Monday, October 21, 2019

Dead, but Not Forgotten

Latin - the Dead Language that Speaks to Us Today

by Carol Browne

I know I was lucky when it came to education. Not only did I live in the UK at a time before austerity when the state paid for all our equipment, I also got to attend a grammar school. That meant I studied Latin for about the first four years I was there. At the time I didn’t see the relevance; none of my contemporaries did. It was a dead language confined to history. Something for academics and librarians and archaeologists. A difficult study for an English brain not used to complicated conjunctions and declensions. The concept that nouns had to be classified into gender was bizarre. All the different word endings that had to agree with each other made my head reel. It seemed Latin was something you did to get a qualification—and I did. I achieved what in those days was called an ‘O’ Level. So, job done. Stick it on the CV with all the others.

Image by Desi Maxwell from Pixabay
It was after I left school that I learned to love Latin and appreciate its value as a linguistic tool. More than that, I understood its historical significance, how it helped to shape the modern world we have today. How many languages have Latinate words as part of their lexicon? How many countries, corporations and institutions use Latin mottos? I’m thinking of a famous one here, E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one) which appears on the Great Seal of the United States of America.

Latin invaded Britain along with the Romans in the first century and it was clearly determined to take root as part of the language of the indigenous people because it became the language of the church for centuries. In 1066, when the Norman French invaded Britain, their Latinate tongue became the dominant language and married itself without ceremony to that spoken by the oppressed Anglo- Saxons. In this way, Latin moved up to another level and its words formed a large part of what was to become what we now know as English. People wonder why in English there are so many different words for the same thing but the richness of the language is a result of having input from so many other languages brought to Britain by a variety of invaders.

Image by Photos for You from Pixabay
So from a living language spoken by the Romans, to an elitist language used by the church and the legislature, it evolved in many ways, even giving scientific names to plants, animals, diseases and body parts! And now it is supposedly a dead language because no-one speaks it anymore except for academics and historians. And yet how can you call it dead when it is so widely used?

As a writer Latin isn’t dead to me. I can call upon my knowledge of Latin to help me work out the meaning of many words in use today. If I encounter an unfamiliar word, as long as it has had some truck with Latin during its evolution, I am likely to be able to recognise some part of it that will facilitate my understanding. Latin prefixes are extremely helpful: ex, inter, trans, sub, contra, for example. These are already pointing you in a certain direction. A submarine is obviously going to operate under the sea rather than above it! (And marine is also of Latin origin—‘mare’, sea.) Latin has also helped me translate words in other Latinate languages like Italian and Spanish, even though I’m not that acquainted with them.

Latin is timeless, as familiar in Shakespeare’s plays as in Hollywood movies. It has expanded its influence into popular culture without most people giving it a second thought—where would Hogwarts professors be without their Latin-inspired incantations? In the Marvel universe, what would Magneto be called without that ancient Roman language? (L. ‘magnes’?) All those horror films where the bad guys try to summon demons wouldn’t be half so dramatic if they didn’t use Latin to do it; likewise, exorcisms sound much more impressive in Latin. It is, I have come to realise, a rather beautiful language.

Versatile too. You can have fun with Latin. In The Handmaid’s Tale, ‘nolite te bastardes carborundorum’ (Don’t let the bastards grind you down) is grammatically incorrect Latin with some made-up words and was a joke Margaret Attwood remembered from school, but it struck a chord with her audience and people actually have it tattooed on their wrists!

Latin isn’t dead. It never really went away. Those ancient Romans gave us the gift that keeps on giving; even our planets are named after their gods and goddesses. Latin went global long before that concept even existed.

The question must be, did we absorb Latin or did Latin absorb us! Whatever the answer, Latin is here to stay.

Here is a little from my latest release for your reading pleasure. Yes, a little Latin has worked its way into this psychological thriller.

Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

BLURB
Thursday, 26th March, 2015.

My house is filled with people who don’t exist.

They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.

Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.

I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.

Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.

Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.

At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.

I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.

If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.

“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.

I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.

I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt... keep stirring... is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.

And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.

I have no idea how this happens.

Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.

Amazon Buy Links e-Book - Paperback



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 writes both fiction and non-fiction.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

GOOD EATING

from Chris Pavesic

Recently The New York Times article, "Why Eating Processed Foods Might Make You Fat" by Anahad O'Connor, reported on a study that compared a "typical" American diet of processed food and a natural, plant-based diet. The study determined that eating processed food causes most consumers to overindulge, gain weight, and suffer health issues. As O'Connor states: "Observational studies of thousands of people have found that eating high amounts of these [processed] foods is associated with a greater likelihood of early death from heart disease and cancer." The study extolls the virtues of eating a natural, plant-based diet in order to achieve optimal health.

Why, then, do people "treat" themselves with processed foods like take-out pizza, potato chips, and mass-produced candy? It's simple. Big food companies spend a lot of money finding that sweet spot that combines the perfect ratio of fat, sugar, and salt that makes processed food addictive. There's a reason we "can't have" just one chip. Companies have worked over decades to "tweak" their recipes to make sure we keep eating and eating until the bag is empty! And then what happens? We buy more to satiate our cravings and the companies make more money.

So why not flip this narrative? Instead of craving take-out-pizza, why not make your own healthy version? Choose what you put into your body. Why not dream about a hearty meal with Vegan Pesto Parmesan Grilled Corn? If you retrain your brain, slowly, to crave these types of food, treating yourself will feel a lot better.

Vegan Pesto Parmesan Grilled Corn
2 - 4 ears of corn on the cob
1 tbsp. salt
Cold water

Set grill on medium.

Stir salt into water in a large bowl. Pull outer husks down the ear to the base. Strip away silk from each ear of corn by hand. Fold husks back into place, and place ears in water for 10 minutes.

Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place corn on grill, close the cover, and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Carefully remove husks, open, and scrap off the kernels into a bowl.

Serve vegan pesto, get the easy recipe here, and freshly grated vegan parmesan on top of kernels.

After you enjoy your meal, why not read a good book?





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, October 14, 2019

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Lunch is Ready!

The incredible edible egg makes a perfect salad to spread across your favorite bread for a delicious sandwich served with sliced avocado, chips, dill pickles, and your favorite soft drink. Now if you want to fancy things up for a summer lunch or dinner, egg salad works great for Stuffed Tomatoes. Serve with croissants, seedless green grapes, a small wedge of sharp cheddar cheese, and crisp white wine.

TOMATOES STUFFED with EGG SALAD
4 large eggs
2 ripe tomatoes
Mayonnaise to taste
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. marjoram
Lettuce leaves

Set eggs on the counter at least two hours before cooking. They are more tender when cooked if they are close to room temperature.

Lay eggs in a small saucepan, cover with water, add a lid. Bring to a full boil over medium heat. Turn off heat, leave covered, and set timer for 8 minutes. This method also keeps the eggs tender.

In the meantime, cut off a little more than the stem section of the tomatoes. Slice a very thin piece from the bottom so the tomato sits upright after it is stuffed. Scoop out the seeds and some of the pulp. Turn upside down on a paper towel to drain excess water.

Empty the hot water from the saucepan when eggs are done cooking. Add cold water and immediately peel the eggs. The simplest way is to crack both ends on your sink edge. Roll the egg along a hard surface while you apply pressure, but not hard enough to split the cooked egg, you only want to loosen the membrane from the white. The shell should come off easily. This procedure takes a little practice but it’s worth it.

Be sure to rinse the peeled egg to eliminate any bits of shell that may adhere. Lay egg on a paper towel to air dry.

When the eggs are cool, chop them into a small bowl. Don’t make the chop fine. You want to see chunks of white in your salad. Stir in just enough mayonnaise to moisten the eggs to the consistency you like. Go easy so as not to overdo. The eggs should be coated but not swamped.

Stir in thyme and marjoram. Cover with cling wrap and then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

When the time comes, fill tomatoes with egg salad, mound a little, and then set them aside. Place a lettuce leaf on each plate to hold the filled tomato in place. Arrange the other foods on the plate, serve, and enjoy!

This recipe serves two.

May you spend all the days of your life filled with friends, laughter, and seated around a well laden table!

Sloane

Monday, October 07, 2019

HAPPY HAUNTING

The chill is in the air and all things that go bump in the night are about to happen. Time to curl up with a good romantic thriller by Tina Griffith.

On Hallow’s Eve, as the veil between the two worlds was thinning, the face of the full moon was lit up like a Christmas tree. The dead would soon come alive, the alive would dress up as the dead, and witchcraft had a way of piggybacking off other spells. This was the ideal night to be a witch, for the effectiveness of all incantations, divinations, and other avenues of magic, was perfect.

Jayla is a clever witch, who had been cursed in her teens by her friend, Ophelia. Since then, she has had to retrieve dark souls from shrewd men in order to survive. While she has taken hundreds of souls in her lifetime, this story is about her trying to take the one which belongs to Roger Casem – the man she accidentally fell in love with.

Could she kill him, as she had done with the others? If she wanted to continue living, she must. But today, when his eyes skimmed her body with unbelievable passion, she began to recognize her own needs. As she blushed and turned her face away from him, Jayla did the only thing she could.


Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children's books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister's scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

A WORLD OF YUM

from the kitchen of C.D. Hersh

Catherine has recently discovered avocado puddings. Never heard of them? Well, apparently they are full of good fats, loads of fiber, have a low glycemic index (which is important for those watching their carbs, and they can be made without dairy products, if you are vegan or lactose intolerant). They have the creaminess of instant puddings without the unnatural ingredients that comes in that box. The extra bonus of avocado puddings--they taste good. The kiddos will never know they are eating something good for them. So far she’s experimented with chocolate, which was super chocolatey and not as sweet as it could have been since she skipped a lot of the sugar. She likes to see how low-sugar she can go.

Catherine loves pumpkin. Donald not so much. The other day she got a pumpkin craving so she decided to play with avocadoes and pumpkin. Her newest culinary invention is a Ginger Pumpkin pudding. She likes it, so she decided to share the recipe. She won’t guarantee this recipe that makes 4 servings is low calorie, but there is quite a bit of fiber in it to help offset some of the carbs.

Avocado Ginger Pumpkin Pudding
1 ripe avocado
¾ cup canned pumpkin
1 ½ - 2 cups vanilla flavored yogurt, divided.
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
8 small gingerbread cookies, crushed, with 4 tsp. reserved
Canned whipped cream or make your own
4 tbsp. shaved chocolate, from a candy bar

Cut avocado in half, discarding pit and skin. Put flesh in a food processer and blend until smooth.

Add pumpkin, and ½ of yogurt, lemon juice and spices to avocado and blend until well mixed.

Spoon remaining yogurt into small glass dessert cups, filling cups about ½ full. Spread evenly in cup.

Spoon pumpkin mixture over the yogurt, spreading evenly.

Cover dishes with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap onto the top of the pudding.

Chill.

When ready to serve, top the pudding with the crushed gingerbread cookies, sprinkling evenly on top of pudding.

Add a dollop of whipped cream to top of pudding. Sprinkle reserved cookies and shaved chocolate on whipped cream.

Enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the dessert to chill, check out The Promised One, the first book in our Turning Stone Chronicle series.

When month and day are the age that is the time
When day and month are the time that is the age
When time and age agree, trinity becomes unity


If a mark didn’t come out of the bar soon, he’d have to change his hunting spot.

Danny Shaw glanced at his watch. In the past hour, only two men—too big for him to handle—had staggered out of the Dew Drop Inn Bar and Grill. He needed someone rich and easy to take down. And soon. If he arrived late again, he’d get canned. And if he lost one more job, he’d lose Lulu.

The door opened, spilling crowd noise and blue haze onto the dimly lit street. He moved back into the shadow of the building. Waiting.

A slender woman walked by, her legs wobbling on spiked heels as the hem of her blue slinky dress swished around her thighs. Whiskey and perfume wafted on the air. As she reached to smooth back her blond hair, a prism flashed on her ring finger.

As his gut tightened, adrenalin pumped through him. Perfect. Tipsy and a rock too. A big haul could make this his last job this week, allowing him more time to spend with Lulu.

He pulled his ski mask down then took his gun from his coat.

Withdrawing a silencer from his left pocket, he screwed it onto the barrel, and stepped out. The woman didn’t notice him, so he scanned the street for witnesses. No one around. Closing the gap, he made his move.

Shaw jammed the gun barrel in her back and hooked her arm. “Don’t scream,” he whispered, “and I might let you live.”

Under his hold, she stiffened. Her high heels tapped rapidly on the pavement as he steered her into the dark, littered alley. When they were well into the shadows, hidden from passersby, he shoved her against the graffiti-covered building. “Gimme your purse and jewelry.”

The woman raised perfectly manicured hands above her head, her shoulder angling toward him as she started to twist around.

“Keep your face to the wall,” he ordered.

She mumbled something into the bricks and then lowered her left hand, dangling a bejeweled handbag behind her head.

“Now the jewelry.” He snatched the purse.

She unhooked her necklace, slipped off her watch and diamond ring, then held them out.

He stuffed them into his pocket. “The other ring, too.”

“That ring has no value. It’s costume jewelry my niece gave me.”

“Take it off.”

“You’ve got my cash and credit cards, and my diamond. Isn’t that enough?”

Damn. He hated when they resisted. “Give me the ring.”

She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “No.”

He jerked her around to face him. “Dammit, woman. Give me the freaking ring or I’ll blow your head off.” He yanked on the band.

Without warning, she swung her hand up, connecting with his jaw. Stunned, he stumbled backward, still clutching the hand with the ring. They fell to the pavement. Her hands clawed at his, and her feet kicked his shins, scrabbling their legs together.

Fighting for control. Fighting for the gun.

Wrapping his legs around hers, he rolled her over and pinned her beneath him with his body. Freeing his hand from her grasp, he slammed her skull on the ground. Her head rolled to the side and she lay still.

Certain he’d knocked her out, he tried to remove the ring from her finger. Suddenly she bolted up, head-banged him, and grabbed his gun hand.

As he struggled to keep control of the weapon, the barrel twisted toward him. Heart pounding, he watched his life flash in front of him.

Abusive childhood. Lousy job. Lulu. The elaborate wedding plans she’d made. He didn’t want to die. Not now.

He wrenched the gun toward the woman. The metallic pfft startled him. Round-eyed shock reflected in the woman’s face.

Shaw’s heart stopped racing as she relaxed in his grip, then amped back up, pounding against his ribs. Shit. Assault, battery, and now . . . murder. Quick and easy money to pay for the wedding. That’s all he’d been after. They’ll put me away for life if I get caught. Lulu’s gonna be pissed if I screw up her wedding plans.

Pushing into a squat, he stared at the dark stain spreading across the dress front. He removed the ring from the woman’s finger. She should have just given it to him.

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

BUY LINKS

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a novella, Can’t Stop The Music, with twelve other authors from various genres with a book coming out each month in 2017.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Monday, September 30, 2019

IDENTICAL COUSINS

by Suzanne G. Rogers

Back in the era of black and white television, The Patty Duke Show reigned supreme. The premise revolved around a rambunctious American girl (Patty Lane) and her identical, sophisticated Scottish cousin (Cathy Lane), who comes to live with her extended American family. Although the two girls resemble one another, they are polar opposites in terms of their tastes and personalities, thus leading to conflict.

Perhaps my memories of The Patty Duke Show might have had a little to do with fashioning the premise for my Victorian novel, Rake & Romance. Inspiration comes from unlikely sources sometimes!

The cousins in Rake & Romance may resemble one another outwardly, but they could not be more different. Blackhearted Lord Gryphon is ungentlemanly in every respect whereas his cousin, Cody Gryphon, is everything worthy in a fellow–and a hero.

Like the first novel in the Beaucroft Girls series, a ruse is involved. Sweet and lovely Juliet isn’t quite as daring as her elder sister, however, and her efforts to create a creditable ruse don’t go quite as she plans.

Enjoy a sneak peek! ~ Suzanne

Juliet’s plans to wed Lord Elbourne come to naught when she discovers he’s obliged to wed an heiress instead. To salvage her dignity, she enters into a ruse with the heiress’s brother, whom she views as a rake. Unfortunately, he’s also the most attractive man she’s ever met.

Cody Gryphon will do anything to see his sister Stephanie wed to Lord Elbourne, including entering into a temporary engagement with her romantic rival. Although he intends to return to Texas as soon as his sister is wed, he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Juliet’s charms.
Can a rake and a debutante find their happily ever after?

EXCERPT
Cody looked dashing and sophisticated in his elegantly tailored clothes, and Juliet was seized with an attack of nerves. Nevertheless, she cleared her throat and gave him a direct glance meant to convey a businesslike demeanor rather than one of coquetry.

“I’d like you to ruin me.” Despite her best intentions, her words were immediately followed by a blush. Why couldn’t she be more dispassionate?
His eyebrows rose. “What?”

“Just a little ruination, mind you. Nothing that can’t be hushed up in a few months or so.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m not understanding you at all.”

“You’re aware, of course, of the arrangement between Lord Moregate and your father regarding Stephanie and Lord Elbourne.”

“Yes. My father is quite keen on the subject.”

“What you don’t know is that Augustus has been widely expected to propose to me.”

“Actually, I’d heard rumors to that effect.”

Juliet’s eyes widened. “I hope Stephanie hasn’t heard those rumors!”

“Not of which I’m aware.”

A sigh of relief. “Good.”

“I’m sorry for any injury this arrangement has done to you. I can tell you’re quite partial to Lord Elbourne.”

“I am partial to Augustus, and would have accepted his proposal if he’d asked. But after a careful examination of my feelings, I can truly say I’m not in love with him.”

“You’re not?” His eyebrows drew together. “If your feelings aren’t injured, then what’s this about?”

“Once society learns Augustus has thrown me off, I’ll become an object of ridicule. I mean to publicly throw him off before anyone hears about his engagement to Stephanie. For that, I need you to ruin me…ever so slightly.”

He looked at her askance. “Won’t your reputation be forevermore tarnished?”

“I’d rather be a little tarnished than humiliated, Mr. Gryphon. An earl is about to pass me over for another woman. Do you really think my prospects will be improved by such a spectacular rejection?” She averted her eyes. “If I’m to be ruined anyway, I’d rather choose the method.”
“Have you no thought to my reputation?”

She waved her hands, dismissively. “Stephanie says you’re a rake, doesn’t she? Therefore, nobody will think less of you than they already do now. Amongst your male acquaintances, I daresay the rumor of a passing indiscretion would be well received. Besides which, you’re leaving for Texas before too long, so what does your reputation matter?”

“Of course.” He folded his arms over his chest. “For the sake of curiosity, what sort of ruination did you have in mind?



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.

Monday, September 16, 2019

GONE FISHING

Studs and I are off for two weeks to celebrate life, enjoy each other,
and eat a stream load of fresh fish.


Photo Courtesy of Lorri Lang Pixabay


I'll be back September 30 with the
lovely Suzanne G. Rogers and her latest release.

Until then - Keep your line wet!

Friday, September 13, 2019

NEW RELEASE for JANIS LANE

Romantic suspense/cozy mystery is definitely Janis Lane's forte. Her latest release sets you right in the story and will keep you guessing, not to mention that you will fall in love with her characters. This is a book everyone will enjoy.

Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer, found more than scintillating images of the birds of Central Florida. A handsome park ranger turns her world upside down even as a criminal stalker seeks to threaten her life.

Who knew trespassing in the restrictive area of a Florida State Park to get the perfect shot of the sand hill crane family would wind up with Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer extraordinaire, meeting the most handsome park ranger in the world? Mating/nesting birds were the subject of her quest but finding those intense blue eyes in the lens of her camera was distracting and hormone inciting.

Adam Rawlings, millionaire park ranger, was as shocked as Abby when she accidentally discovered a murdered man buried in a shallow grave in the sand.
Face to face with an exciting relationship with Adam, the perfect man, leaves her no excuse for backing away from a growing intimacy. Vagabond Abby must consider relocating if she wants to continue an invaluable relationship with Adam, the original home town hero.

Abby struggles as she continues to work deep in the breathtaking wilds of Central Florida while trying to ignore the menace of a serious and threatening stalker. Her task was to reexamine long held premises and prejudices while admiring the southern flora and fauna through the lens of her camera. Bird and nature lovers alert.

SHORT TEASER
Busted in Bird land. Still...what a calendar he would make with that uniform, that smile, those shoulders. She stifled a sigh of pure visual pleasure.

You had better stop it, Miss Smarty. He has the authority to fine and kick you out of the park permanently if he so chooses. Holy Moly-- love a uniformed hunk!

Stoppit!


She stifled a giggle which was riotously rolling around deep inside her, threatening to break out. He continued to loom, gazing thoughtfully while she fidgeted in her warm nest sheltered by the dune. Surrounding them, the sporadic wind blew the smell of something baking in the sun. With her face turned upward and her eyes half-closed against the glare, she awaited her fate. She offered a weak smile while trying to bring into focus his face which was back lit by the bright sunlight. It couldn't hurt, she thought, and tried for puppy dog eyes pleading for mercy.

"Leave this area, and I'll forget your lapse of good manners--this time. Don't let me catch you trespassing on restricted lands again. This is a nature preserve. Visitors may not wander about-- especially during nesting season," he added giving her a stern look. "And that goes for well-meaning, good-looking, lady photographers as well."


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.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

TRICK or TREAT?

This is definitely a treat. Tina Ruiz has a new children's book out just in time for Halloween! The amazing illustrations are done by Ishika Sharma.

The pictures are bright and the story is fun. It was written not only to entertain kids, but also to challenge their minds.

Every character has a name with a double meaning. Such as: Mr. Noah Lott, Mrs. Faye Ding, Mrs. Frieda Livery, Upton O'Goode, Adam Zapel, and Ella Vader, to name but a few.

Here's a hint to help you solve the puzzle, Ed Zortails is his name really heads or is it tails? You'll have to buy the book to find out.

Solving the double meaning of the words will be delightful for children and adults alike. On the off chance someone can't unravel a name, Tina supplied a cheat sheet at the back of the book.

As with all of her children's stories, there's a moral at the end.


Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children's stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor's office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor's Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It's usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary's New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

FRESH from TINA GRIFFITH

by Tina Griffith


When buying corn, check to make sure the ears are not rotten on the ends. You can certainly buy it and cut that part off, but I try to select ears as fresh and clean as possible.

After shedding the leaves and 'soft hair', drop corn in boiling water until it’s golden yellow.


Remove ears from pot and then rinse under cold water to cool them down.

Stand ears on end and carefully slice kernels off the cob. Once you've tasted fresh corn like this, you'll never buy frozen or canned store-bought corn again.

I put the shaved corn from two or three cobs into each baggie, which is approximately a measured cup. This is perfectly portioned for my husband and myself.

These bags must be placed into freezer bags so the corn doesn’t get freezer burn. Two sandwich bags fit well into one medium sized freezer bag.

Squeeze out as much air as possible without crushing the corn. Place bags into your freezer. When you're ready to prepare dinner, empty the baggy into a pot of boiling water. Heat just long enough for the kernels to get warm. I drain them and add garlic butter or regular butter before serving, but you can eat them with just salt and margarine.

Here’s an interesting fact about the corn cobs;

After you shave the kernels off, you can put the cobs into freezer bags and keep them for when you make soups.

Get your big pot out and add the left-over stems from broccoli and the discarded cobs of corn into the water. This will not only add flavor to whatever you're making, but it will add some much-needed nutrition.

Here's a peek at my latest romantic thriller. I hope you enjoy it!


On Hallow’s Eve, as the veil between the two worlds was thinning, the face of the full moon was lit up like a Christmas tree. The dead would soon come alive, the alive would dress up as the dead, and witchcraft had a way of piggybacking off other spells. This was the ideal night to be a witch, for the effectiveness of all incantations, divinations, and other avenues of magic, was perfect.

Jayla is a clever witch, who had been cursed in her teens by her friend, Ophelia. Since then, she has had to retrieve dark souls from shrewd men in order to survive. While she has taken hundreds of souls in her lifetime, this story is about her trying to take the one which belongs to Roger Casem – the man she accidentally fell in love with.

Could she kill him, as she had done with the others? If she wanted to continue living, she must. But today, when his eyes skimmed her body with unbelievable passion, she began to recognize her own needs. As she blushed and turned her face away from him, Jayla did the only thing she could.


Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children's books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister's scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

NEW RELEASE for CAROL BROWNE

Surreal, fresh, dark, and entertaining is this new psychological fiction novella from Carol Browne. Some moments it’s thought-provoking and other times it’s unsettling, but it is Carol Browne at her finest. The story as well as the cover will definitely give your mind and imagination a great workout. Reality Check is a must read.

Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

BLURB
Thursday, 26th March, 2015.

My house is filled with people who don’t exist.

They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.

Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.

I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.

Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.

Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.

At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.

I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.

If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.

“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.

I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.

I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt... keep stirring... is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.

And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.

I have no idea how this happens.

Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.

Amazon Buy Links e-Book - Paperback



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 writes both fiction and non-fiction.

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

Monday, September 09, 2019

The Season It Is a Changing

by Emma Lane

But don't be disgruntled. Bring the outside in with a Fall bouquet. Not sure how, then let me help you. Here are a few tips to help make it easier.

Native and ornamental grasses: What fun to gather them on one of those perfect Fall days when the skies are vivid blue, a soft breeze tumbles your hair, and tick seed clings to your jeans. Best to do your hunt and gathering just before the leaves are all off the trees. Anything interesting is fair game, but do learn to identify dried ragweed and seeds. Not one to bring into the house; it will still make you sneeze. I’ve used the seed tassels of ornamental grasses and a wild reed which is listed as a nuisance plant. It overtakes our native cattails apparently. Even so I love the tassels which are free for the taking. Spot a batch where your sneakers will stay dry.

Love cattails? Pick when they turn brown, most likely mid to late summer. If you bring a ripe cattail inside to the warmth, it will explode with a predictable mess. Trust me; I’ve had the experience. Grab a handful in summer and dry them in a dark, dry place. Pull them out in the fall for a perfect addition to the dry bouquets.

Chinese lanterns (physalis) are perfect for Fall. They’ll last and last, but eventually lose their color. I’ve been known to spray them lightly with red paint, but the odor of fresh paint is not pleasant. Tend well ahead of time and let dry in the garage.

The purple flowers are grown under a hoop house which protects from the early frosts. They won’t stand up to a real freeze, but are perfect for Fall bouquets. Lisianthus is a favorite of florists because they last so long in the vase. Any late bloom will perk up a Fall bouquet. I’ve used long stems of mums, stray daisies, and geranium. Use your imagination and have fun with Fall bouquets. They’ll keep you cheerful until it’s time to decorate for Christmas.

Don't worry about which flowers to use. Anything and everything will be perfect because you chose it. The important ingredient in creating your bouquet is to have fun.

Now here's a little from my latest Regency Romance to enjoy along with your lovely bouquet.

Elisabeth is a lively young lady ripe for adventure. She’s lived the sheltered life of the privileged during the Regency era of the 1800’s and is on the cusp of entering society when she joins her older sister at a house party. On the enormous estate in the spreading mansion of a duke, she mistakes her host for the fat squire down the road. Thus begins an adventure which is against all her training. She knows her mother would not approve. Was that half the intrigue of meeting a stranger in private?

The handsome but incognito Richard Hawlester, Duke of Roderick, weary of toad-eating house guests, engages in a serious flirtation with young Elisabeth Barrows, who is primed for an exciting adventure. Mistaking the fat squire for the duke, she holds her secret relationship with a man known only as Richard, Nobel Rescuer, close to a tender heart while discovering love for the first time.

Elisabeth’s trust seems irrevocably lost when the duke’s actual identity is revealed. Realizing his mistake, Roderick begins an earnest, dangerous, and often hilarious campaign to convince her of his love. Elisabeth ponders whether true love can overcome the loss of trust between two people, even as danger presents in the guise of a vile, undesirable suitor, while a wicked assassin makes an attempt on the life of the duke. Trust broken can never be regained, or can it?

BUY LINKS
Amazon - Wild Rose Publishing


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.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Love from a Sicilian Kitchen

from Gina Briganti

If you're reading a fantasy romance about an Italian woman (Elena Zucchero in Deep in the Dreaming), written by a woman who is half Sicilian (Gina Briganti), then you deserve to taste delicious, authentic Sicilian food.

This sugo (gravy, sauce) is a modified version of the one I grew up smelling on Sunday mornings when my dad made baked pasta. The sauce was simmering for a good two hours before I woke up in my bedroom three rooms away from the kitchen. You know my dad was a genius in the kitchen because it took that level of cooking to get teenagers out of their rooms before noon on the weekends.

Waking up to this smell after visiting our neighborhood Italian grocery store the day before to buy fresh focaccia meant quickly making myself presentable and rushing to the kitchen to ladle sugo on a slice of bread and eating it over the stove.

It was a big pot of sauce.

Elena makes her sugo just like I do, and it's close to how my dad made his, and his mother made it before him, and her mother before her. It may go back further than that, but those are the stories I heard.

I hope you enjoy every minute it takes to make this dish because you and everyone in smelling distance of your home will be by later to say hello, bring a gift, return the blender they borrowed, etc.

One look at the directions and you'll know why we make it on Sunday.

Image by AURELIE LUYLIER from Pixabay
SAUCE
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 6 oz. cans organic tomato paste
45 oz. can organic tomato sauce
⅓ cup nutritional yeast or Pecorino Romano if you can eat dairy products
2 tbsp. Italian herb blend
2 tsp. red chili flakes
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large yellow onion
1 carrot, cut in half (to balance the acid from the tomatoes. This is in place of the sugar my family uses.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat (3 on my electric stove) until garlic is cooked. This is when your house starts to smell amazing. Add tomato paste to garlic and cook until the tomato starts to caramelize.

Add tomato sauce, nutritional yeast, herbs, mushrooms, water, chile flakes, whole onion, and carrots to the pot. Simmer, covered, for a minimum of two hours to infuse those flavors together. I leave the onion in until it starts to fall apart and the carrot in until it is cooked through. When we were growing up we would try to time it so we could get some of the cooked onion on our bread along with the sugo.

Stir occasionally.

The sugo is ready when the onion falls apart.

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay
ROASTED EGGPLANT
1 Eggplant
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

While your sugo is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash eggplant and slice into ½ inch slices. Brush each slice with evoo.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for fifteen minutes. Test to see if its cooked through by piercing with a fork. If the fork won't go through, turn the eggplant over and cook for another ten minutes.

Repeat the process until its fork tender. Eat a couple of slices when no one's looking. I call this the cook's fee. Guard the eggplant until it's time to assemble the pasta because some paisan (Italian friend) is going to try to steal some, too.

Cool eggplant. Cut each round into quarters.

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay 
PASTA
Cook pasta al dente (leave some bite in it) in boiling water for about seven minutes. It will cook more as the pasta bakes.

Pour pasta into a colander and then rinse with cold water to remove the starch.

BAKED PASTA
Mix pasta with finished sugo (which means you've removed the onion and the carrots and the sauce smells like heaven) and eggplant and then spoon into a casserole that you have a lid for.

Bake covered at 350° F for 45 minutes.

Mangia! (eat!)

Now for a little about Elena's fantasy romance.

Deep in the Dreaming - High Resolution[1316]

A parallel world. A trapped soul. To save her friends, they'll battle addiction, magic, and eternity…

Elena Zucchero has lived and lost in reality. Now she fills her heart through her work as a hypnotherapist by helping her patients improve their lives. But when a nightmare plagues her sleep, she learns her friends have gone missing in an addictive alternate plane. And the only way to save them may require feeding the demons of her handsome new client…

Draper Montgomery painfully resists the call of the Dreaming. But despite his dangerous cravings, he senses his enchanting therapist has a wound he can help heal. And to satisfy his heart's desire, he may just have to risk the very foundation of his mind…

As Elena and Draper discover a deeper soul connection, the therapist struggles to keep her distance in the hunt for her friends. If the people she loves even want to be saved…

Will the perilous hunt to rescue her friends lose them their lives and their souls?

Deep in the Dreaming is the fourth standalone book in the captivating Natural Gifts paranormal romance series. If you like mysterious worlds, conflicted characters, and love that conquers all, then you’ll adore Gina Briganti’s enthralling tale.

Buy Deep in the Dreaming to slip into another world today!

AMAZON BUY LINK

Watch the YouTube video here.


Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Visit her website and blog for book trailers, newsletter sign up, and whatever else she thinks up.

Stay connected on Facebook, Gina's Amazon Author Page, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Thank you for reading!
Gina

Monday, September 02, 2019

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Delicate and Delicious

from Carol Browne

Sponge cakes date all the way back to the Renaissance era and, some believe, the delicate treat originated in Spain. The cake was perfected over the centuries and was a favorite of Queen Victoria accompanied by a good cup of afternoon tea. This version is vegan as it omits eggs and trades butter for margarine. I'm confident the Queen would have enjoyed this version too.

SPONGE CAKE VEGAN STYLE
4oz./115g fat
3oz./85g coconut sugar
1 heaped tbsp. cane sugar
8oz./225g self-rising flour
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking powder)
5 oz./140ml warm water

CREAMED FILLING
2oz./55g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
vanilla essence (to your taste)
2oz./55g margarine
Raspberry or strawberry jam, optional

Preheat oven 400F° 200C/Gas 6.

Grease and flour 2 sandwich tins or small cake pans.

Melt fat and sugar in a small pan over low heat. Stir in flour.

Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in water and then stir into sugar blend. Carefully add more warm water if needed to make a soft mixture. Beat well.

Divide batter evenly between the 2 pans. Bake 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn out the sponges onto a wire rack to cool.

If you use jam, slather it on one or both cakes then top with creamed filling. If you prefer not to use jam, spread creamed filling on one of the sponges and then lay the second sponge on top.

Here's a peek at my epic fantasy to enjoy with your tasty creation.

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

EXCERPT
The night was waning when Elgiva woke, wondering where she was. The dark ceiling of Joskin’s cave hung above her, and everything had a reddish glow, cast by the embers of the fire. She slid from under the fur coverlet, her skin tightening at the loss of its warmth, and searched for her leather sandals.

Something had woken her, something that waited outside the cave. A runnel of dread ran down her spine.

She had an inexplicable sense of impending danger, but it was too insistent to ignore. An unnamed instinct stopped her from alerting her companions. She must face this menace alone.

She left the cave as quietly as she could. Her heart pounded in her throat as she peered between the rowan trees and searched the night. Whatever had awakened her, it beckoned. She held her breath and listened, but her ears detected nothing, save for a silence as dark and empty as an abandoned crypt.

It would soon be daybreak, but the sun had yet to rise, and the dark beyond the cave swarmed with potential horrors. She stepped out from among the rowans, relying on her acute senses to make out her surroundings. An unnatural calm gripped the night and as her sandals whispered against the cold grass, they sounded abnormally loud. She feared they would betray her presence.

After a while, she came to a stop and searched the trees. Thin strands of mist curled along the ground, cold and clammy, like an exhalation of sickness.

She hugged her shoulders, knotted her fingers in the cascade of her hair, and shivered in her ragged robe. All around her, the silence seemed to be drawing into focus.

“Who is it?” Her throat was too dry for her purpose. She swallowed and licked her lips. “Who’s there? I know you’re there. I can . . . I can feel you!”

Feel you.

A flash of silver sliced through the dark, and Elgiva gasped in fear. Her arms came up to shield her face as the beam struck a rock several yards ahead. It exploded with a whoosh and sent up thousands of splinters of light, which fell to the ground and sizzled in the mist.

A shape now stood upon the rock, its form concealed in a black, hooded cloak.

Elgiva clutched the amulet to her breast. Her hands were white with terror. “In the name of Faine, who are you? What sort of trick is this?”

A soft, sly voice spoke back to her. “Why should you fear magic?”

“What do you want?” she pleaded, her voice a croak of fear.

“To see for myself.”

“To see what?”

The dark shape sniggered, but made no answer. Instead, it swept its cloak aside, and a cloud of sparks flew out and covered the ground with beads of light.

Elgiva stepped back unsteadily, resolved to flee.

“Stay!” commanded the creature.

It raised a skeletal hand, and the forefinger swung towards Elgiva and pinned her against the darkness, holding her like a rivet of bone. No elf, no wilthkin, ever owned such a hand. Her legs threatened to buckle beneath her. This had to be a nightmare; she was still asleep in the cave. But no, it was all too real.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she cried. “I have . . . I have an amulet!”

The creature laughed derisively. “I am Death, and I have come for you.”

It began to radiate a sickly green light, enveloping itself in a caul of brilliance that pulsated with force. The light grew in size until the trees behind it were bathed in its angry glare. It reached for Elgiva, like a foul stench creeping along a breeze, and she was helpless. The creature’s power throbbed in the darkness.

Within the taut coils of her fear, her instincts screamed at her to run, but her limbs had turned to stone.

Siriol, Siriol, help me . . . help . . .

With a shriek of glee, the creature increased the throb of its power. Elgiva’s mind was suddenly invaded by an inexplicable force. She became divorced from herself and watched from a great distance, waiting for the horror to unfold.



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. Her non-fiction book is available at Dilliebooks.

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