Wednesday, February 24, 2021

TASTY GIFTS ARE THE BEST

My niece JJ is an excellent and creative cook. This past Christmas she gave me a roll of garlic herb butter that is to die for. Not only is great on cooked steak and veggies, it’s delicious spread on crackers. Of course, I had to make another batch right after the holidays because we devoured her amazing gift in a flash. I am confident you and yours will like this recipe, too.

GARLIC HERB BUTTER
½ cup butter at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried, chopped fine
2 tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 tbsp. dried, chopped fine 

Cream butter in a medium sized bowl with a spoon. A handheld mixer works too.

 Stir in garlic and herbs until just blended.

 Tear off 6 – 7 inches of wax paper. Lay butter about 1½ inches from the edge. Use your fingers to shape into a log about 1 inch thick. Cover log with that bit of extra paper and roll, shaping the log as you go. After butter is wrapped, twist the ends tightly.

 Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

 Herb butter lasts 2 weeks in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.

 Oregano and basil are excellent replacements for rosemary and thyme.

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

Sloane

Monday, February 22, 2021

BURSTS OF COLOR

from Emma Lane

That's exactly what I need as I look out at the dreary weather and hear the improved, but still sad news, on the pandemic. It all makes me want to indulge in either beautiful memories or fantasies of great things to come. How about you?

Gardening catalogs spark the dreams of the future. You can google the addresses for online shopping. OR order one catalog and the rest will find you. I like Johnny’s especially for cut flowers and veggies. Park Seed is another favorite. Totally Tomatoes is great for, you guessed it, tomatoes. I receive stacks of catalogs after years of ordering my seeds. I wouldn’t toss a single one of them. It’s great fun to “read” them. Almost like taking a trip to some new place. I love the one that is totally wild flowers.

Yellow…is a primary color that can perk up the dullest day or month. It can be seen from the back of the yard or calling attention to your beautiful front steps.

Rudbeckia is the fancy name for black eyed Susie’s. I have a wild volunteer that grows by the old chicken coop. I have to constantly remind workers to not pull it up as a weed. As summer wanes, it will become filled with many little ‘Susie’s.’ Problem is it decides where it will grow. Not me. I pick a few; I can’t resist. But I leave most to reseed. I am then am surprised where it will pop up next. I feel so favored to have this perennial wildflower. There are lots of choices of cultivated Rudbeckias. They grow readily from seed.


Red zinnias are a winner. I love Benary Giants for cut flowers. 








My choice for short ones is called ‘Profusion.’ Delightful plant. It’s draught resistant and doesn’t need deadheading. Terrific bloomer. Use liberally to perk up your perennial bed. 

Crocosmia is a lovely perennial. I’m located in agricultural zone 5 so I stick with the one called ‘Lucifer.’ Hardy, it produces lovely arching fiery red blooms that last a long time. Order small bulbs and you’ll have it forever. Its foliage is tall so plant accordingly. 


Blue is a color best planted close. It disappears if you plant it far away. Tuck it close to where you’ll sit in the garden. One of my favorites for long term blooms is ‘Nepeta’ or cat mint. Not a spreader except for seeding and cats don’t really like it. They love catnip not catmint.






Delphinium is great but needs a but of fuss. Gorgeous against any fence. Holly hocks are great for that too.        








Reading your spring catalogs is a great way to learn all about plants. I’ve also learned I can ‘google’ a plant for research. I’m impressed with the amount of information available online.  

Here is a little about the first of the Abby and Adam Adventures. It was my love affair with nature that encouraged me. I only sort of wrote a story to go with it. There I have confessed. Actually, I created a nature photographer and a park ranger who allowed me to follow them around as they lived out their lives in Middle Florida. Who knew we could all have so much fun? It is a romance and a mystery as well. If I have tickled your curiosity regarding the environment, I am pleased. If you enjoy the story as well, I am ecstatic.

Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer, found more than scintillating images of the birds of Central Florida. A handsome park ranger turns her world upside down even as a criminal stalker seeks to threaten her life.

Who knew trespassing in the restrictive area of a Florida State Park to get the perfect shot of the sand hill crane family would wind up with Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer extraordinaire, meeting the most handsome park ranger in the world? Mating/nesting birds were the subject of her quest but finding those intense blue eyes in the lens of her camera was distracting and hormone inciting.

Adam Rawlings, millionaire park ranger, was as shocked as Abby when she accidentally discovered a murdered man buried in a shallow grave in the sand.
Face to face with an exciting relationship with Adam, the perfect man, leaves her no excuse for backing away from a growing intimacy. Vagabond Abby must consider relocating if she wants to continue an invaluable relationship with Adam, the original home town hero.

Abby struggles as she continues to work deep in the breathtaking wilds of Central Florida while trying to ignore the menace of a serious and threatening stalker. Her task was to reexamine long held premises and prejudices while admiring the southern flora and fauna through the lens of her camera. Bird and nature lovers alert.

SHORT TEASER
Busted in Bird land. Still...what a calendar he would make with that uniform, that smile, those shoulders. She stifled a sigh of pure visual pleasure.

You had better stop it, Miss Smarty. He has the authority to fine and kick you out of the park permanently if he so chooses. Holy Moly-- love a uniformed hunk!

Stoppit!


She stifled a giggle which was riotously rolling around deep inside her, threatening to break out. He continued to loom, gazing thoughtfully while she fidgeted in her warm nest sheltered by the dune. Surrounding them, the sporadic wind blew the smell of something baking in the sun. With her face turned upward and her eyes half-closed against the glare, she awaited her fate. She offered a weak smile while trying to bring into focus his face which was back lit by the bright sunlight. It couldn't hurt, she thought, and tried for puppy dog eyes pleading for mercy.

"Leave this area, and I'll forget your lapse of good manners--this time. Don't let me catch you trespassing on restricted lands again. This is a nature preserve. Visitors may not wander about-- especially during nesting season," he added giving her a stern look. "And that goes for well-meaning, good-looking, lady photographers as well."


Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, 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, February 17, 2021

A TREAT FROM CATHERINE'S KITCHEN

from Catherine Castle 

I thought it would be nice to share a homey meal of salmon patties with you today. This is my mother’s recipe, and quite frankly, I love it so much that I always put a few patties aside for breakfast. I even eat them cold. As kids, and when I could eat more carbs, these were served with white rice and gravy made from the oil and pan drippings. Nowadays I choose a more carb friendly side. I hope you’ll enjoy these.

Mom’s Salmon Patties
1 - 15 oz. can of pink salmon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced celery
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 

Drain salmon, leaving bones and skin in bowl. Add eggs and veggies and mix well. Add cornmeal and mix well.

Heat oil in skillet until it shimmers. Form patties using a 2-inch diameter spoon and fry in oil until golden brown on both sides. It may take 2 batches to cook all patties and you may need to add a bit more oil as they fry. Keep patties warm in a low temperature oven while your second batch cooks.

Makes 12 patties

After you’ve enjoyed these patties settle in with Catherine’s award-winning sweet romantic comedy with a touch of drama A Groom for Mama

As Allison travels the country in search of a husband, she has a lot of dates that involve dinner. To see what she eats as she tries to find her person, check out the book on AMAZON  and Barnes and NobleHere’s a peek at the story’s blurb.

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.


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, February 15, 2021

REFLECTING

 by Sharon Ledwith


The journey to publication wasn’t easy for me. In fact, it took me a great deal of time and effort to get to where I am now. So, let’s go back in time to 1995 when I got bitten by the writing bug during a Planning Your Novel workshop I attended for fun at the local college. One of the exercises I volunteered for still sticks in my mind. The teacher handed me three pennies, and I had to throw them into a waste basket one at a time. I managed to get all three coins in, shooting at different angles and distances. My teacher, Tom Arnett—a NYT bestselling author—was surprised at my luck because the norm was usually two pennies in. He explained that getting all the pennies in would suggest your (writing) goals would be too easy because the person threw them from a close distance. On the flipside, one penny in (throwing too far away) suggested having unrealistic expectations/goals about a career in writing.

You could say that this penny exercise set the bar for me, and gave me some hope in a field I knew absolutely nothing about. I ended up taking Tom’s night course, Starting your Novel, and from there the writing games began.

Trying to get published looked something like this:

• Write a book (I choose a paranormal romance) which took about 2 years, including research and learning the basics.

• Attended a workshop where I met an agent, and handed her a query and outline, which eventually got her interest. This went back and forth for a time (about four years) until the agent admitted that my book wasn’t developing the way she wanted it to go, so we decided to go our separate ways. Sigh.

• Around 1998, I had a dream where I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an Indiana Jones feel to it. At that time, I was trying to get my paranormal romance published, and had no intention of writing in the young adult genre. But this idea kept growing in my mind, and wouldn’t leave, like some mystical force pushing me from behind. So, I thought I’d challenge myself to write a time travel series based on that dream, calling it The Timeliners, and later The Last Timekeepers.

• Had some luck with The Last Timekeepers when an agency and publishers showed interest. But their interest was short-lived. Rejection, rejection, and more rejection followed.

• In 2003, we sold our graphic trade business and house, packed up, and moved to our cottage in a popular tourist area located in Ontario. I decided to become a tutor for the local Literacy Council in the winter of 2004. While living pretty much off the grid (we had dial up internet), I started a teen psychic mystery series entitled, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, pulling from my experiences living in the wilds of cottage country.

• I enrolled in a two-year correspondence course geared toward writing for children and teens to beef up my writing chops.

• Then, I decided to try my hand as a participant in the 2005 Muskoka Novel Marathon, where previously I had helped with the organizational aspects of this event. The idea is to write a novella or novel in three days, and the winner gets a chance at publication. During the course of the marathon, our dog died suddenly and I left for the day, only to come back the next day to finish writing my manuscript in time to submit it. It was truly a bitter-sweet experience.

• My writing suffered after that, and I decided to enter the workforce as an animal care attendant at the local Animal Shelter for the next fourteen months. During this time, I finished my writing correspondence course, tinkered with Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, then finally woke-up and quit the animal shelter to get back to writing. I wrote a whole book out of my animal shelter experience, and geared it for my teen psychic mystery series. I sent in that manuscript and got rejected a lot, but one agent showed an interest. He later sent me a lovely rejection letter. Sigh.

• Finally, in 2010, I decided to dust off my time travel story, update the characters and give it a fresh voice. I sent it out—mostly to agents—and got rejected again, and again.

• By this time, I had decided to check out ebooks and how to go about publishing them. Since I owned a graphics business for over twenty years, I had some business background, and it seemed many authors were being forced to wear two hats in these changing times. So I started a blog in May 2011 to create an on-line presence.

• Then, I entered the 2011 Muskoka Novel Marathon with the idea of doing the prequel for The Last Timekeeper series. Two writers there had just signed publishing contracts, so this gave me some hope. I asked if I could use their names as a reference when querying their publisher. They said, ‘No problem,’ but I’d have to wait until September to query. After the novel marathon, we all exchanged social media info.

• This is where hard work and opportunity collide. One of those writers shared a link on Facebook, which I thought was the publishing company she had signed with. But it wasn’t. It was the link to a new epublishing company calling for submissions. What the hell, there was nothing to lose while I waited for September to roll in. I sent out my query the end of August, and got a reply within seven days—Musa Publishing wanted to see my manuscript. Excited, yet not getting my hopes up, I sent my young adult time travel manuscript in. They loved it, but wanted revisions. Actually, they wanted a huge, big-ass rewrite that included making the entire book only in one POV, instead of the five I originally had written. Each kid had their own chapter. This publisher only wanted one kid per book. So they offered me five books right off the bat.

• I signed the contract September 13th, 2011, with a release date of May 18th, 2012. Plenty of time for rewrites, and plenty of time to learn what’s expected of an author in this new paradigm of publishing. I followed up with the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, Legend of the Timekeepers came out in August 2013.

• Time travel to 2015 when Musa Publishing closed their doors permanently, and Mirror World Publishing appeared to open their doors for me. Not only did they take on The Last Timekeepers series, but in 2017 added Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls to their young adult list of books. Woohoo!

Honestly, I’ve come a long way since 1995, and I’m still learning and growing in this crazy publishing business as it continues to evolve. Presently, I’ve got two young adult book series under my belt, both published through Mirror World Publishing. And I’d wager three shiny pennies that they won’t be closing their doors any time soon.

If you’re an author, what does your publishing journey look like? Did it take you a long time to get published? Would love to read your comments! Cheers, be well, and thank you for reading my post.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.
 
The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE


Here's a glimpse into one of the books from Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, my teen psychic mystery series.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.



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

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, 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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A COFFEE BREAK SPECIAL

 from Chris Pavesic
 
I enjoy baking and creating new treats for my family. This is one we especially enjoy. I hope you do, too.
 
Fruit Gingerbread Cobbler
4 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup water
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
½ cup 1% buttermilk
¼ cup molasses
 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. EACH baking powder, baking soda, and ground ginger
¼ tsp. EACH salt and ground nutmeg
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. cold water
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tbsp. candied ginger, finely chopped (optional)
 
Preheat oven to 350° F. 
 
Spray square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.  
 
In a saucepan, combine apples, water, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes or until apples are tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.
 
In a large bowl, beat egg, sugar, buttermilk, molasses, and oil.  In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, salt, and nutmeg. Stir into buttermilk mixture just until combined.  
 
In small dish combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir into apple mixture.  Pour apple mixture into square baking dish.  Spread gingerbread mixture over apples.   Top with candied ginger if desired. 
 
Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean. 
 
Makes 8 servings.

Why not read a good book today? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler's Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.



Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.


Monday, February 08, 2021

USED BOOKS

by Michael Weitz

There are a lot of stores out there these days that take gently used media such as CDs, DVDs and books as trade. Usually you receive store credit rather than straight across goods for goods, but it's better than nothing, right? Other options are donations to libraries, schools, Goodwill or other similar stores. I've found another option as well. I put my book down and left. Yep, walked away.

Photo by stockimages
What? you're saying. How could I do such a thing? I know, but let me explain.

My wife and I took a vacation recently. It doesn't matter where, but let's just say there was a beach, a swimming pool or two and more than enough lounge chairs fit for reading. Lots and lots of reading. One of the things we discovered while walking around was a tray of sorts with a few books on it. You could even describe them as gently used. Great idea, we thought! Any books we get through and didn't want to schlep back home in our luggage could be left there for others to enjoy.

After all, when you've read a great story you can always tell your friends about it, but getting someone you don't know to read something you've enjoyed is just as fun. Remember, they'll run out of reading material too! In fact, we heard people talking about how they didn't bring enough books to read. So we may very well have rescued someone from not having something to read! Think of it. And if one of my bookmarks directing them to my website happened to be left inside, well, what can I say? More for them to read on their next trip, right?

All my best,
Michael Weitz


Here is a short intro to Michael’s first Ray Gordon Mystery novel for your reading pleasure.

Making house calls or meeting people in public places is how Ray Gordon makes his living. He’s not a doctor. He’s not a prostitute. Ray Gordon is a chess teacher.

When one of Ray’s students, Walter Kelly, is found dead in his shop, the police and his family let it go as an accident. Ray, however, doesn’t buy it. As a former cop with a lingering curiosity, Ray snoops around and stumbles into the murky world of methamphetamine, the worst drug epidemic of our time.

The problem? Walter Kelly was sixty-five years old and his only addictions were woodworking and chess. How does a sixty-five-year-old man become involved with illegal drugs? Why is a neighbor glad Walter’s dead? And just how do dead men play chess?

Even Dead Men Play Chess Amazon


And a brief look at Book Two of the Ray Gordon Mystery novels.

The favorite to win the US Chess Championship is found dead. Was it suicide, or murder? Unfortunately the cop who lands the case is Ray Gordon's former partner - and the two haven't spoken in years for good reason. Since the victim was a friend and he doesn't trust the police investigation, Ray decides to take matter into his own hands. When others begin to diappear though, Ray finds himself deep within a savage game that becomes personal in more ways than one.

They say when it rains, it pours. For Ray that clichĂ© couldn’t be more true.

The Grandmaster's King Amazon

Michael Weitz is an award-winning author who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, usually reading anything he could get his hands on. He wrote his first novel in the 6th Grade -- an eight page rip-off of Star Wars.

A variety of jobs including waiter, gas station attendant, truck driver and a host of others, helped shape his world. After college he landed in the television industry where he wrote and produced a multitude of award-winning commercials, two documentaries about Mt. St. Helens and various other projects.

After a few years in Phoenix, AZ, Michael, his wife, and their dogs are back in the Pacific Northwest. Currently working on the next Ray Gordon mystery, Michael may also be found reading, playing chess or shooting pool. As an avid photographer, he enjoys traveling anywhere picturesque with his wife.

Learn more about Michael Weitz on his website and Goodreads.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

A VALENTINE DAY TREAT

from Tina Griffith 

I am a true romantic at heart which is why I write romance books. So, of course Valentine’s Day is a special day for my husband and me. Today I want to share my favorite treat for February. These pancake cups are delicious any time during the year, but they seem to fit perfectly with Valentine's Day, especially since I make mine with cherry pie filling. They are so light and sweet that they melt in your mouth. YUMMY!

PANCAKE CUPS
1 cup milk 
6 eggs 
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt 
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 tsp. orange zest, optional 
¼ cup butter, melted 

Preheat oven to 400° F. 

Blend the first 6 ingredients together with a hand mixer, and then add butter very slowly. 

Grease muffin tins then fill them half-full with pancake mixture. Bake 15 minutes, or until fluffy and golden brown. 

Once the cups have cooled, fill them with your favorite fruit. I prefer apple or cherry pie filling, but you could use pumpkin or blueberry. 

Before serving, sprinkle a generous amount of icing sugar on top. I’ve sprinkled shaved dark chocolate on top of the icing sugar, but that's just me. 😊 

My latest murder, Til Text Do Us Part, is expected to release around the world by Valentine's Day 2021. Grab a copy then sit back and nibble on some these tasty pancake cups. They are my favorite treat for February. 

Louisiana Hobbs is an award-winning, murder mystery writer, and she has a malicious stalker. This person has been taking particular passages from the pages of her books, and has used the detailed information to commit chilling murders to perfection. But, has the stalker killed people out of revenge or as a form of flattery? While the author works closely with Detective Brody Anson to find the answer to that question, they develop an obsession for each other that becomes difficult to deny. 

As the weeks turn into months, they have been trying to keep their surging desires in check…at least until the murderer has been put behind bars. But when Louisiana becomes the target in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, will this couple continue to withhold their true feelings from each other and the rest of the world?




Tina Griffith, who also has thirty published children's books as Tina Nykulak Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has thirteen romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister's scary biography.

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

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

Monday, February 01, 2021

ROMANCE NOVELS: WHY ARE THEY SO POPULAR?

 from Anne Montgomery

Once, after reading one of my manuscripts, my agent said, “I really like the historical part of the story. Why don’t you write it as a stand-alone romance?”

I winced. A romance novel? Me?

I have a pretty good idea about
where this book is going. Don't you?

I’ll admit here that I've been a bit of a snob in regard to that particular genre, which I was surprised to discover is the number one book-selling category on the planet. Not sure why I’ve often scoffed at romance novels. Perhaps it’s the covers: the swooning women with their heaving breasts, the muscular men, all sixpacks and flowing hair. Those books just never sang to me and I never understood why other people wanted to read them.

So, in an effort to learn, I contacted some of my lovely romance-writing friends. I put on my old reporter’s cap and grilled them like a detective looking for clues, my goal to understand why anyone would want to read a romance novel.

Boy, did I learn a lot!

"Romance gives us a glimpse into another world,” said author Tina Ruiz. “Sometimes it's a world that we don't have around us. Romance novels are like fairy tales to grown up women, where the men are nice, cater to our every whim, and shelter us from everything that might make us sad or hurt.”

“It’s possible the diversity of romance novels is a magnet for diverse individuals,” said romance author Nancy Kay. “From contemporary, to historical, to mystery and thrillers there are any number of themes to attract a number of tastes.” 

Okay. But why are these stories tops in sales department?

"In my humble opinion it's because we live in a shattered world that is full of bad stuff and romance is the ultimate good stuff," said author Catherine Castle. "True love, loyalty, people who care about each other's happiness."

"Simple answer – escape," said author Sloane Taylor. "Escape from the husband/wife who takes you for granted. Escape from the kids demanding all your time with not even a thanks. Escape from the boss who is a major ass. Escape from the bills that keep mounting. And especially in today’s world – escape from the pandemic and it’s personal repercussions."


“The mainly happy endings in a frequently bitchy world,” Australian author Vonnie Hughes explained.

Hughes went on to say that romance novels don't cost as much as other genres and they tend to be shorter, so don't require a big investment of time.

I have certainly read books that contained romance, though that part of the story was mostly secondary to the plot, so I was curious as to what exactly defines a romance novel. Of course, my first thought in our post Fifty Shades of Grey world was sex. But Ruiz pointed out that actual sex is not always the big draw.

“It is the illusion of sex that grabs our hearts,” she said. “In a lot of movies, the man and woman don't even kiss until the very last scene.  That moment gets built up from the moment they meet until the end of the book or movie.  It's the part we are all waiting for, so when it happens, it is absolutely wonderful.”

Still sex is often part of the format.

“Reading a book where sex is prominent is pretty awesome,” Ruiz said. “Because it gets portrayed in a different way than we have it in real life.  Some men…are not perfectly, let's say, kempt, when they walk into the bedroom.  The men in the books and/or movies are like a Prince Charming. Every hair is in place, his teeth shine, his eyes twinkle, and his breath is probably minty fresh.”

Another rather obvious requirement in a romance novel is that romance needs to be the most important part of the story.


“The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work,” Kay said. “There can be subplots as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.”

And, there’s something else I learned. Romance novels apparently should not end on a depressing note. There must be an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending,” Kay said. “In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.”

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? I can now see the appeal of romance novels. Perhaps it’s time I gave one a try.

How about you?

Here's a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. It's not romance but I hope it intrigues you.



As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

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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, and Twitter.