Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Anytime Easy Dessert

 from Stella May 

These little taste treats are my own creation. It is an easy and skinny version of individual cheesecakes, yet still packed with plenty of flavor. This recipe makes one dozen little cakes. Dress them up with a bit of fruit on top after baking and you're good to go. Sorry, there's no picture. Those two rascals I live with ate them too fast.

Cream Cheese Mini-Cakes

1 package farmer’s cheese
1 package Philadelphia cream cheese
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup almond flour
½ tsp. baking powder 

Remove cheeses from refrigerator 2 hour before making this recipe. They both need to be at room temperature to cream properly. 

Place cheeses in a large bowl. Mix on a low speed with an electric mixer until creamed. 

Add eggs, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Increase mixer speed to blend well. Pour in almond flour and baking powder. Combine well. 

Pour mixture into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers or do like me and use a silicone form for cupcakes. You’ll need to lightly oil it. 

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. 

Very important: put a medium-sized bowl filled with water on the bottom of your oven. 

Bake 35-40 min, or until golden brown.

Here is a peek at Stella’s time travel romance novel for your reading pleasure. 

One key unlocks the love of a lifetime…but could also break her heart. 

Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.  

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake! 

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman. 

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart. 

’Til Time Do Us Part is available in Kindle and Paperback at AMAZON

Talented author Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of 'Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 35 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Are Friends Electric?

Farewell, Fridge-freezer! 

From Carol Browne 

Humans tend to become emotionally attached to inanimate objects. People love their cars, for example. I don’t have a car, but I do have a fridge-freezer. Or rather, I did. It died on me this week, announcing its demise by tripping out all the lights and the other household appliances and sending me into a panic that had me phoning my landlord for help. He sent round an electrician who restored equilibrium to the fuse box and read the fridge-freezer its last rites.

I joked with the electrician: “How dare it break down after twenty-eight years of constant service!” He agreed that they don’t make white goods like that anymore. But when he’d gone, I felt a bit sad. I remembered the day I bought that fridge-freezer brand new. I had escaped from a bad marriage and found a place to rent and was filling it with what I needed to start my new life. Things were not destined to go smoothly, however, and there were to be many house moves and relationships ahead. Throughout all those house moves my longest-lasting relationship has been with my fridge-freezer! 

I sat at the kitchen table and reminisced. All the things I had been through over those twenty-eight years! And that fridge-freezer had stood without complaint in whatever kitchen it found itself in (and for a few years, in a draughty back porch). It moved between houses and bungalows, from the town to the countryside, bumping about in removal vans and trucks. Along the way it lost its pristine-white sheen and gathered fridge magnets like barnacles. Its edges became a little rusty, the shelves cracked and the little light no longer worked when the door was opened. But it steadfastly did its duty, a silent witness to the dramas around it and the passing of time. And sometimes when I woke in the night, its gurgling and purring sounds drifted from the kitchen to my room and reassured me, though I don’t know why. It was just a machine but somehow it had become a friend. 

I remembered as a child the time before we even had a fridge and how difficult it was for my mother to keep food fresh. The day the first fridge arrived was everyone’s birthday come at once! It had an icebox and that meant ice cream! Nowadays, we take such devices for granted. What a shock it is when they stop working for us. 

Yes, I had taken that fridge-freezer for granted. It never let me down until this week and I am lost without it until a replacement is delivered. We have been through a lot together and I know I will never see its like again. It will be a wrench to see it loaded onto yet another truck, because this time it won’t be going to another kitchen in another home. This time it will make its final journey when the city council hauls it away to put it out of its misery. 

Yes, it’s an inanimate object, insensate and soulless and just a hulk made of plastic and metal, but I know that when they take it away, I will be thinking, “Goodbye, old friend. Thanks for everything. It’s been a blast.”

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

Fantasy author Carol Browne is a published author who is currently seeking an agent.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022


 From Emma Lane aka Janis Lane 

This is an easy casserole that may be prepared the day before and warmed up on a busy day when dinner should be quick and easy. A box of rice tucked in the pantry is always a great idea. Changing the flavor makes it your own personal recipe. I’ve made it with a can of stewed tomatoes and a bit of garlic. You’ll find your own favorites to add. Summer sausage gives this dish a Southern flavor. Don’t forget to call out at least two y’alls before the first forkful. 

Sausage and Rice Casserole
1 box Wild Rice2 onions, chopped
¼ cup green peppers, chopped
1 lb. bulk ground sausage
1 small can sliced mushrooms
2 cans cream chicken soup
1 can mushroom soup
1 cup water
1 small can water chestnuts, drained 
Slivered almonds, toasted and drained

Preheat oven 350° F.

Cook rice as directed on package, set aside. 

Sauté onion, peppers and sausage until meat is browned. Drain. Stir remaining ingredients, except almonds, with sausage mixture; turn into 9 X 13 baking dish. 

Bake 30 – 40 minutes. Sprinkle with almond slivers then serve. 

Suggested Additional Sides
Fresh Green beans seasoned with ham bits
Lima beans
Stewed tomatoes
Fresh rye bread and butter  

Fruit cup with slice of pound cake and cheese
Iced Tea or coffee
Glass of wine 

Here is an intro to Janis's romantic cozy mystery for your reading pleasure.

Snapshot Suspicions
is an adventure with Abby, beautiful, vagabond wildlife photographer, and Adam, ruggedly handsome, millionaire protector of the environment.

A dangerous wildlife mystery requires the close attention of Adam and the local sheriff as Abby deals with two hired goons stalking her with a grudge. Basking in the rosy contentment of their love, Abby and Adam must trust each other as they encounter the first rift in their relationship. An engaging puppy presents a conundrum and a terrifying incident.

Abby discovers she can enjoy photographing subjects (AKC) other than wildlife and delights in setting up her own office, while Adam breathes a sign of relief when Abby makes a permanent commitment. Could she finally be thinking of a life time pledge to him?

As she entered the room, a long arm snaked out and pulled her swiftly toward a broad chest. Her face was again covered with kisses that trailed down her face, sidetracked to explore a curled ear with a sip on a tiny lobe, and continued a path of kisses until it landed against her lips, which were blossoming into a reluctant smile.


The sandy-haired giant lifted his head from the places he had been attending and settled his piercing blue eyes on her green ones with a satisfied sigh.


He sat down in a kitchen chair and pulled her onto his lap, wrapping her in a warm embrace and tucking her head on his shoulder. She snuggled contentedly against him. What a wonderful way to greet the day, she thought. Everyone should have a handsome blond giant to cuddle with . . . She could feel herself drifting off.

“Good morning, Abby, my tree sprite. Did you sleep well? I thought you might stay snuggled in bed this morning after such a late night.”

“Adam.” She took a deep breath inhaling the familiar fragrance that she loved. It was all Adam who was so dear to her. She rubbed her face into his shoulder and allowed him to cuddle her for a minute more. Her body relaxed against him, her hand half encircled his rock hard forearm, but her mind struggled with her problem. She knew she had to nip this in the bud if she were ever to have peace. This was exactly what she had feared when she resisted moving in with him, even though she knew she loved him.

“Adam.” She turned her head to stare into his intensely blue eyes, and then shut hers. There was always the danger of falling into those loving pools of blue if a girl were not careful. She knew from experience how mesmerizing they could be.

“You’ve got to control that dog. I know he’s young and means no harm, but you promised to train him. I can’t keep buying new sneakers every single day.” She felt Adam’s deep chuckle before she heard it. His chest erupted in those sounds that brought a smile to her face in spite of her annoyance with the situation.

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.

Monday, June 20, 2022


Love them or hate them we have to live with them. 

By C.D. Hersh 

Our lives have come down to passwords. If you can’t remember them you can’t get into any of your social media applications. You can’t pay your bills or access your email and in some cases your smart phone.

Google “passwords” and you get 41M plus hits that encompass anything from password managers to safes to recovery programs and generators. Passwords are big business and if you don’t have them, as mentioned above, you have problems. 

Protection has always been of importance even to the early cave dwellers. If your cave wasn’t high up a cliff anyone could just walk in and take the meat you had killed the day before. As time progressed man became smarter about keeping things safe. Today to keep things safe we have whole home systems that monitor 24/7. However, that still doesn’t cover the ones you need when you want to tweet or get money out of the ATM. 

One solution is to spend big bucks for a password generator and then have a password keeper to store the various passwords you have to maintain. Here is a simple password generator and keeper that only costs a dollar per password. 

You say that can’t be. 

Pull out a George Washington from your purse or wallet. Take a close look at the bill. You can use any denomination but to keep costs down George is the one to go with. Notice the ten digit serial number? That’s the password generator. 

There are two ways to use this generator. One is to use the numbers printed on the bill. Which might not be as secure as the method we’ll explain next. Of course, with systems today you have to use more than numbers and sometimes even special characters. We’ll get to those in a minute. 

To generate the letters from the serial number start with the first letter of the serial number. If the next number is an even number, move forward in the alphabet that many letters and use it as a capital. If the number is odd move backwards and use it as lower case. When the number is zero use the same letter, you just used only different case. Do this for each successive number and you will have a string of randomized letters, ten characters long. 


For example, if the serial number on your bill is K94785309C you come up with the ten characters as KbFyGbyYpC. When you get to A or Z you continue at the beginning or end to continue your count. Your random password is now generated. 

If you need special characters, they usually include the @, #, $ or &. Insert them in order between the upper and lower case letters. Thus, the fourteen-character password we have now generated is K@b#F$y&GbyYpC. 

If the serial number is E54522034B then you get E@z#D$y&ACCzDB. Once the special characters are used, don’t repeat them again in that password. Mix in other special characters that are allowed, as you desire. 

What about the password keeper you ask? That’s the dollar bill you used to generate the password. Use a post-it-note to put the name of the social media or other account name on the bill. Put it in a second wallet in a secure place until it is time to update your password on that account. That dollar is not spendable for you and is why this all costs a dollar per account. 

Of course, once you have all your account passwords set up, the next time you update your password is free as you change the dollars out. Hope this is helpful to you. 

Let us know if this works for you or you have another idea in the comments below. 

If this piques your interest, then the links for our books are on our Amazon Author Page 

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. 

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.


Soul Mate Publishing


Amazon Author Page


Wednesday, June 15, 2022


Father’s Day is June 19 this year. Show dad some love with this flavorful dinner fit for a king and definitely enjoyed by the queen and all the princes and princesses. Easy to make and oh, so good.


Grilled Sirloin Steak 
Twice Baked Potatoes
Sautéed Mushrooms
Caesar Salad
Dry Red Wine – Burgundy

Grilled Sirloin Steak
Sirloin steak, cut 1 – 1½ in. (2.50 – 3.80cm) plan ¾ lb. (375g) per person 
1 cup (240ml) garlic infused oil (recipe below) or 1 cup (240ml) olive oil and 3 garlic cloves, sliced 
½ cup (120ml) dry red wine 
2 tbsp. (30ml) basil 
2 tbsp. (30ml) oregano

Cut slits in fat around the meat so it doesn’t curl when cooked.

Combine all ingredients into a plastic bag or glass bowl. Marinade 5 – 12 hours in fridge. Sirloin can be tough. A long marinade is needed to make the meat tender and juicy.


Remove meat from fridge 1 hour before grilling.


Preheat grill on medium-high.


Pat meat dry. Discard marinade. Place steak on grill and close lid.


Grill first side 4 – 5 minutes. Turn meat (you only turn meat once) and final grill the second side as listed:

2 – 3 minutes rare

3 – 5 minutes medium-rare

5 – 7 minutes medium

6 – 9 minutes medium-well


Garlic Infused Oil

This is a wonderful oil to sauté vegetables or fry meat and poultry. It’s especially good to swipe a thin coating on burgers before frying or grilling. 

2 cups (450ml) good quality olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

Drop garlic into a glass bottle or jar. Pour in oil. Cover tightly.

Set the bottle on your counter, away from the sun, for at least three days before you use it. Remove garlic after 5 days and discard. The flavored oil is good for two months.

This method works well with all herbs. Be sure to cover the herbs with oil so they don’t mold.

Twice Baked Potatoes

The amounts of the following ingredients are left up to your taste, but don’t be sparing if you want great flavor.

1 baking potato per person
Olive oil
Extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Sour cream
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400° F (200°C).

Wash potatoes under cool water. Pat dry. Rub skins with a little olive oil. Make a small slit across their tops. Lay on a cookie sheet. Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick is easily inserted.

Combine butter, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and pepper into a small bowl.

When potatoes are tender, lay them on a cutting board and slice them in half. They’ll be very hot so use potholders for this. Scoop the pulp into the above mixture. Be careful not to rip the skins. Whip the mixture well.

Refill the shells and set them back on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a little paprika for color.

Stop here if you plan to serve the potatoes the next day. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator at least one hour before baking.


No matter which option you use, preheat reheat oven to 325° F (160°C).


Bake uncovered 25 – 30 minutes. You only want to heat the potatoes so don’t overdo the baking time.

Sautéed Mushrooms
8 oz. (250g) mini bella mushrooms
1 tbsp. (15ml) olive oil
2 tbsp. (25g) butter½ small onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp. (30ml) dry vermouth or white wine
Freshly ground pepper to taste


Clean mushrooms with a paper towel to remove bedding soil. Slice them in half lengthwise if medium or into thirds if large.


Over medium heat dribble olive oil into a medium-sized frying pan and add butter. Stir in onions and mushrooms. Sauté until almost tender, 3 – 6 minutes.


Pour vermouth or white wine over the mushrooms and continue to heat.


To serve, grind pepper across the top and spoon into a warm serving dish.


This dish is best cooked and served on the same day. Leftovers are soggy.


Caesar Salad
1 egg, coddled
1 lg. clove garlic
½ tsp. (2.5ml) anchovy paste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp. 15ml) lemon juice, preferably fresh
3 drops white vinegar or as close as possible
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
Romaine lettuce, 3 leaves per person, washed and dried
½ cup (37g) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 bag croutons, optional

Remove egg from refrigerator well before assembling all other ingredients on your counter. Eggs cook better for any recipe when at or close to room temperature.

Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Place egg in water and boil 2 minutes. This process is called coddling.  Rinse under cold water, crack shell, and then scoop the runny egg into a small bowl. Break up the solid white pieces and lightly mix. Later, you will add some of this to the salad dressing.

In a large glass or wooden serving bowl, mash garlic with a spoon and fork into coarse pieces. Rub pieces against the sides of bowl to spread the oil they have released.
Add anchovy and pepper. Mix well. Pour in lemon juice and vinegar. Mix well. Add in ½ – ¾ of the coddled egg. Mix well. Blend in olive oil until the dressing thickens. Remove this mixture from your bowl and set aside to use right before serving.

Tear lettuce into bitesize pieces. Add to salad bowl. Pour in some of the dressing. Toss well. Add more dressing if the lettuce looks too dry. Sprinkle on ¼ cup (28g) or so of Parmesan. Toss again.

Arrange salad on individual chilled bowls or plates. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and croutons. Serve immediately.

For a larger salad, increase ingredients proportionally, but do not exceed two eggs.

These recipes plus many more fun holiday menus are available in my Recipes to Cook Holidays Extraordinaire cookbook. 


Monday, June 13, 2022


Wild Rose Press is excited to announce a new Regency romance from well-respected, multi-published author Vonnie Hughes. 

Here is a small bit from this exciting novel to tease you Regency lovers.

Helena Marshfield is in hiding. Once the indulged daughter of a baronet, she is now governess/companion to a businessman’s daughters. Her family has been in disgrace since her father’s very public suicide. What if someone discovers she has another secret to hide, that her father had promised her to the revolting Lord Elverton as payment for a wager?

Ivor Stafford struggles to free himself from the mountain of debt his father left. Hiding his problems from the not-so Polite World, he takes solace in his membership of the committee formed by the Horse Guards to investigate how Peninsular campaign secrets are being spilled to the French. Also on the committee is Josh Yardley, Helena’s employer.

When Ivor and Helena meet, an unwilling but intense attraction has them both wishing…what if? But when Elverton discovers where Helena is living, she is in great peril. What price duty now, Helena and Ivor?

Amazon Buy Link

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022


from Sharon Ledwith

Especially when it comes to candy. This wonderful peanut brittle has a WOW factor that adds to any celebration. Give as gifts or enjoy with family and friends. This recipe is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser! Make sure you have all the ingredients measured and ready to go, as it requires you to react quickly between steps.

1 cup white sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup water
1 cup peanuts
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp. baking soda
Candy thermometer

Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water to a boil in a heavy 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Stir in peanuts.

Set candy thermometer in place and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300° F (150° C).

Remove heat. Immediately stir in butter and baking soda. Pour at once onto cookie sheet. With two forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches. Allow to cool.

SNAP candy into pieces and enjoy while you take a glimpse at my latest novel.

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking...

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced 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, Google+, 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, June 06, 2022

The Magic of Girl Scout Camp

 from Anne Montgomery 

One thing we teachers get to have that most other adults don't is a real summer vacation. Not the week or so most people take during the warm stretch of the year, but an actual couple of months off. (They don't pay us much, but we do have perks.) 

As the school year winds down, I am often reminded of those summers when I was a kid, a time when I got to be someone else. 

I stood before a wrap-around mirror at Lane Bryant, a store that originally supplied clothing for pregnant women, and then moved on to the plus-size juggernaut we know today. I was 12. 

"It's not my fault," my mother said to the saleswoman, wringing her hands. "I feed her fish and salad with no dressing." 

The woman nodded. "I'm sure you do, still the child needs a size 16 in that dress." 

I turned away from my fashionably attired mother in her spike heels and cat eyeglasses, wondering if she realized that, while I was fat, I was not deaf. I could hear the pleading in her voice. "How did I end up with an obese daughter?" 

Being an overweight kid in the 1960s was a rarity, as most any class picture from the time will clearly show. Add to my girth the fact that I was a tomboy and cared little about my appearance and rarely brushed my red hair, so my mother had it sheared short. Perhaps she thought I might find the style disturbing and be prompted to care more about my looks. But the only thing my bowl cut with a prominent cowlick in the front did was confuse people in regard to my gender. Sometimes, I was asked if I was a boy or a girl. 

By fifth grade, I was a thickly proportioned five-foot-five. In photographs with other students, I was, on occasion, mistaken for the teacher. Other kids teased me, but they never got too close. I think I actually frightened some of them. I did have a few friends, but when I turned 12, the girl who lived two houses down announced one day that she would no longer spend time with me.

"You're a fat girl," she said, not looking me in the eye. "Boys don't like fat girls. If I'm your friend, they won't like me either." She turned and walked away. She never spoke to me again. 

I sometimes stared at other girls in my class. By comparison most seemed to be petit, delicate little things. One in particular, a blond, blue-eyed child with perfect pitch and straight A's, always stood out. She wore white lace ankle socks and played the piano. When the parts were cast for the school play one year, she was named the head fairy. My role? Head witch. 

Every summer my parents sent me to Girl Scout Camp. The first time I was eight and went off for two weeks. That led to annual month-long excursions I would continue until I was 17. 

I quickly learned that at camp no one forced you to brush your hair. What truly mattered had nothing to do with appearance. The most important thing at camp was swimming, for this was the activity that opened the doors to almost everything else. Campers were labeled according to their aquatic skills and assigned a cap color. Red was reserved for those most likely to sink like stones. Yellow caps had some skills but needed serious monitoring. Green caps could hold their own in the water and blue caps were masters, swimmers the counselors never worried about. 

One year, a new cap category was created just for me and one other camper. Casey and I were anointed white caps, after we completed the Red Cross Senior Life Saving course, which meant we had unfettered access to sailing and water skiing, canoeing and even scuba diving. I sometimes walked the dock when the other girls were taking their lessons, striding past the roped-off areas that kept the inexperienced swimmers from straying. I'd head out to the far end of the wooden-planked pier, not the least bit self-conscious about how I looked in my bathing suit. I would stand and stare out over the lake, where no ropes or buoys marred the view. Then I'd dive in, going deep into the dark water, feeling freer than I ever did on land. 

The other thing that made me special at Girl Scout Camp was music. I had acquired an old guitar from my aunt and had taught myself a few rudimentary cords. (It's rather amazing just how many songs you can play with G, Em, C and D7.) I learned quickly that the girl with the guitar was highly prized around the campfire every night. And when we'd sung our last song to the snap and pop of logs dying in the fire, we would head to our brown canvas tents that nestled in the trees, perched on wooden platforms, the sides rolled up. Cocooned in thick cotton sheets and flannel blankets, the pine-scented breeze wafted over us, as lake water kissed the rocks just a few feet away, and I knew a tranquil peace I had never found anywhere else. 

The end of camp brought tears all around. Friends soon to be separated and, for me, the return to the world where neither swimming nor my nascent attempts at guitar playing mattered. 

Then, one summer, I returned home from camp and my aunt's jaw dropped upon seeing me. "Who the hell are you!" she said, looking me up and down. "Damn! She's got cheekbones." 

It wasn't that I lost weight. The pounds just somehow rearranged, perhaps because I had less access to the candy bars I used to sneak daily.  Or maybe it was the rigors of that eight-day canoe trip. Or maybe it was magic wrought by the forest and the lake and the music and the fire. Whatever caused my transformation, no one ever called me fat again.

Here's a brief intro to my latest women's fiction novel for your reading pleasure.

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

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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, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022


from Helen Carpenter

Anticipation. That's the title of a great song, the jingle for an ancient advertisement, and a marketing tool for authors. Oh, and anticipation makes good food better too. What more could you ask of a word?

You already know the classic song (thanks, Carly Simon!), and if you're of a…ummm…certain age, you probably remember the ketchup commercial too. (Sorry if the jingle is now an earwig! Confess—you're humming, aren't you?)

As far as making good food better—our barbecue pulled pork recipe is DEFINITELY worth waiting for! Put all the ingredients together, then grab a good book to read while you're anticipating the meal to come.

½ cup ketchup
1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, divided
1 cup water
1 onion, chopped (or a similar amount of frozen chopped onions)
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
3 ½ pound pork roast (a shoulder cut works well)
Hamburger buns

Mix ketchup, ½ cup barbecue sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir in the onions and garlic.

Set pork roast in the crock pot and pour sauce mixture over it, coating the meat well. The liquid should almost cover the meat. Add more if necessary. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

Remove the pork roast from the crock-pot, let cool, and shred with a fork. Set aside.

Empty the liquid from the crock-pot. Put the pulled pork back into the crock-pot, add the remaining barbecue sauce, and mix well.

Cook on low for two more hours; then reduce setting to warm until ready to serve.

Serve on buns.

Tips and Tricks
Crock pots are ideal for tenderizing less expensive cuts of meat. The longer the cooking time, the more tender the meat becomes.

Feel free to add more sauce to the first cooking; meat cooked in liquid is moister.

For an added crunch, serve chips of your choice as a side dish.

If you want to serve the pulled pork for lunch, set up the crock pot to cook overnight.

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.