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.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

MAKE BREAKFAST SPECIAL

from Lizzie T. Leaf

I like to create new dishes for breakfast. It’s my personal challenge to produce tasty and healthy meals outside the norm. This certainly fits the bill! Although I use honey smoked salmon, but any type salmon will still be delicious. This recipe serves 1 but is easily increased for more.

LIZZIE’S BREAKFAST SPECIAL
Image by Rupert B. from Pixabay
1 Roma tomato, sliced thin
1 ripe avocado
2 slices swirl bread, rye & pumpernickel
¼ red onion, sliced thin and separated
⅓ cup honey smoked salmon
Balsamic vinegar to taste

Drain tomato on a paper towel while you create breakfast magic.

Cut avocado in half, remove from shell and then dice. Spread on each slice of bread.

Lay onion pieces on top of avocado. Add tomatoes and then salmon. Sprinkle on vinegar.

Dig in!

Here is a little from my latest spicy romantic release for your reading pleasure.

Following the Powers directive to unite soul mates, a Scottish Cailleach's magic will have repercussions in several realms.

Mixed-blood author Ian McCabe, grandson of Fae and gods, tries to deny his powers while hiding his true origins from the human world. When he discovers mortal, Emma Grant unconscious at his front door, his world starts to change.

Tour director Emma Grant leads a group of senior ladies through Scotland. The breakdown of their bus on a rural Scottish backroad has her sloshing through the rain and mud on foot. Her efforts to seek help results in a fall that knocks her unconscious. She awakens to find the man of her dreams staring into her eyes.

Both feel an instant attraction, but will his secrets and her distrust of men keep them apart.

A few lines that tweak a grin.
Yep, at this rate, a long three weeks lay ahead. No one had told Emma that the dozen school teachers ranged in ages from sixty-nine to eighty-eight. Good grief, what happened to women at this age sitting on the front porch and enjoying their rocking chairs?

Mildred waved away the correction “Of course, dear. Whatever you say. I just want to know, will we see any men in kilts soon? I want to see what they wear under them.”

Dirty old woman. She asked that question at least half a dozen times before we got on the bus and stated the reason just as often.

Read the first chapter on Amazon.

To read excerpts from other books by Lizzie T. Leaf please click onto Amazon.


Lizzie T. Leaf has loved books since she opened her first one. Her dream was to write them herself. Lost in the hectic day to day world of family, job, laundry and housework, writing became a distant memory. When the twinkling ember did spark, it was usually doused by someone demanding their share of her time.

Lizzie's life went full circle. The desire to put the stories that continued to play in her head on paper emerged stronger than ever, and at a time when there was someone who encouraged. Now she lives her dream.

Learn more about Lizzie T. Leaf on her website and blog. Connect with Lizzie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, July 08, 2019

COMING SOON from TINA GRIFFITH

Ophelia’s Curse is a suspenseful and intriguing novel from start to finish. The story will give you goose bumps and have you sitting on the edge of your seat. In short, this story will tickle your senses on a level that you’ve not known before. The thin line between witchcraft and terror is remarkable and written as if Tina Griffith had the gift of pure magic. This is an hypnotic and provocative book. And just when you think you've got it all figured out, the twists and turns prove you wrong.

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, July 03, 2019

Beautiful Holiday Memories

by Emma Lane

Photo by Michael Elliott
I’m sitting on the stone wall in the middle of the village when the first group appear heralding the start of the parade. It’s an ancient convertible filled with local politicians; the major, councilmen, the Board of Education president--our elected governing bodies all waving and wearing wide smiles. We beam and wave back. It’s a federal holiday after all and most of the town is present.

Next comes a troop of boy scouts carrying flags. Their parents clap loudly and we all join in. Behind them little go carts spin around in circles, the drivers wearing funny hats. They are a local parade favorite.

We can hear the high school band in the distance. The kids are in shorts because it’s a very warm day. For some reason tears come to my eyes as they pass, playing their horns and banging on their drums. Wave after wave of local groups march past the crowd, each with an appointed member carrying the American flag on this our nation’s birthday.
from Emma Lane

Fire trucks honk their horns while the police come into view dressed in their best uniforms. That spiffy band, members wearing Scottish clothes, plays a heart wringing tune on bag pipes.

More scout troops, this time it’s the girls. An entire group of children riding bicycles all the way down to determined toddlers on tricycles get enthusiastic applause from the spectators. The colorful balloons tied to their handle bars bob in the warm breeze.

Wow, we all say as a troop of mounted police prance by. We know that’s the end of the parade. Who wants to march after the horses? We sigh. Another of our nation’s birthdays celebrated in style. We are Americans and we love parades, especially those that remind us of what it means to belong to this wonderful, democratic nation.

We are off to a picnic where my baked beans make a hit. A hot game of horseshoes is in progress. Sleepy ladies nod in the shade. Some of our family peal off to play baseball. Others play Frisbee, including the dog. Red, white and blue flags wave everywhere. The children are excited. They anticipate indulgent parents who allow late bedtimes. Firework displays will be enjoyed and perhaps a bonfire.

How do you celebrate our nation’s birthday? Do you have a favorite recipe for the picnic? Do you go boating and watch the fireworks over the water? Do you get tears of gratitude when our beloved veterans march by?

Have a beautiful and safe holiday,

Emma Lane
“I never saw a printed word I did not like.”

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 Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. 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.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT!

The Soul Mate Tree Box Set

on SALE for 99¢

July 1 – July 3



THE LEGEND OF THE SOUL MATE TREE:

I am old, I am ancient, my purpose is clear
To give those who are needy a treasure so dear.
They who come to my roots, touch my bark, stroke my leaves
Find the soul of their lives if they but believe.
When I call and you listen, your prize will be great
If your heart remains open and you don’t hesitate.
Do you yearn? Be you lonely? Is your time yet at hand?
Reach for me and I’ll give to you. I’m yours to command.
For your trust, for your faith, keep my secrets untold
And I’ll gift you forever, to have and to hold.



An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.
For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.



Blurbs for The Soul Mate Tree books:



Book One: Realm of the Dragon, by CiCi Cordelia, Blog post

For sheltered Lily Kiers, it’s all too real. Her escape from danger, straight into the arms of her destiny.

Thrust into a realm made of fantasy and unbridled passion, Lily faces violent resentment and jealousy from extremely powerful enemies. Amidst fierce creatures whose very existence defy all common sense, Lily pieces together a past she could never have imagined.

Claimed by Kord, Prince of Battle Draconian, their love will not be denied, even as malevolent forces plot to rip them apart.



Book Two: Can’t Stop the Music, by C.D. Hersh, Blog post

For college senior and hippie wannabe Rosemary—Rose for short—a teaching job is within her grasp, but she wants more. She wants love, the kind of love that has bound her parents for so many years. When she’s dumped by her current boyfriend because her morals can’t bring her to give in to free love, she finds herself at Woodstock in the middle of the biggest free-love, music festival of the Sixties. Alone, again. Until a magical tree grants her wish and she finds the man of her dreams—and loses him before she really knows who he is.

Dakota meets the girl of his dreams at Woodstock, but a jealous wannabe girlfriend drives them apart before he can discover Rose’s last name and where she comes from. After he sees a disappearing tree that promises him true love, a frantic search to find Rose comes up empty-handed.

Magic and music brings them together at Woodstock in 1969. Misunderstandings tear them apart. Will two flower children find one another again, or live with missed opportunities?



Book Three: Between Venus and Mars, by S.C. Mitchell, Blog post

Zana Starchild is on a mission to restore her tribe’s livestock and save herself from one more meal of kelp. Sure, it’s technically illegal to visit Old Earth, but to a rim rat like Zana, galactic laws are really just guidelines. Her wrecked starship just means she’ll need to use her backup plan to get off the abandoned world, an old Earth legend her uncle passed down to her.

Pulled from a relaxing shower, across the galaxy to Old Earth, Galactic Marshall Kyle Kepler finds himself naked and marooned with a quirky rim rat. Zana’s broken more laws than Kyle can count, and he plans to arrest her, just as soon as he can find transport off the planet and a pair of pants.

A junk heap of a starship, a magical tree, and a roving gang of mutant kangaroos are just the beginning of rollicking intergalactic journey filled with laughs, love, and adventure.



Book Four: The Trail to Love, by Tina Susedik, Blog post

Jack Billabard, mourning the loss of his wife and baby in childbirth, vows to never to love again. After their funeral at Fort Laramie, he rides into the Wyoming hills beyond the ranch he built for his wife. Through his grieving tears, an ancient tree appears, giving him the hope he doesn't believe is possible. For the next four years, he acts as a guide on the Oregon Trail, taking families to a new life while his looms lonely and stagnant.

The night before her abusive husband’s death, an ancient tree appears in Sarah Nickelson's yard as she agonizes over how to survive her marriage. The tree gives her hope she can’t help but reject. After all, a tree doesn't just appear out of nowhere. After her husband 's death, and with no options as a widow in Independence, Missouri, Sarah decides to travel to Oregon City as a Mail Order Bride.

During their trek west on the Oregon Trail, Jack and Sarah encounter one another, each afraid of being hurt again. Can they survive dogs and puppies, wind and rainstorms, Indians and unfavorable fellow passengers, while their love blossoms? Will the tree fulfill its promise?



Book Five: Make Me a Match, by Mackenzie Lucas, Blog post

Widower Mark Cage is rusty at relationships. He owns the micro-brewery that supplies the restaurant and bar at St. Augustine's premiere spa resort, Essence, with its award winning local craft beer. And he’s been focused on building his business and raising his teenage daughter ever since his wife died ten years ago. Nothing else.

When he runs into a sweet kindergarten teacher who is vacationing in St. Augustine and staying at Essence everything changes. A sudden, inexplicable encounter with a mystical tree known for its legend of bringing lovers together, convinces Mark the schoolteacher is his destined match. However, his encounters are disastrous.

His only hope of persuading the woman he wants to even consider a date with him is working with Essence’s on-site relationship guru, Athena Sullivan. A reknowned relationship coach, Athena is the opposite of everything Mark wants in a woman. She’s feisty, independent, and challenges him at every turn. Sparks fly between the two from their first meeting and flare into a blazing inferno as Athena helps him navigate the dating scene.

After a series of too-perfect, mis-queued dates, Mark realizes maybe the woman of his dreams is not a sweet schoolteacher after all. Maybe she’s a feisty, independent, sexy relationship coach who stands up to him and is everything he’s always wanted or needed in a woman.

If he opens himself up to true love, he might just find second chances at love are possible and that his perfect soul mate is closer than he thinks.



Book Six: A Promise Remembered, by Erin Riley, Blog post

Two souls entangled in an eternal echo of true love…

Rowan and James have been drawn together in every existence since the beginning of time. But love's sweet promise is cut short after an unthinkable tragedy strikes two young families, shattering the bond in this lifetime.

Is love stronger than death? Can Rowan and James find another way to each other? Against all odds, a forgotten promise is remembered and kept, reuniting two souls destined to be together.



Book Seven: Never Give Up On Love, by Maggie Mundy, Blog post

Sometimes you want to die, but it’s not meant to be. Vincent became a vampire in 1847. He fights to keep humans safe from rogue vampires, but can never find love. One thing makes him go on and not find a way to die. The Soul Mate Tree saved his life with its shade and showed him a woman in the future who would need his help and show him love. He could be more than the bloodsucker he had become.

In 2015, Adele is a vampire hunter by night and a photographer by day. She has never allowed love into her life as it would only complicate things. Then she meets Vincent, and the attraction is instant.

Vincent must try and convince Adele to love him while they both fight off rogue vampires?

How will she cope when she realizes the man she has fallen in love with, is what she has been trained to kill.



Book Eight: Once Upon a Lady, by Addie Jo Ryleigh, Blog post

Respectable Lady Katherine Baxton, striving to meet the requirements of her station, has become the ultimate dutiful daughter. And now, the Duke of Blackthorn’s betrothed. Far from a love match, Kate is nevertheless determined to do as expected and marry.

That all changes the night she panics at her impending future and runs, stumbling upon a private grove, a mysterious tree. . . and a half-naked man.

The youngest son of a viscount widely thought to have purchased his title, Jackson Cooper demonstrates his disdain for the aristocracy by affording himself every luxury available—drinking, wenching, and gambling—while eschewing anything representing the ton. Jackson has little care for his reputation and no desire to marry. His escape from London is all but complete.

Until fate—in the form of a beautiful, mysterious lady—interrupts his plans, enticing him with the very thing he never wanted.



Book Nine: Sweet Sacrifice, by L.D. Rose, Blog post

Former Navy SEAL Sebastian “Bash” Lockard died in Afghanistan after leaping on a grenade to save his comrades. Little did he know his act of heroism would grant him a ticket into Heaven’s elite army as one of the few and powerful Archangels. Struggling with his new existence, Bash still retains his human memories, leaving behind a wife he loves with all of his heart. Although he’s forbidden to see her, he can’t resist her lure, or the mortal desires he harbors for her.

As a young widow and nurse, Irene Lockard still mourns her husband two years after his untimely death. His absence is everywhere, and when her best friend weds, she hits an emotional rock bottom. As if summoned from the skies above, Sebastian appears before her, and they share an unforgettable night. But when he once again vanishes, she wonders if she’s truly gone mad with grief.

The only way Sebastian can remain with Irene is if he makes the ultimate sacrifice. But will she overcome her fear of losing him again to another war?



Book Ten: Soul Song, by Mikea Howard, Blog post

Dottie thought she had it all: a successful singing career, a handsome fiancé, and a starlet’s wardrobe. Sudden betrayal brought it all crashing down around her. Those she trusted most played her as nothing more than a pawn. One misstep while fleeing the scene trapped her in another world alone, save a mysterious visitor.

Guatimozin, an eagle shifter, has spent ages assisting people through the realm between life and death, leading them to join loved ones on either side. No one had ever made him want anything for himself until he discovered this city girl.

Forces plot against them and time is short. Soon, their chance for a happily ever after will be too late.



Book Eleven: The Storm Within, by Cerian Hebert, Blog post

Healed from her own loss, Juliana Hopkins wants nothing more than to mend reclusive artist Aidan Byrne’s heart, and help close a chapter in his life that has haunted him for over twenty years. Risking their newfound love, Juliana is determined to release the ghosts he can’t let go.

Aidan has been in love with Juliana since the first moment he saw her, but if she can’t leave the tragedies of his past alone, he won’t be able to make a life with her.

She offers him a love he never dared to want, but loving her could rip open all the old wounds he’d never been able to heal.



Book Twelve: Finding Faith, by April A. Luna, Blog post

Faith Kometo cleans out the church coffers of a quaint village, flees on foot from pitchfork-wielding townsfolk, and ends up entangled in the veil between parallel worlds by a primordial spirit with Hayden Cox, an elite scout with the Order of Hunters, hot on her trail.

It’s taken Hayden two years and three timelines to trap his gargouille prey—a member of the Kometo clan. Now that he has his target in hand, he’ll stop at nothing to unearth the truth behind the order, genocide, and love’s pull.