Sunday, October 4, 2015

Special Guest Linda Bennett Pennell

I met Linda a year and a half ago, at the RWA conference in San Antonio. We were Soul Mate authors, and connected immediately. We attended a workshop on starting a group blog, which resonated with us. History Imagined is now celebrating its one-year anniversary. Caroline Warfield, our other partner on the group blog, was a guest here a month ago. Now it's Linda's turn. Please help me welcome her as she discusses her newest book, A Wild Rose Press release entitled Casablanca: Appointment At Dawn.

Tell me about your new release. 
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn is set in 1943 during the weeks leading up to the First Allied Conference in Casablanca. It was at the conference that Roosevelt persuaded his Allied partners to set the policy of unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. During World War II, communications from both sides were intercepted and read. Even something as important as this conference could not be kept totally secret. The Germans knew that the conference was taking place, but the translator of the intercepted message made one critical error. He translated Casablanca, Spanish for white house, as White House, Washington, D.C. Imagine what might have happened if the error had been caught in time or had not been made in the first place! 

When I first decided to write a novel set in WWII, I began a love story between a ninety-day-wonder, as Army Air Corps pilots-in-training were known, and an army nurse. It was set in Hialeah, Florida at the now defunct training facility there. The story just wasn’t working for me. Another author, who had been a WWII pilot and with whom I was communicating, happened to mention a friend who had been stationed at Casablanca. The movie is one of my favs, so the leap in location was not difficult. My hero evolved into an OSS officer, while my nurse got transferred to the 8th Evacuation Hospital. Romance set among spies, double agents, and secret coded messages makes for much more exciting reading, no? 

Like so many authors of historical fiction, I like to play “what if” with events and facts. In writing Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn, that’s exactly what I did. By the way, I considered calling the book Unconditional Surrender. Might have made a nice double entendre, don’t you think? 

What one thing do you hope readers enjoy in the particular offering?
The setting is certainly exotic, but I hope that readers feel the excitement and danger of falling love during wartime against all common sense. I hope readers find Kurt and Sarah as irresistible and these lovers find one another. 
What do you have planned next? 
 My work-in-progress is set in Miami and Havana. It is told in dual historical and contemporary timelines, featuring Professor Liz Reams from Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. This time, she is chasing information about the notorious Meyer Lansky, the "Mob’s Accountant" and a founding member of Murder Incorporated. It is romantic suspense. 


Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn
By Linda Bennett Pennell

Will seven days be enough time to save the Allied war effort and the girl he loves?

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.  

Buy links Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn:


“I’m Heinz. What do you want?”

“Oh. It’s you.”


“From the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”

Kurt was silent for a moment, then it came back to
him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the girl who refused to dance
with me.”

A red flush crawled from her throat onto the apples
of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was rude.”

“I’ve been cut dead before. I got over it.”

The girl’s eyes glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are
you going to keep me standing here on the doorstep for
everyone to see?”

“Why? I’m not expecting company. Would it be a

“It certainly might if the people who tore my
apartment apart followed me here.”

Kurt looked into her eyes with complete attention
for the first time since opening the door. Whatever had
happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry.
Not a particularly good combination for the covert
activities he and Phelps were up to.

Kurt made a quick decision. He stepped back and
pulled the door wide while raising his voice. “You
better come inside and tell me why you think what
happened to your apartment has anything to do with

When they stepped into the living area, Phelps had
disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and the girl
sat down.

Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked
down into her frightened eyes.

“Now tell me how I can help you, Miss, uh…”

“Barrett, Sarah. US Army. RN.”

“Well, Nurse Barrett, what can I do for you?”

The girl stuck her hand in her coat pocket and
whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his face.

“By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so
important that somebody took a knife to my furniture.”

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend." 

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

Favorite quote regarding my professional passion:  "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire  

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Home from Real Cypress Press (my books only)
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn from The Wild Rose Press

Twitter:  @LindaPennell

Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:
Buy link for Confederado do Norte:
Buy ink for When War Came Home:
Buy link for Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn:  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Artistic Pursuit

The Voice is back on the air, and along with the shenanigans of Blake and Adam we are also witness to Pharell Williams. He's quiet, especially in comparison to the two other men, but he never fails to offer a phrase or two that resonate with me, as they could with any artist.

This time his pearl of wisdom was "Whatever makes you different makes you special."

If you read enough author bios, you'll see most of them say their love affair with words and writing began when they were children. A lot of writers are socially introverted, and prefer to spend their time in their own heads. My sister can always tell when I'm trying to work out a plot line, since I stare into space and my eyes go unfocused. She's learned not to bother me when I'm in this state. It makes me different, and according to Pharell, it makes me special. Who am I to argue?

I'm working on the last book in the Cotillion Ball Series now. I'm nearly done with the sloppy first draft, and I like the story line so far. I've taken a couple workshops recently, which I hope have made me a better writer. And I found a good beta reader who will let me know before the book is published if I'm overusing words, or rushing the story. I hope these developments will elevate me from being "special" and make me "extraordinary."

The Forgotten Debutante will be available in March, 2016.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Home Alone

My sister is galavanting around the country on a well deserved ten-day vacation to sunny California. I'd be envious, but I have things to do. Writers don't retire, and I have a deadline looming.

I need to set up a routine again, which has been sorely lacking from my life these last few months. First, it was the hip, then the potential move, then bronchitis, and the constant search for a new home that meets all our criteria.

Mary and I are easing into this new normal gradually. Some thunderstorms interrupted us yesterday, since Mary gets very frightened and needs to be cuddled. I can break my routine to cuddle any day of the week.

And, under the guise of going out to lunch, I took myself to the movies yesterday and munched on nachos while I stared at an aging Robert Redford. He's still handsome, but not the steal-your-breath kind of gorgeousness of his youth.

Then, there's the water therapy schedule staring me in the face. Maybe next week.

My goal while Sis is gone is to find the groove again, and get back to writing at least 1000 words a day. So far, three days in, three thousand words. So, I'm on track. Now, to keep it there, until my last book in the Cotillion Ball Series is finished. I think I can, I think I can...

And, if you haven't already done so, I still need two votes for The Duplicitous Debutante to make it to the finals of The Romance Reviews' Readers Choice Awards. Please take a moment and cast your vote here:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ready To Rock

I may have been under the weather these last few weeks, but I have managed to stay busy. Here's what's going on:

Two of my books are up for Reader's Choice Awards through the website The Romance Reviews. Expressly Yours, Samantha is listed as a Western Romance, and The Duplicitous Debutante is listed as a Historical Romance.
I need 50 votes for each title in order to continue to the next round. Simply click on the above links, hit the top button that says Nominate This Book, and you're done. Thank you so much for your help.

My little puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary, is a guest on USA Today's Happy Ever After Column.  Reminds me of the rock song about making it on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. You can see her here:

We had a serious nibble on the house, so my sister and I are spending the afternoon (along with the celebrity, Mary), doing drive-bys of the handful of houses we've narrowed our search to. For some reason, we want to be near water. So it's the Portage Lakes, or the canal, or any random lake or swimming pool. I think we have visions of pool parties in our future.

Hopefully, I'll have good news to report here soon. In the meantime, don't forget to vote!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Special Guest Caroline Warfield

I am so pleased to once again feature my friend and fellow blogger, Caroline Warfield. She has a new book coming out this month especially for all you Regency fans. Here's Caroline!

Becky Lower and I are partners at History Imagined. When we realized we have new books coming out this month, we thought it might be fun to compare notes by answering the same four questions. Becky’s answers will appear on my blog tomorrow.

My answers are here:

Tell me about your new release:

Richard Hayden, the Marquess of Glenaire, strides through life putting loyalty and duty ahead of everything. He never creases his jacket or puts a foot out of place. He views love as a maudlin sentimentality. When an uncharacteristic indiscretion with an attractive woman occurs in Dangerous Weakness,, he knows his duty. He makes the world’s worst proposal since Darcy insulted Elizabeth Bennett.  Lily Thornton refuses to be Richard’s problem to solve, and so she informs him. Her refusal to let him take care of her baffles him. My goal with the book was to bring two stubborn people to the point they could rely on each other, but these two were more stubborn than usual. She runs pretty far. When he runs after her, he has no idea what he’s about to get himself into: dishonest fishermen, friendly stevedores, disbelieving ambassadors, and slave-trading pirates.

How does the release fit into your series?

Richard appears in both of my previous books. He usually casts himself in the role of rescuer even if his sister and his friends would, like Lily, prefer to manage their own lives. Because he always wants to be in charge, I decided he needed a few lessons. I wanted to bring him to the point he was barefoot, in rags, and begging for help. If ever a hero needed his suit shredded and his hair mussed, it’s this one. It turns out he’ll do anything, even that, to protect the woman he loves.

What one thing do you hope readers enjoy in the particular offering?

As much as it was fun bringing him down a peg, I hope the readers see the heart underneath the fa├žade of the Marble Marquess. When Richard realizes he has a family, the concept stuns him. I hope readers, like Lily, come to understand his fundamental need to care for and protect those he loves.

What do you have planned next?

A secondary character that appears in all three of my Dangerous books, Will Landrum, the Earl of Chadbourn, will appear as the hero of a holiday novella in Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem, an anthology published by the Bluestocking Belles. That story is called “A Dangerous Nativity.”   

All of the Dangerous books include children, and they are all clamoring for their own stories to be told. I am in the process of imagining those stories and matching them with worldwide events that took place in the early years of Victoria’s reign.

Here's the blurb for A Dangerous Weakness: 

If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.
Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving to be almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.

And a snippet: 

 “We will marry of course,” he told her. “Quickly, but not so abruptly as to cause comments.” He walked toward the door, expecting her to follow.
“I beg your pardon,” she called out to him. “We will what?”
He turned on his heel. “Miss Thornton, you will be the Marchioness of Glenaire. That is far from ideal, and the difference in our state will no doubt cause talk. We will have to endure it.”
“Why?” she demanded. “Why this ‘far from ideal’ demand? Has Lady Sarah refused you?”
“Don’t be coy, Miss Thornton. You have led me into folly at every step. After last night I have no choice. I shall have to marry you. My family—”
“Your family would have kittens if I married you, which I will not.”
“You have respectable, if not the highest, breeding, you will show to advantage when properly dressed, and you will do well as a diplomatic hostess. My family, I was going to say, will have to deal with it.” He stalked away. “So will you.”
“I will not,” Lily shouted after him.

Buy links (Kindle only)

Find out more about Caroline here: 

Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

Caroline’s social media

Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog      
Meet Caroline on Facebook                
Follow Caroline on Twitter                            @CaroWarfield
Email Caroline directly                          
Play in the  Bluestocking Bookshop

She can also be found on
Good Reads            

Caroline’s Other Books