Welcome to the Blog Tour for Nellie by Amy Walsh, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! I’m delighted to have Amy on the blog today to chat about her new historical romance!
NELLIE by Amy Walsh
SERIES: Apron Strings #2
GENRE: Historical Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Walsh Mountain Publishing
RELEASE DATE: February 15, 2024
Finances are tight for the O’Dwyer family who live on a mountain outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1931. Life gets even harder when their beloved Dadaí must cease work as a coal miner to become a patient at the West Mountain Sanitarium.
Nellie is her preferred name, but family and friends have heard Mam shout “Fenella Aileen O’Dwyer!” all too often with the countless predicaments she got herself into throughout childhood. So, it’s not altogether surprising when Nellie impulsively accepts a job as an assistant cook at the Clarinda House in a case of mistaken identity — though she’s the last person her family would ask to prepare a meal.
Fortunately, along with determination, a talent for acting, and the gift of blarney, Nellie has Mrs. Campbell’s Cookery Book, a treasure she discovered at a Red Cross drought relief sale.
As her reluctant admiration for her employer grows, Nellie wishes she could be the sort of truthful woman of faith that Mr. Mason Peale esteems. If she confesses all, will she lose her job along with the friendships she’s formed at Clarinda House?
Hi! Welcome to the blog!
Amy: Apples. Weird story. I used to love oranges. But one night when I was about seven, my grandmother was watching us because my mother had the stomach virus. We had toast for a bedtime snack, and for some reason I was being a brat. I started mashing orange slices onto my toast. Grammy said, “Don’t do that. You’ll get sick.” Well, I smashed it and ate it anyway, and of course I got the stomach bug that night. Oranges didn’t have the same appeal after that. I don’t think I ever disobeyed Grammy again.
Carrie: haha! oh no!
Amy: Cats! Hands down, thanks to Copper, our family’s first dog. I was the one who had to have him, too. He was the runt of the litter, part chihuahua/part hound. He overcompensated for his size with a big attitude. Unfortunately, he also disliked me. If he ever had an accident in the house, it was in my bedroom. One time he peed on my bookbag while I was outside waiting for the bus. But the time that made me a cat fan for life was when I got my first pair of skis for Christmas. The skis were the kind you strap onto boots, so I couldn’t take them off to climb the hill behind our house. Every time I laboriously stepped sideways to the top, he’d run in front of me so I’d fall as I was coming down. I’d have to contort this way and that to get back on my feet, and clamber back up the hill. The fourth time he ran in front of me, I cursed as I belly flopped. It was the first I had ever used that particular word. My brother tattled, and I got my mouth washed out with soap.
Carrie: aww – my husband had a similarly annoying dog growing up but all it took was the love of a sweet dog to make him a dog person forever ♥
Amy: Sandwich. I love just about anything between two slices of bread. In fact, you could say I had a soup sandwich for supper tonight. We had stew, and I put my stew meat inside a buttered roll.
Amy: Card game. Growing up, we had Rook or Dutch Blitz tournaments at just about every family gathering. Once my kids were in Scouting, we played lots of cards during camping trips. I love the versatility of a deck of cards.
Carrie: they really are versatile – and fun!
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Amy: Time travel. But not if there was a chance that I could get stuck in a time where there was no indoor plumbing or deodorant. Or war. Or famine. I would love to meet so many people I’ve read about and see so many wonders of the world in their glory days.
Carrie: I’m with you – as long as I can easily get back to today’s modern conveniences lol
Q: If you knew you were only going to be allowed FIVE books for the rest of your life, besides the Bible, which five would make the cut?
Amy: Ooo! I’ve thought of this one before but added that I was alone on an island forever. I’ve agonized over how bored I would be. I’m a fast reader, so I’d want lengthy, complex books so I could stretch them out as long as possible. However, I have to like the books. Hence, I’d most likely take Lord of the Rings, Les Mis, and Jane Eyre. Then I imagine, since I could only have five books, I must have gotten myself into a pickle so I’d better focus on the practical too. I’ll take a copy of How to Do Just About Anything. Finally, to learn and remember history, I might bring History Year by Year. Do you think I could also bring a journal? Ha ha!
Carrie: haha excellent choices 🙂
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?
Amy: I Googled some very strange things while writing A Cursed Enchantment. The main characters are tiny dolls who are brought to life and then abandoned. When they finally get to their dollhouse, Mahogany Manor, they discover that everything in their home is fake – no indoor plumbing, a pantry stuffed with empty bins and boxes, no words in their books… To make it even more angsty, they live in a world where magic is outlawed, so they have to hide every detail of their existence. I Googled how long it takes to fry earthworm skin on a rock in the sun; how could you save a dehydrated baby flying squirrel with no vet available; how can you keep a baby from crying while hiding without causing harm; how long a family of mice could survive in a sealed container…. And so many more strange questions.
Carrie: oh wow!
Q: What surprised you about your book or your characters as you wrote Nellie?
Amy: While writing Nellie, I returned to the same setting as in my last book, Voices in the Sanitorium. I dug even deeper in the culture of the day, the businesses in northeastern PA, and individual characters. I was surprised at the generosity of the businesses and individuals, despite it being the Great Depression, and despite there being no cure for tuberculosis. Nellie starts off with a rummage sale for the Drought Relief Fund. This money wasn’t even going to locals, yet so many organizations got involved. Later in the book, Nellie’s theater group donates a whole weekend’s worth of ticket sales to the cause. This happened again and again throughout the depression. Actors guilds were some of the heaviest donors.
I was also struck by how good we have it now. Government assistance programs prevent widows like Mrs. Owen from having to send their children to relatives, and we no longer have poor farms to house the impoverished and those with disabilities. Both “farming out” orphans and being sent to a poor farm were quite common in Nellie’s time.
I was surprised at how willing the public was to go to the TB sanitarium with gifts and services. Often musical ensembles visited to entertain the patients. Beauticians would spend time with patients around the holidays getting them dolled up. Imagine being willing to do someone’s hair and makeup when you knew that there was no cure for TB and there was a high mortality rate.
Carrie: that’s sobering & fascinating!
Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote Nellie?
Amy: I’ll be honest, I had a very hard time finding the time or mindset to work on Nellie. Since I was invited to be part of this project, I moved my classroom to a new school and got used to working with new colleagues. My husband retired early. We had multiple rounds of serious illnesses in our family. We took on a building project that didn’t go as planned. There were two automobile mishaps. (My daughter’s car was totaled, and I put mine out of commission for weeks after running over a stump. Don’t ask, ha ha!) And there were more unexpected events. I never planned for Nellie to parallel my life in any way, but both Nellie and I learned that plans can change quickly and drastically. I certainly learned to attach an “if the Lord wills” to each of my plans for the future during my time with the Apron Strings MAP.
Carrie: I’ve had seasons like that too!
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Amy: I have several personal and multi-author projects in the works over the next three years. However, the next book I will publish is an anthology of true short stories to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Led by Love is a collection of autobiographical tales that answers many readers’ questions regarding the lives of those needing service dogs. What sorts of challenges do the legally blind face? How does one go about obtaining a guide dog? How can disabilities affect relationships? How does one cope with being diagnosed with a chronic and degenerative condition? Can an animal really become a dear friend? This book will be released on April 24, 2024 to celebrate International Guide Dog Day.
Thanks for having me!
Amy Walsh writes historical and contemporary romance, mysteries, speculative fiction, and women’s fiction. She is a 5th-grade writing teacher in an urban public school. Amy and her husband, Patrick, have three children. Amy considers herself greatly blessed in the roles God has given her as an earthling, including aspiring wordsmith, teacher of youngsters, nature appreciator, tea aficionado, avid dessert fan, book fanatic, lover of family and friends, and Christ-follower.
Connect with Amy by visiting walshmountainpublishing.com to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.
(1) winner will win a $50 Amazon gift card, print copies of Nellie and Voices in the Sanitorium, and some historical memorabilia from the West Mountain Sanitarium!
Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight February 12, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on February 19, 2024. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.
This giveaway is hosted by JustRead Tours, not RimSP
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What about you? What makes you want to read Nellie by Amy Walsh?