Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Wayback Wednesday: 1970s Fashion

Wayback Wednesday: 1970s Fashion

Although mostly remembered for its big hair and bell-bottom pants, the 70s saw a gamut of fashion styles during the decade. In fact, fashion during the times was so varied, Vogue reported, “There are no rules in the fashion game now.”

In the early 70s, the “hippie” look of the 1960s carried over and women work frayed jeans, bell bottom pants (including “elephant bells”), midi skirts, maxi dresses, tie-dye, peasant blouses, and ponchos. Accessories included chokers, headbands, scarves, and jewelry made of wood, stones, feathers, and beads. (Don’t look now, I think that’s coming back!) Pastel colors were very popular, especially baby blue, yellow, mauve, and peach, the latter being my husband-to-be’s go-to choice. Men’s outfits were generally bright colors and textured in corduroy, paisley, wool, or crushed velvet for special occasions. And don’t forget the plaid!

Women who didn’t like the hippie style wore clothing inspired by the 1940s movie star glamour and
included cloche hats or turbans, pearl earrings and necklaces, feather boas, and black-veiled hats. Some actually search for vintage clothing from the 30s and 40s. Intriguingly, sweaters played a large part in early 1970s fashion from sweater coats, sweater dresses, floor-length sweaters, and even sweater suits (just because you can doesn’t mean you should!). Some were even trimmed with faux fur. Shawl-collared, belted cardigans were popular.

Then the mid-1970s hit and the Hippie look fell out. Casual became the watchword with fitted T-shirts being popular, often with elaborate designs, slogans, or sports logos. As women flocked to the workforce business styles became more tailored with blazers, midi skirts, fitted blouses, and high heels. If you remember John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Live, you know what men’s fashions looked like by 1975.

Thanks to Travolta, the Disco style took fashion through the late portion of the decade with its wide-lapeled three-piece suits and flared pants. Women wore jersey wrap dresses, tube tops, sequined shirts, shorts, and high-slit skirts set off with boots or chunky heels. As the 1970s came to an end, clothing became baggier and more revealing. Cowl-neck shirts, sundresses over T-shirts, pantsuits, and strapless tops became the rage. Colors shied away from pastels to earth tones with brown, tan, and gray being the most seen. Sportswear for men became the alternative to Disco attire. Tracksuits, jumpsuits, puffer vests, and low-top sneakers were the rage.

What is your favorite 1970s look?


Dial S for Second Chances

Can years of hurt and misunderstanding be transformed into a second chance at love?

Jade Williams agrees to be on the high school reunion committee because the-one-that-got-away is out of the country and won’t be home in time to attend the festivities. Now, he’s not only home, but joined the committee. Is it too late to back out or can she set aside forty-five years of regret and pretend she isn’t to blame for her broken heart?

One of the downsides of being rich means fielding requests for money and favors. But when an old high school buddy contacts Derek Milligan to be on the reunion committee as just one of the gang, no strings attached, he can’t resist. At the first meeting, he’s dismayed to find himself sitting next to his former high school sweetheart. He should be angry. Instead, he’s attracted. Can he risk his heart a second time?

Reunion festivities include calling into to WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love with fake relationship problems. When both use their real situation, the stakes are raised higher than either imagined.

Pre-order link:

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Steven Rogers!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Steven Rogers!

Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy this fun interview with award-winning author Steven Rogers.

What was your inspiration for the story?

While on a plane heading to Israel, I asked myself a question—What would happen if I was an alcoholic, recently released from rehab, and I had to take the trip? I dug a notebook out of my backpack and outlined my character Ben Cahill (although his name was George Reed until the third draft of the book) and wrote the first two pages of Into the Room. While touring Israel, I journaled in Ben’s voice. When I returned home, I decided to tell his story.

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include?

Obviously, there was the trip to Israel. Although writing a book about the visit was not the original intention, the entire journey turned into an impromptu research project. In addition, I researched the chemistry and psychology of alcoholism. I did this through reading, conversations with individuals in recovery, and drawing on firsthand experiences.


The tidbit I had to include was our visit to the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. The account in the story reflects my own experience, especially the part where Ben sits on a wall and reads John 20, verses 10 through 18. It was a life-changing moment for me, one I still look back on during my devotional times.

If you were to write a spin-off book about one of your secondary characters, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to write a book about the character Ruth. In the story, she is at peace with her life and offers kind wisdom and support to Ben. Toward the end of Into the Room, the reader learns about her previously rebellious lifestyle and challenges overcoming personal tragedy. I would enjoy exploring those events and her relationship with God more deeply.

How do you come up with storylines?

I constantly ponder “I wonder what would happen if…” For example, standing on a crowded boardwalk on the beach last summer I thought “I wonder what would happen if this platform collapsed right now.” For every fifty or so times, I get a short story or novel idea. I am still considering this one— “I wonder what would have happened if Judas did not hang himself? Would he have been redeemed? Would he have returned to God’s service?”

I also observe people. When I am sitting in a public place, I frequently invent backstories for those around me. This sometimes leads to characters I either include in my stories or write stories about. For example, I have an unpublished short story resulting from watching an elderly man play shuffleboard on a cruise ship. Turns out he had quite the background.

What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.) What is your favorite part of the process?

Whenever I write something, I know the beginning and the end before I start. I have a vague idea of the events occurring in between. As I write, the plot develops and characters grow, sometimes surprising me with their insistence on being part of the story. An example from Into the Room is the character Daniel. He was originally intended to appear sparingly, but he kept showing up in scenes.

I typically write in the afternoon either in my home office or at the local library. My favorite part of the writing process is the first edit. Once the story is down, I love adding imagery, digging deeper into plotlines/characters, and making the words more readable.

What is one thing you wish you could do?

I have always wanted to be a guy who was “handy” and able to fix things. While I am competent within limits, I have always envied people who are true “do-it-yourselfers.” Often my characters have these skills, allowing me to live vicariously through them.

How do you celebrate when you finish a manuscript?

By starting the next short story or novel!

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

First off, I still consider myself a new writer. However, to those starting out I offer three pieces of advice: (1) write the story you want to write. There is no way every reader will like your work—make sure you do, (2) practice, practice, practice. Working on the craft is the only way to improve, and (3) never write anything you would be embarrassed to have your mother read. Following this rule does not mean you are unrealistic in your writing. This approach forces a writer to creatively describe difficult, violent, or intimate situations.

What was your favorite childhood book and why?

Photo: Steven Rogers
I love this question! I am going to pick two. The first is The Reluctant Pitcher by Matt Christopher. I remember my father taking me to my hometown library and this book “flipped the toggle switch,” creating a lifelong love of reading fiction. The second is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. For a young boy, the story was magical. In addition, I found an old beat-up hardcover at a yard sale when I was about ten. It was the first book I ever bought using my own money and I still have the copy on my shelf.

What books are on your nightstand right now?

For reading—Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and The City Below by James Carroll. For devotional times—The Cloud on Unknowing (author unknown) and Praying our Days by Frank T. Griswold.

What is your next project?

I am currently finishing a sequel to Into the Room. The working title is A Year in the Room. After A Year in the Room, I will tell one more story about Ben Cahill. I see his journey as a trilogy.

Into the Room: An Excerpt

There’s nothing worse than Holy Rollers on a roll.

Yet here I am, on a bus bursting with Christians, all of them using their outdoor voices, enthusiastically talking about the upcoming pilgrimage. The excitement is lost on me. To take a pilgrimage, there needs to be a purpose and, as far as I’m concerned, this trip is simply filling time.

Also, and I think this is true, to take a pilgrimage, you need to know who you are and what you want to become. I’m confident I couldn’t give a sincere answer to either of those questions. However, in a moment of honesty, I’d confess that it would be nice to know who I am.

Who am I?

My name is Ben Cahill, and I’m taking this trip because I have no place to live, unless I camp on my brother’s couch and, well, at forty-two I’m a little beyond that stage. The trip leader, the guy everyone calls Pastor Marcus, got me in at the last minute after Nick, that’s my brother, pulled some strings and talked me onto the roster. Nick’s half a Holy Roller himself.

Unfortunately, no matter how far away I go, I can’t get away from myself.

I was, until recently, a highly regarded commercial real estate developer, arguably the best dealmaker in the city of Richmond, Virginia, and wealthy. Most of the fortune is gone. I told the lawyers Sarah deserved all of it, that all I wanted was some seed money and the old Camry. I got $50,000 and, after paying for this trip, there’s $46,000 left.

Sarah is my soon-to-be ex-wife, an angel on earth who, for some reason, still loves me. However, I believe she will never, under any circumstances, take me back. A woman can forgive almost all transgressions except one—there is no exoneration when she thinks her children are in danger, no grace granted for subsequent good behavior.

We have two children. One is a beautiful little girl, eight-year-old Olivia, and the other is a strong-willed, determined thirteen-year-old boy named Zach. Zach has become his mother’s and his sister’s protector.

Three weeks ago, I graduated from the Seasons of Hope rehabilitation facility. My time at the Outhouse, as we called the place, was wasted; on the way home, I drank myself into oblivion.

Even now, with all the mess I’ve created, all I want is a bottle of Absolut, a short glass, and some ice.

But, really, it’s all under control. I’ve just got to get back to work, back to my routine. I’ve just got to get through this trip.

On to Israel.

Purchase Link:

Monday, May 22, 2023

Movie Monday: Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Movie Monday: 
Murder on the Orient Express

We’re still in the 1970s, and today we’re going to look at the 1974 version of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express. With a budget of just under $1.5 million, the film was a resounding box-office success, earning over $35 million. The producers’ choice of directors, Sidney Lumet, was no doubt a calculated move. He is reportedly one of the most prolific filmmakers in the modern era, directing more than one move a year on average since his debut in 1957. Actors loved working for him, and critics could count on a well-executed film. Although fourteen of his movies were nominated for Academy Awards, and Lumet himself was nominated for five, he never won an individual Oscar. Late in life, he received an Academy Honorary Award. Intriguingly, he directed Murder in between Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon.

The cast is star-studded and included Sean Connery, Albert Finney, Ingrid Berman, Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, and Michael York. Connery was the first actor approached and said yes immediately. He would ultimately make five films with Lumet. Lumet wanted Bergman to play Princess Dragomiroff, but she chose instead, the smaller role of Greta Ohlsson. Obviously, a good choice because she won Best Supporting Actress.

Exterior filming was mostly done in France, and the scenes of the train going through Central Europe
Pixabay/Jorg Vieli
were filmed in the Jura Mountains on the Swiss-French border. There were concerns about the lack of snow proceeding the scheduled shooting of the snowbound train, therefore snow was trucked in (at quite a large expense). Ironically, heavy snowfall occurred the night before the scheduled filming making the extra snow unnecessary, and stranding the snow-laden backup vehicles.

Christie only liked two of the film adaptations of her novels, and Murder was one of them, the other being Witness for the Prosecution. She passed away fourteen months after the movie’s release. Roger Ebert was effusive with his praise, specifically saying, “What I liked best about this movie is its style, both the deliberately old-fashioned visual strategies used by director Sidney Lumet, and the cheerful overacting of the dozen or more suspects.”

A classic that’s not to be missed.


Dial S for Second Chances

Can years of hurt and misunderstanding be transformed into a second chance at love?

Jade Williams agrees to be on the high school reunion committee because the-one-that-got-away is out of the country and won’t be home in time to attend the festivities. Now, he’s not only home, but joined the committee. Is it too late to back out or can she set aside forty-five years of regret and pretend she isn’t to blame for her broken heart?

One of the downsides of being rich means fielding requests for money and favors. But when an old high school buddy contacts Derek Milligan to be on the reunion committee as just one of the gang, no strings attached, he can’t resist. At the first meeting, he’s dismayed to find himself sitting next to his former high school sweetheart. He should be angry. Instead, he’s attracted. Can he risk his heart a second time?

Reunion festivities include calling into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love with fake relationship problems. When both use their real situation, the stakes are raised higher than either imagined.

Pre-order Link:

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Wayback Wednesday: 1974

Wayback Wednesday: 1974

Public Domain Pictures

The 1970s doesn’t feel like long ago until you do the math and discover that decade commenced over fifty years ago. I’m a child of the 70s and have enjoyed walking down Memory Lane while researching and writing Dial S for Second Chances, a story about high school sweethearts who reconnect at their 45th reunion.

Turbulence from the 60s carried over into the 70s as demonstrations continued about the Vietnam War, racial injustices, and women’s rights. Globally, there were lots of coups, civil wars, and political upheavals, some of which broke into armed conflict. However, the WWII post-war economic boom continued, giving people greater financial freedom. The Watergate scandal shocked the American nation and President Nixon resigned in disgrace.

Perhaps as a way to get the public’s minds off current events, 1974 filmmakers produced quite a few
comedies such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The Front Page. Disaster films were also popular and that same year and audiences were reportedly traumatized by the “Sensurround” effects of Earthquake.

One-hit-wonder Bo Davison released “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero,” but many musical groups hit their stride in 1974 with such popular songs as “Already Gone” by the Eagles, “I Shot the Sheriff” by Eric Clapton, “I Love You” by Olivia Newton John, and “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt.

Interestingly, 1974 also saw The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch go off the air to be replaced by Happy Days with Richie Cunningham and The Fonz, and Little House on the Prairie. Both shows hearkened back to simpler times. James Garner continued his success in television with The Rockford Files and Angie Dickinson made a splash with Police Woman.


Several prominent figures passed away in 1974: the controversial pilot turned activist Charles Lindbergh, jazz pianist and band leader Duke Ellington, vocalist Cass Elliot of “The Mamas and the Papas,” Ed Sullivan whose television show was the longest-running variety show in US broadcasting history, and Jack Benny who rose from modest vaudeville success with his violin to worldwide fame on radio, television, and film.


Dial S for Second Chances

Can years of hurt and misunderstanding be transformed into a second chance at love?

Jade Williams agrees to be on the high school reunion committee because the-one-that-got-away is out of the country and won’t be home in time to attend the festivities. Now, he’s not only home, but joined the committee. Is it too late to back out or can she set aside forty-five years of regret and pretend she isn’t to blame for her broken heart?

One of the downsides of being rich means fielding requests for money and favors. But when an old high school buddy contacts Derek Milligan to be on the reunion committee as just one of the gang, no strings attached, he can’t resist. At the first meeting, he’s dismayed to find himself sitting next to his former high school sweetheart. He should be angry. Instead, he’s attracted. Can he risk his heart a second time?

Reunion festivities include calling into to WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love with fake relationship problems. When both use their real situation, the stakes are raised higher than either imagined.

Pre-order Link:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Janice Cole Hopkins

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Janice Cole Hopkins

Today's guest is Janice Cole Hopkins who has been writing stories since third grade. She's part of a wonderful series The Matchmaker - Agatha Returns!

What was your inspiration for the story?

Most of the time, I don’t know where my inspiration for a story comes from; it just comes. With The Matchmakers series, I knew I wanted to set all eight of my books of this multiple-author project in the same town, and I chose the fictitious town of Pinyon Falls, Texas. This way the reader gets to catch up on how earlier characters are doing as the series progresses.

How do you develop your characters? (e.g. decide on their vocation, names, etc.)?

I develop the characters early, not long after the general idea comes to me. I live with a while in my head first. My stories are character-driven, so my characters tell their own stories, both in my imagination and on paper. I just go along with what they say. I often research their surnames, choosing names that are known in that area.

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include?

I did preliminary research on the hill country of Texas. Then I also had to do research as questions
Pixabay/David Mark

came up. I always check words I’m uncertain of to make sure they were used in my time period, and I check inventions and facts for the same thing.

How are your characters like you? Different? I’m not a lot like any of the characters I’ve written about so far in this series, other than my Christian faith. However, having worked with many people all my adult life, I can relate to all of them.

If your book is part of a series: Did you set out to write a series?

I did set out to write a because these books are part of a multiple-author project, where different authors take part in the series. This has turned out to be one of my most popular series, and I’m glad it will continue through 2025. Here is a list of my books in the series and their publication dates as well as links for the two that have published:

A Match for Marshall, 2-1-23,
A Match for Cord, 5-1-23,
A Match for Silas (the blacksmith), 2-1-24
A Match for Merle (a businessman), 7-1-24
A Match for Milton (the barber) 9-2-24
A Match for Reece (the sheriff) 11-1-24
A Match for Matt (the deputy) 5-1-25
A Match for Marvin (a recluse) 10-1-25

How has your book changed since your first draft?

There haven’t been any major changes in A Match for Cord, the newly published book in the series. Cord was Marshall’s foreman in the first book, A Match for Marshall.

How do you come up with storylines?

Again, that’s hard to answer. They usually just come to me, and if I don’t have an idea already, I never agree to write a book. Out of the 55 books I have on Amazon, there’s only one that I can tell you where the idea came from because a friend sparked it.

What draws you to the time period about which you write?

I am a history and English major. I can set my books in any time period and enjoy it. However, most of my books are set in the last half of the 1800s. It’s an easy time for me to write about because I understand it well.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

I always write Christian fiction or non-fiction (I have 2 non-fiction books so far) because I know God gave me whatever talent I have and called me to write. Therefore, I want to write for His glory.

What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.) What is your favorite part of the process?

I’m more of a pantster. I make notes as I go about the details I need to remember, but most of my preplanning is done in my head before I begin writing, and I often live with the characters a long time before I write about them. The exception to this is when the book includes mystery. Then I do more paper planning.

I’ll be working on Annette’s Assignment, a book in The Suffrage Spinsters series that will publish on October 16, 2023. I try to always stay 4 - 6 months ahead with my writing, so there’s plenty of time for my editors and for me to get everything done. But I’m always excited to start a new book and unfold all the possibilities.

About A Match for Marshall
Marshall Walker has built his successful ranch over years of hard work. He hasn't had time to seek a wife. But when his brother dies, leaving him the custody of two nieces, he decides now is the time - after all, he's thirty-one years old. So, he contacts a noted matchmaking service to speed the process since the girls are on their way, and he needs a wife as soon as possible.

Callie Jones grew up on a farm and knows the toil it takes to eke out a living. When her parents suggest that she leave home to allow more food and clothing for her eight younger siblings, she decides to become a mail-order bride, but she's determined to marry a man who lives in town. She wants nothing more to do with farms or ranches, but the matchmaker makes a mistake.

Purchase Link:

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Baltimore in the 1970s

Traveling Tuesday: Baltimore in the 1970s

Pixabay/David Mark
The history of Baltimore begins nearly three hundred years ago, its residents living through economic booms and busts, social and political upheaval, fire, and war. My upcoming contemporary novella, Dial S for Second Chances, takes place in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. The premise is that two high school sweethearts reconnect on their 45th reunion planning committee.

Despite being born there, I was only there until just before starting kindergarten when the first of many moves occurred because of my father’s job. As a result, I had to do quite a bit of research into Charm City’s history, specifically in the 1970s to get a feel for what my characters experienced while in high school.

Throughout its history, Baltimore has reinvented itself on numerous occasions. Having congratulated
Courtesy: MD Military
Historical Society
themselves on a successful and mostly peaceful integration of the school system, unrest rumbled beneath the surface to erupt in the April 1968 riots. More than 10,000 national guard troops came to the city between April 6 and 14 until the situation was finally brought under control. Interestingly, Governor Spiro Agnew’s handling of the event brought him to the attention of Richard Nixon who asked Agnew to be his presidential running mate.

Studies indicate that many white residents left the city and businesses began to move their operations to the suburbs. This served as a wake-up call to Maryland officials who created committees to study the problem and suggest solutions. Urban renewal quickly moved to the forefront of activities.

In 1969, Fells Point became a National Register historic district, and Federal Hill followed in 1970. Interstate-95 was rerouted south of Locust Point and plans began for a bridge connecting Local Point to Lazaretto Point. Ultimately, the bridge concept was replaced with the Fort McHenry Tunnel in order to preserve Fort McHenry. In 1975, the Inner Harbor Renewal Plan saw houses in the Otterbein neighborhood sold to “homesteaders” for one dollar. These homesteaders were required to restore the houses and live in them for at least five years. Homesteading and historic preservation spread to other neighborhoods.

Courtesy: MD
State Archives
At the harbor itself, many of the buildings were demolished and new infrastructures of piers, bulkheads, roads, utilities, and parks were created. A new brick pedestrian promenade was constructed around the harbor’s edge. The city’s largest insurance company, United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company, consolidated its downtown offices and constructed a new 40-story headquarters that was completed in 1973. That same year, the State of Maryland built its World Trade Center, a pentagonal concrete-and-glass building designed by I.M. Pei.

Mayor (and later Governor of MD) Donald Schaefer actively sought film and television production, part of a larger strategy to add arts and culture that would attract tourists, corporate dollars, and “upwardly mobile” residents. He even managed to create an award known as The Don that celebrated filmmaking in Baltimore, and a gala was held in 1978 that included such luminaries as Alan Alda, Al Pacino, John Waters, and Barry Levinson.


Dial S for Second Chances

Can years of hurt and misunderstanding be transformed into a second chance at love?

Jade Williams agrees to be on the high school reunion committee because the-one-that-got-away is out of the country and won’t be home in time to attend the festivities. Now, he’s not only home, but joined the committee. Is it too late to back out or can she set aside forty-five years of regret and pretend she isn’t to blame for her broken heart?

One of the downsides of being rich means fielding requests for money and favors. But when an old high school buddy contacts Derek Milligan to be on the reunion committee as just one of the gang, no strings attached, he can’t resist. At the first meeting, he’s dismayed to find himself sitting next to his former high school sweetheart. He should be angry. Instead, he’s attracted. Can he risk his heart a second time?

Reunion festivities include calling into to WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love with fake relationship problems. When both use their real situation, the stakes are raised higher than either imagined.

Purchase Link:

Friday, May 5, 2023

Fiction Friday: New Releases in Christian and Clean-n-Sweet Fiction

May 2023 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Children’s/Picture Books:

Super Doople by K.A. Cummins -- You’ve heard the legend of Humpty Dumpty, but do you know the legend of Super Doople? He’s faster than a chicken. He flies higher than an ostrich. No fall can break his shell! And he was once Little Doople, a small and fragile egg like all the other dooples, until his bad habit of not listening caught up to him. Engaging text with expressive illustrations, Super Doople is a lighthearted tale about resilience and learning to listen. This funny picture book for ages 3-8 is perfect for reading aloud in the classroom or at home. (Children’s/Picture Books from Eleonora Press)

Contemporary Romance:

Always by my Side by Iola Diane Goulton -- A hardworking introvert meets a handsome adventurer longing to settle down. Tabitha Thomas longs to leave Trinity Lakes and travel the world in honor of the beloved grandmother who raised her and her siblings. But she’s needed at home—she’s the responsible triplet, the one who stayed home to run the family inn while her brother and sister left to live their dreams. Kiwi Logan Wylde doesn’t call any place home. When an injury frustrates his travel plans, he accepts an invitation to return to Trinity Lakes and recuperate at the Lakeview Inn, where he hopes to rediscover his purpose in life. When Tabby and Logan find a property deed while cleaning out Gran’s rooms, Tabby embraces a new challenge—to solve the mystery of the floodplain and renovate the old boatshed. Working with Logan reignites long-suppressed feelings, but will their differences drive them apart? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love in the Headlines by Penny Zeller -- Can paper and paw prints draw these two nemeses together? All Carleigh Adams wants is a relaxing evening. But Sullivan Theodore IV, her wayward Shih Tzu, has other plans. After escaping from home, Sullivan Theodore unlawfully enters what Carleigh assumes is a stranger’s house via a doggy door. Trey Montgomery has had to work with “Quirky Carleigh,” his top competitor for the best articles at The Oakville Daily, for the past two years. It’s safe to say that she and her criminally-minded pet are his adversaries. Trey’s attempts to keep his distance from her are demolished when their boss thrusts them together as The Oakville Daily Duo, forcing them to work as a team on every. Single. Article. Petty crimes and crazy shenanigans in Oakville soon draw Carleigh and Trey into doubling as detectives. As they work to report the daily news and solve the crimes in Oakville, can these two stubborn reporters find love in the headlines? (Contemporary Romance, from Maplebrook Publishing)

Loving the Rancher’s Children by Mindy Obenhaus -- When Alli Krenek returns to her hometown, she’s surprised to find herself agreeing to become a nanny to Jake Walker’s children. Seventeen years ago, Jake betrayed Alli’s trust, and she’s avoided him ever since. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more his two little ones melt her heart and Alli begins to see the man Jake has become. Is this their chance to finally heal old wounds? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Historical Mystery:

A Vanishing Act by Edwina Kiernan -- Hollywood legend Kent Selwood isn’t happy sharing the limelight with rising star Stella Sanders. Tired of her diva drama, Kent makes it clear—he wants Stella gone. Seamstress Bonnie Roseland is practically invisible to everyone at the studio, except for slick actor, Jerry Jackson — the one man she wishes would leave her alone. Her deep-rooted faith helps her see beyond the glitz and glamor to the broken realities and dysfunctional atmosphere at the studio. She sometimes wonders if God has a purpose for her there or if she should just move on. When the studio receives blackmail letters, Kent’s attitude makes him the prime suspect, and he’s swiftly banished from the lot, despite insisting that he’s been framed. Only Bonnie believes him — and she’s confident she knows who the real culprit is. But when a ransom note arrives after Stella goes missing and evidence is discovered that clearly implicates Kent, will Bonnie help him uncover the truth in time to save his career… and Stella’s life? (Historical Mystery from Celebrate Lit Publishing)

Historical Romance:

A Season at the Grand
by Sherri Wilson Johnson -- Can the perfect picture reveal the truth before it's too late? Photographer Amelia Harris has had enough of her aunts' meddling matchmaking. So when The Photographic Times commissions her to spend the summer on Mobile Bay taking portraits of the elite and capturing nature for penny postcards, Amelia happily accepts. But this job is not as simple as it appears, and Amelia must defend against naysayers if she's to ever gain respect in a man's world. And that doesn't leave any room for romance. Point Clear Resort General Manager Titus Overton never wanted the position he inherited when his cousin passed away. When threats arise against Amelia and the other resort guests, Titus knows he must step in to help. But she insists they trust God for deliverance. How can he turn to a God who took away his first beloved? As the danger closes in, he must find the courage to overcome his past before someone gets hurt-especially the woman he's come to love. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Counterfeit Faith by Crystal Caudill -- As matron of Final Chance House of Refuge, Gwendolyn Ellison has dedicated her life to serving the children deemed delinquents by society. She'll protect them with everything she has. So when she suspects someone is using Final Chance for criminal deeds, she's determined to investigate and put a stop to it. But villains don't like to be crossed--and they're willing to kill to get their way. Gwendolyn knows she can't quit fighting. More than her own life is on the line if counterfeiters go free. She must find someone she can trust to help her expose the criminals and protect the children under her care. Charming and chivalrous Secret Service operative Josiah Isaacs has never been able to turn his back on a woman in trouble--and capturing counterfeiters is his job, after all. As both peril and interest grow, he begins to consider whether a second love may be possible--if they can live through this case. At the same time, he's put off by her faith in a God he no longer trusts. How can a future together even be possible when their beliefs are at odds? (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)

Frontiers of Liberty by Shannon McNear -- A collection of three stories from America’s struggle for independence...The Highwayman: 1775, the Shenandoah Valley: A secret identity … an unspoken love. Quiet, ordinary Samuel Wheeler wants to quit moonlighting as a vigilante, until the night he unwittingly saves the girl he loves. Defending Truth: 1780, the Overmountain settlements: For Truth Bledsoe, what began as simple Christian charity toward a starving enemy soon becomes … more. And the fate of her family—and their community—may rest in the hands of a loyalist who is no longer sure where he belongs; The Counterfeit Tory: 1781, the South Carolina backcountry: War-weary Jedidiah Wheeler accepts a mission of subterfuge that almost certainly will be his end. It’s the quiet, fierce daughter of a Tory innkeeper who gives him cause not only to fight, but stay alive. (Historical Romance from ShenandoahDawn)

Murmur in the Mudcaves by Kathleen Denly -- He came to cook for ranch hands, not three single women. Gideon Swift, a visually impaired Civil War Veteran, responds to an ad for a ranch cook in the Southern California desert mountains. He wants nothing more than to forget his past and stay in the kitchen where he can do no harm. But when he arrives to find his employer murdered, the ranch turned to ashes, and three young women struggling to survive in the unforgiving Borrego Desert, he must decide whether his presence protects them or places them in greater danger. Bridget “Biddie” Davidson finally receives word from her older sister who disappeared with their brother and pa eighteen years prior, but the news is not good. Determined to help her family, Biddie sets out for a remote desert ranch with her adopted father and best friend. Nothing she finds there is as she expected, including the man who came to cook for the shambles of a ranch. When tragedy strikes, the danger threatens not only her plans to help her sister, but her own dreams for the future—with the man who’s stolen her heart. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Revealing the Truth by Lorri Dudley -- being shipped back to her ruthless guardian, who will kill to get his hands on her inheritance and the famous Jenkins Lipizzaner horses. But even under the pretense of amnesia, she cannot shake the memory of her sister and Katherine’s need to reach her before their guardian, or his marauding bandits, finish her off. Will she be safe in the earl’s manor, or will the assailant climbing through her window be the death of her? British spy, Stephen Hartington’s assignment to uncover an underground horse-thieving ring brings him home to his family’s manor, and the last thing he expected was to be struck with a candlestick upon climbing through the guest chamber window. The manor’s feisty and intriguing new house guest throws Stephen’s best-laid plans into turmoil and raises questions about the timing of her appearance, the convenience of her memory loss, and her impeccable riding skills. Could he be housing the horse thief he’d been ordered to capture—or worse, falling in love with her? (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

The Counterfeit Tory by Shannon McNear -- 1781 ... the backcountry of South Carolina: Lizzy Cunningham resents any man who thinks he can get by with a wink and a smile. Doubly so the ones who try to get close to her—she knows she’s homely and difficult of temper, and that not a man has been made who can bear with her for a lifetime. Jedidiah Wheeler (Sam’s cousin from The Highwayman) has always depended on his easy charm to get him through. He’s also used to girls falling all over themselves when he glances their way, so it’s a shock to find one who responds with definite hostility. It might also be a bit of a challenge ... especially when he discovers her connection to an infamous Tory leader he’s tasked with bringing down. As Jed gains the trust of the Tories, he sees that Lizzy is far more than the snarling tavern maid she pretends to be. Truth be told, in her unguarded moments she’s one of the most fetching misses he’s ever met—and bravest, when his own life is on the line. How can he complete the mission without endangering her? And dare Lizzy risk family loyalty for a kindness she’s sure is too good to be true? (Historical Romance from ShenandoahDawn)

To Enchant a Lady’s Heart by Robin Lee Hatcher -- He has nothing to offer. She has everything to lose. Despite the dishonorable circumstances of his own birth, Adam Faulkner has never begrudged his half-brother Sebastian’s legitimate position as the Viscount Willowthorpe. Having a title and everything that goes with it never mattered to Adam—until “everything” became the hand of Miss Eliza Southwick. Adam knows, as the stable manager at Hooke Manor, he shouldn’t hope to wed a well-born miss. After all, enchanting such a lady’s heart would take a true gentleman…something he is not. Eliza Southwick loves horses more than society and doesn’t care a whit about status or titles. But her father has set his sights on the Viscount Willowthorpe for his future son-in-law and has brought his daughter to Hooke Manor in hopes of arranging a marriage contract. When a spark first kindled during a chance meeting between Eliza and Adam grows stronger, she doesn’t dare tell her father how she feels. He will disown her entirely if she fails to do his will, and the cost of following her heart has never seemed higher. (Historical Romance from RobinSong, Inc.)


East of Evil by Joni M. Fisher -- A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process makes her the target of dangerous people…Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her parents’ heartless killer, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar trust from her late parents…with a hefty chunk gone. Seeking the help of a forensic accountant, Nefi discovers a cunning thief has been stealing from her inheritance. And with her legacy at stake, the hidden enemy’s scheme to swipe her cash could turn deadly. Can Nefi restore her parent’s wealth before her investigation turns fatal? (Thriller/Suspense/Crime, Independently Published)


A Deadly Wilderness by Kelly S. Irvin -- A frantic anonymous crisis center hot-line call propels counselor Susana Martinez-Acosta smack into the center of a murder investigation and a homicide detective’s arms. Exactly where she doesn’t want to be. Following the tragic death of her husband, she’s struggled to build a safe haven for herself and her son. That new world doesn’t include hit men and persistent detectives with dangerous jobs. An idyllic wilderness hike turns deadly when homicide detective Ray Johnson tumbles into a ravine and lands on a corpse later identified as the son of a prominent citizen. Ray works to solve the political hot potato murder before city leaders bumps him from the case. His determination to find the man’s killer leads him from the wealthiest enclaves in San Antonio to the city’s dark underbelly, all the while trying to win the woman he loves. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Ally Press)

Counter Attack by Patricia Bradley -- No sooner has Alexis Stone been sworn in as the interim sheriff for Russell County, Tennessee, when a serial killer dubbed the Queen's Gambit Killer strikes again--this time in her hometown. Pearl Springs is just supposed to be a temporary stop along the way to Alex's real dream: becoming the first female police chief of Chattanooga. But the killer's calling card--a white pawn and a note with a chess move printed on it--cannot be ignored. Pearl Springs chief of police Nathan Landry can't believe that his high school sweetheart Alexis (he refuses to call her Alex) is back in town, and he can't help wanting to protect the woman he never stopped loving. But as the danger mounts and the killer closes in, can Nathan come through on the promises he makes to himself to bring a killer to justice before it's too late. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Revell)

Explosive Trail by Terri Reed -- Can an officer and her K-9 partner survive a bomber with a vendetta? When a serial bomber’s explosion in Olympic National Park lands K-9 officer Willow Bates in the hospital, her estranged husband, FBI agent Theo Bates, rushes to her side. He’s determined to protect her and the baby he didn’t know she was carrying. But the bomber has revenge on his mind and will stop at nothing to finish them off. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Vengeance in the Mist by Robin Patchen -- Assistant District Attorney Misty Lake wants nothing more than to ensure Boston lawbreakers face justice, but how can she when she's faced with an increasing workload and pressure to offer plea deals? When a criminal she prosecuted is released on a technicality, she doesn’t have time to worry about the threats he once breathed against her. Tate Steele dreams of rising in the ranks at the DA’s office, but idealistic prosecutor Misty is in his way. When the district attorney asks him to assist her with a few cases, he’s eager to close them quickly to prove his merit. But he and Misty discover her apartment has been broken into, and this is no run-of-the-mill burglar. The intruder escapes and leaves no trace. Either the vengeful convict Misty put away has upped his skills, or there’s more at play than a defendant seeking revenge. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic, Independently Published)

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

Holidays in Hallbrook: Books 1-3 Elsie Davis, A city executive who gets an insta-family including a giant St. Bernard, an event planner who can't plan what happens, and a Christmas story where a snowstorm and an avalanche have the power to warm hearts. (Contemporary Romance)

Holidays in Hallbrook: Books 4-6 Elsie Davis , A single dad with twin daughters who aren’t on board with a new romance, a woman who’s always wanted to be a mom and she gets the chance…temporarily, and a single mother who’s hired to find and photograph a pair of eagles and their nest after a reported sighting in the area. (Contemporary Romance)

Holidays in Hallbrook: Books 7-9 Elsie Davis , A woman war hero in search of her military canine, an ice cream competition with a winner-take-all prize at stake, and a baseball player and a middle school principal who find themselves at crosshairs with their kids adding fuel to the fire every step of the way. (Contemporary Romance)

Hopefully After After Beth Wiseman, Eden’s and Samuel’s futures hang in the balance as they face decisions about who they are meant to be—both as individuals and together. (Amish Romance)

Jacob’s WellUrcelia Teixeira, Dark secrets swirl around the small coastal town of Weyport as Mary-Jean Foley discovers just how far she would go to protect her son. (Mystery/Police Procedural)

Loving LydiaSusan Pope Sloan, Two Southerners thrown together by the Union army. He's on a quest for vengeance. She's determined to preserve her family. (Historical Romance)

The Body ElectrocutionMarissa Shrock, A secret love decades past, the supposed ghost of a custodian that stalks the community center halls, and a motive for murder that neither Bobbi Sue nor anyone else in town saw coming. (Cozy Mystery)

Cheese Grits and Hissy FitsJann Franklin, The Town of Graisseville, Louisiana needs leadership, and Jen Guidry's ready to help! (General Contemporary)

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Ruth Wuwong!

Invest in Education
By Ruth Wuwong

In my book, Are Your Health and Finances Linked? A Christian Entrepreneur’s Quest (released in 12/2022,, I talked about my investment strategies. Here is an excerpt from the book. I’ve also made a video about the topic. If you’re interested, please click this link, Before we invest in the stock market and other productive assets, I must emphasize that investing in education to broaden your knowledge will help you achieve your financial goal in the long run.

I mentioned previously that my husband, Ken, is a retired pastor, and I’m a biochemist by training. A few years after we got married, the amount in our combined checking account improved a bit, from less than fifty dollars to a few hundred dollars.

The pastor’s pay wouldn’t impress anyone, but it was decent. Working for a pharmaceutical company, I made twice as much as Ken. With our combined income, why did we still struggle to pay bills every month?

I realized both of us knew nothing about finances.

After many prayers, I sat my dear hubby down for a chat. “One of us must learn how to manage money. You or me? Take your pick.”

The answer? Me.

Ken had no interest in money at all. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have quit his civil engineering job to become
David Schwarzenberg
a pastor. In the beginning, I went to the library and read quite a few books about the stock market, bonds, mutual funds, etc. The more I studied, the more frustrated I felt. In the end, I concluded that if I wanted to do it right, I should try to get a complete education. So, I bit the bullet and entered the University of Illinois for my MBA degree in finance. I must admit that those years were very challenging because I worked during the day and attended school at night. Even as an in-state student, the tuition fees became a burden. I had to forego a few “must-haves.” We grew most of our vegetables in the summer, seldom ate out, and only bought second-hand furniture and cars. I learned to purchase my formal outfits (e.g., two-piece suits) at Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

After four years and about $20,000 out of my pocket, I completed the program. Boy, was it worth it!

I didn’t change my career path and mainly used my knowledge to manage our own finances. And what a difference it made. In a short while, the combined number of our checking, saving, and brokerage accounts increased to more than $50,000.

Along the way, we not only learned to manage our money but also gained some precious insights.

First, owning things brings short-lived pleasure, but knowledge, like experience, stays with us for a lifetime.

Second, learning broadens our perspective and enriches our worldview. Getting skills related to your job or about how to manage money is outstanding. Yet obtaining new knowledge on various subjects (e.g., gardening, different cultures and cuisines, music appreciation, a new language, etc.) unrelated to your work can make your life more interesting and enhance your relationship with others.

Third, don’t attempt to keep up with the Joneses. Stick to your principles and be content. As an example, I used to have a subordinate who drove a Mercedes. At one point, especially after we had acquired a sizable asset, I asked Ken, “Should we consider replacing our old Toyota Camry with a Mercedes?”

My wise hubby replied, “Why? Is it necessary? It’s not just the upfront payment. The additional expenses, such as insurance, repairs, and maintenance, are all higher.”

Yeah, he was right. 

About Ruth:

While in high school, I used to go to the library, read every book on one shelf, and then move on to the next. Reading and writing are very important to me. It seems I have a longing that can’t be satisfied by reality. I love to escape into books and become someone graceful, witty, and popular.

Currently, I work for a small biotech company and have published 120+ scientific books and papers (under a different name). I’m a latecomer to creative writing. So far, I’ve published three books. Here are the links for my books:

The Way We Forgive (fiction):

Love at the Garden Tomb (fiction):

Are Your Health and Finances Linked? (Nonfiction):

I’m married to my wonderful husband, a retired pastor who encourages me to pursue my dreams. We served together at three different churches from 1987 to 2020.

I would love to connect with you. You can drop me a note anytime at