Thursday, March 31, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Mary Dodge Allen

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Mary Dodge Allen

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your book Hunt for a Hometown Killer. What was your inspiration for the story? Was it perhaps the time you worked as a substitute mail carrier many years ago? 

Mary: Yes, I discovered that a mail carrier makes an ideal amateur sleuth. Mail carriers can drive around town observing people and activities, while remaining ‘invisible’ in plain sight. And have you ever thought about how much your mail carrier can learn about you – from the newsletters and magazines you receive and the return addresses on your letters and packages? My main character, Roxy is a mail carrier with an amazing photographic memory. She can recall the names/addresses on mail, along with vehicle license plate numbers, etc. And she knows just about everyone in her small Florida town - where, it seems, many people are harboring secrets. 

LM: What is your favorite aspect of writing? 

Mary: I love the process of developing the characters - giving them their backstories, personalities and quirks, as well as their fears and their goals. My past experience as a social worker and a counselor helps me a great deal in this. I also enjoy placing these characters in scenes and creating the action and dialogue. 

LM: What sort of research did you conduct for the book? 

Photo: Pixabay/F.Muhammad
Mary: In the first chapter, the action begins when a freak sinkhole opens up, nearly swallowing Roxy’smail truck. She is shocked as the sinkhole quickly drains a retention pond and uncovers the damaged car used in her husband’s unsolved hit and run murder, years ago. I drew upon my many years of volunteer experience at our local police department as I described the twists and turns of the reopened murder investigation. 
LM: How do you prepare yourself for writing? (e.g. write an outline, set up in a particular location, turn on music, etc.) 

Mary: I always listen to my favorite instrumental music – classical and jazz. When planning Hunt for a Hometown Killer, I drew up an overall plot and scene outline, but then I let my imagination run free as I wrote. My characters often surprised me with behaviors and dialogue I hadn’t consciously planned. Quite often they added humor to the scenes, and sometimes they added another layer of intrigue to the plot. 
LM: How do you feel growing up in the same place during your entire childhood, then relocating often after you married impacted your writing? 

Mary: I loved growing up in a small community, where everyone knew each other, and relationships were close. After high school, I moved to another state to attend a large college and live in a dorm. This was a difficult adjustment that tested me in many ways. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t defined by my past. I realized this was an opportunity for me to make my own decisions and set goals to become the kind of person I wanted to be. 

My husband and I made several cross-country moves in the early years of our marriage. Each move gave me the opportunity to meet new people and experience a new environment. I believe these varied experiences helped me to become a better writer. Florida has been our home for many years. It’s a place of beauty—turquoise ocean waves, sandy beaches, balmy breezes. But it’s also a place where people commit strange crimes, and danger lurks in the form of hurricanes, sinkholes, gators and giant snakes. In other words, it’s a great setting for my books. 

LM: What is your next project? 
Photo: Pixabay/Siggy Nowak
Mary: I am involved in two book projects. The first is a prequel to Hunt for a Hometown Killer—a WWII historical romance with Leo Patterson (Roxy’s grandfather) as a B-17 pilot, who is shot down over enemy territory. The second book is a sequel to Hunt for a Hometown Killer, where Roxy continues solving crimes, working with her love interest Kyle, the town’s handsome detective. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 
Mary:  My website: and Goodreads

Hunt for a Hometown Killer:
Small towns can have secrets and skeletons... what happens when a sinkhole uncovers them?

Two years to the day after Roxy Silva’s husband was murdered, a freak sinkhole drains a retention pond, exposing the car used in his fatal hit and run. The skeleton of the presumed prime suspect, the car’s owner, is found inside the trunk, thrusting the investigation in a new direction. 
Detective Kyle Ransom is determined to find his best friend’s killer, and Roxy is equally determined to help. As a mail carrier, she can remain invisible as she moves around town. Using her total recall memory, she observes activities and captures images of people, vehicles and license plates, as well as the addresses on mail and packages she delivers. Roxy has no idea her amateur sleuthing will place her life in danger.
Together, Roxy and Kyle uncover a shocking trail of deception and secrets. As they work on the cold case, their relationship heats up. Kyle’s wife died years ago, and he’s ready for a commitment. But Roxy is recovering from the depression triggered by her husband’s murder and other sudden and tragic losses in her life. She’s struggling with a deep-seated fear of loss, her faith, and finding meaning in a chaotic world. Complications arise when Roxy’s first love comes back into her life, wanting a second chance. Old feelings of attraction and bitterness surface, as she confronts a long-buried secret in her own past. 

Kyle identifies a new prime suspect, and the killer drops out of sight. When Roxy leaves on a ‘wilderness women getaway’ camping trip with her wisecracking friends, she finds herself in danger as the killer stalks her. She returns home, and the killer follows. Roxy is plunged in a fight for her life when she’s taken captive, and she must use her wits to survive.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Release Day: Ellie's Escape

Release Day: Ellie's Escape

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered Ellie's Escape. I had fun choosing the settings, developing the characters, and writing the story. Ellie is from my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, and she travels to Gunnison, Colorado (where my good friend and former boss is from). I enjoyed learning about this beautiful area of our great country. I tried to add unusual twists (she is the victim of a bank robbery, yet her prospective groom is a bank manager) to spice up the book.

In addition to unearthing information about Colorado in general and Gunnison specifically, additional research included banking laws and procedures in 1880s America, train travel and schedules from that period, and social customs. As with all my mail-order bride books, I tried to delve into why women were willing to leave all they knew to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to marry someone they'd never met. I hope you enjoy this glimpse of American history. Here's the blurb:

She’s running for her life. He needs a trophy wife. They didn’t count on falling in love. 
Ellie Wagner is fine being a spinster school teacher. Then she witnesses a bank hold up and can identify the bandits. Fellow robbery victim Milly Crenshaw happens to run the Westward Home & Hearts Matrimonial Agency so she arranges for Ellie to head West as a mail-order bride. But her groom only wants a business arrangement. Can she survive a loveless marriage? 

Banker Julian Sheffield is more comfortable with numbers than with people, but he’s done well for himself. Then the bank president tells him that in order to advance further he must marry in six weeks’ time. The candid, unsophisticated woman sent by the agency is nothing like he expected, but time is running out. When her past comes calling, does he have what it takes to ensure their future?

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Gail Pallotta!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Gail Pallotta!

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. I love a good mystery, and your Cooking up a Mystery sounds very fun. Where did you get the inspiration for the plot? 

Gail: Thank you for having me, Linda. I wanted to show a woman entrepreneur succeeding in business in spite of great odds. The inspiration for her tea house and catering service stems from my grandmother, great aunt and mother’s kitchens, where they created delicious Southern dishes to the delight of those who ate them. 

When I was ten years old, according to my father I needed to learn to cook so I’d know how to prepare them when I got married. I didn’t marry until I was thirty. By then, I’d received lots of instruction, so I knew how to serve some pretty good dinners. After we tied the knot my husband said, “You could start a restaurant.” I wanted to do other things instead, such as write, but I started one in this book. 

LM: You’ve written several novels and well over 200 articles. How is writing fiction and nonfiction the same? Different? 

Gail: They both require research, organization and good writing skills, such as correct grammar. Good description enhances both articles and fiction. However, articles use direct quotes from people as opposed to dialogue between characters. Fiction and non-fiction have a beginning, middle and ending. However, the author of non-fiction organizes whereas one of fiction plots. I wrote non-fiction articles not books, but the people in my articles were real, so I couldn’t put words in their mouths or make statements about them that weren’t factual. 

Even though I was told once by someone interviewing me that she didn’t need to quote me exactly because she would interpret what I said and put it in her words, that definitely was not the case when I wrote articles. Misquoting would have gotten me fired. Also, the emotion shown by fictitious characters doesn’t exist in non-fiction that I’ve read or written. An article or a chapter in a non-fiction book can have emotion, but it should stem from facts or appear in quotes, such as a real person who says something like, “The tragedy ripped my heart.” 

LM: Research is an important element in writing. What did you do to research for Cooking up a Mystery and was there something you found you knew had to be included? 

Photo: Pixabay/Robyn Wright
Gail: I did quite a bit of research for Cooking up a Mystery. I either refreshed my memory or dug up information on the following: Crime scene investigations; guidelines for cooking in a commercial kitchen; historical homes; the history of the Roller Derby; why some homes in the South were saved during the Civil War; Greek mythology; the care of broken bones. I also worked with Pam Nichols Griffin, editor at the Destin Log and author of Heavenly Delights to put recipes in the back of the book. 

As far as something I found I knew had to be included, after I found articles about running a commercial kitchen, I wanted to incorporate the sanitary procedures to make Laney’s kitchen authentic. 

LM: What draws you to writing mysteries? 

Gail: I enjoy solving them. Even if I’m reading a book or watching a mystery on television, I try to figure out who did it and what happened almost from the beginning. 

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

Gail: It’s hard to choose just one, but I wish I were a computer guru to make social media and marketing online easier. 

LM: What was your favorite childhood book? 

Gail: Before I could read, I enjoyed hearing The Wizard of Oz most. Once I started reading I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries. 

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

Gail: Save pieces you’ve written whether or not they’re finished and whether or not they’re rejected. If there’s a little piece of your heart in there, there’s probably a gold nugget to use another time. Sometimes a portion of an earlier work turns out to be just what’s needed for a current one, and trends change. What’s rejected one year may one day be exactly what an editor wants. 

LM: What is your next project? 

Gail: I’m finishing a mystery with suspense and romance and have a draft of a romantic adventure. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Facebook Author page – 
Facebook Personal page –

Cooking Up a Mystery

Laney Eskridge worked to put her husband through dental school. Then he left with another woman. She's on edge from the emotional scars and her parents' deaths. Then she hears unexplained noises in her new tea house, and her anxiety is tripled. Add a budding romance with Eric—a guy with a fear of commitment—and it's all too much to handle. She cuts ties with Eric and plunges into making her business pay off. 

When Eric discovers that Laney's in danger, he vows to protect her. But can he make a lasting promise? Will she trust him? . . .and when they overhear a threat that could cause national turmoil, will anyone believe them? There's more brewing than herbal tea in Cooking up a Mystery.

Purchase Link:

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Barbara Britton

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Barbra Britton

Linda: Welcome back! Congratulations on Defending David that released last month. I love the way you take little known biblical characters and make them come to life. How did you decide to write about Ittai? Is this going to be part of a series? 

Barbara: Thank you for having me back on the blog, Linda. I first heard about Ittai the Gittite in a sermon my husband preached. His sermon title was A Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother. The friend my husband referenced was Ittai. He arrives at just the right time to help King David survive a rebellion. I added Ittai’s story to my Tribes of Israel series where I write about little-known Bible characters. He fit right in. 

LM: What is something you learned about him or King David during your research that really stuck with you? 

Barbara: The first words from Ittai that are recorded in the Bible are, “As surely as the Lord lives…” (II Samuel 15:21). This was a shock to me because Ittai is a Philistine. The Philistines worshiped several gods and not the One True God. How did Ittai come to believe in God? Did his faith have something to do with his exile from Philistia? I explore what Ittai’s backstory might have looked like in my novel. 

LM: To research a time period that occurred so long ago must be challenging. What sort of resources do you use to research biblical times, and this story in particular? 
Barbara: My first research tool is the Bible. I then branch out into Bible commentaries and history books. Certain details about Bible life we may never know. I use Bible maps to chart the journeys of my characters. When I looked at a map to see how Ittai and his warriors arrived in Jerusalem from Gath, I was perplexed. Hundreds of Philistine fighting men walked across the lands of Judah without instigating a war. That had to be a blessing from God.
LM: How long does it take you to finish a book, including research and editing? 

Photo: Pixabay/
Peter Olexa
Barbara: I feel like my writing time is getting faster over the years. Usually, I like to have a year to write a book. The average time for me is nine months. I have written books in five months, but those were a continuation of a series where I knew the characters well. It takes time to get to know the characters. At the end of a story, I know a character’s personality and backstory better than when I began the book. Writing inner thought is one of the hardest aspects for me. I need to understand a character really well to make their thoughts flow. 

I hear about authors who finish a book in a month or six weeks, but that’s too fast for me. I like to “ponder” plot points and character interactions. 

LM: What would you have done differently in your journey to publication? 

Barbara: I didn’t plan on being an author. When I had a prompting to write a book, I sat down and wrote a story. After it was finished, I had no idea what to do with the manuscript. I didn’t know if the story was well written. I didn’t have a clue about genre and word count. I wish I would have joined a professional writing organization sooner and started learning about the craft of writing a book. 

For example, I had written a Young Adult novel with a Middle Grade word count. For another book, I wrote a story similar to a Bible story and tried to sell it to General Market agents. Boy, did I need professional groups to set me straight. 

LM: What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you? 

Barbara: Getting into the mind of a character and making them sound real is the most difficult part of the writing process for me. Character traits, authenticity, and inner thought are what I have to work on constantly. I write in Deep POV, so I need to let the reader into the thought process of the character. Deciding what is enough information, or too much, is a challenge. 

LM: What is your next project? 

Photo: Pixabay/Jackson David 
Barbara: I have finished my next project. I am happy dancing and writing a sequel. 

Over six years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went from the best-case scenario to the worst-case scenario after my first surgery in October of 2015. I have talked to many women over the years after they received a cancer diagnosis. I decided to write a character who was contemplating some of the decisions I had to make in my breast cancer journey. Obviously, it would be hard to write that story in Biblical Fiction, so the story is a Contemporary Romance. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Barbara: I have a lot of information on my website, I am also active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and BookBub

Defending David:

When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six-hundred warriors. 
Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman's niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land. 
Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir's betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son?

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Stacy Simmons

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Stacy Simmons

Linda: Welcome to my blog. It’s a pleasure to have you. Congratulations on your debut novel, A Promise for Faith. What was the inspiration for the story? 
Stacy: Hi, Linda. Thank you for having me on here, and for your congratulations. A Promise for Faith’s inspiration was the career transitions both my husband and I have encountered in our married lives. It strengthens your faith to undergo life changes and this story is based upon this fact. 
LM: What is your writing process? (e.g., Do you devise your characters or plot first? Do you outline or write as you go?) 

Stacy: Over the five years since I began writing, I’ve become a “loose outliner” of the story. At first, I was a “pantser,” travelling where the plot or characters led me. Advice from some author friends help steer me toward creating a roadmap for the story. 
LM: Research is an important aspect of writing. How did you go about researching A Promise for Faith? Was there a particular piece of information you knew you needed to include in the book? 

Photo: Pixabay/David Mark
Stacy: The setting, Briar Creek, North Carolina, is based on my summer trips with my family growingup, and eventually with my husband and kids. I wanted to imbue the beauty of nature in the Smoky Mountains and the absolute friendliness of people who lived in the are as well. 
LM: In addition to writing, you work as a Special Education Inclusion Paraprofessional. How do you juggle your many responsibilities? 

Stacy: As soon as I get home from school, I visit with my family before cooking dinner. I am fortunate that my family understands I need writing time in the evenings and nights since I’m on a deadline. 

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

Stacy: Crochet and draw or paint, my youngest makes gorgeous blankets as gifts for friends. I seem to have two left hands. My oldest is a graphic artist, both my husband and I can barely draw a Pictionary answer. Each of them are blessed from the Lord, it’s not passed down from either side of our family. 

LM: Now that you have a book published, what is your advice to other fledgling authors? 

Stacy: Please be gentle with yourself, take the time to enjoy what you’ve written, and the fact you’ve got it down in a document. That is an amazing thing. Study the craft of writing, there are many wonderful books to teach you. Plus, going to an ACFW-American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference is a great way to connect with other writers and bolster your foundation for writing. Make sure to listen during prayer time for Jesus’ urgings, as you walk on the writing path. 
LM: What is your next project? 

Photo: Pixabay/Pia
Stacy: I’m currently editing my Christmas novella which will be out later this year. It’s centered around castles, which as an Anglophile, I’m completely thrilled to write. 
LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

A Promise For Faith: Secrets have the power to ruin lives. 

Faith and love have the power to disarm those secrets. Failure isn’t an option for Faith Fuller. She wants to prove to herself and her very successful parents she can stand on her own, even if it means accepting a job offer from someone she wanted to forget. To add to the problem, that job means facing her biggest fear. 
Caleb Gaines is looking for a manager for his coffee shop. He’s in over his head running his successful river outfitters business and being a single dad to a preschooler. But the perfect candidate wants nothing to do with him. Risk-taker Caleb is up for a challenge and wants to convince Faith to help him. 

If neither one relies on faith and learns to trust, any chance at love will be washed downstream. 

An out-of-work chef and successful river outfitter are both hiding secret tragedies. How much faith will it take to learn to trust in each other, overcome obstacles, and find love?

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Friday, March 4, 2022

Fiction Friday: New Releases

March 2022 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Contempory Romance:

Hearts and Goals by Carolyn Miller --He’s a goalie with a big heart, while she’s afraid to trust again. After a series of tragedies, Maggie Joly’s dreams have been confined to her work at Montreal’s botanic gardens and caring for her little boy. Besides, wishing for more would simply be selfish, especially when she’s already loved well. But when a surprising workplace encounter sees her in the arms of a handsome sweet-talking stranger, she’s soon forced to reassess whether romance might still be in her future after all. (Contemporary Romance, Independently published)

Historical Romance:

Counterfeit Love by Crystall Caudill -- Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves--or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he's been sent to track down? After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name--and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors' threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn't all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home--and the truth. (Historical Romance from Kregel)

Ellie’s Escape by Linda Shenton Matchett --Ellie Wagner is fine being a spinster school teacher. Then she witnesses a bank hold up and can identify the bandits. Fellow robbery victim Milly Crenshaw happens to run the Westward Home & Hearts Matrimonial Agency so she arranges for Ellie to head West as a mail-order bride. But her groom only wants a business arrangement. Can she survive a loveless marriage? Banker Julian Sheffield is more comfortable with numbers than with people, but he’s done well for himself. Then the bank president tells him that in order to advance further he must marry in six weeks’ time. The candid, unsophisticated woman sent by the agency is nothing like he expected, but time is running out. When her past comes calling, does he have what it takes to ensure their future? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Gracie’s Surrender by Blossom Turner --Helping the orphan children in Richmond just might overturn everything Gracie thought she knew, including the value of love. Gracie Williams has always had an adventurous streak, which led her from her home in the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond, Virginia, where she can devote her life to the orphan children. Though her beauty has brought on the advances of many men, she has no plans to marry, and finds suitors an unfortunate irritation she doesn’t have time for—much to her parents’ chagrin. When she befriends Matthew Weston, the mature and serious orphanage superintendent, she confides in him and believes he shares her goals. Neither are prepared for the sparks that fly. Tension grows as Matthew falls in love with her, yet realizes he is just another man in the long line of would-be suitors. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik -- A Friendship From the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family. When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. There, she finds a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek museum curator Brad Osgood’s help to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it another forgery? Brad Osgood longs to provide his four-year-old niece, Brynn, the safe home she desperately deserves. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Peace in the Mountain Haven by Misty M. Beller -- Watkuese is desperate to return across the Rocky Mountains before winter sets in. Time is running out for her to get her adopted daughter back to the familiar surroundings of the Shoshone village before the grief of her parents’ death causes irreparable damage. Hugh Charpentier has spent his life watching over his siblings, which meant also ensuring his brother’s widow and babe are settled well into their new life. Now he’s asked to help shepherd a woman and child he barely knows across the mountains. As hard as it is to keep up with a six-year-old in the treacherous Rockies, it’s not nearly as dangerous as risking his heart to a woman and child who may not ever be his. (Historical Romance, Independently published)

The Spark of Love by Amanda Cabot -- When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra attempts to carve out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach. But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler. When a series of apparent accidents threaten her life, Alexandra and Gabe will have to work together to discover the truth. And perhaps along the way they will discover that the sparks of attraction they've felt from the beginning are more than sparks - they're love. (Historical Romance from Revell)


Bitter Truth by Janet Sketchley -- Who would want Ciara dead? And why? Against all odds, Landon Smith and her ordinary-hero neighbour Bobby Hawke survived a murderous plot six weeks ago. Now, she’s determined to leave solving mysteries to the experts—like handsome local police officer Dylan Tremblay. But when a friend is nearly killed in a daring daylight attack, Landon can’t sit this out. Not when she knows the anger of being a victim. Her faith tells her to leave room for God’s vengeance. Her heart says to retaliate. The fight to expose Ciara’s enemy will uncover secrets and betrayal that could cost Landon her life. (Mystery, independently published)

Obedient Unto Death by Liisa Eyerly -- Sinister forces are at work to destroy the fledgling Christian faith in Ephesus, and Sabina is in their way. A young scribe is murdered during a covert Christian worship service. Sabina, a member of this outlawed religion, can’t believe a member of this new faith could be the killer. But when her Roman magistrate father arrests the church bishop for murder, she reluctantly admits all is not brotherly love and harmony among the faithful. Racing to stop the bishop’s imminent execution, Sabina plunges into the private world of the dead scribe, searching for proof of the bishop’s innocence. Mystery, intrigue, and betrayal meet her at every turn. Will she discover the truth in time, or will she be thrown in prison herself for her faith in Christ? (Mystery from Crossriver Media Group)

Speculative Fiction:

Forbidden by Gina Detwiler -- After thousands of years imprisoned in the Abyss, the fallen angels known as the Watchers are on the loose. Jared Lorn and Grace Fortune have also escaped from prison, but all they want to do is get home to their family. Dark forces conspire against them, and soon they find themselves on a perilous journey to the Other Side, the spiritual realm. They must battle the Watcher Samyaza and his cohorts to escape, not knowing that the leader of the Watchers, Azazel, has taken control of the real world and subjugated all nations to his will. Soon they must join the few that are left standing against this worldwide evil, those that have not given in, known as the Forbidden. (Speculative Fiction from VINSPIRE)

Madness in Wonderland by Tabitha Bouldin -- Wonderland is in trouble. Under the rule of the Red Queen, Wonderland is under constant threat. In fear for her throne, children are taken into the queen’s army and only the strongest survive. Alice is nothing but a pirate, but with the help of Hatter, they hatch a plan to sneak into the Red Queen’s palace to free Hatter’s sister. After all, Alice has always wanted to fly an airship. Dr. Frank N. Stein has created an army of automatons to serve their queen. Of particular note: a prototype soldier. Part man. Part machine. The best of both worlds. Doc’s monster is a threat to everything they know, but Alice sees something in the man that begs she look beyond what he’s done and search out the heart of the beast for the better of the realm. He’s their only hope of survival, but how can a monster learn to love when all he’s known is hate? (Speculative Fiction from Celebrate Lit Publishing)


Still Water by Betty Thomason Owens -- rime reporter, Jake Bradley, has stumbled onto a suspicious accident. The clues lead him to Lisa Oliver, the daughter of the victims. Something about her draws Jake Bradley, and he vows to help her at all costs. When the FBI warns him off the case, Jake is more determined than ever to find the truth and keep Lisa safe. After the sudden death of her parents, Lisa Oliver yearns for a place to call home. When she meets Jake, she wants to trust him, but her father's mantras of self-sufficiency and independence create a stumbling block. As the wall between them crumbles, the past encroaches, and Lisa fears she will never be free. Is she forever doomed to her parents' nomadic lifestyle, fleeing unseen enemies? (Thriller/Suspense from Write Integrity Press)


Her Darkest Secret by Jessica R. Patch -- The sight of a goose feather at a murder scene modeled after a children’s poem is enough to make FBI special agent Fiona Kelly's blood turn to ice. Almost two decades ago, a feather was left with her sister's body—and with every subsequent victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Now he's back. Only this time, his latest gruesome murder is a message to the only one who ever got away: Fiona. Finding “Rhyme” is an obsession that's fueled Fiona's career—and destroyed her marriage to fellow FBI agent Asa Kodiak. Now Fiona and Asa have to put their past tensions aside and work together one last time. But Rhyme is watching, and catching this killer may force Fiona to reveal her biggest, darkest secret…the one only he knows. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Malicious Intent by Lynn H. Blackburn -- Founder and CEO of Hedera, Inc., Dr. Ivy Collins has dedicated her life to developing technology to help amputees like her stepfather, and the results have been lauded by government, medical, and advocacy groups worldwide. Now that she is on the cusp of having her cutting-edge prosthetic technology become a reality, someone is trying to sabotage her success. When US Secret Service Special Agent Gil Dixon is assigned to investigate an issue involving his childhood best friend, Ivy Collins, he’s ecstatic that fate has brought them back together. Gil has always held a torch for her, and he doesn’t want to let her slip away again. When Ivy continues to be targeted for her technology, Gil will have to use everything he has to keep Ivy—and her life’s work—safe from harm. Can they figure out who the culprit is before innocent lives are caught in the crossfire? Or will dangerous circumstances demand that Ivy give it all up—to save someone else? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Revell)

Texas Cold Case Threat by Jessica R. Patch -- After a murderer sends her taunting letters, FBI behavioral analyst Chelsey Banks retreats to a friend’s ranch—and interrupts the housekeeper being attacked. When evidence connects the break-in to a cold-case serial killer, Chelsey’s best friend, Texas Ranger Tack Holliday, needs her help. With Tack at her side, this could be Chelsey’s chance to catch two killers—unless one of them gets her first. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)


The Element of Love by Mary Conneally -- With their sharp engineering minds, Laura Stiles and her two sisters have been able to deal with their mother's unfortunate choice in husband, until they discover his plans to marry each of them off to his lecherous friends. Now they must run away--far and fast--to find better matches to legally claim their portion of their father's lumber dynasty and seize control from their stepfather. When Laura befriends a mission group heading to serve the poor in California during their escape, she quickly volunteers herself and her sisters to join their efforts. Despite the settlement being in miserable condition, the sisters are excited by the opportunity to put their skills to good use. Laura also sees potential in Caleb, the local minister, to help with gaining her inheritance. But when secrets buried in Caleb's past and in the land around them come to light, it'll take all the smarts the sisters have to keep trouble at bay. (Western from Bethany House/Baker)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

An Odd Request by LuAnn K. Edwards, Will Becca leave the warmth and love of her small, close-knit community to marry Ben, a man she hasn’t seen in twelve years and someone who may never love her? (Contemporary Romance)
The Amadeus Variation by Kathy Webster, In 1791, betrayal, false accusation, ill health, and broken relationships drive two unlikely companions to escape Austria. (General Historical)
Undercover Dog Dad by Erin Stevenson, A detective on an undercover assignment meets his match and finds love. (Contemporary Romance)

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Amanda Cabot

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Amanda Cabot

Linda: Welcome back and thanks for joining me today. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you. I’m a huge fan of your books and can’t wait to hear about your latest, The Spark of Love. What was your inspiration for the plot? 

Amanda: I love exploring family relationships and seeing how our childhood experiences affect us as adults, so each of the Mesquite Springs books has that as a core theme. Readers know that the circumstances of Evelyn’s parents’ deaths (Out of the Embers) haunted her and that the way Dorothy’s mother reacted to her husband’s death (Dreams Rekindled) left Dorothy with scars of her own. In The Spark of Love, readers will meet Alexandra, an heiress who’d gladly give up every penny she’ll soon inherit in exchange for a warm, loving relationship with her father. Though the two weeks they spend together each year are wonderful, they’re only two weeks. Imagine how being left in New York to be raised by her great-aunt during the rest of the year has shaped Alexandra’s personality. 
LM: What sort of research did you need to do for the book? 

Amanda: I did the basic historical research when I started the series, but each book required its own specialized research. In the case of The Spark of Love, that was the technique of painting with watercolors. I have zero artistic ability, but I love the effects that artists can create with watercolors, so the research proved to be a lot of fun. 

LM: The time period in the story—the 1850s—could be considered rustic. Many of the modern conveniences we know today were not invented at the time. What is one thing that you couldn’t live without?
Photo: Pixabay/ 

Amanda: Indoor plumbing! 

LM: How far in advance do you plan your stories? Do you already know what you’ll be writing next year? Do you ever rearrange your writing schedule? 

Amanda: My schedule is established by my contracts, so once I start a trilogy, I know what I’ll be working on for the next couple years. The only time I’ve rearranged my schedule was when Revell asked me to write the Texas Crossroads contemporary series instead of the World War One trilogy that had already been contracted. 

LM: What is your process for coming up with your characters and plots? Do you devise your character first or the “what if?” Do you use visual aids such as finding photos on the internet or other places to determine your character’s appearance? 

Amanda: I’m a plotter, so you can guess the answer to this one: I start with a basic premise. In the case of The Spark of Love, it was “what if danger follows an heiress to Texas?” followed by “what if the engaging man she meets on the stagecoach has secrets that threaten everything she holds most dear?” Once I have the premise, I start developing my characters’ backstory and the famous GMC – goal, motivation, and conflict – for each of them. I used to clip pictures from magazines and catalogs so that I could visualize my characters, but recently I haven’t done that. Instead, I rely on a chart that lists hair and eye color, height, weight, and distinguishing characteristics. That way I don’t become too wedded to a specific image, since the cover art will undoubtedly differ from it. 

LM: Does writing energize or exhaust you? 

Photo: Pixabay/
Bartek Zakrzewski
Amanda: Energize. While writing is hard work, I find the simple act of choosing the right word and crafting a sentence to be exhilarating. It’s even more exhilarating when my characters develop minds of their own and start doing things I hadn’t envisioned. 

LM: What is your next project? (Hopefully, the next book in the series!) 

Amanda: The Spark of Love is the final of the Mesquite Springs books, but it’ll be followed by three yet-untitled books in what I’m calling the Sweetwater Crossing series. The first of those, which will be released on March 21, 2023, has been through its first round of editing, and I’m halfway through the first draft of the second book, scheduled for an October 2023 release. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Amanda: My website is what I call “one stop shopping.” It has information about me and my books as well as links to follow me on social media and to sign up for my monthly newsletter. I encourage readers to spend a few minutes there. 

The Spark of Love: 
She’s determined to start a new life in the West . . . if only the old one will leave her alone When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra carves out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach. 

But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler. 

With so much to lose—and hide from one another—Alexandra and Gabe will have to come together if they are ever to discover whether the sparks they’ve felt from the beginning can kindle the fire of true love.

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