Monday, October 29, 2018

Mystery Monday: Who was Bernice Carey?

Mystery Monday: Who was Bernice Carey?

Popular with book critics during the 1940s and 1950s, Bernice Carey wrote eight crime novels, and then disappeared from view.

Born in 1910 as Bernice Carey Martin to Swedish immigrant parents on a farm in North Wisconsin, she and her family moved to California where they moved several times between San Francsico and Los Angeles. Almost immediately out of high school, she married Walter Fitch. They moved to Ventura where Walter worked on the oil rigs. Later they moved so that he could take a job as a factory foreman. Moving again, the couple ended up outside of Salinas where they were very active in politics and labor unions (a topic which turns up in her novels).

Bernice published essays and poetry in a variety of magazines. It wasn’t until 1949 that her first book was published. (Perhaps she was waiting until she finished raising her two sons.) Her debut novel, The Reluctant Murderer, is similar to the Pat McGerr novels in that the victim’s identity is withheld until well into the story.

The plot revolves around Vivian Haines, a 40-year old San Francisco career woman who wonders if murder is the only answer that will solve her problem. However, she really doesn’t want to do it. Written in first-person point of view, the story follows Vivian’s thought process to come to her decision.

“I never cared for detective stories, and for a moment I regretted it. If I had read more of them I might be familiar with different means of doing away with people. I am not one to leave things to the last minute, nor be vague about my plans; but somehow I had put off really getting down to business on working this thing out. After all, one has a natural reluctance about taking a human life…”

As the novel progresses, suspense is ratcheted up as Vivian begins to believe that someone is out to kill her.

Carey’s books are all set in California, and the last was published in 1955. She died of a heart attack in 1989.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Speculative Fiction Author Yvonne Anderson

Talkshow Thursday: 
Speculative Fiction Author Yvonne Anderson

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your new release, Free (The Four Lives of J.S. Freeman, Book 3). Where did you get the inspiration for the story and its characters?

Yvonne: It all sprang from the setting. For several years previously, I’d spent a lot of time (mentally) on the planet Gannah while working on my Gateway to Gannah series. I wanted a different setting for my next project but had trouble deciding between two environments that have long fascinated me: a flat, steamy bayou-type place where people travel on the water rather than roads; and steep, rocky slopes that only a mountain goat could be comfortable with. How to choose? But wait a minute; what if this world was made up of both kinds of terrain at once? The two are mutually exclusive in nature, but couldn’t such an environment be man-made? So I created the mysterious island of Freemansland and put it in the middle of the largest ocean on an otherwise earth-like planet.

Once I had the setting, I tried to imagine the people a place like that might produce. How would they live? How might their environment shape them? Would they be isolated from the rest of the world? I put myself in the position of a girl growing up in those conditions, and the story took off from there.

LM: You write speculative fiction. Did you read a lot of fantasy and science fiction while you were growing up? How did you become interested in the genre?

Yvonne: I didn’t read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy when I was growing up, but I will confess to an obsession with Tolkien in my youth. I discovered The Hobbit in fourth grade and the Lord of the Rings series a few years later, and I read them all several times. I recall enjoying a few other books in the speculative category, but usually when I’d pick up a sci-fi book, I’d put it down before I got very far because it didn’t interest me. 

Why did I start writing speculative fiction myself? Funny story: I never felt compelled to write fiction until my children were grown, and when I did start, I played with historical and women’s fiction, purely earth-bound stuff. At one point, highly frustrated and resolved to quit fiction altogether—both the reading and writing of it—I read an interesting little nonfiction book called The Gospel in the Stars that explained how, when God created the heavens and the earth, He portrayed the gospel message through the constellations for early man to “read.” The idea fascinated me, and before I knew it, I was writing a story about people on another planet who discovered this “story in the stars.” That led to my first published novel, The Story in the Stars. Once I started writing it, I knew I’d found my niche.

LM: Research is an important part of writing a book. What sort of “aha” moment did you have while researching your Four Lives of J. S. Freeman series?

Yvonne: When you write about things that take place on another planet, you don’t have to do a lot of preliminary research. You can just make up everything as you go along. But because the world in this story is subject to the same natural laws as our world, I do have to make sure things are logical and consistent. For instance: at the time I wrote the story, my husband and I were living in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, where the weather in the higher elevations can be strikingly different from that of the valleys. The island of Freemansland is equatorial, but built in layers, like a cake. I hadn’t gotten very far into the story before I realized that those tiers would each have different climates; they wouldn’t all be steamy and hot. This prompted me to research how altitude affects temperature.

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

Yvonne: I’m a pantser, and one of my favorite parts about writing is being surprised by what happens next. I always know where the story will end, but I often have no idea what might happen along the way until it unfolds.

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

Yvonne: Speak multiple languages.

LM: What is your next project?

Yvonne: I have a couple of things in mind, but I’m not sure yet what project of my own I’ll begin next. However, I’ve been working with a friend on polishing up a nonfiction book of hers, and we’ll be publishing it soon through my own imprint, Gannah’s Gate. Watch for Dancing on Stones: A Quest for Joy by Edith Harrington. Here’s the blurb:

Life gets rocky. You stumble and fall, crushed beneath an avalanche of despair. You cry out, God, where are You? How could You let this happen? I don’t understand! Must you lie helpless forever beneath life’s rubble? Or can you take God’s hand, and rise to dance again?
The author, a former ballerina, shares her story of grief, betrayal and depression. She looked to God for healing, but years of false teaching kept her in darkness. The story of how she discovered joy in the midst of suffering is a tender but powerful reminder that God is faithful.
Pick your way with her through the stones in her path and discover anew that His word is true and His love knows no bounds.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Pennsylvania During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Pennsylvania During WWII

Last week, we traveled to Maryland. Today, we’re in Pennsylvania, the home state of Murder of Convenience’s protagonist, Geneva Alexander. Geneva and her parents are from Philadelphia, but this entire state named for William Penn “did its bit” for the war effort.

Industry boomed in Pennsylvania as millions of Federal dollars poured into companies that manufactured war materiel. Everything from parachutes and radio crystals to tanks and battleships. Bethlehem Steel, one of the country’s largest producers of steel churned out more steel than the Axis powers combined. Mill across the state put out about one-third of the nation’s supply and one-fifth of the world’s supply.

Henry "Hap" Arnold
The military was a large presence with depots and army bases in numerous locations around the state such as the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the New Cumberland Army Services Forces Depot and the Letterkenny Ordnance Depot. In addition, nearly a dozen airfields populated the state from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and Middletown to Williamsport. Almost 1.25 million Pennsylvanians served in the armed forces, and some of the war’s most famous leaders hailed from the state: George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army; Henry “Hap” Arnold who commanded the Army Air Corps and was instrumental in getting approval for the Women’s Air Service Pilot program, Carl Spaatz who was Arnold’s second in command, and Chief of Naval Operations in Europe Admiral Harold Stark.

Volunteerism exploded as women surged to organizations such as the USO, Red Cross, American Women’s Voluntary Service, and other worthwhile non-profits. Thousands of ladies were active in bond drives as well as fundraising events for social organizations through the United War Fund. Rolling bandages, entertaining armed forces members, and creating neighborhood newsletters that were sent to the boys overseas are just a few of the ways women served in unpaid capacities.

Pennsylvania also went to war in its laboratories, becoming a center of technological advancements. Philco Corporation created the Plexiglas canopies for American aircraft and engineers at the University of Pennsylvania designed ENIAC, the world’s first digital computer. G. Raymond Rettew developed a method for the mass production of penicillin that saved millions of lives.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Mystery Monday: Patricia McGerr and Puzzle Mysteries

Mystery Monday: Patricia McGerr and Puzzle Mysteries

Despite no longer remembered by many readers, Patricia McGerr wrote seventeen novels (most of them mysteries) and over fifty short stories. Originally from Falls City, Nebraska, she settled in Lincoln as a young child with her family. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska, then moved to Washington, DC with her three sisters. Later she relocated to New York City to attend Columbia University from which she earned a Masters in Journalism in 1937. Working in public relations and as an assistant editor for a trade magazine, she wrote stories and novels on the side.

Her debut puzzle novel, Pick Your Victim, was published in 1947. Puzzle mysteries are a subgenre of detective fiction where the emphasis is on the “whodunit” rather than character or theme development. The premise of Pick Your Victim is fascinating. A group of American soldiers are located at an isolated Arctic base and desperate for diversion. They find a torn scrap of newspaper from a parcel that tells part of the story of a man who has been convicted of a murder. The murderer is identified and known by one of the GIs, however, the victim’s name is missing. The soldiers create a betting pool and attempt to discover the identity of the victim.

Scholars feel her second novel, The Seven Deadly Sisters, is a “wink and nod” toward her mother and six sisters, the well-known “Dore sisters” in Lincoln. Another interesting plot, the story revolves around seven sisters, one of whom as has murdered her husband, but is not revealed until the end.
Winning the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine/MWA prize for her story “Match Point in Berlin” and the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere for her novel “Follow, As the Night,” Patricia did not gain as much commercial success with her books after Pick Your Victim. She created a series character, Selena Mead, in her later writings that was optioned by CBS for television, but the show never materialized.

Patricia playing the part of corpse
with a group of fellow Mystery Writers
of America members.
When asked about her writing method, she said, “From my reading I knew that a classic mystery included a murderer, a victim, and several suspects. So, I began by assembling the cast of characters. But when I began to assign roles, it was obvious that only one of them could commit murder, whereas any of the other ten might be his victim So, reversing the formula, I named the murdered on page one and centered the mystery around the identity of the victim.”

Patricia passed away in Bethesda, Maryland in 1985.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Forensic Friday: Forensics in WWII

 Forensic Friday: Forensics in WWII

One of the challenges of writing historic fiction is keeping anachronisms out of the story. Simply put, an anachronism is the act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it doesn’t belong. When writing a historic mystery, it is especially tempting to give characters knowledge or access to technology they shouldn’t have to solve the crime.

During my research for both Under Fire and Murder of Convenience, I was surprised to discover that the field of forensics was both further ahead and behind than I thought. For example, the first FBI crime lab was not set up until 1932, and the first British forensics lab in 1935, eleven years later than the first U.S. lab was created.

Here are some of the milestones in forensics history:

1447:   Teeth are used to identify remains in Duke of Burgundy
1810:   First chemical test of ink in Germany
1835:   First bullet comparison catches murderer Scotland Yard
1830:   “Time since death” temperature experiments with dead British soldiers
1849:   Odontology, the study of teeth for the investigation of identity is used in court
1880:   First elimination of suspect by fingerprints in Scotland
1937:   Luminol invented in Germany to identify blood

Which of these surprised you as to when they were discovered?

May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit.

Set in the early days of America’s entry into WWII and featuring cameo appearances from Hollywood stars, Murder of Convenience is a tribute to individuals who served on the home front, especially those who did so in spite of personal difficulties, reminding us that service always comes as a result of sacrifice. Betrayal, blackmail, and a barrage of unanswered questions… Murder of Convenience is the first in the exciting new “Women of Courage” series.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Anne Baxter Campbell

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Anne Baxter Campbell

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your latest release, Blessed by Time. Where did you find your inspiration for this story?

Anne: I guess it began as a result of a long-held desire to go back to the time of Jesus and visit with Him. I just started writing, and the story unfolded.

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

Anne: I’m definitely a panster, and you’re going to laugh, but my favorite part of the writing process is the editing. I know, you don’t have to tell me. That’s more than a little bit weird.

LM: The concept of time travel is part of the story. How did you go about researching that and what did you discover that just had to be included?

Anne: I’ve written other first-century books, and a lot of the same research went into this one. There’s a lot of information online (making sure to verify its reliability), plus I have several books―the entire works of Josephus, a book about available foods (with recipes!), Encyclopedia of the Bible―that sort of thing. And there are still two mistakes in the book regarding historical truth―maybe the most notable being that people of that time did not normally eat three meals. I’m hoping to do another edition eventually and correct those.

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

Anne: It all started with a feral kitten we adopted. He was such a live-wire I decided to give a Toastmasters speech about him. Which led to someone saying this would be a great children’s story. Which led to me writing them. Which gave me the itch.

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?

Anne: I would love to visit the Holy Land. Health and funds permitting and God willing, I hope to do that in 2020.

LM: You’ve written historic and contemporary fiction. Which is your favorite, and how do you decide what to work on next?

Anne: I let God decide what’s next―and I’m not really sure which is my favorite genre. Depends on the day, I guess.

LM: What is your next project?

Anne: I’m currently working on a sequel to Blessed by Time, and there’s yet another sequel to the sequel making noises in my brain.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Anne: I dropped my website because the only traffic it generated was spam, so I guess my “website” would be my blog, A Pew Perspective ( In addition, they can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. They can find my books on Amazon at

Book Blurb: Sarah Johnson is a woman deep in grief over the loss of her only child, three-year-old Tamara. Six months' time hasn't lessened the pain. She leaves for work early one morning and hasn't been seen since. Her husband Paul, professor of languages and counselor at Arizona State University, also grieves, but is moving on. How far on? When Sarah disappears, he's suspected of getting rid of her in favor of a luscious redhead. How can he convince the police he's innocent? And where-or when-on God's green earth did Sarah go?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: Troop Morale and the USO

Wartime Wednesday: Troop Morale and the USO 

What do you think of when you hear “USO?” For most people, the United Service Organization is synonymous with Bob Hope, the Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, and other big-name stars of the 1930s. But did you know the USO had a huge contingent of volunteers and staff who performed myriad tasks and activities to boost Armed Forces morale.

With over 3,000 clubs worldwide, the USO provided locations where outgoing and incoming soldiers, sailors, and airmen could “let down their hair.” Staffed by junior hostesses who would dance with the men, write letters for them, sew on their buttons and/or insignia, or simply converse with the guys, the clubs were a popular destination for service members. Guests of the New York City and Hollywood clubs were sometimes lucky enough to be served by a celebrity, as many of the day’s stars volunteered.

Some of the clubs offered the opportunity to record messages on a cardboard disc that was sent home. Others had boxing rings. Activities included barn dances, ping pong tournaments, crafts, fishing,  shuffleboard, just to name a few. When things “got serious,” senior hostesses, who were married women age 35 or older, would intervene with the men. Snacks and cigarettes were available, but the clubs were liquor-free. The other item not allowed was slacks. The hostesses all wore semi-formal attire (thought to be important to boost morale).

In 1942, mobile clubs were put into service in the lower 48 states. Trucks equipped with projectors, screens, PA system, turntables (record players for you young people!) and records, sports equipment, board games, books, and snacks.

More than thirty-three million dollars was raised during the war for the USO, equating to over $433 million today. Traveling overseas with the USO was dangerous, and thirty-seven entertainers were killed, with Glenn Miller being the most famous when his plane disappeared over the English Channel on its way to France.

With over 7,000 entertainers and tens of thousands of volunteers, the USO was one of the major service organizations during WWII.

May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit.

Set in the early days of America’s entry into WWII and featuring cameo appearances from Hollywood stars, Murder of Convenience is a tribute to individuals who served on the home front, especially those who did so in spite of personal difficulties, reminding us that service always comes as a result of sacrifice. Betrayal, blackmail, and a barrage of unanswered questions… Murder of Convenience is the first in the exciting new “Women of Courage” series.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Maryland

Traveling Tuesday: Maryland

Yesterday’s release, Murder of Convenience is set in Baltimore, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to focus on the state of Maryland and how they “did their bit” for the war effort.

As with all states, Maryland sent its citizens off to war, and even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the state was preparing its National Guard units for combat. The 29th Infantry Division comprised of members from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia compiled one of the most distinguished records in the war with two Medals of Honor, forty-one Distinguished Service Crosses, 816 Silver Stars, 5,151 Bronze Stars, and countless Air Medals. In addition, the division received a Presidential Unit Citation.

Production of war materiel commenced as over 900 factories were converted from manufacturing peacetime commodities, such as Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point who produced nearly twenty tons of steel. The Bethlehem Fairfield shipyard build 374 Liberty ships, and shipyards around the state repaired over 10,000 vessels. Between them the George L. Martin Company and Fairfield Aircraft Division assembled over 16,000 planes.

Aberdeen Proving Grounds (a military installation where weapons or technology are tested or experimented with, or where military tactics are tested) and Andrews Air Force Base are perhaps the state’s most famous locations, but numerous airfields were created for training pilots and air crew. Many of these airports were converted to municipal airports, while others were returned to agricultural use. Hundreds of “temporary” buildings survive today and used for other purposes.

In 1940, University of Maryland was tapped by the U.S. Surgeon General to help form a Medical Reserve Corps. Two years later, two dozen graduates were activated for duty with the 42nd and 142nd General Hospitals and served in Australia, the Philippines, and Fuji. Eventually, more than 150 graduates went on to serve in all branches of the military.

I lived in Gaithersburg, Maryland for ten years and had no idea it was one of the twenty POW camps located in the state. Fort Meade received the first POWs in 1942 and ultimately housed more than 2,000 prisoners. POWs worked on local farms as well as at Bethesda’s Stonyhurst Quarry where they broke and loaded flagstone. Others cut pulp wood at Smith Point.

Victory gardens were a part of everyday life of course, but Henry Irr, president of Baltimore Federal Savings and Loan raised the production bar by sponsoring a statewide competition that included bonds as prizes. Not to be outdone, Constance Black, wife of Baltimore Sun executive Harry Black, converted the hill behind her mansion to a Victory Garden and then opened a neighborhood farm stand.

These are just a few of the way, the tiny state of Maryland pulled her weight during WWII.

May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit.

Set in the early days of America’s entry into WWII and featuring cameo appearances from Hollywood stars, Murder of Convenience is a tribute to individuals who served on the home front, especially those who did so in spite of personal difficulties, reminding us that service always comes as a result of sacrifice. Betrayal, blackmail, and a barrage of unanswered questions… Murder of Convenience is the first in the exciting new “Women of Courage” series.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mystery Monday: Murder of Convenience

Mystery Monday: Murder of Convenience

For an author, the road to publication, whether it be for that first book or the tenth, release day is a cause for celebration. That manuscript that is dreamed up then put to paper, then revised and rewritten, perhaps countless times, is finally “birthed.” It is “out there” for everyone to see—the most nerve-wracking part of the process.

Let me give you a little story behind the story of my “book baby.”

My employment background is primarily in Human Resources (referred to Personnel by some folks), and even though I’m no longer in the field, I am intrigued my women who work in jobs traditionally held by men. I’m especially fascinated by the women during WWII who left their homemaking roles to take up jobs or volunteer positions that were unlike anything they had ever done. I admire these women who went out of their comfort zone to answer their country’s call, sometimes overcoming great difficulties to do so.

About eighteen months ago, I was considering my next project and decided to create a series of books about a group of women friends who “do their bit” for the war effort through some of the organizations. For the first book, I chose the USO and you’ll hear more about that organization this week on Wartime Wednesday.

Next, I had to figure out how to get my character to the USO. I didn’t want it to be just because she wanted to volunteer, but rather more of a “running away to join the circus” scenario, so I had to create a reason for her to run away.

Having read several fiction books about mail order brides and arranged marriages, I decided to subject Geneva to a marriage of convenience, but because they were no longer the norm, I had to come up with a reason for her parents to choose this route for her. At that point, I knew she needed some sort of physical challenge that was incurable during the 1940s.  

After quite a bit of research I discovered a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Still incurable, this condition causes tunnel vision and eventual blindness. In order to understand the disease from a character’s point of view I read quite a few articles, memoirs, and autobiographies by individuals who suffered from this and similar diseases. Each one of the people who wrote these works focused on the solutions they found to live with their condition and prepare for eventual blindness. One women even wrote a “how to” book. I also put myself in several disconcerting situations where my vision was blocked or limited.

I hope in some small way, my book honors those folks who served on the Home Front during WWII.

For a limited time, Murder of Convenience is available for $0.99: B07JVT42FW

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Lynn Tagawa

Talkshow Thursday: Author Lynn Tagawa

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your most recent release, The Shenandoah Road. I love that your story is wrapped around the Great Awakening which was a fascinating point in our country’s history. What was your inspiration for the story?

Lynne: Another author. My friend Douglas Bond wrote something in the time period for teens. I thought, “Wow, it can be done well. He does a great job at including scriptural truth without overwhelming the story with it, and it inspired me to tackle the same time period—for adults. My unique tweak was to choose protagonists with different backgrounds. I had no idea how different Bostonians were from those in Williamsburg and so forth. My young lady from Boston meets a Scots Irish backwoodsman, and things happen from there.

LM: You are an author and an editor. How difficult is it to turn off your internal editor while you are drafting a story?

Lynne: Good question. Typically I write a scene, come back and do a basic revision the next day, and then leave it alone for a bit. Or try to.

LM: You have written contemporary and historical fiction which require different types of research. Can you describe a time you had an “aha” moment?

Lynne: Halfway through writing The Shenandoah Road, I stumbled across more information about a (real-life) character, the minister in the valley. Turns out he was highly skeptical of the “enthusiasm” generated by the Great Awakening! Another plot twist!

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

Lynne: No, I’ve rejected the “muse” theory. I simply tell myself, “Need to write a bit today,” and I open up the file. I find that once I’m writing, things start flowing. The biggest obstacle is leaving off too long. The story starts to fade in my head.

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

Lynne: Color my hair red. That is SO not happening again.

LM: LOL! Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: blue
Favorite Food: is coffee a food? Like espresso?
Favorite Actor/Actress: Tom Hanks / Sandra Bullock

LM: What is your next project?

Lynne: A sequel! I am already working on what (Lord willing) may become a trilogy.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Author and Editor website:
Devotional blog:

Book blurb: 
John Russell’s heart aches from the loss of his wife, but the Shenandoah Valley frontiersman needs to marry again for his daughter’s sake. At first he believes he has found the right young woman, despite their differences in background, but his faith falters when time reveals she isn’t quite what she seemed. Can he truly love her? And what about his own failings?

Unlike her disgraced sister, Abigail Williams obeys the Commandments. At least, she thinks herself a Christian until a buckskin-clad newcomer courts her. He treats her kindly but also introduces her to a sermon by the controversial preacher, George Whitefield. Her self-righteousness is shattered, and she wonders about their relationship. If she confesses her lack of faith, will John continue to love her?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Mystery Monday: Dame Margaret Cole

 Mystery Monday: Dame Margaret Cole

British mystery writer Margaret Cole who co-wrote over thirty detective stories with her husband G.D.H. Cole was a prolific author. Part of the Postgate family from the North York moors, Margaret also penned poetry and several nonfiction books. She later went into politics and was awarded a DBE. Her ancestor’s land grant was awarded in the year 1200, and through the centuries the family was notable in many fields including science, music, education, journalism, and entertainment. Film and stage actress Dame Angela Lansbury is Margaret’s cousin.

Margaret attended the Roedean School where she was very unhappy, later saying, “Roedean was, emphatically, the wrong sort of school for me. But I would go further and say it was not a good sort of school at all. It was very expensive; I only got in as the winner of the single annual scholarship.” She later attended Girton College (part of Cambridge), and finished all the requirements for a degree. (At that time most universities did not grant degrees to women.)

She and her family were staunch socialists and became pacifists during WWII. Her brother was jailed after his exemption as a conscientious objector was denied and he refused military orders. Her poem “The Falling Leaves” is one of her most famous works and is one of the first anti-war poems from a woman’s perspective. When Hitler began to overrun Europe, Margaret abandoned her pacifism, however she continued to be active in the socialist cause.

During a campaign against conscription, she met and married G.D.H. Cole. They joined the Fabian Society, an organization whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialist via reformist efforts rather than revolutionary overthrow. The couple eventually moved to Oxford where they taught and wrote. Their first mystery novel “The Death of a Millionaire” was published in 1925. Published in 1948, their final novel was “The Toys of Death.” Series characters were Superintendent Henry Wilson, Everad Blatchington, and Dr. Tancred.

Their book “Murder at the Munition Works” was published in 1940, and the story is woven around wartime production, shop stewards, and walk-outs. Because of its topic, one scholar theorizes that Margaret’s husband wrote the book in its entirety rather than as a collaboration with her, however, there is no proof. Most readers agree that the Cole’s early works are their better novels with ingenious ideas, complex characterizations, and sharp satire.

And despite being considered as good as Agatha Christie’s stories, the Coles and their books have faded into obscurity.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Beth Steury

Talkshow Thursday: Author Beth Steury

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on the release of before I knew you, Book #1 of the “Choices Matter” fiction series. Prior to publishing that, you wrote non-fiction. What made you decide to enter into the fiction realm?

Beth: Hi, Linda. Thanks for chatting with me today. I have to admit, I started the “Choices Matter” fiction series several years before I began my “Waiting Matters . . . Because YOU Matter” blog. I started the blog as part of my platform to promote saving sex for marriage, a theme that is woven through the novel series. I love how a story that is relatable and really pulls in the reader can leave a lasting, beneficial, even life-changing effect. And I’ve always loved losing myself in a great story.

LM: How did you find writing a fiction book different from writing non-fiction?

Beth: I found that fiction takes more time and creative energy to complete. It’s like watching a slow-motion movie in my mind as the characters and storyline come together. But there are similarities as well, as I try to “paint” a visual picture in the reader’s mind with both my fiction and non-fiction.

LM: Research is a large part of any book. How did you go about researching before I knew you and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?

Beth: Well, no spoilers, but I did have to look up some legalities and procedural scenarios specific to the state of Indiana. And some health-related research is required for the second book of the series. Because of my commitment to a story that’s realistic and relevant to today’s YA audience, some of my research took the form of observing teenagers and even benefited from a bit of eavesdropping on their conversations in public settings. I also queried high school students while substitute teaching about likes/dislikes, trends, etc.

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

Beth: I’ve wanted to write my entire adult life. I can’t remember one particular incident that ignited the desire. I feel that God has given me a variety of messages to share, through both fiction and non-fiction avenues. I wrote short pieces of both fiction and non-fiction for multiple publications before I put writing on the backburner while raising my children. About ten years ago, I made a conscious decision to take my passion for writing more seriously and focused greater time and energy toward a writing career.

LM: You are one busy lady. What do you do for fun and relaxation?

Beth: I have to admit, I’m not very good with down time. But I do enjoy dinner out with friends and family and watching a few select TV series with my husband. And of course, reading. There’s never enough time to read!

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite season: I’m a “seasonal” person who loves something about each season, and part of what I like is the change itself. I would really miss the inspiration of a new season approaching if I lived where the weather was consistent year-round. Fall edges the other seasons by a slim margin as my favorite. Bring on the pumpkins and leaves, campfires and hoodies, football and sweatshirts.

Favorite food: CHOCOLATE

Favorite childhood book: That’s a tough one because I liked so many. I read my way around the “biography room” at my elementary school’s library, and then read my way through the Boxcar Children series. But three titles that always come to mind immediately are “The Pink Motel” and “Caddie Woodlawn” by Carol Ryrie Brink and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” by Richard and Florence Atwater.

LM: What is your next project?

Beth:  I am wrapping up the second book in the “Choices Matter” series, and then it’s on to the final (maybe?) book in the series. I plan to publish the third book in the “Waiting Matters” non-fiction series in the coming months as well. After all of that, I will tackle putting my adoption search and reunion story, “A Doorstep Baby’s Search for Answers” into book form.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?


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