Thursday, December 5, 2013


A historical suspense with romantic elements

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.

Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan's self-righteous vigilantism. Jack's older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancĂ©, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.

Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.


June 14, 1930
O’Leno, Florida

Jack jammed a finger into each ear and swallowed hard. Any other time, he wouldn’t even notice the stupid sound. The river always sorta slurped just before it pulled stuff underground.

His stomach heaved again. Maybe he shouldn’t look either, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the circling current. When the head slipped under the water, the toe end lifted up. Slowly the tarpaulin wrapped body, at least that’s what it sure looked like, went completely vertical. It bobbed around a few times and finally gurgled its way down the sinkhole. Then everything went quiet . . . peaceful . . . crazily normal. Crickets sawed away again. An ole granddaddy bullfrog croaked his lonesomeness into the sultry midnight air.


-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?

I must credit my high school senior English teacher with planting the seed. She taught an entire semester of creative writing and showed me that writing could be fun and rewarding. Thank you, Miss Miller, wherever you are.

-What genres do you write?

I write primarily historical fiction and women’s fiction.

-For aspiring writers, any tips?

I think the most important thing I can say is this: be kind to yourself. If you are doing your very best to study, learn, and write well, then turn off that blasted internal critic! It kills creativity. I’m not saying forget editing, proofing, or revising. I’m telling you to kill the internal monster that whispers damaging words that undermine your writer’s spirit and suck your soul dry. It’s an evil villain, so kill it and be done with it!

-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?

Hands down, anything suspense, historical or contemporary, set in the UK. Did I mention I’m an Anglophile?

-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

My favorite would have to be my first novel, entitled The Calling. It is loosely based on the life of my paternal grandfather, a country doctor in the mountains of northern Georgia during the late 19th – early 20th century. The novel still needs work, but I hope to revise it enough for publication at some point in the near future. Including family tales in the book was deeply meaningful. My grandfather died long before I was born and in writing The Calling, I felt like I got to know him a little by retelling some of the events from his life.


I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

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

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband, one German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl, and one striped yellow cat who knows she’s queen of the house.

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

~Visit Linda’s website. Connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter @LindaPennell.

Hey readers,

Always love a book that starts with a dead body.

Follow the rest of this tour here.

And don’t forget to comment for a chance at a prize.

Linda will be awarding a $15 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

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  1. Replies
    1. Love your blog title, Mary! Great idea to have a blog devoted to hosting!

    2. Thank you! Yeah, I was a little too happy/excited when I came up with that title. lol

  2. Great Q&A and love the blurb!

  3. Loved that advice to aspiring writers. It's something we should all take note of.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Sarah! As for advice, we writers get input from all sides and a lot of it can be pretty rough, so being kind to oneself is important.

  4. Great excerpt, thank you. Sounds like a good read.


  5. Great advice. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Wonderful advise and great excerpt.

  7. Excellent interview with wonderful advice for all writers. Loved the excerpt!

    1. Thank you, Joanne! Always a pleasure to hear from you!

  8. Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    Sounds like a great read!!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

    1. Thank you, Natasha! So glad the book sounds interesting!

  9. Oh those Southern stories! I lived for a year in the deep south, and I was fascinated by the yarn-spinning, tall tales, and stories passed from generation to generation. Loved your post!!

  10. Thank you, Kate! Come on back down anytime. We Southerners are known for our hospitality. Glad you liked the post!

  11. Nice advice

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  12. A great post thank you.


  13. Enjoyed being with you, Mary! Thank you again for hosting.

  14. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

  15. Nice post.

    I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! Please visit mine;

  16. Sorry for the late post. I’m playing catch-up here so I’m just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Hope you all had a good time!
    kareninnc at gmail dot com

    1. Linda Bennett PennellDecember 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      Good to hear from you, Karen!