Monday, November 29, 2021

Mystery Monday: The Notting Hill Mystery

Mystery Monday: The Notting Hill Mystery 
The Notting Hill Mystery
was initially published as an eight-part serial between 1862 and 1863 in the magazine Once a Week. Written under the pseudonym Charles Felix, the story is thought to be the first detective novel, pre-dating Wilkie Collin’s The Moonstone which is often touted as holding that honor. No one knows for certain who wrote the book, but scholars who love to argue that sort of thing have since come to the conclusion that Charles Warren Adams is the author. 
Not much is known about the man other than the fact he was born in 1833 in England. He became a lawyer and somehow became involved in “bailing out” the London publishing firm of Saunders, Otley & Co. after the two owners died. Despite his efforts, the firm was liquidated in 1869. However, prior to that, the company had published Velvet Lawn in 1864 and The Notting Hill Mystery in book form in 1865, both written by the aforementioned Charles Felix. 
Adams married twice. The first time, he wed Georgina Alethe Polson in 1861, and she passed away in 1880. At some point after that, he met Mildred Coleridge (great-grandniece of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.) She left home to live with Adams, causing an upheaval in her family. Her brother penned a long letter to her attacking Adams who took the man to court for libel and won the case. He and Mildred were married on June 24, 1885 and remained together until Adam’s death in July 1903. 
No matter who wrote The Notting Hil Mystery, it is a fun story told by insurance investigator Ralph Henderson who is building a case against Baron “R_____” who is suspected of killing his wife for the insurance payment. (A plotline that continues to show up to this day.) According to one summary, Henderson “descends into a maze of intrigue including a diabolical mesmerist, kidnapping by gypsies, slow-poisoners, a rich uncle’s will and three murders.” 
Interestingly, the story is presented using diary entries, letters, chemical analysis reports, interviews with witnesses, and a crime scene map. These techniques didn’t become part of crime fiction until the 1920s. The book was illustrated by George du Maurier (Daphne du Maurier’s grandfather). Pilot Press Ltd. Of London reprinted the novel in 1945 as part of its anthology Novels of Mystery from the Victorian Age. In 2011, the British Library made the book available via print-on-demand, and it sold so many copies, they produced a trade edition in 2012. An ebook edition is also available.


Murder at Madison Square Garden:

The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare. 

Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit? 
Private Investigator Ric Bogart wants nothing to do with women after his wife cleaned out their bank account and left him for another man, but he can’t ignore the feeling he’s supposed to help the scrappy, female reporter who is arrested for murder at the America First rally. Can he believe her claims of innocence and find the real killer without letting Teddy steal his heart?

Purchase Link:

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Pamela Desmond Wright

 Talkshow Thursday:  Welcome Pamela Desmond Wright

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your release The Cowboy’s Amish Haven. What was your inspiration for the story, and did you set out to write for Harlequin/Love Inspired or did that come later? 

Pamela: Thank you for the welcome. I appreciate you hosting me. The Cowboy's Amish Haven was inspired by a country song by George Strait. At the time, I had no idea, really, where it might go. I was sort of thinking Harlequin. But since I'd never been able to sell anything there before, I wasn't holding much hope. However, when I signed with my current agent, she knew exactly that it belonged with Love Inspired. Within a few months of submission, the book had sold. 

LM: What is your writing process like, and how much research was necessary for this story? 

Pamela: I usually do a complete synopsis/outline so I can get to know the characters and the plot. Once I have that on paper, I do a few chapters. Usually, it takes several rewrites for me to get the opening of a book right. As for the book. My hero is a bronc rider. And although I was born and raised in Texas, I was never much of a rodeo girl! I had to learn all about the sport. Never knew there was so much involved to getting on a wild horse! Quite eye-opening. 
LM: What is your favorite aspect of writing? 

Pamela: It's an escape from my own dull life. Like most people, I work and take care of family. You can
pretty much set your watch by my schedule. Taking a few hours a day to write helps take me away to a different place. 
LM: What do you do to prepare for writing? (e.g., do you listen to music, set up in a certain area, etc.) 

Pamela: I usually write in silence, though sometimes I will put on music or a television show if the words just aren't coming. I have a dedicated office area where I can focus. My space must be small and closed in and my screen must be extra large. No way I could write on a laptop in a coffee shop, LOL 

LM: You were out of the publishing arena for over seven years. How had the industry changed while you were gone? How had it remained the same? 

Pamela: Most everything involved with book production has stayed the same. What has changed is promotions. Social media plays such a large part in marketing nowadays. I can see how Twitter or Facebook can help connect an author to their fans, and I am trying to learn to use it in a productive way. 

LM: You’ve accomplished quite a lot. What is one thing you wish you could do? 

Pamela: Fly, LOL. Seriously, I wish I could go back to writing full time and give up the night job. Praying I can do that someday! 

LM: What is one piece of advice you’d like to offer to fledgling writers? 

Pamela: Pursue your passion. One of the mistakes I made as a writer was to chase the market. Whatever my former agent said was selling, I'd write it. And she'd sell it. But there came a point when I realized I did not enjoy writing in those genres. Writing had become a drag and I just didn't like the books I was putting out. After leaving that agent, it occurred to me I could write what I enjoyed, whether or not it was something editors were looking for. Thus began my foray into Amish romance. 
LM: What is your next project? Pamela: I am currently working on another Amish romance for Love Inspired. This one is book 2 in my "Humble Blessings" series, and will continue with characters introduced in book 1. Book 1, which hasn't got a title yet, will be out in July 2022, and I am so excited to share Maddie and Abram's story. Book 2, will go on with Abram's younger sister, Lavinia. I'm also planning another Texas Amish Brides book to follow up The Cowboy's Amish Haven
LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

About The Cowboy's Amish Haven:

Her home and her heart are on the line… On the same day Gail Schroder’s faced with losing her Amish family ranch, her old crush Levi Wyse shows up on her doorstep. He doesn’t know that when he left ten years ago he’d taken Gail’s heart with him. Now Levi’s her only hope of keeping a roof over her head. But can this cowboy teach Gail the ropes in time to save her home?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Traveling Tuesday: Las Vegas, Nevada

Traveling Tuesday: Las Vegas, Nevada 

Last week I was supposed to attend a writers’ conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. A number of things came together to prevent me from going in person, but fortunately, there was a virtual option, so I was able to view all of the sessions. Not quite the same as hanging out with fellow authors and getting room service, but a good experience, nonetheless. I’m not sure why the conference founders choose to hold the event in Vegas each year, but the possibility of visiting ignited a desire to know more about the area. 
Sin City, as it has been nicknamed, has a much longer history than I knew. Las Vegas (Spanish for The Meadows or Fertile Plains) was not officially founded until 1905, but had been given its name seventy-six years earlier when a Mexican scout came through the valley in 1829. Later that same year a trader by the name of Antonio Armijo led a 60-man group along the Spanish Trail that connected Santa Fe, NM to Los Angeles, CA. 
In 1844, John C. Frémont, son of a French-Canadian schoolteacher who had immigrated to the U.S.
sometime before the early 1800s, visited the valley and sent reports and writings to the east that found their way into newspapers. The resulting articles helped entice pioneers to head west. Eleven years later, the Mormons chose to erect a fort in Las Vegas but eventually abandoned the location. A native American tribe, the Paiutes, had been living in the area for thousands of years, but when the population of white settlers increased, tensions between the two groups rose, leading to a new treaty that sent the Paiutes away. 
Then came the railroads. 
The San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad was building a line through southern Nevada in 1902 and purchased 1,800 acres from the Stewart family to continue the project. Using the State Land Act of 1885 to offer land at $1.25 per acre, Montana Senator William Clark and Utah Senator Thomas Kearns promoted the area to American farmers who responded in droves. With the use of wells and irrigation, agriculture became the primary industry for the next two decades. Amazing to consider when you realize Las Vegas is located within the Mojave Desert. 
As additional railroads sprang up, more people chose to settle in the area. Businesses, shops, saloons, and casinos lined the streets. However, the city hit a snag in 1910 when Nevada outlawed gambling, going so far as to forbid the western custom of flipping a coin for the price of a drink. Ever creative, business owners ensured that the practice continued in speakeasies and illicit casinos. 
Population declined until 1931– a banner year for two reasons: 1) construction began on the massive Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover Dam), drawing thousands of workers to a site just east of the city, and 2) Nevada legalized gambling bringing back tourists and professional gamblers. By 1936, inexpensive hydroelectricity allowed owners to erect the flashing neon signs that epitomize “The Strip.” Post-war riches enabled corporations and business tycoons to buy and build hotel-casino properties. Gambling became known as “gaming” to transition the industry into a legitimate business. 

More than 600,000 now call Las Vegas home, a far cry from the sleepy collection of farms in the 1800s. 

A Family for Hazel

Can a widowed preacher who must marry to keep his church and an alleged thief find true love? 
After the Civil War takes Hazel Markham’s father, and her mother dies of a broken heart, a friend of her parents hires Hazel as a companion. All is well until the woman’s lecherous son takes an interest in his mother’s assistant. When Hazel spurns his advances one too many times, the man frames her for theft, and she is fired. As a last resort, she applies to be a mail-order bride, and to her dismay, her groom-to-be is a preacher. Will he believe her claims of innocence or reject her as unacceptable? 
Olav Kristensen has no plans to remarry after being widowed five years ago, but when the church elders give him an ultimatum to find a wife or lose his job, he advertises for a mail-order bride. The woman who arrives attests she was unjustly accused of robbery at her last job, but when his daughter’s heirloom locket goes missing, he is hesitant to believe his bride-to-be. Will he lose his church and a second chance at love?

Purchase Link:

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Sarah Anne Crouch

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Sarah Anne Crouch!

Linda: Welcome to my blog. Congratulations on your recent release. What was the inspiration for the story? 

SARAH: Many years ago, during a time when I was thinking a lot about starting to write and my sister was going through a crisis of faith, I had the image of a woman becoming a Christian through the process of painting a picture of Jesus. That image turned into Madeleine and then blossomed from there. 

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

SARAH: I love all the little breakthroughs that come along the way. I especially enjoy when I’m brainstorming ideas or bemoaning a difficult part of the story with my writing group and someone else gives me the perfect solution that makes all the pieces come together. 

LM: What sort of research was required to prepare you to write the story, and did you find any tidbit(s) you knew you had to include? 

SARAH: I watched a lot of YouTube videos of artists painting murals in addition to reading blogs and listening to podcasts. The scenes where Madeleine and A.J. buy paint at the hardware store and where Madeleine transfers her sketches to the wall came from those YouTube videos. 

LM: Tell us a bit about your journey to publication and what lessons you learned along the way. 

SARAH: Ever since I was young, I wanted to write books. I always thought I’d write for children—and
I still may someday—but I found myself coming up with ideas for Christian romance stories. I wrote about half of the manuscript for A Summer in Shady Springs and gave up before I met an author at church who encouraged me to finish. She helped me edit, I sent it to a few more people, and we got the manuscript polished and ready. When I found out about Faith Pitch on Twitter, I decided to get a Twitter account just for that occasion. My editor at Anaiah Press saw my tweets, liked my pitch, and I sent her the manuscript. I’m very grateful to Kara for seeing the potential in my story and working with me to make it the best it could be!
LM: Do you do anything special to prepare yourself for writing your stories? (e.g., listen to music, go for a run, etc.) 

SARAH: I’d like to add more routine to my writing, but right now the main thing I do is find a quiet place away from my children, haha. I’ve got three little ones, so I take every chance I can to get a little writing in. 

LM: What is one piece of advice you can offer to fledgling writers? 

SARAH: Read, read, read! The best way to learn about writing is to read books in your genre, books about craft, books that are written well, and books that are written poorly (so you know what not to do). Everything you digest will help you become a better writer. 

LM: What is your next project? 

 SARAH: I’m currently finishing up a story about an ice cream man who falls in love with a chocolatier! “A Sweet Dream Come True” will be released in a novella collection called Love in Any Season in September 2022. The collection includes some really talented Christian fiction authors, Amy R. Anguish, Heather Greer, and Regina Rudd Merrick. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

SARAH: Here are all my links! 

About A Summer in Shady Springs:
The last place Madeleine Mullins wants to be is back in Shady Springs, Arkansas—the town where her whole world fell apart. But when her beloved Aunt Clara begs her for help, Madeleine reluctantly takes a job painting a mural at her aunt’s church. Her plan is to finish quickly and leave her bad memories behind. But the more time she spends with the handsome youth minister and the more she reads her Bible, the more she wonders if she has been wrong about God and the Church all along. 

Three years out of college and A.J. Young still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. He knows he wants to settle down and build a family but hasn’t found the wife he’d like to share his life with. Then Madeleine comes to town. Their friendship buds quickly, although it can never be anything more as long as she isn’t a Christian. 

An undeniable attraction grows between A.J. and Madeleine, but she’s only in town for a few weeks, and he can’t date someone who doesn’t share his beliefs. How can Madeleine help A.J. discover a passion for the career he’s always wanted? And how can A.J. convince Madeleine to give God and Shady Springs a second chance?

Purchase Link:

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Old West Wednesday: Charley Parkhurst

 Old West Wednesday: Charley Parkhurst 

Stories of extraordinary people abound from the Old West. The trick is separating fact from fiction, truth from legend. One such story revolves around Charley Darkey Parkhurst, also known as One-Eyed Charley, Six-Horse Charley, and Mountain Charley who worked as a stagecoach driver, then later farmer and rancher. 

The most unusual aspect of this tale is that Charley was a woman. Scholars speculate as to why Charlotte chose to live her life as a man, but because her gender wasn’t discovered until after her death, the real reason followed Charley to her grave. 

Little is known about her early years other than that she was born in Sharon, Vermont, in 1812. She reportedly had two siblings, one of whom died as a toddler, and her mother passed away shortly after Charley’s birth. Nothing is mentioned of her father, but perhaps he’s the one who took her to an orphanage in Lebanon, New Hampshire where she lived until she ran away at the age of twelve. It was at that point, Charlotte became Charley. 

According to one account, Charley met livery owner Ebenezer Balch in Providence, Rhode Island. Balch took the young woman under his wing and taught him about being a stable hand as well as how to be a stagecoach driver. She worked for Balch for some period of time before moving on to Massachusetts and Georgia. 

In 1848, Charley decided to take her chances in the California gold rush and boarded a ship to San Francisco. The vessel stopped in Panama where she met John Morton, owner of a drayage business. He recruited Charley to work for him. She later worked for John Birch’s California State Company and the Wells Fargo Company. 

At some point, Charley was involved in an accident during which a horse kicked her in the face,

causing her to lose her left eye. She took to wearing a patch that covered much of her face, furthering her disguise as a man. Over time, she gained a reputation as “one of the finest drivers on the West Coast.” 

Driving a stagecoach was not only difficult but dangerous. Drivers carried mail as well as gold and passengers and had to deal with hold-up attempts, rattlesnakes that could spook horses, bad weather, and treacherous roads, some of which were no more than trails. Charley’s routes in northern California were the Stockton to Mariposa and San Jose, San Jose to Oakland, and San Juan to Santa Cruz. Described in several accounts as short and stocky, a whiskey drinker, cigar smoker, and tobacco chewer, apparently Charley was up to the task. 

When the railroads cut into the stagecoach business, Charley retired and moved to Watsonville, California where she worked at farming and lumbering. She died in 1879 of tongue cancer, and when neighbors came to lay out the body for burial, her identity as a woman was revealed. An interesting aside is that one site claims the examining doctor determined that Charley had given birth at some point. 

After the LA Times reported the discovery, national newspapers picked up the sensational story, including this piece from the January 9, 1880 edition of The New York Times: “Thirty Years in Disguise: A Noted Old Californian Stage-Driver Discovered after Death to be a Woman: 

He was in his day one of the most dexterous and celebrated of the famous California drivers ranking with Foss, Hank Monk, and George Gordon, and it was an honor to be striven for to occupy the spare end of the driver’s seat when the fearless Charley Parkhurst held the reins of a four- or six-in hand...Last Sunday in a little cabin on the Moss Ranch, about six miles from Watsonville, Charley Parkhurst, the famous coachman, the fearless fighter, the industrious farm and expert woodman died of cancer on his tongue. He knew that death was approaching, but he did not relax the reticence of his later years other than to express a few wishes as to certain things to be done at his death. Then, when the hands of kind friends who had ministered to his dying wants came to lay out the dead boy of the adventurous Argonaut, a discovery was made that was literally astounding. Charley Parkhurst was a woman.” 

 As they say, truth is usually stranger than fiction. 


A brand-new widow, she doesn’t need another man in her life. He’s not looking for a wife. But when danger thrusts them together, will they change their minds...and hearts? 

Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels...relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone...dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life?

Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money? 

Gold Rush Bride: Hannah is the first book in the exciting new series Gold Rush Brides. Steeped in romance, intrigue, and history, the story will keep you turning pages long into the night.

Purchase Link:

Monday, November 15, 2021

Mystery Monday: Meet the Lady Pinkertons

Mystery Monday: Pinkerton’s Lady Detectives 

Kate Warne was Allan Pinkerton’s first female detective, but neither was she the last or only woman he hired. Here is a bit about three of his lady “private eyes.” 

Hattie Lewis Lawton: a widow, she was described by Allan as “delicate and driven.” She often went undercover assuming numerous identities. One of her most dangerous assignments occurred during the Civil War. Posing as the wife of fellow operative Timothy Webster, they traveled to Richmond, VA where they pretended to be Rebel sympathizers from Maryland. Prior to this Timothy infiltrated the underground Sons of Liberty organization. Over the course of several months, the pair collected and conveyed information to the home office about troop movements, battle plans, and other intelligence. 

Vinnie Ream: After the plan to assassinate President Lincoln in Baltimore was unearthed, Allan

Pinkerton was placed in charge of the president’s protection. Rumors of plans abounded, and he investigated every report. He felt that some of the threats originated from within Lincoln’s cabinet, so in an effort to get inside the closed circle without suspicion, he hired Vinnie to sculpt a bust of the president. During her time of creating the sculpture, senators and congressmen wandered in and out of her work area to watch her work, giving her the opportunity to overhear conversations that she passed along to Pinkerton. 

Elizabeth Baker: According to Pinkerton, a “genteel woman agent” who was “more than suitable” for her assignment. He had her contact two sets of friends she’d known from her days of living in Richmond and inform them of her intent to visit. She was invited to say with Captain Atwater of the Confederate Navy and his wife. There, Elizabeth met influential socialites, Confederate officers, and politically ambitious Southerners. During the many parties held at the Atwater’s home, she was able to collect vast amounts of information about the Confederate’s plans. Perhaps her most important opportunity was the time she was invited to watch a submarine demonstration. Afterward, she successfully made her way to Washington where she reported everything she’d seen and included a sketch of the sub. 

Although women were not admitted to any police force until 1891 or widely accepted as detectives until 1903, Kate Warne and her “Lady Pinkertons” paved the way for future female officers and investigators. 


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 a degenerative eye disease, 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 book in the exciting “Women of Courage” series.

Purchase Link:

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Jodie Wolfe!

 Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Jodie Wolfe!

Linda: Congratulations on your upcoming release (tomorrow!) Protecting Annie. What was your inspiration for this story? Did you set out to create a series or did it just happen? 

Jodie: Thank you. It's exciting. I appreciate you having me on today. In regards to the inspiration, I thought it would be fun to create a character (Annie McPherson) who has a lot of head knowledge but when it comes to common sense, not so much. She's a total opposite from my heroine in my first book in the series, Taming Julia. I figured Annie would be fun to interact with Jules' brother, Josh who is pure cowboy through and through. As I was writing Taming Julia, I knew I wanted to have a book about Jules' brother which is how Protecting Annie came about. 

LM: I love that your female protagonist wears glasses and is pictured as such on the cover. How did you decide to create her? 

Jodie: You don't often see protagonists with glasses do you? It made sense to create a character like this since I've worn glasses since I was in second grade. Annie, like me, is blind without her spectacles which make for some fun scenes. 

LM: Research is an important aspect of writing, especially historical fiction, and all of your books are always accurate. What sort of things did you do to research Protecting Annie

Jodie: One of the biggest things I researched was Wanted posters from the time period. I don't want to go into too much detail, but it plays an important part in this story. 

LM: You write historical fiction set in various times during the 1800s. How do you select which time
period makes sense for your story? Do you come up with the plot first or the era, or something else? Do you have a favorite time period? 

Jodie: For this story, I wanted it to be just shortly after Taming Julia took place which is how I came up with 1876. I typically come up with a story idea first knowing that most times it will be set in anywhere from 1870s-1890s, although I am starting work on a book that takes place in the 1860s which I haven't done before. As for a favorite time period, somewhere in the 1870s. 

LM: How do you juggle your writing career with other responsibilities? 

Jodie: Sometimes I do great with this, other times not so much. Recently our son has been going through a difficult situation and it's been hard balancing being there for him while also trying to keep up with my writing responsibilities. I'm blessed to have a publisher who is very understanding. 

LM: How did the pandemic impact your writing? 

Jodie: It impacted me a lot. My husband worked from home for over a year and I found myself too distracted to write while he was here. 

LM: What is one piece of advice you have for fledgling writers? 

Jodie: Trust God and His timing. He knows what's best. Keep pressing into Him. 

LM: What is your next project? 

Jodie: I'm actually tentatively working on two ideas. One is the next book in this series (Burrton Springs Brides) with a working title of either Wooing Gertrude or Courting Gertrude. She's the seamstress and friend in Protecting Annie. The other project is a new series set in a town in PA. The first story will be in the 1860s which will require some extra research. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 


ABOUT Protecting Annie

After twenty years of living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. The only problem: she no longer requires his protection so he's unsure of his next step. Annie McPherson needs a change after the death of her father. She accepts a position as a schoolmarm, hoping her past won't catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky sheriff who continues to question her ability to adjust to life in the west and creates confrontations at every turn. When the irritating schoolteacher's past and present collide, dragging him into the turmoil, Josh has to decide who he's willing to defend.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Traveling Tuesday: Nome, Alaska

Traveling Tuesday: Nome, Alaska 

Fifty years after the California gold rush, prospectors flocked to Nome, Alaska for one of the biggest rushes in the far north of North America. The Klondike or Yukon is also often referred to as an Alaskan rush, but in reality, that rush occurred in Canada. 

Nome is located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on the Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. The city has a subarctic climate, experiencing long, very cold winters, and short, cool summers. Because of its location on the coast, the seasons are somewhat moderated and less severe than in the interior. The coldest month is January, averaging five degrees Fahrenheit. Average high temperatures remain under freezing from late October until late April. July is the warmest month with average temperatures in the low fifties Fahrenheit and rarely reaching eighty degrees. 

Home to the Inupiat natives for several millennia, the area was quickly overrun by thousands of gold seekers from all over the United States. The rush is said to have started as a result of the discovery made by “Three Lucky Swedes” in Anvil Creek in September 1898. (Technically, one of the “Swedes” was Norwegian, but with the amount of money he was making, he didn’t refute the nickname.) 
By the following summer, gold was found in the beach sands for dozens of miles along the Nome coast
bringing even more prospectors. Gold seekers only needed a shovel and a sluice box to mine the copious nuggets from the gritty shoreline. Reports about the ease of extracting gold attracted women and the less hearty to the Alaskan goldfields. The spring of 1900 saw even more people pour into the area aboard steamships from Seattle and San Francisco. Word reached as far as Australia, and it wasn’t long before a schooner set sail from the continent. Additional mining was done in the creeks, however, the process was slow and cold. A layer of permafrost lies just below the surface, requiring equipment to thaw the ground and suck up the gravel. 
With the amount of wealth coming from the area, it’s not surprising that corruption reared its head. In 1900, North Dakota politician Alexander McKenzie managed to secure appointments for his hand-picked candidates for a federal judge, federal district attorney, and other positions. He then traveled to Nome where crooked Judge Arthur Noyes took mines and claims from their rightful owners and appointed McKenzie as the receiver to operate the mines. The closed court of appeals was in San Francisco, a two- to three-week voyage by boat, but the owners made the trek. 
After several months, the appeals court reversed Noyes’s decisions and ordered McKenzie to return the gold he’d received. However, the politician refused and continued removing gold from the mines. The claim-jumping scheme was finally stopped when the court had him arrested, them found him guilty of contempt of court. He was sentenced to one year in jail, of which he served three months. President William McKinley pardoned him in May, 1901. 
Most of the gold had played out by the end of summer 1909, and the prospectors trickled away. The 1910 census reported only 2,600 residents, down from the 20,000 that had called the area home for the prior decade. Fire and storms over the subsequent years destroyed most of the rush-era buildings.
Intrigued? Immerse yourself in the Gold Rush Bride series, a multi-author collection of stories about the U.S. and Canadian gold rushes in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

About Gold Rush Bride Hannah, Book 1:
A brand-new widow, she doesn’t need another man in her life. He’s not looking for a wife. But when danger thrusts them together, will they change their minds...and hearts? 
Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels...relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone...dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life?
Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money?

Purchase Link:

Friday, November 5, 2021

Fiction Friday: New Releases for November


November 2021 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Contemporary Romance:

A Small Town Christmas Challenge by Susanne Dietze -- Will reviving an old tradition be the start of something new? When she inherits a beautiful historic house, nurse Leah Dean knows selling it could solve all her problems. But there’s just one catch—she and co-owner Pastor Benton Hunt must cohost the Gingerbread Gala in the home first. As Christmas approaches, Leah and Benton grow closer, and parting with the house—and each other—is not as easy as they thought… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired)

Never Too Late by Susan L. Tuttle -- Widowed homemaker Rachael Stark isn’t quite sure what comes after her only child leaves for college. To fill her suddenly quiet hours and scrawny bank account, she needs a job. But painful memories prevent her from resurrecting her former art career, and motherhood isn't much of a résumé. When her best friend needs help recovering from a gunshot wound that occurred in the line of duty, she is there. Finally, someone to take care of. Evan Wayne won't let his injury keep him from being a police officer. His dedication to protect the innocent stems from the guilt he carries over having failed his childhood friend. What he needs now is to recover and get back on the streets. Instead, he's handed a myriad of light-duty tasks by his captain―one of which involves heading up the department's entry into the town's annual mural contest. He's not an artist, but he definitely knows one. And he'll take any excuse to spend more time with her. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

You and Me by Becky Wade -- Easy-going, artistic Connor Bryant fell hard for his friend Shay Seaver when they were both in the seventh grade. Sixteen years later, he’s returned to Misty River. She’s finally between boyfriends. And his crush on her hasn’t wavered. Now’s his chance. He tells Shay that he’s found someone he wants to date and is in need of a makeover when it comes to his appearance and dating strategies. He asks if she’ll serve as his consultant — in hopes that he’ll learn how he can become her ideal man. What he doesn’t tell her? That she’s the one he wants to date. Sporty stationery shop owner Shay immediately agrees to Connor’s request because he’s one of the best guys she knows. However, she quickly realizes she’s in over her head. She’s pledged to help him win the affection of another woman — even though she dearly wants to claim his heart. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Magi Journey: Assyria by Terry Phillip Garner -- The first in a three-book series that follows a Family of Chaldean Magi from the court of Tiglath—Pileser III, King of Assyria in 734 BC, to Bethlehem in -0- BC. Through the eyes of the Magi, we see the history of prophecy, judgment, and redemption unfold. In book one, the Magi recount: meeting Isaiah, King Ahaz, and King Hezekiah of Judah; campaigning with King Tiglath-Pileser III and King Sennacherib as they subdue the Levantine States and deport the people of Israel to Assyria, and creating the Magi school that will survive the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Empires and serve as the foundation of the Magi Family of faith. (Historical from Bookbaby)

The Last Piece by Terrie Todd -- When his father dies during the Great Depression, Ray Matthews is forced to drop out of art school to support his mother and sister as a jigsaw puzzle artist. Ray has only one painting he vows never to sell: the portrait of his beloved sweetheart. When pressured to break his oath, Ray sends the painting off with a promise and a prophecy. Through eight decades, the puzzle of the beautiful girl at the wishing well passes through four households, deeply affecting each without ever being fully completed. When Leesha Pennington’s weekly treasure hunt at her local thrift shop produces an old jigsaw puzzle that might be worth something, she adds it to her shopping cart despite the old man’s mysterious warning: “Be careful with that one. Some puzzles don’t like to be solved.” Her decision sets in motion a chain of events that causes all five stories to converge. (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

Honor in the Mountain Refuge by Misty M. Beller -- This epic journey is his last chance to start a new life. After being cast out of his Blackfoot village for his kindness to the Nez Perce captives, Chogan travels west in search of meaning for his life. Meaning that doesn’t require killing or torturing innocent people. Though the lovely face of Telípe, a Nez Perce woman, is imprinted on his heart, he avoids her village. She deserves a happy life with her husband and coming child. With her husband dead and the birth of her babe imminent, Telípe’s reality looks nothing like she planned. She’s been forced to return to the village where she grew up and the chaos of her family’s lodge—with all her boisterous younger brothers. She desperately desires to start a new life for herself and the babe growing within her, but she can’t seem to climb above the mire of her past. When she stumbles into the brave who’d shown her kindness during her captivity, something ignites within her—a new hope. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Protecting Annie by Jodie Wolfe -- After twenty years living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem is, she no longer requires his protecting. After the death of her father, Annie McPherson needs a change. She accepts a position as schoolmarm hoping her past won't catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky lawman who creates confrontations at every turn and continually questions her ability to adjust to life in the west. When the irritating schoolteacher's past and present collide, dragging Josh into the turmoil, he has to decide who he's willing to defend. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing)


Circumvent by SK Derban -- French-born, Nikki Sabine Moueix travels to Hawaii for a special work assignment, but the job of writing an article about a famous Swiss pastry chef generates more than a magazine piece. They fall in love, get married, and Nikki Moueix becomes Mrs. Ruggiero Delémont. When another assignment calls for Nikki to spend three weeks in France, Ruggiero’s schedule prevents him from joining her. She travels alone, advancing straight into danger. After a threatening confrontation, Nikki wakes up in a French hospital with no knowledge of her past. After she fails to check in, Ruggiero panics and pushes for an immediate investigation. But as he closes in, Nikki’s new found friend moves her to another city. It becomes a game of hide and seek with Nikki as the prize. (Mystery from TouchPoint Press)

Speculative Fiction:

All That’s Fair by Amanda G. Stevens -- Unable for the last century to grow old or succumb to injury, Cady Schuster has lost a lot of people, some more recently than others. She's trying to find new belonging in Harbor Vale, Michigan, among a welcoming little group of fellow ageless folk. Then she meets Paige, a mortal woman who needs a friend-and might need help. Paige's husband rules their church with an authority unquestioned by his congregation. When Paige suddenly severs all communication, Cady determines to find her. Churchgoers warn her off, and the behavior of Paige's husband proves a still bigger warning. Is this friend lost too, or can Cady help her? And how far should an ageless woman involve herself in the conflicts of mortals? (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)


Uncharted Courage by Keely Brooke Keith -- When Bailey accepts John Colburn’s offer for her to visit Good Springs, she leaves the Inn at Falls Creek expecting to spend the autumn relaxing in her favorite seaside village. Upon her arrival, Connor asks her to cover a shift of guard duty on the equinox, and her quiet vacation takes a shocking turn. Revel Roberts works hard to keep his life commitment-free, making it easy to leave community decisions to men like Connor and John. But when the Land is threatened, Revel sees his chance to prove he is a man worthy of Bailey’s love. Amid the chaos in Good Springs, his unrequited feelings for her preoccupy him. One wrong choice could ruin everything. As Bailey’s new life in the Land unravels and threats from the outside world loom, a yearning she can’t define surges within her. It distracts her from defending the hidden world she loves, and a tragedy reinforces her need for independence. With the survival of the Land at stake and their hearts on the line, Bailey and Revel will need more courage than fighting ever required. They will need to find the courage to love. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Edenbrooke Press)

Women’s Fiction:

Unpacking Christmas by Beth K. Vogt -- As Johanna, Jillian, and Payton look forward to celebrating the Christmas holidays with their families, they’re not prepared for an announcement that changes everything they’ve grown to love and cherish. Their parents are selling their long-time family home. One change seems to lead to another, with Payton and Zach announcing their own decision to move, while Jillian and Geoff tackle the challenge of starting a family. The only ones maintaining the status quo are Johanna and Beckett—but romantic limbo is no place to be. Then their dad’s sudden health crisis spins life further out of control. Instead of putting up holiday lights and decorating the family Christmas tree, the Thatcher sisters are helping pack up their childhood home. Along the way, they share treasured memories, try to hold onto valued traditions, discovering the struggles they’ve endured pale in comparison to the love they share with each other. (Women’s Fiction from Never Door Press)

Where Memories Await by Heidi Chiavaroli -- Can memories of old restore a forgotten love? Camden, Maine ~ Present Day: Spunky octogenarian Priscilla Martin is a woman with many Christmas secrets. When a beloved niece tempts her to bare her wounded soul, Priscilla must decide whether to share the secret of her sister’s demise—and the reason she abandoned the man she loved in favor of a loveless marriage. Camden, Maine ~ December, 1957: The only person Priscilla loves more than Ed Colton is her younger sister, Hazel. But when Ed is drafted and Hazel runs away to New York to be with a man she believes will make her famous, Priscilla’s plans crumble around her. Ed’s silence and Hazel’s tragic return leads Priscilla to make a choice she will forever regret. Can revisiting long-ago memories give Priscilla what she’s longed for all these years? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
A Harvest Heart by Denise Weimer, When a harvest romance reignites, Hope searches for the faith to finally live up to her name. (Contemporary Romance)

A Season of Change by Beth Wiseman, Professional success. Personal failure. (General Contemporary)

Christmas Tapestry Anthology by Ruth A. Douthitt, et. al., Christian Writers of the West, the southwestern division of American Christian Fiction Writers, presents a collection of Christmas-themed short stories to warm your hearts throughout the season. (General Contemporary)

Ice Cold Blue by Susan Page Davis, True Blue accepts the case, and the investigators follow a twisting path to the truth. (Thriller/Suspense)

No Bones About It by Annette O’Hare, how far is her adversary willing to go to make sure she stays quiet? (Middle Grade)

No Longer a Captive by Carol James, Will God release her from her past, to be free to trust the man she comes to love? (Contemporary Romance)

Perfectly Arranged by Liana George, The women embark on an adventure of faith and self-discovery as they uncover secrets, truths, and ultimately, God's perfectly arranged plans. (General Contemporary)

Protecting Her Witness by Sarah Hamaker, As the threats pile up, will Chalissa be able to keep the family she’s grown to love safe? (Thriller/Suspense)

The Demons Among Us by Jill K. Willis, Are the siblings willing to overcome their inner demons to fight for their friends' souls? (Young Adult)

The Glass Cottage by Alyssa Schwarz, In this tale of friendship, love lost, and love found, Abigail must decide for herself: Is every story worth saving, and if so, at what cost? (Contemporary Romance)

The Petticoat Spy by Elva Cobb Martin, As both American and English armies gather near Yorktown, Virginia, for a pivotal battle, can John and Anna's budding love for each other and their faith in God preserve them and help forge a new nation? (Historical Romance)

Tinsel in a Twist by Laurie Germaine, Now rendered useless against Krampus, and outclassed by Gretel, Tinsel must devise a new plan to save the futures of Christmas, her love life, and her career, before they unravel faster than a trio of ugly sweaters. (Speculative Fiction)

To Chase a Dream by Chandra Lynn Smith, Will they trust the possibilities of new dreams or allow them to fade with the waning moon? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)

Where Love Grows by Heidi Chiavaroli, They have nothing in common except love for music and a donut-shop drive thru. (Contemporary Romance)

Worth of Redemption by Krystina Renae Rankin, As old hurts turn into friendship, and maybe even love, can Heath prove to them both that he’s a man worthy of redemption? (Contemporary Romance)

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Nancy Naigle!

 Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Nancy Naigle!

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your recent release The Shell Collector. What was your inspiration for this particular story? 
Nancy: Thank you so much for having me! I’m so happy to be here. The Shell Collector was inspired by a story my cousin once shared with me about a family friend who found special shells along the beach in Kitty Hawk, NC where she lived. Over a period of about six years, she found four shells with messages in them. The first had scripture written in it, others messages of hope and positive affirmations. 
Each of the shells came to her when she needed it most. No one else who lived in the area ever mentioned finding shells like these, which left her wondering how they came to her, and why. She treasured them considering them gifts from her angels by the sea. 
I thought of that story often, but never more than in 2014. I lost my husband and my cousin within just weeks of each other early that year. I could have used a boatload of those shells to get through that. Instead, this story of The Shell Collector took hold in my heart, and over the following years, it grew into a story not just about shells, but about surviving grief, the people whose lives a simple message in a shell would touch, and the friendships and love that grew because of them. A story of kindness, friendship, survival, and hope. 

LM: After writing so many books, how challenging is it to come up with plot lines and characters for new books? 

Nancy: I find that as long as I give myself enough balance and down-time life tosses new stories right into my lap. Lol. Just look left, then right and this crazy world we live in is bound to conjure up something book-worthy. 
LM: You had a career in finance. What made you decide to try your hand at fiction writing all those years ago? 

Nancy: Some might call it a happy accident, but I believe it was a nudge from God that put me on this path. I didn’t grow up with the desire to become a writer. I’d always known I’d work in corporate America. I was a Senior Vice President with Bank of America, and I loved my career. I worked incredibly long hours, and the stress was high, but I thrived in that environment. 
But the year I turned forty my job responsibilities included offshoring technical positions. That was really hard for me on a personal level even though I knew it was the right business decision at the time. 
After some soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that if I could just write one book, to help one busy
gal, through one bad day…that would be a positive way to give back. It was a lot harder than it sounded lol. It took a long time to get that first book written and all-in-all it was a 9-year journey to publication. I learned a lot about myself through the process too. It wasn’t until I lost my husband in 2014 that I took an early retirement and made a commitment to spend my time weaving stories of hope, happiness, and healing. I love knowing that I might touch a heart, improve someone’s outlook, or lift them while in despair with words of hope. 
My writing journey started nineteen years ago. I’ve now been published for eleven years, and have over 30 books and four novel adaptations with Hallmark/Crown Media. I don’t really think of this as a job, but rather how I live my life to share the gifts He has given me. 
LM: What is your favorite aspect of writing? 

Nancy: Editing! I’d much rather edit than write that first draft. 
LM: What did you do to prepare for this project? What sort of research, if any, was necessary? 

Nancy: This was the book of my heart. Coming from my personal journey through grief following the loss of my husband, it was more about being at a place that I could write the story that had been living in my heart and mind for several years. When the timing was right, I couldn’t wait to get started! 
LM: You’ve accomplished quite a lot. What is one thing you wish you could do? 

Nancy: Thank you. Yes, I’ve surely been blessed with wonderful opportunities, and I don’t mind working hard to fulfill them. I still have several Writer Girl things on my bucket list. I’d love to see The Shell Collector come to life on the screen, and I’ve also been working on a couple of screenplays between deadlines that I hope to sell one day. 
LM: What is your next project? 
Nancy: I’m working on two projects that will release in 2022. What Remains True coming May 3, 2022 (WaterBrook Press) is about a woman on sabbatical after her divorce who stops in a small mountain town and learns that the first step in starting over is not overthinking it. The Wedding Ranch coming Fall 2022 (St. Martin’s Press) is about a small-town wedding venue, the events that take place there, and the lives that change in and around them. 
LM: What is one piece of advice you’d like to offer to fledgling writers? 

Nancy: Be true to yourself. Your voice—the way you tell your story—is the only unique thing you bring to the table. Listen to advice, but filter it all through your personal moral compass and file the rest away. Trust that the story only you can tell will find its readers. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Nancy: has all of my book links, blog, event calendar, and newsletter sign-up. You’ll get all the latest news there first. Of course, I can also be found on these social media outlets: 

About The Shell Collector

Two years after her husband’s death, Amanda Whittier has two children to raise alone, an abandoned dream of starting a business, and a fixer-upper cottage by the sea. She has no room in her life for anything else and little interest in moving on after losing the man she loved. 

Paul Grant is a relative newcomer to the area, and his work with former military dogs needing rehabilitation has been good for the town. Though he loved once before, he’s convinced he’s not suited for romance and is determined to find meaning—alone—through his work and role in the community. 

Widowed Maeve Lindsay was born and raised on Whelk’s Island. Spirited, kind, and a little mischievous, she pour her life into the town. But she carries a secret that shapes her every move.

Together, these three souls find encouragement in the most mysterious places and discover a love that’s bigger than their pain, healing their wounded hearts in ways none of them could have hoped for or expected.