December 31, 2017
December 15, 2017
Dear Readers, Friends, and Family,
I’ve been sitting on a secret since May. I’m thrilled to announce that Thorndike Press, the leading large print publisher in the United States, will release my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, in hardcover large print library binding February 21, 2018. The sequel, Seven Wings to Glory, will follow on March 21, 2018. This is a dream come true and will help my books find a whole new audience. Thorndike Press calls both novels “contemporary, issues-driven women’s fiction featuring warm and spunky Johnnie Kitchen and her family.”
Johnnie Come Lately received top billing under the publisher’s “Clean Reads” line on page 22 in the February 2018 catalog. To view the catalog, click here.
To pre-order either title, please visit the publisher’s website
Check with your local library to see if they carry large print books. Ask them to order both books.
I am deeply grateful to Camel Press, the original publisher for Johnnie Come Latelyand Seven Wings to Glory, for making all of this possible. Both books are available in paperback and e-book. Johnnie is out on audio.
October 4, 2017
Members of Colleyville Book Club welcomed me for a lively discussion about my latest novel, Seven Wings to Glory. We talked about the characters and how they each dealt with issues of war, racism, and family secrets in the town of Portion, Texas, a fictional suburb located near Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
After I read a brief excerpt from chapter two (the inciting incident), we each opened up and shared our own experiences dealing with discrimination and intolerance. A big thanks to hostesses Tari Sanchez Bauer and her daughter, Mandie Bauer, for selecting my novel for their October pick. The club will donate their copies to the library as a “book club kit.”
Thanks to all of you who’ve read my books and offered your support. Thanks to Camel Press for believing in my work.
July 30, 2017
In late January of 2017, Diane Nine, President of Nine Speakers, Inc., an established literary agency based in Washington, D.C., offered to represent my future work. At the time, all I had to offer Diane was a one paragraph premise describing the novel I planned to write. I am forever grateful to Deborah Kalb, an author and journalist I admire and respect, for recommending me to Diane.
My work in progress is my fourth novel (if you don’t count the two half-baked manuscripts in a bottom drawer). I hope fans of my first three novels, The Final Salute, Johnnie Come Lately, and Seven Wings to Glory, will embrace my next story starring a brand new cast of characters in a contemporary setting I’ve longed to write about, my native New Mexico.
I’m about a third of the way in, and I hope to have the story complete by the end of this year or shortly thereafter. Because I’m building this new book from scratch, it’s taken me a while to get to know my characters. I’m finally at that point in the story where my characters are waking me up in the middle of the night or nudging me in church to scribble notes in the margins of the bulletin. Don’t tell the preacher. 😉
Thanks to all of you who’ve followed my career over the years, whether you’ve read my books or my work in Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. Every day when I sit down to write, I remind myself that I live in a country where I have the freedom to explore controversial subjects and to express my imagination.
Thanks for reading,
2017 Purple Pride Alumni Hall of Honor Award for “Sports & Entertainment”
July 14, 2017
Last September I was invited to Senior Circle Book Club in Granbury, TX to discuss my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately. When I mentioned that my third novel was releasing a few months later, they invited me to come back with the new book.
Today I had the pleasure of speaking to this warm and attentive audience. After I read a few passages from the opening pages of Seven Wings to Glory, several members asked questions about my writing process and how long it took me to write my third novel. One lady was curious about the title. I got a kick sharing how the title came to me in a dream.
We also talked about two of my favorite subjects: dogs and the military. A few of the women in the group came up to me later to tell me about their loved ones who’ve served in the Armed Forces. One lady who’s not pictured in the photo remembers her early childhood when her family lived on land which is now part of Fort Hood, the massive Army post located in central TX.
After my talk, I signed books and we enjoyed some delicious refreshments. Many thanks to Cory Johnson, Director of Senior Circle, for making the arrangements to have me back for the second visit.
July 13, 2017
Members of the “Second Thursday Book Club” at the Mary Lou Reddick Library in Lake Worth, Texas, rolled out the red carpet and welcomed me for a lively discussion about my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory. We also talked about its predecessor, Johnnie Come Lately. After I read a couple of brief passages from both novels, I took questions from the members. As an author, it’s thrilling to be in the company of a group of readers and listen to them discuss your characters as if they are real people.
Two of the members, Dolly and Emma, both have close ties to the Grapevine, TX area where I set my fictional town of Portion. Emma grew up on a farm which is now buried under Lake Grapevine (Portion Lake in the story). Dolly remembers attending barbecues as a child on land now under water. Several members of the book club went back and read my first novel, The Final Salute, after reading the other books.
As a native New Mexican now living in Texas, I was thrilled to learn that one of the members (Barbara) is from Roswell, NM. I was presented with a bouquet of flowers after the discussion.
A huge thanks to Lara Strother, Director of the Mary Lou Reddick Public Library, for the invitation. I appreciate my dear friend, Drema Hall Berkheimer, author of Running on Red Dog Road, for recommending me.
May 20, 2017
For years I longed to visit the historic Castaneda Hotel located next to the railroad tracks in Las Vegas, New Mexico. My maternal grandmother, Olga Berg, left the security of her Iowa home in 1928 and came to Las Vegas, NM to work as a Harvey Girl for the Fred Harvey Company. She spent two years at the Castaneda before transferring to the Harvey House in Belen, NM, now home to the Harvey House Museum. She also worked special functions at the La Fonda in Santa Fe and the Alvarado in Albuquerque.
Thanks to Kathy Hendrickson of Southwest Detours, I got to walk in Olga’s footsteps and imagine what it was like to be a young girl far from home, donning the starched black and white uniform, and serving hungry train passengers at all hours of the day and night. With my husband Tom by my side, we entered the hotel lobby with our tour guide and stepped into the past.
While Tom and Kathy Hendrickson chatted at the long counter, I was pulled across the room by a lone black and white photograph hanging on a wall to my right.
As I approached the photograph, my heart began to race as I honed in on the Harvey Girl with deep-set eyes and a quiet smile in the center of the photograph.
I knew instantly it was Olga, my beloved grandmother! But just to be sure, I whipped out my cell phone and took a picture and sent it to my mother back in Clovis, NM. Within seconds, Mother texted back and said she was certain the young woman was her mother. I also sent the photograph to my two sisters and both of my grown sons. We all agreed the young woman had to be Olga.
I spent the rest of the tour thinking about my grandmother and wishing I’d asked her more questions about her days as a Harvey Girl before she married a railroader and became the mother of a daughter and two sons.
Olga Berg Lamb passed away on March 17, 1978. Until her last breath, she was always waiting on others and she knew the proper way to set a table.
As we walked up and down stairs and entered quiet rooms now occupied by ghosts of the past, I tried to tap into the Harvey Girl spirit. These women were more than glorified waitresses working at trackside lunchroom counters and dining halls across the west. They were risk takers! I wish I had half their gumption.
Author’s note: The Castaneda is currently under renovation. One day soon, this grand dame will shine again and welcome travelers looking for comfortable lodging and a link to the past when passenger trains ruled.
Olga’s younger sister Nellie Berg answered the Fred Harvey call and came to New Mexico and Arizona years later to work as a Harvey Girl. A large photo of Nellie graces the museum in Belen, NM.
To learn more about the young women who worked for Fred Harvey, I highly recommend The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West, by Lesley Poling-Kempes and Rosa Walston Latimer’s series of books, starting with Harvey Houses of New Mexico (Kansas, Texas, and soon-to-be Arizona).
April 29, 2017
If you missed my live interview on The Writer’s Block on LA Talk Radio, you can tune in to the archived edition where I chat with radio host Jim Christina and his co-host Russ Avison. We discuss my latest novel, Seven Wings to Glory, and about writing in general. Great fun.
I’m also glad I had the opportunity to talk about our military and veterans. BTW, Jim Christina is a Vietnam Vet and Purple Heart recipient.
You can purchase the novel here:
April 9, 2017
Signing a copy of my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, for the one and only Parris Afton Bonds, my writing mentor since 1984 when she was the keynote speaker at a special luncheon at the Fort Hood Officer’s Club. Parris is a NYTs bestselling author of over 40 novels. She co-founded Romance Writers of America with her dear friend, Rita Clay Estrada. This superstar writer raised 5 sons.
Patron of the arts Tom Rodgers and NYTs bestselling author Parris Afton Bonds meet each other for the first time after they’ve both been encouraging my writing for years. A sweet moment I will always cherish. Parris showed up with beautiful flowers.
With Tom and Brian (a super cool manager at B&N in Southlake, Tx) who is a proud military brat and also served as a pararescuman in the Air Force. Their motto is “That others may live.”
Longtime church friend Tari Sanchez Bauer stopped by with her daughter Mandie. Tari’s bookclub read my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, and they were such a welcoming group.
Janet Terneus, a loyal reader who loved Johnnie Come Lately, grabbed a signed copy of my latest.
With good friend Joyce Hegeman, a fun-loving gal and fellow pilot’s wife. And dog lover, too.
Neighbor and friend Kathi Marrs (a military mama), Katherine Boyer (Retired Library Director of Roanoke Public Library) and dear author friend Drema Hall Berkheimer.
Rhonda Revels (far right) and our mutual friend Leisa Price Rintala. What a glorious day. Rhonda has supported me through three novels…My sons grew up thinking of her as a second mama.
Beverly Logan Jones and I finally met in person after being FB friends the past couple years. We have a mutual friend Wendel Sloan and she wanted to make him jealous. LOL Beverly drove in from Mt. Vernon, TX.
With my best friend from high school, Sherry Dodson Christian, and my best friend Rhonda Revels (since 1992). What a joyous moment! Sherry surprised me. She snuck up and sat down next to me while my head was turned. I had no idea she was there or that she was coming to the launch.
Always fun to connect with FB friends in person. Loved meeting Julianne Hart and her writer friend Scherry Lewis who says she’s been wanting to meet me for a long time. Thank you, ladies.
Four authors in a row…L-R Parris Afton Bonds, Jan Marler Vanek, yours truly, and Jerry Gundersheimer.
With longtime writer friend Melissa Embry. Mellisa went to a writers conference at Tarrant County College/NE campus and stopped by to say hi before heading home clear across the metroplex.
Jerry Gundersheimer, author of the new novel Face of the Bell Witch. Jerry and I have been FB friends for over a year and he drove all the way from Sherman, TX to meet me. Wow, so honored! Such a cool guy!
Family support from son Thomas, DIL Brittany, and Tom.
*Special thanks to B&N Community Relations Manager Casey Dickey for setting up the event.
Updated January 18, 2018
Early in the writing of my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, I reached out to watercolorist, Jenny Zovein, whose work I’d admired on Facebook. Her whimsical style appealed to me and I wondered if she could paint a few scenes to inspire me as I worked to bring the story to life. I was on a tight deadline. She agreed and we arranged a time to discuss the project by telephone. Each time she sent me a completed painting, I propped it up in front of my computer and felt the spirits of my characters come to life.
To see more of Jenny’s work, please visit her art page on Facebook.
Seven Wings to Glory released in print and e-book from Camel Press in 2017 and is available at most online booksellers:
Thorndike Press, the leading large print publisher in the United States, will release Seven Wings to Glory in hardcover, large print library binding on March 21, 2018. The prequel, Johnnie Come Lately, releases on February 21, 2018. Both books come under the publisher’s “clean read” category. Both hardcover copies are available at most online booksellers.
April 1, 2017
My third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, releases today from Camel Press. The novel is a sequel to Johnnie Come Lately but can be read as a standalone story. The book is available at Amazon, B&N and most online booksellers.
Endorsements and additional buying information can be found on my publisher’s website.
#MilitaryFamilies #Racism #MagicalRealism #Faith
Dear Readers, Friends, and Family,
I’m excited to announce the April 1, 2017 release of my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, published by Camel Press. Sometimes small towns harbor big secrets. And sometimes things just can’t be explained. Early praises are coming in from top authors around the country. To read their endorsements, please visit my website.
You can ask your local bookseller or library to order the book. If you’re a member of a book club, I hope you’ll consider choosing Seven Wings to Glory for a future discussion.
The official book launch will be held at B&N, Soutlake, TX, Saturday, April 8 from 2-4 pm CDT.
All the best,
Johnnie Kitchen is finally living her dream, attending college and writing a column for the local paper. She adores her husband Dale and chocolate Labrador Brother Dog, and they reside in a comfortable home in the small town of Portion in North Texas. Their three children are thriving and nearly grown.
But Johnnie is rattled when her youngest boy Cade goes to fight in Afghanistan. The less frequent his emails, the more she frets for his safety. On the home front, Johnnie learns that Portion is not the forward-thinking town she believed. A boy Cade’s age, inflamed by a liberal bumper sticker and the sight of Johnnie’s black friend Whit, attacks them with the N-word and a beer bottle. After Johnnie writes about the incident in her column, a man named Roosevelt reaches out with shameful stories from Portion’s untold history. More tears and triumphs will follow, as Johnnie’s eyes are opened to man’s capacity for hate and the power of love and forgiveness.
February 11, 2017
My second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, moved up from finalist to the short list and is in the final rounds of judging for the 2016 SOMERSET Book Awards novel competition for Literary, Contemporary, and Mainstream Fiction. The Somerset Book Awards is a division of Chanticleer International Book Awards and Novel Writing Competitions.
The sequel, Seven Wings to Glory, releases from Camel press April 1, 2017. The novel can be read as a standalone story.
As an American novelist, I realize it’s a privilege to write fiction. I never want to take my freedom of expression for granted.