Wednesday, October 30, 2019

APPLES, APPLES, APPLES

from Emma Lane

Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash
Such a gorgeous fruit. Fruit bowl on the dining room table lends a nice fragrance to the room; apple bobbing and caramel apples are for Halloween. Did you mom ever make fresh apple sauce? Nothing like the stuff they sell in the grocery store, is it? At my little Herbtique Shoppe here in Western NY, we sell Gourmet Chunky Rum Apple Sauce. The recipe is a state secret, but here are some hints to make the most of this delicious fruit.

Select both soft and firm apples, ie Courtland is soft, Greenings are firm. One will cook down first leaving the other 'chunky'. Stir frequently. Burned apples are not delicious and the soft ones cook rapidly.

To peel or not to peel: We leave the peel on at home. Commercially we don't. Both are good. Taste before you add sugar. Most times it isn’t necessary.

Blend flavors: Buy as many different kinds of apples as you can. Not only is this tasty, but it's way fun as well. As you peel, take a bite now and then to compare flavors.

Flavorings: You are probably familiar with cinnamon to taste. A very small dash of nutmeg and cloves is good too. Vanilla is a winner. One cap and then taste. Other flavorings are great too-here is a good place to experiment. Let your eye roam over the choices at the grocery store. My son swears root beer would be great; he could be right. Be careful with maple syrup; it gets too sweet fast.

Baked apples are wonderful when you use a touch of flavoring with your brown sugar—vanilla is one of my favorites but you might find others.

Regarding the RUM: If you are making apple sauce, add at the last minute with whatever flavoring you have chosen. It gives it a sort of butter taste. I am about to experiment with BRANDY. You might try it too.

A neighbor just hinted to me that apple added to salsa is good. Can't wait to try.

Canning apple sauce takes expert knowledge. Please do not try it if you haven't done quite a bit of reading. PH is a biggie. We use lemon juice and a ph meter.

Enjoy the apple harvest. There are so many ways and I didn't even mention: apple pie, apples and cheese, cocktail apples, home dried apples, apple pan dowdy, apple crumb cake, apple butter, etc, etc. Dried apples and apple pie are delicious any time.

After you've mulled over all the apple opportunities may I suggest a peek into 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.

Monday, October 28, 2019

INTRIGUING ART

by Catherine Castle

A few years ago we took a trip to Michigan. While we were there we visited the Music Museum just outside Traverse City. This museum has a fantastic display of mechanical musical instruments, but I’m not going to talk about them today. While the music was toe-tapping and made me smile, something even more interesting caught my eye.

On our way into the guided tour area we passed two mosaic-like pictures hanging on the wall. One was a picture of President Woodrow Wilson, the other a shield composed of stars and stripes. The guide directed our attention to them, pointing out that each picture was composed of hundreds of soldiers standing on marks to form the shapes.


I stepped close to the glass and peered at the photos. Sure enough, I could see the heads of the people. The guide pointed out hole in a line and another spot where a man leaned against his comrade, ready to faint away. The soldiers had to stand out in the hot sun for hours while the photographers lined everyone up just so to take an aerial photo. Sometimes a fellow or two didn’t make it to the end shot. The guide also pointed out another man who didn’t quite match the line he stood in, offering the suggestion that he was pulled in at the last minute to plug a hole caused by the collapse of someone else.

The photos were done by commercial photographer Arthur S. Mole and his partner John D. Thomas. Mole and Thomas went around the country to military camps creating people pictures. The largest “living photograph” was an American shield taken in 1918 at Camp Custer, Michigan. To form the shield 30,000 military personnel stood on ground markers that stretched out a quarter of a mile from the 70 to 80 foot tall tower where the camera was perched.

The photos fascinated me. Hundreds of people crammed together creating a picture that could only be viewed aerially. Although each individual was interesting in his or her own way—possessing unique personalities, different jobs, and distinct lives—an aerial picture of one single person wasn’t very exciting—just a dot on the beige background. But when all the men and women stood together, just so—in their proper spots—they created something unique and out of the ordinary.

So it is with words. A single word can be interesting—at least they are to me. As a teen I read the dictionary like others would read a novel. As an adult I’ve had a multitude of discussions with my husband about word definitions, discussions that always end in one, or both of us, thumbing through the dictionary to see who is right. But a single word is just … a single word. As interesting as any word might be, string several together and something even more attention-grabbing is created—a means of communication. Put pages upon pages of sentences together and you create a book—a fantastic vehicle that transports readers to other places, other times, and provides mental photos to review whenever they choose to do so.

I’ve never seen photographs like the ones I’ve posted here from the Music Museum, but I don’t think I’ll be forgetting them any time soon. Like a good book, that won’t fade from my memory, these photos are impressed on my mind.

How about a peek at my latest sweet romance while you contemplate words and pictures?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t want—”

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

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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, October 23, 2019

Souping Up the Brand

from HL Carpenter

Tomato, tomahto, what's in a name? In the case of fruit, a name may not matter much.

In the case of authors, a name can make quite a difference. Why? According to one successful author, the difference between writing generally and writing for a living is branding. 

Image by Gerd Altman from Pixabay
A brand, or name, author is one who provides prestige or reliable profits to a publishing house. For example, consider whether you ask for the latest novel by Nora Roberts or John Grisham by the title of the book or if you simply mention the author's name. Most likely, the author's name comes to mind first and you may not even remember the title of the book. That's the power of a brand author.

Now let's talk money. During 2010 and 2011, the successful brand author we mentioned in the second paragraph spent 10-15 weeks per year writing. For those two years, the Internal Revenue Service said she owed an additional $155,931 and $110,670, respectively, in self-employment taxes on her royalties. Yes, you read that correctly. She was required to pay more in self-employment taxes than many writers earn. And no, we didn't make those numbers up or peek at her tax returns. The figures come directly from a court case, where she was required to tell the truth. We're not mentioning her name, but you can look it up.

How did this author turn herself into a brand? According to the court transcript, when she decided to become a writer, she set out in a businesslike fashion to obtain stationery, a reputable agent, and a contract with a New York publishing house. She succeeded in working with a media coach and publishers to develop her name and likeness into a successful brand. In addition to writing, she spends time meeting with publishers, agents, media contacts, and others to protect and further her status as a brand author.

One final point: Branding doesn't mean the writing has to be good. According to an expert in the publishing industry who testified in the court case on behalf of the author, the actual writing of a manuscript is a small percentage of the value a publisher seeks from an author. An author's work may sell on the basis of the author's name and readers' expectations for a particular kind of story, rather than for the quality of the writing.

Tomato, tomahto? Name the fruit whatever you like. But make your author name a brand.

Simply Soupier Crockpot Tomato Soup

1 box (26.4 oz) finely chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream



Place tomatoes, sugar, garlic salt, garlic, and black pepper in crockpot. Stir to mix.

Cook on high setting for 2 hours, or low setting for 4 hours.

Stir in cream until smooth.

Let stand 5 minutes for hot soup or cool to serve at room temperature.

While you're slurping your soup (or is that just us?), we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our mystery, Murder by the Books.

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

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.
When the mystery of Fae's past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she's falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Nope. Not my style."

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

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

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

The description would have horrified him.

"How are the treatments going?"

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

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

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

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

Ha, ha.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Only because I can't tap dance."

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

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

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

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

I shook my head.

"Your ma would have been annoyed with you."

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

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

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

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

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

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

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


Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

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

Monday, 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.

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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.