Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Six and a Half Tips

and a Recipe for Perfect English Muffins

by Helen Carpenter

You don’t have to be British to enjoy hand-made English muffins. This recipe is an easy menu addition for Sunday morning brunch or a special breakfast. English muffins are a snap to prepare, require only an hour to rise, cook quickly on a griddle or frying pan (no heating the oven!) and taste great, either plain or with butter, jam, or your favorite topping. An added bonus is the delicious, yeasty scent of fresh bread that fills the kitchen.

Here are tips to help you make perfect muffins.
1. While the yeast is dissolving, fill a 13” x 9” pan with hot water and place it in your unheated oven. Muffins rise best in a warm, humid environment.

2. If your recipe calls for honey, spritz your measuring spoon with cooking spray. The honey will slide right off the spoon.

3. Instead of using a rolling pin and cookie cutter to form your muffins, divide the dough into even parts. Then press out the dough pieces in your hamburger patty mold. You’ll get just-the-right-size, perfectly round muffins.

4. Once your muffins have risen, hand-transfer them to the heated griddle. They’ll keep their shape better than if you try to slip a spatula beneath them.

(Bonus tip: Prefer using a spatula? Dip the edge in cornmeal so it slides easily under the muffins.)

5. To test for doneness, lightly tap the top of the muffins with your fingertip. A hollow sound means your muffins are cooked.

6. When you’re ready to toast, split the muffins with a fork instead of a knife. Your toppings will fill the resulting nooks and crannies.

And here’s the perfect recipe for Perfect English muffins.

What you’ll need:
2-3 quart bowl
Standard-size cookie sheet
Griddle or frying pan
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
3/4 cup shortening
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt

Dissolve yeast in bowl in warm water for five minutes. While yeast is dissolving, sprinkle cookie sheet with a light coating of cornmeal.

Add flour, shortening, honey and salt to yeast-and-water-mixture to form dough.
Coat dough with flour; knead until elastic.

Divide dough into 12 equal balls. Use a hamburger patty mold or the flat end of a glass dipped in flour or sprayed with cooking spray to flatten each ball into a 3-inch circle. Put the muffins on the cookie sheet as you form them.

Cover the cookie sheet and let the muffins rise for an hour.
Heat the griddle or frying pan to 375 degrees (no oil necessary).

Cook the muffins, turning once, until golden brown on both sides.

Split with a fork, toast, and enjoy with your favorite topping.

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 every day, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.

Monday, November 28, 2022


After two years in the making, and remaking, of over 130 finetuned recipes, Toque & Dagger Publishing are excited to announce the long-awaited men’s cookbook from kitchen maven Sloane Taylor. 

Here is a little to introduce you to this hot new cookbook that’s perfect for the King of the Kitchen and the New Guy in the Room.

Hey guys, ready to tie one on? An apron, that is…

  • Over 130 mouthwatering recipes to try, from soups and salads to main dishes and sides. Dessert is up to you—if you have room!
  • Cuisines to satisfy any craving, from comfort food to looks-fancy-but-easy-as-pie delights. Raid your own pantry and get fresh (ingredients) at the grocery.
  • Prep can be done in advance, but why rush? Make the prep part of the fun with your honey! (Matching aprons optional. Clothing is recommended, especially for sautéing!)
  • Menu suggestions provided or get adventurous and create your own unique meal—and a memory to savor.
  • Wine and beverage selections make you an instant pairing expert.
  • Bonus: Tips/tricks that will make everyone think you’re a kitchen genius.
  • Extra bonus: Sloane’s secret recipe for Super Bowl Chili!
  • All recipes are indexed so you can find what you need in a snap.
  • And come on, who doesn’t like sausage? (For breakfast! What were you thinking?)

Lunch, dinner—or breakfast the next morning, Sloane has you covered! Because the best times always start in the kitchen.

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

To learn more about Taylor go to her website Stay in touch on BloggerTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Taylor's cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


The eagerly awaited Book Three in Stella May's highly acclaimed time travel romance series Upon a Time is releasing December 5, 2022! Here is a peek of what's coming soon.

The only way to save their future is risk a journey back to her past.

Time is running out. The message rings in Abby Coleman’s head as clear as the chime of the grandfather clock, her time portal on Amelia Island. Her instincts scream that she must move. Act. But where? And why? 

Through she leaped forward a century in time to live an independent life, she reluctantly admits she needs Alex, the insufferable thorn in her side who had the audacity to make her hope. Dream. Yearn.

Alex is through waiting for Abby to come to her senses. And to his complete surprise, the maddening, beautiful woman admits she loves him. Yet to his everlasting frustration, she refuses to marry until she solves her mystery. 

In a blinding flash of light, the portal spits out a desperate, heavily pregnant Nika, and the reason becomes all too clear. With Abby missing from her own time, Eli stands accused of her murder. The only way to clear his name is for Abby to go where Alex can’t follow—back through the portal. And one passionate night together may be all they’ll ever have.

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, November 21, 2022


Let's say thank you!

from Anne Montgomery

Forty-eight million Americans serve as caregivers for friends and family members in need.

I have always considered myself strong and quite capable of taking care of myself, but life has a way of swatting our perceptions away. I came to this conclusion when I was stricken with Covid-19—despite being fully vaccinated— a broken leg that rendered me unable to walk for two months, and an eye infection that affected my vision. (No, I never do anything halfway.)

I admit that I rarely thought of caregivers before, but as I stared up from my bed—broken and sick— at the face of my masked sweetie pie, I was struck by my utter helplessness. In the beginning, I was too sick to consider how much work I’d become. Nor did it register that I wasn’t the only person in Ryan’s care. His prime caretaking responsibility is his 85-year-old mom who is losing her eyesight and suffers from dementia.  

So, Ry was now faced with two of us. When the Covid started to ease, I jokingly called Ryan Ethan Frome, the title character in the 1911 novel by American author Edith Wharton. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, poor Ethan, who has a disabled shrew of a wife, falls in love with a pretty young woman. Then, with no way out, they decide to commit suicide together, however the plan goes awry. They both live, but the woman becomes disabled, so Ethan now has two sickly people to care for.

Ryan, as my caregiver, had to do everything when I was sick and broken.

According to the AARP, “Every day, some 48 million Americans help parents, spouses and other loved ones with medical care, meals, bathing, dressing, chores and much more. They do it out of love, not for pay.”

When I was well enough to notice, I realized the enormous pressure Ryan faced. He had to feed his mother, monitor her medications, and tend to grocery shopping and medical appointments, as well as weather her constant confusion and memory issues. Then he had to come to my house and care for all my needs, as well.  

As you can imagine, caregivers are suffering. “Family caregivers now encompass more than one in five Americans,” says the research series Caregiving in the US.  “The study also reveals that family caregivers are in worse health compared to five years ago.” Caregivers spend a whopping 13 days each month “on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication.”

These constant demands force caregivers to push their own lives and needs aside, often causing burnout. Between 40 to 70% of caregivers are said to suffer from depression, with those attending to patients with cognitive decline being the most likely to be affected. Also, chronic illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and immune system disorders can worsen.

Ryan stepped up and became a caregiver when I needed him. I will always be grateful.

What can caregivers do? First, ask for help, if you’re feeling overwhelmed. There are agencies all over the country that offer services to caregivers that can help lighten the load, so check the Internet and your insurance company to see what’s available. Do the best you can but forgive yourself when days don’t go as planned. And carve out some time out for yourself.

Every Tuesday, Ryan goes to lunch with his long-time buddies. The gathering is his one time of respite during the week when most of his efforts revolve around me and his mom. He always seems more energized when he returns from these get-togethers and happily tells me what’s new with the boys.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, so I’d like to give a big shoutout to those who shoulder the responsibilities for others. Caregiving is an exhausting, often overlooked effort. So, thank you to all the folks who support those of us in need.

And, of course, I’m especially grateful for Ryan who jumped in with both feet when my health failed, never getting angry, and doing his best to cheer me up when I was down.

Thank you, Ry. I love you!

Here is a look at one of my thrillers for your reading pleasure.

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—an ancient 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. 

Available at Amazon and all major vendors.

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, November 16, 2022

Holiday Feast Fit for a King and Queen

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. Every year Mike and I had at least twenty people for a sit-down dinner. We cooked the meal, and the guests supplied appetizers, deserts, and wine. It was a wonderful time to reminisce, over-indulge, and have fun. There comes a time when life must change. Four years ago, I passed the turkey baster on to my daughter Dru. She's a wonderful cook and it’s great fun to be her guest. 

Roasted Turkey 
Mashed Potatoes 
Candied Sweet Potatoes 
Canned Corn 
Cranberry Sauce 
White wine – Chardonnay 

Roasted Turkey 
8 tbsp. (114g) butter
2 leeks including some green, chopped 
2 large onion, chopped 
15 baby carrots, chopped 
4 tomatoes, chopped 
1 tbsp. (15ml) dried thyme 
1 tbsp. (15ml) dried marjoram 
1 large bay leaf 
Bacon strips to cover breast 
Chicken stock 
Disposable pan 
Cooking rack 
Cookie sheet – for stability 

 Place unopened turkey on a cloth lined cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator 7 hours per pound or one day for every four pounds of frozen turkey. So, if you have a 20-pound (9K) turkey it will take 140 hours or a least 5 days to thaw in the fridge. 

Thanksgiving Morning
If the turkey isn’t completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Dispose of packet inserted in cavity. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels. 

Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). 

Cooking Times
10 – 18 lbs. (4.5 – 8kg) 2 - 2½ hrs. 
18 – 22 lbs. (8 – 10kg ) 2½ - 3 hrs. 
22 – 24 lbs. (10 – 11kg) 3 - 3½ hrs. 

Melt butter in a large frying pan. When the foam subsides, lay turkey, breast down, and brown first one side then the other until skin is golden. Be careful moving the turkey around, it’s heavy and awkward.

Set disposable pan on cookie sheet. Scatter chopped vegetables onto pan bottom. Insert cooking rack. Place turkey on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom by 1 inch (2.54cm). Cover turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping sides well. 

Remove from oven at the predetermined time. To test if the bird is done, use a paper towel or pot holder and shake hands with its leg. The leg should move freely. Tent with foil and allow to rest 30 - 45 minutes before carving. 

Remember – turkey, like all other meat, continues to cook long after it is removed from the oven.

Stuffing is a winter food for us. I make a huge batch and freeze the unbaked extra in serving-size containers. Throughout the winter I’ll serve it with pork or chicken. 
1 package bread stuffing cubes, plain or seasoned 
½ lb. (250g) breakfast sausage in a tube or bulk 
8 tbsp. (1 stick) (114g) butter, melted 
1 rib celery, chopped 
½ medium onion, chopped 
1 egg, lightly beaten 
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried sage 
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried thyme 
2 cups (450ml) chicken stock, maybe a little more 

Empty bread cubes into a large bowl. 

 Fry sausage in a medium-sized skillet, breaking meat into small chunks, until no longer pink. Add sausage and its juice to bread cubes. 

Melt butter in same skillet. Add celery and onion when the foam subsides. Sauté 3 – 4 minutes until translucent, be careful not to let it brown. Add vegetables with all their juices to bread cubes. Mix well. Pour egg onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well. 

 Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy. 

To Bake as a Side Dish 
Spoon mixture into an ungreased baking dish. Do not pack it in. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate stuffing until you are ready to bake it, but no longer than two days. 

To Freeze 
Spoon mixture into freezer bags, label, and pop in freezer no longer than 3 months. I use several small bags that serve 2 at a single setting. No matter which route you take, remove stuffing from the refrigerator/freezer early in the day to allow it to come to room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top is brown. 

Mashed Potatoes 
1 small russet potato per person 
Chicken stock 
Sour cream 

The Day Before 
Pour 1-inch (2.54cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by 1-inch (2.54cm). Put a lid on pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking a fork into a potato. It should insert easily. 

Drain potatoes. Mash well without adding other ingredients. Cool completely in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate. 

Thanksgiving Day 
Remove potatoes from the refrigerator early in the day to allow them to come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, microwave potatoes until hot. Stir in butter, sour cream, milk, and pepper to the consistency you prefer. 

Candied Sweet Potatoes 
32 oz. (1kg) can of sweet potatoes
½ cup (50g) brown sugar firmly packed 
8 tbsp. (114g) butter 
 2 handfuls mini marshmallows 

Preheat oven to 375° F (190°C). 

Drain potatoes in a colander. Cut large pieces in half. Lay potatoes into a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 22cm) glass baking dish. 

Sprinkle brown sugar across the top, then dot with butter. 

Bake 20 minutes. 

Scatter marshmallows over the yams and bake for 15 minutes or until marshmallows are brown. 

Broccoli Stir-fry 
4 mini carrots sliced on an angle 
½ cup (50g) olive oil – possibly more 
½ medium onion, sliced 
1 in. (2.54) piece gingerroot peeled and cut into strips 
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut into florets 
½ small sweet red pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips 
½ small yellow pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips 
2 large garlic cloves pressed 
½ tsp. (2.5ml) red pepper flakes 
2 green onions sliced on an angle, include green 
5 mini Bello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into thirds 
1 tbsp. (15ml) lime or lemon juice 

Have all ingredients prepped and, on the counter, before you begin cooking. 

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onion, carrot and gingerroot. Sauté until carrot is almost soft. Test by inserting a toothpick into the carrot. Remove as many gingerroot pieces as you can find. Don’t worry if some are left in the pan. 

Add broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes. Stir constantly to ensure broccoli is well coated with oil. Add more oil if necessary. Squeeze on lime or lemon juice. Sauté 2 - 4 minutes, but be sure broccoli and peppers still have crunch to them. 

Blend in green onions and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are heated through. Serve quickly. 

Serves 4 – 6 so adjust accordingly. 

From the corn through the gravy you’ll see just how lazy I was on holidays. And I’m not ashamed. 

Canned Corn 
1 can of corn per 4 people 

Drain corn, then pour into microwave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Microwave for 3 minutes, stir and serve. 

Cranberry Sauce 
1 can of sauce per 6 people 

Lay sauce into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve. 

1 jar of gravy for 4 people 
Juices from the turkey pan 

Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Stir in ¼ - ½ cup (58 – 57g) of juice from the roasted turkey pan. Go easy so you don’t thin the gravy too much. Heat through and serve.

Have a happy and safe holiday!

Monday, November 14, 2022


From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist

Outside the kitchen window of our home on Long Island, New York, it was a cold and windswept November morning of 1970. Thanksgiving Day was approaching, and I missed my family back in Ohio sorely. Oh, how I wished I could be with them; but it wasn’t to be. I needed a distraction and decided the best way to accomplish it was to lose myself in a painting. I gathered fall deco items I had placed around the house and set them up on my kitchen table in a composition I deemed worthy of a still life. A sheet of watercolor paper taped to my board, and with my simple little pads of watercolor paints, a couple of brushes, and a stick of charcoal to rough in the initial shapes, I got to work. 

The charcoal shapes came together easily. As is typical of the way I tackle most jobs, I touched my paint-loaded brush to the item on the paper that I thought would be the most difficult to render—which was the stem of the pumpkin. My first attempt was a total bust, as was my second and my third. By then, my heart was galloping in my chest with utter fury at myself. I pushed away from the table and paced the floor—across the length of the kitchen, into the hallway, into the living room, and back again and again…pace, pace, pace…and then a voice sounded ‘round my ears. “Empty your mind of what you ‘think’ a pumpkin stem looks like and paint only what you actually see!” I had heard the instruction from my teacher in a painting class I had taken years before, but obviously it had failed to register in my brain. I returned to the table, emptied my mind, and painted only what I saw with my eyes. Voila! In no time at all, the still life painted in a primitive style I had hoped to execute appeared with what seemed very little further effort on my part. It was almost like magic. 

I learned a big lesson that day, not only related to the art of painting, but also to the art of living. Our preconceived notions (opinions, prejudices, attitudes, and so many other absolute doctrines we hold in mind) blind us to the truth of things.

With my humble painting titled, CORNUCOPIA, I wish all of you an open-minded, a clear-eyed, and a very happy holiday season.

Linda Lee

Here’s a peek at multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene’s latest book, Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey. It is a blend of visionary and inspirational fiction with a touch of romance. The story unfolds as ex-pat American Nicholas Plato journeys into parts unknown, both within himself and his adopted home of Sydney, Australia. In the end, the odyssey reveals to him his true purpose for living. The novella is available in eBook and paperback.

Driven by a deathly thirst, he stops. A strange little brown man materializes out of nowhere and introduces himself merely as ‘Potter,’ and welcomes Nicholas to his ‘Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.’ Although Nicholas has never laid eyes on Potter, the man seems to have expected Nicholas at his bizarre habitation and displays knowledge about him that nobody has any right to possess. Just who is this mysterious Aboriginal potter? 

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

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


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

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

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











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



Pastels and acrylics painting, “Coppers” by Linda Lee Greene

Wednesday, November 09, 2022


From Emma Lane

We’re from the South so my family loves corn bread stuffing, or dressing as we call it, with a variety of meals. Below is our family’s favorite recipe that is only served at Thanksgiving. Make your holiday dinner complete by serving giblet gravy with sliced turkey and cranberry sauce, steamed broccoli, and dinner rolls. Don’t forget the pumpkin pie with dollop of whipped cream for dessert! 

Corn Bread Stuffing

1 box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
2 tbsp. butter1 celery stalk, chopped 
1 med. onion, chopped 
2 cups chicken stock 
2 eggs, beaten1
½ tbsp. dried sage
½ tsp. dried rosemary
 3 whole walnuts, optional

Preheat oven 350° F. 

Bake corn bread mix according to box directions.  Allow to cool then crumble. 

Melt butter in a medium size frying pan. Sauté celery and onion to opaque stage, about 7 minutes. 

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Turn mixture into a greased pan. 

Bake 30 minutes. 

Place walnuts on top for garnish. 

Happy Thanksgiving,

Emma and Family

Here is a brief intro to the cozy mystery series Emma writes.

sees the demise of a man no one likes, a romance, and plans for a wedding as Detective Fowler and his friends keep their small-town America free from danger.

Detective Kevin Fowler is furious that low life has targeted his town where people live in blissful safety. Brenda Bryant is out junkn’ for good things when she stumbles over the grotesque body of a man beloved by no one. Suspense heats up when large sums of money are found in two different places. Drug money is suspected and Brenda targeted by someone who wants the money returned. Detective Fowler faces surprise after surprise as he peels back the surface of Hubbard, New York and deals with its shocking underbelly. Meanwhile romance infiltrates the group of friends with a wedding in the making.


Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane. 

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. 

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Monday, November 07, 2022

And the Christmas Coffee Tree is Born

 from Will Okati

As with many of my stories, this one begins with a cat. In this case my cat, Teddy.

This is Teddy. Teddy is very, very sweet.

Teddy is also very, very, extremely, peculiarly and hilariously, Super Not Bright. Daft as a brick. Dense as plum pudding. I love him to bits and pieces but seriously, the little guy has one brain cell floating around inside his skull that occasionally bounces off the walls in an eternal game of Pong. If it is plant-based, Teddy will eat it. If it is plastic-based, Teddy will try to eat it. Then get mad at it and destroy it. Teddy also tries to fight irons because he thinks the steam is another cat hissing at him. Like I said, Teddy is not bright.

Clearly, an actual Christmas tree is not an option in this household. Apartmenthold.

So what to do, I ask while standing next to my sewing machine. What to do, I ponder, while staring blindly at the fabric stash that will one day overflow my storage bins and suffocate me in my sleep.

Oh. Yeah. D’uh. I can make one. (Good job, Will, you get a candy cane.)

One quilted tree coming up! The pattern I found looked like a lot of fun: red and green and white, very festive. I cut out all the pieces for it, and then I thought: what if? Nah. Surely not. But then again, what if.

I love what if. Every concept, invention, and it’s-so-crazy-it-might-just-work thingamambob has been born from that question. If I’m going to make my own tree, then what if I went off book and made something different, quirky, and reflective of things I love?

Inspirations continued to soar through me so for this holida season, the Christmas Coffee Tree was born, soon followed by the Book Tree. A Bee Tree, Rainbow Gradient Tree, Vintage Market Tree, and – yes – Cat Tree are all currently in progress.

I’m having so much fun making these wall quilts that I’ve started selling them on commission. They finish at 29 x 29 inches for the small ($75 plus shipping) and 59 x 59 inches for the large ($125 plus shipping). They’re fully bound, machine/straight-line topstitched, and come with pockets sewn on the back so they can easily be hung flat on the wall. Pretty much any theme you think of will work. Good for the environment, handy for those without a lot of display or storage space or anyone allergic to pine. Best of all they make a great gift.

If you’d like to try making your own tree, the pattern is a free download from FatQuarter Shop.  

If you’d like to commission a quilt from Will, feel free to message him on Facebook or check out his Etsy ShopYou can also find his books at Changling Press

Will Okati is a writer, seamster, and apartment-dwelling hermit from North Carolina. He fluffed around with sewing this and that until 2020 hit us all like an eighteen-wheeler driven by someone sustained only by Red Bull and adrenaline. He spent the next year and a half sewing masks and fell in love with textile arts along the way.

Will has lived through a few Interesting Times, but came out the other side a little grayer, a little wiser, and ready to write. Still as passionate about coffee, cats, and crafts as ever, but knowing that to your own self you must be true. Also, still one of the quiet ones to watch out for, but life – like storytelling – is always a work in progress.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022


from Helen Carpenter

During the editing of one of our books, commas turned into a major topic of discussion. Yes, well, my daughter and I were writers, what did you expect? We liked commas and we also liked to slice commas from our writing, so we have a conflict of interest. For example, in the first two sentences of this paragraph (and this sentence too), we used commas. We could have used a comma in the third sentence before the "and," though we chose not to. Either way would have been correct.

Another example is the title of this post. A comma would change the entire meaning. By omitting it, we imply (or say) the recipe below is a good (delicious) morning bread. Had we included a comma (Good morning, bread) we would be saying good morning to our bread. That would also fit, since the bread is definitely worthy of salutations.

Like bread, commas have lots of uses. You can splash them around in personal and geographic names, in numbers, before quotations that indicate speech such as "she said," and in lists. If you're the user of a certain word processing software, you can make your commas curly or straight and either style gets the job done.

I don't claim to be an expert on commas but I'd be happy to hear your take on this very important punctuation. Let's eat breakfast while we have the discussion. If you're not hungry, then we'll say, "Let's eat, breakfast."

Breakfast Bread
1½ cups dried mixed fruit (we used one 5-ounce package of mixed cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and filled in the remainder with dried cranberries)
½ cup warm tea, any flavor
1 package regular yeast
½ cup warm water
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup coconut milk
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup nuts of your choice (we used pecans and pistachios)

Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Soak dried fruit in bowl with warm tea. Set aside.

In separate bowl, add yeast to warm water. Set aside in a warm draft free location.

Melt butter.

Mix coconut milk, sugar, honey, salt, and egg. Add melted butter and stir. Next, add yeast and water mixture and stir.

Mix cinnamon and flour. Add to liquid ingredients and mix well.

Drain fruit. Add fruit and nuts to dough. Use your hands to mix, adding additional flour by tablespoons if necessary.

Let dough rise 1 hour. Punch down, divide in half, and shape into two equal loaves. Put loaves in prepared pans and let rise 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 350° F. Bake loaves 30 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes and remove to rack.

Serve warm or cold with butter or topping of your choice.

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 every day, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.