Monday, March 12, 2018

"Petty Cash" ~ Leeann Betts ~ Behind the Story ~ Giveaway

 Please welcome author Leeann Betts for the Everything Old is New Again feature this week, and the 'Story Behind the Story of her book Petty Cash. Take it away, Leeann!

The Story Behind the Story – Petty Cash
By Leeann Betts

My parents once owned a timeshare property in Hyannis, Cape Cod, back when timeshares were overpriced and didn’t hold their value. In fact, this particular property was so bad in the years after they bought, that they couldn’t even get anybody to rent it for their week, which happened to be the last week of August each year.

I actually went and stayed in this condo one year because I hated the idea of my parents losing money, and I wanted to see how bad it could be that nobody would rent.

Well, it was bad. Tired. Worn out. Almost but not quite sagging. Perhaps sagging emotionally.

However, I had a blast that week, swimming, shopping, seeing the sights on the Cape. So, when I was looking around for ideas of where to send Carly this time around, Hyannis came to mind.

Mind you, I have her staying in a much nicer house, overlooking the beach, in a fictional town, but my time on the Cape provided some insights into the setting.

Leave a comment and enter to win a free print (US only) or ebook copy of Petty Cash. Details below.

About the book:
Petty Cash, book 7 in By the Numbers series featuring Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, finds Carly headed off for another mystery. She and hubby Mike travel to Cape Cod as emotional support for their daughter Denise and her dentist husband Don who finds himself in the middle of a potential practice dissolution. But when their host fails to make an appearance, and a tropical storm blows through the area, things are topsy-turvy. Then when their host’s body washes ashore, Don is suspected. After all, they’d had several arguments witnessed by a number of people. Can Carly figure out who the real killer is before her son-in-law is shanghaied into a life sentence?

Chapter 1

“Ooh, some days I could just kill that man!”
Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant by day and wife, step-mother, and grandmother all the time, sighed and closed the computer file she’d been reviewing when Denise’s call came in. “Calm down, and tell me what’s going on.”
A long quiet filled the line—well, not exactly quiet, given the voices intruding in the background—from Denise’s end of the call. Don, her husband and Mike and Carly’s son-in-law, asked about a clean shirt. Margie, eight going on twenty-eight, nattered on at her younger brother Toby about not drawing on the walls.
Several gulping breaths, reminding Carly of a drowning goldfish, filtered through before Denise continued, her voice a notch lower than before. “Don’s partner. Maurice, but everybody calls him Mo.”
“Don is nearby, right?”
“Right. And I don’t want him to know I’ve been talking about Mo.”
“Why ever not?” Carly closed the cover on her laptop. If she didn’t, she’d think about all the work that needed doing and not concentrate on Denise’s call. Which would merely lengthen the conversation. “Is it a secret?”
“No, not exactly, but Don doesn’t want gossip to start. You know how it is in a small town.”
Carly resisted the urge to snort. Although married to a native for eleven years, the residents of Bear Cove, Maine, a tiny hamlet of less than four hundred souls at the height of lobster season, still didn’t think of her as “one of them”. “Understood. But it’s unlikely I’ll ever sit around and chat with folks from Riverdale.”
“True. But they do go outside the town limits occasionally, and since they don’t wear signage indicating where they live, you just might bump into one of them.”
Carly chuckled. Denise ran into much the same attitude about the fact she’d swooped in and stolen one of Riverdale’s most eligible bachelors, although the residents did at least treat her better than out-of-towners, as they called anybody not from Riverdale.
Unlike Bear Cove, whose town motto—if they had one—would be: if you don’t live here, go away.
“So what can you tell me? Other than you have homicidal thoughts about the man.”
“He has been so unreasonable lately.”
“Maybe he’s under a lot of stress.”
Now Denise did snort. “Stress? Why do you think people become dentists instead of medical doctors? No emergency calls. No late night outings. Closed on weekends. Four weeks of vacation every year.”
“Point taken. So if not stress, what?”
“I think he’s always been this way, and we’re just beginning to notice.”
“Unlikely but possible.” Carly chewed on the end of a pencil, wishing she’d brought in a granola bar and soda on her last trip to the kitchen. “What are you going to do about him?”
“Can’t do much, can I? He’s Don’s partner, not mine.”
“How has he been acting?”
“Coming in late. Leaving early.”
“Maybe he has a girlfriend.”
“The last time he asked a woman out on a date, he talked about it for a week before and two weeks after. But he never got up the nerve to ask her out again, so that was the end of that.”
Carly pulled open a desk drawer. Maybe she’d left a candy bar or a package of crackers. Nothing. She sat back in her chair. “Okay, so not a woman. What else?”
“He got angry at a patient last week for being three minutes late to her appointment. Her car wouldn’t start and she had to call a tow truck. She called the office, and the receptionist assured her she was fine. But he tore a strip up one side of her and down the other when she came in. Threatened not to treat her and to charge her for a missed appointment.”
“That does seem overboard.”
“And after he spent fifteen minutes haranguing her in the waiting room, in front of other patients, he finally agreed to see her.”
“Okay, so he had one bad day. What else?”
“Don says one minute he’s smiling and jovial, the next he’s sullen and moody. He said it’s like walking on eggshells around the office. And he’s taken to wearing these old red rubber boots everywhere. I saw him in the grocery store last week and commented on them. He looked down at his feet as though he didn’t know what I was talking about. And now Don said he wore them in the office and refused to change into his regular shoes. Said he left them home. But Don saw them under his desk.”
“I expect your hubby is bringing this stress home, and so now you’re unofficially involved. Well, has Don asked Mo what’s going on?”
“Sure. And Mo says everything is fine. Not to worry. Or he turns it back on Don and accuses him of meddling in his private life.”
“Could he be on drugs?”
“Don isn’t sure. But get this. This is the strangest thing of all.”
Carly leaned in as though Denise were in the room with her. “What?”
“Yesterday, Mo asked Don to meet him for coffee. Don went. In fact, he was fifteen minutes early. But Mo was walking out of the coffee shop, red in the face, angry. The veins in his forehead were bulging, Don said.”
“Maybe Don got the time wrong.”
“He thought so too, but as he walked in, he checked the text Mo sent him. He was early.”
“Maybe Mo’s fingers were faster than his brain that day. Happens to me all the time.”
Denise sighed. “Mo admitted Don was early. But he said he was done sitting around and waiting for Don to grow up and take responsibility. Implied he’d been carrying the practice all these years, and Don did nothing to bring in patients.”
“Well, Don and you and I know that’s not true.”
“Don tried to get him to sit down and talk like adults, but Mo took offense to that. He shoved Don aside and said he never wanted to see him again.”
Carly exhaled. That was one thing she liked about working alone—no partners or employees to deal with. “Sounds like Mo wants out of the partnership.”
“Sounds like it.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your troubles.”
“You’d think that was the end of it, but it isn’t. Today Mo texted Don and said he was sorry and wanted to see if they could patch things up between them. Invited us and our guests to spend a week on the Cape at his summer home. Said he has a six-bedroom house, and we can fill up five of them.”
“I’d take that as an apology and jump at the chance.”
“So we asked Tom and Sarah to join us, and to bring Bradley so he could spend time with our two. And we wanted you and Dad to come, too. I’d feel better if we had several calm males there in case Mo gets weird again. Please say you’ll come.”
Carly opened the joint calendar she and computer programmer husband Mike kept and scanned the days ahead. “When do you leave?”
“Wow, that’s not much notice.” She ran a finger along the week. “But our schedule looks pretty open for the next few days. I have to be back to testify in a big court case on the day after Labor Day, though.”
“Yeah, the kids start school that day, too, and Don has to be back to work, too. Tom and Sarah will also leave on Monday. I’m hoping we can at least have a party or picnic to celebrate the end of summer before we all scatter to the four winds.”
“Then we have a plan.”
“Great. Tom and Sarah are driving down today. They’ll stay here overnight, and we can connect with you at that restaurant on the highway in Augusta around ten. The kids will be ready for a bathroom break by then, and I’ll be glad for a coffee.”
“We’ll be there. Looking forward to seeing everybody. It’s been a while since we did anything together.”
Carly hung up and opened the cover of her computer. Mike would be home soon, and hopefully he’d be excited to hear about their impromptu vacation. Surely he wouldn’t blame her for looking for a mystery where none existed.
After all, this wasn’t her idea.
So if they found a mystery, it couldn’t be her fault.

About Leeann:
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released seven titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published two books on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold and More Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at or follow Leeann at All books are available on in digital and print, and at Smashwords in digital format.

Website: Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.
Book: Amazon  and Smashwords:

About the Giveaway:
As stated above. Leeann is giving away a free print copy (US only) or a digital (eBook) copy of Petty Cash to one of the readers of this blog. To enter, just leave a comment below with your contact information (so we can notify you if you win).
Giveaway ends one week from today on Monday, March 19, at Midnight O'clock. Winner will be drawn the following Tuesday. We're eager to hear from you!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Embracing Mary When You're a Martha ~ Barbara Britton

Embracing Mary When You’re a Martha

(click to enlarge)
a devotional from author Barbara Britton

I’m a task oriented, list maker. I get the work done around my house so fast, sometimes I don’t remember doing it. I also have a nutrition degree, so put me in a kitchen and I can make something edible. When I read Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha, I immediately sympathize with the frazzled sister, Martha.  Have you ever grumbled about a sibling that left you to do all the work?

Jesus travels to a village with his disciples and we are told a woman named Martha opened her home to him. Yay, Martha! Hospitality is a gift, and one cherished in a time without motels and McDonald’s. But somehow in all the commotion, Martha forgot who she invited. She let cooking and food preparation dampen her joy and take her attention from her guest, the Son of God.

I feel for Martha slaving away while Mary sits and revels in the wonder of God, but then I must do a mirror moment. Am I letting tasks and life’s happenings take my eyes off Jesus? Am I blocking time on my calendar for devotions and Bible study or am I too busy doing life that I forget the Creator of life?

Having a busy schedule isn’t bad. After all, being hospitable takes time. But as we go about busy lives we need to remember to abide in God’s presence. We can rest at Jesus’ feet anywhere. I pray in the car—out loud. No one thinks I’m crazy. They probably think I have a high-tech car. I listen to Christian music and remain focused on what Jesus has done for me. I lead a Bible study once a week. I’ve thought of giving up my leadership position, but then I ask myself if I would stay active in studying the Bible. Maybe not.

Martha learns her lesson about keeping her thoughts on Jesus (even if she’s washing wooden plates and chopping leeks). In John 11:20, when Jesus arrives in Bethany after Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, has died, who do we see running out to greet Jesus? Martha. Mary stays at home and Martha goes out to meet her Lord, the Son of God. Martha has learned to enjoy Jesus’ presence no matter what she is going through.

Life isn’t always easy, or fun. Sometimes it’s stressful and we can feel alone. Let’s remember to focus on Jesus and spend time with Him. He will change our focus and renew our spirit, and He can multiply our time.

If you’re cooking dinner tonight, or driving car pool today, remember to pray to Jesus and abide in his goodness. Run out to meet our Savior. He will always be there to greet you. Chances are, He already has his arms outstretched.

About Barbara
Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. 

Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

“Jerusalem Rising” is Barbara's latest book. Find out more about Barb’s books on her website

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Story Behind the Story ~ Evelyn Hill ~ The English Lieutenant’s Lady

Please welcome author Evelyn M. Hill as she shares the story behind the writing of The English lieutenant's Lady.


by Evelyn M. Hill

While doing research into Oregon history for my first book, His Forgotten Fiancée, I ran across a reference to British spied being sent to Oregon during the time of the Oregon Border Dispute, when Britain and the United States were thinking of going to war over who had the better claim to the Oregon Territory.

That is what led to my writing The English Lieutenant's Lady. The British didn’t send professional spies on this mission. They picked a pair of ordinary army officers named Lieutenants Vavasour and Warre. One was an engineer and the other had a talent for painting watercolors. The Colonial Office sent them to Oregon from Montreal, with instructions to pass as gentlemen of leisure on a scenic tour. Their mission was to evaluate the territory and its population to determine whether the British should declare war against America to defend their claim to the land.

The two men travelled across the continent to the Pacific coast, where they tried to purchase the aptly named Cape Disappointment. Failing at that, they went up the Columbia River and then the Willamette, evaluating sites for potential forts and even drawing up a plan to occupy the only town of any size in the area, Oregon City.

clip_image004My story focuses on a character based on one of the actual lieutenants, Vavasour, and a fictional woman from the Oregon Territory. At least, I thought she was fictional. But looking through the records, there is evidence that the lieutenant was involved with someone while on his mission.

Looking through the accounts of items purchased by Vavasour at Fort Vancouver, I found evidence that he purchased not only the standard supplies he would need for his stay in the territory, food and such, he also made some intriguing additional purchases. He purchased a pair of ladies shoes and several yards of gauzy material. On a couple occasions he purchased hair ribbons.

(Editor's note: The list is a little blurry, but if you click on it it will enlarge and you can read some of it a little better.)

All these purchases went on the official record. He was given an allowance to buy what he needed for his mission, and he included these items in the list. Therefore, it is logical to assume he was prepared to justify the act of buying ladies shoes and fripperies as being required for his mission.

Hmmmn... supplies for his mission? Ladies shoes and hair ribbons? Even if I weren't a romance novelist I would be starting to suspect that love was in the air.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Combatting Spring Fever

by Peggy Blann Phifer @pegphifer

Yes, I know there’s only sixteen days left before it’s “officially” spring, but …

Winter still has a firm grip on NW Wisconsin, and there’s another big storm approaching sometime tonight or early tomorrow morning. With predictions of six to nine inches of more snow … and as much as eleven inches in certain ‘locations.’

I’ve had enough! Yeah, I know there’s nothing I can do about it, And complaining about it won’t change anything.

But there’s something I can do about me … and my attitude.

While I haven’t felt much like writing these past two days, my creative self wanted to do something … so I played. What you see here today is the result. New header, a s slight change in background …

In case you don’t remember the former ‘theme’ I’ve copied it below.

Whispers 2018 Header-1400

So, what say you? Improvement? or not.

If you care to, leave a comment below.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Making of The Reluctant Groom ~ Kimberly Rose Johnson

The Making of The Reluctant Groom

By Kimberly Rose Johnson

My favorite kind of stories have always been marriage of convenience stories, but I thought since I wrote contemporary romance I’d never get to write one, that is, until this story came to me.

I was laying in bed one night back in 2016, when the idea began to percolate. It was one of the few times I dragged myself from bed and wrote my thoughts down. I took the concept and the framework of my story to my readers group on Facebook. They helped me come up with a way to make a modern day marriage of convenience not only believable, but also acceptable. 

I had other books to write so it took a little time to get this one written, but then the unthinkable happened. Someone else wrote and published my story! Okay, it wasn’t  exactly my story but there were enough similarities that I hesitated to publish mine. In reality the only thing they really had in common was the set of circumstances I used to justify the marriage. Anyway, I set it aside and literally forgot about it until day ... I remembered.

I brought up the project to my readers group once again and explained why I had not yet published the story. They encouraged me to publish it anyway. I finally relented and set the release date.

About the book:

When everything goes wrong, can two friends discover true love? 

When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love. 

Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible? 

About Kimberly:

Faith Hope and Love Reader's Choice Finalist, Kimberly Rose Johnson, married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

You can sign up for Kimberly's newsletter via her website at:

Amazon buy link:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

100 Steps to Freedom ~ Tamara Lynn Kraft

100 Steps to Freedom

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Before the Civil War, Ohio had the largest Underground Railroad of any state in the Union. It is believed that every county in Ohio had a route. Many slaves would escape over the Ohio River and through Ohio on their way to Canada. This was a dangerous undertaking because, even though Ohio was a free state, the Fugitive Slave Law made it so anyone helping escaped slaves could be fined and jailed.

One small town, Ripley, Ohio, is believed to have helped more slaves escape than any town in Ohio. Ripley is located on the banks of the Ohio River across from Mason County, Kentucky.

Image courtesy Pixabay
One man who helped slaves escape was a freed black man named John Parker. Parker was educated by his master in Virginia and eventually bought his freedom. He traveled to Ohio and opened a foundry on Front Street facing the Ohio River. He was the first black man to earn a patent for one of the inventions he used in his foundry. At night, he would search the Ohio River looking for escaped slaves and helping them find their way to an Underground Railroad Station.

Rev. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, owned a house on top of a hill in Ripley. He built one hundred steps to the house that could be seen on the other side of the river. At night, he would light a lantern and hang it from the porch to signal slaves that it was safe to cross. It is estimated that over 2,000 slaves escaped through the Rankin House. None of them were ever recaptured.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, about the escape of the slave, Eliza, after hearing the story from Rev. Rankin. I also added John Rankin's house in my new novel, Red Sky Over America. The story takes place on the Ohio River where all these exciting events happened.

About Tamera's Book:
Red Sky Over America
Ladies of Oberlin Book 1
By Tamera Lynn Kraft
William and America confront evil, but will it cost them everything?

In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.

America's classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.

Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten. -- Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the Rebel, The Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.
You can purchase Red Sky Over America at these online sites:
Barnes and Noble:

About Tamera:
Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novels and novellas in print. She’s been married for 39 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren. 

Tamera has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

You can contact Tamera on her website at

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.
Word Sharpeners Blog:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Focus on Love ~ Behind the Story ~ Candee Fick

Story Behind the Story of Focus On Love, by Candee Fick

Photo by Candee Fick
My latest release returns to The Wardrobe Dinner Theatre. The first book of the series featured a dancer while the third book will feature a singer. But when I needed a special talent for Liz in this second book, I didn’t have to look further than her hobby of photography.

Except uncovering her talent was only the beginning. Even through my father knew enough to teach a photography class before I was born, my personal experience was limited to older auto-focus cameras and more recently a phone app. However, both of my sisters-in-law have fancy cameras with fast-action shutters and zooming lenses. I’d seen close-up shots of my son playing basketball, so I knew what types of pictures could result with the best equipment. I also had an appreciation for those who could capture unique expressions in their subjects through powerful candid shots.

Knowing there was both technical skill and an art form involved, I set about doing enough research to make the story believable. (And I succeeded, because at least one beta reader asked how long I’d been doing photography!)

However, holding a camera wasn’t enough. When Liz uses her skill, she is also drawn into the realization that the ultimate Creator made her with the ability to express her own creativity through photography as well as acting. Except she’s pulled between being onstage or a life behind the lens. If given the choice, what dream would develop?

I believe God has a unique purpose for each of us. Liz lives out her creativity in a different way than I do through writing. Just like a nurse lives out her compassionate problem-solving skill differently than a teacher trying to reach the heart of a struggling student. The Creator has gifted each of us with a unique and special talent to then share with the world.

How are you uniquely wired?

Short Blurb for Focus On Love:
Free-spirited Elizabeth Foster turned her back on her father’s photography business to pursue musical theater, but with a one-show contract, she’s a few weeks from unemployment forcing her home. Meanwhile sought-after photographer Ryan Callahan has put his career on hold to help his sister’s family while her husband is deployed, but the promise of a bigger assignment could lure him away from building a family of his own. If given the choice, what dreams would develop? Or will they learn to focus on love instead?

Bio:  Candee Fick is a multi-published author in both fiction and non-fiction. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job, writing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

Amazon Author Page –
Sign up to get free first chapters -

Enter to win three autographed books and a Shutterfly gift card to celebrate as we Focus On Love 
Drawing ends February 24th at midnight. 
Note: You have to go to Candee's site to enter...not here. However, both Candee and I would love to have you share your comments to this post in the section below. Thanks!