Monday, April 22, 2019

COMING SOON from Sharon Ledwith


Mirror World Publishing is happy to reveal the cover for Blackflies and Blueberries by Sharon Ledwith! This exciting Book 2 in the YA paranormal series Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, releases May 17, 2019.

About Blackflies and Blueberries:

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.



Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery 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+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

APPITEASER?

Yes, that's spelled right. I'm Dominique Eastwick here to share an easy and delicious dish for your next get-together.

DOM’S HAWT CHICKEN DIP APPITEASER
1 can (12 ozs.) chunk chicken breast
8 ozs. cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice or Real Lemon

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy.

Mix together mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce then add it to the cream cheese. Blend in the chicken chunks.

Spread into a shallow 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Place in the oven 15 minutes before you are ready to serve. If you cook it too long it gets really greasy and starts to separate.

Serve on toast, bread, or crackers.

Enjoy!

Here's a little from one of my fantasy romance books for your reading pleasure.

Can a lion be the mate a mousy librarian needs?

Guarding the pride’s queen is an honor Jaison is happy to take on. He spends hours preparing for every contingency. He is ready to lay down his life if the necessity arises. What he isn’t expecting and couldn’t have planned for was when his mate crosses his path in the form of human librarian Paighton Knight.

Paighton Knight believes love is the stuff of fairy tales and has no time for those kinds of stories. Raised to be the perfect librarian, she is unprepared for feelings she doesn’t believe are real to wash over her. The second she comes into contact with Jaison Karatasos her world begins to turn and her eyes see what they weren’t able to before.

With the moon rising into the reign of Leo, Jaison has one month to show Paighton that love does exist, or he must wait until the next Leo cycle. When his responsibilities to his pride clash with his needs for his mate, will he be able to merge the two worlds?

Buy Links




Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pastimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

Stay connected on Twitter, Tublr, and Pinterest.

Monday, April 15, 2019

WILLOWS IN YOUR GARDEN

from Janis Lane

Recently I overheard a patron mention his willow tree had budded, a sure sign of Spring. I felt a rush of panic. No! I couldn’t be late to harvest the silver buds before the catkins appeared. Whereas the little kitties are sweet, they do not stay on the branches very long. Harvested early, the decorative silver buds will be around as long as you like. Spring finds my vases full.

Once pretty willow shrubs lined our service road and supplied me with an abundant harvest, but borers found and riddled the trunks. I am pinching myself to remember to plant twigs to start them all over. In Spring, when the soil is saturated, a willow branch may be rooted by simply sticking it in the ground where you’d like a nice shrub. Careful. Some consider it invasive. Often willows are planted on the banks of streams and ponds to prevent erosion because the roots are abundant and healthy. (‘ware the borers!)

Folk Lore “Wearing the willow” is a term used to describe the lonely heart of a lover who has lost her mate either to another person or death. Willow branches on a hat may also mean that person is hopeful for romance. (Waggles eyebrows.) A well-known television celebrity couldn’t control his laughter while describing Dyngus Day in Buffalo, NY. Always the day after Easter, this Polish American holiday is celebrated with the boys switching (gently) the girls with willow branches and splashing them with water. (A Polka dance or two might be expected.) The next day is turnabout fair play for the girls. As you may imagine, these antics have their origins in ancient traditions. Long branches of willow buds are a celebration of Spring in cold country.

Romance: Who can resist the dreamy, swaying branches of a weeping willow? When plotting a Regency Romance, I occasionally allow courting couples strolling the grounds in the warm breezes of early summer the privacy they long for. The swaying green curtain on the stream bank offers privacy to steal a quick kiss. This proved handy in Belinda, My Love when the heroine received her very first kiss by the besotted rogue who had waited patiently for her to grow up.

Medicinal: The willow has a long history of usefulness to mankind. Hippocrates mentioned the willow for medicinal properties. Willow leaves and bark yield salicin, a principal component of aspirin, which was used as both an anti-inflammatory and pain relief. Research reports pure salicin is tough on the digestive system, but it’s interesting to read about the early Native American’s frequent use of the willow bark as medicine.

Crafts: Basket makers made use of the strong but pliable branches. I’ve used them for crafting wreaths instead of grapevines on occasion. I’ve admired a trellis made from willow branches as well. Last but not least, the twisty willow, which grows into a mid- sized tree, produces unique branches for walking sticks. The gnarled branches also add winter interest. Willow, in any of its many varieties, can be both beautiful and useful in your garden.

Whispers of Danger and Love is a contemporary novel which sports a lovely heroine named Cheryl, who loves her career as a landscape designer. This warm tale is a must for gardeners while waiting for the chance to get outside to commune with nature. A bonus is the handsome detective, a childhood friend, who moves next door.

Here's a little more from my cozy mystery. I hope you enjoy it.



When Cheryl realizes her new next-door neighbor is someone she loved as a young girl, she immediately puts the brakes on her emotions. Never again would she allow the gorgeous hunk of a man to break her heart.

Ruggedly handsome Detective David Larkin isn’t used to pretty ladies giving him a firm no. He persists, even as Cheryl fights her own temptations. The two struggle to appreciate each other as adults, even as they admit to deep feelings from their childhood.



Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Enjoy a Little Spice ala Catherine Castle

Mandarin Orange Spice Tea that is.

I don’t know about you but I love hot teas, especially when the weather is chilly. I have a whole cupboard full of teas. I’d like to share a spiced tea recipe I developed.

Years ago, in the 60s, Tang—the orange juice of the astronauts—put out a spice tea recipe using Tang (a powdered orange juice drink) and instant tea. Instant tea was a favorite of my mother-in-law’s. She served it all the time. I can say with absolute certainty that instant tea isn’t my favorite cup of tea, but when the Tang spiced tea recipe came on the scene, it wasn’t bad. Probably the sweet, orangey flavor of Tang made the difference. Back then my husband and I drank Tang all the time because it was much cheaper than real orange juice and we were on a tight budget.

As the years have gone by, Tang, which is full of sugar and off my diet now, is no longer an option for spiced tea. So, I came up with this spiced tea flavored with mandarin orange juice and warm spices.

Here’s my by-the-cup recipe that serves 1 in 3 easy steps. It, too, goes great with cookies and a good book read beside the fireplace. If you need to cut the sugar, substitute an artificial sweetener, or leave it out if the real juice makes the tea sweet enough for you.

Mandarin Orange Spice Tea (by the cup)
1 black tea bag
3 mandarin oranges, juiced
1/16th teaspoon ground cloves
1/8th teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

1 – Place the tea bag in a cup and add boiling water. Steep 3 minutes (or less for a weaker tea)

2 – Remove tea bag and add the mandarin orange juice and spices. Stir well to mix spices into the tea.

3 – Grab a copy of Catherine Castle’s award-winning sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, a blanket, and settle into your favorite reading spot for a great cup of tea and a great read.

Here's a peek to further induce you.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

Amazon Buy Link

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

Monday, April 08, 2019

MY DARK PET PAST

from Anne Montgomery

I have, over the course of my life, been the caretaker of myriad cats and dogs and birds and fish. I know I’ve been a good pet mom to my animal friends, tending to their needs and holding the four-legged ones tight when, old and infirm, we made that last trek to the vet.

While I have done well by my animal friends, who almost universally came from streets and shelters, I do have a dark past involving some beasts, the memories of which continue to haunt me.

When I was maybe five, I found a tiny, featherless bird, who, despite what appeared to be a broken neck, chirped piteously. I held the fledgling up to my mother, who blinked dispassionately behind black cat-eye glasses.

“Maybe he’s thirsty,” I said.

“I’ll get some water.”


“No, he’s a baby. He needs milk.”

“Birds don’t drink milk.”

“Milk!” I insisted.

So my mother gave the baby bird milk … and it died.

When I was older, I discovered a crow fluttering in the grass in my back yard. I placed the bird on the patio table and decided he might be hungry. I considered what might be tasty to a crow and determined that corn was the answer. Finding none in the refrigerator, I checked the freezer and was delighted to see a package of Green Giant Frozen Nibblets. I rushed to the patio and sure enough, my crow gobbled up that icy treat. A few minutes later, he toppled over … dead.

Then there were the fishes. Shortly after my mother allowed me to plant a rock garden behind the house, my dad and I formed a tiny concrete pond, not much more than a foot wide. I joyfully filled that small depression with water, but quickly sensed something was missing. So, I grabbed an empty Skippy Peanut Butter jar, called my collie dog Betsy, and headed to the brook to do some fishing. Later, I dumped those tiny fish into my pond, quite sure they would be happy with their new living arrangements. The next morning, eager to visit my fishy friends, I rushed to my pond to discover it … empty! I did some pondering on the mystery and determined that the fish had disappeared with the water though some minuscule crack and were now traversing an underwater stream that would lead them back to the brook.

Really.

In a similar fashion, I gathered unfortunate salamanders from under rocks in the woods and plopped them into the terrarium, which I made myself. I gathered soft, green moss, which I was sure the lizards would appreciate, and uprooted other woodland flora to decorate their home. I artfully placed bits of wood and rocks in the tank, along with a jar lid filled with water, so they might get a drink or go for a swim, should they feel the urge. What I never once considered was food. I think I believed my salamanders – some black, some red sporting a dark stripe – would discover reptile sustenance in the dirt somewhere. In any case, the fact that someone, I’m guessing my older brother, “accidentally” dislodged the glass tank top, proved to be a boon for those beasts, because they escaped, heading, no doubt, for the lizard version of McDonalds, never to be seen again.

I did enjoy my lizard friends, still, in retrospect, they were lucky they managed to escape.

The good news is that, once I got a bit older, I learned how to better care for the creatures that counted on me for their survival. We kids were required to feed and provide water for our dog and cat every night before dinner. One evening, when we had collectively forgotten to nourish our furry friends, my father admonished us.

“They can’t feed themselves!” he said, clearly disappointed by our neglect. “It’s your job to take care of them. They count on you.”

I stared at my dog, a look she returned with unabashed adoration, and felt ashamed. From that day forward, my pets have eaten before me. And I have made it my goal to treat all animal friends with kindness and compassion, with perhaps one well-intentioned exception.

The giant goldfish belonged to my two young nieces.

“What’ll we do?” My sister-in-law said, wrinkling her nose at the chubby, orange creature that swam in wobbly circles.

“We will…um…I don’t know.”

She stared at me. “The girls can’t see him like this.”

I considered the alternatives. Finally, I spread my hands wide. “Put it in a plastic bag and freeze it?”

I won’t say any more about that, except that it seemed kinder and less messy than the hammer option or any of the other routes we contemplated. Surely, you can see that my intention was one of benevolence.

I hope.

Here's a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

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 her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Baking with Blueberries

by Chris Pavesic

Enjoy this delicious and easy bread any time of the year. Fresh or frozen blueberries work great. Make extra, the bread freezes and thaws beautifully.


Lemony Blueberry Bread
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 oz. blueberry yogurt
1 large egg
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ F.

In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, milk, oil, yogurt, egg, and extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour with baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

In a small bowl, toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour.

Fold blueberries gently into batter.

Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze (optional)
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup white sugar

Combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and then cook an additional 3 minutes. Let glaze cool a bit. Poke small holes in the top of cake and then pour glaze over the bread before removing it from the pan.

While your home fills with a tasty aroma, indulge yourself with a good book. May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler's Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.



Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphotoChris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Shorthand for April Fools Day!

from Catherine Castle

When freelancing for the newspaper, I had to use shorthand to write fast, so I developed a method of writing without consonants. It’s amazing how fast I could go and still figure out the words. So, for today’s post, I thought I’d let you take a swing at the translation.

Here’s the shorthand version:

Whn frlncg fr th nwsppr, I hd t us shrthnd t wrt fst, s I dvlpd a mthd f wrtng wtht cnsnnts. t’s mzng hw fst I cld g nd stll fgr t th wrds. S, fr tdy’s pst, I thght I’d lt u tk a swng t th trnsltn.

Imgn hw hrd t wld b t wrt lk ths ll t tm. t’s lk lkng t dcphr t dclrtn f ndpndc wth ll ths crlc, swrlng lttrs tht r msplld. R myb t’s mr lk tdy’s kds trng t rd crsve tht thy hvn’t bn tght. Smtms evn I cldn’t fgr t wht I’d wrttn. ftn t’s a gssng gm.

Gv p yt?

‘m wndrng hw mny ppl cn fgr t wht’s mssg hr. S t a gg? Sr. S t fnny? U prbly dn’t thnk s as u’re strgglng t rd ths wrds.

Figured it out yet?

Here’s the translation:

When freelancing for the newspaper, I had to use shorthand to write fast, so I developed a method of writing without consonants. It’s amazing how fast I could go and still figure out the words. So, for today’s post, I thought I’d let you take a swing at the translation.

Imagine how hard it would be to write like this all the time. It’s like looking to decipher the declaration of Independence with all those curlicues, swirling letters that are misspelled. Or, maybe it’s more like today’s kids trying to read cursive that they haven’t been taught. Sometimes even I couldn’t figure out what I’d written. Often it’s a guessing game.

Give up yet?

I’m wondering how many people can figure out what’s missing here. Is it a gag? Sure. Is it funny? You probably don’t think so as you’re struggling to read these words.


April Fool!

How well did you do?


Here's a peek at my latest sweet romance for your reading pleasure.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

Amazon Buy Link

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

KOLACKY or KOLACHE?

What's the difference? Nothing that we were ever able to determine. But no matter how you spell this wonderful pastry it always tastes good. This recipe is one my daughter Dru, an excellent baker, adapted from my mother. It's easy to make and hard to keep once the family gets to them.

KOLACHES
8 oz. cream cheese brick, softened
1 cup flour
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 can Solo filling, your preferred flavor
Powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients except filing in a medium-sized bowl. The trick to making tender kolackys is not to overwork the dough. If you do the pastry will be tough.

Cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven 375° F.

Turn dough onto floured board and then roll out to less than ¼ inch thick.

Cut dough into circles using the rim of a small glass.

Lay ½ tsp. of filling on each circle. Gently overlap two sides to contain the filling.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes or until light brown.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Stop the Plane and Order Me a Carriage

by Susan Lodge

Wedged in the middle seat of the middle row of a 747 for upwards of twelve hours, my mind dwelt on the fact that bobbing along in a post chaise, or swinging in a hammock below decks, could not be much more agonizing then traveling economy on a long haul flight. I used to enjoy airplanes. I could happily gaze from the window seat marveling at anything that appeared through a chink in the clouds. But one flight to Australia was a test of both mind and body.

It all starts go wrong at check in. I cannot secure a window seat, the flight is delayed and when we finally get to board...

Gripe 1. The trek through business class to get to economy.

I openly salivate over the spacious seating in business class as we are herded down the isle to steerage. The occupants of those designer cubicles tantalizingly stretch their limbs and flex their toes as we pass. I avoid their apologetic eyes and pitying smiles.

Gripe 2. Hand baggage

This appears to have evolved in the last few years from modest shoulder bag to sturdy case complete with wheels. As they are being hoisted, with a great deal of grunting and thrusting into overhead lockers that are clearly not built to accommodate them, the boarding process reduces to snail pace. Why do they need that much hand baggage ? There's not room to swing a cat let alone unpack and utilize a case full of gear.

Gripe 3. Invasion of space.

The passengers sitting either side of me have claimed the hand rests rendering me straitjacketed in seat. Even worse a rogue foot is gradually edging its way into my allotted leg space. I try to stem the steam from my ears and reflect how lucky I was on my last flight when I sat next to the perfect passenger. He was totally besotted with his female companion and they seemed to merge together in one seat- thereby leaving me a nice lot of space. Not sure what he was trying to achieve in such a restricted area. But if they were fidgeting (so to speak) they were at least being quiet about it.

Gripe 3. Reclining seats

I have the desire to lop something heavy into the seat in front when it falls back into my already limited personal space. Batman Returns is now being viewed two inches from my face. I can't focus on the screen so switch it off, put my head back and try to relax.

Gripe 4. Touch screens attached to back of seats .

I don't begrudge the small person behind using their touch screen even though they have not quite mastered the art. The incessant tattooing vibrates on the back of my head. After fifteen minutes it is clear they can find nothing to amuse them on the TV or film menus. The assault stops and I hold my breath willing them to go to sleep - but alas they have become bored and proceed to drum their feet on back of my seat. My unscheduled full body massage is now complete.

Gripe Five. Food.

I manipulate the multiple contents of tray carefully, arranging the most promising item in secure position. However as I unpack the plastic cutlery I decide to take Food off gripe list. Its arrival has caused the person in front to get their seat out of my face and the tattooing on the back of my head to stop.

There is, of course, an upside to this journey.

As the plane transports me to the other side of the world, my fellow passengers doze off. Ah bliss - I can now switch on my Kindle and in my forced confinement escape to my own private library.

Now, let's get back to the travel in Regency times. There was a particular coach journey that Esmie Elstone has nightmares about, whilst she endeavoured to escape the repercussions of an unfortunate wager.

Indulge in a bit of romantic intrigue with my latest release.




Esmie Elstone is thrown into panic when she hears of Captain Rockford’s return. But she is determined that the days of him interfering with her life are over. His ruthless meddling during his last visit had resulted in her being foisted on her aunt for a third pointless season in London.

To alleviate the boredom of society life, Esmie helps run a discreet betting enterprise under the guise of a sewing club. But there are some things you just shouldn’t wager on, and Esmie’s integrity is soon put to a dangerous test.

Richard Rockford had known Esmie almost all her life. As neighbours, her father, Admiral Elstone, had depended on Richard to keep an eye on his daughter when he was away at sea – a responsibility he had always taken on willingly. But her cruel and thoughtless actions, from the day he had left four years earlier, had shaken him. Now, he was back, and he wanted answers.

But when Esmie tumbles into a treacherous conspiracy, can he really turn his back on her?

Susan Lodge’s first publishing success was a story purchased by a major UK magazine followed by a drawer full of rejections. Finally a breakthrough gave her the confidence to seek and secure a publisher for her historical romance novels Only a Hero Will Do and Rebellious Cargo.

After working in several cities including London and Bristol, she and her husband moved down to the Hampshire coast to raise their family.

Learn more about Susan and her books on her website and blog. Stay connected on  Facebook, Twitter and her Amazon Author Page.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Feelin' Saucy

by HL Carpenter

We like to hit the sauce at lunchtime—no, wait! That didn't sound right! What we meant to say is we like barbeque sauce for lunch! At least, that's our story, and we're sticking to it.

While we're not sauciers or even a saucier's apprentice, we do enjoy experimenting with flavors, because we are well aware that what's sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the chicken.

However, in the case of our Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken, we seldom think outside the box—the box being the carton brick of fresh, sun-ripened Italian tomatoes that is the base of this delicious recipe.

Tomatoes in a box? Yep. We highly recommend that you give your can the boot. Switching to the box will turn you into a superb saucy chef, and the effect on your condiments will be awesome sauce. Pretty soon you'll be hitting the sauce too! (The barbeque sauce, of course!)

Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken
1 box (26.4 oz) finely chopped tomatoes
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp black pepper
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken

Put tomatoes, cheese, sugar, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper in crockpot. Stir to mix.

Add chicken.

Cook on high setting for 2-3 hours; or low setting for 4-6 hours.

Serve on rolls, or eat as a main dish with a side of chips.

While you're celebrating your sauciness, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our mystery, Murder by the Books.


A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She's lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She's running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae's past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she's falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she's going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT
The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, "The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae."

I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

"Beautiful morning," I said, as if I cared.

"Afternoon," Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. "Still mopin', girl?"

He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn't bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

"Nope. Not my style."

"'Scuse me." His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. "Forgot you've been hidin' in the apartment, tap dancing with glee."

I met his gaze. "For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?"

He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

The description would have horrified him.

"How are the treatments going?"

He grunted. "They tell me I ain't gonna croak this week."

"Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I'm jinxed."

Gus shook his head. "You gotta get over them fools, girl."

"That's no way to talk about my former bosses." Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

Ha, ha.

"Anyway, I am over them. Way over."

"Yeah?" He was not convinced. "You over the suit, too?"

"Sure am." Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. "I have moved on."

Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

Gus snorted. "Funny how much movin' on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself."

In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn't been, I didn't have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

"Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?"

He stuck out his chin. "Don't get smart. You know I'm right. You're mopin'."

"Only because I can't tap dance."

He was right. In the eight months since my mother's death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman's detour was another's stop sign.

"You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What's her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?"

No. And I didn't want to hear from her, much less call her.

I shook my head.

"Your ma would have been annoyed with you."

A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom's bedroom was beyond me.

"So? You gonna open the letter?" Gus asked.

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?


Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity.

Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, GoodReads,
and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, March 18, 2019

BEWARE

from Alicia Joseph


Over the holiday season I purchased a new laptop and bought a year’s subscription to McAfee for my online security. For a reason that isn’t significant, I needed to contact the company so I googled McAfee Security and called the first number that popped up. Big mistake. I should have looked more closely because I would have seen the number was actually for a third-party company called Guru Aid that handles support for McAfee. The name was connected to this company, but they aren’t McAfee.

There was nothing off about the call as it started. Ten minutes into the call I believed I was still speaking to a McAfee representative. He assured me he could help me with the problem I was experiencing. He took me to a website where I relinquished control of my monitor to him. I watched as my mouse moved across the screen dictated by the man over the phone. He went into my computer and talked me through what he was doing while telling me all of things that were wrong with my computer. He asked me in a concerned voice how old my computer was, as though expecting me to say an amount of years worrisome enough that he could blame all my woes on my “old” computer.

When I replied that my computer was only a couple weeks old, he explained quickly that even new computers can have problems. I was very concerned. How could my new computer have so many problems? Thinking I was still talking to a legitimate company, I asked the rep if I should call HP, the maker of my computer. Maybe I have a defective computer. His voice raised slightly when he said, “What can they do? I can fix this.”

He put me on hold and a different man came on. He confirmed that my computer was in bad shape. He could fix it and the cost would be $149.99. This gave me pause. I told the man I was going to call HP. He became very upset, very quickly. I knew then I wasn’t dealing with McAfee. He said, like the previous rep, that HP could do nothing for me. I then said I had to talk to my husband, (I don’t have a husband. I’m a lesbian, but I was desperate for an out) and see what he saws. The man yelled. “What can your husband do to help? I can fix this!”

When I still said no, he offered to decrease the price to $99.99. I told him no, and then he questioned very angrily why when money was brought up I resisted right away. He apparently thought I was easy prey and was irate that he wasn’t going to get his easy paycheck. I hung up upset at this experience, and remembered that I’d had a similar experience when calling Norton Security a couple years ago. They also charged me $149.95 to fix the problem I was having. It never occurred to me I wasn’t speaking directly to Norton. I didn’t pay them then, like I didn’t now, and I remember that rep raising his voice at me in anger. I hung up thinking that Norton representatives were assholes.

I googled McAfee again to see how I had made the mistake and called the wrong company. GuruAid popped up first and had the McAfee name linked to it. They are apparently allowed to provide technical support to Norton and McAfee customers, and probably other companies too. I called McAfee to tell them my experience and to make sure they knew that a company associating itself with them was trying to scam their customers. I also wanted to confirm that my computer didn’t have any of the threatening problems Guru Aid tried to convince me they had. The rep confirmed that everything was running smoothly and the original problem I’d had was taken care of.

The rep was very apologetic and he seemed to know of Guru Aid pretty well, and all he told me was next time to be sure it was actually McAfee that I call. I hung up disappointed that companies would knowingly allow third-parties to use their name while trying to scam their customers.

In the end, we need to protect ourselves. Even though Guru Aid didn’t scam a penny from me, I’m pissed they had the opportunity to try. I went on Twitter to see if they had an account, and they do, @guruaid. I sent them a couple tweets to let them know what I thought of them. I wasn’t expecting a response.

I checked to see if there were any tweets from other people about this scam of a company and there were. Last April a man tweeted that his mother had Norton as her online security and thought she was calling Norton when she really called Guru Aid and they charged her $300 for what he believed was a scam. People tweeted at him confirming to the man that it was.

This company is known by some as a scam, but unfortunately not by enough. More people are going to get scammed by companies like this. Computers have become a lifeline for a lot of us, and when they no longer work some will do anything to get it fixed. And these fraudulent companies know that.

The only way we can try to beat them is to spread the word. This blog is my attempt to help people not get scammed. Guru Aid is a scam. Make sure you know the company you are calling. They purposely make it confusing.

This post is to warn people of companies waiting to gouge you, not promote my books. But if you are interested please read on.

“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

AMAZON BUY LINKS



Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A PLATE of YUM

by Chris Pavesic

There comes a time when my family longs for traditional “comfort food.” This is a recipe passed down through the generations and is one of our favorites. I hope you enjoy!

Pear Crisp
4 pears, cored and sliced
½ cup packed brown sugar, less if pears are sweet
½ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ - 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, depends on personal flavor
4 tbsp. butter, softened
Vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cut up pears and layer in a baking dish.

Combine butter and brown sugar with a fork in a medium-sized bowl. Add oats, flour, and cinnamon. Use the fork to stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Use a tablespoon to sprinkle mixture over fruit.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until fruit is tender when pierced.

For an extra treat serve vanilla ice cream on top of the crisp.

While your home fills up with a tasty aroma, indulge yourself with a good book. May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler's Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.



Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphotoChris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Monday, March 11, 2019

DANCING WITH MAGIC

from Anne Montgomery

I was a sports reporter for a good chunk of my life. Whenever I share that part of my past, the same question pops up.

“What about the locker room?” people ask breathlessly. “Did you ever go in?”

Well, of course I did. It’s not like I had a choice in the matter. I was a reporter on deadline. If I didn’t head into that messy inner sanctum, I would have returned to the newsroom empty handed. With no interviews, I have no story. With no story, I have no job.

Still, when I wormed my way into the sports world, way back in the early 1980s, the thought of a woman entering the locker room had barely registered on the general consciousness, even though Robin Herman, a 23-year-old reporter for the New York Times, and radio reporter Marcel St. Cyr both gained access following the NHL All-Star game in Montreal in 1975, a moment widely believed to be the first time women reporters shared the same rights as their male counterparts.

When I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona in 1988, a newly minted weekday sports reporter and weekend anchor at what was then KTSP-TV, the question of my entering the locker room became a story in and of itself.

Gene Stallings, the head coach of the NFL’s Cardinals, appeared stunned the first time he saw me in the locker room. Another reporter asked his thoughts on the occasion and Stallings was quoted as saying, “Well, I have four daughters.” His discomfiture was obvious.

I, however, tried to hide mine. I tended toward the back of the horde of reporters who would press up against those locker-room doors, intent on asking insightful questions before the players dashed away, most wanting nothing to do with scribes who might pillory them for their performances.

Once inside, I discovered reactions to my presence varied considerably. The Cardinals locker room had some players who seemed rather appalled that I might see them undressed.

“Just a minute, Anne!” quarterback Neil Lomax would call out. “Let us put our pants on.”

So, I would stand in the middle of that post-game chaos, and do my best not to stare, while waiting for the men who cared to cover up.

There were others who found no discomfort in being exposed. I remember needing an interview with a player who already had a gaggle of reporters surrounding him. I instructed my videographer, a tall man, to shoot up over the group. Then, microphone in hand, I edged my way through the mob and kneeled. When I looked up, I faced a naked man perched on the edge of a metal folding chair who quite comfortably conversed, despite his state of undress.

Suffice it to say, he was rather spectacular, by all accounts. Later, I would succumb to bouts of laughter, recalling the awed expressions displayed by my peers, no doubt brought on by a substantial amount of envy.


Michael Jordan (left) and Magic Johnson, two of the biggest stars in NBA history, were known for their outrageous talents on the court and their infectious smiles.

I faced a new challenge when the NBA season got underway. While NFL players are often exceedingly large people, basketball players are, almost uniformly, very tall. When interviewing them outside the locker room, I would often arrange myself on stairs, so as not to disappear from the video frame. But inside the locker room, I had no such option. Positioning oneself to interview naked basketball players took some delicacy.

One evening, when the Phoenix Suns were hosting the LA Lakers, I stood outside the locker room, this time at the front of the pack. I felt a rush of insecurity I would never have admitted to at the time. I had no wish to enter that noisy, sweaty realm filled with giant men, some not so happy with their on-court performances. Behind me, reporters on deadline fidgeted like cattle ready to explode from a corral. Then, the door burst open. Lakers star Magic Johnson grinned at us, that beatific smile that would become his trademark. Music blared from the locker room and Magic locked his eyes on mine. Suddenly, I was whirling in his arms, dancing before that throng of male reporters.

Our dance ended quickly. Magic nodded, the grin never ebbing, and walked through the crowd. For a moment, I was afraid to look, conscious that such behavior would be deemed unprofessional. I expected derision, since some of my peers were unaccepting of my presence in their club.

Someone laughed. I turned and was shocked to see a number of those hardened reporters grinning, genial expressions that dispelled an awkward moment. For the first time, I considered that they too might be uncomfortable entering the locker room.

We surged toward the doors, a bit more relaxed. And all it took was a short dance and big smile from a big man. And for that, Magic, I will always be grateful.

I hope you'll take a moment to peek into my novel.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

BUY LINKS

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 her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.