Monday, August 30, 2021

Summer Dinner Italian Style

from Tina Griffith

Like 'The Elusive Mr. Velucci,' the Caprese Salad was born on the beautiful island of Capri, known as the Peral of the Gulf of Naples. This classic dish was created around 1920 when it first appeared on the menu of the Hotel Quisiana. the salad was part of futurist dinner organized by Filippo Tommaso Marinette, an Italian poet, editor, art theorist, and founder of the Futurist movement.

This delightful salad is one of the simplest and most appreciated dishes of the summer as it is always served chilled and is known as the Queen of Italian tables. And let's not forget that the brilliant colors of red tomatoes, green basil, and white mozzarella are basically the Italian flag served on a plate.  

How do you make this wonderful summer salad? My method is very easy. The amounts on each ingredient are your choice, but don't stint on the tomatoes and cheese.

Tina's Caprese Salad
Cooked curly pasta
Ripe cherry tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Cucumber, peeled
Black olives, sliced
Fresh basil leaves, hand-ripped
Extra virgin olive oil or Italian dressing 

Cook pasta until just al dente. Drain in a colander then rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Spread pasta on a towel to dry. 

Dice tomatoes, cheese, and cucumber. Scoop into a large bowl. Stir in olives and basil. Mix well.

Carefully blend in pasta and just enough oil to moisten the mixture. 

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

Here's an intro to Tina's most romantic and heartbreaking novel to date.


Enrico and Sadie were now standing alone, and it was their turn to say good-bye. They faced each other, he took her hands in his, and he spoke in an extremely compassionate tone.

“I didn’t realize how much you would mean to me when we first met”, he whispered with total sincerity. His eyes had filled up and he could hardly see, and with everything in his soul, he very much wanted to stay right where he was. He was miserable because he knew he couldn’t, so he promised to come back as soon as possible.

“Enrico”, she whimpered, as she looked lovingly into his eyes. Her voice had a gentle softness to it, with undertones of abandonment. She wanted to say a thousand more words, but they got stuck in her throat.

“I know”, he revealed, in a voice that was fragile and shaking. It was quite evident to everyone around them, that he wasn’t prepared to say good-bye to the beautiful girl standing in front of him. He brought his forehead forward until it was touching hers, and they cried with immense fear that they would never see each other again.

An announcement came over the P.A., which stated that all passengers must get checked in. It was in that moment when Enrico knew in his heart, that no miracle was coming and that he would have to leave. He pulled his head back from hers and looked deep into Sadie’s unhappy eyes. He had not expected to fall in love, and now he could feel his own heart breaking.

Enrico placed both of his hands against the sides of her face, and slowly closed his eyes. With all the love he had inside of him, he kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her nose, and then her mouth. It baffled him that this woman had provided him with the absolute need to love another living soul, for he would not have guessed that to be possible. He wanted to hold her, take care of her, know her whereabouts, and love her for the rest of his life, but he could not; he had waited too long to change the course of his immediate future.

Enrico was becoming frustrated that he had taken eight months to get to know her, but he had only had six hours to really love her. He pulled her body closer to his, and then held on tight. ‘If only I had known or acted sooner…’ he whispered.
Enrico needed to go, so he ended their embrace as hurriedly as it had begun.

A flash of wild grief suddenly ripped through her soul, as Sadie realized the true reality of what was happening. “Enrico!” she cried from every pore in her body. Her eyes were begging him to stay, while her heart was breaking into a million pieces. The whole thing suddenly felt very real, and severe panic began to fill every fiber of her being.

Enrico examined her face and he knew what she wanted. “I’ll be back”, he assured her, in a voice that was both soft and trying to stay strong. He picked up his suitcase with one hand, and he placed something in her hand with the other.

Without looking to see what it was, she swaddled the object safely in the palm of her hand, while keeping her eyes locked with his.

Enrico twisted his upper body to face his family and shouted, “Good-bye everyone!” He turned around to take one more look into the face of his beloved Sadie, and then he began to walk away.

“No!” she shouted loudly. The simple word dissolved into the air like a crispy leaf in the fall.

Enrico hadn’t gotten very far, and now it was him who was falling apart. He took one more look in her direction, put his hand to his mouth, and blew her a kiss. “Bye for now!” he said quietly. As he faced forward again, he began to cry. Not full-out crying like a small child who had gotten hurt on the playground, but a grown man’s frustration and enormous displeasure of things that he couldn’t fix or change.

Nothing in her mind or body was able to let him go, and now Sadie felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her muscles were paralyzed and she was experiencing numbness all over. Her eyebrows were raised, her eyes were wide open, and a look of extreme anxiety shot across her face.

While Enrico was moving his feet, he was trying to hide his appearance from the other travelers. He was utterly depressed and having a hard time forcing his emotions to stay down. He tried to make it look like he was holding back a sneeze rather than a flood of tears, but when one or two drops of salty water leaked out from their moist environment, Enrico wiped them off of his face with the sleeve of his right arm and kept going.

Sadie had been watching the man she loves walk away, and with an incredible amount of courage, she boldly took a few steps towards him. “En-ri-co!” She shouted his name as she extended her left hand far in front of her body, but he didn’t turn around. With sheer desperation gushing from the very core of her soul, she wanted to run after him, to hold him one last time, but she knew she couldn’t; their time was up.

Enrico heard her calling him, but he couldn’t bear to turn around again; he knew that if he saw her, he would run back into her arms and he would never let go. Instead, he made himself a promise to return to New York as soon as he could.

Sadie stood frozen in her tracks, while anxiety guided her every thought. She watched Enrico, as he continued to walk in a hurried pace, and she wanted him to come back. “Enrico”, she sighed, with little air passing through her trembling lips. “I love you.” Her head was bent in sorrow while the world was crashing down around her.

After Enrico boarded the large vessel, he made sure to stand on the very end of the large deck. He was facing her, but they were so far apart. His hand leaped high into the air and swayed back and forth, as he watched her wave back to him. He could tell that she was beckoning him to come back, and it was killing him that he couldn’t.

Sadie’s heart leaped in her chest when she saw him. “Enrico!” she called loudly. She saw him waving, and she waved back with as much energy as she could muster. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the handsome man, who only hours ago, had made passionate love to her. “I’m here!” she cried. Her voice had cracked and was full of raw emotion.

Enrico’s face was wearing the biggest smile of his life, and he waved with all of his might. “Sadie!” he called, as if she could hear him.

“Enrico!” she shouted. She knew in that instance that he was the man who she would love for the rest of her life.

The ship blew its horn a few times, and then it slowly pulled away from the dock.

“No!” she screamed, as her body went into an even bigger panic mode. Tears were trickling down her moist and flushed cheeks, as her soul was being smashed into a thousand different pieces. “Please don’t leave!” she pleaded at the top of her lungs. She was yelling with as much force as she had in her body, and was stunned that no-one was looking in her direction. ‘Why were they not helping me get him back?’ she wondered wildly.

“Sadie!” Enrico called, but the sound of his words were not as clear anymore. “I love you!” he added happily. “Can you hear me?”

With all the noise that was around her, Sadie’s ears didn’t get to receive his tender words. “How will I go on without you?” she cried, while choking on her own tears. Her heart was in her throat, her will to live had been taken away, and now there was a horrible, empty ache in her soul.

“Enrico!” Sadie shouted at full volume. She continued to step closer and closer to the edge of the platform, as the ship appeared to go further and further away from the shore. “No-o-o-o-o!” she screamed, as if that would somehow stop what was happening.

With each moment that passed, their hearts were growing heavier with the sadness that was now weighing them down. Minute-by-minute, their emotional pain was getting worse, and almost an hour later, the ship was nothing more than a mere dot on the large body of water.

Sadie had fallen to her knees before the ship had totally disappeared, and it was then when she discovered what Enrico had placed in her closed fist - a beautiful silver locket. On the left side of the elaborately engraved heart, was a picture of Enrico. On the right, was a picture of her.

AMAZON BUY LINKS E-BOOK - PAPERBACK


Tina Griffith
, who also wrote twenty-seven children's books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

COVER REVEAL

for Sharon Ledwith's newest Time Travel Fantasy in The Last Timekeepers series. This exciting book, that is people of all ages, releases September 17, 2021 from Mirror World Publishing! 

Here's a little teaser to intrigue you.


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.

 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, August 23, 2021

COVER REVEAL

 for Anne Montgomery's newest Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense from TouchPoint Press releasing September 13, 2021!

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

PREORDER YOU COPY FROM AMAZON  

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST 
Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison 

 Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Register & Order Online: TouchPointPress.com/Bookstore
Orders: info@touchpointpress.com

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 18, 2021

Cheers! Time to Celebrate

The traditional Bank Holiday is the last Monday in August. Great Britain and Canada have celebrated this day for over two hundred years. It is a public holiday that gives everyone the day off work, but it also signifies the end of summer and the last weekend before school starts. The Brits make the most of the long weekend by travelling to their caravans (campers), visiting family and friends, or hosting parties in their gardens (backyards). No matter what they choose to do, this menu will pop up sometime during the three-day weekend. 

MENU 
Fish & Chips 
Mushy Peas 
Tartar Sauce 
British Beer – Bass Ale, Foster’s Lager, Carling Black Label 

Fish
 
2 lbs. (1kg) fresh cod Water 
2 tbsp. (30ml) salt 

Cut fish into serving pieces, but not too small. Pour a small amount of water into a large bowl. Stir in salt until it dissolves. Add fish. Set bowl in fridge for about 3 hours. 

Batter 
1 cup (100g) flour 
1 egg yolk 
5 tbsp. (75ml) beer, not Lite 
6 tbsp. (90ml) milk 
5 tbsp. (75ml) water 
2 egg whites 

Pour flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center then add egg yolk and beer. Stir until well mixed. Combine milk and water. Gradually pour blend into batter and stir until smooth. 

Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes on your counter away from sun and heat. 

Beat egg whites until they form unwavering peaks. Gently fold them into batter. 

Chips 
1 large baking potato per person 
Vegetable oil for deep-frying 
Salt 

No need to peel potatoes unless you have an aversion to the skin. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and then into strips ½ inch (1.25cm) wide and thick. Drop them in a bowl of cold water. Set in fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 250° F (120°C). 

Line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with paper towels. 

Heat oil on medium-high until a chunk of white bread fries quickly to a golden brown. 

Drain potatoes and pat dry. Carefully drop slices into oil by handfuls. Fry until potatoes are crisp and light brown. Removed cooked potatoes to the lined pan. Sprinkle with salt. Set pan in oven to keep warm while you prepare the fish. 

Cooking the Fish Pat fish dry. Drop 2 or 3 pieces into batter. Be sure to coat fish well. Plunge pieces into hot oil. Fry 4 – 5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn pieces with a spoon to stop them from sticking together and to cook all around. This is tricky because the fish wants to float and isn’t happy to turn over so you can fry the other side. Remove pieces as they cook to the pan with the chips. 

To serve, heap fish in the center of a large heated platter. Arrange chips around them. 

Traditionally fish and chips are served sprinkled with malt vinegar and salt. It’s best to let people make that choice themselves. My family prefers tartar sauce. 

Tartar Sauce
 
1 cup (100g) real mayonnaise, no imitations 
2 small garlic cloves, chopped fine 
2 tbsp. (30ml) onion, chopped fine 
2 tbsp. (30ml) sweet relish 
¼ tsp. (1.25ml) freshly ground pepper 

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to your preference. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stores well in the fridge for 3 weeks. 

Mushy Peas 

The Brits use marrowfat peas for this classic recipe. Finding them in the US is not easy so I adjusted the recipe to peas that are available in my area. The taste is still good so be sure to give them a try. Leftovers freeze well. 

2 cups (200g) frozen peas, thawed 
¼ cup (60ml) water 
1½ tbsp. (21g) butter 
2 tsp. (10ml) lemon juice 
¼ tsp. (1.25ml) dried sage 
2 pinches sugar 
Freshly ground pepper to taste 

Combine peas, water, and butter in a saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes or until peas are soft. Remove pan from heat and smash peas, coarsely, with a potato masher. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve.

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

Sloane

Monday, August 16, 2021

Keep the Train from Rolling

C.D. Hersh is here to talk about pacing and its importance to a better story. They offer six ways to keep a train from rolling through your scenes. 

We’re not talking about stories about locomotives or the walking back and forth you do when waiting for someone. Pacing in writing is determined by the length of the scenes, how fast the action moves, and how quickly the reader is provided with information.

Have you seen the movie “The Descendants” starring Nick Clooney? If you like panoramic views of Hawaii and lots of close-ups of Clooney, then hunt it up on your favorite streaming service. If, however, you prefer a faster paced story, this movie is not the one for you.

When we belonged to a drama group our director was always talking about pacing. She hated pauses that were longer than it took for a ping pong ball to drop from a coffee table. In “The Descendants” you could have driven trains through some of the pauses in the scenes. Can you say sloooooow?

Try as we might, we couldn’t figure out why so many sluggish scenes were needed. Some of the unnecessary scenes included close ups of an angst-ridden Clooney staring out into space, for way too long; pedantic scenes of him buried behind piles of paper at his office desk; more than one silent, plodding hospital scene with Clooney and his family, while the camera panned the room; long camera shots of Hawaii you could have fit four commercials into; and a closing movie scene where the characters spent minutes staring wordlessly at the television. The only thing in the last scene that made a point was the quilt they all snuggled under. Come on, already. Pick up the pace. Even sad stories need to move along at a clip that keeps the viewer, or reader, engaged.

Pacing is such an important part of any story. Too slow and you lose the reader’s attention. Too fast and you leave them wondering what just happened. Here are a six tips to help you keep your story’s pacing moving along.

  • Use more dialogue for faster pacing. We’re not talking about dull “How’s the weather” conversation, unless the story’s about a tornado. Make every word count and tell the reader something new.
  • Don’t repeat information. There’s no need to beat the reader over the head with information. Telling them once that Aunt Millie is dying is sufficient. They’ll remember it. They’re smart.</li
  • Use action instead of tags in dialogue. You’ll not only speed up the pace, but you’ll show the reader what’s happening.
  • Keep two or more characters on the scene. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, versus The Transformers.
  • Use narrative or description sparingly. Nothing stops a story like a side trip down memory lane or descriptions of setting and characters. Drop that kind of information into the story in short bites. The reader will still get it.
  • Create tension in the scene. Donald Maas says every scene should have tension, even every page. If you don’t have tension there’s no reason for your reader to turn the page.

Check your work in progress. Are your scenes tight and exciting, or can you drive a train or a semi-truck through them? Scenes don’t have to be action packed, just tension packed. Keep those ping pong balls bouncing around to stir up the pace.


Now when your heart rate slows down how about checking out our books? 

Here’s a scene from book four, The Mercenary and the Shifters of our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles, to give you an idea of fast pace. 

My home is perfectly safe. 

It’s my business I’m concerned about.” 

 Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled. 

 “Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona. 

 They hit the floor as the pottery on the raised fireplace hearth exploded, sending shards across the room. Mike shoved Fiona behind the nearest chair then scrambled across the rug to the blown-out window. Removing his gun from his back-of-the-waist holster, he peered over the windowsill. Seeing no one in the driveway, he swiveled around to check on Fiona. The red laser point danced around the room, searching for a target. 

Mike followed the trajectory of the beam. The shot came from across the street in something high. He remembered seeing a tree house in the yard across the road from the mansion. 

“Who lives across from you?” he asked. 

“No one right now. The house is for sale.” 

“I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign.” 

“We’re in an exclusive neighborhood. The HOA forbids sale signs.” 

Another shot rang out. Mike whirled around in time to see Fiona’s head sticking out from behind the chair. The image of her head reflected in the fireplace mirror. “He’s using the mirror to target us. Do these curtains close?” 

“Yes. The cord’s on the other side of the window.” 

“I’m going to crawl under the window and close them. He’ll probably see my reflection in the mirror and start shooting, so stay hidden. As soon as the curtains close, crawl to the window as fast as you can and follow the wall to the entryway. Then get the hell out of the front of the house. Got it?” 

“Got it.” Fiona’s voice quavered up the scale. 

“You okay?” 

“Scared, but okay.” 

As Mike crawled along the floor, a volley of shots rang out. The remainder of the pottery displayed on the hearth shattered. When he reached the other side of the window, he yanked the drapery cord. The curtains billowed closed. 

“Now, Fiona!” he shouted. 

As she belly crawled across the floor, Mike held his breath. Bullets sprayed the room, punching through the heavy draperies, the shots veering from floor to ceiling. 

Don’t ricochet! he commanded. 

Fiona reached the cover of the exterior wall, and he let his breath out in a whoosh. 

“Hurry!” When she came within arm’s reach, he grabbed her hand and yanked her the rest of the way across the room and into the entry. “Do you have a panic room?” 

She nodded, her eyes filled with fear. “In the basement, behind the trophy wall.” 

“Get in it, and don’t come out until I tell you to.” 

“Where are you going?” 

“To get the SOB who’s trying to kill you.” 

Now when your heart rate slows down how about checking out our books? 

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 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.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

AN ITALIAN TASTE TREAT

 from Catherine Castle

Traditional carbonara sauce has an egg and cheese sauce added to the spaghetti just before serving. I don’t care for eggs added to things at the last minute, so I eliminated the eggs and sauce and came up with my own version of carbonara. I hope you’ll like it as much as we do.

Zucchini Spaghetti Carbonara ala Catherine

6 slices thick bacon
4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
2.5 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
1 cup diced or chunked ham
1 med. zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced thin
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 

Divide bacon into 4 and 2 slices. Prepare 4 slices for microwaving by placing between 2 paper towels on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 3 minutes until crisp. Remove from paper while still warm and crumble. 

Dice remaining 2 slices and place in a large skillet, cooking until crisp. 

While bacon is cooking, boil water for spaghetti and cook as directed on package until pasta is firm. Drain fully when cooked. 

While pasta is cooking, sautĂ© ham and zucchini with diced bacon until zucchini is tender. 

Drain any excess liquid from the pan. 

Add olives and cooked drained spaghetti to zucchini and bacon, tossing to mix. 

Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese, tossing quickly to keep cheese from clumping. 

Top with crumbled bacon and serve. 

Makes 2 generous main dish servings or 4 side dishes. 

Note: additional cheese may be sprinkled on top of pasta after serving, if desired. 

This dish makes up quick, so you won’t have time to read a book while it’s cooking, but after the dishes are done, check out Catherine’s sweet romantic comedy with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

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 loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.


Monday, August 09, 2021

Learning Welsh, Again

From Carol Browne

Recently I made a serious attempt at tackling a life-long goal. I have always wanted to learn Welsh and now that I am semi-retired, I have the time and the inclination to take on new projects. I already have a good grounding in French and a smattering of German but Welsh has been what you might call the Holy Grail for me when wanting to learn another language. There are a number of reasons for this. As a Brit, I believe we in the UK should value and preserve all our languages.  It is a shame they aren’t taught in schools. The UK comprises four nations so why should English alone be the national tongue? Welsh is a British language and the Britons were here first!

Apart from the historical and cultural reasons for learning another language, it has been shown to help with cognitive function and to ward off dementia. It opens up neural pathways in the brain and is especially good for the mental development of children. Other languages can stretch our minds with their varied uses of syntax and imagery; it is a different way of looking at the world.

I have another reason for learning Welsh, however. This one will ask many of the people reading this blog to suspend disbelief. I did have another attempt at learning Welsh a long time ago. I was about eight years old and had inherited a bookcase with its contents from my great uncle. In it was a Teach Yourself Welsh book. So I tried. I desperately wanted to learn Welsh because being Welsh was an obsession of mine. Coincidentally, all my family holidays were spent in Wales as we weren’t too far from the Welsh border. Trust me, once you cross that border you feel different. There is something a bit magical about Wales. Druids, castles, dragons, yes! But the whole ethos of that country feels otherworldly. The beaches are gorgeous too and there are stunning waterfalls and lush woodland that seem to be a natural haunt for the faerie folk.

My attempt at learning Welsh on my own at such a young age was a failure. I could write the words but had no idea how to say them. No Internet then. There were no evening classes and no college courses in Welsh, even had I been old enough to attend. I was forced to abandon the attempt. But my obsession with Wales persisted. I didn’t just want to speak Welsh; I wanted to be Welsh. Being English instead actually caused me considerable depression. Bonkers! Why would a child have such outlandish thoughts!

Fast forward twenty years to a morning bus ride on my way to work. I remember it clearly. I was gazing sadly out of the window, thinking that if anyone were to ask me what my biggest regret in life was, I would have to say, “Not being Welsh”. Only one thought cheered me up. That evening there was something to look forward to. A neighbour and I had booked readings with a local clairvoyant medium. Although we both had an interest in spiritual and esoteric matters, we had not been to a medium before and it was a bit of a giggle; but I was not prepared for what I was to hear.

 When my turn to sit with the medium came, she told me about my present life and quite a few things that would happen in my future (I dismissed them at the time but they all came to pass!). She said that I could ask her some questions before I left. Something prompted me to say, “Can you see people’s past lives?”

 “Oh, yes,” she said. “I can see some of yours. In your most recent past life you were Welsh.”

 Yep, I almost fell off the chair! How could she know I was obsessed with being Welsh? Nobody knew that!

 She went on to tell me I was a woman with a smallholding in Maesteg, South Wales, and I loved animals but didn’t like human society so lived like a recluse. She said, unfortunately, I had brought that vibration with me to this lifetime (I have. My bad, but it wasn’t a conscious decision!). I died of cancer in about 1874.

“One day, you will go back to Maesteg and recognise where you used to live,” she went on.

 So far, I haven’t made it to Maesteg, but you never know.

 The funny thing is, as soon as she told me I had been Welsh, my obsession with being Welsh evaporated along with the sadness. Something lifted and I was content with my Englishness from that point on. Fortunately, my love for Wales and the language did not go away. Now, thanks to Duolingo, I am learning Welsh and I know how to pronounce it this time, so I have more chance of success.

For all those years before that clairvoyant released me from my past-life enchantment, I endured an inexplicable longing for a place with which I felt a profound but irrational bond. It was nostalgia for a home that no longer existed and a sense of deep sorrow and regret to have lost it. I experienced something for which there is no word in English.

But there is a word that encapsulates all of those feelings. The word is hiraeth. It’s Welsh, of course!

Here is a brief into to my latest book. I hope you enjoy it.



An elf laments a passing era,

But truth and beauty will survive,
For they live on in stories and verses,
And in our imaginations thrive.

Nature, nostalgia, mystery and magic,
In twisty tales and poems that rhyme,
Are here, with myth and fantasy blended,
To capture another place and time.


BUY LINKS 

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Once upon a time a little girl wrote a poem about a flower.
Impressed, her teacher pinned it to the wall and, in doing so, showed the child which path to follow.
Over the years poems and stories flowed from her pen like magic from a wizard’s wand.
She is much older now, a little wiser too, and she lives in rural Cambridgeshire, where there are many trees to hug.
But inside her still is that little girl who loved Nature and discovered the magic of words.
She hopes to live happily ever after.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

GOING CAJUN

I had the great pleasure of attending a cooking class with my friend Bonnie several years ago. We were in New Orleans when this bright idea hit us. That’s what enjoying too many Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter will do to a person. đŸ˜Š The next day we were still hot to try our hands at Cajun cooking when we happened on The New Orleans School of Cooking. We enrolled in a class and, as our good luck would have, were the only two students. A great time was had by all! 

Since then, I’ve used up all the Joe’s Stuff I bought to season the dish and had to devise a new recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

JAMBALAYA
 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
½ tbsp. garlic, chopped
¾ lb. andouille sausage, sliced to pieces 1 inch thick
2½ cups chicken stock, possibly more
½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ cup paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. tabasco sauce2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup rice
1 cup green onions, chopped, include plenty of green

Warm a Dutch oven on medium heat. Pour in oil. When it shimmers add onion, celery, and green pepper. SautĂ© 7 – 9 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Adjust heat so onion doesn’t burn. Add garlic. SautĂ© 1 minute, stirring constantly.  

Stir in sausage and stock. Add remaining ingredients, except rice and green onions, and then stir well.

Add rice and bring to a boil. Cover then lower heat to simmer. Cook 25 minutes. Stir well after each 10 minutes so rice doesn’t stick to pan. Add more stock if the food looks dry.

Sprinkle green onions across the rice mixture when you serve.


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

Sloane

Monday, August 02, 2021

The Thing About Pen Names

From Sharon Ledwith

Who are you? No, I really want to know. For months I’ve been hanging with a great group of authors. Many of those authors have pen names—a.k.a. PSEUDONYMS. I still don’t know one particular author’s name that I’ve come to know well and count on for support and help. I find pen names funny. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept of a “secret identity.” The authors want to keep their private lives private. Their pen name is their business name. Yet, on Facebook, there’s a real photo of them next to their fake name. I find that hilarious—like unmasking Batman or taking off Clark Kent’s glasses. 

Pen names intrigue me, so I did a little digging, and came up with these tidbits compliments of the Daily Writing Tips blog: 

Authors throughout the centuries have used pen names. You’ve probably heard of the following authors:

·        George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair)

·        George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans)

·        Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

Authors use pen names for a wide variety of reasons. These include:

 

·        To remain anonymous (especially if producing a politically or religiously sensitive work)

This is perhaps less common today, but sometimes occurs if a very personal or sexually explicit work is written.

 

·        To change or conceal gender

In the 18th century, many female authors used male pen names in order to be taken seriously. George Eliot is the most famous example, though the Bronte sisters all wrote under pen names too.

 

This trend still continues in some genres today: for example, female fantasy or science fiction authors will often use a gender-neutral name (Robin Hobb) or use their initials (J.K. Rowling) as the genre has traditionally attracted more male readers and authors. A similar effect can be seen when male authors adopt a female pen name to write a chick lit or romance novel.

 

·        To write across multiple genres

Lewis Carroll also wrote mathematical textbooks under his real name (Charles Dodgson), so adopted a pen name for his children’s novels. Authors today who write in multiple genres will sometimes use a different name for each one, to avoid confusing readers.


·       To recover from poor sales or reputation

If an author’s real name has attracted criticism, it may be worth considering changing to a pen name. Sometimes, the first few novels by a new author don’t sell well in bookshops, leading publishers to reject future submissions. Therefore, changing to a pen name is often recommended in these circumstances.

 

So there you have it. If you are trying to build up a reputation in multiple genres, using a pen name (or several pen names) is probably a good idea. Even if your real name (or current pen name) has been slammed or attracted heavy criticism, switching to a new name could be a good way to go. However, adopting a pen name means building up your reputation again from scratch—a lot of work, but it may be well worth the time and effort to do so.

A final thought: if you’re using a pen name in an attempt to remain anonymous, be aware that people are often curious when they suspect a secret—you may well be “discovered” under that mask you worked so hard to create. In some cases, this can lead to great publicity, but if your publisher or fans suspects you of trying to conceal a less-than-stellar past, it may backfire.

To be you, or not to be you? What’s your choice? I’ve decided to stick with my real name. 

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…

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

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.

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.