Author * Speaker * Editor

Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

May 27, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
3 Comments

The Story behind Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton

I’m pleased to welcome Lynne Hinton to the Story behind the Story this week. Here’s a little bit about her new release, Sister Eve and the Blue Nun. (Great title, don’t you think?)

Sister Eve and the Blue NunWhen Sister Eve returns to the monastery, the last thing she expects there is murder.

After solving several mysteries with her father at the Divine Private Detective Agency, Sister Eve finds herself torn between her calling as a nun and the thrill that comes with detecting. She knows she’s been using her father’s health as an excuse to extend her leave of absence from the monastery, but that excuse is running thin. She prays that a return visit to the monastery for a conference on the Blue Nun will help bring clarity to her calling, but when the conference speaker is murdered, Sister Eve’s two worlds collide.

Sister Eve knows the number one suspect, the victim’s brother and monk in residence, couldn’t possibly have committed the crime, and she’s determined to find the real killer. To do so means she must track down some mysterious newly discovered writings from the Blue Nun, said to date from the 17th Century, when the sister bi-located to the New Mexico region from her home in Spain. Could these texts from long ago be the key to today’s mystery? And will they offer any guidance to Sister Eve as she chooses which calling to follow?

Sounds great, Lynne. Can you tell us a little bit about how this story came to be?

Sister Eve is struggling with her vocation as a nun; she struggles with the sexism she feels in her community and from the Church hierarchy. She also has another deep love and that is solving mysteries. The story behind this story is that I too am a “called” minister, ordained in the United Church of Christ. As a woman in ministry, I have struggled with the undercurrents of sexism. I don’t feel them quite as much as I used to; but there were some hard days in my past. I also, like Sister Eve, struggle with whether I am a minister or a writer, two passions. And I’m never quite satisfied with just choosing one. Presently, I am getting ready to take a position as a co-pastor, allowing me the opportunity to have three months off a year to write. Perhaps, this will be the situation I have been searching for!

What a unique premise.

Lynne's PhotoLynne Hinton was born and raised in North Carolina. She is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro. She also attended NC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking and graduated with her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, where she served on the Board of Trustees for six years and was a Distinguished Alumni in 2003. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ.

Lynne is the author of eighteen books, including the NY Times Bestseller, Friendship Cake and Pie Town, the 2011 NM Book of the Year: Fiction/Adventure, Drama Category and 2011 National Federation of Press Women’s Fiction Book of the Year. She has penned two mystery series and has one nonfiction collection of essays. She is a regular guest columnist in the Faith and Values Section for The Charlotte Observer and was the 2008 Lucy B. Patterson Author of the Year by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in NC. In 2010 and 2015, she was the recipient of a Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Grant and was named Favorite Local Writer in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2012 by Albuquerque, The Magazine.

Lynne and her husband, Bob Branard, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Lynne has served as a hospice chaplain and pastor. She continues to write as well as teach classes and lead retreats on writing as a spiritual and healing practice. She can be reached at www.lynnehinton.com

Lynne is giving away a copy of her book, Sister Eve and the Blue Nun. Follow the directions below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for visiting with us, Lynne!

May 16, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
10 Comments

The Story behind Promise Me by Jo Huddleston

I want to give a special welcome this week to Jo Huddleston. She’s been very patient while we worked out some problems and around some senior moments LOL! She has an interesting story behind her new release, Promise Me.

Here’s a little more about the book.

In 1Promise Me (300)960, civil discord in Vietnam fills the news. After his college graduation, Patrick Fitzgerald plans to join his daddy’s South Carolina accounting firm. But Uncle Sam may have another position in mind for Patrick—in the U.S. Army. His family’s affluence would be no match for the persuasion of the military draft.

Adriana Montagna’s papá ekes out a living as a coal miner in the mountains of West Virginia. Can a lasting relationship form with Patrick, or will his wealth become a barrier between them?

Meanwhile, the fiber of America’s unity stands on the precipice, while its youth fight a no-win battle on foreign soil. What good can a young couple hope for at such a time as this?

1.    What inspired you to write Promise Me?
Promise Me is the third and last book of the West Virginia Mountains series. My inspiration for the series came from visiting a college friend’s home in West Virginia where her daddy owned a coal mine. I saw the meager living conditions and super work ethic of the coal miners and their families and wanted to put that in a story. As for the inspiration for Promise Me—as the series had progressed, the characters of Adriana and Patrick strengthened until they deserved a book of their own.

2.    What struck you most about the conditions the coal miners and their families lived in?
In the 1950s the living conditions of the coal miners usually rented their houses from the mine owner who also owned the houses, school, church, and company store. These rental houses most usually had only two bedrooms, living room, and kitchen with no running water or indoor plumbing. All the families drew their water from a lone community well, and each family had an outhouse for their bathroom. In my research, I was impressed with the fact that rarely did a photograph surface that showed a coal miner and his family smiling. Despite their sparse living conditions, the coal miners had an excellent work ethic.

3.    The Vietnam era is one not many authors write about. Why did you set your story then?
The West Virginia Mountains series begins in 1955. When I began this series, I did not plan to write about the Vietnam War era. Books #1 and #2 in the series took the reader into 1960. When writing historical novels, I try to immerse my story in that time frame by having my characters involved with the happenings around them. Promise Me begins in late 1960 just as America was testing the waters of the civil conflict in Vietnam. The time line of the series gave me no option but to set my story in the Vietnam War era. Because of that, part of Promise Me’s plot involves the Vietnam War.

4.    What was research like for the book?
When the time came to write Promise Me, I was comfortable writing the beginning. Promise Me is set in West Virginia, as were books #1 and #2 and I had done research by personal visits, conversations, and reading. When Promise Me wove its way to the battlefields of the Vietnam War, I had to turn to research to make my story authentic and convincing.
I had various available avenues for research. One valid and valuable resource was the written word. For my reading about the Vietnam War, I relied on encyclopedic references, photos taken on location, and testimonials of Vietnam War veterans. In addition, one of my most valuable resources was face-to-face accounts from American servicemen.

Although a few of the personal accounts I was privileged to get were from veterans of wars other than the Vietnam War, war is war regardless on which continent it occurs.  As you read Patrick and Adriana’s story in Promise Me, I hope you will find Patrick’s experiences realistic. In part, I wrote them based on facts and feelings I received from respected, reliable, and living resources.
Yes, Promise Me, is fiction. But to make historical fiction believable, an adequate amount of reality must be woven with the threads of fiction. That’s what I attempted to do when writing this new release. I hope you won’t doubt what you read about the historical situations and locations mentioned within its pages.

5.    What else do you have in the works?
I’m currently writing a novella in a series of novellas by various authors, all set along the legendary Route 66 that runs from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. When I finished Promise Me, another sweet Southern historical romance story settled into my mind. I don’t do a lot of plotting on paper, but I know the beginning and probable ending of a novel when I begin. Then I write what happens between and most times my characters will take over and I let the story go along with them. I can tell you that most of my next full-length novel will take place on a seashore. I’m excited to get started on it!

JO PK b2 copy (2)Jo Huddleston is an Amazon Bestselling author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series and her Caney Creek series are sweet Southern historical romances. Her novels are endorsed by Amanda Cabot, Debra Lynn Collins, Cara Lynn James, Sharlene MacLaren, and Ann Tatlock. The redeeming story of God’s pursuing love is the foundation of her novels, and in them you will find inspiration, hope, and gentle stories that are intriguing and entertaining. Jo is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for joining us, Jo!

May 10, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
7 Comments

The Story behind Mars…with Venus Rising by Hope Dougherty

Don’t you just love books with intriguing titles? I didn’t even have to read the synopsis of Hope Dougherty’s new book Mars…with Venus Rising before I wanted to pick it up. She’s going to share what inspired her to write it, but first, a little about the book to whet your appetite even more.

MarsWithVenusRising_w11898_300A meddling horse, paper bag floors and a flying saucer on the town square. The little town of Mars has it all—including a brand new resident who might spell heartache for one of its own.

Twenty-something Penn Davenport yearns for an exciting life in the big city and wants to shed the label of orphan that she’s worn for years. To achieve that dream, she must pass the CPA exam then move away from the two aunts who reared her after her parents died in a plane crash.

When John Townsend—full of life and the joy of living—moves to town, he rattles Penn’s view of herself, her life, and her dreams…which isn’t such a bad thing until she falls for him…and discovers he’s a pilot.

Hope, tell us what brought you to write this book.

When I wrote my first novel, Irish Encounter, I broke a lot of guidelines—setting the book in Ireland, having a forty-something widow as the protagonist—then discovered those kinds of manuscripts could be difficult sells.

For my second manuscript, I wanted a twenty-something United States citizen, like the ones found in a particular line I liked to read.  

For almost fourteen years, we lived near an intriguing town in western Pennsylvania called Mars. So, I had my American location and my title, Love Finds You in…Mars, PA.

Mars is a cool place complete with a flying saucer planted in the middle of town. The residents are called Martians. The ball teams’ mascots are the Planets.

Being a Southerner means I have plenty of interesting friends and relatives, and I’ve heard plenty of crazy stories, like selling socks to finance a coast to coast vacation, burying heavy equipment for revenge (not my relatives), and making Jell-O cakes. Add my Southern roots to zany tidbits from Mars, temper crazy into quirky, and I had my tone.

From there, I focused on the characters. To discourage friends from thinking I’m Penn Davenport, I made her my opposite. She teaches math and studies to become an accountant.

Reared by her great aunts after her parents died in a plane crash, Penn struggles with belonging and lives her life quietly and safely. John Townsend, a live-life-with-gusto freelance writer and pilot who’s new in town, nudges her out of her comfort zone.

So I had location, tone, characters, and a target publisher, right?

Not exactly.

During the summer that I wrote my rough draft, my target publisher unfortunately closed. Undeterred, I changed the title to Mars…With Venus Rising and kept writing.

That’s the big story of how Mars came to be. Smaller pieces fell into place as I prayed and wrote and wrote and prayed.

Much of writing is a mystery to me. I have an idea. I pray, and God delivers—like He does in all things.

 

Amen, Hope, amen.

Hope DoughertyHope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. A member of ACFW, RWA and SinC, she writes for Almost an Author. Before writing novels, she published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with children to writing apprehension. She follows the Pittsburgh Steelers, ACC basketball, and Army West Point Football. Hope and her husband, Kevin, live in North Carolina and chat with their two daughters and twin sons through ooVoo. Her debut novel, Irish Encounter, is partially set in Ireland. Her second one, Mars…With Venus Rising, is published with Pelican Book Group.

http://hopetolerdougherty.com/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 6, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
5 Comments

The Story behind the Amish Firefighter by Laura Hilton

I’ve known Laura Hilton for a long time now, and I’m pleased to welcome her here this week. She is a multi-published author of Amish stories, and her latest release is the Amish Firefighter.  Here’s a little bit about the book:

AmishFirefighter coverA Beautiful Young Woman Banished from Home
Abigail Stutzman thought it was bad enough being dropped at the nearest bus station and sent to live several states away with some relatives she’d never heard about, much less met. But now, just a week after her arrival in Jamesport, Missouri, she finds herself at the scene of a barn fire. An intentional barn fire. And all fingers are pointed at her. She’s desperate to prove her innocence and protect her reputation, but nobody’s making that easy to do. And God certainly doesn’t seem willing to help.

A Brave Firefighter with an Agenda of His Own
Sam Miller is in the process of turning over a new leaf. Determined to atone for the follies of his past, he is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a doctor–in–training. When local barn fires escalate, everyone suspects arson. And since the Miller family are among the victims, no one is more determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice than Sam.

A Kindled Flame Neither One Could Have Anticipated
When their paths first cross, at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warmth of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or extinguish. And they’ll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno.

Welcome, Laura.

The premise is very intriguing. Why did you decide to write about an Amish firefighter?

I saw a picture of an Amish man fighting fires with Englisch firefighters and it intrigued me. When I started researching it, I discovered that many Amish volunteer as firefighters and even serve as EMTs or paramedics.

You’ve written quite a few Amish books. What draws you to them?   I love contemporary romance and Amish. Writing a combination of the two is wonderful. Plus my maternal grandparents left the Amish, so it is kind of discovering my roots.

Has the Amish community received your books well? Are they willing to help you with research?

I don’t know any Amish that have actually read my books – well, I know some who have, because my husband’s aunt loans them some. And one of the ladies makes homemade cards to give me on occasion.  But yes, they are willing to help me with research.

What makes Amish books so popular?

I think because a lot of people are fascinated by the Amish, the “simple life” and their ability to “remain separate” in this world.

What else do you have in the works?

Well, I can’t mention titles, since I’ve only kept four of the titles I’ve come up with so far and I don’t know if they will keep my titles yet or rename them. But I have a book releasing in the fall of 2016, spring of 2017, and fall of 2017.   The one in the fall will be the closest I ever will come to telling my family’s story—and it was hard to write. The spring one I’m writing now is much easier!

Laura HiltonAward winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as the Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard, and The Birdhouse. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. Laura is contracted for another three book Amish series set in the Jamesport area, with the first book, The Amish Firefighter releasing in May 2016, followed by two more Amish books and a Christmas story releasing in Fall 2016, Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 respectively.

She has self-published a Christmas novella, Christmas Mittens.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer and blogs for Putting on the New and Seriously Write.

http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q
visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/
twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/

Purchase my books:
Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q
CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=laura+hilton&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/laura-hilton?store=allproducts&keyword=laura+hilton
Deeper Shopping http://www.deepershopping.com/index.php?query=laura+hilton&x=0&y=0&module=productsearch&_logmode=Y&querymodule=SPX

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for joining us, Laura!

April 29, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
1 Comment

The Story behind The Crux of Honor by Paula Mowery

LoveIs_CruxofHonor copyPlease join me in welcoming author Paula Mowery to the blog this week. She has an interesting new release with a great story behind it. And, she’s giving away an ebook copy of it. Read the interview and scroll down for your chance to win.

Here’s a little more about the book.

Chelsea Wilson’s life is a constant reminder of what living dishonorably looks like. At every turn she continues to prove her mother’s shunning must be deserved.

Dr. Kevin Alley returns to the old home place to establish his medical practice. After running into Chelsea, he knows his love for her is still strong.

Chelsea is ousted from her small rented room when her mother bursts in, proclaiming Chelsea’s pregnancy.

Kevin takes Chelsea in, giving her space to live on the upper level of his house.

When Chelsea’s baby displays life-threatening symptoms, Chelsea must face her mother. Secrets unfold about Chelsea’s parents. Can Chelsea and Kevin uncover the secrets linked to Amish heritage in time to save the baby? Can the two find love together despite their history?

  1. What led you to write a book that involved the Amish community?

My husband’s first church to pastor out of seminary was in Southern Maryland. We found ourselves very near an Amish community. On our way to different places we would ride through the roads their houses and land were on. I was fascinated with their way of life. We discovered that the Amish had a market on Saturdays. We would stroll around and purchase many of their goods and produce. When life becomes hectic, I often think on the simple life the Amish portrayed. Theirs wasn’t an easy life by any means. I had watched small Amish men plow with those huge horses. But things didn’t seem so complicated. I also respected the way they helped each other. I remember an incident where an Amish man was killed. The neighbors stood in the yard of the family’s home in silence and respect. When a family needed a house or a barn, the whole community came together and built what was needed. That was so appealing to me having lived in places where I never even knew my neighbors. And in this area of Maryland, it seemed that the Amish and the Englisch had found a way to live side by side harmoniously.

  1. Why did you include a crisis pregnancy in the story?

My church association has its own pregnancy crisis center. I was asked to be the devotional leader which I did for about a year and a half. I have such respect for the women who run this ministry. They show the unconditional love of God in every way.

  1. What do you hope your readers get from the book?

As stated above, I hope readers experience the unconditional love available from God. My parents modeled God’s love for me, so it wasn’t difficult for me to believe that He could love me that way. But not everyone has had His love modeled for them. No matter how you may have been treated by those who should have loved you, God loves you with no strings and no grudges.

  1. Why did you want to become an author?

Becoming an author was a calling I received from God. There are messages He has for me to share through my writing. Nothing is more thrilling than for God to inspire my stories and then have them touch readers for His glory.

  1. What else do you have in the works?

Right now I am writing a sequel to my Christian romantic suspense which released in September of 2015 called For Our Good. The sequel is tentatively called Face in the Mirror.

I also taught a class at last year’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference about writing devotions. We culminated that class by writing a devotional for Christian writers from Christian writers. This devotional was contracted and is set to release on April 19. The publisher wants to do another one, so I am thrilled to be returning to the conference to teach this class again.

I’ve also been busy working on a pilot program, encouraging kids to write. This program is called TAG – Tomorrow’s Author Guild.

Paula Mowery

Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. Be The Blessing won the Selah Award in 2014 in the novella category. In November of 2013 her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. This book went to number five on Amazon’s bestseller category, historical Christian romance. Legacy and Love was her first solo romance and was a finalist in the Carolyn Readers Choice Awards in 2015. Her other titles include a Christian romantic suspense called For Our Good, a Christmas romance called Love Again, and a romance inspired from the Love Chapter called The Crux of Honor.

Reviewers of her writing characterize it as “thundering with emotion.” Her articles have appeared in Woman’s World, The Christian Online Magazine, and the multi-author devotional blogs, Full Flavored Living and Putting on the New. She wrote a section for Join the Insanity by Rhonda Rhea. She has devotionals included in several collaborative books.

Having been an avid reader of Christian fiction, she now puts that love to use by writing book reviews. She is a member of ACFW and also on the faculty for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Paula is a pastor’s wife and mom to a college student. She homeschooled her daughter through all twelve years, and they both lived to tell about it. Before educating her daughter at home, she was an English teacher in public school.

Learn more about Paula at her blog as well as find other links to connect with her at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for joining us, Paula!

April 22, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
7 Comments

The Story behind What Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis

Welcome today to Mary Ellis, who shares with us a fun detail about the true hotel which inspired her latest novel, What Happened on Beale Street.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

What Happened on Beale StreetA cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from New Orleans to Memphis, the home of scrumptious barbecue and soulful blues music. When they arrive at Danny Andre’s last known address, they discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the former choirboy they fondly remember.

Danny’s sister, Isabelle, reluctantly accepts their help. She and Nate aren’t on the best of terms due to a complicated past, yet they will have to get beyond that if they want to save Danny.

On top of Danny’s alarming disappearance and his troubled relationship with Isabelle, Nate also has to rein in his favorite cousin’s overzealousness as a new and eager PI. Confronted with a possible murder, mystery, and mayhem in the land of the Delta blues, Nate must rely on his faith and investigative experience to keep one or more of them from getting killed.

Welcome, Mary. Tell us a little bit about the location that sparked your story.

Location, location, location…those are the watch words when selecting investment real estate, a vacation destination, or a good place to retire. Mystery writers know that setting is also crucial to a story. For my latest romantic suspense, What Happened on Beale Street, I chose the opulent Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. When two detectives arrived to investigate the death of a friend, they chose a hotel in the heart of the blues music scene. I visited the Peabody several times and stayed once during research. Although I renamed the Peabody to the Carlton since I liberally changed details to suit the story, this historic landmark offered inspiration on many levels. Their hundred-plus years in business have produced plenty of intriguing vignettes, and sparked my fictional subplot about hidden jewels, missing for fifty years. While a guest at the Peabody I took the concierge’s tour and learned plenty about the fountain, a veritable masterpiece in marble.

peabody lobbyBut truly the Peabody’s premier attraction is their resident ducks, which spend afternoons in the fountain and off-camera hours in the rooftop Duck Palace (also accessible to tourists.) Twice a day the tuxedoed Duck Master marches his mallards from the palace into the elevator. With great fanfare at the precise hour, the elevator door opens and the ducks march down the red carpet, up a ramp, and into the fountain—all to the cheers and applause of a multitude of fans. In the late afternoon, the march repeats in reverse after the ducks finish their workday. I was lucky enough to observe a duck-flock marching in single file with soldierly precision to the Duck Master’s commands. On another occasion, I viewed a new batch of trainees and saw a different show indeed. (Ducks remain for a short period and are then returned to the wild.) When the elevator doors opened the Duck Master herded a squawky, rambunctious pack down the red carpet who definitely hadn’t grasped the concept of single file. What an entertaining show! Although there’s no need to hunt for missing diamonds since my story is pure fiction, the Peabody Hotel in downtown is one of America’s must-see landmarks. Whether for a romantic getaway or a quick stop to see the famous ducks, you may just find your own brand of inspiration.

 

Wow, Mary, how interesting! Thanks for sharing with us.

Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, What Happened on Beale Street, is second of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

Mary is also giving away a copy of the book. Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks again!

April 19, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
11 Comments

The Story behind Bachelor Girls’ Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Welcome to Rachel McMillan, with a very fun-sounding title to her new book. Here’s a little about the book:

Bachelor Girl's Guide to MurderIn 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever–if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

Rachel, tell us about your research into Toronto in 1910.

Perhaps my favourite part about writing the Herringford and Watts series was the opportunity to fall in love with Toronto in a new way. When I was a kid living in small-town Orillia, Ontario, I lived for trips to the city with my family. I loved the way that the skyscrapers winked down at me at night and I loved the fact that there was always something going on. It didn’t shut down and sleep. There were always people moving, the subway whirring, the street – cars rumbling and music from buskers on street corners. I knew someday I wanted to be a part of it all.

When I moved to Toronto to study at University, I fell more deeply in love. One night, Maureen Jennings (one of my favourite mystery writers) gave a talk on Detective William Murdoch’s Toronto at the lovely old Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in the Corktown neighbourhood. Was I ever excited to be in the same room as one of my favourite authors and to get a book signed! Murdoch’s fictional Victorian investigations came alive with the pictures she brought showing early forensic deduction, workhouses and the poor conditions afforded immigrants, women and children of lesser means. While I definitely harboured a passion for Toronto history prior to that evening, it changed the way I looked at the city. While the Murdoch mystery books always had me excitedly recognizing neighbourhoods familiar to me in their Victorian counterpart, I now went out of my way to read more historical plaques and stop and stare more at each building.

When I decided to write the Herringford and Watts series, my first inclination was to explore Victorian Toronto — keeping in the theme of the Sherlockian influence. By this time, however, William Murdoch had made quite the name for himself world-wide thanks to a popular miniseries and then a popular television show. In America, his adventures are called The Artful Detective. Victorian Toronto already had a wonderful detective and his stories. So, I tipped my bowler at his influence and set to researching the Edwardian period instead. What I found therein was a goldmine of progress and change—especially for women and immigrants.

I count myself so fortunate to be able to write about the city in which I live and work. I often joke that Toronto is the one true love of my life. I hope you get a chance to visit someday.

Complete list of William Murdoch books: https://www.goodreads.com/series/43586-detective-murdoch

Sounds like a great read! Maybe a few of us will make it there one of these days.

Rachel McMillanRachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.

www.a-fair-substitute-for-heaven.blogspot.com

Rachel has been gracious enough to offer to give away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for joining us, Rachel!

April 15, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
4 Comments

The Story behind Sofi’s Bridge by Christine Lindsay

Today, we welcome Christine Lindsay to the Story behind the Story. The research she did for her new release, Sofi’s Bridge is just fascinating. First, here’s a little bit about the book.

SofisBridge_w11814_750Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener, continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

Christine, tell us a little bit about your research into this book.

A nasty storm really can blow a steel bridge down and crumple it like tinfoil.

For Sofi’s Bridge I enjoyed researching train disasters. The Tay Bridge tragedy in Dundee Scotland 1879 was a sad one, but full of great details that helped develop the mystery in my novel. The noted Sir Thomas Bouch designed the bridge that would cross the deep watery span of the Firth of Fourth, a good 2.75 miles wide.

Bouch had success with this design for a viaduct in Wales, and the lattice girders, cast iron columns, and wrought iron cross bracings were as good a quality as was used to build the Crystal Palace in England. Looking back through, after the tragedy, the designer’s math was faulty. No one the night of the storm thought they would soon lose a train of 6 cars and the 75 lives on board.

The bridge seemed fine when it first opened in 1878, and a year later Queen Victoria crossed the bridge on her way home to England after her summer holidays at Balmoral Castle. But a mere 6 months later, winds in Dundee rose to 75 mph, gusting to 80 mph, and blew directly at right angles with the bridge.

At 7:13 the train slowed to enter the bridge and then built up speed to cross the almost 3 mile span of water. The signalman at the far-off bridge abutment saw the train enter the bridge, but after a while, with the howl of the gale and the distance with the train so far out on the long spanning bridge, the signal man could no longer hear the train. For a brief moment he though he saw a bright flash of light when the train was close to the middle of the waterway. Then total darkness.

A while later, the signal man could not believe reports that the train had not arrived on the other side of the bridge. Divers later discovered the train was still encased with the girders in the depths of the Firth of Fourth.

The wind, plus the train, equaled the collapse of the Tay Bridge. This mathematical dilemma is the foundation to some of the mystery in Sofi’s Bridge.

Investigations into the Tay Bridge disaster discovered a number of overall structure issues, but the greatest element was that the designer had not considered the extra weight of wind-loading.  The bridge had been designed against a wind loading of 20 pounds per square foot (psf), the usual margin of safety for this era. However, the designer had not made allowances for extra wind loading like that of the storm of December 1878 which was more like 40 psf.

Here is a short scene in Sofi’s Bridge where she attempts to show this math to the townspeople in the fictional town of Orchard.

~*~

A councilman set up the easel, and Mayor Frank smiled as he passed a piece of chalk to Sofi.

Taking a deep breath, she swept her arm and drew a strong, fluid arc across the board. Quickly sketching in the steep cliff sides, she added the triangular shapes of trusses, and the bridge came to life. With short jabs of chalk, she marked crisscrosses at various sections. “Here, gentlemen, is where the steel is too thin. This will escalate stress in these thinner sections.” She wrote a series of formulas on the side of the board and underscored them.

“It’s not just the dead load of its own weight that the bridge must sustain, but the tonnage of locomotives. Plus, the wind shear factor in these canyons will slam against the flat sides of railcars, acting in a similar manner as wind filling canvas sails on the surface of water—”

“How strong were the winds today?” One of the railroad dignitaries asked.

“Forty miles per hour,” another man volunteered.

“Which means the wind shear factor is…” Sofi scratched the chalk on the board and ran the calculation. “Which means on days like today.” She quieted her voice. “The bridge as it now stands will collapse. Maybe not today, but one day. Lives could be lost.”

To Read the first chapter of Sofi’s Bridge for free click HERE.

ChristineLindsayChristine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning trilogy Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.

Christine’s Irish wit and use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming and newest release Sofi’s Bridge. A busy writer and speaker, Christine and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. Coming August 2016 is the release of Christine’s non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Please drop by Christine’s website www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon on Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook, and  Goodreads

Christine is giving away an ebook copy of Sofi’s Bridge. Follow the directions below to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for joining us, Christine!

 

April 12, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
5 Comments

The Story behind Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink

This next story behind the story is so cute! You have to love a book with a dog on the cover. And a dog who plays matchmaker. Here’s a little bit about Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink.

Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work school teaSit Stay Lovecher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson in love…Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…

Welcome, Dana. Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write Sit, Stay, Love.

I realized my writing was going to the dogs when I started writing both a K-9 continuity series for Love Inspired Suspense and a dog-themed lighthearted romance for Harvest House simultaneously. For one, I was busily researching the amazing abilities of the bloodhound, and for the other, getting familiar with doxie antics. Both endeavors were put on hold when real life intruded. My beloved Nala, my neurotic, gentle-hearted canine companion of thirteen years passed away. Our collective hearts were broken and it was painful to continue to write about these various fictional dogs. The book Sit, Stay, Love was especially hard, since Tippy, the star of that book, is a thirteen-year-old mutt. Tippy is actually based on a real dog who was rescued by the Muttville group, a nonprofit based here in San Francisco which finds homes for senior dogs. Part of the proceeds from the book will go to this fine organization.

In the writing of that book, I was able to explore more deeply, more poignantly, the unconditional love of a dog, as I remembered the absolute devotion of my sweet Nala. As the book went to print, I was finally able to think about getting another dog. We adopted Junie, the doxie terrier mix who is nothing like Nala, but has somehow wound her way around my heart. Junie is a ball of energy, confident, eager to explore the world, and filled with joy. It’s no coincidence that the third book in the Harvest House series will feature a mischievous cutie pie terrier named Jellybean!

 I’m happy to give away a copy of Sit, Stay, Love. I hope you will fall in love with Tippy. I know I did!

Thanks so much for joining us, Dana. And for giving away a copy of what sounds like a really fun book. Scroll down for your chance to enter.

Dana MentinkDana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner. She is the author of over thirty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and she has also been honored with a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and Harlequin Heartwarming. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to enter!

April 5, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
3 Comments

The Story behind If I Run by Terri Blackstock

Sooo very excited to have Terri Blackstock with us! I’ve had the opportunity to meet her, and she’s a sweet, gracious lady. I don’t know where all these suspenseful books come from. My mom has just discovered her and found she loves her books.

She has a new release, If I Run. Here’s a little blurb about it:

If I Run PKCasey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truthThat’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

So, Terri, what inspired you to write If I Run?

I am a big fan of the movie The Fugitive, in which Harrison Ford plays the character Dr. Richard Kimble, who’s wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, and escapes from prison to find the real killer—the infamous one-armed man. I also grew up watching re-runs of “The Fugitive” TV series starring David Janssen. I’ve always loved the elements of that plot that kept viewers on the edge of their seats. I think that premise was the launch pad for If I Run. I wanted to explore having a young, female fugitive running from a murder rap, and a heroic, but troubled, detective chasing her across the country.

As Casey Cox was born in my mind, I pictured this twenty-five-year-old woman finding her best friend murdered, then stumbling around the crime scene in shock, leaving indisputable DNA. I pictured her doing the opposite of what most of us would do. Instead of calling the police, she decides to run. She’s certain that she’s been framed for the homicide, and she believes that she won’t simply go to prison, but she’ll be the next to be murdered if she’s caught.

But since I write Christian novels, I was faced with a dilemma. Would my readers forgive me if I created a character who breaks multiple laws and flees from prosecution? I decided to make her an unbeliever with a value system different from that of a believer, and everything in her past drives her to do what she does. I’m hoping readers will go on this ride with me and allow Casey to be who she is—a person who has nowhere to turn since she doubts the existence of a Creator … until she can no longer ignore the way God works in her life.

The detective contracted to chase her across the country is a PTSD victim who’s recently been discharged from the Army, where he worked in the Criminal Investigation Division. I wanted him to be a man who leans heavily on his faith, but who can’t seem to overcome the PTSD that’s disrupting his life. He’s had trouble getting a job, but he’s contracted to go after Casey since the police department doesn’t have the resources to do it. He believes that bringing her back will prove that he’s up to the job, and that it might result in a permanent job.

Even though Dylan is Casey’s nemesis, I wanted their lives to intersect in a personal way. Dylan learns all he can about Casey’s past, and when he finds out that she discovered her father’s dead body when she was twelve—and that it was ruled a suicide—he begins to wonder if she has PTSD as well. Their common affliction becomes a point of common ground between them, and as he learns more about her, he discovers they’re more alike than he thought. And he wonders if she’s really a killer at all, or simply another victim.

Buy the book at the retailer of your choice here: http://www.terriblackstock.com/books/if-i-run/

Terri Blackstock PKTerri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over seven million copies sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. Her most recent suspense novel is If I Run, about a young female fugitive whose being accused of a heinous murder.  Other books include Truth Stained Lies (the Moonlighters Series), Intervention (the Intervention Series), and Last Light (the Restoration Series). See the complete list of Terri’s books at www.terriblackstock.com/books. Join her at Facebook (www.facebook.com/tblackstock) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/TerriBlackstock).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for joining us, Terri!