the money.
My mother’s beauty shop in the small town where I grew up inspired the book. Discussions about employers, illnesses, weddings, births, and deaths filled the room while hair flew. Sometimes I thought my mother a social advisor and psychologist as well as a hair stylist, but the caring attitudes and camaraderie of those who came there are the two things I remember most. Today society seems so divided. I wanted to capture the small-town spirit of community.

L.M.: You have published lots of books. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Gail: It’s a tie between the beginning when I can’t wait to write about the new plot and characters and the end after all of the work, re-writing and editing when I see them come to life.

L.M.: Research is an important element in writing. Can you describe a time you had an “aha” moment or discovered something extraordinary?

Gail: I enjoy research and sometimes get so involved in it the book I’m working on goes to the back burner for a while. I wrote a teen book with the theme, “We don’t have to be number one for God to love us.” My main character’s father was pushing her brother, Sean, to be a great quarterback, and the young man was not athletic. I wanted to add mystery to the sports novel, but had no idea for a crime. My “ah-ha” moment came when I discovered steroid use among teens as well as professional athletes. Sean took a steroid, has a stroke and ends up in the hospital. The main character and her friends become amateur sleuths to find out who sold him the drug. The book is Stopped Cold and will soon be re-released by Pelican Book Group’s Prism Imprint.

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

Gail: I can’t believe what I do, and I’ve tried to stop it. I procrastinate, which is ironic because I have so little time. However, I go over and check e-mail then Facebook, Twitter and other groups I belong to. If I join any more, I won’t get any writing done. LOL.

L.M.: What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? 

Gail: I asked my husband what he thought I’d done that qualified as quirky, and he said, “Make a list.” However, I’ll say going to the beach in a private plane on the spur of the moment. I was in my small, hometown at the foothills of the North Carolina Mountains one summer when a friend from college flew over and announced on his loud speaker that I should come to the airport. He wanted me to fly to the beach with him for the day. The phone rang off the hook. Each caller asked if I heard the airplane calling me then suggested I get to the airport. My father, who was at work, also listened to the announcement, came home and drove me to meet my ride. We flew to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had a great time and returned that evening. Definitely a carpe diem moment.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color:  Purple
Favorite Food:  Fresh fish
Favorite season:  Summer

L.M.: What is your next project?

Gail: I’m working on a several novels about young women who are entrepreneurs.  

L.M.: Where can folks find you on the web?

Facebook  Authors and More page - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsandMore
Twitter - Gail Pallotta @Hopefulwords (https://twitter.com/Hopefulwords)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: West Virginia During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: West Virginia During WWII

West Virginia is the only state in America to form by seceding from a Confederate state. (Wikipedia has an interesting article about how that occurred). Nearly eighty years after joining the Union, West Virginia played a large role in World War II. Factories, mills, and mines expanded their workforce to produce huge quantities of materiel for the U.S. military and its Allies. Interwoven Hosiery manufactured socks for the army and navy, while other companies made tires, planes, jeeps, trucks, and parachutes. The railroad was kept busy transporting goods and servicemen and women.

The state is proud of the fact that it provided the fifth highest percentage of soldiers: nearly 220,000. Additionally, more than 1,000 of its women donned uniforms to serve in the auxiliary services.

Here are some of West Virginia’s award recipients: 
Hershel Williams
  • Hershel Williams received the Medal of Honor for his bravery on Iwo Jima.
  • Harrison Summers took out thirty-one German soldiers during exceptionally heavy fighting.
  • Foster Feathers searched for landmines on Normandy.
  • George Roberts, the Army Air Corps first black cadet was a combat pilot.

Now the Greenbrier Valley Airport, the field was used by the Army Air Force during the war. Other air fields include Cumberland, Elkins, Moundsville, and Buckhannon.

And what about those enemy alien diplomats?  Rather than immediately shipping them home, the U.S. interned the Germans and Italians at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs. Diplomats from Hungary also stayed at the Greenbrier. The Japanese were sent to The Homestead Resort in Virginia. One article I found indicated that despite being allies in the war, the Germans and Italians did not get along (read: acrimonious), and the Italians were moved to the Grove Park Inn.

Children of German Diplomats
at the Greenbrier
Reasoning for a “high-end” experience for these individuals was the idea that if they were well-treated, U.S. embassy personnel would receive the same treatment. Internment was only supposed to last a couple of days, but instead dragged on for seven months because of red tape. Prisoners were exchanged during the summer of 1941 by way of Madagascar, South America, and other locations.

In late 1942, the Army purchased the property and converted it to the 2,000 bed Ashford General Hospital. Opening in October 1943, the facility served over 25,000 casualties before closing in 1946.

Thank you for your service, West Virginia.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Blog Tour: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Blog Tour: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

About the Book


Title: Sons of Blackbird Mountain  
Author: Joanne Bischof  
Genre: Historical Romance

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family. But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength. As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world? A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

My Thoughts

Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a gripping novel about the complex relationships among family and community members. Yes, the book is a romance story, but it is much more than that. Serious issues such as racism, domestic violence, and segregation are explored and addressed with sensitivity and realism, making the story difficult to read at times. Each character has his or her own demons to fight, often resulting in tension with other characters or within themselves. Especially moving is Thor whose deafness and addiction to alcohol impacts his brothers and himself. The descriptions are vivid, effectively immersing me in 19th century Appalachia. Strong dialog enabled me to feel the characters’ emotions as strongly as if they were mine. Ms. Bischof did an excellent job of conveying Thor’s deafness and his ability to lip read and use American Sign Language. Themes of forgiveness, mercy, and salvation are woven throughout the story without being preachy. As with all of Ms. Bischof’s books, I will read this one over and over. Highly recommended.

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

JOANNE BISCHOF is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at JoanneBischof.com, Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof, Instagram: @JoanneBischof.

Guest Video from Joanne Bischof

Blog Stops

Here are Joanne's remaining blog stops:
July 9: Kathleen Denly
July 11: Novels Corner
July 11: Just Commonly
July 12: Book by Book
July 13: Pause for Tales
July 13: Radiant Light
July 14: Remembrancy
July 15: Vicky Sluiter
July 16: By the Book
July 17: Big Reader Site
July 18: Amanda in PA


To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away
Grand prize of a country crate, a jar of apple butter, a bag of gummy berries, journal, bath salts, honey spoons, copper earrings, and a blackbird sign!!