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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Taking a break with food.

by

Sharon Ledwith

Face it, we all need breaks! A needed holiday a couple of times a year. A long weekend to unwind. A day off to recharge. Even when we’re working, we need to take at least fifteen minutes away from our jobs after we’ve been working non-stop for two or three hours. Hey, we’re not robots, and if our jobs require us to sit, stand, or walk around for any length of time, our bodies will eventually tire, and we lose our focus. And that could cause plenty of headaches for business owners, retail stores, and manufacturers.

Even when I’m writing a book, I make sure I include plenty of sequels between scenes. It’s kind of like a coffee break (or tea if you’re so inclined) for your reader. Scenes include plenty of activity and emotion, at times keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Sequels are devised to break the tension where there’s less activity, letting the readers’ emotions rest. I use this technique in both my young adult book series, The Last Timekeepers and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. This way, there’s a balance between the calm and chaos in every tale I write, and doesn’t leave my reader feeling exhausted at the end of the book.

Ready for a break? How about a slice of homemade coffee cake? It’s a twist on what you would think of as seasonal baking, and trust me, this cake is great for your anticipated time out, whether you’re at work or at home working on your next novel or artistic endeavor. With a prep time of 15 minutes and a total time of 1 hour, 25 minutes, this cake serves about 24 of your closest colleagues.

Gingerbread Coffee Cake

    3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    3 tbsp. (45 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
    1 tbsp. (15 mL) ground ginger
    2 tsp. (10 mL) ground cinnamon
    2 tsp. (10 mL) baking powder
    1 tsp. (5 mL) baking soda
    ½ tsp. (2 mL) each salt and ground nutmeg
    ¼ tsp. (1 mL) ground cloves
    ⅔ cup (150 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1½ cups (375 mL) sugar
    3 eggs
    ½ cup (125 mL) molasses
    1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla extract
    2 cups (500 mL) sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 °F (180°C).

Grease 9 or 10 inch (23 or 25 cm) Bundt pan. Dust with flour.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in molasses and vanilla.

Set mixer on low speed. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of sour cream and scraping down side of bowl as necessary.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing top.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Invert onto serving plate. Prepare sauce to drizzle over cake.

Coffee Caramel Sauce

    1½ cups (375 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
    ¼ cup (60 mL) brewed coffee (brew stronger than package directions)
    ¼ cup (60 mL) 35% whipping cream, at room temperature
    2 tbsp. (30 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ¼ tsp. (1 mL) salt

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and coffee. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is foamy, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in cream, butter and salt. Drizzle over gingerbread cake. Slice and serve.

So, now that you’ve baked to your heart’s content, it’s time for your break! Leave those dirty dishes in the sink, pour yourself a cup of your favorite hot beverage, and go curl up on the couch with one of my books. May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls? Just remember to pack lightly.

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, 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.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Alicia Joseph who brings us her rock concert experience.

Not long ago I saw the band Disturbed play at a venue near me, and I won’t soon forget the experience. The concert was powerful, and it was emotional. I’ve never been to a rock concert where so many people cried, or were trying not to cry.

Disturbed is a heavy metal/nu metal band, and they’ve written songs centered around suicide. One of the videos to these songs depicts a woman who hangs herself. The video is graphic and it comes with a PSA from the lead singer, David Draiman, pleading with people who are thinking about taking their own lives to seek help and to know there is another way. The National Suicide Helpline is displayed in the video, just as it was displayed on the big screen during the concert.

Draiman spoke eloquently and deeply to the audience. This is a man, and band, who create a deep connection with their fans. They refer to the crowd as their family, their blood.

In the middle of the set, the band moved from the main stage to a smaller stage in the center of the floor to be more intimate with the crowd. Draiman called for the house lights to come up and he asked for anyone who has dealt with substance addiction or depression, or knows someone who has, to raise their hands. With the lights on, I could see clearly throughout the venue, and more people than not had their hands raised. Draiman then asked for everyone to look around and see that they aren’t alone.

Powerful moment right there.

This is when the band sang their inspiring songs about defeating one’s thoughts of suicide. The house lights stayed on, making the moment all the more sober. A mother and son sitting beside me embraced while they cried. Tears gushed from the woman’s eyes and down her face. Through cries they battled through the songs. A man beside the woman caressed her shoulders.

A few minutes later, she passed by me. I was sure the moment was too much for her. She needed a break. When she came back, I thought of giving her a quick hug, but I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me, and maybe that would have been unwanted by her.

While the songs played, I looked around. The woman and son weren’t the only ones crying. There were many tearful eyes about me. So many strong-looking men stood with their arms crossed over their chest and stoic expressions on their faces and tears in their eyes. It was all so much I almost cried myself but held it back. The pain being suffered around me was palpable.

Before the show, at the meet and greet, a fan had given the band a letter. The lead singer called this fan to the stage and asked for his permission to read the letter aloud. The shocked young man stepped onto the stage and nodded Draiman his consent. The letter explain that this man had attempted four times to take his own life and was going to do it again until he heard the song “The Light” by Disturbed. The man stayed on stage as the band played the song marking one of the most powerful and emotional moments I’ve ever witnessed at a concert.

Disturbed, like other rock bands I’ve recently seen play, were very inclusive in their message. Draiman preached tolerance of all people, of all races and religions, and he even included gays and transsexuals, which I appreciated very much. Everyone around me cheered this message. I didn’t hear any jeers or sneers.

The band ended the show with the lead singer telling everyone to take care of themselves and to take care of each other.

I went to bed that night feeling so empowered and appreciating my life. If you ever get the chance to see this band play live, please do. It’s an experience like no other.

This post is to let people who need help it’s there for you, not promote my books. But if you are interested please read on.

“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

AMAZON BUY LINKS

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

How to Plan your protagonists journey

By Lorraine Ambers

Throughout everyone’s journey, there are hopes, aspirations, and dreams; and in order for any of those things to come to fruition, certain steps need to be taken to get to the chosen goal. The superficial goal.

Now here’s the tricky part, the unseen truth behind those desires: . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Lorraine Ambers’ blog

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Your personal preference recipe for Taco Salad

by

Emma Lane

This recipe is easily adapted to personal preferences. More beef? More cheese? More onion? More sauce? Dollop of sour cream? Scoop chips? Choose your own alterations.

Makes an easy party set up which allows guests to assemble their own plates. Serve with guacamole dip and more corn ships.

TACO SALAD

    ½ – l lb. ground beef, preferably chuck for flavor
    1 med. onion, diced
    8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    ¼ – ½ head lettuce, chopped to bitesize
    1 8-10 oz. can diced tomato
    2/3 bag corn chips, slightly crushed
    Ortega Taco Sauce to taste (or your favorite brand)

Sauté beef and onion together until done (no pink left). Use fork to break lumps into small pieces. Cover pan and then set aside.

Prepare individual plates covering the bottom with corn chips. Add warm beef mixture.

Quickly scatter cheese to take advantage of the warmth.

Layer with lettuce, and then tomatoes. Drizzle with taco sauce to taste. Sprinkle a bit more cheese for garnish or substitute a piece or two of parsley.

Serves 4

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

GUACAMOLE DIP

    2 ripe avocados, halved with pits removed but saved
    1 tbsp. lime juice, lemon works too
    ¼ cup onion, chopped fine
    ½ cup tomato, diced
    ¼ tsp. salt
    ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
    2 tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped fine – optional
    1 tbsp. mayo
    Corn chips

Chunk avocados into a glass or ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Gently stir in remaining ingredients except chips. Tuck pit deep into dip. This stops the avocado from turning dark.

Drop spoonfuls onto taco salad or use chips to dip.

Enjoy!

Here’s a little more from my cozy mystery. I hope you enjoy it.

When Cheryl realizes her new next-door neighbor is someone she loved as a young girl, she immediately puts the brakes on her emotions. Never again would she allow the gorgeous hunk of a man to break her heart.

Ruggedly handsome Detective David Larkin isn’t used to pretty ladies giving him a firm no. He persists, even as Cheryl fights her own temptations. The two struggle to appreciate each other as adults, even as they admit to deep feelings from their childhood.

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

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

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

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

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

An intriguing recipe from Chris Pavesic for a wonderful snack.

Fresh peaches are always delicious. Bake them in a pie or bread and your home is filled with a beautiful aroma. Try my easy Peach Bread recipe for an anytime treat that goes great with coffee and tea, hot or iced.

Peach Bread

Photo courtesy of Anna Armburst Pixabay

¾ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 oz. blueberry (peach) yogurt
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 cup peaches, chopped
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ cup raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ F.

In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, milk, oil, yogurt, egg, and extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour with baking powder and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

In a small bowl, toss peaches with 1 tbsp. flour.

Fold floured fruit gently into batter.

Pour batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice off a piece of warm Peach Bread, pour your favorite beverage, and indulge yourself with a good book. May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?

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

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

Time to play the game.

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

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

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

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

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

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

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

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

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

4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphotoChris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

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

Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

14 Tips from Stephen King

By Joanne Guidoccio

Here are 14 tips, distilled from Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, a must-read for all writers and wannabe writers. . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Joanne Guidoccio’s blog

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Nineteenth Century Lunches and Courting the Stationmaster’s Daughter

by

Juli D. Revezzo

The late 19th century was the time of innovation. The birth of what became the modern city and with it, things like factories, the long work days (often up to sixteen hours!), early trams and trains, all these things arose in the 19th century. This was the era when men’s work moved out of the near-home radius, from the field, into the greater city of London (and beyond) and therefore, there was no opportunity to enjoy lunch at home with his family. For the wife of the late 19th century, this meant a shift away from the lavish meals she and her husband probably grew up on—at least in the case of the upper classes (The organization of an elaborate leisure dinner party was mainly the staple of the upper classes). The underclasses would have dinner at the same hour, but the fare proved meager.

Even these dinners gave way to (for working men, at least—and yes, even the young working women of the age) lunches—and even dinners—away from home.

These workers carried their repast in what has become a staple of modern life: The lunchbox. In the beginning, the lunchbox was a simple basket, or in some cases, a plain old pail. They tended to look like any ole bucket we might now have in our yards, but soon, they took on the look any modern schoolchild would recognize.

Or, if they happened to be managers of said-business (factories, railways), they might (might) have a runner to go out and bring them a sandwich back from the closest local café. (And if one could afford the price, the worker may take a lunch there as well.)

This section of society stars heavily in my latest historical romance, COURTING THE STATIONMASTER’S DAUGHTER, as the hero (and his superior) are stationmaster and assistant stationmaster of a very new industry in Victorian London, the subways. In the course of the story, the stationmaster’s daughter is charged with setting up a luncheon for the men of his station (with the help of his assistant Stationmaster), something of a change for their hardworking employees, usual sandwiches, or leftover meat pies, or maybe soup, from the night before. Even this repast is brought along in a series of baskets and pails. So, the next time you open you (or your child’s) Captain Marvel lunchbox, ladies, 😉 thank your grandmothers for their ingenuity in keeping their families fed, no matter the venue.

If you’d like to know more about my novel, COURTING THE STATIONMASTER’S DAUGHTER, here is the synopsis:

After Honorine Camden is jilted, leaving her stunned and sparking a scandal in her tiny London borough of Wallflower, she’s devastated.

But when she overhears her father, the stationmaster, talking about arranging a party for their newly-minted underground railway station, she volunteers to help.

Although she’s intrigued with his handsome assistant stationmaster, Shane MacIntyre, she never expects to fall head-over-heels in love with him.

Unfortunately, one tragic accident might derail everything.

Genre: Historical romance
Word count: 74,000 words
Cover art: Raven Queen Publications.
Rating: PG
Heat Level: sweet

Courting the Stationmaster’s Daughter is available in kindle format at Amazon
The paperback is available at Lulu

Thanks, C.D. for allowing me to visit and chat about lunch! Now, what say we go scrounge some up ourselves? Join me, won’t you? 😉

About the Author:

Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the historical romances, Courting the Stationmaster’s Daughter, Vesta’s Clockwork Companions, House of Dark Envy, Watchmaker’s Heart, and Lady of the Tarot, the Antique Magic paranormal series and Celtic Stewards Chronicles series and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

To learn more about this and future releases, visit her at:

Website: http://www.julidrevezzo.com

Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julidrevezzo

or Twitter: https://twitter.com/julidrevezzo

Blog: http://julismapsroom.blogspot.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/juli-d-revezzo

Sources and Links:

Industrial revolution gave us lunch as we know it (NPR)
https://www.wpr.org/historian-industrial-revolution-gave-us-lunch-we-know-it

The History of the Lunchbox
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-of-the-lunch-box-98329938/

Workers’ Lunch Away from Home in the Paris of the Belle Epoque: The French Model of Meals as Norm and Practice by Martin Bruegel, French Historical Studies, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 2015) Copyright 2015 by Society for French Historical Studies (p. 253-280)

Working Hours: https://www.striking-women.org/module/workplace-issues-past-and-present/working-hours

Pictures of 19th century lunchboxes
https://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/promo-university/history-of-lunch-boxes.htm

Steam train engineer’s lunchbox:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/372680192330

Picture of a lunchbox: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/236650155389464576/

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