Thursday, December 6, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Bonnie Engstrom

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Bonnie Engstrom

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your 5 Star Readers Favorite Award for Restoring Love at Christmastime! Where did you find your inspiration for this story?

Bonnie: My parents and I used to visit Cambridge Springs every summer, so I had fond memories of the old hotel and where I first rode a horse named Traveler. There was a cute stable boy there, too, but not as cute as Jake on the book cover. (Isn’t he adorable?)

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

Bonnie: I am an off the cuff, maybe sometimes off the wall, writer. I do have ideas for every story I write, but each story evolves by itself. No outline, no plotting. Too boring, too restrictive. Although I admire authors who can do that. Just not my style.

LM: Research is a large part of any book. How did you go about researching Restoring Love at Christmastime, and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?

Bonnie: Most of the actual details of the hotel were embedded in my memory. But, sadly, I decided right before I sent the manuscript to my publisher to check out the three turrets to be sure there was an angel one. I was devastated to learn the historic hotel had burned down just a week prior to my search. I was torn about the story but decided to honor the old inn and publish it.

LM: What is one thing you wish you knew how to do?

Bonnie: Knit! Deb Macomber is one of my favorite authors, and she centers many of her books and her life around knitting. I always thought it would be fun to join one of her knitting meetings. I do know how to quilt, though, and used to own a children’s shop that featured just about everything quilted. My poor sons had to wear quilted patchwork shorts when they were two and four. I don’t think they’ve ever forgiven me!

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?

Bonnie: We’ve dreamed of going back to Sweden to connect with our roots, but I’m not sure I want to endure the long flight. Besides, we are so busy with our four Arizona grandkids, we are tied down. We have visited our son and his two boys in Costa Rica, but not recently. Instead we pay for them to come here to connect with their cousins ~ all of whom adore each other.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite movie: Dirty Dancing! In spite of what some Christians might say, I think it was a poignant and powerful love story. That’s another thing I wish I could do – dance like that.
Favorite food: Sushi. Actually, sashimi. Salmon and crab are close seconds.
Favorite childhood book: Anything Nancy Drew.

LM: What is your next project?

Bonnie: I promised my publisher I would write one more book in the Candy Cane Girls Series. Doreen needs her own story. After that . . . I have several books started – a love story about an older couple (sort of like my debut novel Butterfly Dreams) and one that involves a family secret and a trip to Sweden.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

I’m running a weekly contest, WACKY WEDNESDAY, on my Facebook author page I hope everyone reading this will stop by every Wednesday and answer my question to win fun prizes.

My website will be updated soon, but it’s still a place to see all those grandchildren. See if you can pick out the two surfing boys and the little imp who got baptized with me recently.

My favorite way to connect with readers is via email where we can chat and exchange ideas. I do ask that they put BOOK in the subject line so they don’t fly off into cyberspace.

I’m not very good at Twitter, but my handle is @BonnieEngstrom1.

I’ve given up on Instagram – don’t understand it.

Book blurb:
Why was Jenni taking this journey back in time during the Christmas holidays? Surely, she didn’t expect to see Jake the stable boy. She had moved on from sneaking kisses in the barn after trail rides. He must have, too. Who on earth would stay in the tiny town of Cambridge Springs?

She planned for a respite from teaching, time to read, take quiet walks and indulge in delicious hotel meals. At least no one knew where to find her, none of her friends, and not even her family.

She wanted to soak up memories, alone. Unless by a Christmas miracle Jake was still there to share them.

Can romance still flourish after fifteen years? Will a teacher and a former stable boy remember their first kiss?

Bonnie will gift two Restoring Love at Christmastime books to two people who comment; an eBook and a signed print copy. She hopes you will give a review on Amazon or Goodreads after you read and enjoy it.

Author Bio: Bonnie spends her time between writing and driving four Arizona grandkids to and from school, with Starbucks stops on the way. Her psychologist husband, Dave, takes his turn, too, when he isn’t on a Skype meeting with his University of Phoenix colleagues or preparing dinners as the resident chef. Life is busy for Bonnie and Dave, but filled with love and blessings, soccer games, spelling bees and strings concerts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: The Italian Resistance

Traveling Tuesday: The Italian Resistance

Much is made over the French Resistance, and the thousands of French citizens who put their lives on the line to fight German Occupation. Less well-known are the activities of the men and women of the Italian Resistance.

An intriguing aspect of the Italian Resistance is that in some ways it was a Civil War. Members not only faced “faceless” enemies, but also neighbors, friends, and family members who stood behind the Nazi-Fascist cause. This added a personal level to the conflict that many have never forgotten. At its peak, the Resistance boasted somewhere around 300,000 members who opposed occupying German forces as well as Mussolini’s Fascist government.

One of the most famous incidents occurred at Piombino after the armistice. German forces made their way to the town, and citizens asked the Italian Army to respond, but despite hostility shown by the Germans indicating they planned to occupy Piombino, General DeVecchio commanded his troops not to intervene. Junior officers went against orders and outfitted the townspeople with weapons. The Germans were repelled and taken prisoner, but again DeVecchio stepped in and freed the prisoners. Senior Italian commanders fled the city and the troops disbanded, allowing the Germans to take over the city. 

Soldiers, sailors, and airmen retreated to the nearby forests and formed several partisan units. Armed resistance involved ambushing and harassing the Germans and their allies through the use of guerilla tactics. Supported by locals with food, blankets, medicine and other supplies, the partisans would provide citizens with “promissory notes” that could be redeemed after the war. Other types of resistance were aid networks that assisted escaped POWs to reach Switzerland or Allied lines. Italian Jews were assisted by the Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants with food, shelter, and money.

A brave group of men and women, the Resistance lost approximately 50,000 over the course of the war.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Mystery Monday: Who was Milton Propper?

Mystery Monday: Who was Milton Propper?

I’m always intrigued when I discover an author who has written multiple books (in this case fourteen), and yet I’ve never heard of him.

A native of Philadelphia, Milton Morris Propper was born in 1906, yet almost nothing is known of his upbringing. He attended the University of Pennsylvania where he obtain a law degree, and upon graduation in 1929, he was admitted to the Bar.

That same year, his first novel, The Strange Disappearance of Mary Young was published. A police procedural, the book features Tommy Rankin, a specialist detective in the Philadelphia Homicide Bureau. Scholars and critics often compare Milton’s books to those of Freeman Wills Crofts, an Irish writer whose career spanned nearly forty years. Not surprising as Milton admitted he was a great fan of Crofts’s work.

There are conflicting reports as to whether Milton practiced law, but it is certain that by the mid-1930s he worked for the Social Security Administration and wrote his mysteries on the side, all of which take place in Philadelphia.

Most of his novels are formulaic: the discovery of a body under unusual circumstances, suspicion scattered among lots of characters with lots to hide, the police are above the law, and the rich and powerful can do now wrong. Estate issues and legal questions are an integral part of many of his stories which speaks to his Law degree. Toward the end of each book, Detective Rankin puts together some piece of the puzzle not formerly revealed to the reader and determines the killer is part of the victim’s life and avenging something from the past. A chase entails in order to catch the murderer.

Despite his literary success, Milton’s personal life was difficult and “messy,” as one scholar put it. He was estranged from his family, had run-ins with the police, and mismanaged his funds to the point he was living in poverty. Sadly, he lost his writing markets and deciding that life was no longer worth living, killed himself in 1962.