Wednesday, December 30, 2020

To Everyone All Around the World
from Studs, Sloane, and all the Taylors

Monday, December 28, 2020


from C.D. Hersh

Over the years we have learned a great deal about writing and what it takes to survive in this business. Today we would like to share those ABC's with you.

Affirmation¾As writers we get a lot of rejection.  It helps if we have some affirmation.  So, the next time you get a good comment from a critique partner, an editor, or even your child who says “You’re a good writer, Mommy,” tuck it away in a special file.  Then when you feel like chucking the computer out the window and giving up on writing, pull out those affirmations and tell yourself, “ I can do this.  I am a Writer!”

Brainstorming¾Brainstorm without putting checks on your imagination.  Don’t be afraid to think of the most outrageous ideas when you’re brainstorming.  “What if” may be the best tool a writer has to stimulate his imagination.

Creativity¾Never let anyone say you don’t have creativity.  The very fact that you want to write shows you have creativity.  Just keep thinking about your story, asking “What if”, and letting all your skills and thoughts take you into the world where your characters live.  Eventually, you’ll find, or create, what you need.

Discipline¾Every writer needs it; most of us do not have it.  The discipline to sit down in front of the computer every day, even when you don’t feel like it, will get you through the rough parts of your stories.

Edit¾ISSAC B. SINGER said, “The wastepaper basket is the writer’s best friend.”

Think of yourself as a writer first and an editor second.  Write, rewrite and rewrite some more.  Never, ever, send that first draft to an editor.

Fodder¾Everything you see and hear and everyone you meet is fodder for a writer.  Writers have great excuses for eavesdropping on the world.  Ideas, character sketches, names, plot twists¾you name it and you can find inspiration for it among your family, friends and the guy sitting next to you in McDonalds. Don’t let them know what you’re up to, however.  If they recognize themselves in your next story they may never speak again when you’re around.

Grammar¾Webster defines grammar as “a study of what is to be preferred and what is to be avoided in inflection and in syntax.”  When you present your manuscript make sure the grammar is correct.  Don’t depend solely on your computer grammar check; its suggestions are not always right.  Instead, invest in a good English or grammar handbook and use it.  The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual has a nice section on grammar and punctuation that I use all the time.  If you have trouble with grammar find a friend or an adult enrichment class that can help you brush up on your grammar.  You don’t have to be able to diagram a sentence, but you do have to be able to put it together correctly.  That goes for punctuation too.

 Hope¾Hope should spring eternal in the hearts of writers.  As long as you have something circulating among editors you should always have hope. Never give up, not even when you have enough rejection letters to wallpaper your office.

Ideas¾There are no bad ideas.  Even the worst idea can provide a springboard for something better.  Keep all your ideas in a file so you can pull them out whenever you have a dry spell.  You’ll be surprised what new, and better, ideas might spring from an idea you considered trashing.

Journaling¾Journaling is a great way to keep your writing flowing, especially on those days when you can’t, or don’t, get to the computer.  Write at night, in the morning, in the bathroom, or any place where you and your journal can go.  Put down your emotions, your thoughts, impressions, snatches of conversations, or visual images.  All these things can be story sparkers or sensory descriptions you might be able to use in some other writing.

Know How¾Like every profession, writing is a job that takes skill.  You can’t be an electrician or a plumber without learning the ropes¾the skills and the tricks of the trade.  That’s true in writing too.  To become a success as a writer you have to study your craft, learn the best way to write an article, a scene, a chapter, a book.  You have to know how to structure your plots and characters, and you have to become knowledgeable about the business.  Learn all you can about writing and the writing business so you can succeed.

Laughter¾Keep a sense of humor about yourself and your writing.  There will be plenty of times that you will get your feelings hurt as a writer¾someone won’t like your baby, a critique will rub you the wrong way, an editor might ask for umpteen revisions.  If you can face life, and writing, with humor you’ll be able to get through most anything¾and even have some good story material in the process.

Marketing¾If you want to sell, then know your market.  Don’t waste your time, and an editor’s time, by sending manuscripts that aren’t suitable for the publication.

Networking¾Do it!  Network with anyone in the writing business that you can.  Editors are besieged with unsolicited manuscripts.  Any time they can connect a face, organization, or conference to you, you are one step ahead of the game.  Take every opportunity to meet, talk with and mingle with editors.  Don’t forget networking with other writers too.  You can’t know all there is to know about the publishing world and what is going on.  Take advantage of any information other writers have to offer.  Getting published is not always about talent.  Sometimes it’s also about being in the right place, or submitting to the right place at the right time.

Organization¾If you can’t find the computer, your copious notes, or the paper and pencil under the clutter in your office, then you can’t write. The more organized you are the less time you’ll spend hunting and the more time you’ll have for writing.

Perspiration¾Don’t wait for the Muse.  Writing is one-percent inspiration and 99-percent perspiration.  If you wait for inspiration, you might as well be taking a nap while you’re sitting in front of you computer.

Query Letter¾Queries can be more intimidating and frustrating than writing the whole darn book.  I know plenty of writers who dread the “Query Letter.”  The query is an editor’s first glimpse of you and your story.  Consider it an important, but necessary, evil of your craft, and learn to conquer it.  The Writer’s Market has great examples of how to write a good query.

Reading¾“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Cicero 

A writer who doesn’t read will soon find himself out of touch with the very world for which he is writing.  Read, read, and read everything that you can.  Fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, cookbooks, cereal boxes, dictionaries, children’s literature, and certainly read in whatever genre in which you want to write.

Solitude¾The life of a writer is a solitary one. “Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of a writer.  He must be alone, uninterrupted and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” LAWRENCE CLARK POWELL  Learn when, and how, to shut the door and lock out the world.  Find the time and the place that works best for you.

Tenacity¾“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” RICHARD BACH

            Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected 64 times and was ready to toss it in the trash.  A friend convinced him to try just one more publisher¾the rest is history.  Seuss could have remained an amateur if he had given up.  Don’t give up.  You might miss your chance at a bestseller.

Universality¾Want to sell?  Then make sure your stories and articles have a universal appeal. There is nothing new under the sun, just a different way to tell it.  Stories with universal appeal never go out of style.

Virgin Reader¾Every writer needs one of these.  We get so close to our “babies” that we can’t see their flaws.  But, believe me, an editor will.  So, find someone you trust to give you fair, constructive criticism¾someone with a fresh set of eyes to look at your writing¾and let them be a Virgin.

Write¾“Planning to write is not writing.  Outlining a book is not writing.  Researching is not writing.  Talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing.  Writing is writing.” E. L.  DOCTROW 

‘Nuff said.

Xercise¾(Yes, I know it’s not spelled that way) Writing takes a lot of mental power but doesn’t exercise the other body muscle groups (except the fingers).  So, to keep yourself healthy¾and maybe even sneak in some writer avoidance time¾take time to exercise.  You’ll come back to the keyboard refreshed and awake. A bonus¾getting the endorphins revved can even kick your brain into gear and help you solve whatever writing problem you’ve been facing.

Ying and Yang—A writer needs balance, in his life and on the page. Too much time alone with the book isn’t a good thing. Neither are pages of narrative or back story with no dialogue or action. Find that happy medium in your life and your literary pursuits.

Zeal¾“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

If a writer’s “dog’s life” isn’t what you want, then you had just as well close your notebook, break your pencil in half, and find something else to do with your life.  Zeal, passion and a love of your work will keep your writing fresh and alive.  If you don’t like what you are doing you probably will not succeed at it.

Please allow us to introduce you to our paranormal suspense series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)

Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)

Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)

The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.
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.

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.

They are looking 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.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Wishing You and Yours
a very Merry Christmas

Along with
Pleasant memories of holidays past!

From the entire Taylor family

Monday, December 21, 2020


by Dianna Gunn

I didn't have access to a lot of things growing up. Living in suburbia with two parents who didn't drive made it impossible to access, well, everything. We had to spend half an hour in transit or an hour walking to reach the nearest grocery store. Free or affordable programs for youths of all kinds were at least as far. I never even learned how to swim. The lessons we could afford were simply too far away.

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash
There is, however, one thing I always had: books. I had bookshelves of my own lined with books for kids. My parents had a pair of bookshelves that stretched all the way up to our (admittedly low) ceiling. There were hundreds of stories to choose from, most of them science fiction or fantasy stories I could use to escape my dreary reality.

My world descended into chaos when my parents split and my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and those books became my lifeline. Sometimes I read lighthearted, comedic stories with guaranteed happy endings for pure escapism. Other times I read the darkest, most gruesome books I could find so I could look at my life and say "at least I'm not the characters in this book".

Both types of stories served their purpose: they kept me alive. And I was lucky. I accessed most of those books for free from my own relatives' libraries. When I got bored of the books my family had to offer, I went to the school library or sometimes directly to a favorite teacher for a personalized recommendation. I was able to immerse myself in hundreds of worlds without spending a dime.

Many kids weren't so lucky. Their parents didn't have books in the home, their school libraries were inadequate or even nonexistent, or their nearest public library was an hour or more away. They struggled for every book they read, until they either found a way to buy their own books or gave up on reading altogether.

The problem isn't limited to kids either. I know many adults, especially other adults in their 20's, who have tiny or nonexistent book buying budgets. And all across the western world, our public libraries are under threat. Library funding in my home province was cut by 50% this year alone. The loss of libraries combined with stagnant wages and the ever-rising cost of living are making books inaccessible to millions of people.

As an author, I need to make money, but as a person who grew up in poverty—a person who, let's face it, still lives in poverty—I never want money to be the reason why someone doesn't read my book. Everyone deserves access to books, and not to sound egomaniacal, but everyone deserves access to my books.

So I've come to a compromise: my novel, Moonshadow's Guardian, is sold for $4.99 on most major ebook retailers, but it's also now available on Gumroad with Pay What You Can Pricing. That means you can pay five dollars, one dollar, or no dollars at all to read Moonshadow's Guardian. Because in my world, books are for everyone, regardless of how much money you have.

Here's a brief intro for you.

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.

Along with Gumroad, Moonshadow's Guardian is available at

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 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, December 16, 2020


The internet is flooded with recipes for spinach dip with each one claiming to be the best. I’ve tried many of those recipes and found them all to be about the same which was just okay at best. Then my niece Lauren came for dinner with her family and brought her version for our appetizer. It was delicious! Studs and I both give Lauren’s recipe 5 spoons, our highest rating for recipes. I’m confident you’ll love it too. 

Lauren’s Spinach Dip
1 cup mayonnaise, no imitations 
16 oz. sour cream 
1 – 1.8 oz. pkg. dry vegetable soup mix 
4 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped 
5 oz. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained 
1 round loaf sourdough bread 

Gently combine all ingredients, except bread, together in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set in fridge anywhere from 5 hours to overnight. 

When you are ready to serve, slice the top off the bread and pull out a fair amount of the interior dough. Tear those pieces into chunks for dipping into the mayo mix. 

This dip is also terrific spread on crackers, celery sticks, and other crunchy veggies. 

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


Monday, December 14, 2020

Do You Hear What I Hear?

from Catherine Castle 

The other morning while having breakfast my husband said, “Listen. Do you hear that?” 

"What?” I asked. 

“That whoosha whoosha sound.” 

I listened intently. “Nope. All I hear is the ticka ticka ticka of the refrigerator in its thaw cycle.” 

“No,” he replied. “It’s definitely a whoosha whoosha.” 

I cocked my head toward the fridge. “No it’s ticka ticka.” 

“Wait,” he said. “It’s changed. It’s now zzz zzz zzz, like the vibrating sound my toy football players used to make on their metal field. 

“That’s more of a rooma rooma rooma noise.” I replied. 

“No. It’s zzz zzz zzz,” he insisted. 

Breakfast was on hold and the cereal got soggy in our bowls as we argued back and forth while the sounds of the thawing cycle of the fridge changed every few minutes. Neither of us heard what the other heard. Finally, the debate ended with a ka-thunk at the end of the defrost cycle. Silence filled the kitchen. 

“I don’t hear anything now.” I spooned up a serving of mushy bran cereal, anxious to get back to my breakfast before it dissolved any more. 

Tick tock tick tock,” hubby said as the Mickey Mouse clock second hand rounded the clock face. 

“I hear that,” I said. It was the only sound we agreed on, and it’s one that is universally known to represent a clock. 

Now, I know men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and we are different in sooooo many ways. But I always thought hearing was hearing. After all, our ears, male or female, are built the same way. We have the same little ear canals connected to the same parts of the brain. I knew, even when I couldn’t hear the sounds, what the writers meant when Batman and Robin fought the bad guys and cartoon balloons appeared on the television screen screaming BAM! POW! SOCKO! 

 But that morning in the kitchen I had a revelation: I wasn’t to blame when I couldn’t get a mechanic to understand me! All those years I failed to fully communicate with male mechanics wasn’t because I lacked something. 

When my husband describes a funny sound in our car, the mechanics all nod their heads knowingly. But when I describe the odd sounds, the male mechanics look at me like I have two heads. I always wondered why I could never get my point across to them, no matter how many times I repeated the explanation of the sounds. 

Now, I know why. Apparently, men lack the finite hearing of a woman. They don’t hear things right. A rattle rattle, clatter clatter, boom boom boom probably sounds like chicka chicka, sissa sissa, thunk thunk thunk to them. And anyone with a pair of ears can hear that there’s a world of difference between the two sounds. 

Hummm. Maybe I need a female mechanic. She’ll get it. Unlike a guy. 

What about you? Does your man hear the same things you do? And I don’t mean when someone speaks to you. That’s a whole ’nother blog post. 

May your Holidays be happy and bright! 


Take your mind off the sound discrepancies between men and women with a copy of Catherine’s award-winning romantic comedy that has a touch of drama. You’ll laugh as Mama searchs for a husband for her daughter. 

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.

Amazon Buy Link

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 09, 2020


After we entertain Christmas Eve, we tear through the house cleaning up before the kids and grands come for brunch Christmas Day. This meal is wonderful because so much can be prepared well in advance and stored in the fridge until it’s time to cook. 

Breakfast Soufflé 
Hash Browns 
Fresh Fruit Salad 
Mini Croissants 
Christmas Cookies & Leftover Desserts 

Breakfast Soufflé
1 lb. (½kg) ham, bacon, or breakfast sausage 
9 eggs, lightly beaten 
3 cups (750ml) milk 
1 tsp. (5ml) dry mustard 
Diced green, red, and/or yellow pepper to taste 
½ lb. (57g) sharp cheddar cheese, grated 
½ lb. (57g) Swiss or Gruyere cheese, or a combination of the two, grated 
Diced onion to taste 
Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
4 – 1 in. (2.54cm) slices Vienna or French bread, cubed 

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). 

Dice ham or bacon. If you use ham, set aside in the bowl you use for the eggs. Fry bacon to the crispness you prefer. Drain on paper towels. If you use breakfast sausage, fry meat until no longer pink. Be sure to break up any clumps. Drain meat in a colander while you continue to prepare the soufflé.

Add all ingredients, except bread, to eggs. Stir well. Gently stir in bread. 

Pour mixture into an ungreased 9 x 13-inch (33 x 22cm) glass baking dish. Bake 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center has no egg clinging to it. 

This dish can be assembled one or two days ahead of time. On serving day allow the soufflé to sit on your counter 1 – 2 hours before you bake it. 

Leftovers are excellent from the microwave. 

Hash Browns 
If you need to increase the hash browns recipe for a larger group of people, it’s best to sparingly add more garlic powder. As is this recipe serves 6. Leftovers reheat beautifully. 

3 russet potatoes (about 1½ pounds), peeled 
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) garlic powder, not salt 
Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil 

Shred potatoes on the large holes of a box grater or use the coarse grater disk on a food processor. Transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to soak for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and then rinse under cold water. You do this to remove the starch that makes hash browns gummy. 

Transfer shreds to a kitchen towel. Gather together ends of towel and twist over sink, squeezing firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible. This step creates crisp hash browns. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl and toss with garlic powder and pepper. Be sure to evenly distribute the seasonings. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, press down to form a thin layer and cook for a minute or two. Stir and then press down again. Cook until a dark golden crust forms, about 5 minutes. 

Turn potatoes in sections. This is easier than trying to turn the food as a whole. Continue to fry until hash browns are crisp and browned all over, 5 minutes or so. Transfer to paper towels to absorb excess oil. 

Fresh Fruit Salad 
1 banana, peeled 
1 pear, cored 
1 tbsp. (15ml) lemon juice 
¼ pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced 
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced 
10 seedless red grapes, halved 
10 blueberries 
10 raspberries, optional 

Slice banana into bitesize pieces. Scoop into a medium-sized bowl. Dice pear and add to bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice over fruit to stop it from turning brown and mix well. 

Gently fold in remaining fruit. 

Spoon into a glass bowl, cover with cling wrap, and chill until time to serve. Leftovers are still good the next day.

1 bottle sparking white wine or champagne, cold 
1 carton orange juice, cold 
Tall slender glasses 

Fill glasses half full with wine. Tip the glass slightly as you pour to retain the fizz. Top off with orange juice. Don’t stir. That will destroy the bubbles. 

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


Monday, December 07, 2020


from Emma Lane

I love to create festive bouquets for any season, but my personal favorite is Christmas. The holiday colors are vibrant and a joy to bring together in stunning arrangements. So let’s talk a little about how you can create masterpieces for your home and as hostess gifts. The work isn’t hard. It simply takes a little patience. 

It looks easy, but the greenery for bouquets is more complicated than you might think. I'm fortunate because there is a veritable forest in my front and back yards. I deliberately refrain from trimming the evergreen shrubs out front until the holidays. That gives me a very fresh start to my bouquet which is difficult to match with store bought greenery. If you have any type shrub in your yard it will work. If not then you are forced to purchase them. I strongly recommend you visit your local nursery for the foliage you want. 

There’s a combination of old-fashioned yew shrub because it holds the needles for a good while. I add cuttings from a blue spruce just because I love the tinted color. Then my secret choice for Christmas is clippings from a juniper shrub for its heady, wintry seasonal fragrance. I once made a bouquet using only juniper but quickly learned why that wasn’t a good idea. They dry out rapidly and lose the rich green color most desired. So, tuck them in to smell good but toward the back. There are plenty of other types of evergreen shrubs for possible Christmas decorations. By all means, bring them inside and test their worthiness.

Next are the luscious red berries. They grow on a native shrub named winterberry (ilex, a member of the holly berry family) in slightly swampy terrain. No, don’t go wild crafting unless you wear high waterproof boots! Fortunately, our brilliant horticulturists have propagated this shrub for home gardeners. Consider planting them in your yard. You must have a male and female to get berries and it takes patience. They are not fast growers, but well worth the effort. Plant toward the back of the garden. The bush itself is not all that attractive until the Fall berries appear. Then you begin a vigil to pick them before the flocks of robins descend during migration. Cedar Waxwings love them too, but they are so beautiful I give in just for the pleasure of watching. Winterberries are frequently found for sale at late Farmers’ Markets and in craft and florist shops. They will dry out but seldom fall off unless bumped or roughly handled. 

You all know about poinsettia, the official Christmas potted flower. It’s the brackets that have the color. The flower itself is the small yellow center bloom.  I personally find them boring, but one day an idea came to me. I cut them as if for a cut flower bouquet. Here are a few photos to better explain.

Once I bought a pink one and lightly sprayed it a tinted blue, as a blue bouquet was what the customer needed, pairing it with sprayed-gold milk weed pods. 

The last one is a pale pink mixed with dried dock and milk weed pods, the red berries tucked in here and there with a brass colored vase. I’m particularly fond of this one. Christmas bouquets need not always be red to be lovely. 

I wish you all a beautiful healthy and happy holiday season!


Enjoy the holiday season with one or both of Emma Lane’s sweet Regency Romances collections. Here is a brief intro for you.


Families can be troublesome, but a next door neighbor can sometimes be even worse. Caroline is a strong-willed young lady and refuses to be bullied by a handsome duke. Four sweet Regency romances to get you in the mood for the season.

 Amazon Link

Winter storms swirling snow and unexpected guests on the eve of Christmas, the pungent fragrance of fresh pine boughs, springs of mistletoe hung with red ribbons, and a stolen kiss underneath the kissing ball comprise scenes of Christmas in the country. Ice skating anyone? Have a cup of wassail and toast your toes in front of a warm fire while you enjoy four short stories of sweet Regency Christmas romances. 

Amazon Link


Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane. 

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 02, 2020


from Tina Ruiz 

Nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. If I have leftover Italian or French bread it becomes the base for a dinner. And what a dinner it is – easy – quick – delicious. Can’t beat that if you’re on a busy schedule or tight budget. 


½ loaf Italian or French bread

1½ cups spaghetti sauce, possibly more

½ lb. Genoa salami or pepperoni, sliced thin

3 or 4 slices fresh tomatoes

1½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Split the bread in half lengthwise.  Smear spaghetti sauce on the white part of the bread. Lay meat slices on top. Scatter on mozzarella and then Parmesan.

Place the bread on a cookie sheet then pop them into the oven until the cheese melts, and VIOLA, dinner is ready! 

A nice treat after the pizza bread is a dish of vanilla ice cream topped with Kahlua or your favorite coffee liqueur.  No whip topping, just the ice cream and liqueur.  It is sooooo good and really hits the spot.

Here’s a brief intro to my children’s Christmas book your little ones will enjoy.

Blitzen was born at the North Pole, but he is unable to fly. Because of that, he is taunted and called names by the other reindeers. Rudy saw what was happening, and he decided to teach Blitzen how to gain some confidence. And with a little magic powder from Santa, Blitzen is not only able to fly, but he becomes part of Santa's famous team.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Entire Taylor Family

Wishes You and Yours

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2020

A Child’s Narrative

from Elliott Baker 

I do not have an advanced degree in psychology. I am the proud owner of a BA in history which was chosen as the least onerous way I could spend four years. I figured it would involve mostly reading and I liked to read, even then. So, if you need an expert to entertain someone’s thoughts, you may need to stop here. 

Like you, I can look out and see a pretty messed up situation. And like you, I think about it. Since I am a writer, I naturally see things as stories, narratives. It occurred to me that we are acting in a child’s narrative. Sally and I have three children and five grandchildren and I have loved and watched each closely. ADD runs in our family, so I have had more occasion to think about their paths. In my view, children are not immoral, they are amoral. That their actions might hurt someone else, or even themselves in the long run does not occur to them. They mostly don’t say to themselves, “that’s bad, but I’m going to do it anyway.” They say, “I want this. Now.” 

Image by akos147 from Pixabay
 We are living in a child’s narrative. This narrative’s   defining characteristic is ‘Me and not me.’ With rare   interruptions, the child sees the world in shades of   black and white where the adult has run into blue   and red and knows the world to be more complex   than that. The fact that we add a year’s chronological   age every year doesn’t guarantee that our maturity or   awareness grows at the same pace. Many of us get to   the end of this particular narrative without gaining   much in the way of awareness. If I believed that 80   years is all we have to accumulate greater awareness,   I’d be angry, frustrated, and fearful, but since I choose to trust that we have every moment we need to evolve, I don’t entertain fear as often as I might. That is, right up to the point when I buy into the hypnotic, seductive, child’s narrative with all its resentments and anger and sadness. The child within me grabs hold of its ‘Me and not me’ perspective as it leaches all of the colors from the world leaving only black or white. And I am left feeling frustrated and frightened for myself and those I love. 

What can I do? Observe first without judgement. Not so easy, but it can be done. Survey the problem and parts of it fall away, but not all. There are action steps to change. 

I don’t have to act in this particular play that my ego (child within) is thrilled to produce. Each moment is about choices and the more balanced the mind, the better the choices. Fear is not balance. The child’s narrative (ego) is in business to disconnect you from everyone and everything in order to maintain the illusion of control. Control is the aim of the ego, pure and simple. If the child can control everything, including the adults around him or her, he will be safe. Not true, of course, but that is the child’s underlying motivation. Add in the desire for immediate gratification, and you have the child’s narrative. It’s a story, like any other, but now that I see it, it isn’t the story I want to play in. 

So, what can I do? Aren’t I chained to this reality, to this narrative? Not so much. Oh, there are chains all right, but take a good look at them. Do it now. Look at the chains of thought that bind you to anything. Who made those chains? I did, for me. So, can I just make ‘em disappear? Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice. Thing is it took some time to lay down our part in the narrative and it will take some time to dematerialize those chains. Not as much time as our ego wants us to believe, but some. How do I do it? 

Not by fighting a war. Every strike at an opponent, while it feels so good in the moment, only solidifies the narrative. Remember, we want to change narratives. At least I do. I’m tired of feeling sad about the chances for my beloved grandchildren to find a satisfying life. 

The child’s narrative is a habit we have accepted. Is it possible to change destructive habits? You bet. There are plenty of folks who have beaten horrible addictions. Like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, they aren’t any stronger than you or I, they just decide and do not turn back. 

How do I change this habit, this narrative? 

When I was in my twenties, I worked as a life guard in a resort in upper state New York. There was one guy there who was so cool. He got all the girls, and was just, for lack of a better description, cool. I aspired to be cool so I watched what he said and did that was so attractive to the opposite sex. He spoke in a very, to me, cool way by adding the word ‘like’ before his sentences. “Like, why don’t we go grab a drink.” Every sentence was preceded by the word ‘like.’ Aha, that’s his secret. As I said, he was cool. So, I added the word into my vocabulary and used it profusely. 

My mom had occasion to visit and we went to a Broadway show. Actually, I remember the show, George M with Joel Gray. Great show about George M Cohan. I digress. Afterward we went out to eat. I was talking about something, and she said, “Like what?” I repeated whatever I thought she hadn’t caught or understood. (My mom’s a real smart person and her hearing is fine, so I should have caught on earlier, but it took me a few times.) So, I repeated what I had said, and she again said, “Like what?” I said it again and she echoed “Like what?” Ah. Finally got to me. By that time, I had gotten over how cool this guy was, but my speech hadn’t reflected that awareness. 

“I say it a lot, huh?” She just smiled. “Sounds pretty stupid, huh?” Again, she just smiled. (Did I say how smart she is?) Well, I’ll just stop saying the word like. Not so easy. Habit. She helped me. Every time I said “Like,” she’d say, “Like what?” Took me all that night and the next day. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have someone saying “Like what?” every time we replay a habit, so they aren’t as easy to change and often take more than a day and a half. Some years later, when I found the less than useful vocal addition, “You know,” had crept into my speech, I decided to delete it. Once again, not so easy. So, I had a choice between listen to the ego, “It’s too hard, you can’t do this. You don’t have anyone to help you.” Or create my own “Like what?” to pry that habit out of there. “I did this once before; I can do it again.” Hah.., (Damn, a semicolon. How pretentious can you get? It was an accident. Windows did it.) 

The first few times I actually heard myself saying “You know,” (And there were plenty I didn’t hear.) I was pretty frustrated. I then realized that I wasn’t even hearing it most of the time. So, I began listening for its unwelcome appearance. I decided the first thing was not to get angry at myself as that didn’t seem to speed things up. Just observe. At first, I would hear myself say “You know,” maybe five or six times a day, and each time I would be determined to catch it before I said it and not say it. I managed to ditch the anger and frustration, and I told my ego to go sit on the bench. I was doing this. But it was like that illusive cricket that managed to get into your bedroom. Every time you think about it or move toward it, it quiets down and you can’t find it. Then it starts up and you can’t sleep. 

Finally, as I was about to say something to someone, my brain paused for me to act. I chose not to say, “You know.” Victory. I did it. Not so much. Two sentences later, there it was. Crap. Still, what I could do once I could repeat. Took me some time, but I stopped saying, “You know.” 

A visual would be if you ran a pencil along a school desk until you’d made a nice trough. Not that you would ever do that. Once the trough (habit) is dug, the pencil goes along easily. Well, yes, but a straight line is boring and I’m, uh, someone, is much more creative than that so let’s make a Y. At first it’s hard to get the pencil out of the rut (habit) I’ve, we’ve dug, but once it jumps the moat, the leg of the Y is created and then with a little application, it’s easier to push the pencil along the new trough (habit) than the old. Will and persistence. And ditch the anger. You might not be able to get to forgiveness, which is way more powerful, but we can just set the anger aside. Remove our attention from it. Not every time at first, but once we get the hang of it, it can be done. 

Why should we devote our attention and energy to creating a new narrative, a more adult narrative? The simple answer is it hurts less. And if enough of us refuse to live in the child’s narrative, the script will change. And we and our grandchildren will be in a richer story with greater possibilities to create a more satisfying and happy life.

Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott's Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.