Thursday, January 18, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Author Terrie Todd

Talkshow Thursday: Author Terrie Todd

I discovered Terrie Todd's first book, The Silver Suitcase when it first came out. I was drawn to the story because it was set during WWII, my favorite era about which to read and write. Since then she has come out with two more books, Bleak Landing the most recent. Grab a "cuppa" and get to know this interesting lady.

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. I loved your first two books, and recently discovered that you’ve published a third, Bleak Landing. I can’t wait to read it. 

Here's the book blurb: In the dead-end Canadian town of Bleak Landing, twelve year old Irish immigrant Bridget O'Sullivan lives in a ramshackle house and dreams of another life, even as The Great Depression rages. Routinely beaten by her father and bullied by schoolmate Victor Harrison, the waifish but fiery redhead vows to run away and never return. Just a few short years later, run she does-fleeing the unspeakable repercussions of her father's gambling. In Winnipeg, Bridget lands a job in a garment factory, the first step in her journey to shed her past and begin anew.

When her father dies, Bridget-now a striking and accomplished woman-returns home to claim her inheritance. But she has no identification to prove her stake, and no one in town recognizes her-except Victor, who has become a pastor and a candidate for town mayor. Though war has wounded him, his secret affection for Bridget remains, and now he's the only one who can help her prove her integrity. But can he also prove he's a changed man worthy of her forgiveness?

As Victor preaches of freedom in faith, will his words spark Bridget's once-hopeless heart and lead her to the life she's been seeking?

Where did you find your inspiration for this story?

Terrie: Thanks so much for inviting me, Linda! Bleak Landing began with a mental image of a young girl locked in an outhouse on a hot day during the Great Depression and went from there. Parts of the story were also influenced by Downton Abbey, even though my story is set a few years later and in Canada, not Great Britain!

LM: The age old question for writers – are you a planner or a “panster,” and what is your favorite part of the writing process?

Terrie: Definitely a pantster. When I try to plot it out, I either lose interest because I already know what happens, or I deviate so much my original plan is unrecognizable.
My favorite part is the editing. Laying out that first draft is grueling, and makes me feel like a cotton headed ninny muggins. But once that’s down and I’ve got some feedback from others—especially after the professional editors get their hands on it—I love making improvements and polishing the story.

LM: You write historical fiction which requires an extra layer of research to ensure accuracy about the era. How did you go about researching Bleak Landing and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information? 


Terrie: Having done two previous historicals (The Silver Suitcase and Maggie’s War), I was able to use some of the research from those. I loved working in some little-known tidbits like “IF Day” in Winnipeg during the war, and the visit of the king and queen in 1939. My editors at Waterfall Press were also brilliant at fact-checking and caught some of my errors, such as my reference to the Hudson Bay Company (it’s actually the Hudson’s Bay Company, even though the body of water is called Hudson Bay! Who knew?)

LM: How did you get started as a writer, and how did you decide to seek publication?

Terrie: I first realized I might have a knack for writing when people began telling me how much they looked forward to our family Christmas newsletters. For years, I was the drama director at my church and wrote numerous plays and sketches for the team, some of which were later published. I began writing my first novel in 2009, the year I turned 50, just to see if I could.

The road to publication was long and littered with “close, but no cigar” results in contests. While I waited and learned more about the industry and studied the craft, I took on a weekly “faith and humor” column in our local newspaper. Six-plus years of column-writing has taught me much about meeting deadlines, connecting with readers, and writing tight. I also sold a couple of plays and eight Chicken Soup for the Soul stories during that time.

When my first novel finaled in the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest two years in a row, it drew the attention of an agent (Jessica Kirkland) who signed me and eventually sold the book to Waterfall…who then published my next two books as well.

LM: You live in a beautiful area of the world, a place many people visit. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?

Terrie: At the risk of sounding cliché, I can’t imagine anything better than escaping a cold Canadian January to lie on a warm beach in Hawaii or Jamaica. So far, imagining it is all I’ve managed.

LM: What is your next project?

Terrie: I just finished the first draft of another historical called April’s Promise. Here’s the tag line:
One Secret. Three Sisters. One longs with all her heart to know the truth. One simply wants the truth to go away. And one is desperate to keep the truth hidden forever.

Waterfall Press has discontinued its fiction line, so my agent is in the process of finding us a new publisher for this fourth book.


LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Terrie: 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wartime Wednesday: The Girl Scouts During WWII

Wartime Wednesday: The Girl Scouts During WWII

First I was a Brownie, then a Girl Scout through eighth grade. I had excellent leaders and made happy memories during my time in the Scouting ranks. I earned my fair share of badges and gained prowess in many areas. Founded in March 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, the organization’s mission was to build character through community service, outdoor activities, and homemaking skills.

With service being an integral part of the Girl Scout’s credo, they were active in myriad ways on the World War II home front. Like most Americans, the girls created Victory gardens, collected scrap metal and fat, and sold war bonds. However, they also collected over one million articles of clothing for refugees, and some of the girls worked as farm aides while others served as bicycle couriers.

In 1942, the Senior-level girls started a hospital aide program. Tasks included performing clerical work, assisting patients with eating, and making beds. Another interesting project they were responsible for was the Defense Institute that was geared toward teaching survival skills and ways to comfort children during possible air raids.

With rationing in full force by 1944, the Girl Scouts set aside their famous cookies to sell calendars. Also mindful of the shortage of fabric and sewing notions, the uniform was changed from a zippered bodice to one that buttoned. In honor of the group’s founder, the one hundred and first Liberty ship was given the name S.S. Juliette Low and launched in Savannah, GA on May 12, 1944. Christened by Ms. Low’s niece Margaret Gordon, the ship was operated by the South Atlantic Steamship Line and carried cargo for the British, Lend Lease, and U.S. Army in nearly all wartime theaters of operation. Ms. Low would no doubt be pleased to know the ship served with distinction until being scuttled in 1972.

Were you ever part of the Scouts or other girl’s organization?


Monday, January 15, 2018

Mystery Monday: Detection Club Member Gladys Mitchell

Mystery Monday: Detection Club Member Gladys Mitchell

Although author Gladys Mitchell wrote nearly ninety novels (Including eleven under two different pseudonyms), her work has been forgotten by most readers. Born in England on April 21, 1901, she became an English and history teacher. Publishing her first novel, Speedy Death, in 1929, she was a prolific writer, issuing at least one book per year. Despite her success as an author, she continue to teach until 1961 when she retired. She continued writing until her death at aged 82.

Sixty-six of Mitchell’s books feature Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, a “modern woman” who held a distinguished academic career. Her biography is rather convoluted and inconsistent (Keeping track of characters can be difficult. I can’t imagine doing it for that many books!). Mrs. Bradley was married twice, and perhaps a third time. She had at least two sons and perhaps more. A highly intelligent woman, she received numerous degrees. Using her prodigious knowledge to solve crimes, she is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes.

Mitchell wrote a series of historical novels under the name Stephen Hockaby and a series featuring architect Timothy Herring under the name Malcolm Torrie. She also published ten children’s books under her own name.

The Detection Club was founded in 1930 by a group of British mystery writers, and Gladys Mitchell was an early member. The club included such legendary authors as G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christy, and Dorothy Sayers.


Two of her books were adapted for radio in the early 1990s, and in 1999 Diana Rigg took the role for the BBC series Mrs. Bradley Mysteries. Most of her books are out of print, but can be obtained through Amazon as ebooks. Better yet, check your local library for one of the gems.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Blog Tour: A Song Unheard

Blog Tour: A Song Unheard


About the Book

  

Title: A Song Unheard  
Author: Roseanna M. White  
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction  
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales. Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe. But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Having read A Name Unknown, I looked forward to its sequel A Song Unheard. The writing is up to Ms. White’s usual standards: realistic dialogue, and vivid description that puts me deep into the hearts and minds of the characters and on the streets of WWI Europe. However, in an effort to bring readers who have not read book one up to speed, the first several chapters are filled with backstory which I found tedious. Willa’s childhood seems much the same as Rosemary’s (the protagonist in book one) that the beginning of the book feels repetitive. The plot is intriguing, and I enjoyed finding out that it is based on real characters. I love when fiction makes me want to learn more about real people and events. Willa and Lukas are endearing characters, ones who will stay with me for a long time. Their strengths and vulnerabilities make me examine my own life. I love Willa’s relationship with her brother, Barclay. Their snappy dialogue is fun and made me laugh out loud on several occasions. The tension and pace are ratcheted up in the last third of the story, and I set everything aside to finish the book.

I received this book for free from CelebrateLit Publicity, and a positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.

About the Author



Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.


Guest post from Roseanna White

I started playing the piano when I was 7. I didn’t discover any long-dormant genius or anything, but I liked it. When my sister quit, I kept playing. In middle school, I switched teachers, and moving from the lady at my church that I knew so well to someone who was just my piano teacher made a difference in how I applied myself. It deepened my love of music. We all know how some random moments stand out forever in our memory. One such for me happened on the school bus. I was sitting with my best friend, talking about the new piano piece I was learning. “Via Delorosa” means Road of Sorrow, and it’s a song that tells musically about Jesus’ journey to Golgotha—ending with the faint chime of the nails being driven into his palms. As my beloved Mrs. Peto went through this song with me the night before, I remember her circling a D♯ that I’d missed and saying how important that note was. That it made the whole line weep. That it would make the hearers weep. An epiphany so huge I had to share it with my friend. A well placed sharp could make music weep! Who knew? That was but one lesson Mrs. Peto taught me in how music could evoke things words never could. A woman of strong faith, she also taught me how a song could preach the Gospel. Music can be medicine. It can be hope. It can be tears. It can be truth. Music can be Jesus to a hurting heart that turns its back on words. This is a lesson I never forgot, and I had it always in mind as I was writing A Song Unheard. In this story, both my hero and heroine are musicians—violinists. But Willa (who is SO STUBBORN) wouldn’t listen to words of faith from any of the people in her life “suddenly spouting such nonsense.” But then, in her darkest hour, she hears a slip of melody. And she realizes it’s the Lord. I pray as readers move through the story of Willa Forsythe—violin prodigy and top-notch thief—that their spirits’ ears hear more than words, more than just a story. I pray they hear the Lord whispering that ultimate song. The one that says, “I love you.” Want to hear the song Willa eventually wrote in the book? You can! The violin music in this trailer is officially dubbed “Willa’s Song” and written specifically for this book. I hope you enjoy it! http://bit.ly/ASongUnheardTrailer

Blog Stops

Here are Roseanna's remaining blog stops:

January 11: Genesis 5020
January 11: Bookworm Mama
January 12: Blogging with Carol
January 12: Multifarious
January 13: Faithfully Bookish
January 13: Christian Bookaholic
January 13: Karen Sue Hadley
January 13: Mary Hake
January 13: A Greater Yes
January 14: Just the Write Escape
January 14: Texas-bookaholic
January 15: A Reader's Brain
January 15: Rachel's Backtalk
January 15: Smiling Book Reviews
January 15: Cordially Barbara
January 15: Pursuing Stacie
January 16: Kat's Corner Books
January 16: D's Quilts and Books
January 16: Big Reader Site
January 17: Mommynificent
January 17: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 17: Baker Kella
January 18: God's Little Bookworm
January 18: Allofakindmom
January 18: Inklings and Notions
January 19: Pause for Tales
January 19: Have a Wonderful Day
January 19: Just Commonly
January 19: Bibliophile Review
January 19: Janice's Book Reviews
January 20: Radiant Light
January 20: The Power of Words
January 20: Book by Book
January 20: CAC Devourer
January 20: Jeannette's Thoughts
January 21: Splashes of Joy
January 21: Neverending Stories
January 21: Faery Tales are Real
January 21: A Baker's Perspective
January 22: Margaret Kazmierczak
January 22: The PhD Mamma
January 22: Cafinated Reads
January 22: Daysong Reflections
January 23: Romances of the Cross
January 23: Purposeful Learning
January 23: Rachel Scott McDaniel
January 23: Carpe Diem
January 23: Simple Harvest Reads
January 24: Henry Happens
January 24: Joy of Reading
January 24: Telltale Book Reviews

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a Grand Prize Package of a signed copy of the book as well as a lovely album of soothing songs based on the Scriptures called Hidden in My Heart (winner’s choice of CD or digital download)!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c72a

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Traveling Tuesday: Ireland during WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Ireland during WWII

Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland declared a stance of neutrality during WWII. An interesting aside is that despite being part of the United Kingdom, the citizens of Northern Ireland were not subjected to conscription. The two countries dealt with their neutrality in different ways.

In the Republic, WWII is known as The Emergency, and the Council voted not to join either the Allies or the Axis Powers. Invasion by both England and Germany was prepared for, and normal government operations were suspended. There were several instances of German raids by aircraft that missed their intended British targets, and both the Allies and Axis Powers attacked Irish shipping fleets. However, the Republic remained neutral.

According to a variety of sources, extensive intelligence information was shared between the Allies and the Republic. Weather reports were regularly sent, and the invasion of Normandy was partially planned using information from the Irish. Downed Allied fliers were to be interned for the duration of the war, but many were allowed to escape. Some citizens favored fighting against the Axis, and as a result, more than 50,000 people served in the British military. Others wanted to side with Hitler in the hope that if Germany won, the British would be forced out, thus unifying the island. Wages were low and prices high. Cross-border smuggling and the black market flourished.


Concerned that siding with the Allies or the Axis could create another civil war, Northern Ireland chose to remain neutral. In the early days of the war, the country saw very little impact of the conflict. Rationing was minimal, they were left alone by the warring countries, and less than 40,000 of their sons and daughters enlisted in the military. Belfast was attacked in the April of 1941, but Northern Ireland maintained their position. However, they did allow American, British, and Canadian personnel to pass through the country as a staging area for various Allied campaigns.

Over the years, the Republic and Northern Ireland received criticism for the neutrality, but as with all governments they must decide what is best for their countries.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Award-winning Author Cathy Gohlke

Talkshow Thursday: 
Meet Award-winning Author Cathy Gohlke


I'm thrilled to welcome, Christy-award winning author, Cathy Gohlke to my blog. Her books are powerful, inspirational, and fascinating works of fiction. Draw up a chair and learn more about the story behind the story of her newest book, releasing this month.

1. What inspired you to write Until We Find Home?

Cathy: Alarmed by the plight of young refugees fleeing gangs in Mexico to cross United States borders, and heart heavy for victims and refugees worldwide who’ve suffered and continue to suffer under oppressive regimes, I looked for a moment in history to tell their tale as I wish it could play out.  I didn’t have to look far.


The Kindertransport of 1938-1940, brought 10,000 predominantly Jewish children to Great Britain for refuge from Nazi oppression.  Accounts abound of men and women who rescued children through resistance, often at great cost to themselves—even life itself.  But what happened next?  What happened when those children entered countries of refuge?  I wondered about the average person and what role they might have played once the children were out of immediate danger. . . and what role we might play in the world’s need today. 

2. The novel is set during WWII in England’s Lake District—not a location we typically think of in relation to the war.  What is unique to this location and why did you choose to set your novel there?

Cathy: England’s magnificent Lake District—breathtakingly beautiful and pristine—might seem an unlikely place to portray wartime life on the homefront.  In reality, the area portrayed just what might happen to an unsuspecting English village—a location that seemed safe and far from the maddening war.  Because of its apparent safety, the Sunderland Flying Boat Factory built an entire village—Calgarth—there to house its employees and manufacture its flying boats for the war effort.  

After the war, those empty buildings set amid the peaceful and beautiful Lake District became temporary homes for the Windermere Boys—over 300 children who had barely survived Nazi concentration camps in Europe and who were in desperate need of rest and restoration. Nearby Grizedale Hall became one of the first prisoner of war camps for German prisoners—particularly naval officers.  In Keswick, a nondescript pencil factory that had supplied the nations pencils for years, secretly created spy pencils during the war—pencils with hollow barrels in which tightly rolled maps were hidden to aid British aviators shot down over enemy territory.  In its eraser was a compass.

3. Can you tell us about the historical research that went into writing this novel?  Did you learn anything new that surprised you? 

Cathy: 

In 2014 I traveled to England and Scotland with my friend and writing colleague, Carrie Turansky, For me, we travelled to Windermere and the Lake District to research Beatrix Potter and her renown Hill Top Farm, the poetry and world of Wordsworth, and to learn just what happened to refugees and evacuees in the District during WWII.  
where we both did research for our book projects.

That was the travel portion of my research.  Internet investigations and the reading of books, old and new, continued for months.  Included in those books were wartime diaries, especially those compiled from Britain’s Mass Observation Project, day by day histories of the war waged against Britain, journals and letters from Beatrix Potter Heelis,  journals, letters and biographies of C. S. Lewis, the books and notes of C. S. Lewis, the history of Glencoe, biographies and history of Sylvia Beach and details of Shakespeare and Company, the American bookstore in Paris, studies of Europe’s child refugees housed in Britain, and so much more.  Perhaps the most fun was found in rereading childhood classics.

4. Is there one character whose experience you especially identify with or one whose story grew out of lessons you leaned in your own life? 

Cathy: I must give two here:

a. Claire’s ability to view life and relate through stories she’s loved and read is one that’s long been my own.  Her desire to be loved and belong, and her journey to knowing she is loved by our Lord—that only He can calm our restless spirits and give peace to our souls—is my own.
b. Miranda’s journey through grief and illness, and the desire the Lord creates and leads her to—to live with His grace—is reflective of my own journey through those dark valleys.

5. A major historical focus of the novel is the European Jewish children who were given refuge in Britain. What led you to focus on this specific aspect of WWII?

Cathy: 

Children everywhere hold a special place in my heart.  They are the most vulnerable, the least prepared physically or experientially to face war and the deprivation of home and family.  Jewish children in WWII Europe had absolutely no recourse or help when there parents were taken away.  The state did not support or help them.  It was up to compassionate individuals and citizen organized networks to step up to the plate, to help and protect those in need.  In many cases the people of Britain did that—by taking in their own evacuees and by taking in children from overseas.  Modest governmental financial assistance was available, though not everyone took advantage of that.  Sadly, not all children were treated well, but all adults had the opportunity to do something generous, something naturally heroic for those children. 

I very much wanted to show that while it can be difficult to peel back the reserves, the grief and fears and heartaches in our own adult lives in order to reach outward and embrace those in need, it is possible.  Not only is the journey possible, but it is blessed . . . blessed as we sacrifice, and blessed as we embrace a different life and a new family.  Stepping out of our comfort zones, shedding the shackles of all we’ve come to believe we need and must preserve, means simultaneously stepping into a freedom we didn’t know existed.

6. What did you learn through writing this novel, and what do you hope your readers will take away?

Cathy: I’ve learned in life and more fully in the writing of this story that letting go of fear, surrendering insecurity—which torments—to the Lord, is the path to freedom.  I’ve learned, just as the Scripture says, that “perfect love casts out fear.”  I hope recognition of the need to surrender, to let go of fear and to embrace the joy and freedom found in Christ is what readers take away.  I hope we all walk boldly into the future, whatever that future may call us to sacrifice or to embrace

7. What is your next project?

Cathy: I’m currently writing a WWII novel that begins in Warsaw, Poland—such a different wartime experience than that of any other occupied country. This story was inspired by two courageous people, some real life events discovered through multiple research and news sources, and a Facebook message from a friend, all on separate occasions.  It was as if the story was given to me piece by piece.  From the very beginning it was a story I’ve felt compelled to write.  It’s working title is The Medallion, and will release in 2019.

Cathy will be giving away a copy to one lucky winner who comments about today's post.