Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Good Eating

Summertime is down-home cooking time. So tie on your aprons and let’s get to it!

Sloane’s Down-home Fried Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Green Beans

Sloane’s Down-home Fried Chicken
1 tbsp. salt
Tap water
6 chicken legs, or thighs or 4 breasts, skinless and boneless
1 cup flour
1tsp. thyme
½ tsp. marjoram
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large egg
1½ tbsp. milk
½ cup solid shortening or lard, plus more as needed

Dissolve salt in a small amount of water. Add chicken pieces then cover with more water. Set this in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours.

Remove chicken from fridge 2 hours before you plan to cook. When you’re ready, drain the chicken and pat dry.

Combine flour and seasonings in a paper or plastic bag. Shake gently to combine ingredients. Mix egg and milk in a bowl. Set a clean plate or platter on the counter to hold the breaded chicken in one layer.

Place one chicken piece at a time in the bag, shake gently to thoroughly coat, then dip in egg mixture, then return the piece to the bag and gently shake again. Set chicken on the plate. Repeat the process until all pieces are coated. Set the uncovered plate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the shortening in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Test to be sure shortening is hot enough by adding a small piece of bread. It should sizzle and toast quickly.

Carefully add the chicken pieces. Maintain the temperature, but adjust it so chicken doesn’t burn and grease doesn’t splatter everywhere.

Turning frequently, brown the chicken on all sides. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.

Lay pieces on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any oil. Transfer them to a clean platter and serve.

Mashed Potatoes
1 small russet potato per person
Chicken stock
Sour cream
Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish

Pour one inch chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by one inch. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 - 25 minutes. They are done when a fork inserts easily into a potato.

Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in the milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

Fresh Green Beans
Photo by SOMMAI
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed but left whole
3 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring large pot of water to a hard boil. A high heat setting is best.

Drop the beans in by the handful. Boil 10 to 15 minutes or until the beans are just tender. If you plan to reheat the beans, boil for less time as the reheating will cook them further.

Drain beans in a colander. Add butter to the hot pot and swirl to melt. Return beans to the pot. Toss with butter and coat well. Season with pepper and stir again.

The beans may be made earlier and reheated on low heat. Be careful not to scorch them or burn the butter.

Photo by khumthong
This meal screams for ice cold watermelon for dessert. Early in the day cut your melon into large chunks. This is a good time to get rid of the rind.

Place the melon into plastic bags, seal, and refrigerate until your dinner is settled.

You may want to make one of those bags Adults Only by lacing a few shots of vodka over the melon. Very tasty!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Shopping: Is it in Our Genes?

by Anne Montgomery

I’ve been a teacher for 15 years and, when meeting new high school students, I often ask them about their interests. Without fail, numerous kids list shopping as their favorite hobby. These students, so far, have been female.

I try not to roll my eyes and then explain that a hobby is generally something where one might engage in creative or artistic pursuits, collect themed objects, or perhaps play a sport. Still, the girls smile and insist that shopping is their hobby.

I read recently that the average woman spends approximately 400 hours each year shopping. Conversely, men quickly get board with those trips to the mall, losing interest after just 26 minutes, while women can shop blissfully for two hours before tedium strikes.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s the women who usually spy the empty cupboards and resupply the milk and toilet paper and dog food and all of the other stuff needed to run a household. So, of course, they spend more time at the store. But, even when we discount those we gotta have it now moments, women are still in shopping mode much more than men.

I wondered why. I put on my history teacher cap and thought about our ancient ancestors: those hunter-gatherers who foraged for food and resources until they started to settle down in permanent communities about 12,000 years ago. The hunters, we suspect, were generally men. The gatherers: women. It’s estimated that 80% of our ancestors’ diet consisted of wild fruits and vegetables. While the men were out looking for something to kill and drag home, women and girls were peering intently at foliage and digging in the ground, looking for groceries. And their rummaging probably wasn’t restricted to foodstuffs. No doubt a pretty rock or feather might have found its way into a woman’s basket, perhaps to use for barter later on when food ran out.

What does this have to do with the modern female shopper? Here I have a completely unscientific hypothesis, though one that makes perfect sense to me. Human beings – and all creatures alive today – had to adapt in order to survive. So, perhaps, buried in our DNA is a “shopping” gene, passed on from our ancient female ancestors. Those women, who had to examine fruits and berries and roots and leaves, were forced to take great care and time to make sure they selected items that didn’t poison their families. They also had to stock up enough goods to make it through the harsh times of the year. So hunting and gathering were probably their main pursuits. Thanks to their abilities to pick the best available provisions, they were able to survive and pass their genes down to us.

So, don’t feel too badly about enjoying that time at the mall, just leave your beau at home. I, in the meantime, will try to stop rolling my eyes at my students.

Here's a brief introduction to my soft mystery for your reading pleasure.

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a pregnant teenager who bears an odd facial deformity, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

To read more from A Light in the Desert please click a vendor's name: Sarah Book Publishing - Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

American Flag Cake - Perfect Holiday Dessert

Not only is my author friend Sara Daniel a terrific writer, she's also one dynamite baker. Sara is sharing her special Fourth of July dessert. I guarantee you'll love it! Now here's Sara...

Nothing beats Independence Day for showing our pride in our country. Flags wave proudly, and red, white and blue are suddenly displayed on every piece of merchandise in the local discount store.

While I don’t have flag plates, napkins or—God forbid—a star-spangled bikini, I love bringing out my once-a-year crafty side to make an American Flag Cake for a cool patriotic treat.

So to satisfy your sweet-tooth I offer you my easy and delicious recipe.

American Flag Cake
pound cake
8oz Cool Whip
Strawberries, sliced

Pound cake can be store bought or made from scratch. Here’s a quick recipe:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat sugar into butter 2 tablespoons at a time until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Bake in a greased and floured 9 X 5 pan for 1 hour. Cool completely.

To Assemble American Flag Cake
Cut pound cake into slices and lay across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.

Cover cake with a smooth layer of Cool Whip.

Turn pan horizontal. In upper left corner, fill an approximately 3-4 inch by 3-4 inch square with blueberries.

Make seven horizontal lines of strawberry slices. The first four lines should begin from the blueberry section to the far right edge. The bottom three lines should span the entire length of the pan. The top and bottom lines should be touching the top and bottom of the pan respectively to create 13 alternating red and white stripes.

The last step is very important - Thank a member of our Armed Forces and/or a Veteran, and share a piece of patriotic cake.



Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Monday, June 20, 2016


This thrilling and inventive space opera takes us to a fascinating and terrifying future where newborn life is won in battle and death. Genetic engineering has removed the male influence and Femes, a sapien race similar to legendary Amazon Warriors, fight each other for supremacy across the galaxy.

Despite being born with the genes of nobility, Kaylenn has dedicated her life to battle. Nothing is more sacred to a Kralite, and when war breaks out she is eager to prove herself as a worthy commander and warrior. Fleets and planets fall before her strength, but when she has no choice but to place her faith in Saaryth, a loathed Kaltaarist captain, or face glorious death herself, she chooses to live. Born to the tribe, Saaryth embodies the unity and self-sacrifice that is the birthright of all Kaltaarists. After years of seeing her people spat upon by their Kralite leaders, Saaryth shows Kaylenn the potential of the many working together in perfect harmony to accomplish a single goal. But the fiery passion of Kaylenn awakens longings within her that she didn’t even know she was capable of having. She doesn’t want to share her. Their union provokes the ire of the governments and corporations controlling the galaxy, but is the only hope to save Kaylenn's homeworld.

The Nexus is always watching... their peoples are the next to be judged.

Saaryth handled the controls as the space shuttle cleared the orbiting station and descended toward Keltrys IV. After clearing her flight plan with station control and the flight center on the planet surface, she swung the shuttle skillfully around the ring-shaped superstructure of the gigantic military space wheel.

There, visible on the station’s planetside space dock was the Kalthaar. Battered and charred about the edges, but still the pride of the fleet, Kaylenn thought with a smile. As Saaryth did a close fly-by of the docked ship, Kaylenn looked through the viewport and saw the flitting white specs of the space crews moving about with their thruster packs as they worked on the Kalthaar’s damaged sections.

“I’m told the Kalthaar should be battle ready in about four standard days, Fleet Captain.” Saaryth's voice held no inflection or emotion.

“Yes, so I’ve heard. How do you feel about getting back into the fight, Saaryth?” The planet surface, bright green and blue, rose toward them in the viewport.

Saaryth’s eyes never left the controls. “I do not relish the thought of losing any more of my sisters, Fleet Captain,” she said calmly. “But, as our priestesses teach: If some must be lost on the hunt for the tribe to go on, that is the wisdom of Kaltaari.”

There was a note of sadness hidden under her stoicism. And, just a hint of anger. “You must resent my kind for putting you and your sisters in this position, Saaryth.”

She sighed, glancing up at the planet’s curve now filling the viewport. “Yes. I suppose I do.” Her jaw was a bit clenched. Kaylenn hoped letting Saaryth vent her anger in this neutral setting would help gain her trust. But now, it was Kaylenn’s turn to open up. “It’s a stupid war, I know. The Confederation and our former trading partner, the Vedran Alliance, wasting lives and funds over contested solar systems whose resources don’t begin to justify the cost.”

“The Galaxy, like the daughter of Kral, belongs to the strong,” Saaryth said, reciting the Confederation war slogan, as she raised the shuttle’s heat shields and prepped the ship for atmospheric entry.

“More accurately, the next Council term belongs to those ministers who have a successful military campaign to their credit.”

“You must be resentful as well, if you believe that,” Saaryth said as she switched the ship from nuclear space drive to air-cooled rocket propulsion. The ship trembled and the energy barrier beyond the viewport glowed white hot as the ship dove into the atmosphere.

Kaylenn was at once refreshed and a bit taken aback by Saaryth’s honesty. “I suppose, to some extent. The rules of politics and of war are the same as the Hunt of Kral: only one victor allowed. There’s no way around that. At least in Kralite society. But a good warrior understands the value of allies. The Council does not.” Saaryth remained silent, as though waiting for Kaylenn to say more. She's not going to make this easy. To be more direct meant putting her life in Saaryth’s hands. Well, she had once already, she reminded herself.

“You’ve been honest with me, Saaryth, so I’ll be honest with you. My government has asked me to suppress the role your people played in this battle, and I’ve refused.” Saaryth looked up suddenly, unable to hide her surprise. “That puts me in a very dangerous position. I don’t believe my own crew or officers would assassinate me, even under Fleet Command orders, but I suspect some might be slow to defend me the next time I’m ordered into the line of enemy fire. I have to be certain the same is not true of you and your people.”

Saaryth sighed, dropping the mask of composure and suddenly looking very irritated. “Fleet Captain, may I ask what you sought to accomplish by taking such a foolish risk?”

Kaylenn was completely unprepared for that. “I...I want my people to recognize what your people have to offer us. Saaryth, before this mission, I didn’t believe a Kaltaarist could be a real soldier. I was typical of my people, but I realize now how wrong we’ve been. We’ve allowed a valuable resource to go to waste because of a stupid cultural prejudice. A stigma. If my superiors could just look beyond their stodgy-”

“You are a fool,” Saaryth said coldly, looking directly at Kaylenn with stern eyes.

Kaylenn was stunned, but quickly recovered. “You overestimate your value to me, Lieutenant Commander,” she barked, her anger surfacing. “Perhaps I could secure my position with my superiors by arranging a convenient accident for you.”

“I’ll gladly help you to arrange that accident, if it will secure the future of my people,” Saaryth snapped back, setting the ship on auto-pilot.

Bright pink and violet cloudscapes raced past the viewport, framing Saaryth’s angry, beautiful face. “What are you talking about?” Kaylenn demanded.

“Your superiors are already well aware of what our pilots can do. That’s why we’re here.” Her eyes shifted a bit, as she hesitated. Then she locked eyes with Kaylenn and continued. “Our planning committees have discreetly negotiated with your ministers. We’ve agreed to help them with their war, and in return they have agreed to divert badly needed resources to some of our worlds which have been left to near starvation since this war began. The only condition is that we do not accept credit for any victory we participate in.”

Kaylenn understood. “But you agree to accept the blame for any defeat.”

“Of course. We care nothing about that, only about feeding our clusters and helping our people survive this war. And now you interfere with this reckless act of defiance and ask me to put my own people at risk to protect you! Why have you done this to us? What do you hope to gain?” Her eyes flared with anger.

Kaylenn almost smiled. At least now she knew where she stood. “Saaryth, listen to me,” she said quietly. “My leaders are shortsighted fools, and the trouble with you Kaltaarists is you have too much faith in sapien love. Don’t turn away from me! Listen. The Vedrans have learned the value of training Kaltaarists as soldiers. It’s only a matter of time now before they and every sapien empire begins doing the same. Things are going to change for your people, whether you want them to or not. Whether they change for better or worse depends on you and others like you.”

Saaryth looked at her with a hesitant curiosity. “What do you mean?”

“Play the game by the Council’s rules, and your people will become scapegoats for every disaster Helkos suffers in this war. The few crumbs the politicians toss your way won’t help you against the backlash that will follow when this war is over. You think your planets fare poorly now? Just wait. When the next war comes, it will be harder for the Confederation to use your kind as fighters again. But our next enemy won’t have that problem, you see?”

Saaryth looked shocked. Almost like a child.

“Our politicians aren’t like your planners. They think only of themselves, not of the problems their successors will inherit.”

Saaryth glanced about nervously. “How then does your defiance help us?”

“If enough captains like me and enough squadron commanders like you stand together, they can’t keep the truth bottled up. We can build a legend together, Saaryth—you and I!” She felt hot blood racing as she laid a hand on Saaryth’s arm. The dark-eyed feme looked a bit frightened, almost as though confronted with a maniac. Kaylenn calmed herself, withdrew her hand and reined in her ambition. “What I mean is that we can help turn public opinion in your people’s favor. In Kralite society, military success is the first step toward political power. Imagine your councils having a say in how the Confederation is run!”

For an instant Saaryth’s eyes sparkled, then an instant later, darkened with fear. Then they turned away and the cold, defensive calm returned. “No. We want no part of your politics.”

“Isolation is a luxury you can no longer afford! You’ve learned to kill. Now learn to reap the benefits of the kill. As you do on your hunt. As we do on ours.”

Saaryth dropped her head back against the headrest of her flight seat. She closed her eyes, the cloud-veiled red sunlight streaming through the viewport painted her face in a wash of blood. “When I was a young girl in my village, our priestess would scold my classmates and me for hoarding food, or not dividing the workload evenly, or fighting over the attentions of a friend. ‘The moment you let jealousy or selfishness or greed into your heart, you become like Tryl, the Mother of Evil who stabbed her own sister in the back and sold her soul to the demon Kral so she alone could claim the daughter who brought all suffering into the world.’ I never really took any of that seriously. Until now.”

“You’ve come this far,” Kaylenn said, feeling genuine sympathy for Saaryth’s pain. She had never felt sympathy for weakness before, and feeling it now frightened her a little. She had never imagined that kind of struggle could take place inside so capable a warrior as Saaryth. “You know you can’t turn back. You and I need each other.”

Saaryth raised her head and glared at her. “And, that’s why we’re here together?”

“It’s not the only reason,” Kaylenn said, hiding nothing as she gently ran a hand across Saaryth’s face. The other feme’s features softened. “Unless you’re blind, you saw that the moment we met.” Saaryth took her hand in both of hers and kissed it. She stroked Kaylenn’s hand softly against her own cheek and looked into her eyes. “I’ve been honest with you about what I want.”


“Power I would eagerly use to help those I love. Tell me what you want.”

“A better life for my people.”

“And, for yourself?”

Sunlight broke through the clouds and washed in a warm orange glow over Saaryth’s face. “That, you already know.” She smiled, and Kaylenn felt a great warmth passing through her as their fingers interlocked.

Read a FREE sample here.

Phase 5 Publishing - Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Lulu - Kobo

Thomas Olbert lives in Cambridge, MA, home of Harvard, M.I.T., liberals and wackos. When not writing science fiction and horror or working, Tom volunteers for candidates and causes he cares about, like the environment and civil rights. Tom’s father Stan Olbert was a fighter in the Polish resistance during WWII and later a professor of physics at M.I.T. Tom’s mother, Norma Olbert has self-published Stan Olbert’s life story: “The Boy from Lwow”, now available in paperback. Tom’s sister Elizabeth Olbert is an accomplished artist and now a teacher of art at the University of Maine.

Olbert's fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies, including “In the Bloodstream” by Eden Royce, “Torched” from Nocturnal Press and “Something Wicked Vol. II” from EKhaya.

Tom has a dark, cosmically-themed science fiction/psycho drama novel entitled “Black Goddess” now available at Mocha Memoirs Press in addition to two dark sci-fi shorts “Hellshift” and “Along Came a Spider” also available from Mocha Memoirs Press. Another of his books is a vampire novelette entitled “Desert Flower,” a tragic tale of love, war and eternal darkness set in the midst of the Afghanistan war, available now from Eternal Press.

Learn more about Thomas
Olbert on his blog Other Dimensions.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Create a Sweet Saturday

by Sharon Ledwith

Make any day special with my dynamite dessert Legend(dairy) Chocolate-Banana Split Dream. Here's how the yumness came to be. In my book, Legend of the Timekeepers—the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series—my adolescent characters Lilith, her BFF She-Aba, and an annoying goat-herder named Tau are transported from the Black Land through the seventh Arch of Atlantis, and travel back in time to Atlantis one hundred years before its final destruction. There, Tau finds that he has an insatiable taste for a strange, long yellow fruit he’s never seen before. Fortunately for us, this long yellow fruit—a.k.a. bananas—are readily available at our local markets, and used in some wicked-awesome recipes. The following recipe is easy to make, and is a great pick for families to create together on those cool or rainy weekend afternoons or family celebrations:

Legend(dairy) Chocolate-Banana Split Dream
30 Oreo Cookies (or generic brand), finely crushed (about 2¼ cups)
6 tbsp. butter, melted
1 pkg. (250 g) your favorite brand of Cream Cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp. cold milk
3 cups thawed your favorite brand of whipped topping, divided
4 bananas, sliced
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) of your favorite brand chocolate instant pudding
3¼ cups cold milk
1 third cup maraschino cherries, halved
¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 tbsp. chocolate syrup

Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 13x9-inch dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and 2 tbsp. milk in medium bowl with whisk until well blended. Stir in 1 cup whipped topping; spread over crust. Top with bananas.

Beat pudding mixes and milk with whisk for two minutes; spread over bananas. Let stand five minutes or until thickened; cover with remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate four hours.

Top with cherries, nuts, and syrup just before serving.

Did I forget to mention that this fantastic dessert serves twenty-four of your closest friends? That’s a good thing, seeing as Tau has a big family! Now, while you’re waiting for this dessert to set, why not partake in an afternoon of cozying up on the couch with a good book?

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

To read an excerpt from Legend of the Timekeepers or purchase a copy, please click a vendor's name
Mirror World Publishing - Amazon US - Amazon CA

If you haven’t already read Sharon Ledwith's novel, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, here’s the blurb…

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

To read more of the Arch of Atlantis or purchase a copy, please click a vendor's name
Mirror World Publishing - Amazon US - Amazon CA

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.

Check out The Last Timekeepers series Facebook Page.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Mirror World Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Power of White Magic

by Leigh Goff

In DISENCHANTED, the beautiful sixteen-year-old Sophie Goodchild, a white witch, must learn to master her aunt’s harmless plant spells so she can keep her own powerful magic a secret from her dangerous coven. The coven’s ambitious eldress would love nothing more than to utilize young Sophie’s talent in a war against the fearful ordinaries, especially Judge Mather who is locking up young witches for magical slip-ups. Did I mention Judge Mather is a direct descendant of a Salem Witch Trial judge?

While trying to hide her uncontrollable magic and master her aunt’s spells, Sophie learns about her enchanted garden and all the amazing plants in it. She finds many practical and a few hilarious applications for the enchanted herbs and flowers. Below are a few that appear in the book.

Devil’s Bit. A small purple meadow flower and a good source of nectar, which Sophie applies to her lips everyday to help her lie (this only works for Wethersfield witches), because when you are a witch in a small town with Puritanical roots, you need a little help blending in with the ordinaries and keeping secrets from your witch sisters.

White Willow Bark. A natural anti-inflammatory and hemorrhoid reliever. When Sophie meets Alexavier’s taunting older brother, Zeke, she wonders if applying the bark powder all over Zeke would improve his disposition.

Munstead Lavender. Sophie’s pillow is filled with the summery scent to help her sleep through her haunted dreams, but lavender cannot compete with the tenacity of a four hundred-year-old witch’s spirit. Fortunately, this witch is helpful and guides Sophie in her quest to break the True Love Curse her ancestor, Rebecca Greensmith, cast on the Mather bloodline. Did I mention Rebecca, Sophie’s witch ancestor, was hung at the gallows in Wethersfield?

Calendula/Chickweed. Combined in a teabag, cooled, and applied to Sophie’s eyes, this powerful anti-inflammatory reduces puffiness from her sleepless nights where strange foreboding dreams of the past blend with her present.

Annatto. Wards off evil and eases stomach distress, but this natural pigment from achiote seed pods also tints Sophie’s teeth orange, which does little to impress the popular coven clique, the Glitterati, who already think she’s an odd half-witch. Little do they know she is destined to be the most powerful witch Wethersfield has seen in four hundred years.

Lemon verbena, valerian, and rose petals. The fragrant combination brings lovers together and, as Sophie inhales the perfumed scent, her bad boy love interest, Alexavier Mather, who happens to be her family’s enemy and is devastatingly handsome with a to-die-for British accent, enters the scene.

Here's a little from DISENCHANTED for your reading pleasure.

As the vision wore off, the glass jar tumbled from my fingers and smashed into tiny shards against the porcelain of the sink. I crumpled to the bathroom floor. The vision of Elizabeth’s last night was her final message. I cradled my face in my hands. My hatred for the judge was no different from Rebecca’s in its depth and darkness. I hated that it was, but I was going to need it. It would carry me through the ritual necessary to save Alexavier. I gripped the edge of the vanity and pulled myself to standing.

I touched my hand to my bloodcharm and dressed in the uniform then took a deep breath as I slid the ceremonial black robe off its hanger and tied the satin belt around my waist. I smoothed my hands against the front panels of fabric, feeling the cold silk against my fingertips. An icy trickle of darkness, the same liquid black ice I felt before listening to Judge Mather and Laney, traveled the length of my arm.

This time, I invited it in.

I felt the darkness tame my impetuous nature, allowing me to feed slowly on the hatred and control it. The coldness flowed through my veins and to the lengths of each limb. The icy darkness pooled in my chest and chilled my heart.

The change was beginning. “Elizabeth, I hope you’re right about the magic in me being able to change black hearts ’cause I’m going to need it for my own.”

The doorbell chimed, startling me to a more alert state. “Hold on,” I shouted. I opened the duffel bag and removed the knife and vial before tossing the robe in. I stuffed the small items in my skirt pocket and carried the bag with me downstairs, setting it in the foyer. I clenched my hands tightly together before opening the door. “Cal? What are you doing here?” I asked, shocked to see him on my doorstep.

“I was worried about you,” he said abruptly, entering the house and grabbing me by the hand.

“I don’t have time for this right now. I have a meeting with my aunt tonight,” I implored impatiently.

“A meeting?” He noticed the gray skirt and white shirt. “Not yet.” He led me to the kitchen and pulled a chair out.

He studied me and grimaced. “Sophie, I don’t know what’s going on, but I get the feeling you’re in trouble.” Perhaps it was his connection to tribal magic, but beyond his tough guy exterior, he was surprisingly intuitive.

“Cal, I’ll be fine. I’m a little stressed and tired, that’s all.” I blinked, feeling a strange weight on my lashes. I glanced at my hands, turning them over. My skin looked luminescent. Flawless. I smacked my lips together, feeling their plumpness.

He scrunched his face up as he eyed me. “Tired? You don’t look tired. Are you wearing makeup?”

I raced to the foyer mirror, out of Cal’s view. My heart-shaped lips bloomed a blood red, my lashes thickened and bowed upward like the arms of a goddess, a dewy glow radiated from my flawless ivory complexion, and as I watched, the messy knot unrolled down the length of my back into a wavy sea of glossy sable hair. My mouth fell open.

“I wasn’t finished.” Cal marched toward me. “Whoa. What is going on?”

I turned to him, having to act like I normally did. “Nothing.”

His eyebrows arched. “Something. Did you get a makeover in the last thirty-seconds?”

I gathered my silky hair and draped the long smooth tresses over one shoulder. “I’m trying something new. Don’t make fun.”

He shook his head, stupefied. “Whatever. I came here to give you something.” He took a breath as if to say something else, but he stopped. Our friendship had evolved and deepened into a mutual love for each other; a love between friends, but nonetheless sacred and forever.

I shook my hands at him. “Cal, don’t. It’s not...”

He reached into the pocket of his jeans and extracted a tangle of black leather string. Angst crossed his bronzed brow. “I want you to wear this.”

I glanced at the object resting in his open palm; a small wood carving attached to leather strands. The amulet was the size of a postage stamp.

“It’s a talisman carved from eucalyptus wood. It wards off evil spirits and will protect you.”

“Is this a white magic token?” He smiled without explanation. “Cal, it’s incredibly thoughtful of you. I love it. But I can’t take that.” I didn’t deserve to wear it at the moment, not as the darkness spread through me like the poison Romeo drank, silencing the warmth in my heart. My lips tingled. “Your mom wouldn’t like it.”

His lips twisted to the side and his expression was one of rejection. “I think she would be okay if she saw it on you.” He smiled, a hint of sadness seeped into the corners of his mouth. “Here...” He took my hand and looped the leather around so the talisman dangled delicately from my wrist. I could feel his gentle touch on my skin as he secured it. He placed his large hands on my shoulders and looked at me. “Promise you’ll be okay?”

A laugh cracked through my stress. “Promise.” Cal’s sentiment was deeply appreciated. He never failed to make me laugh, even as the temperature of my heart dropped.

He leaned in and kissed my cheek as a small tear escaped from my eyes. “You better be.” The doorbell rang again. It was too late to stop him. In one long stride, Cal turned the knob before I could move.

Alexavier stood in the doorway, glaring at Callum with disapproval and irritation. “Callum, what a surprise to find you here,” he said gruffly, sarcasm saturating his voice.

“I’m trying to take care of my girl.”

I didn’t want Cal to mess this up. I still needed one thing from Alexavier. Alexavier spoke directly to him. “Callum, I know you care about Sophie, but I can take care of her. She doesn’t need you.” He kept his voice low, but his tone was protective and threatening.

Callum stepped closer to him.

“Callum, this will not end well for you if you insist on challenging me,” Alexavier warned. His voice remained even, but his body was poised to fight if Callum insisted.

I wiped my cheek and stomped toward them. “Please, stop this. Please! I care about you both, but Callum, you need to go,” I pleaded, fearing Cal would snap. I pulled on Alexavier’s arm roughly to break the defensive eye contact he maintained with Callum.

“I’m not afraid, Mather. I also don’t need my fists to prove I’m the better man. Sophie will see that one day,” he snarled ferociously.

I flashed my eyes wide. My jaw jutted out. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with or could deal with and I feared what I would do under the influence of my choice. “Callum... leave now!” I didn’t care about hurting anyone’s feelings at the moment. My emotions were shifting beyond that.

He pushed past Alexavier in a huff to leave. Alexavier ignored the action, focusing his attention on me. I was relieved he didn’t engage Callum in a fight. He stood before me, astoundingly handsome in a blue button down shirt. He grasped my hands and looked deeply into my eyes. “What was that all about?”

My blackening heart skipped a beat. “I’m sorry about Callum. I don’t know what got into him.”

“Jealousy, I would say. I warned you.”

“I don’t want to believe that’s it.”

His fingers gently pressed against my hand and wrist, lifting them to inspect the talisman. “Did he give you this?” A combination of regret and jealousy lined his voice.

“It’s to keep evil spirits away,” I replied as I touched the wood carving with my fingertips.

He sighed. Our future was under a black cloud from the past where Rebecca’s curse and his father’s mistakes affected us in the present. And after tonight, even if the ritual went according to plan, there was no guarantee things would be the same or better for us. I was risking my life and my soul. Even if I survived breaking the curse and the reconversion, I would be different, changed, tainted from the black magic I had already invited into my heart and it might all be for nothing.

Buy Links:
Mirror World Publishing - Amazon

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016


My niece, that's the young pretty woman in this picture, has a wonderful kitchen with plenty of light, counter space, and a large island that holds her cooktop. It's the perfect location for testing new ideas and fine tuning family favorites.

She decided to create a delicious Brussels sprout dish while I worked magic on a pot of fresh green beans. Give our recipes a try. I think you'll enjoy them both.

Truly Yummy Brussels Sprouts
1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts
½ lb. bacon, chopped
½ medium onion, diced
1 stick butter or margarine
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim the stem off the sprouts and remove any tough outer leaves. Slice them in half lengthwise if the sprouts are large.

Set a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the bacon until lightly browned. Add the sprouts. Cook until veggies are tender. Stir frequently.

Add pepper and serve.

Easy Fresh Green Beans
1 lb. fresh green beans trimmed, but left whole
2 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans in a colander and then rinse them under cold water. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a hard boil on high heat.

Drop the beans in by the handful. Boil 10 to 14 minutes or until the beans are just tender.

Drain beans in a colander. Add butter to the hot pot and melt. Return beans to the pot. Toss with butter and coat well, then season with pepper to taste.

Have a fun-filled weekend!


Monday, June 06, 2016

Slip into the Naughty Side of Marci Boudreaux

Well, it's about time! nagged the little voice in my head. I've been fairly focused on my sweet contemporary romances, but my naughty side just had to peek out. This short story was part of the At Her Service anthology released earlier this year. The series is no more, and all our stories are now available as individual titles. Including this spicy little number by my sultry side Emilia Mancini.

In Eyes of the Wolf, Private detective Jake McDonnell has been hired to make sure Maria Rodriguez isn't involved in illegal activities. He's certain she's on the up and up until he catches her heading to the seedier side of town. He follows, curious why she'd be walking into a dimly lit warehouse. What he discovers will leave his senses reeling and his body aching.

This is an erotic story that contains multiple partners, voyeurism, oral and rough sex.

As much as I didn’t want to believe Maria was involved in illegal activities, good, honest people didn’t hang out in the warehouse district on Friday night.

I sat in the car watching her walk through what could easily pass as the worst part of town to a door that didn’t even have proper hinges or a knob. She knocked. The thin piece of metal scraped the ground as it opened. She spoke to a man in a suit and tie, then disappeared inside.

I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel debating. She’d tell her mother to fire me if I tried to follow her. But, hell, I’d be out of a job anyway if she were murdered by gang members. Driving into the shadows, I parked and rushed to the door.

The metal sheet scraped open at the sound of my knock and a man looked me over. “Password?”


“Uh,” I stuttered out. “I don’t…I don’t know.”

He jerked his head toward the darkness behind me, silently telling me to get lost.

I pulled my wallet out, and he chuckled. “You don’t have enough in there to get by me. Get outta here.”

As the door closed, I tried to get a glimpse inside but the only thing I could see was black cloth blocking the view inside the warehouse.


Maria was safe. At least I knew that. She was inside a secure building with a guy the size of a sumo wrestler blocking the door. Nobody was getting in that shouldn’t. That was only mildly comforting considering I had no idea who could get in.

Now that I knew she was in a secure location, I told myself to return to the car and wait for her. But if I didn’t have a clear report for Mrs. Rodriguez on what her daughter was up to—especially now that I had my doubts about Maria’s actions—I had a feeling the woman would have my balls in a jar.

Stuffing my hands in my pockets, I walked away casually, but the moment I neared the corner of the building, I glanced back. No one was in sight, so I rounded into the dark-as-fuck alley and pulled my keys from the pocket. The flashlight attached to my key ring was small, but efficient enough to keep me from tripping over discarded bottles and cans. I flashed the light over the side of the building as I went. Not a single damned window.

I was about to give up when a door farther down the alley opened. A guy came stumbling out and lit a cigarette. The lighter illuminated the mask covering the top half of his face. I was thrown for a moment, not expecting that, but then a woman came out of the door and threw herself at his back. She didn’t close the door behind her, letting light stream into the dimly lit passage.

I stood, motionless, not wanting to get caught. As I watched, the woman—also wearing a mask that hid the top of her face—pushed the man to the wall and dropped to her knees in front of him.

Holy shit.


Emilia Mancini is the naughtier side to author Marci Boudreaux. Emilia stays hidden in the shadows like a nefarious side kick, slipping out only when the stories Marci wants to share are a little too grown up to be called sweet romance.

Seducing Kate is Emilia’s second release and, at least for the moment, her crowning glory.

Be sure to check out the Pinterest board for Seducing Kate.

Visit Emilia on her website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Family Favorite

by Sara Daniel

Sometimes you try a recipe and it’s so good and so perfect that it becomes a family staple. I discovered this recipe years ago when my kids were small, and today we all agree that it is our favorite family meal.

Spaghetti Pie
Angel Hair pasta or spaghetti (Confession: I have no idea how much. I use a handful of noodles or about 2 cups of cooked noodles. Basically, make enough to cover the bottom of a pie pan.)
2 eggs
1 tbsp. margarine or butter
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
16-22 oz. cottage cheese
16 oz Polska Kielbasa (or smoked/other sausage or ½-1lb hamburger) – skip this if you prefer a meatless option
1½ cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions and drain.

Combine 1 egg, Parmesan cheese, and margarine. Stir into hot pasta. (If you use cold leftover spaghetti, melt the margarine before you mix everything together.) Press mixture into the bottom and up the side of a greased round 9-inch pie pan.

Combine cottage cheese and 1 egg. Spread over crust.

Cook ⅔ of sausage and cut into small chunks. Combine with spaghetti sauce. Heat. Pour over cottage cheese mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pie is not runny.

Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

Cook remaining Polska Kielbasa, and serve in chunks as a side.

Enjoy! I always serve this with cheesy garlic bread, although I burned the bread in the picture because I was working on my blog post instead of checking the oven!! Oops!

Here's a little from my latest release for your reading pleasure.

His gift is the only thing left from the love they shared…and she plans to sell it.

Former bad boy, now famous artist, Zane DeMonde laughs off an engraved invitation to return to Regret Hollow, the same town that booted him out fifteen years ago. When he discovers the woman who once broke his heart is putting his professional reputation at risk by selling his old paintings, he’s no longer laughing. He’ll do anything to stop her, even return to town … even put his heart in jeopardy again.

High school art teacher Julianne Truman's last chance to save her beloved art department from budget cuts is to sell the old artwork Zane gifted her. Her heart breaks to remove the final traces of him from her life, but she needs to finally move on from the love she never got over.

Julianne’s life belongs to her students, and Zane’s only goal is to protect his art. But the moment they wrap their arms around each other, their old attraction flares to life hot enough to incinerate them and their best intentions.

Julianne climbed down the ladder, her knees so shaky she was surprised she didn’t collapse into Zane’s arms. Facing the man she’d once believed would be part of every single day of her future sent her into her biggest emotional tailspin since he’d walked away nearly fifteen years ago.

“You surprised me,” she admitted, her voice stronger than she’d dared hope. “Your manager led me to believe you wouldn’t come.” Unable to resist the magnetic attraction, she stepped toward him. He’d cut his beautiful shoulder-length black hair into a more conventional style. Gone were the black hoodie and ripped jeans of his youth. Now he wore chinos and a sharply pressed blue button-down shirt, open at the neck.

“I didn’t plan this trip, but you left me no choice. The sketches and painting I gave you are not for sale.” The dark storms in his cobalt-blue eyes mirrored the turbulence of the day he’d marched away from her. The same fire and frustration reflected in all of his gallery paintings.

“I own them. I don’t need your permission to sell them.” She held her body rigid, the fragile shell the only thing keeping her heart from crumbling. Despite choosing this path, the prospect of parting with the only piece of him she’d been able to hang onto filled her with yawning emptiness.

“As long as my name is on them and you’re planning to get rich off me, I will fight you on this to the bitter end.”

Getting rich was so far from the truth, she would have laughed if he hadn’t stolen her sense of humor along with her breath. She scrambled to recover her professionalism and treat him the way she would any other visitor or school official. “We’re honored to have you back at Regret Hollow High.”

Her students rightly considered him a living legend and would be awed beyond words. Her brother, on the other hand, might burst an artery. No, surely her brother and Zane had both moved on from their ancient history. She was the only one clinging to a past that had meant everything to her.

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Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

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