Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER:

I do not read every book/author I spotlight or book tour I host!
Readers, Please research and use wisdom before buying

Saturday, May 29, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Kathleen Marple Kalb & A Fatal First Night!

Good Morning!

Before we welcome today's guest I'd like to take a moment and THANK YOU!, ALL for your continued support. I'm forever amazed and humbled that you take a few moments out of your day to support my guests and wish you the best of luck and God's blessings in everything you do!

Kathleen is new to our blog and I'm so excited to meet her and introduce you to her! Take it away Kathleen....

Kathleen Marple Kalb grew up in front of a microphone, and a keyboard. She’s now a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS New York, capping a career begun as a teenage DJ in Brookville, Pennsylvania. She worked her way up through newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Vermont and Connecticut, developing her skills and a deep and abiding distaste for snowstorms. While she wrote her first (thankfully unpublished) historical novel at age sixteen, fiction was firmly in the past until her son started kindergarten and she tried again. She, her husband the Professor, and their son the Imp, live in a Connecticut house owned by their cat.

Find and Connect with her at the following Locations:

Wonderful to meet you Kathleen! Please tell us about your book... A Fatal First Night....


A FATAL FIRST NIGHT opens with a murder in Richard III’s dressing room after the premiere of the Ella Shane Opera Company’s new production, The Princes in the Tower, featuring the trouser diva and her favorite singing partner as the evil king’s young victims.  Though their colleague seems guilty, Ella and friends aren’t too sure about that. Meanwhile, newspaper reporter Hetty MacNaughten has finally escaped hats to cover a sensational murder trial. Before it’s over, the cast will have to sort out several interlocking mysteries, welcome an unexpected visitor…and find another Richard III. Will everyone survive to the final curtain? 

Excerpt

Ella already has enough on her hands with the new show, the backstage killing, and the murder trial her friend is covering -- when her British beau, Gilbert Saint Aubyn, Duke of Leith, appears unexpectedly at her home. They reunite with a fencing match, and over the swords, the topic very quickly turns to an unexpected embrace in their last misadventure:

“I am still, however, considering the appropriate response to that assault upon my honor, Miss Shane.”

“Really.” I almost missed the parry again at his direct reference to my pulling him into a kiss after I swung to safety. I still don’t know what came over me, other than playing the swashbuckling hero in the moment. Which, I guess, would make him the fair maiden. “Well, it was a truly terrible offense, Your Grace.” 

“Indeed. So awful an insult I haven’t been able to forget it.”

His voice was light and teasing, but his eyes burned into mine. The kiss, my first and only, had been entirely inappropriate and wrong, of course. But amazing.

“Ah.” I smiled a little and backed him off. “Well, I suppose I shall have to pay the price for my rash actions.”

“You could be facing a life sentence.”

“I’m not sure I want clemency.” Parry.

“What do you want, Shane?” Attack.

“What do you?”

I could have launched one more attack and cornered him, and he knew it. But the duel was now beside the point.

“Draw?” I offered.

“Someday, I will prevail.”

“Perhaps.”

We bowed and stood there for a long moment, eyes locked. My braid had come loose during the match, and he reached over and gently touched the falling curls, carefully pushing back a stray bit. His thumb rested on my cheekbone, the warmth of his skin soaking into mine, the electricity between us practically a wall of crackling blue fire…

Get A Fatal First Night through Kensington Books.

Sounds like an exciting tale, Kathleen! We certainly appreciate you sharing in the spotlight today and wish you good luck and God's blessings with your writing.

Hope you enjoyed the post, friends and that you'll check back weekly for another edition of Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God bless.
PamT

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

#WednesdayWordswithFriends Welcomes DJ Crino

Good Morning Friends,

Last year we did a post by Clarissa Rivera, Content Marketer at Taos Footwear on shoes. Today, DJ Crino shares some information with us on Finding Hobbies You Can Enjoy. But before we get to DJ, I'd like to THANK everyone who visited and commented on my birthday post last week. The Winners of My Heart Weeps & The Inheritance are...

Jean Maurie and Mary Preston!

Congratulations Ladies. I've emailed you and am awaiting your response to send your book. Now, let's get on with todays post....


Finding Hobbies You Can Enjoy with Your Partner

When you’re in a relationship with someone, one of the most important things you can do to strengthen your bond is find activities you can share together. When you have shared hobbies, it keeps you laughing, enjoying each other’s company, and growing as a couple. It gives you the chance to break out of your routines as well.

If you aren’t sure where to start, the following are some hobbies you can start trying with your partner now. It may take some time to find what you both like, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Walking, Running or Hiking

First, each of you should buy a pair of women’s supportive sneakers and men’s comfortable sneakers, and from there, get out and about on the greenways or trails of your community.

You might decide that you like power-walking together. It gives you the chance to talk and catch up, get your heart rate up and get some vitamin D while you’re at it. If you’re more athletic, you can also enjoy running together.

Think about setting a goal, like training for a mini-marathon.

If you live near somewhere with hiking trails, that’s another good option for couples. As you get more experienced at hiking, you can start to venture to more adventurous trails.

Tennis

Tennis is a great sport for couples of any age, and it’ll give you the chance to infuse friendly competition into your relationship. Plus, it promotes feel-good endorphins.

If you’re complete tennis newbies, you might take a few lessons first, as a couple, and go from there.

It’s also something that you can do with other couples if you’re up for a doubles match.

Cooking or Baking

Cooking as well as baking are things you can do indoors, regardless of what the weather is like outside. Cook recipes that are perhaps a bit more complex, so you can both share in the work.

Maybe you set aside one night a week where you pour a glass of wine, turn on music, and cook a fabulous meal.

You can try different types of food from around the world or step outside of your comfort zone with the things that you make.

Take a Class

You can take a class in-person or virtually on any topic that might interest both of you. Maybe it’s photography or a class on a particular type of history. You could learn a skill at the same time. You could even learn a new language.

Think about once you’ve both mastered enough of the language, rewarding yourselves with a trip to where it’s spoken. It’ll give you both a shared goal to work toward.

Whatever it is, learning together will keep you growing together and give you something new and exciting to talk about in your relationship.

Read the Same Book

Finally, why not create a book club with just the two of you? You can each read the same book at the same time and then discuss it. It’ll give you insight into how your partner’s thoughts and perspective might be similar to your own but also unique from yours.

There are a lot of things you can start doing today that will serve as a foundation for a great relationship.


Great information DJ, especially since many are still under some level of stay home Covid guidelines. Thanks for sharing.


Hope you enjoyed the post friends and that you'll check back weekly for Saturday Spotlight and Wednesday Words with Friends.

Until next time, take care and God Bless.

PamT

Saturday, May 22, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Erica Vetsch & The Indebted Earl!

Good Morning Friends,

I pray your week has been blessed. Lot's of areas in SW LA and our neighboring states have experienced wide-spread flooding and it's not over yet. Many here, locally have either just finished repairs after the two hurricanes of 2020 OR haven't even finished and now have flood damage. 

Your prayers are greatly appreciated for ALL those affected.

Today's guest is brand new to our blog. Brought to us by Audra Jennings PR, please welcome Erica Vetsch as she shares with us, her new novel, The Indebted Earl....

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man's grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

EXCERPT: 

Military Hospital
Oporto, Portugal
June 15, 1814

If it got any hotter, the Royal Navy would have to ship him home in a flask.

Captain Charles Wyvern dabbed the sweat from his temples with his already-soaked handkerchief as he entered the military hospital. What wouldn’t he give to be aboard his vessel, palms braced against the rail, taking the sea breeze full in the face?

Those days were still a fair bit off, but he would experience them again. He fisted his hand around the square of cloth, his mouth firming. It would take determination and patience, but those he had in abundance.

First he must recover fully from his wounds, get to London, and finally appeal to the Admiralty to give him another command. Formidable tasks, but he was making progress on the first one, at least. Charles entered the ward where he had so recently been a patient, and halfway down the crowded row of billets he found the bed he sought.

Guilt settled like a twelve-pounder in his gut as he inhaled the cloying scents of orange blossoms and dust, carbolic and sweat. Though he had been discharged nearly a week ago to complete his recuperation in the officers’ quarters in Oporto, Charles faithfully returned to the hospital every day to attend his friend Major Richardson. For weeks they had lain side by side, sharing the miseries and camaraderie of military hospital life. Major Richardson had led the Royal Marines aboard Charles’s last command.

But each had been tacking on a different course since arriving at the hospital. As Charles had improved, Richardson had declined. Again Charles felt the sinking weight of guilt. It was his fault Rich was here at all. If only he hadn’t been complacent, had followed through on protocols, most likely neither would have been injured and Rich wouldn’t now be dying.

He reached Richardson’s cot and pulled up a chair. The young officer’s hollow cheeks, his taut, yellowed skin, and the way his body seemed sunken into the bedding all spoke of his waning condition. The chair creaked as Charles sat, and Richardson stirred, his eyes fluttering open.

“How are you faring today, Rich?” Charles kept his voice quiet. The way his comrade looked, even a whisper might cause him pain.

“Still here, Captain.”

The rasp in his throat had Charles reaching for the water pitcher, and he dipped the corner of a towel into the water and let a few drops dribble into Rich’s mouth. Charles smiled that Rich, though given permission weeks ago, couldn’t quite bring himself to call his captain by his first name. It wouldn’t be proper, he’d said. He wouldn’t want anyone to think he was trading on their friendship and treating the captain cavalierly.

“Thank you.” A weak smile touched Rich’s cracked lips.

“What else can I do for you?” Charles didn’t wait for Rich to ask, easing him up in order to flip his pillow. Though the coolness wouldn’t last, it had to feel better for a while.

Rich grimaced as he lay flat again. “How are you, sir?” His voice was as thin as a frayed rope.

“I’m coming right.” Charles rolled his shoulders slightly, wincing as familiar pain—though much reduced—arced across his shoulders. He’d received a rather nasty slice from a cutlass during the capture of a French vessel, and the injury had taken far too long to heal.

Charles didn’t know how to tell Rich he’d received the all clear to head back to Britain. An anchor lodged in Charles’s chest every time he considered leaving the dying marine behind.

After all, Rich had saved Charles’s life at the expense of his own.

Charles had thought Rich would have passed on by now, and yet he lingered. Day after day his body fought to keep its tenuous grip on this world, retreating in protracted increments. Though he had fought valiantly, he would soon have to strike his colors and raise the white flag.

Charles shooed away the incessantly buzzing flies and touched Rich lightly on the shoulder. When they had first been transported together to the hospital in Oporto, the major had been hopeful. He’d taken a musket ball to the right side, and though in considerable pain, had remained cheerful and expectant of restoration to health. He’d maintained that hope, holding on to the thought of all he had to return home to in order to keep his spirits up.

“Sophie?” Rich asked.

“Of course.” Following their well-worn routine, Charles opened the sea chest under the table beside the cot and withdrew a packet of envelopes. “I’ll read the latest.”

He unfolded the letter dated two weeks before. One nice thing about being on the beach, the mail arrived regularly. Charles received no mail, not having anyone left to write to him. When he had first gone to sea, his mother had penned a note twice a year, but when she passed away, his mail had stopped. Any news from home was welcome aboard ship, and it was common to hand letters around the officers’ mess, or at least read aloud snippets of a less personal nature.

Clearing his throat, he read to the major:

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor) and Instagram (@EricaVetsch).

Sounds like an intriguing story, Erica. THANK You for sharing! 

We wish you the best of luck and God's blessings.

Thanks for dropping by friends. I hope to see you next week for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Meanwhile, if you haven't left a comment on my birthday post, there is still time to get in the drawing for a copy of The Inheritance OR My Heart Weeps. Winners will be announced Wednesday the 26th. 

Also, check out NN Light's Book Heaven's "Bookaholics Unite" giveaway (in the sidebar) and watch for their upcoming "Salute Military" book event filled with books featuring Military heroes/heroines/families!

That's all for now, folks. Until next time, take care and God bless.
PamT

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

#WednesdayWordswithFriends Happy Birthday to ME!

Yep, today's the big 60 and I'm ecstatic. No, not crazy LOL! but ecstatic because May 31st is my last day of work outside of the home. 

I'm probably the only woman you'll meet that actually looked forward to turning 40. As Rebecca Sinclair (The Inheritance) put it....

When I turn forty, my youngest will be eighteen and out of school, and I’ll be through raising kids!

Now I know you never truly finish raising kids, but there comes a point when you're more a friend and advisor than instructor/corrector. For me that was age 40.

When you lose a spouse, you don't think about the future too far in advance but at some point, you realize God has a purpose and a plan for your life. For me, turning 60 means I can RETIRE!

From Insurance at least. I'll probably never retire from writing and doing the things I love. And, although I'll be forever grateful for the jobs God has blessed me with in the past, I'm looking forward to working on My Stuff (actually HIS stuff.) 

Much like Melena in My Heart Weeps, I can finally, fully focus on my writing career.

But hey, I'm keeping my Insurance License active for the next several years in case I get bored being retired and want to go back to work. 

Anyway, since today is my birthday, I'm offering a gift to YOU!

Leave a comment & your email address and one lucky winner will receive an E-copy of The Inheritance and one, My Heart Weeps.

Thank you and Good luck!

PamT

Saturday, May 15, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Amanda Wen @AuthorAmandaWen & Roots of Wood and Stone!

Good Morning Friends!

Well, May just keeps marching on and the afternoon temps around here reflect that, although, we've been blessed with cooler nights which is a huge relief. Those Gulf waters need to stay as cool as possible for as long as they can to keep those storms off of us.

Today's guest is brand new to our blog and brought to us by Audra Jennings Publicity and Kregel Publications with her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, so please give her a HUGE, SWLA       W-E-L-C-O-M-E!

Sloane Kelley was abandoned at birth, and while she wants more than anything to learn where she came from, her family roots remain a mystery. As curator of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, Sloane has dedicated her life to making sure others can connect with their history. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact; after all, the museum has a few on display and more in storage. However, she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now, she’s on the hunt to see if there’s more where it came from. 

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. He’s always been the responsible one, and with her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles after he takes a few things to the local museum: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the old house, and his own heart, which is drawn to Sloane. Selling the house that holds so much history will disappoint both Sloane and his sister, Lauren, who is doing her best to care for their grandmother, but Garrett finds himself in an impossible situation.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love—and a God who faithfully carried her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

And Sloane may just find her roots in a place she never would have expected.

Roots of Wood and Stone is set in the area of Kansas Wen has lived in most of her life. In fact, the story is inspired by aspects of her own family history. “One of my favorite things about split time is watching the contemporary characters dig into the past,” Wen explains. “My mother is a genealogist who’s been tracing our family history since before I was born, and her passion for uncovering our family’s stories has been an important backdrop my entire life. Her research has given me an appreciation for those who came before and a desire to pass along this appreciation to my own kids.” As an homage to her mother and all the rest of her ancestors, Wen named many of the people and places in the book after family. Parts of their stories are even woven into the historical portion of the book.

Wen not only offers readers two plotlines filled with plenty of history and romance wrapped into one story, she mixes in a healthy dose of humor and strong faith elements as well. “All my characters have deep needs that they try to fill through other means (achievement, research, hard work, planning, etc.), but throughout the story they learn that only God can fill those needs,” Wen shares. “He has a beautiful plan, one that goes far beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine, and he takes all our broken pieces and loose ends and weaves those trials into a tapestry more beautiful than we could possibly imagine. He is always there, faithfully guiding our steps, even—or perhaps especially—when we’re not aware of it. I hope my readers will trust him, his individual love and care for each of us, and his perfect plan just a little bit more after they close this book.”

Excerpt: Sloane Kelley stood in the lobby of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, the thick buffalo robe hanging warm and heavy on her arms. A line of first graders filed past to stroke the robe’s coarse brown fur. But no matter how many little hands poked and prodded that robe, it held up. It was resilient.

Just like the pioneers who’d worn it.

The last child, a girl with wide brown eyes and a riot of red curls, trailed her hand over the robe. “It’s softer than I thought it’d be.”

“That’s a great observation.” Sloane loved those light-bulb moments when history came to life.

“That is a great observation, Josie.” Mrs. McPherson, the dark-haired teacher charged with controlling the chaos, rewarded her student with a warm smile.

But Josie looked instead to a beaming, T-shirt-clad woman at the back of the room. Same brown eyes, same coppery curls.

Mother and daughter, no doubt.

Jaw tight, Sloane turned to hang the robe on its wooden rack. She scanned the placard beside it, covered with facts she’d researched. Facts to fill gaps in people’s knowledge.

A semi-successful cover for the utter lack of facts about her own past.

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple writing contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions contests. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.

Wen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog and is a contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, releases from Kregel Publications on February 2, 2021.

In addition to her writing, Wen is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team. She serves as a choral accompanist as well. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Wen lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit www.amandawen.com. Readers can also follower her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen). 

Roots of Wood and Stone can be found at Amazon and where other great Christian fiction is sold.

Thank YOU, So Much, Amanda for sharing your debut novel with us! We wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with it.

PamT

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

#WednesdayWordswithFriends Welcomes TI Lowe @TILowe

Good Morning!

I hope you're enjoying lovely, Spring weather wherever you are. We're getting lots of rain this week but after the storm or shower, pretty sunsets and (usually) mild temps. 

Today's guest, TI Lowe has visited several times, but please give her a warm W-E-L-C-O-M-E as she shares with us some information about her newest novel, Under the Magnolias

1. Under the Magnolias is different from your usual romance novels. What compelled you to deviate from your usual subject matter in this book? How was your writing process different?

I always write what I’m led to, and I really never want to limit my stories to a certain genre. With romance, there’s typically a loose formula to follow—boy meets girl, they fall in love, something gets in their way, they overcome it for their happily ever after. But with this book, I just wrote it like no one was looking. I wasn’t even sure where it would end up until I reached the ending. It challenged me as a writer and I loved it!

2. Can you walk us through the emotions you felt while writing this book?
My emotions were all over the place. I fully invest in my characters. When they hurt, I hurt. When they rejoice, so do I. One scene where Austin starts unraveling and doesn’t see how to hold her family together, I was right there with her. It was a tough writing day, for sure, and I walked away from the computer not knowing how she would either. I definitely stayed in my head for several months while writing this one.

3. You’ve said that this book is the most important book you’ve written to date. Why?
The subject matter of this book, even though it’s fiction set in the eighties, is so relevant today. Everyone hurts. Everyone struggles. And everyone hides their truths to some degree. I was led to write this book in a way that I hope readers will realize it’s not so healthy to hide, that it’s okay to seek help no matter what they are going through.

4. You say you are an observer of people. What do you mean by that? How do you use that to craft your stories?
People are so fascinating. I know I look like a weirdo but I’m all about people watching. I also want to understand things that I see, whether it’s from a news headline or something I’ve witnessed in person, so I work that out through my stories.

5. This book has been said to highlight the best of humanity. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Honestly, I fear the world we are living in today has forgotten how beautiful it is to be compassionate and to empathize with others. This book has characters from all walks of life and highlights how those characters choose to show kindness for no other reason than to be kind. Simple enough!

6. Some of the common themes in this book are the power of community and connectedness, as well as the impact that small and simple kindnesses can have on those around us. How do you hope those themes encourage the reader? Why did you include those themes specifically?
I hope the reader will reflect on their own actions and attitudes toward others. As I’ve already said, kindness is a simple act but can have such a profound effect on the one receiving it. Austin was able to stop hiding due to the strength she garnered from those who reached out to help her and her family. We can be that for someone—how powerful is that?

Simple act of kindness example: I’m always on people-watching duty, so when I go through a checkout line and the cashier is in a terrible mood and being rude, instead of complaining to the manager, I ask the cashier if they’re having a bad day. I can’t tell you how many times this was exactly what they needed. Just someone to take the time to acknowledge them and to let them unload a second. I’ve always left those situations with the cashier smiling at me. Simple kindness, ladies and gentlemen.

7. What was the research process like for this book? Did it require more research due to the subject matter?
The research was extensive, for sure. An entire summer was spent doing nothing more than research for this book. Mental illness is a subject that I made certain I got right. Even though it’s fiction. I spent days reading articles and watching testimonies from those suffering bipolar disorder as well as the loved ones who stood by them through it. And even more time researching treatments.

8. Why did you choose to set this book in the eighties? Why was it important to you to write a coming-of-age book that wasn’t set during the age of social media?
The eighties was a great decade, so why not! I truly wanted to get to a simpler time for this book. One with less noise, so to speak. I think it’ll be easier for someone to read this subject from afar and not have cell phones and all that to distract from it. It makes Austin different yet shows her coming-of-age journey is still relevant today.

9. You used to work on a tobacco farm. What made you choose this setting for the book? How did you draw from personal experience to create the setting?
Working tobacco was my first job and my hardest job. This job taught me that everyone has to do their part. It cannot be put on the shoulders of one person. It’s quite symbolic to the story. Austin tried taking care of her father and siblings all on her own, but the burden was too heavy and came close to ruining them until the community stepped up to take a part in helping.

10. What was your inspiration for this book? You’ve referenced some of the conversations you had with God about writing this book. Can you walk us through that a bit?
Spring of 2019, it seemed every time I turned on the news or pulled up Facebook, there was a headline that a community leader, mostly church leaders, had committed suicide. Man, did that put such a burden on my heart. I wanted to know their story and why they got to the point of feeling that hopeless. Before I knew it, I was deep into research. I discovered most times those victims were secretly suffering with mental illness. They were worried what others would think, so they kept it hidden. A lot of prayer went into the book, asking God to help me understand and to express that understanding to readers. Days of writing with goose bumps along my arms and a tightened chest, I knew I wasn’t telling this story alone.

11. This book is gritty in parts, but it also serves up a good dose of humor. Why did you intentionally include humor in this story? Can you give us an example?
Life is tough! It is gritty, yet I lean heavily on humor to get me though the rough patches of life. I also needed it to get through the rough patches of this book and I think readers will too. You will meet Phoenix, aka Peg. He is the next-to-oldest brother and boy, does he have a mouth on him. The scene where he gets ahold of a man who is making racists remarks cracks me up even now. It’s a lot of dry humor, my favorite type, and Peg always gave me some comic relief on the hard writing days with his sarcastic one-liners.

12. Why is it important to write stories about characters who deal with real issues? What are some of the real issues that this story addresses?
Sometimes I think reading about real issues in fiction is easier for us to digest than reading it in nonfiction or in a self-help book. It takes us out of it, so to speak. The issues addressed in this book are quite extensive, but it is mostly about ill-fitting labels that need to be done away with.

13. What was special about crafting the Foster children in this book? Austin Foster specifically?
The Foster children lived an isolated life out on the farm. It gave me the opportunity to explore hard topics through their curious, naive eyes with an honesty that I would not have been able to pull off otherwise.

14. Under the Magnolias features several noteworthy, misfit characters. Who was your favorite supporting character to write?
This is like asking me to pick a favorite child! Yikes! I will say it’s a toss-up between Foxy and Miss Wise. Both women faced gross social injustices. They were survivors who chose not to live like victims. They are great characters to look up too, if you ask me.

15. Why did you choose to represent characters who are marginalized or misunderstood in this book?
I don’t know about you but I am just so tired of the labels and the unrealistic boxes society creates and expects you to live up to. That’s hogwash. If God wanted us all to fit in the same box, he would have created us as carbon copies. He didn’t, so that means it’s a gift to be different and I think differences should be celebrated. I did a lot of celebrating this in Under the Magnolias.

16. Chances are readers are going to have a love/hate relationship with Vance Cumberland. He’s different from the male love interests we’ve seen in your other books. What do you love about Vance? What irks you about Vance?
Vance is different from most of my male leads because we meet him in the beginning as a privileged kid. Just as we go on the coming-of-age journey with Austin, we get to do the same with Vance. That boy had a lot of growing up to do. I love his determination, but he irked me when he succumbed to those socially labeled boxes in his younger years. He eventually gets it right, and I think he’s pretty swoon-worthy at times.

17. This book gives an inside look at the reality of mental illness, through a fictional story. How do you hope the themes of this book bring mental health awareness?
I want it to open our eyes, to start more conversations about mental health, and to be more empathetic to those suffering. Being more proactive in mental health awareness requires those suffering in silence to find their voice and for everyone else to take off their blinders and pay attention.

18. This book is very raw and real, as told from Austin Foster’s point of view. Did you draw from personal experience in writing her character?
Austin and I both lost our mothers, so I shared in her grief. And we both had a parent who was sick and we felt helpless when we realized we couldn’t fix it. I drew many parallels with my mother’s battle with cancer and Austin’s father’s battle with mental illness. Both illnesses need treatment and can be life-threatening when undiagnosed. I also think it’s important to point out that both patients are the main victims of their disease, but their loved ones endure suffering as well.

19. What was the hardest part about writing a book with such heavy themes? How did you make sure you protected and prioritized your own mental health during the writing process?
Walking away from it at the end of the day. I lived this story, even dreamed about it at times while writing it. I remember one significantly heavy writing day and how I told my friend about it. She encouraged me to take a break. To do something outside the house and away from the computer. Talking about the process with my friend helped me keep my own mental health in check.

20. Nobody is immune to hardship in life and the Fosters know that well. For readers going through a personal battle, what does Under the Magnolias offer them?
It will give them the courage to seek help in those times, realizing it’s not healthy to keep it all hidden. And that people genuinely do care and want to help.

21. Fiction is often cited by people as being a form of escapism. By contrast, Under the Magnolias holds up a mirror to the joys and sorrows we experience as people. Why did you take that approach with this story?
First off, I love a good book that is all about helping me escape reality. I mean, hello, that’s why I love writing romance. But Under the Magnolias has such a different purpose. I wrote this story with no expectations on how the reader would view it, but I have no doubt God will reach many through it. I think we need more fictional books that are brave enough to open our eyes.

22. We see a beautiful picture of what it means to be the church in this book. What do you hope readers take away from this?
Exactly as you put it in the question, the church is beautiful and I’m so sad that so many are missing out on this because they have misguided views of what church is supposed to be. I’m not an expert on theology, but I do love how Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 puts it: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

23. Why do you think it’s important for people to be vulnerable with their hurt, pain, and secrets?
We are all human and all flawed and all going through something. I think when you choose to be authentic instead of pretending to be what folks expect you to be, there’s a great freedom in that.

24. What is one thing you learned about yourself from writing this book?
I’m more aware now of how I keep things hidden. I hide my pain through making jokes, sometimes at the wrong time. I’m much like Austin in the sense that I’ve put up walls to hide my emotions. I don’t cry in public. A few instances come to mind where my eyes watered, but the only time I can actually sob is in the shower or in the car by myself and that doesn’t happen often. I don’t know how to overcome this, but I’m praying about it and talking about it.

25. What do you hope your readers walk away with when they’ve turned the last page of this book?
My hope is that they say, “Dang, that girl can write!” Ha! Just kidding. Kinda . . . No, seriously, I want them to get to the end of this book and find their own sense of freedom. To bravely go out and live without putting on airs. To exercise their compassion and empathy muscles more.

T. I. Lowe is an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories and is the author of nearly twenty published novels, including her debut, Lulu’s Café, a number one bestseller. She lives with her husband and family in coastal South Carolina. Find her at tilowe.com or on Facebook (T.I.Lowe), Instagram (tilowe), and Twitter (@TiLowe).


This night not only marked the end to the drought, but also the end to the long-held secret we’d kept hidden under the magnolias.

Magnolia, South Carolina, 1980

Austin Foster is barely a teenager when her mama dies giving birth to twins, leaving her to pick up the pieces while holding her six siblings together and doing her best to stop her daddy from retreating into his personal darkness.

Scratching out a living on the family’s tobacco farm is as tough as it gets. When a few random acts of kindness help to ease the Fosters’ hardships, Austin finds herself relying upon some of Magnolia’s most colorful citizens for friendship and more. But it’s next to impossible to hide the truth about the goings-on at Nolia Farms, and Austin’s desperate attempts to save face all but break her.

Just when it seems she might have something more waiting for her—with the son of a wealthy local family who she’s crushed on for years—her father makes a choice that will crack wide-open the family’s secrets and lead to a public reckoning. There are consequences for loving a boy like Vance Cumberland, but there is also freedom in the truth.

T. I. Lowe’s gritty yet tender and uplifting tale reminds us that a great story can break your heart . . . then heal it in the best possible way.

Get your copy of Under the Magnolias from Tyndale House Publishing or anywhere great Christian fiction is sold!

Oh my goodness, TI, what a wonderful and timely message. We wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with your book!

Hope you enjoyed the post friends! Until next time take care and God bless.
PamT


Saturday, May 8, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Jo Richardson & Blind Spot!

Good Morning,

Returned from the lake yesterday afternoon. Didn't catch a whole bunch of fish, but enjoyed some lovely weather. It's another beautiful morning here in SWLA, cool and clear. I hope all the mothers out there have a wonderful, blessed Mothers Day tomorrow!

Today's guest is brand new to our blog so please welcome Jo Richardson to the spotlight with her book, Blind Spot  Paranormal Romance / Psychic / Mystery that's "steamy, but not erotica." ...

Sydney Fallon has spent her entire life seeing things before they happen.

Tucker Chase is no exception.

He’s not looking for any new friends when he rolls into town.
He's not looking for anything but a way to escape his past.

But how do you stay out of someone's life when you see it flashing before your eyes on a daily basis? 

EXCERPT: 

I can’t help but let down my guard for a minute as I watch him. He looks like he’s pondering something. I want to peek around at the expression on his face to see if it reflects what I’m feeling. Then I remember why he’s here.

Probably wondering how quickly he can get down the river and over to New Orleans.

There are plenty of lowlifes who use the winding rivers by Madisonville and the surrounding towns as a convenient waterway escape after conducting who knows what kinds of illegal business.

I step closer and lift the piece of driftwood over my head, ready to knock him out if I have to.

When I hit a creaky board, I freeze.

The man spins around.

He takes one look at me and his brow knits together into a scowl. Like he’s angry with me for interrupting him. And his plans for ransacking Ian’s place.

"What the hell?" he mutters.

I decide I better not waste any more time thinking.

I swing the wood down at his head, but he catches it mid-strike. He looks like he’s about to laugh except for the fact that he’s so irritated.

I yank at my weapon, trying to get it out of his grasp so I can take another swipe at him, but he holds on tightly.

Then the silence between us is broken.

"Can I help you?" he growls. "I mean, you know, other than giving you a head to swing at?"

"Can you help me?" I pull again, to no avail. "You're the one on private property!"

"Yeah, I know. Mine."

"Yours?” HA! “Liar! This place happens to belong to a very good friend of mine." I’m still tugging as hard as I can at the piece of wood. And he’s still scowling at me.

"A good friend of yours, huh?"

Why. Won’t. He. Let. Go!

"Yes, Ian Hedder, as a matter of..." I pull again. "...fact, and I've already called the police, by the way."

"Good," he tells me. Then he lets go of the wood.

As he lets go, I’m giving it my all, and suddenly, I’m flying backwards off the dock, into the chilly, muddy river's water with a scream.

The water is freezing.

I come up for air.

“Holy shit!”


About Jo: Jo describes herself as a "writer of things." You can find out more about her by visiting and/or connecting with her through Amazon | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Get your copy of Blind Spot at Amazon

Hope you enjoyed today's spotlight and that you'll check back weekly for Wednesday Words with Friends and another Saturday Spotlight!

Until next time, take care, God Bless and be sure to check out NN Light's Book Heaven's Mother's Day Bookish Event and Bookaholics Unite giveaways!

PamT

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

#WednesdayWordswithFriends welcomes @AlinaKField Alina K Field!

Good Morning from Toledo Bend!

Yep, FINALLY got a chance to come back to the lake yesterday afternoon and let me tell you being here is so relaxing I hardly know what to do with myself LOL! I'll be fishing later and then just chillin'

Our guest today has visited often so please welcome Alina K Field as she shares some words with us....

It’s a Beautiful Day

I confess, though I’m a pretty casual housekeeper, when it comes to schedules, I have a tendency to perfectionism. When things and people aren’t lined up and right on schedule, I can get a tad tense. And so, I’m sharing a little story about one of my favorite people, a guy who knows how to coax a laugh when we both need it: 

It’s a Beautiful Day

Within families, most of us wear a lot of titles. One of my favorites is “Grandma”. 

The grandkids are now 3 ½ and 20 months old. Babysitting them and watching them grow and develop is a blessing and privilege. And also a challenge sometimes, especially at naptime! 

I like routine, and I like naps. My granddaughter (the 20-month old) runs out of steam by early afternoon and puts up a fight as tiny as herself.  

My grandson has never liked naps. He doesn’t fight them though—he’s learned to charm his way out of them. 

Me: “Your eyes are getting droopy. You’re getting cranky. Let’s go have a nap.”

Him: (Pauses, leans close, and gives me a wide-eyed look) “But, Grandma…” Waves his hand toward the window. “It’s a beautiful day.” 

He stops Naptime Grandma dead in her tracks and makes me laugh. 

We’ve reached a compromise of sorts: he sits with Gramps and watches Paw Patrol, and I take sister and we stretch out and snooze. By the time Mom picks him up, he’s ready to fall asleep in his car seat, so he has that nap anyway! 

Now, it’s a standing joke between my husband and me: when one of us is feeling tense, the other one says, “But Grandma, it’s a beautiful day.” 

And it usually is! 

My most recent standalone release is FATED HEARTS, a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The Scottish hero and his lady get a true happy ending, Regency romance style! 

Fated Hearts, A Love After All Retelling of the Scottish Play
A Regency Romance, part of the Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series 

Heat rating: R

Everything he believed to be true was a lie. 

Plagued by hellish memories and rattling visions of battle to come, a Scottish Baron returning from two decades at war meets the daughter he denied was his, and the wife he divorced, and learns that everything he’d believed to be true was a lie. What he can’t deny is that she’s the only woman he’s ever loved. They’re not the young lovers they once were, but when passion flares, it burns more hotly than ever it did in their youth.

They soon discover, it wasn’t fate that drove them apart, but a jealous enemy, who played on his youthful arrogance and her vulnerability. Now that old enemy has resurfaced, more treacherous than ever. When his lady falls into a trap, can he reach her in time to rescue this love that never died? 

Get your copy of Fated Hearts at the following locations....

Other distributors can be found Here.

About Alina: Award winning and USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California, where she shares a midcentury home with her husband and a spunky, blond rescued terrier. She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. Though hard at work on her next series of romantic adventures, she loves to hear from readers!




Other books in the Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Project

The Monster Within, The Monster Without
by Lindsay Downs (Frankenstein)

I Shot the Sheriff
by Regina Jeffers (Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham)

The Colonel’s Spinster
by Audrey Harrison (Pride and Prejudice)

The Redemption of Heathcliff
by Alanna Lucas (Wuthering Heights)

Captain Stanwick’s Bride
by Regina Jeffers (The Courtship of Miles Standish)

Glorious Obsession
by Louisa Cornell (Orpheus and Eurydice

Wow, Alina, this sounds like an intriguing collection of stories. It's amazing how those grandbabies can manipulate us - in an incredibly sweet way of course. I remember when my granddaughter was little she'd tell her Paw Paw, "But I not tired." (with big, heavy eyes LOL!) He'd tell her to just lay there while he slept. Worked every time 😊

Thanks for sharing with us today and Thanks, Friends for dropping by. Be sure and visit Saturday for a spotlight on another great author and book!

Until next time, take care and God Bless.
PamT

PS: I'm on Maris Soule's blog today so please drop by and visit me - THANKS!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Dreams of the Queen Audio Book!

Good Morning!

It's been a while since we had an audiobook tour brought to you from Audio Bookworm Promotions so I won't take up any of your time yammering about me LOL!

Enjoy.....



 

Author: Jacqueline Patricks

Narrator: Skyler Morgan

Length: 12 hours 35 minutes

Series: The Brajj, Book 1

Publisher: Crazy Bird Publishing

Released: Feb. 19, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction; Horror

Add on Goodreads