Thursday, November 15, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: June Foster's Story Behind the Story

Talkshow Thursday: June Foster's Story Behind the Story

A Harvest of Blessing was inspired by a real life couple my husband and I met in Pensacola, Florida. Several years ago we were traveling and living in our RV full time. Since my husband is retired army, we generally stayed on military posts in their RV parks. This year we stayed at Pensacola Naval Air Station and attended the military chapel.

One Sunday we got to talking to a great couple and wound up going to lunch with them after church. Their story amazed me. They were both visiting the graves of their dead spouses when they met. They even pointed out the graveyard as we passed on the way to lunch.

Cupid went to work, and they eventually married. Their story has been on my mind for several years, and I finally got the chance to tell it in A Harvest of Blessing where my hero and heroine who're in their mid fifties meet in a graveyard. But that's where the similarity ends. I deviated from the real couple and made Nadia's husband a jerk and Jared's daughter an obstacle between the two of them.

In the story, Nadia's son David is serving a tour of duty in Germany. I put him in Germany because my husband and I were there before he retired from the army. Wood carvings abound in the European country,  and I thought it would be fun to have David bring one of the lovely pieces—like the one I own—back home for his mom. The real wood carving used to hang on my mom's wall. Today it sits on a cabinet in my dining room.

The carving is special to me as it is the artist's rendition of a loaf of bread and a chalice, an important element in Christianity—communion or the Lord's Supper.

I loved writing A Harvest of Blessing as this is the first book I've penned where the characters are middle aged. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Book Blurb:
If there's one thing Nadia Maguire knows, Jon Maguire robbed her of a godly marriage and left her in financial ruin. The night he was killed in an accident, guilt threatened to suffocate her. She wasn't sorry he died.

When Nadia accidentally sits on a stranger's lap in the graveyard where Jon is buried, she's horrified to learn the good-looking guy with salt and pepper hair is her new boss.

Jared Abrams is a widower who longs to move on. He's intrigued by the beautiful woman who puts God first in her life. But as their friendship grows, an unexpected obstacle separates them—his daughter Sarah. No one can replace her mother. Especially not Nadia Maguire whose son harmed her in high school.

If Nadia can't find the funds to get her house ready to sell, she'll have to balance two jobs with no time left to nurture a relationship with the man she loves. Will she and Jared find a Harvest of Blessings, or a season of drought?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mystery Monday: Crimebake Mystery Conference

Mystery Monday: Crimebake Mystery Conference

This past weekend, I attended Crimebake, an annual mystery writing conference in Woburn, Massachusetts jointly produced by Mystery Writers of America and the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime. This year marks my eleventh conference, yet I learn something new (usually lots of "somethings") every time I come.

A Master class in forensics was chock-full of information to ensure I'll get my facts correct. Panels on writing short fiction and upending cliches rounded out the afternoon. A seminar on marketing tips and techniques is always helpful, and it was nice to find out I'm doing some of right! During his interview, Guest of Honor Walter Mosley shared that he was rejected seventeen(!) times for his latest book before it was accepted by a publisher. You would think fifty-four books in thirty years would have publishers lining up to release it.

As much as I love coming for the writer-part, I love the reader-part of rubbing shoulders with authors
I admire, some of whom are NY Times or USA best sellers for good reason, others who haven't received awards, but write some of the best mystery fiction I've read. Here are a couple of goose-bump-worthy incidents:

While I was standing in the registration line on Friday afternoon, Hank Phillippi Ryan intentionally approached me, gave me a big hug, and said how glad she was to see me. Hank, who has won countless awards for her investigative reporting and for her writing! Hank, treating me like a friend and cohort. And she does it every year.

Friday night, Tiger Wiseman and I ran the SinCNE game "Pin the Wound on the Corpse." (Yes, you read that right!) Chatting with one of the contestants I mentioned I wrote historical fiction and had several books published. Didn't two women overhear me and rush over to ask me about my books. They also asked questions about the industry, and I was pleased to be able to share from my experiences.

The weekend passed in a flash, and I'm already looking forward to next year's conference.

Do you attend industry conferences for your job? I hope they are as exciting as Crimebake!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Linore Burkard

Talkshow Thursday: Author Linore Burkard

Linda:  Welcome back and thanks for joining me today. My readers love historical fiction, so they will be very excited to hear about your latest box set release, The Regency Trilogy. It sounds intriguing. What was your inspiration for these stories?

Linore: I am a big fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, but when I looked for Christian fiction set in the regency (1811-1820, England) there was none. Not a single authentic regency romance in Christian fiction. My goal was to change that. With the help of Nick Harrison, then editor at Harvest House, we did. With his help, Harvest picked up my first book, Before the Season Ends, which was previously self-published. I wrote two more books for HHP, the sequels which make up the box set. Readers—and other writers—loved the books and soon there were regencies coming from other fiction houses.  So that today regency romance is an established genre for Christian readers! 

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

Linore: I don't think any author can wholly avoid incorporating traits of people they know, or of themselves, for that matter, into their characters. But I never fashion a character entirely upon anyone that I actually know. 

LM: Research is an important part of writing, but especially in historical fiction. How did you go about researching Before the Season Ends and did you find any special tidbits you knew you had to include?

Linore: I wanted to include features I most enjoyed in the authors I loved, so that humor in the vein of Heyer is in my books, and language faintly in the style of Austen (many reviewers mention that. One called it "Jane Austen Lite.") I wanted to give my readers the best of both worlds, so to speak. 

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

Linore: I don't do anything to prepare for writing, other than have an idea about where I want to go in the story. If it's a new story, it's only new to the page; meaning, I've been simmering it in my head for a long time before I write it out. This isn't to say that I don't sometimes take writing retreats away from home and family. When the writing is hard in a new book, or when the revisions are difficult (I call it 'brain surgery') I sometimes have to get away.  It's the only way to have uninterrupted time.

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

Linore: I'd like to learn how to squeeze in more reading time while still meeting my writing and publishing goals! 

LM: Quickies:

Favorite Color: Mauve/Rose
Favorite Book: The Bible (or, The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck—one of my faves)
Favorite Movie Actress: Rosamund Pike, Keira Knightley or Reese Witherspoon

LM: What is your next project?

Linore: I have a time-travel regency with my agent as I write. Next I'm working on a compilation of true-life God encounters! My first non-fiction book.

LM: Sounds exciting. Where can folks find you on the web?


Book Blurb:
Lovely Ariana Forsythe arrives at her wealthy aunt's London townhouse just in time for the season, called the "marriage mart." Thrust into a world of the upper crust, an innocent blunder entangles her in a treacherous rumor that threatens her good name. She is forced to team with the Paragon, the darkly handsome but taciturn Phillip Mornay, to disprove the lie. Ariana can trust God's hand in her life, but can she resist Mr. Mornay's increasing claim on her heart? When she finds herself betrothed to him, she is faced with a terrible choice--she must make it soon, before the season ends!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Minnesota-Land of 10,000 Lakes

Traveling Tuesday: Minnesota-Land of 10,000 Lakes

The U.S. state of Minnesota has many nicknames: Land of 10,000 Lakes, The Gopher State, The North Star State, The Agate State, and the State of Hockey. Personally, I’m surprised it’s not also called The Corn State in recognition of the miles of corn fields I pass during the ninety-minute drive from the Minneapolis airport to my sister’s house. A beautiful state, its flat lands and gently rolling hills are vastly different from the forested mountains of New Hampshire where I live.

But Minnesota is much more than its geography, although its geography is part of what helped the state “do its bit” during WWII.

As soon as the U.S. entered the war, Fort Snelling, located south of Minneapolis where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers come together, became an induction center and processed more than 300,000 men and women into the Armed Forces. At its peak, nearly 800 recruits per day passed through. The Fort was also used to organize and train specialized unit such as the military police and the 99th Infantry Battalion that was made up of Norwegian-speaking soldiers who trained to fight on skis and snowshoes. In 1944, Nisei (second generation) Japanese-Americans came to the fort to learn Japanese, Korean, and Chinese in preparation for service as interpreters, interrogators, and intelligence workers.

In the Iron Range, over 338 million tons of iron ore were mined which amount to seventy percent of the iron ore needed for battleships, planes, and tanks. One train car of ore left Hibbing’s Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine every twenty seconds for the shipping docks!

Shipbuilding was also a big enterprise in Minnesota. Contracted to build six ships, Savage Shipyard managed to produce eighteen ships and four tug boats instead. All told the six shipyards in the area manufactured over 230 ships for the war effort.

At the University of Minnesota, thirty-six conscientious objectors volunteered for an experiment to determine the physical and mental effects of starvation. The study ran for over a year, from November 20, 1944 until December 19, 1945. The results guided Allied relief assistance to famine victims in Europe and Asia at the end of the war. Another project at the University developed the K ration, a prepackaged set of meals soldiers could carry.

The Mayo Clinic’s Aero Medical Unit participated by inventing the first practical “G-suit,” a pressured flight suits that prevented fighter pilots from blacking out during quick maneuvers and dives. The Unit’s doctors and engineers risked their own safety by whirling themselves unconscious in the first civilian centrifuge.

One of the more unusual products devised by a company for the war effort of the manufacture of “wet or dry strips” by 3M. The strips were sticky on one side, and used on the edges of plane wings and ambulance runners to people could stand on them without fear of slipping.

Food manufacturer, General Mills used its Mechanical Division to produce gun sights.

Remember Spam? Hormel had been manufacturing the canned meat since 1937, but in 1941 it became an important part of the Lend-Lease program which sent food and supplied to allied countries.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Ellie Gustafson

Talkshow Thursday: Author Ellie Gustafson

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your newest publication An Unpresentable Glory. How did that come about and where did you get the inspiration for the title?

Ellie: It all came from a real-life incident, as related in the Preface:
The night before my husband’s dad died, I volunteered to take the night shift, as a bladder infection made him restless and required constant attention. I sat beside him, serving him—my father-in-law—as needed. But through those difficult hours, I felt I was on holy ground, the room peopled with angels.

This awkward stint of servanthood affected me profoundly, eventually moving me to write An Unpresentable Glory. Whatever hidden, “unpresentable” ways He asks us to serve may reflect God’s glory more vividly than our more well-dressed benevolences. Places or situations that are awkward and not for public view may become God’s platform for displaying His love. This love could be for all to see (presentable) or only for the eyes of the participants.

LM: You have published several books. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Ellie: Editing each book—at least fifty times! Writing the first draft is really hard, but I find joy in pruning and scrubbing and polishing text until it shines and sings. Each re-edit comes from a fresh perspective.

LM: Research is an important part of each book. Can you describe a time you had an “aha” moment while researching one of your books?

Ellie: I needed the Teddy Roosevelt National Park to be open on Christmas day—which it’s not. However, I learned that the public road that runs through from south to north has to remain open to provide a corridor for people who live north of the park. YESSS!!!

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

Ellie: I can’t write while listening to music. Music speaks its own emotional language and requires its own attention. I can’t work “bi-lingually.” I prepare for each day—whatever I’m doing—with a time of Bible and other devotional reading, along with prayer. If I don’t keep the right focus, nothing—writing included—amounts to much.

LM: You live in New England, a beautiful area of the country. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Ellie: That’s a hard question. I don’t think in those terms. Vacation, though, is different from destination. I think, at my age and stage, going on a pre-planned tour, with people to feed and water you, take care of your luggage, and drive you to gawk at whatever swell place, sounds really good.

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

Ellie: Place: Supai Canyon, Arizona. Occasion: Visiting an Indian mission at the base of a thousand-foot cliff. People involved: Four—me, husband, father-in-law, missionary. Activity du jour: Climbing the thousand-foot cliff. Quirky event: Halfway up, I, wearing old and fragile slacks, feel the seam giving way. Soon, only the hems at the bottom of each leg hold the slacks together. Me—with three men fore and aft—my unpresentable moment! Response: A good laugh for all.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite Color: I don’t have a favorite color. I’m waiting for the new colors I’ll see in heaven.
Favorite Food: Hot, homemade bread!
Favorite Season: Spring

LM: An Unpresentable Glory is your final novel. What big plans do you have for retirement?

Ellie: Right now, unprogrammed, uninterrupted sleep sounds pretty good.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Book Blurb: 
Linda Jenson leads a relatively quiet life in Westchester County, New York, as the owner of a highly-acclaimed garden. Inherited from her parents, the garden is her pride and joy. What is not so joyful is finding a strange man sprawled near her delphiniums! The mysterious man is sick, unable to do anything more than drink water-and beg for secrecy. Ignoring all alarm bells, Linda sees to his needs, but her caring act takes on unexpected significance, an unpresentable glory.

Seeds of trust, and perhaps love, are planted in Linda's garden haven. But as secrets are revealed and scandal hits the headlines, the act of caring for this man threatens to tarnish both of their reputations. Like weeds in Linda's garden, circumstances threaten to choke out their fledgling relationship, and small moments prove to be the biggest influencers-on a national scale.

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