Monday, April 29, 2024

The Sweet Life on a Tiny Budget

from Leigh Goff 

While we may not all have the bank accounts of the wealthy like the Diamonds & Pearls, the Southern socialites in my novel Koush Hollow, it's still possible to infuse a touch of luxury into our lives without breaking the bank (or adding corporate corruption to your resume). Here are some tips to help you live like the rich, even if you're not.

Create an environment around you that exudes elegance and refinement. Declutter your space, invest in quality over quantity, and curate a collection of timeless and sophisticated items that bring you joy.

Dress impeccably, even if your wardrobe consists of affordable pieces. Maintain cleanliness and tidiness in your living space. A well-presented appearance and environment can elevate your experience and create an aura of luxury.

Look for opportunities to indulge in luxurious experiences at a fraction of the cost. Keep an eye out for discounted spa treatments, sample sales, or off-peak travel deals. Enjoy a gourmet meal at home by trying new recipes or hosting a themed dinner party. Luxury can be found in the little details and experiences.

Rich living encompasses more than material possessions. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Incorporate simple wellness practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, exercise, or journaling. Nurturing your well-being is a priceless investment in yourself. 

Fill your surroundings with items that inspire and uplift you. Seek out affordable artwork, decorative pieces, or fresh flowers to add a touch of beauty to your space. Pay attention to lighting and ambiance to create an atmosphere of luxury and tranquility. 

Expand your knowledge and engage in cultural experiences. Visit museums on free or discounted days, explore public libraries for a wealth of books, or attend lectures and workshops. Enriching your mind with knowledge and culture adds depth and sophistication to your life. 

Living like the rich, as the corrupt Rayna from Koush Hollow would say, is about experiences, mindset, and attention to detail, and it doesn't have to be about the price tags. Embrace the art of elegance, seek out affordable luxury, prioritize self-care, and surround yourself with beauty. By incorporating these practices into your life, you can live a life that feels luxurious, regardless of your financial status.

Leigh Goff
writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

 She has three published novels, DISENCHANTEDBEWITCHING HANNAH, and KOUSH HOLLOW. She is also a member of SCBWI and a graduate from the University of Maryland.

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



Monday, April 22, 2024


by Emma Lane

I confess I am a Gemini. That means I do not apologize for having two personalities, two serious interests and two distinct pen names. As Emma Lane (Historicals) or Janis Lane (Cozy Mysteries) I spin tales at my computer happily imagining characters and plots. I enjoy the interaction of readers and writers on-line forming firm friendships that endure. It’s a perfect way to spend short winter days and early evenings.

Ah! But in the mellow bath of the Spring sun, I emerge much like a daffodil and bloom with my favorite plants and gardens. March finds me in the greenhouses coaxing tiny plants to their full potential while the maple trees give up their sap for delicate syrup. May finds me happily breathing the fragrance of perky pansies.

June, ah, June. Who doesn’t love June with a surfeit of bouquets for the picking? July is for the necessary communication with the weeds, August is Sunflowers and September is a rainbow of mums. Late into Fall, we glory in the astounding blaze of fire from the trees. Never is the color blue so well represented as by the intensity of a cloudless Fall sky.

Winter approaches, plots have now inched forward; an interesting character speaks from the corners of my mind (that muse again!). A new story is born to share with readers.

I love to chat books, reading, or characters with my friends and colleagues both on line and off. Alternately I am eager and available for discussions regarding plants and gardening in all its forms. Is it Emma already enmeshed into 1800th century storytelling, or has Janis toddled off with Detective Fowler to solve a crime in peaceful Hubbard, NY?

Here's a teaser from one of my Regency books.

What happens when a strong heroine meets an arrogant, but handsome hero? Sparks fly. It's a Regency Romance Romp!

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king's business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother's estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?
Amazon Buy Link

And a little from my cozy mystery.

Detective Kevin Fowler is baffled by the wall of silence that greets him from the relatives of two septuagenarians whose bodies are discovered in a country cemetery called Blake Hill. Even more upsetting is the unusual rash of vandalism reported nightly by the citizens in his peaceful community. Have the teenagers declared an uprising? Night patrols reveal a totally unexpected and shocking situation. When a poignant secret is revealed, Beverly Hampton weeps over the sadness of a long ago tragedy, but soon wedding bells are heard for the home town princess and the popular detective. At the local diner the alluring fragrance of fresh-baked, cinnamon sticky buns continues to reign over the peaceful citizens of Hubbard, New York.

Emma Lane enjoys leaving her garden for a few hours to dip into the romance genre Regency era of history. Join her for a glimpse of a half selkie fairy as she teases a powerful duke and fights the curse of a lowly, evil warlock. Other Regency romances are available on Amazon and Wild Rose Press. As Janis Lane she writes a series of Cozy Mysteries for Soul Mate Publishing.

Look for information about writing and plants on her 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.

Monday, April 15, 2024

First Books. . .First Loves

from the C in C.D. Hersh

While rummaging through some file cabinets the other day I came across a worn notebook containing my first novel, written when I was in high school. As one might suspect, it is a romance—an angst-ridden story about a young girl who falls in love, marries, and lives happily ever after with the movie star teen idol she adores. Compared to my books today this is a poorly written book, but, hey, I was a teenager. It’s so bad, in fact, I won’t let anyone read it.

As I looked through that book I began thinking about the other stories I had written in my youth and the subjects I had chosen for school papers. The ones that stood out in my memory were the romance novel, which I kept; a short story called Bloody Buttons, about a witch; an outer space story featuring aliens; and a school paper on an Aztec myth about a magical feather.

Notice a theme here? Romance, supernatural elements, magic, and fantasy—the backbone of paranormal romances which my husband and I write. Wondering if my discovery about my basic writing affinities held true for my husband, too, I questioned him about his teenage manuscripts. His reply was as a teen he was too busy with sports to write, but he did have some old school papers, mostly about running and sports.

Since he hadn’t written much as a teen I asked, “So what did you read when you were younger?”

He pointed at the bookshelves on his wall displaying his childhood reading collections of Tom Swift (science fiction/fantasy), The Hardy Boy mystery series and Sherlock Holmes. Not exactly in the paranormal realm but science fiction could be considered in the ball park, and there’s usually a mystery of some sort to be unraveled in our books. A quick scan of his bookshelves revealed another set of fantasy/alternate-world series, written more for men, but definitely in the paranormal genre. If I could see his current e-library I know it would show scads of romance and paranormal romance. The books he has penned as an adult include a Sherlock Holmes story and a time travel adventure—both still within the realm of his early reading interests.

I found it remarkable that over the years our taste in home furnishings has changed. We started out Colonial and Country and ended up Southwest. My taste in jewelry went from gold to silver and turquoise. We used to window shop in the malls, and buy at Goodwill. Now we go antiquing. Rock and Roll gave way to Country music. Jeeps and sports cars moved over for more luxurious vehicles, although Donald is still longing for a Corvette. Apartments gave way to houses, and patios lined with flowerpots grew into a huge garden.

We have continually evolved in almost every aspect of our lives, sometimes even making 180 degree turns. But one thing hasn’t changed. We still love books, and we still love the genres we cut our reading and writing teeth on. Romance, fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction claim a big part of the bookshelves in our home, both paper and ebooks.

I guess what they say is true—write what you know … and what you love.

What’s the earliest book you remember writing and reading? Are you still writing and reading in that genre? Let us know in the comments.

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, and that’s why they write romance. 

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available in e-book format on Amazon. Can’t Stop The Music, their standalone romance novella currently out of print, won the 2018 Uncaged Book Reviews Contemporary Music Raven Award. 

Ghosts and Gardenias, the first book in their time slip romance series Ghosts of Garnoa Road, will come out in the spring of 2024. 

In addition to writing Catherine and Donald love antiquing, traveling, singing, and going to the theatre. Catherine is also an avid gardener and has drawn Donald into her garden as a day laborer. They figure the couple who plays together and works together, stays together—and that's just what they aim to do. 

Amazon buy links: The Turning Stone Chronicles series page The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1) eBook Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2): eBook Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3) eBook The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4) eBook 

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their Website, Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon Author Page. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads. Be sure to follow their Blog.


Monday, April 08, 2024


from Sloane Taylor

This easy recipe is perfect for busy weekends when all you want is a tasty meal and a cold beverage. I use sausage, but don’t let that stop you. Add on whatever toppings suit you right after the meat. The cooking time remains the same. The secret to making this pizza extra good is the grated Parmesan cheese. Our grandson, Dakota, works at an Italian restaurant and offered this suggestion. GREAT addition.

Quick & Easy Pizza
Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Dry White Wine – Pinto Grigio or Cold Peroni Beer
Quick & Easy Pizza

1 lb. Italian sausage, preferably bulk type
1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
2 oz. tomato paste, freeze remainder to use in other recipes
Chicken stock, not broth
1 tbsp. garlic powder, not salt
1 tbsp. oregano1 tbsp. basil
1 tsp. sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated
Olive oil to drizzle
1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded 

Preheat oven to 425°. 

Place sausage in cold frying pan set over medium heat. Break into small chunks as you sauté it until no longer pink, about 15 minutes. Adjust heat so as not to burn sausage. If you use link sausage then squeeze it from the casing before frying. 

Scoop tomato paste into a measuring cup. Stir in enough chicken stock to bring the blend to just under two-thirds cup. Mix in garlic, oregano, basil, sugar, and pepper until well blended. You may need a little more stock to make the mixture more sauce like. Don’t add too much or your crust will soggy. 

If you use a pizza pan then sprinkle just a little cornmeal or flour on. This helps absorb the moisture while baking to maintain a crisp crust. It isn’t necessary with a pizza stone. 

Spread out the dough on the pan/stone. Smear sauce on top and spread to the edges. Grate a healthy amount of Parmesan over the dough. 

Cascade sausage and your other toppings onto the pie. Drizzle with oil. Bake 12 minutes. 

Remove pan/stone from oven. Scatter mozzarella across the top. Turn off the oven then set the pizza inside. Allow pizza to remain until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. 

Cut into squares and enjoy!

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


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, Hot Mean Wear ApronsDate 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.

Monday, April 01, 2024

C.D. Hersh Cover Reveal

from C.D. Hersh

Ghosts and Gardenias!

Where we live, in Southwestern Ohio, one of the most haunted cities in the area is Cincinnati, Ohio. Here’s a sampling of some haunted spots in that fair city.
  • Music Hall, in downtown Cincinnati, built on top of a pauper’s grave, is rumored to be haunted and was selected as one of the Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places in America.

  • Union Terminal, or the Cincinnati Museum Center as it’s known now, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a security guard named Shirley, who was murdered there.
  • At the Cincinnati Art Museum a seven foot specter rises from a mummy sarcophagus.
  • Kings Island Amusement Park employees have reported sightings of a little girl in a period 1900s blue dress believed to come from the graveyard adjacent to the park.
  • Mother of Mercy High School has a nun, Sister Mary Carlos, who haunts the auditorium, which is named after her. The Sister interferes with performances unless she is asked for permission to use the space and is invited to the performance.
  • At the Cincinnati Zoo not all the animals are caged. A ghostly lioness prowls the park at night.
We haven’t seen any of these apparitions, and don’t plan on going ghost hunting to find them. Now that we’ve thoroughly frightened ourselves by writing about all this spooky stuff at night, we think we’ll go double check the dead bolts, flip on all the lights, and look up some paranormal ghost busters … just in case. 

Happy Haunting! 

Have you ever had any spooky, paranormal encounters?

While you think about that here’s the blurb from the first book in our Haunting of Garnoa Road Series.

Susan Trowbridge is the victim of mistaken identity, trapped in the past by a ghost and a haunted wedding gown. To return home she must discover the identity of the ghost’s murderer. Can Susan stop the murder, or will history repeat itself, with her as the victim this time? And if she does stop the murder, must she return home and leave the man she has come to love? 

Duncan Hawthorn is a man battling his own demons. But when Susan falls into his life, Duncan finds himself inexplicably attracted to a woman he thought he hated. Should he believe she is in danger? Should he believe her irrational claims that she is from the future? Either way, he realizes he will lose the woman who has become his salvation and his true love.

 Amazon pre-sale link Ghosts and Gardenias

When your “goose bumps” disappear perhaps you might be interested in the links for our other paranormal books: Our Amazon Author Page 

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. 

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to award-winning 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. 

Their paranormal series titled The Turning Stone Chronicles can be found on Amazon. 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.