Thursday, November 19, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Valerie Massey Goree

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Valerie Massey Goree

Today, I am thrilled to feature Valerie Massey Goree. Not only is she an excellent writer, but a fantastic critique partner. My own books are better because of her insightful input. I had the privilege of reading Forever Under Blue Skies while it was a work-in-progress. Without further ado, listen in as she shares about her latest release.

LM: Welcome back, and thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on the release of Forever Under Blue Skies. What was the inspiration for your story? 
VALERIE: First of all, thank you for hosting me, Linda. Forever Under Blue Skies is very close to my heart. It is based on the first novel I ever wrote, long before everyone had a computer. Not to give away my age, but I bought a word processor back then and decided to write a story using details of my mother’s family roots in Australia. I didn’t attend a full-fledged conference until my book was finished. I chose Mt. Hermon Writers Conference as the venue to present my masterpiece. Well, the multi-published author who gave me a critique said I had the bones of a good story, but I needed to learn a whole lot more about the craft of writing. I set aside that novel, but kept on writing and attended as many workshops as I could. I also joined American Christian Fiction Writers, probably my best writing related decision. After publishing five novels with Parson Place Press and Pelican Book Group, I returned to my first and revamped the plot. 
LM: Research is a very important part of writing any book. What sort of research did you do for your story (especially in these days of lockdown), and was there any intriguing bit of information you knew you had to include? 
VALERIE: I did the original research a long time ago in the Dark Ages when we only had library
books! I grew up in Rhodesia, a former British Colony in central Africa, and I speculated that since Australia was also a former colony in the Southern Hemisphere, the architecture might be similar as well as the vernacular. I was right. My husband and I visited Australia and stayed on a sheep station, and I was able to confirm or adjust details in my story. One intriguing bit of information came from the grazier on the station we visited. We drove up to a waterhole, the sheep scattered and then we heard continuous bleating. He explained that each ewe and lamb have a unique cry. If they get separated, the ewe will call and her lamb will respond until they are united. 

LM: Born in South Africa, raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), you spent many years in the San Antonio, Texas area, and you now live in the Pacific Northwest—quite a mix! Why did you decide to relocate and what is it you love best about the northwest? 

VALERIE: Although I loved living in Texas, the heat and humidity were not my friends. When it came time for my husband to retire, we chose to move to a cooler climate. Our condo is right on the water, we don’t have air conditioning, and yet the highest temp I’ve recorded in our home is 78. Needless to say, I love the weather, even the gray skies, and the scenery. 
LM: How do you devise your characters? Are any based on you or people you know? 

VALERIE: Before I completely plot my story, I work on my characters’ profiles. I list traits I want them to possess, especially ones they’ll need to overcome trauma and succeed, and build a backstory to show how they landed in the present. I don’t base any character on someone I know, although I will incorporate a trait or two. 

LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process: research, writing, or revising? 

VALERIE: For the most part, revising is my favorite. The word and ideas are already down on paper, and I just need to polish or correct. 

LM: Here are some quickies: 

Favorite season: Spring 

Favorite childhood book: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett 

Favorite place to visit: My husband and I have been blessed to visit many interesting places around the world. But as we get older and distance travel is harder, I’d say my favorite place is where our children and grandchildren live. 

LM: What advice do you have for fledgling writers? 

VALERIE: Don’t give up. Keep writing. Join a writers’ group where you can share ideas and receive constructive critiques. Read the genre you write. Then read some more. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 


About Forever Under Blue Skies:
Travel to Australia to solve a family mystery? Sure, Marlow could do that. But she didn’t take into consideration the vast outback, nor the owner of the sheep station. Widower, Jake Barclay, is everything her late husband was not—honorable, considerate, a pure gentleman. She came prepared with sunscreen, but hadn’t built a high enough screen around her heart. Jake was dubious about Marlow’s reason for visiting his station and thwarts her plan at every turn. Until he sees how she interacts with his vulnerable, young daughter. If they solve the coded message, can Marlow return to Texas, or will Jake offer her a forever home in the outback?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Traveling Tuesday: Oregon in the 1800s

Traveling Tuesday: Oregon in the 1800s 

Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Oregon is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the east, the Columbia River and Washington to the north, The Snake River and Idaho to the East, and California and Nevada to the south. The Klamath and Cascade mountain ranges are located in the western region while the Blue, Steens, and Wallowa mountains can be found in the eastern region of the state. If you like lakes, there are plenty, including Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States. 
Oregon has been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years. The Spanish arrived in the mid-1500s to explore and map the area as well as study ocean currents. The French came soon thereafter, then the British, and finally the Americans. President Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find a practical route across the western half of the continent and to establish and American presence before the other European powers could claim it. Their secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the plants, animal life, and geography, and to establish trade with the local native tribes. 
During the 1820s and 1830s, the American West was explored by private trappers who formed fur
trading companies. John Jacob Astor’s Fort Astoria was the first permanent white settlement in the region. He had contracts with both the North West Fur Company and the Hudson’s Bay company and who made significant wealth in the fur industry before it collapsed. The high demand for beaver hats and coats coupled with the lack of regulation over trapping almost caused the extinction of beavers by the mid-19th century. However, fashions changed, and the need for trapping the animal ceased. 

Starting in the 1830s, pioneers came to the area via the famous Oregon Trail, many of whom were missionaries seeking to convert the natives to Christianity. In 1843 and “all citizen” meeting was held that instituted a provisional government headed by an executive committee. More settlers came and the territory became jointly settled with the United Kingdom. After much disagreement, the border between the US and British territory was established along the 49th parallel, with the territory above going to Britain and later becoming part of Canada. The Oregon Territory was officially organized in 1848 with bits and pieces carved off over a period of years to create the territories of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Oregon was admitted as a state on February 14, 1859. 
In 1851 and 1852, gold was discovered in the Rogue River Valley in southern Oregon, but apparently the volume was not worth working or reporting. Ten years later gold would be found in the Blue Mountains and attract a significant number of miners, including many from China. Racial prejudice persisted, and there were periodic episodes of violence in the early days of mining. However, as time passed, the Chinese and whites managed to work side by side in peaceful co-existence. 
As more settlers arrived, transportation infrastructure was developed, and roads such as the Barlow Road, Canyon Road, and the Applegate Trail were created and bridges built. Ferries also popped up at the many river crossings in the region. As the population continued to grow, steamboats began regular service along the rivers, and in 1858 the Cascade Railroad Company created the first line, followed by the Oregon and California Railroad. Railroads transformed the state’s economy by bringing more people, cheaper shipping, and more efficient technology to the existing industries. During this period, farming was a mainstay of the economy as acreage and productivity climbed. 
Have you visited this beautiful and geographically diverse state?  


About Legacy of Love:

Will their love come at a cost? 
Escaping Boston to avoid a marriage of convenience aimed at garnering society’s respect for her family name in the shadow of her father’s war profiteering, Meg Underwood settles in Spruce Hill, Oregon. Despite leaving behind the comforts of wealth, she’s happy. Then the handsome Pinkerton agent, Reuben Jessop, arrives with news that she’s inherited her aunt’s significant estate, and she must return home to claim the bequest. Meg refuses to make the trip. Unwilling to fail at his mission, Reuben gives her until Christmas to prove why she should remain in Spruce Hill and give up the opportunity to become a woman of means. When he seems to want more than friendship, she wonders if her new-found wealth is the basis of his attraction.

Purchase Link:

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wartime Wednesday: The History of Veterans Day


Wartime Wednesday: The History of Veterans Day 

Cessation of hostilities during the “war to end all wars” went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, with the armistice being signed in June of the following year. In November, President Wilson proclaimed the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day was celebrated with parades and public meetings as well as a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 AM. 
In 1926, Congress passed a resolution to make Armistice Day an annual observance: 
“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and 
Whereas it is fitting that a recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a
legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring) that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” 
November 11 became a national holiday in 1938, primarily set aside to honor veterans of WWI. However, after World War II and the Korean War, Congress amended the Act of 1938 in 1954 by changing the word Armistice to Veterans. With the approval of the legislation, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, living or dead, but especially gives thanks to living veterans who serve or served their country honorably during war or peacetime. 
The Uniform Holiday Bill of 1968 intended to create three-day weekends for Federal employees by moving four national holidays to Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. The concept was to encourage travel, recreational, and cultural activities and stimulate industrial and commercial production. Many states didn’t agree with the decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on the original dates. 
Recognizing the historic and patriotic significance of commemorating Veterans Day, President Ford signed a law in 1975 that returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, with the act going into effect in 1978. 


Spies & Sweethearts

A secret mission. A fake bride. A run for their lives. 

According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off. The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away—a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels. Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey? And what about their hearts? 

Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.

Purchase Link:

Friday, November 6, 2020

Fiction Friday: November Releases

Fiction Friday:  New Releases

Check out these November releases in Christian and Clean-n-Wholesome fiction:

Dangerous Deception (Inspirational Romantic Suspense, 11/1/20) by Evelyn M. Hill:
 Nothing is what it seems...

Purchase Link:

Surprise Christmas Family (Short Contemporary Romance, 11/1/20) by Renee Ryan:
Can a very merry mistake lead to a perfect holiday?

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An Amish Holiday Family (Amish Inspirational, 11/1/20) by Jo Ann Brown:
A Christmas she never expected...becoming a guardian to three children wasn't in her plan.

Purchase Link:

Grave Christmas Secrets (Romantic Suspense, 11/3/20) by Sharee Stover:
Discovering buried evidence makes her a target.

Purchase Link:

A Bride for Seamus (Christian Historic Romance, 11/3/20) by Linda Shenton Matchett:
Can two  people set aside presumptions, prejudices, and pain to find love?

Purchase Link:

Holidays, Inc. (Sweet Contemporary Romance, 11/4/20) by Rachelle Paige Campbell:
Can one woman's dream save a town?

Purchase Link:

Snowbound in Winterberry Falls (Inspirational Romance Seasonal, 11/6/20) by Ann Brodeur:
All she wants for Christmas is to uncover the truth.

Purchase Link:

The Deeds of the Deceitful (Cozy Mystery, 11/10/20) by Ellery Adams and Tina Radcliffe:
 Welcome back to Hope Street Church where friendships are formed, fresh starts are encouraged, and mysteries are solved...

Purchase Link:

An Amish Christmas Promise/Amish Christmas Hideaway (Amish Inspirational, 11/10/20) by Joanna Worth/Lenora Worth
: Will she jeopardize her family secret for love? Secrecy kept her family safe...will she risk it all for a chance at love?

Purchase Link:

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Sarah Hamaker

 Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Sarah Hamaker

LINDA: Thanks for joining me today. Happy book birthday! Your Love Inspired Suspense Dangerous Christmas Memories came out this month last year. What is it that draws you to writing romantic suspense? 

SARAH: I love mixing romance with a mystery coupled with the hero/heroine in danger. It adds a little spice to the story! It’s a genre I enjoy reading, so I figured why not write it as well. 

LM: Where do you get your story ideas? 

SARAH: Everywhere. For Dangerous Christmas Memories, it was a news article about a celebrity couple who got married in Las Vegas, but didn’t realize the marriage was legal until years later. That started me thinking, “What if that happened but one of them forgot they were married and disappeared?” For Illusion of Love, a friend’s story of her online romance gone horribly wrong (she’s okay now!) sounded more like a plot line than real life—I couldn’t resist using that as the basis but adding my own twists and turns. 

LM: Have you ever based a character on yourself or someone you know? 

SARAH: Not exactly. Illusion of Love’s storyline is loosely based on a friend’s experience but the characters are not even close to who she really is. I prefer to use some characteristics of people I know but create entirely new “people” for my stories. 

LM: In addition to writing fiction, you are a freelance editor. How do you turn off your internal editor when you are drafting a story? 

SARAH: That was hard at first, but since I’ve written and edited hundreds, probably thousands, of
articles over the years, I’ve disciplined myself to not editing the first draft. For my fiction writing, it’s all about getting the story down on paper. To that end, I rarely stop to name all of my characters apart from the hero and heroine (and sometimes a few important secondary characters if the names come to me as I’m writing). Instead, I call them Best Friend Hero, then replace those words with the real name as I’m editing it. Completing the manuscript is a huge hurdle, and I don’t “need” to know secondary character names as I’m writing. 

LM: You also host a “The Romantic Side of Suspense” podcast. How did that come about, and how do you balance writing, editing, and podcasting and manage to have a personal life? 

SARAH: I started with a parenting podcast (100 episodes), and loved interviewing people and talking about raising kids. When I tried to find a Christian romantic suspense podcast, there wasn’t any—and romantic suspense is one of the top genres in Christian publishing. I thought there might be an audience for such a podcast. But I wanted to do it a little bit differently, so the format is an interview I do with the author, then an audio excerpt of their latest book read by a narrator I found on Fivvr. I record the interviews a few times a year, then upload them all at once to help manage my time. For fitting everything in, I’ve been getting up a little earlier so I can have some writing time before my “mom” and freelance writing/editing duties kick in. That’s been very productive to helping me write every weekday, and also take care of the other things on my plate. I also stop working around 5 to cook dinner/visit with the family, and only do a little work in the early evening before winding down. 

LM: Here are some quickies: 

Favorite go-to snack: Fruit! Bananas, grapes, apple slices 
Favorite season: Fall. There’s something invigorating about the crisp air and the leaves falling that makes me happy. 

LM: What is your next project? 

SARAH: While I’m waiting to hear back from a few publishers on some proposals my agent sent in recently, I’m working on revising/rewriting book 2 in a series I hope to start indie publishing in the spring of 2021. 
LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Twitter: @parentcoachnova 

About Illusion of Love

A suspicious online romance reconnects an agoraphobe and an old friend. Nursing a hurt leg, psychiatrist Jared Quinby arrives in Culpeper, Virginia, on a case for the FBI. The investigation leads him to the doorstep of his childhood best friend, Mary Divers. Meeting Mary again is the one bright spot in his life. Suffering from agoraphobia, Mary has at last found love with online beau David Kline and dares to dream of a future with him. Then David reveals he will be leaving the United States to become a missionary in Peru. Determined to stop living in fear, she accepts David’s marriage proposal, even though she’s never met him face-to-face. As Jared’s case intersects Mary’s online relationship, the more he uncovers, the more he fears for her safety. Jared tries to convince Mary not all is right with David, but she refuses to believe him. When tragedy strikes, Mary pushes Jared even farther away. Will Jared convince Mary of the truth—and of his love for her—before it’s too late?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Release Day: A Bride for Seamus

 Release Day: A Bride for Seamus

I'm excited to announce the release of A Bride for Seamus. Another opportunity to dabble in the 1800s, this story is part of the "Proxy Bride Series. I had fun researching Cedar Rapids, Iowa and learning about farming and ranching in a time before modern machinery was invented. Farming is difficult work, and I hope A Bride for Seamus honors the men and women who choose this challenging life.

A Bride for Seamus is available for purchase or Kindle Unlimited. Grab your copy today!


Can two people set aside presumptions, prejudices, and pain to find love? 
When her father dies after a lengthy illness, Madeline Winthrop is horrified to discover his will bequeaths their home to his business partner, a cruel and dishonest man, leaving her destitute. With no job or marriage prospects, she seeks help from her pastor who suggests she considers becoming a mail order bride. There’s just one catch. She’s to marry the man by proxy before ever meeting him. 
After three mail order brides refuse to stay and marry Seamus Fitzpatrick because of his brother’s mental issues and two rambunctious children, Seamus decides a proxy marriage is the only way he’s going to secure a wife. When the Boston-bred socialite arrives with few practical skills, he wonders if he made the biggest mistake of his life.