Monday, July 24, 2017

Interview with Inspirational Romance Author Diane Dean White

Xmas in July! Book Giveaway July 24 – 31: Christmas Romance, Winter Wonderland. To enter the contest, make a comment and leave your email. Ebook: International.

Diane started her writing at an early age, but it wasn’t until her husband’s work took them to a small southern town she wrote her first column, “Yankee Viewpoint’s” for a local newspaper. Returning to her home-state of Michigan, she did stringer work over the years, ancestral history, and donor appeal letters for non-profit organizations. Diane became a columnist for a weekly magazine, for four years. She is the author of over three-hundred short stories. Her books to date are: Carolina in the Morning, On a Summer Night, Texting Mr. Right, Winter Wonderland , This Side of Heaven, and Stories from a Porch Swing, Lilacs in May, Journey of Redemption, and soon to be released, Beyond the May River. She and hubby, Stephen, have been married for forty-five years, and they are the parents of three grown children and three grand-gals, and live in the Sunshine state.

What is Christmas in July? The term Christmas in July describes Christmas celebrations that are held in the month of July for the southern hemisphere. Seasons down south are in reverse from the northern hemisphere. For those down south, summer is in December. Even though they still celebrate Christmas on December 25, someone decided it would be fun to celebrate Christmas in July specifically for the southern hemisphere.

Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about your Christmas Romance, Winter Wonderland.

During the early 50s many families were seeking employment in the factories in Detroit. Edsel Ford, after Henry’s death, sought workers from all over, and they were very dedicated. My characters left their home for a better future. They are a loving Christian family with three younger children and an older daughter, Ruth.

Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

I’m from Michigan and JL Hudson Company was a huge department store. My mother went there with her family when very young and it continued to serve the area until the malls became popular, and was finally taken down in the late 90s. People watched the landmark come down on television. My inspiration came from the trips I made with my mother from Lansing and then with my husband when we were first married. I wanted to write about Detroit when it was in its heyday, and I felt a Christmas novella would be fun. The storefront windows were beautifully decorated in all the stores. You can imagine the competition.

What kind of research did you do?

I’m laughing out loud!! You wouldn’t think you’d have to do much, just go back a few years and be creative. Mercy! I had to dress Ruth in the right clothing, and her love interest…we’re talking hats, coats, boots, skirts; hair styles…no pierced earrings and then the music! Times were different then, and we didn’t have tension like we do today. I tried to portray that, as well as a bad health issue that was popular then, and we happily have a cure for today. I was shocked to discover that JL Hudson’s had over 80 bathroom stalls in one lady’s rest room…gold fountains and I knew they had elevators and operators…it was the only way to go to the upper floors.

Research is to much fun, isn’t it? Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

I enjoyed Ruth. She was determined to make a life outside of marriage and secured a good position, having had a year working in an office after high school. She took advantage of the lay-away’s and helped get things for her younger siblings, and was a loving daughter. Vernor’s Gingerale was a big company in Detroit at that time, and she literally walked into a representative from there, as they both approached the revolving doors at the same time at Hudson’s.

Where is your website and blog so my readers can check out your recent and past books that you have written?

It’s so much fun to talk about Christmas in July. I hope my readers check out your books. Thank you, Diane, for this wonderful interview.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Interview with Romance Author Christina Lorenzen

Christmas in July! Book Giveaway July 17 - 24: Christmas novella, Snow Globe Reunion. To enter the contest, make a comment and leave your email. Ebook: International.

Christina started writing as a young teen, jotting stories in wire ring composition notebooks. Her first typewriter made it faster to get all those stories out of her head and down on paper. She is busy working on a modern take on her favorite fairy tale, Rapunzel for a summer release. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her family.

What is Christmas in July? The term Christmas in July describes Christmas celebrations that are held in the month of July for the southern hemisphere. Seasons down south are in reverse from the northern hemisphere. For those down south, summer is in December. Even though they still celebrate Christmas on December 25, someone decided it would be fun to celebrate Christmas in July specifically for the southern hemisphere.

What would it be like to be transported through time two generations and meet your grandmother as a young woman? I know I would absorb everything I saw and heard and put it to memory. It would be fun to get to know my grandmother in her youth. This is exactly what happened to Carrie in this story. Through a snow globe, she was able to be transported through time and meet her grandmother. But that wasn’t all. She also met the grandfather of the young man she grew up with, who was also her neighbor.” –Book Review by Linda Weaver Clarke

Welcome to my blog, Christina. Please tell us about your Christmas novella, Snow Globe Reunion.

Stranded by a snowstorm, Carrie Sanders is left holding a bag an old woman she had been talking to left behind in the airport coffee shop. Mystified by the woman’s disappearance, she sits on the bench staring at the snow globe that was in the bag.

Inside the glittery snowy world, it’s Christmas during the 1940s. Fighting sleep, the next thing she knows she’s in the arms of the soldier she last saw skating on the pond in the snow globe. He’s no stranger, but the boy next door who never forgot her.

Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

Actually, my publisher was putting together a collection of novellas for Christmas and each story had to have a snow globe in it. And each story had to take the heroine back in time to a Christmas long ago. I had always wanted to write a Christmas story so without even thinking much I jumped on board.

What kind of research did you do?

Since my heroine gets transported back to December 1942, I did need to do some research war time in our country. I needed to find out as many details as I could like what women wore during that time, the food products they ate, the makes and models of cars on the road and the little things that I knew my readers would be expert at spotting.

Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

I loved my hero, Jimmy Hall. He’s the all American soldier and a true gentleman. When Carrie was a young girl Jimmy had a crush on her that continued until the day she left home. He’s the typical boy next door that most girls dismiss in their quest for Mr. Right. At least that’s what Carrie thinks. It’s not until she ends up back in December 1940 that she finds out who truly is right for her.

Where is your website and blog so my readers can check out your recent and past books that you have written?

I love to talk to readers! They can find me at several places online:

Thank you for this interview, Christina. I read your book and it was such a fun story of fantasy and romance.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Interview with Christian Cozy Mystery Author Deborah Malone

Book Giveaway July 3 - 17: Death in Dahlonega: Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series. To enter the contest, make a comment and leave your email. Paperback copy: Death in Dahlonega, U.S. only.

Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, for the historic magazine “Georgia Backroads, since 2001. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails,” edited by Olin Jackson as well as the “Christian Communicator,” and “The Southern Writers Magazine.” Deborah has two daughters, and lives in Georgia with her husband, Travis

Welcome to my blog, Deborah. Please tell us about the Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series.

Thank you for having me Linda. Trixie is a journalist for a magazine in Georgia called “Georgia by the Way.” It just so happens that I, too, write for a magazine: “Georgia Backroads.” I guess you could say that Trixie is a lot like me. She gets to travel because of her job, and she usually takes her best friend Dee Dee along with her. They seem to be magnets for murders and have become quite good at solving them.

The settings in my books are real and if you’re familiar with the area you would recognize the buildings, restaurants, roads, etc. This makes it fun for people who have visited these areas or plan to visit them.

Death in Dahlonega is the first book in this series. What is it about?

Trixie is near her sixth month probation period on her job as a magazine journalist. Her boss, Harv, has given her an assignment to cover the Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega, Georgia, a mining town in the north Georgia mountains. She takes her friend, Dee Dee, with her. While they are visiting the Gold Museum, Dee Dee has to go to the bathroom when she happens upon a dead body. Let’s just say it doesn’t go well for Dee Dee since she and the victim had an argument earlier in the day. Trixie and Dee Dee get involved to help solve the murder.

Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

While writing for “Georgia Backroads,” I wrote several historical articles, and while researching fell in love with this unique little town. I knew when I started writing my novel I wanted to set it in Dahlonega. I wanted to use the real setting, because it is such a quaint and unique area, and a well-known tourist spot in Georgia.

Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

Trixie is the main character and I feel close to her because part of myself went into her. And Trixie isn’t perfect. She’s been through a divorce (her husband wanted to move on to greener pastures), she is at a point in her life that her faith has wavered, and she has a bum knee from when she fell off a horse when she was younger. She uses a cane for long walks. In other words, she is real! Through the series, you will see Trixie grow and regain her faith with the help of her good friend Dee Dee.

Where is your website and blog so my readers can check out your recent and past books that you have written?

My website is

Thank you for this wonderful interview, Deborah. I appreciate it and hope that my readers will check out your books.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Maria Hoagland

Book Giveaway June 26 – July 3: A Sweet Romance novella, Beauty and the Billionaire Beast. To enter the contest, make a comment and leave your email. Paperback: US only.

When Maria Hoagland is not working at her computer, she can be found combing used furniture stores, remodeling houses with her husband, or sitting on the sideline of a son's soccer game. She loves crunching leaves in the fall, stealing cookie dough from the mixing bowl, and listening to musicals on her iPod. While she appreciates the home office she shares with her husband, Maria's favorite writing places are outdoors where there is sunlight and no internet. Maria Hoagland has several published works including two Whitney Award finalists, The {Re}Model Marriage and Still Time. Other works include Kayaks & Kisses, Home for the Holidays, Nourish & Strengthen, and Family Size.

Welcome to my blog, Maria. Please tell us about your novella, Beauty and the Billionaire Beast.

Thank you so much for hosting this interview, Linda. It’s always great to visit your blog!

Beauty and the Billionaire Beast is part of the Destination Billionaire Romance series, sweet romance novellas set in a fun place with at least one billionaire as a main character. Each Destination Billionaire book is written by a different author and a new one is released every month. There are some fabulous ones out there, so check them out as well, but this is my first.

Beauty and the Billionaire Beast is a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but there’s a little more than you might expect. There’s a family mystery that draws the two main characters together, but a family feud keeping them apart. Some of my favorite parts, besides the sweet romance which always makes me happy, are the hints of magic and the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast details which were so fun for me to weave into the story!

Did you get your inspiration from the Beauty and the Beast fairytale or was it more personal?

When I first starting writing this story, Beauty and the Beast wasn’t even on my mind. I was enchanted by my setting, a beautiful, mysterious antebellum plantation in Louisiana—magical gardens, a run-down, imposing mansion, and it seemed to fit. Add to that what some of the community might think about my main character, and I realized that it would work great as one of my favorite fairy tales, Beauty & the Beast. To add the Beauty and the Beast flavor, I made sure I was familiar with the original version, written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, as well as rewatching the animated Disney version. I wasn’t able to watch the new live-action film until just after I sent it to my editor for the first pass; I did, however, choose to name my character Emma because of Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle.

Did you have to do any research for this story?

One of the things I love best about writing is doing research. Some of the most important research for this story happened before I wrote it. My family and I took a trip to New Orleans, and when we visited a plantation, I took copious notes and photos that helped me ground my story. During the writing phase, I researched to find the perfect prop, checked out plantation graveyards, and hoodoo traditions.

I agree with you about research. It’s one of the things I love about writing a story. I learn so much. Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

I had so much fun writing Emma’s character. She is a landscape architect, something I know little about, so it was fun searching out some of the best gardens in the world. Now I have a whole bucket list of places I want to visit. My favorite part, though, was writing her spunk and imagining what the “Belle and Beast dancing scene” might be for this character. That was the best!

Your story sounds intriguing. Where is your website and blog so my readers can check out your recent and past books that you have written?

I love connecting with readers, and you can find me multiple places. The best place to learn about my books is my website at and on Amazon. I also have a Facebook page, Maria Hoagland, Author and a home renovation blog

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Linda, and I look forward to hearing from your readers!

Thank you for this interview, Maria. I appreciate your time on my blog. I hope my followers will check out your book.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Interview with Inspirational Romance Author Diane Dean White

Diane is the author of Carolina in the Morning, On a Summer Night, Stories from a Porch Swing, Texting Mr. Right, This Side of Heaven, Lilacs in May and Journey of Redemption. A former newspaper reporter and weekly magazine columnist, Diane has written over three-hundred short stories which have been published worldwide. She lives with her husband of 45 years, they are the parents of three grown children and three granddaughters.

Welcome to my blog, Diane. Please tell us about Lilacs in May.

Thank you for having me Linda. It’s always fun to share on your blog. LILACS in MAY takes place in the rural area of Saginaw, Michigan. A graduating senior and her younger sister take on responsibilities due to an unforeseen situation. Their older brother returns from his ship in the US Navy, and introduces Heather to a college friend who helps them carry on after the tragedy they go through.

Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

I wanted to do some more stories that take place in Michigan, and honestly as a fly-by-the-seat writer…it truly led me!

What kind of research did you do?

A little about legal laws for Michigan and some fun song lyrics. This takes place in 1971, so I had to remember to dial O for operator, there was no 911, the kind of perfume that was popular then, and those fun hair dryers aren’t blow dryers!

Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?
I enjoyed Heather and her personality and how she knew what her kid sister was up to but also how she encouraged her to do the best with the talents the Lord gave her. Her faith was strong and there were many hard decisions to make.

Where is your website and blog so my readers can check out your recent and past books that you have written?

My website and author blog are at The books are all there and links to where they can be obtained.

Thank you so much for this interview, Diane. I hope my followers will check out this book. I love your book cover.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Interview with Romantic Cozy Mystery Author Miss Mae

Miss Mae is all about G-rated romantic mysteries. “Said the Spider to the Fly”, “When the Bough Breaks”, “Dove Island”, “It’s Elementary, My Dear Winifred”, and “See No Evil, My Pretty Lady” are award winning stories. Her latest, “Catch Me If You Can”, and the SF novella “Through a Glass Darkly” have already received top rated five-star reviews.

On the flip side, Miss Mae is also about humor, creating that Pukelitzer Award winning official unofficial reporter, I.B. Nosey. You can find more about Nosey and the gang of ‘Mischaps of Gum Drop Island’ in the ‘Ahoy, Mischaps!’ series of books: Ahoy, Gum Drop!, Ahoy, Out There!, and the newest ‘Ahoy, Mummy Mia!’ Fun for the kids and the kids-at-heart. Nosey is located at

Welcome to my blog, Miss Mae. “Catch Me If You Can” has won the platinum for the 2017 Hermes Creative Awards. Congratulations! Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

My inspiration for this story came about because of my love of mysteries. (I’m a great Sherlock Holmes fan). I also love the intrigue of mastering puzzles, and I love escape games. In a sort of way, I combined all of that in this book. I’ve read a lot of Agatha Christie as well (who hasn’t watched her movies on TV?), so for my ensemble of characters, I followed Christie’s lead…have the people trapped together. That’s where my idea of a hurricane came in.

Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

I love all the characters, of course. Each has their own unique personality. And I must say that the actors in the audio book were astounding at how they captured the characters’ quirks and feelings. J.W. Terry, who “plays” the obnoxious Bob took my breath away with how real he portrayed him; Stephen Mendel’s deep tones who plays Victor, the hero, made my heart go pitter-patter; Robin Riker who plays Lois, the heroine, sent shivers down my spine at how she knew exactly when to be soft and the next instant to be hard as nails (depending on the scene); Toni Attell, as Jenna the resort owner --ooh, she had “catty” to an art, and Dave Mallow as Andy was Nasty with a capital N.

Please tell us about this book.

Thank you, Linda, for having me at your blog. I’m thrilled to chat up about the audio version of my latest romantic mystery, “Catch Me If You Can”. Roger Rittner Productions of Los Angeles is the ‘man behind the curtain’ (as he describes himself) for this full-cast production. If I may, I’d like to use the press release that Roger wrote so that your readers have a better understanding of what went into this book:

You Can Now Hear the Award-Winning "Catch Me If You Can"

The howling wind of a hurricane. The creak of footsteps on the stairs. The wailing of a dog in the dark of night. "Catch Me If You Can", the thrilling romantic mystery by award-winning author Miss Mae, is now available in an enhanced audiobook at

"Catch Me If You Can" has received five-star reader ratings at, and the brand new audio version enhances the story with extensive sound effects, background accents, and a complete music score. The story is performed by five of Hollywood's best voice artists, and is produced by Roger Rittner Productions of Los Angeles.

In this riveting story, Lois Steinberg is washed ashore on a South Carolina island during a category four hurricane. She seeks shelter inside an old plantation house that was scheduled to host a video game convention to announce the newest mystery game, "Catch Me If You Can". But almost immediately, the cook is found murdered. Then the prize to be awarded at the convention, a CD of the game, goes missing. The quest to discover the answers becomes a maze more complicated than any "Catch Me" game could ever be devised, as Lois races to save her life ... and keep hidden her mysterious secret.

The new audiobook is available in a deluxe 6-CD set in library case, or as an instant MP3 download at

Reviewers say:
"Love the pacing of the story. Catch Me If You Can has intriguing characters and more and more surprises in each chapter." Geeta M. Kakade.

"The emotion in the voices and the sound effects are great." Larry Hammersley.

"The sound effects ... absolutely make the story come alive, transporting the reader right in the midst of the story." C. Rogers.

About the Author:
Miss Mae is an award winning best selling author. "Said the Spider to the Fly" has received consistent five-star reviews and has won the renowned title of Best Book of the Week from The Long and the Short of It Reviews and The Romance Studio. With her writing style compared to Agatha Christie's after the release of her gothic thriller, "See No Evil, My Pretty Lady", she's gone on to pen "It's Elementary, My Dear Winifred" which was featured in the Top Ten Read at in 2009.

About the Producer:
Roger Rittner is a producer of audiobooks, audio drama, and audio marketing and training. He created the cult radio adventure "The Adventures of Doc Savage", and "Bulldog Drummond - The Audio Adventure", which won the AVA Platinum Award for Audio and the Hermes Creative Award for audio drama. He created and produced The Variety Arts Radio Theatre live stage show, and co-created and directed "Charlie Sent Me!", the original musical comedy for radio, heard on National Public Radio.

About the Talent:
"Catch Me If You Can” is narrated by and stars Stephen Mendel, whose voice credits include radio and TV commercials, video games, and audiobooks. Robin Riker has starred in TV series for ABC, CBS, FOX, and Showtime, and films including the cult favorite film "Alligator". She is currently a regular on "General Hospital". J.W. Terry is an Emmy-winning TV actor whose voice credits include video games, anime, audiobooks, and cartoons. Toni Attell is an Emmy-nominated film and TV actress, as well as a respected acting coach and motivational speaker. Dave Mallow has been heard in commercials, film, radio plays, audiobooks, and numerous video games and cartoons.

Please tell my readers how they can get a discount on this audiobook from the producer and any pertinent information they should know.

I’ll provide the code in the comment section. EVERYONE who visits, for the entire MONTH, can use this code for the 40% discount on the instant download price. That way anyone, and everyone, who wants to “win”, can. (and I don’t have to choose just “one” person!) LOL

The wonderful thing about ordering straight from Roger’s site is that you don’t have to join anything, or become a member of, or sign up for anything (as opposed to Audible). You come over, put in the code, grab the download, and listen. That’s it! 

Thanks so much for having me, Linda, and it’s wonderful to meet your readers. I hope they’ll tell their friends about this audio book!

Thank you for this interview, Miss Mae. I hope my followers will check the book and audiobook out. You can visit her website at

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Interview with Humorous Romance Author Brooke Williams

Brooke Williams is a stay-at-home mom/freelance writer/author. She’s a mom by day, freelance writer by naptime, and asleep by 9pm. She works in her novel writing on occasion as well. Brooke has two young daughters, Kaelyn and Sadie, and has been married to her husband Sean since 2002.

Welcome to my blog, Brooke. Please tell us about your novel: Wrong Place, Right Time.

You’ll often see in the movies or on TV shows someone interrupting a wedding. They step in at the last second and “object” to the marriage for some reason or another. They usually end up running away with the bride or groom, right? Well, what would happen if someone wanted to interrupt a wedding for loving reasons, but they went to the wrong location and interrupted the wrong wedding? That’s the idea behind this book. Kate, the main character, needs to tell her friend Brian she’s in love with him before he marries. But she doesn’t find him…she finds another couple!

Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

I went to a writer’s conference when I was 7 months pregnant with my youngest. I had given up writing for a long time, but had finally fallen back into it. I met an agent there who encouraged me to write romance and give it a try. She said there’s a huge romance audience out there and it was a good place for any author to start. Through brainstorming at the conference, I came up with the idea for this book, which turned out to be more of a romantic comedy.

What kind of research did you do?

The book is based in Las Vegas and San Francisco, both of which I have visited in the past. The main character is a TV traffic reporter, a job I did once for 5 months. And one of the male leads is a news anchor, something I’m familiar with from my time in traffic reporting. Otherwise, I make things up as I go along.

Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

I really enjoyed Brian, one of the side characters. He’s quite a catch, but has rough luck with love himself. He’s the type of guy who would do anything for anyone and that’s endearing. He makes everyone feel like they’re something special. He actually returns in another one of my books in his news anchor role (Dandelions on the Road). I wasn’t done with him after this book!

Where is your website and blog so my readers can check out your recent and past books that you have written?


Please reach out any time! And watch for my next release in September, it’s a big one! It’s called “The Leftover” and it’s ideal for Survivor and romantic comedy fans alike! That’s all I’ll say for now…

Thank you so much for this interview, Brooke. I hope my followers check out your romance.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Interview with Christian Romance Author Jo Huddleston

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series, her Caney Creek series, and her standalone novel, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of ACFW and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Learn more at where you can read first chapters of her novels and novellas and also sign up for her mailing list.

Welcome to my blog, Jo. This story is a novelette. Please tell us about your book, With Good Intentions.

A sweet romance spiced with deception, set in 1959. Jean Stewart and her mama stand firm to protect their family business from a big-city developer’s takeover. Oscar Wainworth sends his son William to convince the ladies to sell their property. William has an instant attraction to Jean, believes he shouldn’t be the one to discuss the sale with the Stewarts, and gives them a fake name. If they know he’s a Wainworth, he’s likely to find himself out on the sidewalk.

One lie leads to another until William may have dug a hole too deep to escape. By stealth he learns that Jean can’t associate with anyone who is dishonest. To win Jean’s love, William must convince her that his lies flowed from good intentions.

Where can your books be purchased and where can someone read sample chapters?

Book’s Purchase Link:

Website with sample chapters:

Here is a sample of Jo's writing skills below. Read an excerpt from With Good Intentions.

Chapter 1
October 1959—Birmingham, Alabama
William Wainworth shifted in his chair, stretched his long legs beneath the massive conference table, and braced for the impending reprimand from the CEO. This regular Monday morning meeting of Wainworth Development sales staff had gone on longer than he’d expected.
He would loosen his necktie but doing so would violate the expectations Wainworth’s CEO held for his male employees: wear a coat and tie when representing Wainworth Development. His daddy being the CEO of Wainworth Development, William had that rule ingrained in him from an early age.
Among other stellar traits, his daddy dressed immaculately, and he expected his workforce to follow his example. His appearance had favorably impressed many clients who sat with him in his Birmingham office. Every weekday, he never ventured outside his home without the requisite coat and necktie. William had never seen him wear wrinkled pants or curled-up shirt collars.
Now, Oscar Wainworth stood tall, slender, and good-looking between the head of the table and an easel, his index finger tapping on a sketch positioned there. William moved his attention from his daddy to the sketch, a street-level drawing of storefronts along a sidewalk in Conroy, Alabama.
Wainworth Development sought to purchase that entire block of businesses, demolish the buildings, and replace them with an apartment complex having a bookstore on the first floor. Sitting across the street from a growing college, the location proved ideal for Wainworth’s purpose.
The building plans had received the city’s approval. Wainworth representatives had successfully gained signatures on real estate contracts to acquire all the properties except one. The smallest business on the block refused to sell, despite repeated overtures from Wainworth Development.
Oscar Wainworth faced the dozen or so men seated around the table in chairs upholstered in rich, brown leather. He put his palms on the gleaming tabletop and leaned forward. “Gentlemen, this one small store is the monkey wrench in this whole deal. We’ve bought up all the properties on the block, yet here’s this little hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop smack-dab in the middle that you’ve not convinced to sell. Why is that? Why this one store?”
Mumbled reasons and comments circulated around the massive table. William and Oscar had heard them all before. Oscar Wainworth stood straight, his six-foot-four height menacing, and met the eyes of each salesman. “Yes, the owners are females, and you’ve all probably tried to be gentlemanly in your contacts with them. That’s commendable and appropriate.
“But, men, you need to work with these ladies just as you would any other client. Wainworth Development is a business, and you must conduct yourselves accordingly—doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a man or a woman. However, it’s time to get tough with these women. Understood?”
The men bobbed their heads in sync as if they followed the directions of an orchestra conductor, and his daddy continued. “Do I have to go down there and show you how it’s done? Must I close this deal myself? I assure you I will not be happy if I do.”
His gaze settled on his son. “William, I want you to go down to Conroy and convince the owners to sell. This has become a special case, and if you’ve learned anything from me in your thirty-two years, you’ll be successful. You drive on down there and stay as long as it takes to get the job done.”
“Yes, sir, I will.”
“Get going. Now.” He waved a hand toward the closed door to spur William into motion. “Ask Gloria for the files on this property and be on your way. Check back with me when you get there.”
William pushed his chair away from the conference table and rose. “Yes, sir.” His daddy was a workaholic, especially since his wife, William’s mama, had died five years ago. Oscar Wainworth put in a sixty-hour work week, never leaving a job undone. He expected similar dedication in his staff.
Finally outside the conference room and waiting at Gloria’s desk for her to collect the files, William exhaled. He didn’t mind that his daddy booted him out of the meeting—anything beat sitting in a stuffy roomful of cigar smoke.
Gloria returned and handed him several file folders. “Here are the files you need. Good luck. I hope your trip goes better than those of the other men Mr. Wainworth has sent down there.”
“Thanks. Where did the other guys stay? You got the name of a hotel?”
“Yes, they stayed at the Conroy Hotel. I’ll telephone to reserve you a room. How long will you be staying?”
“Maybe for the remainder of the week.”
Same Day—Conroy, Alabama
William carried his luggage up to a second-floor hotel room, then returned downstairs to grab a late lunch in the hotel’s dining room. When he crossed the lobby, the antiquated wooden floors groaned beneath his every step. Inside the dining room, booths lined one wall and tables covered with white linen tablecloths dotted the floor space.
He asked the hostess for a booth, and she seated him at a high-back wooden booth near the entrance. After a light lunch of steaming vegetable soup and a ham sandwich, he found a pay phone in the lobby and stepped into the booth to call Birmingham.
“Good afternoon. Wainworth Development.”
“Gloria, ring my daddy’s office, please.”
Shortly, he heard his daddy’s voice. “That you, William? How does the lay of the land look down there?”
“Just letting you know I’m here. Haven’t seen the owners yet, but plan to go there now.”
“Fine, fine. How about you call me every morning about ten o’clock to bring me up-to-date with what you’re doing? We’ve got to get this deal finalized.”
“Yes, sir, I’ll do that.”
William stepped out of the telephone booth to walk outside the red brick hotel. He stood on the sidewalk, hands shoved into his pants pockets. Without haste, he scanned what he could see of the town—to his left, a bank stood on the corner, and to his right, a drugstore anchored that corner, its front facing away from him.
Not many folks moving around, and from the casual dress of those passing by him, then had to be college students. He glanced at his polished shoes and creased dress pants—shades of Oscar Wainworth. He’d stand out like a palm tree at the North Pole among these young people. Might as well put a sign on his back saying, Here I am from the big city. I want to buy your property.
He returned to his hotel room, tugging off his necktie as he opened his luggage. Later, again on the sidewalk, dressed in blue jeans with his long-sleeved dress shirt now open at the neck, his black leather bomber jacket, and loafers, William breathed in the fresh air. A satisfying change from the pollution that filled the air over Birmingham.
Turning to his right, he sauntered west until he reached the corner and stopped. He faced the street in front of the drugstore and read the signpost: College Street. Some committee must have worked many hours to come up with that original name—the street sliced through downtown Conroy, Alabama, between the college and the town. The next block to his left held the businesses Wainworth Development had bought. Except for the ice cream shop. Might as well head on down there.
He crossed the street when the traffic light changed. Again on the sidewalk, he passed the stores that would soon disappear once Wainworth had acquired all the properties.
Before he reached his destination, the clock tower atop a lofty red brick building across College Street tolled the hour. Three o’clock. A spattering of foot traffic moved across the manicured lawns of nearby campus buildings. Probably class-changing time.
A short distance farther, William stood outside the building whose purchase depended on him. The sign above the door read: Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop.
Inside, William verified that his daddy had been correct when he referred to the business as a hole-in-the-wall place. With about only 400 square feet, the twelve-foot wide, deep room measured about thirty-five feet from the entrance to a closed swinging door in the back. Along the right wall, chairs occupied the length of the room, stopping at a pay phone attached to the wall and a display case that faced the entrance.
The tile floor shone, and on his left stood three ice cream cases, each about eight feet long. Their fronts were white and spotless, and no fingerprints smudged the glass through which sat numerous opened tubs of ice cream. The sweet, pleasant scent of ice cream filled the room and drew William to follow the customers already in the shop.
He fell in line with a few college students awaiting their turn to be served. The kids weren’t impatient, but rather they calmly shuffled toward the cash register. He’d skipped dessert in anticipation of his visit to the ice cream shop, and the various flavors listed on the wall tempted him.
An attractive woman probably in her late forties with dark hair and a pleasant face worked efficiently behind the counter. Another female stood behind the tall display case near the rear of the room. He could only see the back of her head and didn’t have a clue to what she did. Soon William stood first in the line.
“May I help you?” the woman asked.
“Yes, ma’am. I’d like a cone—two scoops, please.”
“What flavor?”
“Vanilla and chocolate. Would you please put the vanilla on the cone first and then the chocolate?”
The woman dipped his ice cream onto a cone while William read the flavors painted on a wooden board hanging above a counter behind her. “You certainly offer a lot of flavors here.”
“And yet you choose our trusty standbys—vanilla and chocolate.”
“Yes, ma’am. Always been my favorites.”
William paid for his treat and took a seat in the last chair against the wall. From there he had an unlimited view of the business except for the area behind the display case to his right. His attention fell to the contents of the case. Behind the glass sat numerous delicious-looking desserts—artfully decorated cakes and pies waiting to be personalized with someone’s name, a tray of individually-wrapped ice cream sandwiches, and two log rolls made of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.
Everyone had been served, and either left with their ice cream or taken seats along the wall to eat their treats. The woman who had served him sauntered toward where William sat. She stopped at the empty counter space across from him, reached underneath it, and brought out a large piece of flat cardboard decorated with balloons of red, blue, green, and yellow and the name of the ice cream shop.
While the woman worked with the cardboard, she spoke to the girl behind the display case near him. “Did any Wainworth people contact you before I came to work?”
William angled his body toward the entrance, pretending lack of interest in what the woman had said. He watched the traffic outside the front window but kept his attention on the conversation before him.
The girl behind the display case joined the woman assembling the cardboard into a cake box. “No, ma’am. No one has come by or called, which is unusual for a Monday. For weeks now they’ve been persistent, showing up here almost every day.” The girl had on a white basic bib apron, as the older woman did, over her skirt and blouse and wore blue Keds on her feet.
“Maybe you’ve finally convinced them you mean it when you say we don’t want to sell.”
“Mama, I hope so, but I doubt that.” The two could be sisters, as attractive as they were, rather than mother and daughter. Probably the owners. The girl reached beneath the counter and pulled out another sheet of cardboard to give the older woman. “I’ve talked with some of the other business owners, and it appears we’re the only holdouts on the block.
“If that’s the case, rather than give up, Wainworth Development will increase their pressure on us to sell. I cringe every time someone dressed in a suit and necktie come through the door. All the Wainworth people think they can make us sell—they’re so arrogant and expect us to roll over and play dead when they wave money in front of us.”
Good thing William had changed clothes before visiting their shop.
“Their money would be nice, Jean. We could pay off the mortgage here and have some left over. I could get used to not working outside the home again.”
“Mama, please don’t go soft on this. We’re not going to sell! Daddy started this business, and we’ll do everything we can to keep it going.”
Jean’s mama put the assembled boxes underneath the counter and started toward the cash register to help new customers. The girl returned to whatever kept her busy behind the dessert case.
William left his chair and stepped nearer the display case, continuing to enjoy his ice cream cone. Bending at the waist and peering inside at the cakes, William didn’t notice the girl behind the case had approached him. A female voice drew his attention. “May I help you with something from the dessert case?”
He straightened and turned toward the voice. When their eyes met, hers were the color of the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico waters and turned him into a bumbling adolescent. “Ah, well, no, thank you. Just, uh, looking. Did you make all these pretty cakes?”
She smiled, apparently enjoying his discomfort. “Yes, I did. See something you like in there?”
Not in the dessert case, he didn’t. But he wouldn’t mind getting to know the dark-haired woman standing next to him. “No, thanks. Guess I’ll just finish this cone I’ve started.”
“I recognize our regulars, the college kids, but I don’t believe you’ve been in here before. You new in town?”
“Yeah, you could say that. I’m, er, I’m doing some work on the college campus.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“Uh, helping one of the professors with some research.”
“Then welcome to our town. I’m Jean Stewart.”
“Thanks. I’m Will….” Beyond her shoulder, he saw the wooden board where they listed their ice cream flavors. “…Will Woods.”

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