Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Top 10 Books of 2016

The idea of putting together my top ten list of books from the year 2016 came from a couple of my blogger friends.  I thought it was such a brilliant idea, because there have been several amazing books I have read and reviewed this past year.  So I wanted to make sure I highlighted those novels here--obviously, the list could be much longer.  However, if you need a reading list for the new year, I highly recommend each of these books.

Happy reading and Happy New Year!  


The Beautiful Pretender 
by Melanie Dickerson 

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?


An Elegant Façade
by Kristi Ann Hunter 

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal 
her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl.
 
With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he's irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance.  
 
What Colin doesn't know is that Georgina's desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina's plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.
 




Bad Day for a Bombshell 
by Cindy Vincent 

December 5th, 1941. Houston socialite, Tracy Truworth, is always on the lookout for something suspicious. Especially after growing up with her nose in the latest Katie McClue mystery novel, a series featuring a twenty-something female detective and her constant feats of derring-do. And for Tracy, escaping reality through reading couldn't come at a better time, since her own life isn't exactly going along like she'd hoped. Not with her overbearing mother determined to see Tracy marry Michael -- a lawyer likely to be a U.S. Senator someday -- in a wedding rivaling royalty. Yet everything changes for Tracy when she spots a bleach-blonde bombshell on the train home from Dallas after a shopping trip to Neiman-Marcus. Because something certainly seems amiss with the blonde, given the way she covertly tries to snare men into her lair, and considering the way she suddenly ceases all flirtations when a Humphrey Bogart look-alike appears . . . complete with a mysterious package wrapped up in newspaper and twine.

Then days later, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, and just a few days after that, Germany declares war against the U.S. Rightly so, President Roosevelt returns the favor. Of course, Tracy immediately finds herself caught up in the War, just like the rest of the nation. But it's her curiosity that leads her on a collision course with a killer, and she arrives at the bombshell's apartment only moments after the blonde has been murdered. Though Tracy is accused of the crime at first, she quickly finds herself working as an Apprentice P.I., under the tutelage of a real private investigator. Soon, they're hot on the trail of the bombshell's murderer. Then from singing at the hottest nightclub around, to a car chase in her 1940 Packard, Tracy's investigation takes her far from her blue-blood upbringing. And it isn't long before she finds the War is hitting a lot closer to home than she ever imagined . . . and danger isn't much farther than her doorstep . . .
 


The Captive Imposter 
by Dawn Crandall 

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone 
finds herself living undercover as a lady’s
companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she'd always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn't like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can't refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can't deny the pull that's evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she's been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she's with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she's Estella Everstone? She's not entirely sure.




Murder in the Mystery Suite  
by Ellery Adams  


Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving. 

But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up…







The Covered Deep 
by Brandy Vallance 
 
Bianca Marshal is holding out for the perfect husband. 
Finding a man that meets the requirements of
her “must-have” list in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains has proven impossible. Bianca’s mama insists that there’s no such thing as a perfect true love, and that Bianca’s ideal man is pure fiction. 

On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca discovers a devastating statistic: her chance of marrying is now only eighteen percent. Unwilling to accept spinsterhood, Bianca enters an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for her soulmate. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of the Holy Land, Bianca’s true love will be revealed, but not without a heavy price.









Missing 
by Lisa Harris 

Nikki Boyd Enters the Deadly World of Counterfeit Drugs to Find a Missing Woman
Nikki Boyd isn't usually called in on homicides; her forte is missing persons. But when a case with two murdered and two missing pops up on a quiet suburban street, she's ready to start the investigation and find missing homeowners Mac and Lucy Hudson. When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant--and another dead body--Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. 

The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business--including Nikki.
Christy Award-winning and bestselling author Lisa Harris puts readers right into the action in this fast-paced thriller that will have them turning pages long into the night.





 Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations 
by V. J. Palmer 

Isabel “Izze” Vez, bridal consultant extraordinaire, has been 
helping brides find The Dress for years. She
loves nothing more than helping make wedding dreams come true…but sometimes the happy endings grate on her. How many times can a girl discover someone else’s gown without dreaming of the day it’ll be her turn to wear one?

When James Miles Clayton walks into her life, he represents everything Izze can’t handle: change. He’s determined to bring the Ever After Bridal Boutique into the black…and to prove to Izze that she should give him a chance.

But if there’s anything Izze handles worse than change, it’s trust. She may have a few issues—fine, she knows she does. But will they keep getting in the way of any chance of her own Happily Ever After? She wants to trust God to give her those dreams of love and lace, but that’s going to require some…minor alterations.





  Hold Me Close 
by Marguerite Martin Gray 

Louis Lestarjette, a Frenchman, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1772 without purpose or plans. He encounters a society on the brink of revolution and is forced to make decisions that include finding meaning and direction in his carefree life. Who can he trust in his endeavors to prosper? Will he be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence? When decisive events confront him, will he stay or leave? Running from God and commitment is a constant option.

Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of a prominent British citizen, believes God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with making difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, her role in the political battle is challenged. Can she trust her heart in volatile situations?

Set in pre-revolution Charles Town, Hold Me Close takes the reader into the lives of immigrants, ordinary citizens, and prominent historical figures at a time in which decisions are made that will change the world.



 The Chronicles of Narnia 
by C.S. Lewis 

Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic 
battles between good and evil—what more
could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Stables Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.

This edition presents all seven books—unabridged—in one impressive volume. The books are presented here in chronlogical order, each chapter graced with an illustration by the original artist, Pauline Baynes. Deceptively simple and direct, The Chronicles of Narnia continue to captivate fans with adventures, characters, and truths that speak to readers of all ages, even fifty years after they were first published.


What are some of your favorite books from 2016?  Let me know in the comments below.  
Happy reading!  




 

Friday, December 30, 2016

First Line Fridays


Happy Friday everyone!  I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas holiday.  Can you believe the year 2017 is just a few days away?!  What new year resolutions do you have for the upcoming year?  I know I usually have a list--the real problem though is sticking to the list.  Have you ever succeeded in keeping those promises to yourself all year long?  I'm sure most individuals break their goals somewhere during the middle of the year, but I would like to challenge you--and myself--this next year.  Let's plan on sticking to those items on our 2017 to-do list.  So when 2018 marks the pages of our calendar, we will have accomplished some healthy goals the previous year, which would be a wonderful achievement indeed.

I started reading a new book this week entitled Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin.  I have read several books by Austin--each one better than the first--so I am excited to learn about the stories surrounding the two main characters--Anna Nicholson and Geeje de Jonge.  Please be sure to check out the book lines from these other amazing bloggers too:

Sydney from Singing Librarian
Rachel from Bookworm Mama
Andi from Radiant Light


Click the links above to be taken to their posts and...
If you would like to join us, send Carrie a message and let her know!

​Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from:
  
Waves of Mercy 
by Lynn Austin 



And the first line is...

Lake Michigan 
1897
"I am living my nightmare.  A violent storm has overtaken our steamship, and as we mount high on the crest of a wave one moment, then plunge sickeningly into a watery trough the next, I am certain we are about to sink."

Happy reading and Happy New Year! 




   

Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Books from Love Inspired Historical - December Releases


*Deputy Grace Eberly can outshoot and outride most men in Esperanza, Colorado…but lassoing a husband is an impossible task. At least she has her good friend Reverend Micah Thomas to keep her company. When outlaws threaten their community, the two join forces to stop them, and Grace's feelings for the reverend deepen. But she's sure he'd never love a too-tall cowgirl in trousers and boots.

Micah believes that it's time to find himself a wife—someone sweet and ladylike who can help him better serve the town. So why do none of the elegant young women of his acquaintance stir his heart like the feisty tomboy deputy? As they work to bring peace to the community, will Grace and Micah finally see that they make the perfect team? 



*Mailorder bride Josephine Dooley's trip West was supposed to end in marriage to her intended groom—not with the discovery that he hadn't actually placed the bridal ad! Now her only choice is to convince Pony Express rider Thomas Young to wed her anyway to save her from her scheming uncle.

A bride shouldn't be a surprise package, and when Thomas finds out about his meddling brother's ruse, he plans to send his would-be wife packing. However, when he realizes Josephine desperately needs his help and a marriage of convenience is the only way he can protect her, he vows to become the husband she needs. But he quickly learns that it will be hard to keep his new bride at arm's length…because Josephine is his perfect match. 



*When she and her sister are unexpectedly orphaned and prevented from traveling West unless they have a male chaperone, Mattie Prescott disguises herself as a boy. But after Mattie's fellow wagon train companions discover her masquerade, their long-dreamed-of fresh start is over before it's even begun. She has only one choice: marriage to the man who helped her—and kept her secret—along the trail.

To save her honor and his own, Josiah Dawson agrees to take Mattie as his bride. But his plans don't include a wife, and this hasty union is just a temporary duty he'll dissolve at the end of the trail. As Mattie proves herself indispensable in the face of tragedy, though, it's soon clear that she's also indispensable to Josiah's heart…



*Abram Cooper has ten months to turn rough Minnesota country into a vibrant town, or his sister-in-law will take his three sons back to Iowa with his blessing. Until then, Charlotte Lee has agreed to keep house and help raise his children as part of their bargain. But can the single father fulfill Charlotte's requirements in time to make sure that she and his boys don't leave—and take his heart with them?

Charlotte is convinced that the wilderness is no place to raise her nephews. But as she watches the community slowly develop, she sees that Abram just might be able to make it blossom. With three little matchmakers bringing her and Abram together, Little Falls could become not just a flourishing town, but the perfect home for their patchwork family. 



*Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel.





Friday, December 23, 2016

First Line Fridays


Happy almost Christmas!!!  Just a couple more days, and we get to celebrate a wonderful day with family and friends.  A day that changed the world so many centuries ago.  What if Jesus had never been born as a baby?  What if there were no story of Mary, Joseph, or the shepherds?  Can you even imagine?  It is a frightening thought.  But I am so glad that the Lord showed His mercy in the form of a tiny baby.  Jesus truly is the reason for the season.  Without Him, there would be no point in celebrating Christmas. 

So this year, remember to share the joy of the season with those around you, because that same joy was so beautifully given to us on Christmas morn.  And it is such a honor to know that the Lord bestows such love on His children, and that this same love can be received by anyone.  I pray each of you have a Happy Christmas with your loved ones this year.  See you in the new year!

This week's first line is from a novella collection.  I simply love novella collections!  They are a great way to be introduced to new authors, which for me means that I get to buy more books from those authors.  :)  This first line is from the first story in the text--The Substitute Bride by Angela Bell.  Please be sure to check out the book lines from these other amazing bloggers too:

Sydney from Singing Librarian
Rachel from Bookworm Mama
Andi from Radiant Light


Click the links above to be taken to their posts and...
If you would like to join us, send Carrie a message and let her know!

​Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from:
 
The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection 
by Mary Connealy, Angela Bell, Angela Breidenbach, Rebecca Jepson, 
Amy Lillard, Gina Welborn, Kathleen Y'Barbo, Rose Ross Zediker, Lisa Cox Carter 



And the first line is...
 
London, England 
On a Sunday in June of 1865
 
"Gwen's husband suffered quite the shock upon lifting her Brussels lace veil at the conclusion of their wedding ceremony."   

Happy reading and Happy Christmas!  
 
 


  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Check Out My New Post!

Check out my new post on the Daily Megaphone this month in order to find out the best way to use your time this Christmas season.  Happy reading!  


Happy Christmas 
by Heather Snyder 



  

 

Friday, December 16, 2016

First Line Fridays


Happy Friday everyone!  Can you believe that Christmas is less than ten days away?!  I feel like the beginning of December starts out slow, but then all of a sudden it speeds up, and Christmas is here.  Have all of you finished your Christmas shopping?  Every year, I tell myself to purchases gifts throughout the year, but somehow I never really achieve that goal.  So, I end up fighting the crowds like everyone else, and this year in particular I have noticed that people tend to be a bit more impatient and rude, which makes me sad.

This is supposed to be a joyous time of the year, yet somehow we have allowed the craziness of life to dictate our mood and schedule.  Let's make it a point this year to be kinder to those around us.  Smile at the person checking you out at the grocery store--make polite conversation with the shopkeeper at the mall--and when you are dining out this month, be courteous to your waiter or waitress.  You never know what someone else may be going through, and especially at this time of the year--it is imperative to be kind to each other.

I try to read a couple of Christmas books throughout the month of December, and I found this lovely book at a used book sale.  Once I started reading it, I realized that there is a film based on the text--The Christmas Box with Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara.  I highly recommend checking it out this season.  Please be sure to check out the book lines from these other amazing bloggers too:

Sydney from Singing Librarian
Rachel from Bookworm Mama
Andi from Radiant Light


Click the links above to be taken to their posts and...
If you would like to join us, send Carrie a message and let her know!

​Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from:

The Christmas Box 
by Richard Paul Evans 



And the first line is...

"It may be that I am growing old in this world and have used up more than my share of allotted words and eager audiences."   

 Happy reading and have a fabulous Friday!





Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bad Day for a Bombshell - My Review








Cindy Vincent’s novel Bad Day for a Bombshell is an excellent story for the mystery lover.  In fact, mysteries are my favorite genre, so I highly recommend this text.  It is filled with several important subplots and other various details that are so imperative to the message of the book.  From the first few chapters, the reader will suddenly be immersed in the fears and challenges that so many Americans were facing following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and will see firsthand how courageous so many men were—they were ready and willing to sign up and fight for their country—no questions asked.  

Tracy Truworth comes from a wealthy family that started with meager beginnings.  She knows she can have anything her heart desires when it comes to material possessions, but she soon begins to learn that her life cannot follow the path others believe she should take.  There are so many obstacles around her—both good and bad.  Her mother despises her existence, her father is proud of her, her fiancé is a coward, and her best friend is in love.  Thankfully, Tracy has her Nana to depend upon, which includes her grandmother's great wit and wisdom.  And she will desperately need her Nana’s stable nature, especially after she discovers a dead body in a neighboring apartment.  She quickly realizes she is the number one suspect in this young girl’s murder too.  How will she get out of this type of trouble?  And what happens when a strange gentleman comes to her aid pretending to know her?  Tracy always believed her life was planned out—just like every other socialite she knows—but plans change and soon Tracy discovers God has other ideas regarding the blueprint of her life.  

Sammy is the mystery man Tracy has been following.  Who is he, and why is he following another woman?  A woman that Tracy noticed on a train ride back from Dallas.  His features seem familiar, and remind her of a detective movie, but Tracy knows life is never as simple as her favorite films.  She must get to the bottom of this, because now too many people are involved not to investigate further.  Yet, she fears she might have gone too far and unexpectedly finds herself in so much danger that she is unsure if she will survive.  

This book has so many turns, and it will keep the reader entertained and in suspense with each passing scene.  It is incredible to see how Vincent weaves true events with bits of fiction in order to create a captivating tale.  This story must be put together puzzle piece by puzzle piece, and it is impossible to guess the end until you get there.  You need each and every detail to understand the entirety of the text—simply brilliant!  It was fascinating to read about each character in order to place them where they needed to be on the suspect list and where they should be in Tracy’s world.  Some individuals are good and some are pretty ugly, but they all make up the fragments that ultimately come together to show the truth.  Light always wins in the end.  

If you are looking for a mystery novel that is set in another time period, which I personally always love reading about yesteryear, then this book is for you!  I promise you will not be disappointed, and I just hope Vincent will write more stories that follow the adventures of Tracy Truworth, because I think her story is far from over.  Happy reading and happy sleuthing! 


This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Singing Librarian Books for my copy.






Genre: Adult, Christian, Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Whodunit Press
Publication date: October 17, 2016
Number of pages: 340

December 5th, 1941. Houston socialite, Tracy Truworth, is always on the lookout for something suspicious. Especially after growing up with her nose in the latest Katie McClue mystery novel, a series featuring a twenty-something female detective and her constant feats of derring-do. And for Tracy, escaping reality through reading couldn't come at a better time, since her own life isn't exactly going along like she'd hoped. Not with her overbearing mother determined to see Tracy marry Michael -- a lawyer likely to be a U.S. Senator someday -- in a wedding rivaling royalty. Yet everything changes for Tracy when she spots a bleach-blonde bombshell on the train home from Dallas after a shopping trip to Neiman-Marcus. Because something certainly seems amiss with the blonde, given the way she covertly tries to snare men into her lair, and considering the way she suddenly ceases all flirtations when a Humphrey Bogart look-alike appears . . . complete with a mysterious package wrapped up in newspaper and twine.

Then days later, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, and just a few days after that, Germany declares war against the U.S. Rightly so, President Roosevelt returns the favor. Of course, Tracy immediately finds herself caught up in the War, just like the rest of the nation. But it's her curiosity that leads her on a collision course with a killer, and she arrives at the bombshell's apartment only moments after the blonde has been murdered. Though Tracy is accused of the crime at first, she quickly finds herself working as an Apprentice P.I., under the tutelage of a real private investigator. Soon, they're hot on the trail of the bombshell's murderer. Then from singing at the hottest nightclub around, to a car chase in her 1940 Packard, Tracy's investigation takes her far from her blue-blood upbringing. And it isn't long before she finds the War is hitting a lot closer to home.






Cindy Vincent, M.A. Ed., is the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers, a mystery series for kids and cat-lovers that features the adventures of two black cat detectives.  And yes, as she is often asked, Cindy used her own black cats, Buckley and Bogey, as the inspiration for the series, since they seem to run surveillance on her house each and every night.  Cindy is also the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls, along with the Daisy Diamond Detective novels, which are a spin-off from the games.  She lives in Houston, TX with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.  Cindy is a self-professed “Christmas-a-holic,” and usually starts planning and preparing in March for her ever-expanding, “extreme” Christmas lights display every year . . . She is also looking forward to the release of the first book in her new Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., 1940s Homefront Mystery series,  which is due out in the Fall of 2016.  





Hello, Heather, and thank you for hosting me here once again.  I raise a cup of Earl Grey in a bone china teacup to you!  As always, your blog looks beautiful, and it's a pleasure to be here.

 1-What inspired you to become a writer?

I was dying to write the very second I learned to read, and I wrote my first real "work" in the First Grade.  That's when the Charlie Brown specials had come out, (yup, I'm that old . . .) and I wrote my own version as a puppet show.  Complete with a commercial, which I spelled out — using my phonics — as Kamershell.  Ha!  I still have a copy of this.  I made sock puppets and my wonderful teacher let my friends and me perform it in front of the class.  I'm sure it was pretty bad, but our teacher was wise enough to just let us do it ourselves and learn from it, rather than taking over and making it perfect. 

In later grade school years, I wrote class plays and short stories and on and on.  Now, as a grownup, when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing.  Writing for me is right up there with breathing and eating and sleeping.  (Okay, maybe not sleeping so much . . .)  It's a necessity and not an option.  I'm guessing lots of writers feel the same way.

2-When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Since my early thirties, I have always had one foot in the writing industry.  I wrote materials for clients, worked as a magazine editor and wrote articles, and even freelanced and wrote a book here and there.  Later on, I had my murder mystery party game business.  (More about that in number 4 below.)  And while I'd always dreamed of writing novels fulltime, I'd never really gotten serious about it until just a few years ago.  That was when a friend of mine passed away very quickly and unexpectedly from a lymphoma, a cancer that hadn't been diagnosed until it was too late.  Her death was terribly sad and hard to take, especially since she was a person who was so full of life, and she had been looking forward to all the things she still wanted to do.  I was 55 at the time, and that's when I asked myself, "What am I waiting for?"  I decided it was time to pursue novel writing as a fulltime career, rather than wait until I didn't have that opportunity anymore.  I have to say, I'm glad I did.

3-Can you tell the readers about any fun adventures you have had as a writer? Any funny moments?

For twenty years, I wrote, published, and marketed my own line of murder mystery party games under the brand name Mysteries by Vincent.  I had about thirty-five titles and shipped them all over the world.  (In fact, my games often went to more interesting places than I did.  :) )  And while the writing and the business aspect of it all were tons of work with lots of late hours, the rest was nothing but fun.  Because, of course, I had to do trial runs on all my games, which meant I hosted lots and lots of parties in my own home.  With some fantastic, fun people.  So, about once every other month, I would get to dress up as a character and play along with my guests for an evening over dinner and a murder mystery game.  And since these games were all humorous, we would spend hours laughing away at these parties.  In fact, I remember the trial run of my beauty pageant game, where our entire group of ten people laughed for a solid ten minutes.  Having that business was a true blessing in my life. 

4-4-What advice would you give to beginning writers?

            1)  Keep bettering yourself.  Learn, practice, and improve.  The key to successful writing often lies in the rewriting.  And one of the great joys of being a writer is that there's always something new to learn.  Whether it's research for a new novel, or just reading books about plotlines or characterization, a writer keeps their little grey cells humming.

            2)  Keep your eye on the prize.  If you feel called to write, and it's your dream in life, keep the image of you as a successful author in your mind.  Imagine having your own books on your bookshelf, and never lose sight of that mental picture. 

            3)  Enjoy your moments as a budding author, when you don't have the pressure of a deadline or marketing plans or whatever.  Writing that first novel can be a very special time for an author, when it's just between you and your book.  Sometimes people believe the joy of writing happens the first time you see your book in print.  And while that's certainly wonderful, don't forget to relish the journey along the way.

Thank you again, Heather, for hosting me on your fantastic blog!  I hope we cross paths again sometime, and all the best to you with your own writing ventures!



Why I am Fascinated with the Forties
by Cindy Vincent


People often tease me that I don't belong in this day and age, and that I seem to be a throwback to the 1940s.  And in all fairness, they may have a point.  Not only do I have a vintage clothing collection with lots of fabulous dresses and gowns from the forties, but I also collect the hats and gloves and jewelry that would have accessorized those dresses, too.  Then there’s the music I listen to on a regular basis, which mostly consists of Big Band tunes and swing dance revival music from the 1990s.  My husband and I attend Glenn Miller (Revival) concerts whenever we find them playing somewhere nearby, and we even went to a Big Band event at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans last summer, where we dressed in forties attire and danced the night away.  (Yes, my husband even wore a fedora and looked rather dapper.)  And yes, it was a LOT of fun!
Yet while the music and the dresses and so many things hold a great romantic fascination for me, that’s not the main reason why I have such an appreciation for the forties, an appreciation that only grew after I did the research for my book, Bad Day for a Bombshell: A Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., 1940s Homefront Mystery.  No, what amazes me the most were the people of that time, (of course, as an American, and not having researched all that was going on in other countries, I’m speaking of people in the U.S).  Especially the young people, the ones who came of age just as the world was exploding into war.  That particular group had grown up during the Great Depression and had been raised with little or nothing.  During the research phase of my book, I heard stories of people who literally had holes in the bottom of their only pair of shoes, and people who only ate one meal a day, since that was all they could afford.  Yet instead of thinking of what they didn’t have, many of this generation grew up happy and so full of optimism.  As a general rule, they tried to look on the “Sunny Side,” with humor being considered a good way to deal with their troubles.  This group found ways to entertain themselves on a shoestring — they attended movies and dances and sang songs in groups, because everyone knew the words.  Generally speaking, people looked out for each other, and being selfish was considered immature and unacceptable. 
Then came the military unrest in Europe and Asia.  At first the popular sentiment in the U.S. was to stay out of things, but eventually, especially after we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, Americans changed their tunes.  And this is the part that fascinates me the most — men and some women signed up to serve and fight the war in droves.  They gave up good paying jobs, gave up their lifestyles and time with their loved ones, all to fight the fascism of Hitler and Hirohito.  In fact, from what I learned, being rejected by the service was considered a great source of embarrassment for many men, when they were either considered to be 4F or in a job that was “essential.”  I read stories about men lying about their age, (either because they were too young or too old to enlist), and finding ways to fudge on a physical so they made sure they would pass.  I even read stories of men who were turned down in one place who traveled to other states because someone knew a recruiter who was a little more lax and would let them in. 
On the homefront, people did all they could to help the War Effort.  And though rationing was something sanctioned by the government, many did so without complaint, knowing their sacrifice helped our military members.  Others signed up to be air raid wardens, or plane spotters, and nearly everyone grew a Victory Garden.  In essence, what happened here on the homefront was every bit as important as the battle on the front lines.  And it seemed that nearly everyone wanted to do their part.
But I also have an appreciation for this time period because it turned out to be a great melting pot for our nation.  The War brought the rise of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Navaho Code Talkers, and the WASPs (Women Air Service Pilots), and more.  And while it certainly wasn’t perfect, it was a good start, because our country needed the contribution of the talents and abilities of all.  Women entered the work force like never before.  Since the roles once filled by men were now vacant, it was essential that they step in and take their place, especially as the war industry worked overtime to supply the military with airplanes, tanks, and more.
Of course, as I write this, I realize I’ve told you nothing but positive things about the WWII era. Even so, I’m also well aware that the people of that time period had their flaws, and they certainly were not saints.  While it’s easy to wax romantic about the era, there is nothing romantic about war.  And I can’t forget that anywhere from 50-80 million people died during WWII.  But I can and will remember how selflessly members of what Tom Brokaw calls the “Greatest Generation” sacrificed so much, so that America and her Allies of the time could remain free.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I’m so fascinated by the forties.




Detective Denton, of course, sat right across from me.  Between his size and the wingspan of his arms, he practically took up the entire expanse of the other side of the table.  He’d been grinning like a Cheshire cat ever since Michael, a well-known Houston attorney, had walked in and made such a gigantic leap to such an erroneous conclusion.  Of course, it didn’t help that Michael had practically announced his assumptions from a rooftop.  Since then, Detective Denton had all but thrown the book at me.
Though at least he’d removed my handcuffs.
“Soooo . . . little missy,” he said in a slow drawl, one he seemed to have acquired somewhere between the apartment building and the police station.  “This is all about a man, huh?  And looking at your fiancé, being the handsome fella that he is, I can see why you’d want to ‘fight for your man.’  So when your fiancé called it quits, you headed straight for the girlfriend that he had on the side, and you got into a brawl.  Only she was more of a scrapper than you thought, and the fight got more heated than you expected.  And you ended up grabbing a knife and killing the little tart.”
“Excuse me?” Michael jutted out his chin.  “I did not know the deceased in any way, and I was not having a dalliance with some mere floozy in a low-rent apartment.  As for why Tracy stabbed this woman, I cannot say.”
I slammed my hands on the table and stood up.  “Again, Betty was shot!  She was shot, with a gun.  She wasn’t stabbed.  A stab wound makes a cut, whereas a gunshot leaves a hole.  And I did neither of those things to her.”
Then I turned to Michael.  “And why, pray tell, are you here?  I thought our relationship was over.”
As always, Michael sighed.  “I am here to represent you, Tracy.  Pro bono.  I am your lawyer.”
To which I let out a little shriek.  “This is the best I can do for a lawyer?”
Now my mother glared at me.  Or at least, she tried to glare at me, but no matter how hard she seemed to work at it, she could not manage to hold her gaze steady. 
“Michael has a brilliant legal mind,” she huffed.  Just before she turned her smiling face toward my ex, while her gaze fought to catch up.  “Right, Michael?”
He raised one eyebrow.  “Actually, Mrs. Truworth, I am only here to represent Tracy with the hopes of getting her out on bail soon.”
I gasped.  “Out on bail?  I haven’t been arrested.  There isn't going to be any need for any bail since I did nothing wrong.”
Nana touched my shoulder.  “Tracy is not a murderer.  She wouldn’t harm a fly.”
My mother scrunched up her face.  “Who knows what Tracy would do?  I can’t believe she actually got up on stage and sang this evening.  How terribly common.  And improper.  And who knows what she did to ruin her engagement, though we do know it was clearly all her fault.”
“Tracy was going to break up with Michael,” Nana interjected.  “She was planning on doing it tonight.  He just did it first and saved her the trouble.”
Michael turned to me.  “I’m shocked by this news.  Positively shocked.  It seems I hardly even knew the woman I was about to marry.”
I rolled my eyes.  “Why would this come as a surprise?  Maybe if you’d spent more time with me, we might’ve actually gotten to know each other.”
Michael sighed. “I don’t think it’s possible for a man to ever spend enough time with you, Tracy.  Because you’re much too selfish and immature.  And I won’t be spending much time here, either, since I’m only handling things to get you released while you await your trial.  After that, I simply do not have the time to take on a murder case.”
I rolled my eyes again and sat down.  “Of course you don’t.  Though once again, may I remind you, that I have not been arrested.  Or charged with anything.  Because I didn’t kill Betty.  There isn’t going to be a murder trial.  At least not for me, anyway.”
“Tracy is innocent,” Nana announced.
The detective leaned forward.  “Not from where I stand.  Maybe she’d like to explain that shiner she’s got.  I still think she and Betty got into a fight.  As near as I can tell, little missy, Betty must have walloped you pretty good.”
Whereby I glanced at my mother.  “Betty didn’t hit me.  My own mother did.  In public, at the dance.”
“And she had better not lay a hand on you ever again!”  Nana clenched her teeth and stood up.
My mother put a hand to her forehead as though she might faint.  “How dare you both accuse me like that!  I did no such thing!”
“And that only makes things even more interesting,” Detective Denton grinned.  “Your mother beats you up and then you go and take it out on an innocent girl . . .”
I shook my head.  “I did not kill Betty!  But maybe we should talk about why you’re allowing a crowd in here while you’re questioning me.  Because I would like Michael and my mother to leave.”
Detective Denton leaned back and grinned even wider.  “Oh, please, by all means, let’s let these people stay.  This little Marx Brothers’ routine is teaching me a lot about Tracy Truworth and why she had motivation to kill Betty Hoffman.”
Michael suddenly gulped.  “Betty Hoffman?  Did you say Betty Hoffman?  Betty was living in that apartment building?  And now she’s . . . dead?” 
Detective Denton pulled out a notepad and flipped over a few pages.  Then he started writing something before he raised an eyebrow to Michael.  “So you did know the deceased, after all.”
Michael tugged at his collar.  “I may have met her once or twice.  At the Polynesian Room.”
I’m sure my eyes were about to pop out of my head when I turned to Michael.  “When did you have time to go to the Polynesian Room?  Or down to Galveston?  I thought you were working day and night.”
He sniffed.  “One must occasionally entertain for business purposes.”
Nana snorted and sat down again.  “Business purposes!  I’ll bet.  It sounds to me like the only kind of business you were involved in was monkey business.”
“What a terribly common thing to say,” my mother retorted.
All the while, Detective Denton wrote more and more notes on his notepad.  “This must be my lucky day.  Neglected doll.  Philandering fiancé.  And mother who humiliates her in public.  Boy, oh boy, the jury is absolutely gonna love this one.  This will probably make the front page of the paper.  I’ll be famous after this case.”
I groaned, wondering if there was any hope at all for me to get out of this gigantic hole I’d suddenly found myself in.  A hole that my mother and ex-fiancé seemed to be digging just as fast as they could make their shovels move.  The more they dug, the more Detective Denton was determined to see me hang.  Did the facts in this case even matter?  Or was he just trying to wear me down and get me to admit to a crime that I hadn’t even thought of committing?  To think, all this had happened because I’d had momentary hopes of reviving Betty. 
I was suddenly very thankful that I’d taken pictures of the crime scene.  Because, judging by the way things were going, I might need all the evidence I could get to prove my innocence.
Detective Denton leaned forward and touched my hand.  “So, Tracy, you say that Miss Hoffman was shot . . . where did you get the gun?”
“She made a comment about shooting me with her father’s gun the other day,” Michael added with a frown.
I let out another shriek.  By now I was reaching the point where the thought of committing murder was actually starting to sound like a good idea, starting with my ex-fiancé. 
I raised both eyebrows and stared at him.  “What kind of a lawyer are you?  Aren’t you supposed to come to my defense, instead of doing your level best to incriminate me?”
He sighed.  “I am hardly a criminal lawyer, Tracy.  Though I am well aware that sometimes it’s best to simply confess and throw yourself on the mercy of the court.  Perhaps you could go for an insanity plea.”
My mother touched Michael’s arm.  “Don’t worry, Michael.  Insanity does not run in our family.  Tracy will not produce any heirs who would turn out to be insane.”
This from a woman who was drunk and had just slapped her own daughter in front of an entire room full of people. 
I shook my head in disbelief.  “There won’t be any heirs because Michael and I are no longer engaged.  And besides that, I’m not insane and I didn’t kill Betty.”
Nana threw her hands up in the air.  “Tracy is not a murderer.  How many times must I repeat it?  I’m going to call my own lawyer.”
Just then the door to the already crowded room flew open wide.  Speaking of insanity pleas, in strode none other than Sammy himself, a man whose hobbies included walking around with a box full of obituaries.  As always, he wore his trench coat and fedora. 
I stifled a moan.  Of all the interrogation rooms in all the police stations in all the towns in all the world, why did this Humphrey Bogart look-alike have to walk into mine?  He was all I needed to add to this group who was about to convict or commit me.
Detective Denton let out a laugh.  “Now who do we have?  Another character in this little Vaudeville Act?  This is better than going to the movies.”  He jerked a thumb at Sammy.  “Especially since this new guy is a dead ringer for Sam Spade.”
That’s when I dropped my head into my hands.  Could this night get any more bizarre?

.