How Criminals Operated in the Past

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Linda Pennell. Today, Linda hands over the reins to Professor Liz Reams, the protagonist of her novels, who shares interesting insights into how criminals operated in the past.

Here’s Linda!

Thank you, Joanne, for inviting Professor Liz Reams to your blog. With her specialty in the history of American crime, she has a lot to say about how criminals have operated in the past, especially in the early 20th century. She has received accolades and professional recognition for her discoveries about the likes of Al Capone and other Prohibition era gangsters. Without further ado, here are ten things that she believes readers may find of interest.

1. It is the footnotes of history that often make for the most interesting research and reading.

In addition to the “publish or perish” dictum under which most university professors find themselves laboring, Liz has an added level of stress. The dean of the University of Florida’s College of Liberal Arts hired Liz because she had a reputation at her former university of being able to magically attract undergraduates to her classes. On her slim shoulders rests the responsibility of keeping the budgetary ax from the History Department’s neck each academic year.

Teaching was never anything that Liz believed she wanted, but the first time she saw the light click on in a student’s eyes, she was hooked. Teaching has become her special joy.

The secret to her success in the classroom and in her research is her focus on discovering how big events and overpowering individuals affect the lives of ordinary people, those interesting little footnotes of history. She teaches history through the eyes of people caught up in the turmoil and chaos of events beyond their control. So far, the formula has worked very well.

2. Achievement in one’s professional life does not necessarily translate into one’s personal life.

Liz is like some young women you may have known. She is beautiful, talented, successful, accomplished, and smart – all the things a parent could hope for in a daughter save one small habit. She is attracted to the bad boys. If a guy is kind and pleasant, she finds him boring. She craves the glitz and glamor of rock stars and test pilots in her romantic life. It is a failing she works on.

3. Living and working with your boss will complicate one’s life.

How should one introduce the man with whom one lives and works? She could call him her fiancé, but she has yet to accept his proposals. Revealing that he is her boss will certainly raise eyebrows. Alas, another romantic issue she must resolve.

4. Florida has a long history of criminal activity and vice.

Even in pre-Columbian times, Florida was the refuge of the outcast and the outlaw. The Native tribes of present day Georgia and Alabama once exiled their undesirables to the swamps and sand hills of Florida.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Florida development as a tourist destination began. Julia Tuttle settled beside the Miami River and convinced Henry Flagler to extend his railroad to the city she helped found. Flagler and Tuttle are considered the father and mother of Miami respectively. Interestingly, while they worked hard to keep moonshining and prostitution out of their town without any success, they had no problem with gambling, which was a violation of state law. Both of them ran gambling parties in their luxurious mansions.

From its founding, Miami was a wide open city when it came to vices and other human foibles. Prohibition and the city’s proximity to the Bahamas meant that Miami became a major port of entry for contraband booze. Even local law enforcement ignored what went on. It is no surprise, then, that no one batted an eye when the Mob moved to town.

5. Childhood friendships can last a lifetime.

During her research into Al Capone’s brief stay at the Blanche Hotel in north Florida, Liz discovers the friendship between two young boys, Jack and Zeke, which led to the discovery that brought her professional acclaim. Almost by accident, she also found that the boys’ friendship endured despite the realities of segregation, threats from criminals, and finding a parent involved in acts of horror. The boys lived through it all and their love for one another never faltered. The strength of their friendship and what they endured touched Liz deeply friendship.

6. Even gangsters are not always 100% bad.

Liz’s research for her new class entitled Gangsters on the Gold Coast: the Mob in the Sunshine State brings the story of Sam, a young Jewish boy from Brooklyn who witnesses a gangland hit.

At 14, Sam quit school and took a job that paid two dollars more per week than he could make elsewhere. He needed every penny he could earn to help support his widowed mother and younger brothers. Unfortunately, that job was working for a low level Mob boss at the Fulton Fish Market and in the man’s speakeasy. It was in the speakeasy that Sam witnessed the murder of labor organizer William Mack. Under such circumstances, witnesses usually did not have a long life expectancy. Because Sam was young and a hard worker, his Mob boss took pity on him and sent him into exile in Miami. This act of kindness did not come without a price, however.

7. Disentangling oneself from the Mob is difficult.

Forced into working for the Mob in Miami, Sam longs to find a way out. He has fallen in love with the daughter of his devout landlord. Remarkably, the beautiful Rebecca wants only Sam, but they cannot marry until he disentangles himself from his Mob bosses and the debt he owes them.

8. Debts do not always involve money.

Both Liz and Sam discover that some debts do not involve the repayment of money. Whether it is a debt of “friendship” such as Sam owes or an emotional debt such as the one Liz owes, repayment would be so much easier if all they owed was money.

9. It is possible to care deeply for people one has never met.

Liz’s research into Jack, Zeke, and Sam’s lives brings out in her an emotion she is not expecting. She develops maternal feelings for these young boys caught in situations beyond their control. She wishes she could travel back in time and warn them of the dangers to come. In coming to know and care about the boys, she also gains insights into herself.

10. Learning from the past can inform our future in personal ways.

In analyzing the mistakes of the historical figures Liz is investigating, she learns to apply the lessons contained therein to her own life.

Liz can be found solving historical mysteries in Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel and Miami Days Havana Nights.
























Buy Links for Linda Pennell

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Bio

Linda Bennett Pennell is an author of historical fiction set in the American South or about Southerners traveling far from home. While she writes about the land of her birth, anything with a history, whether shabby or regal, ancient or closer to our own day, has fascinated her since early childhood. This love of the past and the desire to create stories of it probably owes much to her Southern roots.

Southern families are filled with storytellers who keep family and community histories alive. It is in their blood and part of their birthright. Linda’s family had many such yarn spinners who entertained the family on cold winter evenings around her grandmother’s fireplace and during long summer afternoons on her wraparound porch. And most important of all, most of those stories were true.

Where to find Linda…

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Newsletter Sign Up


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Adding a Touch of Gold to Celery Soup

During chemotherapy, I found myself unable to tolerate a host of foods, among them coffee, meat, fish, cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic, salad dressings, citrus fruits, and all cooked vegetables.

So, what could I eat?

Plain Eggo waffles without syrup, roasted chicken, white bread, some luncheon meats, white rice, apples, pears, carrots, and celery.

I was especially fond of celery, a preference that has remained in life abc (after breast cancer). I love munching on the stalks and tossing them into casseroles, stuffings, and soups. Almost every soup I make has at least one celery rib.

Last week, I decided to make celery the primary vegetable. While researching celery soups, I discovered that most of them included potatoes or cauliflower. The final results appeared a bit too pale and unappetizing for my taste. I experimented and came up with this golden alternative.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 cups of fresh celery, chopped
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of baby carrots, chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (include stems)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Hemp hearts (optional)

Directions

1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft.

2. Add garlic cloves and cook for a minute before adding celery, stock, carrots, water, and parsley. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

3. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the celery and carrots are soft enough to be puréed.

4. Purée the soup in the pot using an immersion blender. Or remove the soup from the pot and purée in a blender.

5. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper (to taste).

6. Sprinkle hemp hearts into each individual bowl.

Makes 4 servings, about one cup each.

Buon appetito!


Spotlight on Barbara Nolan

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Barbara Nolan. Today, Barbara shares her writing journey and debut novel, Beyond Paradise.

Here’s Barbara!

My journey to publication evolved over time, but it wasn’t until almost ten years ago that I became serious. I already had the equivalent of about 200,000 words on my computer and after achieving a degree in Creative Writing from New York University I was able to convert all those words into something that was worth reading.

The professors at NYU gave me the tools I needed to make my dream come true, and believe me, I had a lot to learn. Punctuation, Pesky run-on sentences and the Power of show don’t tell. I still have problems with commas as my editor with gladly tell you, but overall my writing has improved greatly. (I know, I really didn’t need that adverb.)

Armed with all the tools I needed I converted those words into three books which became my Paradise Series. I read that entering contests was a good way to get noticed so I entered at least three a month and was pleasantly surprised when I became a finalist in many of them.

I would highly recommend entering contests as most have agents and editors as judges and even if they don’t request your work you will get critiques. Some of my most valuable critiques have come from contest judges. Entering contests is what brought me to Soul Mate Publishing. Cheryl Yeko was a judge, liked my work and offered me a contract for my Paradise Series with the first, Beyond Paradise, published December 12, 2018.
I have always considered reading a luxury and writing a necessity.

Blurb

Jonny Vallone, the dark, brooding owner of Manhattan nightclub, Beyond Paradise, doesn’t need any more complications in his life, or women. Then savvy con artist Cheryl Benson, barges into his office and spits out a confession that would make most men run for cover.

Cheryl’s fast-paced, out-of-control life is closing in, and her only hope against a ruthless crime boss is bad boy Jonny and his powerful connections. Her knight in black Brioni has a body made for sin with enough baggage to fill a 747, but when a near-fatal attack throws the two together, they implode in a night of steamy, sheet-gripping passion.

Jonny can’t resist the beautiful blonde with the pleading green eyes plus he has his own agenda with the underworld thug who owns a piece of his soul.

Their wild ride whisks them from the high-powered glitz of Manhattan to the sultry beaches of Miami in a desperate attempt to break free of their shady pasts while trying to tame their fiery passion and the dangerous deceptions swirling around them.

buynow

Where to find Barbara…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | BookBub | Facebook


More Advice from Gail Bowen

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In one of last month’s G.O.T.H. posts, I shared an excerpt from Sleuth, the latest release from Canadian mystery author Gail Bowen. This informative and entertaining guide provides excellent advice for writers of all genres.

In the Editing chapter, Ms. Bowen adds the following insights to “expert” rules:

1. “Vigorous writing is concise” (William Strunk Jr.). Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style will always be a writer’s best friend. Be concise; be concrete. Cut until you can cut no more. Almost every piece of writing can be improved if you cut it by a third.

2. “Try to leave out the parts people skip” (Elmore Leonard). Deep-six your prologue. The material there is generally back story and can be worked in later. Your first task is to bring your reader into the world of your novel; start the action and write an opening that will keep your reader reading.

3. “Using Adverbs is a mortal sin” (Elmore Leonard). British writer Esther Freud’s advice is even more draconian. Freud instructs writers to cut out all metaphors and similes. I’m with Leonard on adverbs, but when it comes to metaphors and similes I’ve been known to indulge myself. I always feel terrible the next morning, but nobody’s perfect.

4. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very.’ Your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be” (Mark Twain). Amen!

5. Don’t explain too much. Give your readers credit. Allow them to be come part of the creative process. If you’ve done your work as a writer, then your readers will do the rest.

6. Read aloud passages in your novel you suspect might be problematic. If there is a problem, then rereading the passage aloud will reveal it.

7. January 24th is the feast day of Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and journalists. I understand he’s available 24/7.

8. Enjoy the ride. Ann Patchett says, “Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” Most people have to say goodbye to their imaginary friends when they start kindergarten; writers get to keep their imaginary friends forever.

9. Ray Bradbury says the most important items in a writer’s make-up are zest and gusto. I agree. If you can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’re a real writer. Stay the course.

Source: Sleuth by Gail Bowen, pp. 142-143.


Book Blast: The Sixth Key by Sue Perkins

I’m happy to welcome New Zealand author Sue Perkins. Today, Sue shares her new release, The Sixth Key.

Blurb

Kidnapped, taken to another planet – how much worse can Riley’s life get?

The kidnapper is her boyfriend Jothur and Sacral is his home planet. The castle inhabitants are psychic, mainly telepaths, and they are at odds with the Mutes in the forest. The psychics’ plan is to discover how Riley blocks her thoughts. This will help them completely eradicate the Mutes who are a mixture of free telepaths and non-telepaths.

Riley seeks help from the Mutes and meets Tynan, their leader. She hopes he will help her escape the tests the telepaths want to do. Instead she discovers the magic of Sacral is dying due to an imposter being on the throne.

Riley and Tynan work together to discover the real king and place him on the throne. Part of the plan relies on Riley returning to the castle to delve for more information. Will she survive or will her mind be torn apart by the tests?

Excerpt

She frowned as her mind struggled to recall what had happened. Her last memory had been the truck heading straight for her. Cautiously, she moved her arms and legs. No pain. There didn’t appear to be any injuries, but the vehicle couldn’t possibly have missed her. Slowly she sat up and looked around.

Riley sat beside a small pond in a grassy clearing. Reeds grew along the edge of the water and huge, but strangely delicate, trees clustered at the edge of the grass. The singing of birds floated down from the branches.

“Oh great. Just when I think things can’t get worse I get run over, die and end up here. I suppose this is Heaven.” Riley didn’t know why the thought of dying upset her so much. Her life sucked, but at least there had been the remote chance things would get better.

“Funny, I never thought Heaven would look like Earth. What happened to the angels sitting on fluffy clouds playing their harps? Where are the beautiful people and the Pearly Gates?”

Riley stood and stretched. High above her, the trees entwined their branches in a delicate filigree, making the forest look light and airy. Birds swooped in and out of the aerial canopy, chirruping happily. Beneath the trunks nothing stirred.

“What happens next? Do I find St Peter and sign in? Or do I wander around until I find someone? Perhaps I should tidy up first.”

Author Bio and Links

Sue Perkins emigrated to New Zealand in the 1980s. A few years later she took a creative writing course, then started writing novels and short stories. Despite rejections from several publishers Sue persevered and in 2006 she won the Pacific Region of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Short Story Competition. The following year her first romance novel was published.

In the intervening years Sue has had ebook and paperback novels published for middle grade, young adult and adults, mainly in the fantasy genre. Dragons and magic are her favourite subjects in fantasy, but ghosts are also making their appearance in her young adult books.

Website | Blog | Publisher Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon |
Barnes & Noble

Giveaway

Sue Perkins will be awarding a PDF ebook of The Sixth Key to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Sue on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour. You can find out more here.


Warming Up with Broccoli Soup

A piping hot bowl of soup is my favorite way to incorporate vegetables into my diet. I especially like puréed, low-starch vegetable soups that are quick and easy-to prepare.

Puréed broccoli soup is at the top of my list.

Considered one of the most nutritious vegetables–and often described as a superfood–broccoli is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

This daily bowl of comfort helped me survive (and somewhat thrive) during this past week of frigid temperatures, record snowfalls, and dangerously low windchill factors in Southern Ontario.

On Wednesday, I thought we’d reach a windchill of -40 degrees Celsius. At that point Celsius and Fahrenheit meet…something my well-honed left brain finds fascinating. But only in theory!!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery
Handful of parsley, roughly chopped (include stems)
4 cups of chopped broccoli (florets and stems)
2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup water
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Hemp hearts (optional)

Directions

1. Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft.

2. Add garlic and celery. Cook until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Add parsley and stir for about ten seconds.

4. Add broccoli, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Test to see that the vegetables are tender.

5. Transfer the soup (in batches) to a blender and purée until smooth. Or you can use an immersion blender.

6. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

7. Optional: Sprinkle hemp hearts into individual bowls.

Makes 4 servings, about one cup each.

Buon appetito!


Happy February!

The shortest month of the year, February can be challenging. While many look forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day (February 14th) and participating in winter sports, others may be struggling with the blues.

Millions of us living in Canada and United States like to join in the fun and anticipation surrounding Groundhog Day (February 2nd), hoping our respective groundhogs will predict an early spring.

Here are 10 interesting facts about February…

1. February was added to the Roman calendar in 713 BC. The length of the month changed over time and, at one time, it had as few as 23 days. When Julius Caesar remade the Roman calendar, the month was assigned 28 days during normal years and 29 days during leap years. The next leap year will be 2020.

2. The month is named for the Latin word februum which means purification.

3. February has been designated as Black History Month, American Heart Month, Chocolate Lover’s Month, National Bird Feeding Month, and National Dental Month.

4. The symbols of February include the amethyst (birthstone) and primrose (flower).

5. People born between February 1st and February 18th were born under the star sign of Aquarius while those born later in the month are under Pisces. Aquarians are considered to be original and progressive thinkers with strong humanitarian instincts, while Pisces are often very compassionate and artistic.

6. The Super Bowl, the largest American sporting event of the year, is held in February. The game is scheduled to be played on February 3, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

7. Family Day is observed on the third Monday of February in Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. Family Day was created to give people time to spend with their families. It also provides a day off between New Years Day and Good Friday as they are approximately three months apart. Popular Family Day activities include skating, playing hockey, snowboarding, skiing, and attending winter festivals. In 2019, Family Day falls on February 18th.

8. February’s full moon is commonly known as the Full Snow Moon in Native American cultures. The ancient tribes named this moon after the way trees cracked in the cold, or how people had to sit shoulder to shoulder around the fire for warmth. The Full Snow Moon is also known by more sinister names, such as the Bone Moon. In 2019, the full moon occurs on February 19th.

9. The following historical figures were born in February: Rosa Parks, February 4, 1913; Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 7, 1867; Thomas Edison, February 11, 1846; Charles Darwin, February 12, 1809; Galileo Galileli, February 15, 1564; George Washington, February 22, 1732.

10. This quotation, from Much Ado About Nothing, is the only time February is mentioned in a Shakespearean play: “You have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness.”