Wednesday, November 24, 2021

LET THEM EAT CAKE!

 from Linda Lee Greene, Author/Artist 

Jill: “How are workers expected to survive on minimum wage when every dollar goes toward their rent?”

Jack: “What do I care? Let them eat cake.”

Jack: “Our budget shows that every one of our managers will get an end-of-year bonus.” Jill: “What about the rest of the employees?”

Jack: “Such is life. Let them eat cake.” 

Marie Antoinette, queen of France in the years before and during the French Revolution, to whom the idiom is famously attributed, never said, “Let them eat cake” in response to being informed that her starving peasant subjects had no bread to eat. It got stuck to her through time because she was the epitome of indifference and insensitivity among the ruling and upper classes toward the realities of life of ordinary people. This type of obliviousness of their own advantages and numbness to the misfortunes of working-class people on the part of the privileged is a feature of all of human history, unfortunately. 

While Antoinette’s head was being lopped off by the guillotine at the Place de la Concorde, a major public square in Paris, plantation slaves in the Caribbean were fermenting molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, into alcohol. Distillation of the by-products concentrated the alcohol and removed some impurities, which produced the first modern rums. It didn’t take long for rum to find its way to delectable French pastry and voilà—the soggy, boozy, classic French dessert, Baba au Rhum cake was born in Paris—too late for Antoinette, who would have relished it, no doubt, but just in time for us to delight our guests with it at any special get-together.

The cake recipe was created by David Tanis and yields a dozen babas.  The frosting is from a cookbook by Shelia Del Guercio that is now out of print. The beauty for busy cooks is that a small, unsoaked portion, or all of them, can be stored away in the freezer for up to two months. A day before their debut on your table, defrost and then keep them in an airtight container. If yours is a big and/or a really hungry crowd, bake up several batches ahead of time and freeze them. For best results, you need a tender and sticky dough, so be sparing in the amount of flour you incorporate into the mixture. Or, place the dough in the refrigerator for a while, because cold dough is easier to handle.   

BABA AU RHUM
2 tbsp. active dry yeast
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup lukewarm water
4 large beaten eggs
1 pinch sea salt
½ cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup water
Butter for baking tins
Flour for dusting

 Place yeast and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Add water and then stir until dry ingredients are dissolved. Set aside for 10 minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Whisk eggs and sea salt into yeast mixture. 

Soak raisins in water while you prepare complete the next step. In a separate medium-size bowl, work together butter and flour until the mixture resembles wet sand. 

Drain raisins then add to egg-yeast mixture. Whip with a wooden spoon to a soft, sticky dough, or prepare dough in a standing mixer. Cover bowl and set in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough doubles in size. 

Butter 2 mini-muffin tins or 12 mini-ramekins. Uncover dough, dust with flour, and turn it out to a clean work surface. Add flour as necessary to make dough manageable and knead lightly to a large, slightly sticky ball. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 2 ounces/55 grams). Dust the pieces with flour, roll into separate balls, and place in the muffin tins or ramekins. Cover loosely and set in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the balls double in size. 

Preheat oven to 375° F. 

Bake babas 15 to 20 minutes until lightly brown on top. Turn babas out of their molds and onto a baking sheet. Return to oven for 5 minutes to brown all over. Remove from oven and cover the babas with a clean towel to keep them soft. Store cooled babas in an airtight container at room temperature if making in advance of imminent serving. 

TOPPING
2 pints strawberries, set aside 12 strawberries
3 tbsp. Cointreau 
3 tbsp. Cognac 
1 tbsp. Grand Marnier
2 cups whipped cream
1 pint coffee ice cream 

Meanwhile, clean and hull the strawberries, setting aside 12 of them. Place the rest of the strawberries in a bowl and pour over them all of the designated liqueurs. Stir gently and let sit for 1 hour. Then fold into the mixture with a rubber spatula the whipped cream and ice cream. For each guest, cut 1 baba in half horizontally and place on a dessert plate. Top with an additional scoop of coffee ice cream, the strawberry/liquor mixture, and crown with a whole strawberry. 

Or substitute the ice cream with a dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry on top. 

Readers were introduced to American Nicholas Plato in multi-award-winning author Linda Lee Greene’s A Chace at the Moon, which was published in 2019 and is available for purchase at Amazon

Greene takes readers on yet another adventure of Nicholas’ whirlwind life in her Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey. In this sequel, Nicholas shows up in Sydney, Australia. The principle plotline unfolds as on one Saturday of sightseeing he gets lost in Australia’s forbidding yet alluring outback, and there he happens upon a pintsized hut on a lonely plot littered with hundreds of clay pots of every size and description. Driven by a deathly thirst, he stops. A strange little brown man materializes out of nowhere and introduces himself merely as ‘Potter’ and welcomes Nicholas to his ‘Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.’ Although Nicholas has never laid eyes on Potter, the man seems to have expected Nicholas at his bizarre habitation and displays knowledge about him that nobody has any right to possess. Just who is this mysterious Aboriginal potter? 

Although they are as mismatched as two persons can be, a strangely inevitable friendship takes hold between them. It is a relationship that can only be directed by an unseen hand bent on setting Nicholas on a mystifying voyage of self-discovery and Potter on revelations of universal certainties. 

A blend of visionary and inspirational fiction with a touch of romance, this is a tale of Nicholas’ journey into parts unknown, both within his adopted home and himself, a quest that in the end leads him to his true purpose for living. 

Garden of the Spirits of the Pots is available in eBook and/or paperback on Amazon


Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.
Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger. It was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a hold of her.

She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook. Linda loves to hear from readers so feel free to email her.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Keep Your Characters in Turmoil!

 from C.D. Hersh


We recently came across an old email entitled Instructions for Life. The 45 positive recommendations on the list are meant to help make one’s life better. By turning some of the instructions upside down and we created bad life advice that will keep novel characters in turmoil.

Next time things are going too smoothly with your WIP try throwing one of these in the mix.

    • 1. Let them believe in love at first sight, but fight it like it can’t exist.
    • 2. If they make a mistake, don’t let them be too quick to acknowledge it.
    • 3. Let them fall in love deeply, passionately, and with people they would never choose. They might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.
    • 4. Make them fight to keep their values, but make sure they do keep them. No one loves an un-heroic hero.
    • 5. Remember silence is sometimes the best answer and unanswered questions are always suspect.
    • 6. Let them dredge up the past; it makes for good conflicts.
    • 7. Let them read between the lines … a lot. Miscommunication thickens the plot.
    • 8. Let them slowly discover that not getting what they want is sometimes the best thing that ever happened.
    • 9. Never let them mind their own business. You can’t get in trouble that way.
    • 10. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risks, and make them willing to risk everything to reach their goals.

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping your characters in turmoil?

Now if you want to see what we do with our characters how about checking out our series.

   


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 are two hearts creating everlasting love stories.  


Catherine and Donald 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 at Soul Mate Publishing. Stay connected on Facebook, their Amazon Author Page, and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

HITTING THE SAUCE

from Helen Carpenter

My hubby and I like to hit the sauce at lunchtime—no, wait! That didn't sound right! What I meant to say is we like barbeque sauce for lunch! At least, that's our story, and we're sticking to it.

While we're not sauciers or even a saucier's apprentice, we do enjoy experimenting with flavors, because we are well aware that what's sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the chicken.

However, in the case of our Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken, we seldom think outside the box—the box being the carton brick of fresh, sun-ripened Italian tomatoes that is the base of this delicious recipe.

Tomatoes in a box? Yep. We highly recommend that you give your can the boot. Switching to the box will turn you into a superb saucy chef, and the effect on your condiments will be awesome sauce. Pretty soon you'll be hitting the sauce too! (The barbeque sauce, of course!)

Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken
1 box (26.4 oz) finely chopped tomatoes
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp black pepper
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken

Put tomatoes, cheese, sugar, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper in crockpot. Stir to mix.

Add chicken.

Cook on high setting for 2-3 hours; or low setting for 4-6 hours.

Serve on rolls, or eat as a main dish with a side of chips.

Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author dup named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. the Carpenters worked from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-If, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years  and appreciates everyday, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.

Monday, November 15, 2021

THANKSGIVING MEMORIES

 from Emma Lane 

Thanksgiving is family, food, and thankfulness. It’s when you have this homing urge to join your people over a huge roasted turkey. When you were ten you punched your cousin in the nose for some remark he made. When you were eighteen, you were bored and wishing to be somewhere else, but mom made you stay. When you were twenty-eight, you were setting up the children’s table. And so it goes right down to Grandpa who at 90 announced he didn’t need to watch his cholesterol any more and reached for the butter dish. (I loved it when he did that.) 

Our turkey is carved in the kitchen, makes it easier for serving. But when the grandchildren were young, they always expected that rooster to make an appearance at Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition as such. They are grown-ups now, but they still search the china cabinet for the collection of salt ‘n pepper shakers, each person has his/her favorite set. Our dining room table is custom made wide at the bottom to seat two people comfortably. As a result, I have no matching pad. Straw oversized placemats do an admirable job of protecting the wood surface from the heated dishes. I use a table cloth, but still enjoy the colorful cloth placemats to echo the vibrant Fall colors. With the addition of fruit cups, water glasses, and matching candles, the table arrangement is complete, waiting only for the train of hot dishes and the blessing before the feast is begun.

Turkey for everyone! White for the kids and dark meat for my hubby and me. They have always been convenient preferences. We reserve baked ham for Christmas dinner.  Lima beans (butter beans) for my son, green bean casserole for my daughter. Each person has a favorite. I love yellow squash while my hubby adores sweet potato soufflé. My daughter makes all the pies, usually pumpkin and apple. The grands like the fruit cups that are sometimes surrounded by red Jell-O and sometimes by whipped cream. Dressing??  We make a raison (Crasins substitute) and walnut type topped by a couple of baked chicken parts. The recipe changes almost every time. There is a fresh veggie plate with tomatoes, celery, carrots, and sliced zucchini for nibbling. Other dishes may be added each year. 

 Once I had an idea to bake a mid-sized (huge) Hubbard squash and stuff it with a mixture of squash, onion with a touch of maple syrup topped with scrambled southern style sausage. It was so tasty, but a bear to get to the table. I dropped it from the menu. What memories does your family love each Thanksgiving get together? 

Happy Thankful Day to you and yours from my home to yours.

Emma

How about a glimpse into my new Cozy Mystery, MURDER AT THE LOOKOUT while you digest your feast? 

When is it not fun to be a blond? 

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

Amazon Buy 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.

 


Friday, November 12, 2021

NEW RELEASE for STELLA SHAW

Male male romance at its finest is what Stella Shaw promises and is exactly what she delivers. You will definitely enjoy her latest release. 

Friends-with-benefits is a practical arrangement—until it becomes something more.

Arne’s easy-going nature is sorely tried the night his kitchen’s almost set on fire. It’s the fault of admin assistant Simon, a man Arne’s treated with suspicion ever since Simon joined the Haven Hotel team. But when he has Simon in his arms, injured, vulnerable, yet full of sexy, prickly spirit to match Arne’s own—he starts to rethink. 

When Simon confesses, he’s struggling with intimacy, and Arne offers his practical help as an escort, it’s only meant as a joke. Until Simon accepts. He’s inexperienced and nervous despite his confidence at work, and embraces Arne’s sensual, unashamed instruction very eagerly. Alongside the passion, a friendship blossoms—and the vulnerability becomes emotional, too.

But Arne’s always been too generous with both his time and his money. When he’s betrayed by someone he trusted, it hits him hard, and halts his plans to launch a cookery vlog. All Simon wants to do is help him in return, but Arne rejects him. 

Maybe it’s time for Simon and their friends at the Haven to unite on behalf of Arne’s ambitions and dreams. And help both Simon and Arne decide if there’s a new direction they can share.

AMAZON BUY LINK


Stella Shaw is a pen name of the best-selling author of MM romance, Clare London. Stella's series of Rent Boy romances, Love at the Haven, launched in January 2021.

Join Stella's newsletter or find her on Facebook. Catch up with her on GoodreadsBookbub, and Instagram. 

 Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She's written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she's just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she's happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

All the details and free fiction are available at her website.

Be sure to check out Clare's website. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Best Cheesecake EVER!

from Sharon Ledwith 

Talk about a dessert that delivers, this divine cheesecake takes…well, takes the cake! Whether you’re hosting the party or on board to bring something tasty, this dressed up treat will make heads turn, and mouths water. Perfect for holiday gatherings or celebrations, with a total prep and bake time of 5 hours and 30 minutes (includes refrigeration), this cheesecake easily serves a crowd of sixteen of your closest cohorts. 

Toblerone Caramel Cheesecake

1¼ cups Oreo Baking Crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
3 packages (250 g/8.82 ounces each) brick cream cheese, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping
1 bar (100 g/3.52 ounces) Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate, coarsely chopped 

Preheat oven to 350° F. 

Mix crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. 

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. 

Bake 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool cake before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours. 

Spread caramel topping over cheesecake just before serving. Garnish with chopped chocolate. Enjoy! 

While you’re waiting for the cheesecake to set in the fridge, take some well-deserved ‘me time’ along with a peek at my latest time travel release.

True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

Eleven-year-old Drake Bailey is an analytical thinker and the genius of the Timekeeper crew. However, no logic or mathematical acumen can change the color of his skin, or prepare him for this third Timekeeper mission in antebellum Georgia. To survive, Drake must learn to play the role of a plantation slave and when confronted with the brutality, hatred, and racism of the deep south, he’ll have to strategically keep one move ahead of his sadistic captors to ensure his lineage continues.

In a dark world of Voodoo, zombies, and ritualistic sacrifice, the Timekeepers must ensure a royal bloodline survives. Can Drake remove both literal and figurative chains to save both himself and a devout slave girl from a terrible fate? If he can’t summon the necessary courage, humanity could stand to lose one of its greatest leaders. 

EXCERPT

Suddenly, a radiant white light beamed from the archway like a lighthouse beacon. Drake hooded his eyes. Amanda grimaced, cradled her stomach, and fell to her knees. Perspiration beaded across her forehead while she fumbled for the Timekeepers’ log in her purse. Amanda pulled a thin, pencil-like writing instrument Lilith called a crystal chalkis out of the log’s spine, and opened the log. Her left hand jumped across the page, scrawling at an incredible rate. Amanda’s breathing became labored. She tossed the crystal chalkis and Timekeepers’ log aside, and lurched to vomit across the lawn. 

“What the—” Jordan crouched to steady her. “Amanda? Are…are you okay?” 

Treena heaved. “Oh, I don’t do pity puke well.” 

“Neither do I,” Ravi said, puffing his cheeks. “I can’t unsee or unhear that.” 

A sharp whoosh—like the sound of a spaceship’s door opening on a science fiction television show—made Drake glance into the archway. Lilith appeared with her arms open wide, and a slight halo around her slim body. The shimmering, dark blue sleeveless dress she wore billowed as if a great force rolled in behind her.  

“Greetings, Time...” Her sea blue eyes widened. “Amanda, let what you feel pass. They are old emotions embedded into the vibration of your new mission.” 

“Embedded emotions?” Drake asked. “Is that like those haunted imprints we experienced in our last Timekeeper mission?” 

Melody grabbed the garden hose and rushed over to Amanda. “John, please turn on the tap.” 

“Hang in there, Amanda, the cool water will make you feel better,” the Prof said. 

Lilith clasped her hands together, and nodded, making the numerous quartz crystals holding up her blond hair quiver. “Yes, Drake, but worse. These haunted imprints go deeper.” 

A terrible ache spiked through Drake’s stomach. He picked up the opened Timekeepers’ log, swallowed hard, and read aloud, “April 8th, 1855—Fields of blood bathe the deep south’s soil as a race of people continue to toil. Broken in body, but not in soul, they wait for a King to make them all whole. 

Drake stuffed the crystal chalkis into the spine of the Timekeepers’ log. He imagined wearing the standard issue red uniform of a crewman in his favorite space show. The crewman who always gets killed by the end of the episode. Was this a call of duty or a suicide mission? Drake’s belly burned. Now he wanted to puke too. 

Available at Amazon and all major vendors.

 Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Meet the Unforgettable Jenna Ashby

By Leigh Goff

For the release of the Koush Hollow audiobook, Jenna Ashby provides insight into her character and life in a mystical town where magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

Tell us about your name?

It’s Jenna Ashby. Rayna, my mother, calls me Jennifer, which I despise. My middle name, Crossland, comes from Rayna’s maiden name, however, I have so many strange dreams about where I come from that it makes me wonder if Crossland is what it's really supposed to be.

Tell us about your childhood.

My parents divorced when I was a little kid. I moved with my dad from the bayous of Koush Hollow on the outskirts of New Orleans to Atlanta. My dad died in a terrible accident last year. I was fifteen and had to move back to live with Rayna in her creaky, old house. She’s career-driven, ambitious, and she pretty much has my whole life planned out for me. Don’t worry, though. Her plan is so not going to happen. I mean, she wants me to head her vapid social club one day, the Diamonds & Pearls. How could I even consider that? I’m an eco-warrior at heart and have no intention of hanging out with those materialistic, society women whose priorities are seriously mixed up. I’m also done attending balls and wearing pearls. Needless to say, life with Rayna is going to be a challenge—mostly for her.

Do you have any distinguishing physical features?

Besides my cool short, blonde spikes of hair, I have these interesting red marks on my hands. They’re crescent moon-shaped and Dad always told me they mark me as special, but Rayna hates them. She thinks they make me less than perfect. I don’t care. I’d rather be unique than perfect. What's strange is that since I’ve returned to Koush Hollow, they’ve been acting up. I think it has something to do with being near the bayou, but I’m not sure why.

What is your greatest regret?

Not spending more time with my dad before he died. I’ve really struggled to deal with him being gone, too. Rayna is desperate for me to forget about him and focus on being Pearl perfect, but I’m not perfect. I’m a freaking mess. I’ve made bad choices. I keep making mistakes because of other traumatic events that keep sending me whirling. I regret some of my mistakes, but that’s what being sixteen is all about. No one’s perfect. We all have regrets.

Who is the most important person in your life?

From the beginning, my dad was and still is the most important, but since I’ve arrived in Koush Hollow, I’ve met someone who makes me question what’s going on in the world around me. His name is Hayden and he’s more like me than any of the wretched Diamonds or Pearls. He irritates me most of the time, but he’s smart and cares about Lake Pontchartrain and the bayous around us, which aren’t as healthy as they used to be. He blames Rayna and the nuclear power plant where she works, but she’s a former marine biologist. There’s no way she would do anything to hurt the environment, right?

Who are your friends?

I had the coolest best friends back in Atlanta who liked to cosplay. In Koush Hollow, I hang out with Pearls, Lauren and Abigail. They’re on Rayna’s approved list, but disregarding that horrible fact, they are starting to grow on me. They want me to become a Pearl, too, so I can meet the mysterious Marais sisters and have access to their secret beauty treatments. What they don’t know is that I’ve already met them. Lauren keeps hinting in a strangely weird way at the price I’ll have to pay to be a Pearl. She knows money isn’t an issue for Rayna, so it must be something else they want. We’ll see what happens.

What is your favorite food?

The one thing I love about being back in New Orleans is the food! It’s all freaking amazing. A perfect day would begin with sugar-dusted beignets for breakfast, a mouthwatering Muffuletta for lunch, shrimp and creamy grits for dinner, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips to snack on while I binge on my Netflix faves.

Speaking of Voodoo, word around Koush Hollow is that the Marais sisters are Voodoo priestesses. True or False?

What I can tell you is that they’ve got all kinds of mystical stuff going on at their place on the bayou. I’ve seen them painted as skeletons, dancing, chanting, and tossing dead fish into a bonfire. There’s Mama Ismay, she’s the oldest, although they all look so young, it’s hard to tell. Lisette is super sexy, Destine is into some strange, but healthy food choices, and they all look at me like I remind them of someone…  

 Here's a peek at Leigh Goff's latest release.

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 16-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.

BUY LINKS 

Audible

Amazon  

Apple 


Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

 Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky. 

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

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

No-tomato Crockpot Chili

 from Catherine Castle 

Recently tomatoes have been cut from our diet. I love tomatoes and many of the recipes I cook are tomato based. Here’s the issue: tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, along with a few more of my favorite foods such as peppers and eggplants. In some people the nightshade plants make arthritis worse and eliminating nightshade foods can help keep arthritis at bay.  The problem comes when one family member loves tomatoes and the other one now has to avoid them.

There are very few, if any substitutes for tomatoes, so I’ve been on the hunt for ways to make my favorite dishes without tomatoes for the non-tomato eating half of our family, yet please the tomato-loving member. It’s been tough, especially with chili season upon us. 

So, I set out to conquer the problem. Here’s one of the recipe I came up with: No-tomato Crockpot Chili. I hope you’ll enjoy it.  

No-tomato Crockpot Chili

1 pound ground beef

½ large onion, diced

One garlic clove, diced – optional

2 cans of beans*

1 small can diced chilies, if the non-tomato eater can eat them without issues

1 can beefy mushroom soup (I used Campbell’s soup)

¼ cup water, or less if you want a thicker chili

Chili powder to taste

Spaghetti – optional

Salsa, your heat preference for the tomato-eating family members

Cheese for topping – optional 

Break up ground beef in a large skillet and brown along with the diced onion and garlic. 

Add beans and bean liquid, diced green chilies, soup, water, and chili powder to crock pot. Stir to mix well. 

Drain beef mixture of fat and place in a crock pot. Stir to mix. 

Cook on high for 2 hours or until hot, or on low 4-6 hours or until hot. 

At serving time, place spaghetti in bottom of bowl and add beef chili.  

For those who can eat green chilies and tomatoes, top their bowls with ¼ to ½ cup of salsa and 1 teaspoon of green chilies to each cup of the beef-soup-based chili.  Stir lightly to combine. 

*The bean liquids help make up for the loss of the volume of the tomatoes. You can use seasoned or unseasoned chili beans, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, or lentils. Your choice and you can mix and match beans types. 

While your chili is cooking settle into a comfy chair and check out Catherine’s multi-award-winning, inspirational romantic suspense book, The Nun and the Narc. It’s not your usual inspirational romantic suspense. Here’s what one reviewer said: 

“You know that you aren’t supposed to laugh during a romantic suspense book, right?  And it’s a different kind of Inspirational Romance, too.  There were times in this book that I was rolling with laughter.  We needed the laughter considering that Maggie and Jed were dealing the Mexican drug cartel, trying not to get killed in the process and coming to terms with their faith and each other.  Oh and falling in love…

Ms. Castle wrote some the most dramatic scenes that I’ve read in a while.  She could write an action/thriller movie with no problem.  I really felt like I was the fly on the wall and actually cringed, ducked and held my breath.  I will also say the James Bond references were spot on.  Jed Bond!  LOL!  Priceless and needed when you are dealing with the cartel.  Also, the humor that she writes helps with the tension and action sequences, too.

Don’t worry about the book being “preachy” or heavy handed.  Ms. Castle wrote a book that everyone can relate to in one way or another...” From Harlies Books.

While you’re waiting for the chili to heat check out Catherine’s Award-winning Inspirational Romantic Suspense The Nun and the Narc.

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicably attracted to him, he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them by making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion, and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.


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

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

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

Monday, November 01, 2021

WILDCRAFTING

from Emma Lane

Have you been diligently gathering dried material for Halloween and Thanksgiving bouquets? Decorations? Herbs for the winter?  Besides the cultivated types, there is material provided by nature.

Dock – is a wild plant with unique seeds. It’s very difficult to dislodge them from the stem. I delight in using them for just about everything from giving extra height to a fresh bouquet to adding substance to a dried arrangement. Wildcrafting is fun. At the nursery, we have dock gathering parties roaming the countryside to gather nature’s bounty. The old chicken coop is stuffed by Labor Day with great bundles of drying dock. 

            Cattails – The minute you see the slightest tinge of brown, they must be picked and hung to dry to avoid a burst of bird nesting fluff that will explode later. Pick early.   

            Spirea – This wonderful, deer-resistant shrub leaves long stemmed seed heads. Harvesting will encourage a second bloom. 

Two invasive foreign species are Purple Loosestrife and a road side, reed grass called Phragmite. Might get wet feet, but worth it for the interesting tassels. A hunting and gathering day is really fun, but beware of traffic, deep ditches that are hidden by grass, and, of course, poison ivy/oak. Always wear jeans, long sleeved shirt and preferably gardening gloves. 

            Common cultivated plants for drying are Statice, Strawflower, Gomphrena         

Last but not least are little pumpkins. Really a type of seed pod, real name Physalis – common name Oriental Lanterns.  They are the making of fall dried bouquets. A perennial that is, I kid you not, the ugliest plant you’ve ever seen, produces these delightful seed pods in the fall. They like shade. Do plant them behind the garage or someplace you don’t want to see every day. They are also invasive and will take over a cultivated bed with great gusto.  


Here's a glimpse into my new Cozy Mystery Release, MURDER AT THE LOOKOUT. It is 4TH in the Detective Kevin Fowler series. 

When is it not fun to be a blond? 

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

Amazon Buy 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.