Monday, August 31, 2020

Living with Third Man Syndrome

Why I Wrote psychological Fiction
by Carol Browne

When I was recently asked to write a post about why my latest book is psychological fiction, I hesitated. After a lifetime of keeping quiet about my mental health issues, I was reluctant to shine a light on anything that might expose them to public scrutiny. They say you should write what you know, but that can often be disturbing. However, public opinion on such matters has shifted significantly in recent years and the stigma caused by any kind of psychological divergence from what is considered normal, is quickly fading as more people are open about their quirks and aberrations. And once you start researching this subject you find you are not as strange as you thought you were!

Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash
I have been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt when it comes to coping with OCD, depression, social phobia, and panic attacks, but years of living on my own brought on another phenomenon that was to inspire my latest novella Reality Check. The phenomenon is called Third Man Syndrome and it meant nothing to me until I was researching the book. In effect, it is when social isolation or trauma makes people imagine there is someone with them when there isn’t. At first, I didn’t know this had a name. I assumed it was like having an imaginary friend and that’s how I approached the book. I got so intrigued by this subject I thought, “What if a lonely person imagined LOADS of people who weren't there? What if they lived in a house full of imaginary people and interacted with them?”

The imaginary friend phenomenon was the starting point but the book ended up being an investigation into the nature of reality itself as the main character tries to work out what is going on. Is this a symptom of madness? Are these people real or not? And what do we mean by ‘real’? Reality itself has so many layers it might turn out to be impossible to define it with any certainty.

And when you think about it, this is what we writers do. We create loads of imaginary people and build worlds for them to live in. They are real to us and we hope our readers feel the same way. And if it’s a symptom of anything it’s the fact that we humans are doomed to live mostly in our heads. We are both blessed and cursed with boundless reserves of imagination and creativity.

Yes, I do have an imaginary friend. I try not to talk to her but I can’t help myself. She’s only real in so far as she exists in my head. But if you live alone, eventually you must have someone to bounce ideas off. You have to be able to tell someone about your day. You must get advice from somewhere. How many other people experience this, I wonder? I have often seen lone shoppers in the supermarket talking to themselves about what to buy for their dinner. Perhaps they aren’t really talking to themselves but to someone only they can ‘see’. I expect they live alone like me and they can’t help it. So far I have resisted the temptation to talk to my imaginary friend in public, but it’s only a matter of time!

Here's a brief intro to my psychological fiction book. I hope you like it.

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?

EXCERPT
“Everything is energy,” I said, and swallowed down a lump in my throat. A lump composed of both unease and excitement in equal measure.

“Indeed. Just energy vibrating at different frequencies,” he said. “So while you think about that, here’s another interesting phenomenon that has been recorded many times, and it seems to me it has something in common with imaginary friends. Have you heard of the third man syndrome, Gill?”

I had to admit this meant nothing to me.

“Here’s an example of it,” he went on. “A mountaineer called Frank Smyth attempted to climb Mount Everest but had to turn back before he reached the summit. He reported that although he was completely alone during his descent, the feeling that someone was with him was so powerful he tried to share his Kendal mint cake with this person.

“The phenomenon is said to originate with Shackleton in 1916. While he was exploring Antarctica, Shackleton saw the apparition of a person alongside his two companions. There are countless reports of this from people who have survived terrorist attacks or extreme trauma. Some sort of threat to existence or even severe social isolation” — at this point the Professor gave me a knowing look — “can trigger this phenomenon. Some people might try to explain it with terms such as guardian angel or spirit guide, but could it be a hallucination or defence mechanism that switches on to help the brain deal with trauma and stress? It frequently happens that these apparitions offer comfort and support, and yet what of those cases where the third man not only gives advice but even leads people to safety when they find themselves in a life-threatening situation? That goes beyond mere imagination surely?” He raised his eyebrows, as if inviting a response, but his information had overwhelmed me. “I see I’ve given you something to think about. My advice is you go and do some research on this yourself.”

For a moment my mind slipped, stumbled, staggered about looking for something to grab on to. What was going on here? I looked at the Professor and he stared back, innocent as a kitten, waiting for me to speak. If I didn’t speak, would our exchange stop now? I was really talking to myself, for God’s sake. He can’t have done any research. He didn’t exist. I must have done it and either forgotten I had, or pretended to forget so it would all seem like new information.

Was I so needy I had to resort to these ludicrous mind games?

“You’re not real,” I said.

I stood and marched out of the room, my jaw clenched so hard it ached, my hands balled into fists. If there was no gin in the fridge, there’d be hell to pay, but, thank God, there was nearly a full bottle. Two stiff drinks were all I’d need for now, just to take the edge off.

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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, August 26, 2020

NEW RELEASE for LEIGH GOFF

This is the book you've been waiting for! Leigh Goff has written another fabulous story that grabs you and doesn't let go. Koush Hollow is a definite read for all ages. Be sure to grab your copy today.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.


After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT
This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.



Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday, August 24, 2020

LAW of SMALL THINGS

by Elliott Baker

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
I was sitting next to my four-year-old grandson and he began his sentence with, “When I was a little kid…” We all see ourselves as more enlightened than we probably are. Just the nature of our egos.

One of the prime reactions of the younger part of ourselves is to direct responsibility elsewhere. We all do it. “Wasn’t me.” He did it, she did it.” If we are energy beings, collections of energy, and quantum theory as well as current scientific consensus says we are, then additional energy feels good, and less energy feels bad. We approach the one and avoid the other. Accepting responsibility costs us energy in the short term, but often saves us more in the long term. Here’s where delayed gratification comes in. We develop delayed gratification as we mature. Would I rather go to a movie, energy resource, than go to work, boring energy suck? You bet. But through a certain amount of learning pain, I choose the latter in order to pay for two movies at a later date. It works.

Exhausting fear through anger while displacing responsibility feels good in the moment, but does nothing to affect the cause of the fear, leaving it to grow larger while it continuously drains our energy.

Our most common response is, “What can I, one person, do against a worldwide problem?” The obvious answer is nothing and so I vent that fear through anger, all the while telling myself that I am helping the cause. I’ve done something because I shared my resentment with someone else and allowed them to share theirs in return. We both feel better getting that momentary relief from the emotional pressure of fear. Problem is, I wonder if that response does anything other than add energy to the problem without actually assisting in its solution.

Image by ipicgr from Pixabay 
Well, what can I do against the momentum of eight billion people? In physics there is something known as ‘weak force.’ I have to assume that it’s named that because each individual reaction is, well, weak. But in aggregate, it performs crucial work allowing for some spectacular results. Among others, it initiates the nuclear fusion that fuels our sun. Fairly significant. The law of small things.

What if, instead of venting our fear energy, we channel it into a positive exchange? Support another life stream in any way you can, whenever it occurs to you to do so. The size of the energy you expend is unimportant. That you sent the energy out in support of another, no matter how small or unmeasurable it might seem is everything. The law of small things will take it from there. Choose intent over outcome. Our control over the outcome of things is suspect anyway.

Venting resentment does little but congeal into violence which in turn does nothing but create more resentment which…

Why not try something different for a change. Compliment a friend or loved one. Add positive energy to the miasma of fear that currently envelops us all. Power is unimportant. Frequency is unimportant. Intent is everything. The law of small things.

Here is a little from my first novel in The Sun God's Heir series. I hope you enjoy it.

René Gilbert awoke shackled to the wall of a four-foot-high ship’s slave hold.

The filthy bilge water splashed over his head and then receded. Under sail.

The North Atlantic, 1672. To survive René must escape a slave ship in the midst of the ocean.

Focus on the first thing, his fencing master’s voice rose from within his memory.

“Don’t drown,” he thought. His second thought was the memory of a wooden rod speeding toward him for his sarcasm.

Rapier sharp, pulse pounding action across the warp and weave of the seventeenth century. Sailing ships, pirates, and past lives contend in this first book of an award-winning trilogy.

Bordeaux, France

Three men bled out into the dirt.

René stared at the hand that held the bloody rapier. His hand. Tremors shuddered through his body and down his arm. Droplets of blood sprayed the air and joined the carmine puddles that seeped into the sun-baked earth. He closed his eyes and commanded the muscles that grasped the rapier to release their tension and allow the sword to drop.
Years of daily practice and pain refused his mind’s order much as they had refused to spare the lives of three men. The heady exultation that filled him during the seconds of the fight drained away and left him empty, a vessel devoid of meaning. He staggered toward an old oak and leaned against its rough bark. Bent over, with one hand braced on the tree, he retched. And again. Still, the sword remained in his hand.

A cloud shuttered the sun. Distant thunder brushed his awareness and then faded. Rain. The mundane thought coasted through his mind. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced down hoping to see a different tableau. No, death remained death, the only movement, that of flies attracted to a new ocean of sustenance.

The summer heat lifted the acrid blood-rust smell and forced him to turn his head away. Before him stretched a different world from the one in which he had awakened. No compass points. No maps. No tomorrow.

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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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

CHOCOLATE - MORNING GOODNESS

from Tina Ruiz

Morning or afternoon, everyone. I want to share this chocolate hummus dip/spread recipe with you. The photo is stock because I kind of made a mess in my kitchen and the picture I took doesn't look as appealing as this one. Maybe because I couldn't stop taking spoonfuls out and shoving this mixture into my mouth. LOL Anyway, while I've made hummus before, I've never made a chocolate version. Already I think it's fabulous on the chocolate chip pancakes I also made this morning. Next, I’ll try it on toast for lunch today.

On A Side Note - I am a girl who likes to freeze things, and pancakes are no exception. Package them in twos, or enough for one serving, with a parchment sheet in between them. This makes it easier when you want to separate them later. To reheat, pull them apart, and either throw them in a frying pan, or on a plate and slide them into the microwave oven for 2 minutes. Easy peasy.

Back to the hummus. Here's the recipe for the healthy version I make.

Chocolate Hummus
15 oz. can of chickpeas
2 tbsp. aquafaba (chickpea water)
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt

Open a can of chickpeas and save 2 tablespoons of the water, also known as aquafaba, then drain the can.

Add chickpeas, aquafaba, and the remaining ingredients to a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Since I have your attention, I'd like to announce my latest Halloween children's book - A Haunting Birthday Party available on Amazon. This is the second children's book I've written with a Halloween theme. A Halloween Party was book one.

As I promised my grandchildren, and others who truly enjoyed the first Halloween Children's Book, this one also contains silly character names. Example: Harry Pitts (harry arm pitts) is the narrator in this book, and the birthday party is for Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni. It takes place at the Ray Zen (raisin) Restaurant, where people like Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, are enjoying a lovely meal. Kitti Letter (kitty litter) is the waitress for that side of the room, and her job is to give all the kids a spooktacular evening. Walter Melon (water melon) is the magician, Eve Ning (evening) is the cashier, Miss Turi (mystery) is another waitress, and Mr. I. Ball (eyeball) is the manager of the restaurant.

As you can see, this is a fun treat for young and old alike. I'm excited for the world to see my second Halloween children's book.


The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni and Reece are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant.

The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.

This delightful paperback book is another wonderful collaboration from writer Tina Nykulak Ruiz and illustrator Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children's books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina's children's stories, there's a moral at the end.


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

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

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

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

Monday, August 17, 2020

FACING OUR FEARS

Once Was Enough

by Anne Montgomery

Most people are afraid of something. For me it's tight spaces. I'm not sure when I first fell victim to this phobia, but it might have been on a high school Friday night when a bunch of us were going to a drive-in movie. (Remember those?) I was encouraged to get into the trunk of a car before we drove through the gates - something about too many kids in a car. In any case, I freaked, and clawed the underside of the hood and yelled until they let me out.

So, I'm claustrophobic, a malady that smacked me in the head one day when I was one hundred feet below the surface of the sea staring at a hole in the ocean floor.

I'd been told about the lava tube we would encounter. I glimpsed the small opening as another diver's fins disappeared into the darkness. I paused, sizing up the mouth of the cave. It was not much wider than my wingspan and perhaps three-feet tall.

I turned to my sweetie pie, who was hovering by a woman who was uncomfortable diving. I pointed to the mouth of the cave and he shook his head. Then he took the woman by the hand and helped her swim above the tube.

I stared at that hole and wanted nothing to do with it. It looked so small and dark, but then I saw a light flickering inside and, without thinking, I swam to the opening and ducked inside. White sand flowed along the cave floor. I saw fins in front of me and followed. Then, suddenly, the fins and the light vanished, leaving me in total darkness.

I stopped abruptly. Then panicked and considered backing out, but turning around in that narrow space in complete darkness was problematic. The back of my tank caught on the top of the tube. The contact was slight, but was enough to make me sick to my stomach. I dropped to the floor and dug my hands into the sand in an effort to calm myself. I started sucking air, which was bad. The compressed air in a scuba tank is used up quickly on a deep dive. I had to move forward soon, but was frozen.

I raised my head and stared into the darkness. I held one hand before me but could see nothing. I dug my free hand into the sand and lifted the other, pulling myself forward, gripping the sand so hard my hands hurt. Slowly, I moved forward and down. The tube descended beneath the sea floor, angling deeper as I went.

Why had I not brought a light? And why had I been dumb enough to go in without such an important piece of equipment? I continued inching forward. How long was the tunnel? Why had I not asked? The questions swirled. I was tempted to reach to the side to see how wide the tube was, but was afraid to know the truth.

Sometime later, I caught a glimmer piercing the top of the tube, a broken spot in the ceiling that glowed with soothing blue light. I rounded a bend and was graced with an opening. Dim light flooded the the cave, illuminating walls that were startling close. I kicked hard and exited. My sweetie pie was overhead. He knew how I felt about small places, so he was concerned.

Later, after a hot shower and a strong, grown-up beverage, we talked about that deep, dark, watery hole.

Yes, I'm glad I tried to conquer my fear, still I don't think I'll do anything like that ever again.

Here’s a little from my latest women's fiction book. I hope you enjoy it.

A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand - her aunt’s college roommate - gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Amazon Buy Links

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

GET YOUR GRILL ON

Quick and easy and oh so good. This is a delicious meal for two and it's terrific when friends or family come for dinner. Simply increase ingredient amounts proportionally and you’re good to go!

Serve with Pear Salad, Sautéed Broccoli, and White Wine – Riesling.

CHICKEN KABOBS
1 – 1½ lbs. (500 – 750g) chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 med. onion, quartered
1 med. red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1 med. yellow pepper, seeded and ribs removed
3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine
¾ cup (180ml) olive oil
¾ cup (180ml) honey
1 tbsp. (15ml) soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 small can pineapple chunks, drained
10 – 16 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
Vegetable oil for grill

Cut chicken into 1½ in. (3.8cm) pieces and then place into a plastic bag or bowl. Separate onion sections, add to chicken. Slice peppers into 1 in. (2.54cm) pieces add to chicken. Set aside.

Whisk garlic through pepper together in a small bowl. Add half, maybe a little more, this mixture to chicken. You need to hold back some marinade for basting while you grill. Cover and refrigerate 1 – 2 hours.

Coat grill lightly with olive oil. Set grill to medium-high.

Thread chicken and veggies onto skewers, e.g.: chicken, onion, mushroom, yellow pepper, chicken, pineapple, red pepper, and so on. Make sure all the pieces touch but aren’t jammed against one another. Discard remaining marinade.

Grill 12 – 15 minutes. Brush skewers with held back marinade and turn frequently so meat cooks evenly.

No skewers? No problem.

Drain chicken mixture in a colander. Heat a skillet on the grill or stove. Add reserved marinade, chicken and remaining ingredients. Sauté 12 – 15 minutes, stirring and turning frequently.

Chicken Kabobs, Pear Salad, and Sautéed Broccoli are just three of the easy and delicious recipes you will enjoy from my latest cookbook. Here's a little more info for you.

Romance meets Outdoor Dining

Why not share a summer night with someone special?

What better than a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine and music?

Create 45 delicious and complete dinners for two that can be cooked on your grill or stove. No exotic or expensive ingredients needed. These 103 recipes use everyday products already in your kitchen cabinets. Increasing the dinners is a snap for those fun nights friends or family join you.

You’ll love Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer, Book 2 in the Meals to Make Together series, because great food is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

Add a little romance to a starry evening with a delicious dinner perfect for two. Uncork the wine and enjoy!

Grab your copy today.


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

Sloane

Monday, August 10, 2020

WILL YOU ACCEPT THIS ROSE?

by Catherine Castle


You may not know this about me, but I’m a fan of the television shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

I’m not crazy about all the drama and some of the physical stuff that goes on, but I do like to watch and root for the stars looking for that one and only soul mate with whom they hope to spend the rest of their lives. Granted, most of them haven’t found that true love, but I still root for them. At the end of every show, most bachelors or bachelorettes ask their potential spouses, or hopefully by that time their fiancées, “Will you accept this rose?” This means they see promise in the relationship and believe they have found their special person.

No matter the season, the bachelor or bachelorette, IMHO, are looking in the wrong places for that true love. There’s always one guy or girl who is a troublemaker and for some inexplicable reason the bachelor or bachelorette keeps giving the rabble-rouser a rose. Go figure.

I’m a firm believer in true love. Zing goes the heart strings and all that stuff. But sometimes what the heart wants isn’t the best thing for either party involved. Besides love, there’s a practical side to choosing a life mate. A life-long relationship requires more than sex appeal and hormonal attraction. Love and hot passion lasts for a while, but the day-to-day stuff is what makes the living loveable.

For those looking for love, here are a few hints to help find that perfect man. These suggestions may seem tongue-in-cheek to you, but trust me, they are important. I know!

MAKE SURE YOUR INITIALS WORK.
You don’t want to make the mistake my mother almost did when naming one of her children. Thankfully, she discovered the initials of the name my father had chosen for their child spelled A.S.S. Not something you’d want monogramed on the towels in the guest bathroom. So, line up the first initial of the last name of your beloved with your first and middle initials. If it spells something embarrassing, you’d better change one of those names. His. Or yours, if you just can’t live without him.

MAKE SURE YOUR INTERESTS ALIGN.
You’ve heard about the golf widow or the football widow. I’m here to tell you there’s a widow for every interest out there. If you don’t know what your potential spouse is really fascinated by you could end up a widow long before he is six feet under.

My husband was an athlete who loved to run. Every night after work, he’d come home, put on his running shoes, and head out the door. He even ran a couple of mini marathons. For years he tried to get me to run with him. I’d lace up my running shoes and lope off with him, but every time I did I ended up face down on the sidewalk. Heck, I can’t even walk without tripping, so I don’t know why he thought I would be able to run. Finally, he gave up on me being a running partner. We found other things we could do together because we had a lot of common interests like singing, ballroom dancing (which I could do because he was holding me up), acting, and playwriting. So, pay attention to the hobbies and interests of your potential spouse. If he has nothing in common with your interests, or what he loves isn’t something you can work around, think twice before hitching your wagon to that person. Remember, the passion may fade, but most likely, the hobbies will remain.

LOOK FOR SOMEONE WHO FINISHES THE JOBS THEY START.
I loved my dad and so did my mother, but he had a bad habit of starting a job and not finishing it. Mom wanted a bathroom in the basement, so Dad obliged and put in a toilet. For years the lone fixture sat in the middle of the basement—no walls, no privacy, and no users. It wasn’t until they went to sell the house that Dad finished the project. Too late and too little. If you can live with that, fine, but otherwise, check out your future spouse’s follow-through abilities.

MAKE SURE YOU SEE EYE TO EYE ON FOOD.
There’s nothing worse than cooking two meals for dinner. One for her and one for him. Or leaving your favorite ingredient out of every meal because he or she, depending on who is the cook, won’t eat it.

Even worse, is the scenario I discovered upon my mother’s death when Dad began giving away all the home-canned green beans in the cupboard. Thinking he was reacting out of grief, just getting rid of things that reminded him of her, I said, “Dad, we aren’t going to take the food from your table.”

He replied, “I hate green beans. Always have.”

“But Mom served them every night. Why did you eat them if you hated them?” I asked.

“Because she served them,” he replied.

I was aghast and awed that he’d eaten a hated food every day for thirty-seven years without a single complaint. I immediately told my husband to let me know if I ever served something he hated. He has. And I’m okay with that.

So, if you must marry and you don’t see eye to eye on food, at least tell your beloved you do or don’t like a food before they die. Preferably, early on.

BE HONEST ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT SPORTS.
My Dad managed the church softball team, and he recruited my athletic spouse, who was my boyfriend at the time, to play on the team. Naturally, I went along to watch, cheering like mad whenever my boyfriend came up to bat. I even learned how to keep score so I could sit in the dugout near my honey. We dated for a number of years, and I was always there in the bleachers, even after we married and had a child.

After he quit playing softball and wanted to watch the professional games on TV, I wasn’t interested.

“I thought you liked sports,” he said.

“I liked watching you play sports,” I replied. “There’s a big difference.”

He didn’t get it. Imagine that.

MAKE SURE YOUR LIFE PHILOSOPHIES ALIGN.
There are a number of hot topics that can unhinge a relationship quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” Four of the hottest are religion, politics, money, and childrearing. If you don’t know where your beloved stands on these issues, find out. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time the person you marry will still be the same person when he hits retirement. His political standing will most likely remain either conservative or liberal. An atheist usually remains an atheist, and a religious person usually remains religious. The holes in a spendthrift’s pockets get bigger, not smaller. A tightwad’s fist gets tighter. And fighting over how to raise the kids benefits no one, especially the children. Discovering his life philosophy after you’re married is too late, because you can’t change the other person to fit what you need. Many women have tried and failed. So, find out before you marry. Life will be so much easier when you’re in sync with your partner.

DON’T CHOOSE THE BAD BOY.
The troubled soul may be the hero fictional heroines long for. The big, strong, brooding sexy man who can deck anyone, win any fight, or conquer any mountain is a common romantic figure. But in the long run, a man with such a dark side is probably not the kind of guy you really want to take home to Mother.

I once dated a guy who had the dark, handsome, sexy looks that would make a girl who met him in the night tremble and swoon with fear and excitement. He was a bit of what we used to call “a hood.” He left town for a while, and when he came back I jumped at the chance to go out with him again. Our first date on his return was at the drive-in theater—what they used to call “a passion pit.” A movie on a giant screen, watched in a car, in the dark. A perfect recipe for disaster.

When he tried to get me in the back of his station wagon, fitted out with comfy blankets and pillows, I declined. “So and so (the name omitted to protect the un-innocent) would do it,” he said, in an effort to convince me to do what I knew was wrong.

“Then go get her,” I replied. I spent the rest of the night fending him off and didn’t get to see a bit of the movie.

We never had another date, and that was just fine with me. He was enough to cure me of the bad-boy longing. Now I advise young women to go for the nerds. Not only are they nicer, but they will make more legal money than their bad boy counterparts and stay out of jail.

And last but by no means least: LOOK FOR THE NICE GUYS.
Nice guys, contrary to the old saying, do not finish last. Everyone loves a nice guy: the one who is respectful, doesn’t boast, opens doors for ladies, and keeps his temper in check. I’m sure you know him. He’s the man who has respect for himself, for you, and for others. He’s considerate and loving. Every other word out of his mouth is not a curse. His speech is tempered with wisdom. He’s the kind of man your mother hopes you’ll bring home. The kind of man who will love you more than he loves himself.

When you find one, ask him, “Will you accept this rose?” If he says, “Yes” hang on to him. You won’t be sorry you did. I know I’m not.

If you’d like a romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, where the heroine is looking for a fiancé in all the wrong places, pick up the award-winning novel A Groom for Mama by Catherine Castle. Here's a peek.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t want—”

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

Amazon Buy Link

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE

Introducing the latest in my Meals to Make Together series!



Romance meets Outdoor Dining

Why not share a summer night with someone special?

What better than a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine and music?

Create 45 delicious and complete dinners for two that can be cooked on your grill or stove. No exotic or expensive ingredients needed. These 103 recipes use everyday products already in your kitchen cabinets. Increasing the dinners is a snap for those fun nights friends or family join you.

You’ll love Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer, Book 2 in the Meals to Make Together series, because great food is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

Here's one of the recipes to whet your appetite.

Add a little romance to a starry evening with a delicious dinner perfect for two. Uncork the wine and enjoy!

Serve with Avocado Salad and Baked Potatoes on the Grill. These recipes are found under Salad and Veggies in the book's Index.

BEEF KABOBS
1 – 1½ lbs. (500 – 750g) sirloin steak, trimmed of fat
1 lg. onion, quartered
1 med. yellow pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1½ cups (350ml) garlic infused olive oil* (recipe in Extras section)
½ cup (125ml) dry red wine
2 rosemary sprigs or 1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried
6 parsley sprigs or 1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried
Freshly ground pepper to taste
10 – 16 cherry tomatoes
10 – 16 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
Vegetable oil for grill

Cut beef into 1½ in. (3.8cm) pieces and then place into a plastic bag or bowl. Separate onion sections, add to meat. Slice yellow pepper into 1 in. (2.54cm) pieces and add to meat.

Add remaining ingredients, except tomatoes and mushrooms, to the meat mixture. Marinate 6 – 20 hours in fridge. Sirloin requires a long marinate to make it super tender. Filet, porterhouse, and rib eye work well in this recipe. Only marinate them for 3 – 4 hours as they are tender cuts.
Coat grill lightly with olive oil. Set grill to medium.

Thread steak and veggies onto skewers, e.g.: sirloin, onion, sirloin, yellow pepper, sirloin, tomato, sirloin, mushroom, and so on. Make sure all the pieces touch but aren't jammed against one another. Discard remaining marinade.

Grill 10 – 15 minutes. Turn skewers frequently so meat cooks evenly.

No skewers? No problem.

Drain sirloin mixture in a colander. Heat a skillet on the grill or stove. Add beef mixture, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Sauté 10 – 15 minutes, stirring and turning frequently.

*If you use regular olive oil add 3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine.

Grab your copy today.


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

Sloane


Tuesday, August 04, 2020

COMING SOON

an exciting Southern Gothic book from creative YA author Leigh Goff. Here's a sneak peek for you.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.


After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.



Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday, August 03, 2020

NEW RELEASE for TINA RUIZ

Congratulations to Tina Ruiz on the release of her 30th children's book!


The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni, who are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant. What makes this story different from any other children's book, are the names which the author has given to her characters. Example: Tess Ding, Chris P. Bacon, Mr. Noah Lott, Harry Pitts, Miss Turi, Walter Melon, Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, etc...

The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.

This delightful paperback book is another wonderful collaboration from writer Tina Nykulak Ruiz and illustrator Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children's books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina's children's stories, there's a moral at the end.


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

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

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

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