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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Our kitchen with an avocado pudding recipe from Catherine.

I (Catherine) have recently discovered avocado puddings. Never heard of them? Well, apparently they are full of good fats, loads of fiber, have a low glycemic index (which is important for those watching their carbs, and they can be made without dairy products, if you are vegan or lactose intolerant). They have the creaminess of instant puddings without the unnatural ingredients that comes in that box. The extra bonus of avocado puddings–they taste good. The kiddos will never know they are eating something good for them. So far I’ve experimented with chocolate, which was super chocolatey and not as sweet as it could have been since I skipped a lot of the sugar. I like to see how low-sugar I can possibly go.

I love pumpkin. Donald not so much. The other day I got a pumpkin craving so I decided to play with avocadoes and pumpkin. This newest culinary invention is a Ginger Pumpkin pudding. I liked it, so I decided to share the recipe. Now I won’t guarantee this recipe that makes 4 servings is low calorie, but there is quite a bit of fiber in it to help offset some of the carbs.

Avocado Ginger Pumpkin Pudding

    1 ripe avocado
    ¾ cup canned pumpkin
    1 ½ – 2 cups vanilla flavored yogurt, divided.
    ½ tsp. lemon juice
    1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    8 small gingerbread cookies, crushed, with 4 tsp. reserved
    Canned whipped cream or make your own
    4 tbsp. shaved chocolate, from a candy bar

Cut avocado in half, discarding pit and skin. Put flesh in a food processer and blend until smooth.

Add pumpkin, and ½ of yogurt, lemon juice and spices to avocado and blend until well mixed.

Spoon remaining yogurt into small glass dessert cups, filling cups about ½ full. Spread evenly in cup.

Spoon pumpkin mixture over the yogurt, spreading evenly.

Cover dishes with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap onto the top of the pudding.

Chill.

When ready to serve, top the pudding with the crushed gingerbread cookies, sprinkling evenly on top of pudding.

Add a dollop of whipped cream to top of pudding. Sprinkle reserved cookies and shaved chocolate on whipped cream.

Enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the dessert to chill, check out The Promised One, the first book in our Turning Stone Chronicle series.

When month and day are the age that is the time
When day and month are the time that is the age
When time and age agree, trinity becomes unity

If a mark didn’t come out of the bar soon, he’d have to change his hunting spot.

Danny Shaw glanced at his watch. In the past hour, only two men—too big for him to handle—had staggered out of the Dew Drop Inn Bar and Grill. He needed someone rich and easy to take down. And soon. If he arrived late again, he’d get canned. And if he lost one more job, he’d lose Lulu.

The door opened, spilling crowd noise and blue haze onto the dimly lit street. He moved back into the shadow of the building. Waiting.

A slender woman walked by, her legs wobbling on spiked heels as the hem of her blue slinky dress swished around her thighs. Whiskey and perfume wafted on the air. As she reached to smooth back her blond hair, a prism flashed on her ring finger.

As his gut tightened, adrenalin pumped through him. Perfect. Tipsy and a rock too. A big haul could make this his last job this week, allowing him more time to spend with Lulu.

He pulled his ski mask down then took his gun from his coat.

Withdrawing a silencer from his left pocket, he screwed it onto the barrel, and stepped out. The woman didn’t notice him, so he scanned the street for witnesses. No one around. Closing the gap, he made his move.

Shaw jammed the gun barrel in her back and hooked her arm. “Don’t scream,” he whispered, “and I might let you live.”

Under his hold, she stiffened. Her high heels tapped rapidly on the pavement as he steered her into the dark, littered alley. When they were well into the shadows, hidden from passersby, he shoved her against the graffiti-covered building. “Gimme your purse and jewelry.”

The woman raised perfectly manicured hands above her head, her shoulder angling toward him as she started to twist around.

“Keep your face to the wall,” he ordered.

She mumbled something into the bricks and then lowered her left hand, dangling a bejeweled handbag behind her head.

“Now the jewelry.” He snatched the purse.

She unhooked her necklace, slipped off her watch and diamond ring, then held them out.

He stuffed them into his pocket. “The other ring, too.”

“That ring has no value. It’s costume jewelry my niece gave me.”

“Take it off.”

“You’ve got my cash and credit cards, and my diamond. Isn’t that enough?”

Damn. He hated when they resisted. “Give me the ring.”

She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “No.”

He jerked her around to face him. “Dammit, woman. Give me the freaking ring or I’ll blow your head off.” He yanked on the band.

Without warning, she swung her hand up, connecting with his jaw. Stunned, he stumbled backward, still clutching the hand with the ring. They fell to the pavement. Her hands clawed at his, and her feet kicked his shins, scrabbling their legs together.

Fighting for control. Fighting for the gun.

Wrapping his legs around hers, he rolled her over and pinned her beneath him with his body. Freeing his hand from her grasp, he slammed her skull on the ground. Her head rolled to the side and she lay still.

Certain he’d knocked her out, he tried to remove the ring from her finger. Suddenly she bolted up, head-banged him, and grabbed his gun hand.

As he struggled to keep control of the weapon, the barrel twisted toward him. Heart pounding, he watched his life flash in front of him.

Abusive childhood. Lousy job. Lulu. The elaborate wedding plans she’d made. He didn’t want to die. Not now.

He wrenched the gun toward the woman. The metallic pfft startled him. Round-eyed shock reflected in the woman’s face.

Shaw’s heart stopped racing as she relaxed in his grip, then amped back up, pounding against his ribs. Shit. Assault, battery, and now . . . murder. Quick and easy money to pay for the wedding. That’s all he’d been after. They’ll put me away for life if I get caught. Lulu’s gonna be pissed if I screw up her wedding plans.

Pushing into a squat, he stared at the dark stain spreading across the dress front. He removed the ring from the woman’s finger. She should have just given it to him.

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

BUY LINKS

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

Book Marketing Strategies to Improve Your Website Performance

By Penny Sansevieri

I talk a lot about book covers and other book marketing strategies on this blog, but one thing we don’t spend enough time on are author websites. And they are crucially important to an author’s success, but to be clear, I don’t mean that you have to have a website that’s big and elaborate. In fact, sometimes the simplest websites are the best! The type of website you have, and therefore the book marketing strategies you use, really depends on your goals.

Websites, like book covers, rely solely on . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Author Marketing Expert blog

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

The 80-20 rule for writers

by

Sharon Ledwith

Apply the 80-20 rule to everything you do. Especially when it comes to your writing. What’s the 80-20 rule? It’s a simple formula. The basic idea is that 20 percent of the things you do will account for 80 percent of the value of your work. For optimum performance in any job, it’s essential that you work on the top 20 percent of the activities that account for most of your results. This rule is also known as the Pareto Principal or Power Law.

How does this law apply to Writers? Read on…

  • Time Sucks: You know what I’m talking about. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. TV. Email checking. Web surfing. These activities can be gigantic time sucks. Get a timer or set an amount of time for yourself for these simple pleasures. If you do this, you’ll free yourself up to dedicate time for your writing. Do it. Be ruthless.
  • Great Writing Sessions: Some writing sessions are more productive than others. Know when is the best time for you to write, and when is not. Are you a night owl or an early bird? Know yourself well with regards to this advice. You will generate roughly 80% of your writing in the best 20% of your writing sessions. When you have a great day of writing, take notice on the factors that make it productive, and try to repeat those factors in all of your writing sessions.
  • Not-so-great Writing Sessions: A small number of your writing sessions will be far more wasteful than the rest. What happened in these sessions? Distractions? Your special someone knocking on your office door? Pets demanding attention? Do the math and figure out the factors that prevented great writing sessions. What can you do to fix these sessions in the future?
  • Writing Quality: Pretty much 20% of your writing will be of a high quality. That’s the good stuff you should publish. The other 80% will be crap. Buck up. It happens to the best of us.
  • Know Your Audience: What’s selling for you? Your audience will vastly prefer some 20% of your writing. Know this. Embrace this, especially the enthusiastic reviews. Then create more stories like it. It should drive more success your way.
  • Creating Ideas: You’ll think up 80% of your best ideas in 20% of the time you dedicate to creative activities. Figure out what puts you in these highly creative states and try to recreate those conditions every time. Was it the music you were listening to? The tea or coffee you sipped? Perhaps it was incense you were burning. On the flipside, you’ll trash 80% of your time spent generating new ideas. Maybe that time would be better spent on editing, reading or other activities.
  • Productivity: Some days will be more productive than others. Period. Exploit those days by pushing yourself to write as many hours as you can. Make the most of it and you may complete more work in one day than in several average days.
  • Book Sales: A cold, hard fact: 80% of book sales will come from 20% of authors. This explains why the publishing industry tosses huge amounts of money at a small number of authors while it ignores great work from everyone else. Life’s not fair for those in that 80% range.
  • Success and Failure: Some 80% of your written work will likely fail to gain an audience. However, all it takes is one major success to turn that percentage around and claim your stake in the publishing world. Grow a thick skin and keep trying.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

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

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with its freakish power. There’s no hope for a normal life, and no one who understands. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Until mysterious things start to happen.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, Book #3

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

 

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

 

 

 

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, 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.

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Scary Things or Imagination

Years ago a teaser news story from Huffington Post popped up in Catherine’s email about a mysterious “star jelly” found in the RSPB Ham Wall nature reserve in Somerset, England. Being paranormal buffs (which, for us, includes sci-fi), naturally, Catherine looked up the article. There are a lot of theories out there, but not much positive proof about what this substance is. Some people postulate that the jelly is slime mold, a form of cyanobacteria, the remains of regurgitated amphibians, or frog spawn. Personally, all of the above are too ordinary. As paranormal fans, we like the more supernatural of the explanations that says the “star jelly” is related to the sighting of a strange meteor like object seen over the reserve last week—an extraterrestrial substance dropped to earth from the meteor shower.

This isn’t the first time “star jelly” has been found. Records dating back to the 14th century mention finding this gelatinous material after meteor showers. It’s been called star jelly, astral jelly, star rot, star shot and astromyxin. Non-paranormal believers say it’s coincidental that people find star jelly after meteor showers. Curiosity about finding a meteor rock leads them to places they wouldn’t normally go, and they find the substance, which has been there all along. In other words, they want to believe it’s this baffling substance from outer space.

Star jelly has been a part of several fiction stories. Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman, H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Colour of Space, and Rick Yancy’s book The Isle of Blood all make mention star jelly.

Hollywood picked up on the paranormal possibility of this unusual substance after a 6-foot diameter, 1-foot high mass of star jelly was found by policemen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950. This discovery inspired the horror movie The Blob (1958) which was the one horror story that Catherine saw as a child that scared her witless. For some reason, vampires and werewolves weren’t as terrifying to her as this big red, quivering mass of jelly. Perhaps it was because the blob consumed you, or perhaps it was because there was no way to stop it. There was no hope of reprieve from its touch, no time of day you were safe from it. Eventually the townspeople found that cold stopped the blob, after it had consumed a diner and most of the town. While they hauled the scary mass off to the Arctic to permanently freeze it, the story left the viewer with a cliffhanging ending, wondering if the cold would really kill it. In a 1972 sequel Beware the Blog, a technician brings back a specimen of the gelatinous substance from the Arctic, and the monster starts a new rampage on mankind, renewing Catherine’s terror. She did not see that movie even though it was a parody.

Other star jelly inspired movies include a remake of the The Blog (1988) which had a biological warfare twist; and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) which had gelatinous creatures falling to earth and growing seed pods that held alien life forms.

So what’s the writing point, you ask, of this discourse on what viewers today would NOT call a scary substance or a scary story?

Imagination.

There is nothing on earth, in outer space, or in the paranormal realm that we can’t reimagine into a story. From today’s or yesterday’s news to ancient Greek legends to ghost stories to bizarre phenomena there is a nugget of a story in every item. You just have to be open to seeing it and willing to tread on new ground.

Catherine already has a new idea bubbling in the background about “star jelly.” She’s just not sure she can write about a relative of the blob and still sleep at night. Her cell phone vibrated in her pocket while watching the Youtube trailer on The Blob and she nearly jumped out of her desk chair. The blob still scares her.

Maybe a gelatinous vampire would be a safer choice.

What new ideas can you imagine from star jelly or another interesting news story?

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

If You Love An Author, Write A Review The Easy Way

By Susan Hanniford Crowley

I’ve been asked how to write a review, and so I searched for the easiest way to do it. All you really need to know is . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Nights of Passion blog

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Curses, Spells, and Love

by

Leigh Goff

The light of Protection, I carry it strong.

No ill wishes or trouble, can come along.

You cannot harm me, or weaken my soul.

My light is my weapon, and peace is my goal.

–Author Unknown

 

What is a witch, but a powerful woman? In my stories what makes her powerful is more than magic. It is the willingness to sacrifice herself for the ones she loves. It is the ability to face her fears with courage she didn’t know she had. It’s also having the heart to tap into her talents when needed, and if that includes spell casting and curse breaking at any cost, so be it.

Because of reader interest in the witches’ spells in my books, I compiled a few from Disenchanted and Bewitching Hannah to share. In my latest novel, KOUSH HOLLOW, the magic comes from the women of the bayou–it embodies the mysticism of the Deep South and is equally powerful.

DISENCHANTED

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Goodchild from the wickedly wonderful town of Wethersfield, Connecticut struggles with her magic as she finds forbidden love along with a centuries-old true love curse. Here are a few spells, some spoken in Latin, from Disenchanted.

“Ictus.” Sophie hopes for a windstorm when she encounters a boy who should be her family enemy, but she’s love struck and only flower petals rain down on her and Alexavier.

“Verum.” Sophie casts this spell on the boy she thinks she must hate, but instead of him speaking the truth, a heart shape appears in the bark of a mulberry tree trunk behind him. The tree is significant in this story as it is in Pyramus and Thisbe. They are the ill-fated couple, like Romeo and Juliet, and they planned to meet under a mulberry tree.

Semper memoriam tui delebo Diamond”- She commands Judge Mather to forget about the rare red diamond used as a blood charm that has caused so much trouble.

BEWITCHING HANNAH

When an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald realizes she can no longer repress the magic that has taken away so much. There’s also the Grey witch’s Arundell Curse plaguing Hannah and her mysterious love interest, W.

“By the power of fire, I do summon and churn, and call thee forth to blaze and burn.” Hannah casts this spell, needing heat from her hands to burn through a seatbelt when she’s trapped in a fiery wreck.

Her frenemy, Arora, demonstrates her dark magic when she captures an insect and kills it with this spell, “By my command and desire, your pesky little death I require.”

The nefarious Emme using magic to fight with Hannah says, “For the trouble you have inflicted on me, double shall I inflict on you.” She snaps Hannah’s icy doppleganger statue in half and Hannah doubles over in agony.

KOUSH HOLLOW

As Jenna Ashby, the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior, is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive New Orleans social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow. She’s also cursed with her cold, narcissistic mother, Rayna, who’s ambitions are limitless.

 

In the excerpt below, Jenna is drawn to Voodoo priestess, Mama Ismay. She watches her create a mystical potion using bayou magic, but then Jenna is left with more questions than answers when she sees what’s in the mysterious aquarium.

EXCERPT

Mama Ismay reached for another bottle. The blue-green liquid within shimmered. “From da horseshoe crab.” She dripped blood into the malevolent liquid. From a bowl, she scooped silver-colored flakes and tossed them into the flames followed by a fistful of fine blue crystals.

I had to know. “Copper chloride?”

Feu bleu. Blue fire.” Orange flames flashed to a cerulean blue and burned hot enough to heat my face from a distance. She sprinkled a fine pink powder onto a conch shell and held it over the fire for a few seconds while chanting.

“What are you saying?”

She raised the shell over her head. “I am summonin’ da magic of my ancestor spirits who came before me.” She dropped the whole shell into the pot and turned to me.

I lifted my eyebrows with surprise. Did she really believe she could summon magic from dead people?

“How did you find us?” A crease appeared between her brows. “I doubt our location was given readily.”

I stared, mesmerized by the mystical concoction, steam rising from its gurgling depths as it reduced over the crackling, blue fire. “I, um, did my research.”

“Dat’s what scientists do, no?”

I wasn’t sure about her so-called magic, but she was using quite a bit of science herself with that potion. Her expression left me wondering. “I know we don’t know each other that well, but you look like there’s something troubling you.”

“You shouldn’t have come here.” She covered the pot with a grassy cloth and headed to another room. I followed.

“Why not? I had a lot of questions and I felt you were the only one to answer them.”

Next to a chair covered in oyster shells was an antique aquarium with beautiful, brass seahorse legs and brass oyster-shaped lights that illuminated the water. Within the water delicate, glass spheres the size of golf balls in varied pastel hues floated up and down in a slow, rhythmic pattern, never reaching the surface. I stood over it for a better look. An unexpected wave of heat rose up and warmed my cheeks. “What is this?”

She snatched a dried, green strip from the table next to her and snapped off a mouthful. “Sea grass jerky. Want a piece?”

“No thanks.” My gaze returned to the mysterious floating balls. “I mean, why are there balls in a fish tank and what’s in them?”

“Da balls contain somethin’ more precious dan air.” She stepped closer and hovered her hands over the water and when she turned back to me, her cheeks were flushed with color.

Amazon Buy Links

Koush Hollow

Bewitching Hannah

Disenchanted


Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

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

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Emma Lane who shares with us her recipe for tomato gravy.

I’m a displaced Georgia Peach living in Western New York and hardly ever saying “y’all” anymore. But I must share a delicious recipe from my past that my family and I still enjoy often.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a treat. I warn you though, there are as many recipe variations for this gravy as the imagination can handle. The same is true for its uses. My hubby likes to whip up tomato gravy from the drippings of bacon or sausages. From there the choices to use this amazing gravy are many: over meat loaf, over fresh biscuits, over meat such as pork chops, southern fried steak, etc. I love mine over rice or grits. Another version is a favorite that’s a quickie made from V8 juice.

Here is a sample of one of the many ways to create one of the secrets of Southern Cooking. Feel free to improvise and create your own version and favorite.

TOMATO GRAVY
2 tomatoes or 1 can stewed tomatoes
2 heaping tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. bacon or sausage drippings
1 cup water or milk
½ tsp. sugar
Salt and/or pepper to taste
2 green onions, chopped fine for garnish
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped for garnish

Optional Ingredients
Dash of garlic powder or onion powder

Peel and chop tomatoes, set aside.

Measure flour to exact number of drippings, tablespoon to tablespoon, Add to hot drippings in stovetop skillet. Stir well to make a paste or roux. Cook on medium heat until thickened.

Add chopped tomatoes or chopped stewed tomatoes with juice, stir frequently.

Slowly add small amount of milk or water and thin to desired consistency. If you add milk to your tomato soup, you’ll no doubt prefer your gravy that way as well.

Add sugar, salt and/or pepper, and any of the optional ingredients. Heat through. Pour gravy into a serving bowl. Cascade garnish over the top and serve.

The V8 Recipe is simple. Add one heaping tablespoon of flour to cold juice. Stir to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until desired thickness. Add a bit of salt and pepper. It hardly needs additional for extra flavor, but you will find your own preferences as you sample. Enjoy.

It brings out the delicious taste if you say “y’all” three times before you eat. Yes, ma’am!
Y’all come back now. 😊

Here is a peek at my latest cozy mystery for your reading enjoyment.

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

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

Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

What Makes a Great Villain?

By Dani Pettrey

I’m happy to say I officially signed off on The Deadly Shallows a few weeks ago. It’s finished with editorial and on to paging. Phew. That book was literally the hardest I’ve ever written. I couldn’t tell you why. Well…five surgeries between the end of May and the end of August didn’t help, but well before that, this book was wrestling inside of me. It ended up causing me to have two years between releases. I felt like I’d let my readers down, but just seeing the excitement for The Deadly Shallows has filled me with such encouragement and love. I have the BEST readers.

The funny thing with The Deadly Shallows was that I knew the hero and heroine well but still struggled to find their story. It turned out it was the villain along with his motivations and actions that finally propelled the story forward.

Recently I took a fabulous online class . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Inspired by Life and Fiction blog

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

What’s in a Name?

by

Stella May

Have you ever wondered if or how a person’s name affects his/her personality? Does your name determine your fate? Or was Shakespeare right to shrug off labels? The older I get, the more I am convinced that the Bard was wrong—that there is something in a name, after all.

My great-grandmother was named Tatyana. There are several different meanings of that name. From ancient Greek, it translates as “founder of order” or “organizer.” According to other translations, it means “a fairy queen,” or “fairy princess.” She was both. Born to a noble Russian family, she was raised like a princess. Later in life, by fate’s capricious will, she became head of the household, where she reigned supreme, bringing order and organizing the lives of her family.

Let’s start from the beginning: Tatyana Fortushina was born in 1901 in Qusar (Kusary), located in the foothills of the Great Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan. One of her brothers was an orthodox priest. The other was in the army. She also had two sisters.

Unfortunately, the details about my great-grandmother’s family are sketchy at best. According to all the people I have talked to, Tatyana (or Baba Tanya, as everybody called her) wasn’t close with her parents or siblings. My guess? Probably because of her highly unusual marriage. As I said, my great-grandmother was raised and educated like a princess, graduating from an establishment (St. Nina’s) for girls of prominent Christian families, and was the apple of her parents’ eye…. until she met my great-grandfather, that is.

Here, we draw a big, fat blank. To this day, no one in the family knows how or why Meshady Abbas, the son of an Iranian manufacturer, ended up in post-revolutionary Azerbaijan.

When did my great-grandparents meet? And how on earth did a Muslim merchant get parental permission from one of the prominent members of Christian society to marry his daughter? The details are shrouded in secret. One thing we know for sure, though, is that in order to marry my great-grandmother, my great-grandfather converted to Christianity. And so, Meshadi Abbas became Artemy Kurdov and married my great-grandmother. Vera, my grandmother, was born the next year.

Their small family was happy—at least I want to believe that they were—but not for very long. When my grandmother Vera was a toddler, Artemy Kurdov, who embraced the Communist ideology wholeheartedly, was executed as an enemy of the nation. Ironic? Not in the least. It’s hard to understand now, but, during Stalin’s regime, just sneezing the wrong way was enough to be labeled as an enemy of the state—literally. And my daredevil of a great-grandfather had managed to become something of a Major in the small city where he lived. I assume that’s why he was ultimately executed… or perhaps he just said something, or did something, or looked at someone in passing, and some zealot took a notice and reported it. I don’t want to think about my great-grandfather’s days in prison or the beatings he endured. Torture was a regular practice of the NKVD—the original name of the KGB.

Thus, my great-grandmother Tatyana was left a young widow with no income to support her and her daughter, and no family to turn to for help. But instead of falling apart, this delicately built dark-haired princess squared her shoulders and spat fate in the eyes. She showed everybody what a graduate of St. Nina’s was made of! Remembering the sewing lessons she took in school, Baba Tanya soon became one of the most sought-after seamstresses—all the wives of the city’s elite were dressed by her. Much later, her granddaughters, my mom and my aunt, paraded in the clothes that were the subject of envy to their friends. She had finally found her footing, and life in her household became content. They had a roof over their heads, food on the table, but, most importantly, they had each other.

And then…

Her only daughter, her whole world, the reason of her being, fell in love with a man almost twice her age… and had to get married, or else. I can only wonder what Baba Tanya felt, when her nice and quiet world suddenly fell apart, as her own daughter repeated the same fate she had? As a mother, how would I react if I were in her shoes? Would I let my daughter chose her own fate, or would I try to interfere? I honestly don’t know.

In the end, my great-grandmother gave the couple her blessings and stepped aside. For the next five years, she lived alone. Was she hurt? I imagine she was. Feeling lonely? Abandoned? Oh, absolutely. But she was too proud to show her emotions. Always restrained, now she became coolly aloof.

Years later, when her beloved daughter became a widow with two small children at the age of twenty, she immediately took all of them under her wing. How could a woman, a mother, and grandmother keep harboring grudges when three people she loved more than life itself needed her? Hence, she became the head of an all-female household, one she ruled for almost three decades. The second meaning of her name – the founder of order—had come into play.

According to my family, she was a stern woman, fair and loving, but reserved. She didn’t suffer fools, didn’t forgive easily, and meted out punishment with a precision of a surgeon. Her scalpel was her tongue—sharp, cold, and merciless. But her love for her girls, although never visible, ran deep and was true.

My grandmother Vera always said that, if not for Baba Tanya and her sacrifices, they probably wouldn’t have survived the hunger of World War II. During that horrible time, to suppress her own hunger, Baba Tanya started to smoke. She went hungry for days, giving her tiny bread portions to her granddaughters. She learned to cook from bran and waste products, conjuring meals out of things unimaginable. She stood hours on end in bread lines, barely alive from hunger, all the while puffing away her disgusting handmade cigarettes. That cheap tobacco mix affected her lungs, ultimately causing her to pass away years later when I was barely three years old.

My memory of her is vague: a frail figure in a starched white kerchief, thin and pale-faced, coughing loudly. I remember I was afraid to enter the room when the ‘scary old woman’ was lying in bed. I suppose, for a small child, her frailty, her illness-ravished face, that horrible dry cough could and did look scary.

But still…to this day, I feel ashamed of myself.

Interestingly enough, while I don’t remember much of my great-grandmother’s face, one thing that stuck with me is her hands, which I can remember clearly.

Isn’t that just strange?

Or is it just the wonders of human memory?

Here is a peek at my latest 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.

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 with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 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.a>

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Sloane Taylor

My friend Vickie was a marvelous cook, but she never measured her ingredients. A handful of this a pinch of that was her method. And every dish was delicious. Vickie actually created this recipe, but left it to me for amounts. After years of indulging myself, I decided this one was the best.

If you are inclined to fill out the menu, sautéed chicken breasts and a tomato salad go nicely with this dish.

Burnt Butter & Sage Pasta

2 cups curly pasta

8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, room temperature

6 – 10 sage leaves

Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside while you make the sauce.

Melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat.

Add sage. Allow butter to brown. Watch carefully and stir often as once this starts to brown it changes quickly. Cook until butter reaches a medium caramel color. Remove sage leaves and discard.

Stir in pasta. Be sure to coat noodles well. Heat through.

Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese.

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

Sloane
Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. 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 Blogger, Twitter, 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 on Amazon.