Tuesday, February 17, 2015

~ Oh, Won't You Come Rejoicing? ~ BRINGING IN THE THIEVES ~

~ Meet Frankie Lou ~

Hi y’all, my name’s Frankie Lou McMasters. Recently, I moved back to my hometown of Ruby Springs, Texas, in hopes of giving Betsy a more stable lifestyle than the one we’d had back in Austin. Ruby Springs is located in the windy and usually dry, dusty panhandle of the Lone Star state where winters are cold and summers are hot enough to make a preacher cuss.

I’m divorced, have an almost-twelve-year-old daughter who calls me Mom, and I’m trying real hard to get my life back on track. (That’s a whole ‛nother story for another time.) As the sayin’ goes, that’s easier said than done. But I’m determined to put a little joy back in my life and Betsy’s with the help of the Joyful Noise singers, a group of misunderstood teenagers who’ve been left out of their high school music activities because, well, you know . . . they’re different. A motley bunch of teens from unhappy family situations and different ethnic backgrounds, their musical talent just knocked me sideways into Sunday. I could sympathize with their plight and wanted to help them. The teens grabbed my idea to form a choral group and ran straight for the gold with it. Their singing rocked the staid community of Ruby Springs right out of its narrow-minded way of thinking. But just when I thought everything was going smoothly, my efforts were thwarted by the discovery of a body in the church baptistery. Suddenly I was a person of interest in a homicide that threatened to put me behind bars. Now I ask you, do you really think I’m capable of murder? I was singing the blues until my tune changed from sad to happy when the real killer was found. Hallelujah for music!

And speaking of music -- have you ever noticed how the power of music can alter a person’s mood? Does music affect you that way? Do you have happy songs to boost your spirit when you’re feeling low? The Joyful Noise singers are working on a list of songs to add to their stage performances and they need your help. They don’t have many on their list and would like to know what songs make YOU feel happy. They’re looking for a mix of country, pop, soul, rock ‛n roll, gospel music – any type to show that being ‟different” doesn’t always mean it’s wrong. Can you help them out?

Songs That Make You Feel Like Tapping Your Toes:

1. Happy – Pharrell Williams 5. Singing in the Rain – Gene Kelly

2. Joy to the World – Three Dog Night 6. Shout – The Isley Brothers

3. You Are My Sunshine – Elizabeth Mitchell 7. The Sweet By and By – The Statler Brothers

4. Footloose – Kenny Loggins 8. A Place in the Choir – Celtic Thunder

Thanks for your help! Hope you enjoyed meeting me and reading all about BRINGING IN THE THIEVES.

See you in the book! ~ 
Frankie Lou  (who sometimes pretends she’s Lora Lee)

Blurb ~ 

Bringing in the Thieves (Joyful Noise Mysteries – Book One)

Frankie Lou’s back and Poppy’s madder than a wet hen.
Create a church choir filled with teenage misfits?
Over Poppy’s dead body.

Minister’s daughter Frankie Lou McMasters has come back to Ruby Springs, Texas with her daughter, Betsy, eleven years after running off to marry the town bad boy. Her mild notoriety as a bad girl is prime gossip for her childhood enemy, Poppy Fremont, now choir director of Faith Community Church–where Frankie Lou’s daddy, now retired to Florida, was the preacher.

When Frankie Lou comes to the deacons with a request to add a youth choir of at-risk teens she’s been coaching, Poppy throws a fit. A few hours later, Frankie Lou finds her dead in the baptistery pool. And Poppy’s not playing possum.

Frankie Lou sets out to clear her name as the main suspect, and tries to locate the real killer. Could he be sexy Joe Camps, the father of one of her teen singers? In the meantime, her momma shows up from Florida to take charge of Frankie Lou’s life. Bless her heart.

Excerpt ~

I knew the minute I read the church bulletin that I was fixin’ to be Southern-fried and plated-up in front of God, the Faith Community Church deacons, and eventually the entire community of Ruby Springs, Texas, sure as my name’s Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters.

My well-meaning landlady, Nettie Bloom, had decided to announce my proposed church project without asking me if I wanted her to. I had just scheduled a meeting with the deacons about it, not given them any details about the idea. I hadn’t spoken it aloud to anyone but Miss Nettie. But now there it was in print, along with Miss Nettie’s usual assortment of misplaced phrases and Mrs. Malaprop word choices. Miss Nettie had been editing the church’s newsletter, News From The Pews, for a good many years, but I’d noticed her memory getting a little tangled lately.



100 Blessings St.

Ruby Springs, Texas

As we wait for the selection of a full-time pastor, we welcome back interim minister, Reverend Matthew Whitlaw to the pulpit next Sunday at Faith Community. His morning sermon will be Jesus Walks on Water followed by Searching for Jesus in the evening.

For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Members of the Weight Watchers group will meet Monday at 5:30 P.M. for weekly weigh-in. Please use large double door at the side entrance to the annex. The Low Self-Esteem Support Group will be using the back door.

Prior to prayer meeting Wednesday evening a bean supper will be held in the church hall. Special music will follow.

Until further notice, please give massages to the church secretary, Lovey Muchmore. She will then give massages to the newsletter editor who will share the details in our newsletter.


Prayerfully submitted,
N. Bloom, Newsletter Editor

Truth be known, there were certain people who weren’t exactly thrilled by my return to the town where my daddy, Reverend Frank Birmingham, occupied the pulpit at Faith Community before his recent retirement to Florida. I’d been gone from Ruby Springs eleven years, but it seems those certain people have the combined memory of a herd of elephants. One in particular: Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont, Faith Community’s choir director.

I grabbed my tote, made a quick call next door to Miss Nettie’s house, where my eleven-year-old, Betsy, was staying for dinner, then headed for the church. It was a hot spring night and bound to get hotter.

Help me, Lord, Miss Nettie and that newsletter are gonna get me killed one way or another.

The unexpected appearance of Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont in the church’s conference room confirmed what I’d feared all along. My notoriety as the shamefully irreverent preacher’s daughter hadn’t been forgotten, even after an absence of more than a decade. Any hope of getting the deacons to approve my request had just been deep-sixed. Well, horse pucky!

There she was, the Queen of Mean, flapping her collagen-plumped lips faster than a whipporwill’s tail in a windstorm while seven deacons stared in wide-eyed amazement.

I shook my head in disbelief. What in the heck had she done to herself? Those puffy lips weren’t the only recently enhanced body parts, either. Poppy Rose was a walking, talking endorsement for the modern wonders of plastic surgery and extreme weight loss. My monthly house rent couldn’t begin to touch the high-dollar cost of that hot pink linen skirt and knit top clinging to her curves closer than a coat of paint from Howard’s Hardware. Talk about extreme makeover, her body had been nipped and tucked in places I didn’t even want to think about. Yikes!

A brief, but uncomfortable, sting of envy zapped me so hard I could almost hear momma saying, “Pretty is as pretty does, Frances Louise.” A die-hard fan of Downton Abbey, she never called me Frankie Lou when she was in her Lady Louisa mood.

Poppy Rose teetered toward me on nose-bleed high stilettos, her over-enhanced boobs leading the way.Oh boy, here it comes, I thought, wondering if escape was possible. Had she seen the bulletin?

“Well, Ah declare, Frankie Lou.” Her words dripped so much toxic sweetness it made my teeth ache. “Here y’all are, stirring up trouble just like old times. You haven’t changed a bit, bless your heart.” She smiled, the bright flash of Hollywood-white teeth threatening to blind me on the spot.

I flicked a wayward strand of my straight black hair behind one ear. Now, truth is, I don’t give a horse’spatoot about fashion, but does Starbucks know she’s got her Texas-big hair whipped up like a mocha latte with caramel swirls?

“Why, hello, Poppy Rose,” I said, sucking in my tummy and sticking out my 34B girls like they were Double Ds. Hey, I have my pride, but there’s no way I would ever let anyone slice and dice my body for the sake of “perfect.”

According to Miss Nettie, Poppy Rose married into big money three years ago after meeting her future husband on a singles cruise. Miz Parvis Fremont turned her brand-new wealth into a mighty fine shopping career.

The impressive Fremont mansion and its extravagant interior adornments is the town’s only claim to fame. Miss Nettie said Poppy Rose consulted a designer from Italy for the elaborate decorating, and the place got written up in some big architectural magazine. That bit of information teased my curiosity, but I’m not likely to ever be invited to the Ruby Springs’ wonder home. In the first place, I wasn’t even invited to the nuptials. Wouldn’t have gone anyway, since the ceremony took place during my prolonged self-exile in Austin. I understand that show-of-the-century shindig cost a cool half-million dollars, all paid for by the groom, of course. There was even actual dancing at the reception over at the town community center, something never done before in Ruby Springs. Yes indeedy, Poppy Rose finally snagged herself a wealthy spouse. Kind of sad he died so soon. Or was it? Looking at her now, I’d say she wears her hot pink widow’s weeds just a little too perky.

Author Bio ~

You can’t be a preacher’s kid and raise a little hob without some serious repercussions. Yes, ma’am, that’s the gospel truth. Lora Lee’s JOYFUL NOISE mystery series for Bell Bridge Books, sheds a little light on just how serious those consequences can be when Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters returns to her hometown of Ruby Springs, Texas after ten years in hopes of putting some shine on her tarnished reputation, but finds herself in the middle of murder and mayhem instead.

Though author Lora Lee insists the series isn’t about her in any way, shape or form, she does admit to being a real-life P.K. (that’s preacher’s kid, in case you didn’t know.) She was born in Texas and her Southern blood runs deep. Her daddy told her any place below the Mason-Dixon line was part of the South, including the Lone Star State.

Since living in West Michigan most of her married life, she’s lost some of her Texas twang, but once in awhile, a might could and a y’all or two slips into her conversation with her critique partners. They love her, anyway. So does her husband of fifty-plus years and their children. With a current family count of twenty-three, get-togethers often resemble an old time revival when they all gather for fun and food.

Lora Lee is a member of Romance Writer’s of America, Mid-Michigan RWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA’s specialty chapter Kiss of Death and is currently published in contemporary romance. She is also a proud graduate of the Grand Rapids Citizens Police Academy.

When not writing or trying to keep up with her ever-growing family, she enjoys reading, music and travel.

You can find Lora at: