Thursday, August 15, 2019

Emotional New Release

from Marci Bolden

For authors, our books are like our children and we aren’t supposed to pick favorites. Apparently I’m a terrible book mama because I absolutely have a favorite, and it was released August 13. I don’t even feel ashamed saying that.

A Life Without Water is easily the most emotional book I’ve ever written. Despite all the re-reads, re-writes, and rounds of editing, I still cry reading this heartfelt story. This is women’s fiction, a break from my usual genre of romance, and I poured my entire heart and soul into the journey these characters take.

We all have ghosts in our past that we have to face eventually. Whether we face them on our own or stare down that one person who we feel betrayed us, we have to deal with past pain in order to truly forgive and move forward.

That reckoning of the past is what this book is about and it is definitely a roller coaster ride.

Carol Denman divorced her husband over twenty years ago and has never looked back. But on the day before their daughter’s thirtieth birthday, John barges back into Carol’s life with a request that threatens the fragile stability she has built.

John Bowman is sick. Very sick. While he still can, he has some amends to make and some promises to fulfill. But to do that, he not only needs his ex-wife’s agreement…he needs her.

With the past hovering between them like a ghost, Carol and John embark on a decades-overdue road trip. Together they plunge back into a life without water…but which may ultimately set them free.

EXCERPT
Carol Denman blinked. The long and slow kind that gave the brain a moment to process unexpected information. When she lifted her lids, her assistant still stood on the other side of her desk. Tiana’s near-black eyes filled with a million questions. The rich umber skin above her nose crinkled as she drew her brows together.

The words she’d spoken lingered in the air between them.

There was a man standing outside Carol’s office asking to see her. Not just any man. Her ex-husband.

“You were married before Tobias?”

Tiana’s voice was low enough that no one outside the office could possibly hear, but to Carol’s ears, the words sounded as if they had been announced through a bullhorn. The question spun her tightly held emotions out of control. The skin above her brow prickled with the first signs of nervous sweat. Clenching her fists, digging white acrylic tips into her palm, she took a breath to calm herself before the telltale sign of anxiety—bright red creeping up her pale neck until it settled over her face—could start.

She blinked again. This time the rapid, mind-clearing kind. She dislodged the knot in her throat before finding her voice. “Yes. A long time ago.” A lifetime ago. “Did he say what he wants?”

“No.” Confusion faded to what appeared to be concern. “He looks nervous. Should I tell him to leave or…I can call security.”

Security was a seventy-three-year-old overweight retired police officer who was far more invested in completing the Houston Chronicle’s crossword puzzle than he ever was in doing his job. Carol suspected even if she did need help, old Charlie Turner would call 911 and offer crowd control long before he’d intervene with some kind of physical altercation in her office. Not that she was worried about what her ex would do to her.

Just the opposite.

She was more concerned she’d grab the sterling silver scissors from her desk drawer and shove them repeatedly into his chest.

Outside her window, early summer sunlight reflected in a blinding starburst off the man-made pond where geese liked to gather as they migrated. This time of year the water was smooth. Still. Deceptively calm. As she stared at the water, memories of her life with John flashed through her mind like an old 8-mm film on a loop.

Laughter, singing, playing.

Screaming. Crying. Begging.

Tiana’s quiet voice cut into Carol’s thoughts. “Should I tell him to leave?”

“Um… No.” God, I’m going to regret this. “It’s fine. Show him in.”

Read all of Chapter One here.

Purchase A Life Without Water here.

Netgalley Reviews
This story will push your emotions to the limit, make you realize how much damage you do to yourself by holding onto anger and refusing to let go and help you to walk through the process of learning who you really are and what life has done to make you that person. – cindy r.

This book was everything. It made me FEEL so much. I cried so very much at times. Beautifully and realistically written. Life is fickle and here and gone in a minute. Learn to forgive and remember to live! –Dineen M.

This book – A Life Without Water – basically ripped my heart out – smashed it into a million pieces and put it back together again. – Beth S.

As a teen, Marci Bolden skipped over young adult books and jumped right into reading romance novels. She never left.

Marci lives in the Midwest with her husband, two teenaged kiddos, and numerous rescue pets. If she had an ounce of will power, Marci would embrace healthy living but until cupcakes and wine are no longer available at the local grocery store, she’ll put that ambition on hold and appease her guilt by reading self-help books and promising to join a gym “soon.”

Learn more about Marci Bolden on her website. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Cool Lunch for a Hot Day

from Chris Pavesic

Looking for a refreshing meal to beat the summer heat? This healthy sandwich and smoothie duo has you covered.

This peanut butter sandwich forgoes jelly for fresh sliced pears.

Open-Faced Nut Butter Sandwich
1-2 slices of your favorite bread
Peanut butter or almond butter
Sliced pears
Raisins
Honey
Cinnamon

Toast your favorite bread; one slice to eat open-faced or two for a sandwich. Spread on nut butter and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle on a few raisins. Add sliced pears, enough to cover bread. Sprinkle top of pears with cinnamon and enjoy.

When the weather gets warm, is there anything more refreshing than a smoothie? This one sneaks in some healthy vegetables and chia seeds.

Ginger-Berry Smoothie with Chia Seeds
1½ cups frozen or fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries (extra for garish if desired
⅓ cup canned sliced beets (save extra beets for next smoothie) or leftover cooked beets
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
Chia seeds

Combine all ingredients in a blender except chia seeds. Blend until smooth. Top with chia seeds and extra fruit if desired. Makes 1 serving.



Books available at Amazon.com or wherever books are sold.


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, August 12, 2019

PSYCHO WHAT?

Psychometry 101
by Sharon Ledwith

The second installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries, features Hart Stewart—a teenage psychometrist who has no problem reading the energy imprints from an object like a ring or watch, but struggles with the most basic reading skills. In world-renowned, late psychic Sylvia Browne’s book, Phenomenon, she explains—“Psychometry is the ability to sense and interpret the living energy that’s been absorbed by inanimate objects. Perceptions of that energy can come in the form of visions, smells, sounds, emotions and even specific empathic physical sensations like pain, heat and cold.”

So how does this psychic ability actually work? By handling objects, the psychic receives impressions through clairvoyance, telepathy, retrocognition (knowledge of a past event that could not be learned or inferred by normal means), and precognition (future sight). The act of reading an object in this manner is called ‘psychometrizing’. The term ‘psychometry’ comes from the Greek words psyche, ‘soul’, and metron, ‘measure’. It was coined in 1840 by Joseph R. Buchanan, an American professor of physiology who saw psychometry as a means to measure the ‘soul’ of objects.

Supposedly the best ‘psychically’ conductive materials are metals. So jewelry would be great picks for a psychometry reading. If an object has been owned by more than one person, such as an antique, a percipient may pick up information about different people. Psychics who specialize in psychometry when working with law enforcement, for example, can hold an article of a missing child’s clothing or piece of jewelry and, by reading the child’s energy contained in that clothing or jewelry, receive images or smells or sounds from where the child is, sense whether the child is feeling frightened or is with someone who makes them feel secure, and/or perceive any injuries the child might have. Cue The Twilight Zone music.

Believe it or not, you’ve used psychometry at one time or another. Think about when you’ve shopped for a purse or article of clothing—you pick up the desired item, and depending on whatever feeling it gives you, there might be something about it that makes you put it back and keep looking. An odd feeling. A weird thought. A shiver. That’s psychometry. Or you’ll be house-hunting or apartment-hunting and walk into a place that’s perfect and ideal in every way, with the one exception that for some reason you can’t wait to get out of there. That’s psychometry too.

You may think of psychometrists as modern day time travelers. With one touch of an object in an antique shop or museum, they can be whisked away into another time period. Oh, think of the things we could learn about history and historical events. And think of the cold case crimes that could be solved. So the next time you pick up an object, remember that it always has something to say. Even if you don’t like it.

Ready to receive a little foresight into Blackflies and Blueberries, the second installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mystery series? Here’s a glimpse…

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.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A DELICIOUS WAY TO QUENCH YOUR THIRST

from Catherine Castle

Iced tea is summer’s classic drink. I thought it might be interesting to talk about the history of this popular drink before the summer slips away and also share my Nectarine Iced Tea recipe.

The history of tea reaches back to 2737 B.B. when, according to Chinese legend, Emperor Shen Nong accidently discovered tea when a leaf from a wild tea tree fell into a pot of water he was boiling in his garden. He enjoyed the flavor the leaf lent to the water so much that he began to brew it.

Iced tea, however, is much younger. The first recorded recipes in the U.S. for iced tea appeared in The Buckeye Cookbook in 1876 and in 1879 HouseKeeping in Old Virginia. The 1879 recipe, published by Marion Cabel Tyree, called for green tea to be boiled and steeped throughout the day. The liquid was then poured over ice and sugar and served with lemon.

The popularity of iced tea using black tea is believed to have started at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, where Richard Blechynden, the Commissioner of Tea for India and one of the fair's directors, was exhibiting hot black tea. Because the temperatures were high, hot tea wasn't selling. So, Blechynden brewed and chilled the tea, and thirsty fair visitors began buying. The trend caught on and by World War I iced tea appeared in the kitchens of Americans and in restaurants on a regular basis. Today, iced tea—black, green and herbal, in bottles, boxes and pitchers—is a staple on America’s menus.

Iced tea also appears on the tables in other countries, but many have a different take on the drink than Americans do. Here we have what most Southerners know as sweet tea, which is sugared, and regular iced tea—most common with Northerners, which is usually unsweetened. Tea drinkers have the option of adding a squeeze of lemon, or not.

In Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, mate tea, not the camellia sinensis tea associated with black tea, is the preferred drink for iced tea. Yerba mate dried leaves are boiled in water, then strained and served in cups.

Photo by Allie Smith Unsplash

Iced tea in Greece is usually flavored with peach or lemon. If you order peach tea, you’ll still get a lemon slice on the rim of the glass.

Ginger lemon, lemon and peach flavored teas are popular in India.




In Hong Kong tea is served with lemon slices that are crushed, releasing the volatile oils into the tea. There is also a milk tea version of iced tea made with green tea, flavored with jasmine blossoms and tapioca pearls. The tea is served warm and poured over ice, creating a creamy iced tea.

Taiwan has an interesting tea called Bubble Tea. This tea is usually a strong black tea, sweetened with sugar and condensed milk. It is served cold usually with tapioca pearls. Sometimes pudding, jelly, or chunks of fruit are put into it instead of tapioca pearls. Bubble tea can also be made with other types of tea.

Thailand iced tea is made from strongly brewed black tea, sweetened with sugar and condensed milk. Evaporated milk, coconut milk or whole milk are also used. The tea and milk are usually mixed together and then poured over the ice.

You might think that with tea time being a staple in the UK iced tea would be as popular there as in the rest of Europe. But not so. The popularity of iced tea in United Kingdom has only begun to rise since 2000.

Today, when you ask, “Would you like some iced tea?” Most people expect brewed black tea, with or without sugar and lemon. But plain old camellia sinensis isn’t the only option. With hundreds of flavored and herbal teas, the varieties of iced tea are only limited by one’s imagination.

At my house our favorite iced teas are decaffeinated Sun Tea, made by steeping tea bags in cold water using the heat of the sun to brew it, and hibiscus tea made from pouring boiling water over the dried flowers of the hibiscus plant. I’ve even begun putting my leftover morning tea, usually Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea or Irish tea with cream, into the refrigerator and drinking it cold later on in the day. I’m surprised at how tasty it is.

For your summer tea enjoyment, I’ve included a fruity iced tea recipe I developed. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Nectarine Iced Tea
4 peach flavored green tea bags
2 cups boiling water
1 ripe nectarine
2 fresh, sweet cherries with the stem, optional
Sugar or sweetener to taste

Place tea bags in a 2-cup heat-proof measuring cup. Pour boiling water into cup and steep tea bags according to directions.

Halve the nectarine and peel⅔ of the fruit. Reserving 2 peeled slices for garnish.

Slice the peeled nectarines into sections. Place ½ the sections into a bowl and crush the fruit to break down the flesh and release the juices.

Drop ¼ of the crushed nectarine into two 16-ounce glasses and stir well. Add ice and then remaining peeled nectarines.

Pour cooled tea over the ice and fruit in the glasses.

Garnish the glass edge with the unpeeled fruit and drop a fresh sweet cherry with the stem on into the top of the tea.

Add sugar or sweetener to taste. The riper the fruit the less sweetener you’ll need.

How about a peek at my latest sweet romance while you sip your refreshing tea?

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, August 05, 2019

My Love Affair with ... Spiders

from Anne Montgomery
This little guy lives by my dog's water bowl. 
We're all good with that.

I faced the webs on my porch. You see, when it's fall in the desert, it's time to clean our yards and outside living areas. To those who've grown up understanding the concept of spring cleaning, note that we perform that chore in the fall. It makes sense, since we spend the summers cooped up with our air conditioning - hiding from blast-furnace temperatures - and the winters basking blissfully outdoors.

I gently moved the broom across the ceiling and into the corners, careful not to harm any of the arachnids who've made camp by my door. I admonish the tiny ones to run, since I don't want to injure them.

And, now, you might think me strange, because I could never hurt a spider. Why this is the case, I'm not quite sure. Perhaps it was growing up with Charlotte's Web. Or maybe it was watching my parents deposit spiders who had found their way inside outside, instead of crushing them into little blobs of spidery goo.

I never thought this behavior odd, until faced with folks who felt differently. There was the tough US Marine who hailed from Trinidad who was my housemate for a while. I had explained about Mathilda, the black widow who resided in a low corner of the kitchen who only came out at night.

"Just don't walk barefoot by the sink after dark," I explained.

Then, one day I heard him howling in the kitchen. "You need to come in here! Now!"

I complied and was delighted by gossamer silk threads floating in the air, each speckled with dozens of tiny golden babies holding on like wee surfers. I grabbed some newspapers and corralled the infants and released them outside.

The big brave Marine recoiled.

Then there was the evening stroll in the Costa Rican rain forest. My sweetie pie and I joined a small group searching for night creatures with a woman entomologist.

"Oh! Look at what we have here!" She reached into the leaf litter and produced a large long-legged spider. Eyes wide, she grinned like a grandma with a newborn babe. "These are the ones they use in horror movies. Who would like to hold it?"

No one moved. She frowned, disappointed in our little group, so I stepped up and held out my hand. Her eyes sparkled, one of those perhaps-she's-not-quite-sane looks that made me reconsider our decision to follow her into the jungle in the dark. She placed the beast in my palm.

"So cute. Just like a kitten," she cooed.

OK, I admit I had a sudden urge to flee, an impulse that had nothing to do with the spider. In fact, the little guy was rather sweet. I silently said goodbye as he scampered off into the undergrowth.

Then there was the football spider and that rascal cemented my love affair with spiders.

Late in the first half of a high school game, Phil, my line judge, ran toward me, blowing his whistle, and waving his arms overhead, killing the clock.

“Tarantula!” He stared wide-eyed and pointed downfield.

My first thought was that the home team had a spider mascot, but that idea was quickly dispelled when I saw a fuzzy creature moving in a strangely robotic motion near the 20-yard-line.



The barrel-chested coach, who'd been on me the whole game, grinned and crossed thick arms. “What are you going to do about it?” he yelled.




As we crouched over the beast, I envisioned some hapless kid with a fist-size spider wriggling from his facemask. I bit my lip and glanced at the players who eyed me from midfield.

Phil and I stared at one another. He raised both palms up.

“What are we going to do?” I asked.

“What are you going to do?” he mimicked the coach.

I took a deep breath and watched the hairy beast inch forward, moving all eight legs in a silent ballet. Did I hear the coach laughing?

I shot my arm into the tarantula’s path. And, without pause, the spider crawled onto the back of my hand and up my wrist, fuzzy feet tickling my skin.

Phil stood and backed away.

“Please don’t bite me,” I silently pleaded over and over, as visions of old horror movies played in my head. While the tarantula traveled up my arm, I walked slowly toward the end of the field. When I reached the outer edge of the track, I bent over and gently dropped the creature near a patch of rocky desert. The tarantula landed upright and marched on.

I swallowed several times, then turned and ran back up field past the coach. I herded the players to the line of scrimmage and took my position behind the quarterback. I blew my whistle, putting the ball into play.

But no one moved.

Then Phil’s whistle sounded and he signaled time-out. He doubled over and I thought he might be ill, but then I saw he was laughing.

“What?” I stared as he ran toward me.

Phil leaned in, then looked around to make sure no players were nearby. "The coach said, 'She has a pair hangin' and they ain’t tits.'”

I eyed the coach. He nodded toward me, deferential, all remnants of his previously condescending attitude having disappeared with the spider.

For the rest of the game, no matter the situation – whether a flag went for or against his team, whether he agreed or disagreed with a ruling – the coach only addressed me with two words.

“Yes, ma’am,” was all he said.

Perhaps now you can understand my love affair with spiders.

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, July 31, 2019

Calorie Counting or Not - This Treat is for You

from Suzanne G. Rogers

A friend of mine invited me to a potluck, with the caveat that she was following a low-sugar diet to lose weight. I offered to bring dessert and began looking for a low-calorie pumpkin-based custard recipe on the Internet. I wanted to find something that didn't require any artificial sweetener, and I found what I thought was the perfect recipe.

It was a disaster.

If your idea of delish is eating pumpkin puree with a spoon, that dessert would have been perfect for you. Therefore, I modified it into something tasty, without the cloying sweetness often found in pumpkin pies.

Image by Conger Design from Pixabay
Suzanne’s Pumpkin Custard
1 15oz. can pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Fold pumpkin into eggs. Stir in milk, both vanillas, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar. Divide mixture into 4 small ovenproof bowls.

Be sure to use cooking spray on the inside of the baking dishes. I also use a squirt of cooking spray inside my measuring cup before I add the sweetened condensed milk, so it slides out better.

You can adjust the added sugar to taste, but this recipe as written comes out to just under 250 calories per serving. Best served cold, but I've eaten it warm because I couldn't wait and it was good then, too. I've also eaten it for breakfast as well as dessert because I'm a grown person and I can do what I like.😊

Add a dollop or two of whipped topping, or for something really scrumptious, make a batch of vanilla sugar-free pudding and put a few tablespoons on top before you dig in. Of course, you'll also be adding more calories, but the vanilla pudding makes for a really nice treat.

For another calorie-free treat, pick up my Victorian-era romance, Duke of a Gilded Age. The sweetness is built into the story, so it won't go to your hips.


When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril and will cost more than one man his life.


Duke of a Gilded Age is available at this Universal Link, Amazon, and Google Play.


Suzanne G. Rogers lives with her husband and son in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, and the occasional gator. She's owned by two Sphynx cats, Houdini and Nikita. Movies, books, and writing are her passions.

Learn more about Suzanne G. Rogers on her historical romance blog and her fantasy blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to check out her website for the Sweet Romance written by Suzanne G. Rogers.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

NEW RELEASE for VONNIE HUGHES

Regency historical romance at its finest is what you get with this compelling novel by Vonnie Hughes. This book sweeps you back to Britain into the early 1800s where life for the wealthy was filled with elegance and grand parties. But there is more to the era of great achievement both politically and in the fine arts. The rich attended soirees while the poor scrounged in any way possible for food. Hughes touches on the reality of the era and its costs to the people. Definitely a book to read.

What happens when a man achieves his secret wish at the expense of a brother he despises? How does he then live his life?

John Trewbridge is destined to spend his life in the British army. If he had been thinking clearly, he’d never have enlisted with the 71st regiment. But Serena ripped the heart out of him when she said that he was only a second son and therefore of no account. She was echoing the words of John’s older brother, Spencer, who has spent years crowing about his future plans for the marquessate he will inherit. Yet it is John who loves the Trewbridge estate and everything that goes with it. When he is sent home from Corunna, injured, he discovers that Serena is about to marry Spencer.

On a raw winter’s day John meets Marguerite Ninian. Crippled from birth she hides from the world and John, despairing and disillusioned, lashes out at her, telling her that instead of feeling sorry for herself and should pity the injured soldiers who had limbs amputated. Not an auspicious beginning.

But over time her humour and intelligence help John to understand that second is just a word, not a value judgment or a statement of mind. Cautiously John and Marguerite move toward a tentative friendship until Spencer implodes and smashes the Trewbridge family apart.

BLURB
Spencer’s arm was trapped beneath the phaeton. The pain must be excruciating. John tugged off his glove and held tight to Spencer’s free hand. “No, Spence. I envied you Trewbridge, not the title. Oh, and sometimes I envied your famous way with the ladies. But I didn’t want to be you.” He noticed he was talking in the past tense and reined himself in. How callous could he be?

“No. I’m too dull to enjoy racing around, trying to keep ahead of my conscience.” Spencer ignored the last comment. “Dull,” he rasped. “I told her that would singe your whiskers.”

“For a time it did,” John murmured. “But I’ve found someone who needs me and doesn’t think I’m dull. And I have an estate that will not give me sleepless nights like the responsibility of Trewbridge would.”

There was a long silence and John felt the world shrink down to just the two of them, in the dark, with the sounds of rescue far away. Then Spencer’s cracked voice whispered, “But you will have it all now, while I dance with demons.”

“I don’t think so. We’ll get you out of here. More men are coming. We will lift this damned phaeton off you and—”

“No!” Spencer’s voice rose again. “I do not want to be saved.” He gave a slight huff that might have been a laugh. “Never did.”

Buy Links


Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Monday, July 29, 2019

How Does Your Garden Grow?

by Emma Lane

Gardens grow of their own volition. You labor with the lay out and lovingly place the plants. By the third year, your garden has selected what it will and will not accept. But it’s gorgeous, healthy and you wouldn’t change a single thing. (Okay, maybe you’ll move that fragrant dianthus in front of that balloon flower which is taller.) Some of it is your fault because you couldn’t resist that church sale and your neighbor shared several perennials. Status normal. Allow your garden nostalgia. You show it off by saying, “I got that one for next to nothing on sale, Susan Smith gave me that one when she moved to Florida, I miss her so! My mother-in-law finally broke down and shared that rose. Would you believe how she can make cuttings and root them?” This iris came from … and that one came from…

SEASONAL: Do plan spring shrubs/bulbs which are so welcome. Fall red/yellow leaves.

INVASIVE: When someone mentions the plant is invasive, believe it! I love the golden blooms of Rudbeckia Goldstrum, but it will take over if given the chance. Plant it way over there where you can mow it if need be; same with any sort of mint.

PARTNERSHIPS: Delphenium back up to fences almost poetically, a partnership. Peonies are almost small bushes. I love to make a back ground hedge row from them. Yellow coreopsis and red yarrow are made in heaven for hot colors.

FRIENDSHIP: The deer, rabbits, groundhog, the neighbor’s pets, etc have destroyed some of your hard work? This is your opportunity to share and discover new friends. What better way to become acquainted? You’ll learn to laugh and maybe learn new gardening secrets while you commiserate.

Now that your garden is all you want it to be, take a good book and relax in all that beauty. May I suggest one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king's business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother's estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

EXCERPT
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.
“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.


Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her 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.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

COME CELEBRATE INDIE EBOOKS DAY

from Dianna Gunn

Photo by Frank Holleman on Unsplash
Ebooks may never completely eliminate paper books, but they have revolutionized the publishing industry. Authors today can format an ebook affordably or even learn to do it themselves, and once they’ve published, they can sell that ebook an infinite number of times, to anyone in the world. Indie Ebooks Day is a celebration of the vibrant indie author community that has grown out of these changes.

Indie Ebooks Day hopes to inspire the next part of the publishing revolution. The stigma surrounding indie publishing has largely dissipated, but indie authors still don’t receive the same level of recognition as traditionally published authors. We have to fight for every book sale, every review, every newsletter subscriber.

Alone, these struggles are enormous, and often seem insurmountable. But there are tens of thousands of indie authors around the world. If we band together, commit to buying and promoting each other’s books, we can achieve great things.

Together we can amplify each other’s voices, make ourselves visible to new audiences, and even force the mainstream to acknowledge us. We can ensure each other’s success, and events like Indie Ebooks Day are the first step.

How can you participate in Indie Ebooks Day?

Indie Ebooks Day is a Twitter event happening on July 27th, 2019. To celebrate, we’re asking readers to buy an indie ebook and share a photo of themselves enjoying their new book on their favourite e-reading device, using the hashtag #IndieEbooksDay in their Twitter post. We’ve got an exciting line-up of featured indie authors to share throughout the day, so if you don’t know any indie authors right now, all you need to do is watch the @IndieEbooksDay Twitter account.

This year Indie Ebooks Day is only on Twitter, where the indie author community is most vibrant. We hope to expand to Instagram in 2020.

What comes after Indie Ebooks Day?

Indie Ebooks Day is only the first of many community initiatives. Celebrating indie authors is great, but we want that publishing revolution—and we need help to make it happen. If you’re an indie author and you want to become part of this grassroots movement, join us on Twitter at 4PM EST for #IndieCommunityChat, where we’ll tackle tough publishing situations and work to shape a more inclusive, more successful indie author community.

Here is a glimpse at my Indie Ebook. I hope you like it.

All Riana has ever wanted is freedom. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing her kind cannot have.

Bound by the curse in her demonic blood for millennia, Riana has tried several times to bend the rules and live out her life in the mortal realm. Now her consistent rule breaking has drawn the attention of Loki, God of Mischief, the main tormentor of Riana’s kind. But instead of punishing her, he offers her the escape she has always desired. All she has to do to is save the kingdom of Moonshadow from a mysterious magical plague.

Armed only with the inherent power of her own blood and Loki’s pet dragon, Riana is determined to fight for the right to create her own destiny.

However, when her mission forces her to destroy the last remnants of an ancient culture, Riana must ask – what is freedom really worth?

Moonshadow’s Guardian is a tale about the meaning of belonging, and the struggle to create a future not defined by your past.

BUY LINKS

Dianna L. Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She knew she wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. Dianna wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at eleven years old. As an adult,Dianna quickly discovered writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So she decided to broaden her horizons, seeking another career that still allowed her to work with words.

Her freelance writing career started when she became a marketing intern at Musa Publishing in September 2011 and quickly became a staff writer in charge of multiple imprint blogs. Since then she has worked with a variety of small businesses and non-profits to improve their online brands and create long term marketing strategies. Some of her most notable work has been for the tech education non-profit STEAMLabs and natural dog care company ProPooch. She is dedicated to helping her clients build successful brands and making their dreams come true.

Need help creating awesome content for your business? Send an email to diannalgunn@gmail.com explaining what your needs are, and she will help you.

When she isn’t helping her clients bring their dreams to life, Dianna can be found working on her own dream of being a successful fantasy author.

Dianna blogs about writing, creativity, and books at The Dabbler.

Learn more about Dianna on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Blackberries – Nature’s Treasure

from Carol Browne

In the USA, it’s Fall; in the UK, Autumn. Whatever you call it, it’s that time of year for mists and mellow fruitfulness and it’s the fruit that takes centre stage. We harvest an abundance of russet-coloured apples and use them for apple-bobbing and cider. Their colours echo the colours of the leaves. But Autumn has one other iconic fruit and that is the blackberry. It is dark and rich and guarded by thorny brambles, a treasure in the hedgerows that we must take care to harvest. For centuries this fruit has been picked and enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is an ancient source of nutrients and is extremely beneficial to health; the berries’ dark purple colour created by the antioxidants they contain.

Blackberries are an image important to the childhood memories of one of my main characters in The Exile of Elindel. It is strange to think of people picking blackberries for so many centuries. The continuity of this seasonal practice has continued regardless of what else has happened in the world. I myself live in the countryside where the opposite side of my road is entirely hedgerow and as I write this, it is one huge blackberry factory! Strangers have suddenly descended upon us to fill their buckets and baskets with fruit. We won’t see them at any other time of the year. I just hope they leave some for the birds who need them far more than these humans!

I’m sure elves love blackberries too.

Image by Emma Larocque from Pixabay
BLACKBERRY BRAMBLE SORBET
900 grams (4.5 cups) blackberries
1 whole lemon, with peel, chopped, remove seeds
1 lemon, juiced
425 grams (2 cups) castor sugar (superfine sugar in the USA)

Purée blackberries in a food processor. Add lemon bits, juice, and sugar.

Blend until well incorporated. Set in fridge and chill for 2 hours.

Place in an ice cream maker and churn until set.

No ice cream maker? No problem. Freeze the bramble in a metal pan. Scrape and stir the mixture every half hour for a 2 – 3 hours to create a fine ice.

Here is a little from my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

Godwin's adventures in Elvendom left him a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. Who—or what—is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, July 22, 2019

10 Reasons Why Writers Need Pencils

by Catherine Castle


As I writer, I collect pencils when I travel - pens too. You can see some of my pencils and pens in the collection above. The soldier at the forefront is a standing pen from Colonial Williamsburg. I think he’s absolutely adorable!

Pencils are usually relatively inexpensive as mementoes, and one day I plan to have my hubby build me a display case for my slender treasures.

For now, I thought I’d extol the joys, and uses, of pens from a writer’s perspective. After all, we started this writing journey with a yellow number 2 pencil and that funny dotted-line-in-the- middle school paper. So, take a moment today and celebrate the humble pencil. Hunt up a fresh, or a used pencil, sharpen it to a stabbing point, and write something new.

Here are the reasons that should help convince you a pencil is your friend for its life.

1. You don’t need electricity to use a pencil. So you can write in a storm, at the park, if you’re unexpectedly find yourself in a dystopian society, or any other place you might choose.

2. When you’re ready to write a word down, there’s no pesky computer delay because your CPU is too full.

3. When the lead runs out, you can throw the stub away without any hesitation. The wood deteriorates, unlike pens which need refilling and last in a landfill forever, or computers that also don’t deteriorate and require special care to wipe your personal data and stories from them.

4. When you make a mistake it’s easy to erase. Not so with a pen.

5. You also don’t need electricity to sharpen your pencil. A handy dandy, tiny, portable sharpener is all you need. Or a knife. Don’t opt for the latter if you’re the clumsy sort though.

6. They come in an assortment of colors and designs, so when you’re experiencing writer’s block you can stimulate your muse by studying the pencil’s ornamentation.

7. When your plot or characters aren’t cooperating you can take out your frustration by breaking your pencil. Just be sure you have a replacement on hand when those pesky characters finally start behaving.

8. Pencils make great stabbing utensils for use on rejection letters, that horrid first draft, and other bothersome papers related to your writing. There’s a sense of satisfaction in killing a page that has brought you grief.

9. Pencils can write upside down, in zero gravity, and in water. That means you can lay on your back, in bed, outside, or any other place you choose, and still write your book. Or if you’re planning a trip into space your trusty pencil will work while you’re enroute and when you reach wherever you’re going, provided you’re still alive when you get there. I can’t think of a reason you’d want to write underwater though. On the water, maybe. A pencil would work well there, too.

10. A typical pencil can write about 45,000 words. That’s a novella length book. Now that’s a fact I’ll bet you never knew before today!

So grab your favorite pencil and get writing!

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicably attracted to him, he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them by making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion, and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.


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, July 17, 2019

FAMILY and FOOD

by Sharon Ledwith

The one theme I love to weave throughout my two book series is the importance of family. We hold each other tight when times are tough, and on the flip side we can tear each other apart during times of stress and worry. Food seems to be the source of comfort in all family matters.

Meals bring us together to celebrate, cry or support each other in so many ways. The characters in The Last Timekeepers young adult time travel adventure series were originally thrown together, despite their differences, and have had to learn how to act like a family by trusting and working with one another through each Timekeeper mission. In my Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mystery series, the main characters change with each book, but the setting remains the same, I focused on the tribal matters of the town, and what’s best for the whole. Again, my characters must overcome differences and obstacles in order to keep Fairy Falls’ sense of community safe and intact.

I recently came across my father’s lasagna recipe, and a wave of emotions and memories rushed through me. I loved his meaty take on a popular Italian dish. My dad’s been gone for over thirty-five years, and I still miss him deeply, especially when our family gets together over holidays, events or Sunday dinners. So, I thought I’d share his special family recipe with you with the hopes of adding this mouth-watering pasta entree to your menu one day. Bon appetite!

Dad’s Mouth-Watering, Meaty Lasagna
1 lb. lean ground beef
½ lb. ground pork
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes
1 can (12 oz.) tomato paste
2 tsps. garlic salt or powder
1½ tsps. oregano leaves
1 tsp. basil leaves
2 cups cottage cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 packages (4 ounces each) shredded mozzarella cheese
12 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked and well drained (we use precooked noodles)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a Dutch over or large skillet, cook and stir meats until brown. Drain off fat. Add tomatoes; break up with fork. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, oregano and basil. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered 20 minutes or until mixture is consistency of spaghetti sauce.

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

Stir together cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese. Set aside 1 cup meat sauce and ½ the mozzarella. In ungreased baking pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches, alternate layers of ⅓ each noodles, remaining meat sauce, remaining mozzarella, and cottage cheese mixture.

Spread reserved meat sauce over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Scatter reserved mozzarella across lasagna.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Cut into 3-inch squares.

Serves 8 of your hungriest family members or friends.

And there you have it! A feast fit for any family who loves getting together to share good food, and create happy memories. So, now that you’ve cooked to your heart’s content, and your belly is full, why not escape from the dishes and curl up with one of my books? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls or go back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Just remember to pack lightly.

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.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Writing a Good Villain

by Chris Pavesic

I like to read writing advice from other authors. Many times, I find really great ideas that help improve my own abilities. For example, in On Writing, Stephen King (2001) recommends listening to music to help a writer block out the world and focus on the work at hand. I have multiple dedicated writing playlists for just this purpose.

Certain advice, though, does not resonate with me. For example—certain writers suggest modeling villains after people in your own life that you dislike. I would find that difficult advice to implement in my writing.

First—there is the time factor. Writing a novel generally takes time. Even if a writer aims for a thousand words a day of good, solid prose, the writing stretches into months. Imagine this time actively thinking about people you do not like. This would not be an enjoyable activity in my perspective.

As a writer, I want to like my villains. Not everything that they do—many of their activities to me would be morally objectionable. But I need to understand them—to know why they are doing certain activities so that I can put this down on the page. I need to sympathize with their motivations and to realize that, in most instances, the villains do not see themselves as evil. These characters need the same depth as the heroes or, in my opinion, they will never be more than a caricature.

In Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett (1991, p. 185) has the villain of the story, Lilith, make the following comparison:

“She wondered whether there was such a thing as the opposite of a fairy godmother. Most things had their opposite, after all. If so, she wouldn’t be a bad fairy godmother, because that’s just a good fairy godmother seen from a different viewpoint.”

Later in the story, readers learn that Lilith firmly believes she is the good fairy godmother and is not the villain. It’s a matter of perspective, and in her viewpoint, those working against her are evil. She’s trying to improve people’s lives, and those working against her are trying to impede progress.

This is not the only type of villain in literature, but it is the type that I tend to find the most interesting. It is why I can sympathize with Khan in Star Trek (both in Into Darkness and in Space Seed) and Loki in The Avengers while at the same time being morally appalled by many of their actions.

There are obvious exceptions to this—Sauron in The Lord of the Rings trilogy does not generate sympathy for many readers, (although Tolkien does give him a fascinating history in The Silmarillion that explains his fall into darkness) but the Nazguls always had a touch of sympathy to their story for me because they were tricked by Sauron into becoming the Ring Wraiths. The detail and care that Tolkien invests into the story keeps these characters from being caricatures.


Allow me to introduce you to my villains. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I did writing them.





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.