I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day. Author, J.F. Jenkins is a guest today at The Mustard Seed sharing her thoughts on this day and she's also doing a book giveaway, so stick around to chat. 

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Growing up, Memorial Day had always been a time to get together with family and friends. We grilled, chilled, and chatted until the sun went down. No fireworks or parades, and it became a time for us to bond. A holiday I looked forward to every year, but not one I reflected on much. Then again, my family hadn't been directly touched by the military for a long time. And for families like mine, the true meaning of Memorial Day can get easy to forget.

Then it started to hit closer to home, and for the first time in a long time, I sit and reflect on Memorial Day. I think about my cousin and his wife (both serving on separate bases in the same country, last I checked) who have two toddler aged girls that they've only seen via Skype basically. They've only been able to spend a few months with their girls at a time. Or I think about my friends who have spouses over seas and never know when they're going to be coming home for good or if there is an end in sight. There's also my old co-worker who calls back asking for simple treats like coffee because the stuff they have where he is, isn't all too great. My parents friends who have kids over seas, kids who are my age with their own families.

And of course there are my two grandfathers who both passed away recently. Both were World War II veterans who served on the Pacific side of the fighting. During both of their illnesses, I became fascinated with their stories from a time so unlike today. At the same time, very similar too. The enemies may look different, but the motivations are still the same. We fight to protect those we love. It's part of our human nature. And it's this love that I'm thinking about the most right now. A love I'm grateful for and admire because it's so incredibly selfless.


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So, let's chat...what are the top five random facts about yourself?

1. My eyes are two different colors.

2. I married into the family of relatives of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

3. I have a collection of autographed memorabilia for my someday office.

4. I don't plot or pants when I write. I Plants.

5. When I eat, I always finish eating one food before moving on to the next one. I never mix my foods together either.

Some interesting facts! Thanks for sharing. Why do you like being an author?

Sharing my stories and hearing what people think about them. Mostly though sharing my stories and getting them out there.

Who’s your favorite author of classic literature?

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What’s your favorite novel?

I don't think I can pick just one! There are so many I like. I suppose The Stand by Stephen King, or the Drawing of Three (also King).

Do you have a fond memory of interaction with a reader?

One reader sent me a Thank You card that was really sweet. I still keep it. :)

It's definitely nice hearing from readers. What was the happiest moment in your childhood?

Probably playing with my friends outside. We had some pretty crazy adventures at our respective houses, and they're the kind of memories I'll keep with me for my entire life.

I have six brothers and two sisters and remember those days playing outside in our own crazy adventures as well. Thanks so much for guesting. I enjoyed learning more about you and hearing your thoughts on Memorial Day. 

You can connect with J.F. Jenkins online here:

J.F. Jenkin's Website
A Dragon's Love Blog

Find J.F. Jenkins on Facebook 
Find J.F. Jenkins on Twitter

J.F. Jenkins lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with her husband, son, and two cats. She graduated from Bethel University in 2006 with a degree in Media Communication with minors in both writing and film. When she is not busy writing, she spends her free time playing games, reading, and spending time with her family.

Don't forget to hang around to visit with J.F. Jenkins to enter to win one of her six books. 


 
 
Ruth J. Hartman is a guest at The Mustard Seed today and she's sharing her thoughts on Memorial Day. Hope you can hang around to chat with Ruth and remember the real meaning of this special day.

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Ruth J. Hartman is a published author as well as a licensed dental hygienist. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband of 29 years and their two very spoiled cats.

Ruth’s sweet, humorous romances revolve around dentistry, cats, or both.

For more about her books and writing

Connect with Ruth on Facebook


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Memorial Day used to only mean a day off from school when I was a kid. Then as an adult, a day off of work. As a grew older, I learned about some of the Veterans in my own family. My dad served during the Korean War. He was away from my mom for a couple of years, only getting to return home briefly when my sister was born. He didn’t get to see her again until she was two. My father-in-law was in WWII. And my uncle was even awarded a medal of honor for bravery in WWII, although we didn’t learn of it until he was over ninety years old. He just never bothered to tell anyone. He said he didn’t think anyone would be interested!

But the veteran who really brought Memorial Day home to me was my husband’s young cousin. He served two terms in Iraq and had been home for a year or so when he was killed in a car accident just down the road from our house. It was shortly before his 27th birthday. He had a serious girlfriend and was in the process of looking for a job, since he’d just completed his college degree. On top of that, he was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. It was a heart-breaking situation.

Sitting at the funeral, my first thoughts were: what a waste. What a shame. He had so much more life to live. And yes, while that’s true, it wasn’t up to me to decide that. But then several members of his platoon, dressed in their army garb, came in as a group and sat down. They were sad, of course, since they’d lost a very dear friend. But when I looked at their faces, what I saw was pride. They were proud of their comrade. Proud to be part of the army. Proud to serve their country in whatever capacity it required. No matter what.

So had our cousin. He’d been so proud to join the armed forces, to be a part of something larger than he was. He was so proud of his country.

I don’t think I will ever again take Memorial Day for granted. All I have to do is remember the looks on the faces of the army corp. at the funeral. And I know the importance of serving your country.

Rest in peace, Randy.


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Ruth thank you so much for sharing your heart with us today and reminding us of the real meaning of Memorial Day and how we need to honor the men and women who serve to keep us safe and protect our freedoms. 

Can you tell us about Men in Uniform?

We admire a man in uniform, and what better way to celebrate it than a collection of stories inspired by men fighting to defend our country, and the women who love them? This sweet collection of romance spans the generations of men of valor from present day dating back to World War II. 

Where can readers find this book online?

Purchase Link for Uniform Short Story


I love the cover and this is a book definitely going on my TBR pile. 

If you'd like to enter to win in Ruth's book giveaway, don't forget to join the chat and comment. 

 
 
Author Sunny Frazier is a guest at The Mustard Seed today sharing her thoughts on Memorial Day and she is also doing a book giveaway so be sure to stay and visit. 

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Sunny Frazier is the author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, “Fools Rush In,” and “Where Angels Fear.” She is also acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press, a Navy veteran and former confidential secretary for a narcotics unit in the Fresno Sheriff's Department. 
Sunny Frazier's Website 

Books can be ordered at the Oak Tree Press bookstore , Amazon, Kindle and Nook. 


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REMEMBER THE PUEBLO?

Remember the Maine, the Alamo, Pearl Harbor. But, for years the Pueblo Incident, as it was dubbed, has been buried under the carpet and consciousness of the American public.

I am a member of Post 3 of the American Legion, Hanford, CA. In our post is a diminutive man with a gray flowing beard and the Legion Motorcycle Riders nickname “Critter.” At every meeting there is a chair that is draped with a black cover reminding us of the POW's who remain unaccounted for. Critter is one who came back.

The USS Pueblo was hijacked by the North Koreans in 1968, the first U.S. Navy ship seized by a foreign military in over 150 years. One man died in the takeover, 82 crewmen were held captive, tortured and beaten for 335 days with no intervention from President Johnson or the Department of Defense.

Was the Pueblo a spy ship? Possibly. Captain Bucher claimed the ship was taken in International waters. Despite leading his men in spirited resistance during their captivity, Bucher was recommended for court martial upon his return.

The crew was held in two camps nicknamed The Barn and The Farm. They lived on turnips and two bathroom breaks a day. Remember the scene in Deer Hunters where the men are forced to play Russian Roulette? That's what they did to Bucher. When the Koreans filmed the crew for propaganda releases, they slyly flipped the camera the bird and used slang the Koreans wouldn't understand. Once this tactic was published in Time Magazine, conditions for the men got worse.    

This was no “Hogan's Heroes” or “Stalag 13.” This was the real deal. It happened when Americans were protesting the war in Vietnam and the military was looked down upon by the people they were protecting.

Finally, on December 23, 1968, the men were walked across the DMZ to South Korea and freedom. For their sacrifice they received little recognition. But, Critter remembers. His presence reminds us, at every meeting, that there are those who are lost to us and those who lost much of themselves in an incident people are willing to forget.     


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Can you share with us about your book, Where Angels Fear?

Set in the Central Valley of California, author Sunny Frazier once again explores the rich agricultural region, rural law enforcement and crimes shrouded by Tule fog in this sequel to FOOLS RUSH IN. Amateur astrologer Christy Bristol finds herself on the fringes of Kearny society and a members-only sex club as she reluctantly takes on a missing person case. A prominent business man has disappeared and his wife cannot go to the authorities. Armed with only a prescription bottle and matchbook as clues, the young woman must face the Knights of Sensani and her own sexual limitations. 

Sunny, thank you so much for guesting today and I want to thank you for your service to our Country. 

Don't forget to hang around and chat with Sunny. If you'd like to be entered to win in her book giveaway, please comment on this blog post. 

 
 
Author Lee Ann Sontheimer is a guest at The Mustard Seed today. Hope you all had an awesome weekend and can spend some time chatting with Lee Ann. 

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One of the most frequent questions I field as an author is how I come up with ideas. For me, there’s always a story behind the novel. Sometimes they’re personal and often they’re not. My latest release, In The Shadow of War, from Rebel Ink Press is my first full length historical romance. The time period is World War II and the physical setting is southwest Missouri where I now live. Camp Crowder, an actual Army training post, is pivotal to the story. Although the actual Army post deactivated in the early 1960’s, the military heritage continues with part of the original location serving as a Missouri National Guard Training Facility. A community college, the local Y, several industries, and more cover the space once home to Army soldiers and staff. Much of the once large post has also reverted to the wild, to the forests and the now overgrown fields which were once farms.

After moving to the Ozark region from the opposite end of the state, I attended classes at Crowder College. I wrote for the campus newspaper and penned a series of stories about the transition from Army camp to college. History intrigues me and I can get caught up in imaging the past. The premise of a local girl falling for one of the soldiers at the camp simmering in my brain for a long time and last year I sat down to write the tale. I chose to begin it in a contemporary setting, as an old woman remembers for her great-granddaughter, then tell the story as it unfolded.


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Lee Ann, thank you for sharing with us. Can you tell us about your novel In the Shadow of War?

Here’s the blurb for the novel:

Her great-granddaughter wants to know if Bette remembers World War II for a school project and her questions revive old memories….

Small town school teacher Bette Sullivan's life was interrupted when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 but her world changed forever when she met Private Benny Levy, a soldier from the Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York stationed at Camp Crowder, the local Army base. 

Their attraction is immediate and mutual but as their relationship grows their love and lives are shadowed by World War II. As the future looms uncertain the couple comes together with almost desperate need and a powerful love they hope can weather anything, including the war.

Sounds like a great book. Can you share an excerpt with us?

And here’s a short excerpt from the prologue:

Remembrance…

            Dainty African violets bloomed in the window sill despite the weather outside.  Snow fell at a fast, furious rate blanketing everything with white.  On any other Sunday afternoon Bette might’ve dozed, settled into her favorite corner of the couch, listening to some old black and white classic movie, but today she’d willed herself to stay alert.  Across the room, one of her great-granddaughters, April or Allie or something with an A, waited with pen poised to paper. She awaited the answer, but Bette just couldn’t quite recall the question.

            “Tell me again, honey, what you need to know for school,” she said.

            Ariel. She remembered now they’d named the kid for a mermaid in some Disney film. 

            The girl sighed. “We’re studying World War II in history and we’re supposed to interview an elderly person about what they remember.  Do you remember World War II?”

            “Of course, I do,” Bette replied, a little stung by the precocious question from a girl who might be sixteen.  Maybe she couldn’t always remember what she ate for breakfast or the name of the building’s maintenance man, but she recalled the past with amazing clarity.  “What about it, exactly, do you want to know?”

            “Like, I don’t know,” Ariel said with a flip of her abundant hair. “My history teacher just said to ask.  I’ve got to write a paper about it so just tell me something you remember about it.  Did you know any soldiers or anything?”

            “I did. There was an Army training camp in the small town where I’m from in Missouri,” Bette said, her mind drifting back across the country and over the years. “Your grandpa, no, I guess it’d be your great-grandpa, served in the Army and it’s where we met.”

            “Cool,” Ariel said. “So tell me about him.”

            Bette focused on the old sepia photograph of her husband on the wall above the television, the one where he wore his full dress uniform.  Beside it, the photo of her sitting in front of him just days after their wartime wedding reminded her of those days.  Memories rushed into her mind, heady and full-bodied like fine wine. “Okay, but Ariel, I have to start at the beginning.”

            “When?” the teen asked as she picked at a broken fingernail. “Don’t go all the way back to the dark ages, please.”

            For a moment Bette debated on whether she should slap the girl or not, but remembered most people frowned on such things today.  “It all started the day America got into the war, Ariel, on December seven, nineteen and forty-one, a day that will live in infamy.”

            “Pearl Harbor,” Ariel said, with sudden interest. “Yeah, I remember that from class.”

            “Good,” Bette said. “Now hush and I’ll tell you about living it.”

Where can readers find your book online?

Find In the Shadows of War on B&N
Find In the Shadows of War on Amazon
Find In the Shadow of War on Bookstrand
Find In the Shadow of War on All Romance eBooks

Where can readers connect with you online?

Lee Ann's Blog: A Page in the Life
Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer
Seanachie Stories: Tuesday Tales And More

Lee Ann, so glad you guested today. I enjoyed learning more about you and how as a writer you generate ideas. 

Hope you all can stay and chat with Lee Ann. 

 
 
Please help me welcome author E.A. West to The Mustard Seed today to help us get into the spirit to celebrate Memorial Day. Let's meet E.A. West...

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E.A. West, author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she discovered the wonders of sharing her stories with others through writing. She picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn't laid it down yet. Her love of writing encompasses not only the romance genre but also a variety fiction and non-fiction styles.

Born and raised in Indiana, she still resides there today with her family and a small zoo of pets that includes the typical dogs and cats, and the more unusual African water frogs and a ribbon snake. Her interests are as varied as her critters. She has been known to carry on conversations about everything from politics and current events to gardening and theology. When she's not writing, you can usually find her working on her latest knitting or crochet project.


E.A. West's Website                                                The West Corner: E.A. West Blog     
Find E.A. West on Facebook                                   Find E.A. West on Twitter            
                                                       
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For the last ten and a half years, the American military has been a regular feature in the news and other media. As an author, the constant flow of information about military operations, service members, and veterans piqued my natural curiosity. With a cousin who served in the Navy and a writing buddy who deployed to Iraq more than once with the Army Reserve, it’s only natural that the military infiltrated my writing. As the War on Terror continued and I learned more about my own father’s experiences receiving services from the Department of Veterans Affairs, I also developed an interest in veterans and the challenges faced by many recent veterans.

All of this led to research and brainstorming. As a result, I wrote two ebooks with a military/veteran theme. The hero in Riley’s Mission is a lieutenant in the Indiana National Guard. The inspiration for Riley’s Mission came from news reports of nursing home residents being left behind during Hurricane Katrina and severe flooding in Indiana, which caused a hospital to be evacuated. Those two incidents started the “what if…” process I always use to begin a new story. Multiple reports of National Guard units being deployed or returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq mixed into my musings, and I started thinking about what the National Guard does here at home. Assisting with evacuations and natural disasters are what most people think of when they think of the National Guard.

In order to write a romantic suspense, however, Riley’s Mission needed more than just a flooded hospital. It had to have danger and romance as well. This is where the heroine of the story comes in. As an Israeli operative, she made a few enemies and got to know the hero through his previous occupation with the State Department. With regular news reports of Al Qaida and terrorism, the villain of the story was obvious: a terrorist the heroine had thought she finally stopped. Because of her work as an operative, Jade fought her attraction to Riley, even though he encouraged her to trust him. The romance in Riley’s Mission is sweet and hard-won, since Jade and Riley must survive a terrorist determined to kill her and overcome fears of future danger.

Healing in Haven Falls is an inspirational romance with a veteran for the hero. Keith faces daily challenges due to permanent injuries suffered in Afghanistan. I was inspired to write Keith because of several interviews I had seen or read with survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI). While the effects aren’t always as obvious as those I gave Keith, the challenges presented by a TBI can have a devastating impact on how the survivor views himself. I touch on a few of those issues with Keith’s character, although it’s important to remember that each individual will be affected differently and may or may not share the same issues.

The heroine of Healing in Haven Falls, Autumn, must face the challenge of learning that good men do exist. She’s suspicious of Keith at first because she doesn’t realize that what she thinks are signs of intoxication are actually some of the effects of his TBI. This misunderstanding of what can be an invisible disability is one of the reasons I wrote Healing in Haven Falls. Although my initial “what if” question considered the idea of two wounded hearts healing each other, it quickly morphed into “What if the hero is a disabled veteran, but his disability isn’t as obvious as a missing limb or being confined to a wheelchair?”

Thousands of veterans face challenges daily because of their time in the service, and not all of those challenges are obvious to outside observers. Physical disabilities are usually easy to see, but neurological and psychological disabilities tend to be much harder to spot, especially if the symptoms are mild. Writing Healing in Haven Falls allowed me to give a brief glimpse into one type of neurological disability and the psychological effects it can have on a man. While Keith is a completely fictional veteran, I researched the effects of TBI on veterans in order to make him as realistic as possible.

I appreciate the sacrifices of the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military. It take a special person to leave behind family and friends and lay his or her life on the line to protect the freedom of the United States and to help free oppressed people in other countries. The sacrifices of their families are also to be remembered and commended. It can’t be easy to send your loved one off for months with no way of knowing how they will fare.

This Memorial Day, thank a veteran or a current military member for their willingness to selflessly serve their country. Thank their loved ones as well, for their tireless support of the men and women in our nation’s military.

Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us to thank a veteran or current military member for their service. I have family members who are veterans and so appreciate their service and the service of all our military. 


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What are the top five random facts about yourself?

1. I learned to read when I was three years old.

2. I struggled with English classes all the way through school.

3. I’m a high-functioning autistic.

4. I have a pet ribbon snake named Mr. Squiggles.

5. I love to use my hula hoop.

Why do you like being an author?

Being an author allows me to share my ideas with others. I love to create interesting characters and put them in unique or difficult situations. Watching the story develop and the characters grow is something I will never tire of. The ability to share these stories with readers and perhaps bring awareness to something that might otherwise stay in the shadows is an amazing blessing.

I love your reasoning and agree wholeheartedly. Who’s your favorite author of classic literature?

I love Rudyard Kipling. His Just So Stories have been a favorite of mine since childhood, and I have fond memories of The Jungle Book as well. Kipling’s work has always appealed to me, perhaps because of the faraway settings or maybe because of the unique characters and stories he created.


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Can you tell us about your book Riley’s Mission?

Trapped in a flooded hospital, former Israeli operative Jade Rosen discovers she’s not alone. One of the other stranded patients is none other than the cold-blooded killer she'd left behind in a Syrian prison, the man who had forced her to leave everyone she loved behind and go into hiding.

Indiana National Guardsman Riley Jackson is on a mission to locate and contain a cunning terrorist whose guards aren’t responding. He finds more than he bargained for when the woman he loves appears out of nowhere, desperately ill and once again needing his protection.

Will Jade and Riley finally find their happy ending, or will they pay the ultimate price at the hands of a man determined to see Jade dead?

Sounds like a great book. Where can readers find your book online?

Purchase Link for Riley's Mission


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Can you share with us about your book, Healing in Haven Falls?

Autumn Reger is no stranger to mistakes—she’s made more than enough to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the consequences of those mistakes and her distrust of men, keep haunting her.

Keith Burke served his country with honor, but his service in Afghanistan ended with a roadside bomb. The emotional and physical scars leave him wondering if he’ll ever be able to make a friend or find true love.

Can two wounded hearts heal the scars of the past to find the future God has planned for them?

Where can readers find your book online?

Purchase Link for Healing in Haven Falls

Thank you so much for guesting today and helping us to remember our military veterans and servicemen. I enjoyed chatting with you and learning more about you and your books. 

Please feel free to hang out and chat with E.A. West.  

 
 
Welcome back to another day at The Mustard Seed. Author Margaret Compeau is here to guest today. Hope you can hang out to chat. Let's meet Margaret...

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Margaret Compeau is a Maine author. In her spare time, she enjoys writing poetry and volunteers in the advertising department for the Gorham Times newspaper. Traveling the East Coast with her family and visiting the local town library are her two favorite things to do in leisure time. Future projects include a teen paranormal romance series. A contest will be on Margaret’s Facebook and Twitter page in the near future. 

Margaret, tell us the top five random facts about yourself.

1. Favorite food is lasagna
2. Loves collecting sea shells
3. Enjoys gardening
4. Hates waiting in line
5. I’m more of a cat person

I love lasagna also and am more of a cat person too. Why do you like being an author?

I am a very creative person. Writing allows me to put my feelings and thoughts down on paper. I love the fact that a story can be never-ending and there really is no limit to what you can do with a story. I love the freedom that novel writing gives me versus article writing. The biggest thing that I enjoy being an author would be seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they enjoy my work. That to me is hard work paying off.

What was the happiest moment of your childhood?

The happiest moment of childhood would have to be going to the library. I loved the crisp smell of the pages and musty smell of old books. Any information I needed, I knew I could always find at the library. I think surrounding yourself with a hundred of books is an amazing feeling for a writer of any age. A library can jump start great ideas and great creativity.


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Can you tell us about your book, Timothy's Bath?

Let your child's imagination soar with hopping, frogs, mud-slinging animals and a toboggan ride through the slushy mud with Timothy the bear. After Timothy sneaks out with friends, instead of taking a bath, the mischief begins. Timothy learns a lesson about listening and putting things first before play. Hop in and join Timothy in a fun-loving adventure!

Where can reader's find your book online?

Find Timothy's Bath on Amazon

Where can readers connect with you online?

Margaret's Website
Find Margaret on Facebook
Find Margaret on Twitter

Margaret, thanks so much for guesting today. I enjoyed chatting with you and finding out more about you and your book.


 
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    In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging & endorsements, I want to post this disclaimer. From time to time, I do purchase and review some novels. However, most of the novels I review are given to me as a complimentary review copy by the author or publisher. I do not receive  monetary compensation for the reviews I complete.

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