Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Blackberries are Red When Green by Keith Frohreich

I want to welcome Hoosier writer Keith Frohreich to the Window today. I love his answers to these interview questions and appreciate the time and thought he put into them. 

 What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

A good story. A POV. Research. Believable characters. Dialogue consistent with age, gender and ethnicity, meaning, for example, do not put big words in the mouths of a 10-year-olds. At least one character the reader likes. When I began writing, a friend gave me this saying, “If you can’t see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, or feel it…it shouldn’t be on the page.”

When did you consider yourself a writer?

I am still a work-in-progress. Writing is an avocation. My career was in marketing and advertising. Someone once said that marketing people notice what we notice. That rang true. I am a pretty good observer of what is going around me. I am a people watcher. The question was could I capture it on the page. It began slowly with the columns in the Logansport Pharos Tribune in the mid-1990s. After retirement I devoted more time. I stuck with what I knew or what I observed. My interests were, and still are, quite varied. I was afraid of fiction.

With “Blackberries Are Red When Green,” I feel I became a writer.

What do you do when not writing?

Cooking, traveling and disaster relief volunteering. Toss in some long distance grandpa joys – our grandson is French and lives there. In the past 14 years I have devoted nearly a half a year to disaster volunteer projects, beginning with New Orleans, post-Katrina. Most recently I flew to North Carolina in the aftermath of the hurricane there. I work with Team Rubicon and All Hands and Hearts. Puerto Rico has been in the news lately. I spent two weeks there in the spring of 2018 in the province first hit by Hurricane Maria.

Where are you from and what do you love best about your hometown?

I am a bit of a blend of the village of Adamsboro and the small city of Logansport. My family moved there when I was one and I graduated from Logansport High, a proud Berry. I am fortunate to have been schooled in Logansport. My township, Clay, voted to send their children to Logansport, way before my family moved to Adamsboro. In those days there were at least eight small high schools in Cass County. I was bused for nearly 12 years. I tell people that I was happy to be raised in the area but also happy to leave. In joining Up With People I became a world citizen. In moving to Southern California to pursue my future bride, I became what I call “Ural” part urban and part rural. My wife and I have been married 48 years. In my older years I re-engaged with Logansport and surroundings and saw it for the first time. Doing this proved valuable to my first novel.

Tell us about your favorite character in the book.

This is tough, because there are three pivotal characters, but my favorite is the retired Pullman Porter, Dutch Clemons. I had several objectives with Blackberries Are Red When Green: one was to tell the story of the Pullman Porters. Another was to portray a strong, though flawed, male character. I have been a member of a book group for 20 years, and as such, read over 200 novels, some of which I never would have read on my own. That is what is wonderful about book groups. My book group and the books nurture me. My group knows my proclivities, literature-wise. One is that there are far too few strong male literary characters in US literature. This is not a male thing with me. Truth is I am not a big fan of US Caucasian men lately. But my critique remains. Who are the literary male models for boys/men? You will not find them in Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum or even John Grisham novels or, heaven forbid, comic book heroes, although Grisham’s characters come closer. After Atticus Finch, I struggle to think of another. Granted, I have only read about 250 novels in my life, and not all are by US authors.

Do you have a favorite saying?

Two are mine: Aim high, swing for the bleachers, but celebrate the small victories. Another is borrowed from a source I cannot recall: life is one long forced march into enemy territory – be vigilant. Finally, another of mine: climb into a helicopter now and then and get a broader perspective of your life. As an added comment here, my favorite cartoon character is Wile E. Coyote. Why? Because he never gives up.

Tell us a little about yourself, including something people might be surprised to learn.

·       I am a very good cook. I kicked my wife out of our kitchen early in our marriage. She left skid marks when she left so quickly. While in my career I mostly cooked on weekends. Nothing special. When I retired, in Emeril-speak, I kicked it up several notches. Food was the heart and soul of my first nonfiction book, Guy’s Guide to Domestic Engineering. Friends call me a chef. I am not. Chefs live in their kitchens. I only move there when I am hosting family and friends. Food is one of life’s enduring pleasures. Food is the venue into another culture or ethnicity. I was an Anthony Bourdain devotee.

·       I write left-handed but do everything else right handed. So, I must be bi-polar. I blame my first grade teacher.

·       I once was a very good singer – remember Up With People? I can still sing, but not like before.

·       I have completed two marathons.

·       When I am home, I am at the gym at least five days a week.

What was your best day?

The easy answer is when I married my wife, but there was another day and it needs a setup. My first hospital assignment in the Army was the White Sands Missile Range in a remote New Mexico base. The hospital only had 50 beds. I became so bored that after six months I volunteered for Vietnam, knowing the movie battle cry scenes of wounded men screaming, “Medic!” Like I said, I was bored. Two months later the personnel officer summoned me to his office and said something like: “Specialist Frohreich, we have your orders for Vietnam. But, we also just received orders for you to go to the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. Which would you prefer?” I stammered, “Sir, I will accept the assignment in Germany.” I cannot not tell you how much that affected the trajectory of my life. It was yuge!

What was your worst day?

The day our third child died in 1985 after just two days. His name was Adam Todd.

If you could spend the afternoon with one writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?

Kurt Vonnegut. I guess partly because he was a fellow Hoosier. Was he, like me, in a like/not like relationship with Indiana? Love/hate is too strong of an emotion. What would he think about Indiana today? How did he feel about where he grew up, and what did he take with him into adulthood. Vonnegut is a quirky writer and I like that about him, though I only read two of his books: Slaughterhouse Five and Palm Sunday. There is one quote of his that rings true, “Being a humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

In less than a month in 1960 two murders traumatize the sleepy village of Adams Creek in Northcentral Indiana. Over the three years leading up to the murders, young Kurt Baumann’s world had been rocked by the loss of his dad, his best friend, and his precious dog, leading him to doubt the existence of God. 

A year after losing his father, a retired Pullman Porter, and a founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Dutch Clemons, moved into a small shack across the river from the small Baumann farm. Change colored the air. 

Kurt now had a new friend, a father figure, and a self-educated historian, who disrupted and enlivened Kurt’s segregated life with tales around the supper table, and while lolling the day away bass fishing down the riverbank. 

Sharing the farm with his mom and big brother, the family forged ahead on hard work, meager income, and the mother’s faith. 

Guy's Guide to Domestic Engineering offers a light-hearted look at guys who shed
their career attire (voluntarily or not), and strap on aprons and tool belts to cook, clean, launder, iron, and maintain the household physique in handy-manly fashion, while their wife or partner continues to bring home the bacon, which they now cook.

Guys will find their inner-foodie, become accomplished zesters and sauciers and understand the difference between Italian parsley and cilantro without sniffing or tasting. Years later, when asked, "How was your Thanksgiving?" they'll be able to reply, "It was the best turkey I ever prepared!"
Their reward, in addition to becoming a kept man, having access to a live-in ATM, and earning a B.S. in Domestic Engineering, will be gaining the satisfaction of doing the right thing, as real men do. Domestic Engineer Guys also possess a secret; the path to the bedroom travels through the kitchen.
Successful completion of this undergraduate degree will elevate guys to Domestic God status in the eyes of their partner, and to the vaulted new 21st Century male label, Uber Guy.

If you're in the area, Keith will be at the Logansport Library on August 10 at 2:00.

You can find him here.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Pickle jars and hope

One of my favorites. I LOVE Lucy Dolan! Only 99 cents for a limited time.

For as long as she can remember, Lucy Dolan has been jotting down her hopes on slips of paper and saving them in a pickle jar—her jar of dreams. It was the first thing she saved when the beloved family diner went up in flames, and it's safely buckled in her beat-up minivan when she lands in Taft, Indiana, to start over. She rents a room and goes into business with her landlady, but then Gert's nephew comes charging in to "rescue" his aunt.

Boone Brennan will be damned if he'll let Lucy take advantage of Aunt Gert, who raised him and his sister. Believing that she's just passing through, he's deeply suspicious of her—despite the sparks that fly between them.

Just as Boone and Lucy are starting to open up to each other, a series of fires throws Lucy under suspicion. Boone wants to trust her and his feelings, but with the whole town against her, will he stay by her side? Or will Lucy move on and find another place to make her dreams come true?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Child of Mine by Jana Richards #WindowOvertheSink

New and on sale from my friend Jana Richards, one of the Word Wranglers!

Is Lauren’s love for Cole stronger than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Lauren didn't intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband's funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she's not sorry. Cole's given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He's been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she's afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn't his.

Cole's been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother's. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren's heart ever be his?

Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Buy Links:


“You mean everything to me. I love you.”
 She shook her head. “You don’t love me, not really. I’m nothing more than a responsibility to you.”
“Don’t tell me how I feel.” Desperation turned to anger in a flash. Cole jumped to his feet and began to pace. “I’ve been in love with you since I was sixteen years old, but you never saw me, not really. You only had eyes for Billy. It nearly killed me when you married him, but I stuffed down my anger and hurt and congratulated both of you, because really, what else could I do?”
 “No, that can’t be true.”
 “It’s true, all right. I wish to God it wasn’t. I tried to push away my feelings for you, tried to love other women, but none of them were you. None of them compared to you. I thought I’d get over you, but I never did.”
 Her eyes were wide with shock. “Cole—”
 “Billy guessed the truth. I found out he’d been cheating on you, and I confronted him. We had a huge fight, beat each other till we were both bloody. He told me I was jealous because you’d rejected me. He said you’d never want me, that you’d always be tied to him, no matter what happened. And he was right.” He gave a bark of mirthless laughter. “He’s dead and he still comes between us.”
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with an elderly Pug/Terrier named cross Lou. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Social Media Links:
Amazon UK Author Page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B002DEVWWG
Newsletter Signup: http://janarichards.com/contact.html#newsletter

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Meant to Be by Nan Reinhardt #WindowOvertheSink

Can a near-tragedy help two best friends realize they’re meant to be so much more?

Best friends since grade school, high-powered Chicago attorney, Sean Flaherty, and small-town mayor Megan Mackenzie have always shared a special bond. When Sean is shot by a client’s angry ex, Megan rushes to his side, terrified she’s about to lose her long-time confidant.
Upon his return to River’s Edge to recuperate, Sean discovers that his feelings for his pal have taken an undeniable turn for the romantic. While Megan struggles with an unfamiliar longing for Sean, she worries that he may be mistaking a safe place to land for love.
Can Sean help her realize that they are truly meant to be so much more than friends?


Meant to Be Excerpt 

Meg was afraid to ask, but she did anyway. “What happened?”
“Sean’s been shot.” Sam crumpled back into the booth, sobbing.
Megan gasped as bile rose in her throat. She couldn’t even comprehend Sam’s words. Sean was shot? The invincible Sean Flaherty? Her buddy? Her best friend? His handsome face flashed into her mind—the lock of dark hair that invariably fell across his brow, the blue, blue eyes that sparkled sapphire with wit or turned dark navy with emotion, that killer smile, those amazing Flaherty dimples... impossible!
“What?” She sat down across from Sam. “Shot?” She could hardly catch her breath. “When? Where?”
Sam grabbed a napkin from the dispenser on the table and swiped at her eyes. “I–I don’t know much. Charlie Smith at the firm said it happened right outside the courthouse in Evanston early this afternoon. Some crazy woman. The wife of his current client. They took him to Northwestern; he’s in surgery right now.” She took a shaky breath. “Conor’s driving up to meet Aidan and Brendan at the airport, then they’re heading to the hospital.” She covered her mouth with both hands as if that could stop her lips from trembling, then shuddered. “Dear God, Meg.”
Megan closed her eyes, trying desperately to banish the dreadful pictures in her head—Sean on a gurney, pale and bleeding—and replace them with ones from the last time she’d seen him—grinning and pouring sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve.
They’d hugged each other at midnight because neither of them had had a date, and Sean had pressed his warm lips to her forehead. “You’re the best, Megs,” he’d murmured and held her close to his brawny chest for a long moment. She felt the even beat of his heart under the navy sweater he wore—the one she’d knitted for him for Christmas that made his eyes look deep blue.
“I’m going up there.” Megan stood and gazed at Sam. “I have to, Sam. He’s my oldest and dearest friend. Maybe there’s nothing I can do, but I can spell the guys at visitation and maybe, I dunno, give blood or something. I just know I can’t stay here. I’ll go crazy. I have to see him.”
Sam stared at her silently, then sighed. “Come on. Let’s trade cars. I don’t trust your old beater to make it to Indianapolis, and you sure as heck can’t ride Big Red all the way to Chicago.”

My friend Nan Reinhardt is a USA Today-bestselling author of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is a wife, a mom, a
mother-in-law, and a grandmother. Nan has been a copyeditor and proofreader for over 25 years, and currently works on romantic fiction titles for a variety of clients, including Avon Books, St. Martin’s Press, Kensington Books, and Entangled Publishing, as well as for many indie authors.

Although she loves her life as an editor, writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. Her latest novel, Meant to Be, Book 2 in the Four Irish Brothers Winery series from Tule Publishing releases on July 18, 2019. A Small Town Christmas, which is the first book in the Four Irish Brothers Winery series from Tule Publishing, is available now, and she is currently hard at work on Book 3.

Visit Nan’s website at www.nanreinhardt.com, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully…mostly. Nan also blogs every sixth Wednesday at Word Wranglers, sharing the spotlight with five other romance authors and is a frequent contributor the RWA Contemporary Romance blog, and she contributes to the Romance University blog where she writes as Editor Nan.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Till Next Time by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

The Window, at least this blog, is going to go on hiatus for a while. Because, yeah, you guessed it, I'm tired. Guest posts are still welcome and encouraged--just contact me by email or on Facebook and I'll be glad to have you.

I'll still be at Peru Indiana Today on Saturdays and at Word Wranglers, Romance Gems, and the Heartwarming Author Blog throughout each month. I hope you'll come by and visit.

For right now, I'm finishing one book and gearing up for the release of The Healing Summer. I don't have a date for it yet, or a cover, but I can't wait. It's a book of my heart that's been a long time coming.

Not sure when I'll be back, but I will. The Window Over the Sink never stays closed for long! Have a great summer and thanks so much for reading.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The best things

From July, 2018:

“…Bluebirds sing for nothing—and the shade comes free with a tree…” – Troy Jones & Shane Decker

I like money. I used to like working with it in my job. I liked paying bills and working out the best way to do it so that we’d have as much money as we had month—well, most of the time. Having more of it would be nice, I guess, but since we don’t really need more, that doesn’t really matter. I like what money can do, but not what it often does do.

Even though I like it, I don’t want it to become important. At least, I don’t want it to become more important than things that are free. When I wrote that, I thought it was sort of profound. I also thought some people reading it would just think it was goofy. And I’m good with that.

But this afternoon on Facebook, I saw pictures of some of our kids and grandkids on different beaches. The sky and the waters of Lake Michigan and the Atlantic Ocean were brilliant blue behind them. The sand was sparkling white. Another of the kids told me about a bicycle ride down the Virginia Creeper Trail. Seventeen miles almost all down-hill. I’m not sure I’ll ever make the ride, but it’s been fun thinking about it, visualizing our son and daughter-in-law riding it, remembering the conversation.

Oh, yes, conversation. Conversation with friends and family is free and priceless at the same time. And sometimes it doesn’t have to be friends or family. In 1973, I waited in line at Disney World behind a couple from Massachusetts who had moved to Georgia. Their accents were a hilarious mash-up, and I still remember the conversation.

Ditch lilies. I like lilies anyway—they’re pretty. We have a yellow day lily that blooms like sunshine day after day. But those orange ones in the ditches all over the place—they light up everything, especially when they’re sharing space with a rainbow of other wildflowers.

Speaking of lighting up, the Big Dipper and all those other star formations (I only know two, so I’m not going to try to sound smart here) give a free light show every night the clouds don’t cover them up. The moon is another extravaganza that doesn’t have a cover charge and is worth a crick in your neck to watch in every presentation from full to the slender quarter known as God’s Thumbnail. Sunrises and sunsets are amazing and awesome. Although I think both those words are overused, they’re also fitting at every dawn and every dusk.
Jokes are free and funny and good for you because they make you laugh. The more laughter you use, the more you want to use, and it never runs out. It’s not fattening, either.

Music is a balm to the spirit. I think live music is best, and it’s easy to find a place to go and listen. But when I look back to the endless years of my adolescence, I’m pretty sure the only reason I survived was that it was the Sixties and I got to listen to the best music ever on WLS and WABC (at night when it came in on the radio) and WOWO.

No one charges you for crying when you’re sad, and sometimes tears are the best salve for emotional pain.

If you are able, nothing is better exercise than walking. Reading is endless entertainment. Watching a bird and a squirrel have a conversation, kids playing baseball, or babies laughing out loud can be day-makers.

Beauty is free. Artists in galleries are always happy to see you come in. To show you the pieces of their hearts that are on display there. To explain the things about art that you might not understand. The feelings you get in those places don’t have a price on them. They are like music only you can hear.

Libraries are windows on the world—yes, I know that’s not an original thought. I admit a lot of people have to pay for cards, but the truth is there is no charge to use the resources inside the building and often the programs offered are free and open to all. These include movies, music, crafts, story-time, study rooms, and great discussion groups.

Kindness is free. Holding doors for people, smiling even if it makes your cheeks hurt because you don’t feel like it, or going through the express lane with only as many purchases as the sign allows. Remembering, when a kid is screaming, that sometimes it’s just hard being two, three, or four, and hard being the mom or dad, too. Calling and saying, “Are you okay? I miss you.”

The smell of flowers. Of sheets fresh off the clothesline. Of new-plowed earth or just-cut grass or hay or the sweetness of a baby’s neck. The sounds of birds. Of laughing. Of “hey, batter, batter…” Of “I love you, too”—always a good answer.

When I started this, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it long enough, and now I don’t know how to stop. I just went to see my sister, took her a book and shared sciatica stories. We hugged each other, said we loved each other. It was free.

So, yeah, I still like money, but once you get past the food, clothing, shelter, and health care, it’s not nearly as important as the things it can’t buy.

Have a great week. Hug somebody—it’s free.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

...like a band of Gypsies... by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

Lots of people on road trips this year--have you noticed? It makes me want to go somewhere. I have so many favorite things about road trips.

  • Hotels. I don't sleep especially well and I don't think the food at breakfast is generally all that good, but I don't make the bed and I don't cook or clean up, so...yeah. 
  • Cracker Barrel. The food's predictable, service is almost always good, and I love shopping in the country store. And, if I don't talk myself into buying something there, I'll be able to get it a few hundred miles later.
  • Welcome centers. They all have nice restrooms and coupons for hotels. Sometimes you get to have conversations with people you'll never see again. The flowers are usually pretty, too, and most everyone uses the trash cans instead of littering. 
  • Exits. Sometimes if you see something on a sign that makes you sit up straight in the passenger seat, it's a good idea to turn on the signal and take the wrong exit. We were  going through New York one year on our anniversary and Duane saw a sign that said, "Niagara Falls, 20 miles." We were a day late getting to Vermont, but what a fun day it was.
  • Unexpected pleasures. We were in a restaurant in Arkansas in 1980 and were served the best water we'd ever had in our lives. Nearly 40 years later, it's still the best. I have no idea where we were, but thanks.
  • Awesome. I get the sighs almost every time I see or hear that word, but on road trips, you see things that really are. 
  • Surprises. For some reason, I expected South Dakota to be stark. Plain. Soulless. Instead, it was...see the word above. 
  • Wind farms. I know they're a sore subject around here and that many people
    think they're ugly (although I don't hear much about cell towers, which I think are hideous, but what do I know?), but I think they have an eerie beauty.
  • Mountains and oceans. Because we don't have them and I love them. 
  • Memories. We went to Washington, D. C., driving all night after Duane got done playing music, and ended up falling asleep crazy early the following night. We were all five in a room, sitting up talking at two in the morning. I don't know if the other four remember, but I do.
So, yeah, I'm ready for a road trip. How about you? Where do you want to go, or what do you remember from the last time?