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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Sweet with a Little Spice

from

Susan Lodge

These cookies are delicious and easy to whip up for that someone special in your life.

Ginger and Coconut Cookies

Photo courtesy of Kira auf der Heide unsplash

200 g (8oz.) plain flour
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda, baking soda
1-2 tsp. ground ginger
100 g (4oz.) desiccated coconut
100 g (4 oz.) butter, softened
100 g (4oz.) castor sugar (fine sugar)
1 egg
4 pieces (3-4oz.) preserved stem ginger, chopped
1 tbsp. icing (confectioners) sugar
Food colouring to tint icing
100g (4oz) of good quality chocolate. (optional)

Preheat oven to 180° C / 350°F.

Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, and ground ginger together. Stir in coconut.

In another bowl combine butter and sugar. Gradually add egg until all combined to form a soft creamy mixture. (Takes only a couple of minutes with an electric mixer.)

Stir in the chopped ginger.

Fold in half the flour/coconut mix with a tablespoon. Add the rest, and using your hands form the mixture into a soft ball of dough. If the mixture is too sticky, then add a little more flour. If too firm add a little liquid from the preserved ginger jar.

Wrap the dough in cling film and let it rest for a few minutes in the fridge.

Remove cling film and lightly roll out the dough on a floured surface until ¼ inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to make your cookie shapes. I use a heart shaped cutter for Valentine’s day. Keep the rolling pin and cutter well-floured to prevent sticking.

Lightly grease 2 baking trays with a little butter. Arrange cookies on trays leaving a couple of inches between each one, as they may spread a little. Cook for about 10 – 14 minutes. The cookies should be a light golden colour and the base firm.

When the cookies have cooled dredge with the sifted, icing (confectioner’s) sugar.

Enjoy the cookies as they are, or decorate them further with chocolate.

Break chocolate into a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Use a teaspoon to drizzle over the cookies.

Now that your cookies are ready, brew yourself a cup of tea, relax, and enjoy a peek at my latest Historical Romance while you munch away.

Esmie Elstone is thrown into panic when she hears of Captain Rockford’s return. But she is determined that the days of him interfering with her life are over. Destroying her chances of a happy future on his last visit, had resulted in her being foisted on her Aunt for a third pointless season in London.

To alleviate the boredom of society life, Esmie helps run a discreet betting enterprise under the guise of a sewing club. But there are some things you just shouldn’t wager on, and Esmie’s integrity is soon put to a dangerous test.

Richard Rockford had known Esmie almost all her life. As neighbours, Admiral Elstone had depended on Richard to keep an eye on his daughter when he was away at sea. The responsibility he had always taken on willingly. But her cruel and thoughtless actions, from the day he had left four years ago, had shaken him. Now he was back and wanting answers.

But when Esmie tumbles into a treacherous conspiracy, can he really turn his back on her?

Susan Lodge’s first publishing success was a story purchased by a major UK magazine followed by a drawer full of rejections. Finally a breakthrough gave her the confidence to seek and secure a publisher for her historical romance novels Only a Hero Will Do and Rebellious Cargo.

After working in several cities including London and Bristol, she and her husband moved down to the Hampshire coast to raise their family.

Learn more about Susan and her books on her website and blog. Stay connected on  Facebook, Twitter and her Amazon Author Page.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A new release from HL Carpenter .

No one weaves a tale like HL Carpenter, especially in their new release. Although it’s listed as MG, people of all ages will enjoy this intriguing story.

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn’t think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.

All.

The.

Time.

She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she’s determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.

The ghost is not in the plan.

But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it’s too late.

EXCERPT

I had the future planned out.

The ghost was not in the plan.

After the first visit, I still didn’t really believe in ghosts. But when she came back the second time, I had to change my mind. I hadn’t been dreaming and I wasn’t crazy. The only other alternative was: I had seen a ghost.

I started researching ghost visitations. What made them stick around in this world? How did they choose who to haunt? Why had no one ever caught a legitimate sighting on video or made a recording?

Mostly what I learned was that people argued a lot about whether ghosts existed. People who believed in ghosts liked other people who believed in ghosts. People who didn’t believe in ghosts thought people who did were crazy.

I was not crazy.

Finding out the answers to my questions about ghosts should have been easy. I had my own personal ghost to ask. But every time she visited me, I couldn’t say a word. My thoughts got all tangled and my breath stuck in my throat and I got dizzy. Having my own personal ghost was not helpful. The visits were…creepy. Like are-you-here-because-I’m-going-to-die creepy. Maybe the creep factor was why no one had ever documented a ghost.

I shivered, though I hadn’t seen the ghost in hours and cheerful sunlight warmed the early June morning. The Water Garden, a magical green fairyland of trickling streams and arched bridges, closed in around me. Shadows shifted. Bushes rustled.

I’d never seen a ghost before, not even when my dad died. Why had one decided to haunt me now?

“Just lucky, I guess,” I said. “What do you think, Barkley?”

My long-legged Schnauzer scratched his ear with his hind foot.

“That’s what I think too.”

I tugged Barkley’s ear and picked up one of the quarter-size flat stones scattered beside the path. I tossed the stone into the deep end of the Water Garden pond.

Barkley scrambled to the bank, then yipped and jumped back, almost jerking the leash from my hand. The ruff on his neck rose straight up. He stared at the pond, his lips curled, his teeth bared.

I gripped the red plastic leash more tightly.

The ghost liked water.

Barkley growled.

In the pond, twin black shafts of water shifted into the wavy outline of feminine eyes. Pale lips, reed-thin and white as unearthed slugs, parted. The lips tried to form a word. A gurgle rose from the depths like a deep sigh.

“Daaaaay…daaaay…”

Bubbles roiled the surface of the water.

Barkley growled again. Then he barked, as if to prove the ghost hadn’t silenced him.

I tried to speak, to ask the ghost what she wanted. My tongue clung to the roof of my mouth. My lips moved in a quivery jiggle as if I were silently whistling. But I could not force out a sound, much less a whole question.

Maybe if I could think a question, the ghost and I could communicate. Maybe she didn’t need actual words to hear me and to answer.

I tipped forward. My glasses slipped down my nose. I wanted to ask her…something…something…important…

What would touching her feel like?

I stretched out my hand.



Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

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Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

Trying To Get Published Might Be Tough For Me But My Kids Are Getting A Valuable Life Lesson #AmWriting #Writer

By Lucy Mitchell

We all know the life of a writer is tough. Whether you are published or unpublished days are often spent doing one or more of the following; writing, chucking everything you have written in the bin, rewriting what you’ve retrieved from the bin, editing, getting carried away with best seller day dreams, rewriting again, crying over what is staring back at you on the page, editing again, hating every single word which you have rewritten for the zillionth time, quitting being a writer, deciding you actually love writing…after polishing off a soothing bottle of red, rewriting again, editing again, flinching at comments from beta readers, making a voodoo doll which looks like your main character, editing again and crying with joy at how well your first chapter sounds.

If you are unpublished and yet to secure a literary agent or a book deal you may also experience . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

BlondeWriteMore blog

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Friday Features’

Guest shares

a recipe for oatmeal cookies

by

Sharon Ledwith

These are the best oatmeal cookies you’ll ever eat. Perfect for serving with tea or coffee during unexpected (or expected) visitor drop-ins and it’s also great for a dad’s birthday surprise. This recipe is guaranteed to make you smile with each bite.

BIG DADDY’S OATMEAL COCONUT COOKIES

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

1½ cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies®)
1 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

Beat sugars and butter together with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, allowing the first to blend into the mixture before adding the next. Add the vanilla.

Stir flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Beat into the butter mixture until just incorporated into the dough.

Fold oats, crispy rice cereal, and coconut into the dough. Mix just enough to evenly combine.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonful onto baking sheets.

Bake until browned, 8-9 minutes.

Cool cookies slightly on baking sheets before moving to cooling racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

I recommend you sample the cookies along with your favorite beverage and crack open the first book in my teen psychic mystery series, Lost and Found. You may just find yourself wanting to visit Fairy Falls.

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

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

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

BUY LINKS

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

Umpire School: A twisted love story

Where Anne Montgomery tells us about her experience at baseball umpire school and meeting her husband.

I entered a tiny office in St. Petersburg, Florida, signed the legal forms, and was escorted to a single-story cottage across the road that fronted the facility. Unlike all but a handful of the 105 students registered for Bill Kinnemon’s Umpire School Class of 1981, I would have my own room, since putting me in the dorm with the guys was obviously out of the question.

I plumped the thin pillow, leaned back on the cot, and scanned the schedule that would direct my life for the next five weeks. Baseball rules classes, on-field clinics, and scrimmages in which students would participate as both umpires and players. My stomach twisted at the thought of anyone seeing me in the field. I’d never played baseball or softball. I could already hear the “she throws like a girl” jeering and wondered if there was any way I could actually avoid having to throw a baseball.

The next morning, we campers lined up in rows. “He’s out!” I called, straightening to my full height, bringing my left arm horizontally across my chest and my right up and bent at the elbow. Both hands were clenched in tight fists. Out calls emanating from scores of wannabe umpires echoed across the dusty field.

“Jee…sus Christ! That was pathetic!” senior instructor Joe Brinkman screamed, grabbing the bill of his cap and slapping it on his leg. “Sound like you mean it!”

Furtively eyeing one-another, we bent over in unison again, hands splayed just above our knees, staring at an imaginary base, pretending the runner and throw were arriving almost simultaneously.

“He’s out!” I joined the others, glad I didn’t have a high voice. I might have been able to blend in, had it not been for the long, auburn ponytail. Cutting my hair short might have been prudent.

Major League Umpire John McSherry, 375 pounds, walked unsteadily through the lines of aspiring umpires, saying nothing, looking decidedly uncomfortable: the result of some especially painful dental work and a night of bubbly self-medication.

“He’s out! He’s out! He’s out!” We screamed over and over, working on our posture and intonation. McSherry wiped a hand across his face: the February Florida heat causing spots of perspiration on his red cheeks. As I bent down in preparation for another out call, he passed by, without even a glance.

It was not until later that night, when my name was announced during dinner, that McSherry sat up and stared. “Anne? Anne? There’s a girl here? You’re kidding,” he said, turning to the Minor League instructor who stood by his side. John Higgins pointed me out. McSherry looked over and waved his hand in the air as if the whole idea was simply too ridiculous to consider.

The days were grueling: long and hot, on the field and in the classroom. I worked hard to be just one of the boys.

One of the tenants of umpire school was that all campers should have an equal opportunity to be treated badly. The logic being that umpires will, by nature, be victims of disdain when working games, and if you can’t handle the abuse in school, you will never survive on the field.

My big moment came one afternoon. Campers were sometimes picked to perform certain special tasks, and, now, it was my turn.

“Butler!” McSherry called out, making sure my fellow fledgling umpires heard. “Bring the balls up to field two for this afternoon’s drills.”

“Yes, sir!” I said, chin up in my best imitation of an Army recruit.

I’d watched him berate campers, throwing his hat, and tramping around the dusty diamond like a bull with hemorrhoids. He’d go nose to nose with these grown men and they would shrivel. In fact, 12 campers would simply grab their gear and quit, walking away rather than endure the punishment.

Fifteen minutes prior to the afternoon drill session, I stood at the door of the equipment shed. Higgins, who everyone called Higgs and who seemed to be McSherry’s Sancho Panza, smiled as he leaned up against the wall, arms folded across his chest.

“I’m here to get the balls for field two,” I said. Higgs was cute with bright blue eyes.

“Don’t worry about it.” He smiled. “They’re already up on the field.”

“Really? But John insisted that I bring them up.”

“Nope. You’re good.”

I was one of the first people at the field, so I waited and watched as the group assembled, the last few stragglers running full speed up the dirt road, because being late was never, ever acceptable.

“OK, we’ll be doing first base drills,” McSherry said. “It’s about listening to the ball hit the glove and seeing the foot on the bag. Listen and look. That’s what you’re going to do. Got it?”

“Yes, sir!” the group called out as one.

Then McSherry paused rather dramatically. “Who’s got the balls?” Silence.
“Who’s got the balls?” he yelled louder. “Who was supposed to … Butler! Where are the balls?”

“I … I went to get them and Higgs …”

“Where are the fucking balls?”

I stared at Higgs. He avoided my gaze. “I don’t know,” he said. “I saw them in the shed.”

McSherry squinted at me. “Get ‘em, Butler! And while you’re gone, your friends here will run laps around the field.”

My eyes grew wide.

“Start now, gentlemen! Run! Run!”

I bolted across the field and down the hill faster than I’d ever moved in my life. But I did not get away quickly enough to avoid hearing the curses that were being hurled my way.

When umpire school finally came to an end after five long weeks, it was, strangely, very hard to leave. It was as if we all suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, where we had learned to love our captors and wished to emulate them.

Like most of the other campers, I flirted with those professional baseball dreams, even though a job would have meant life in the low minors, shuffling from tiny town to tiny town, little pay, low budget motels, and the built-in cruelties umpires endure daily.

When it came to picking the campers who would be recommended for that life, most of the school staff members decided it would not be a good idea to send a woman up the line. It was 1981, after all. It’s interesting, and came as a bit of a surprise, that I had a friend in John McSherry. I would find out years later that he was the only one who rated me in the top 15. But with most of the other staffers positioning me much lower on the list, my eventual ranking was 32. The top 30 candidates were certified for duty in Minor League instructional camps. I was told that McSherry thought I had good officiating instincts.

Did I deserve a job? Probably not. About ten days into camp, I injured a hamstring, which limited my mobility. And, in all honesty, I have always been a horrible runner, which just about anyone who’s ever officiated with me can attest. Apparently, one day my awkward stride caused McSherry to growl. “Jesus Christ, Higgs! She runs worse than I do!”

How do I know this? Five years after I attended umpire school, I ran into John Higgins. Then, I married him and John McSherry was there with us to celebrate.

Here’s a peek into my latest novel for you.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

Amazon Buy Link

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.

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Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

Is It Easier to Write Paranormal Romance?

By Tami Lund

Is it easier to write paranormal, as opposed to contemporary romance? Once upon a time (right about the time I decided I wanted to write paranormal), my gut reaction to that question was a resounding yes.

I mean, come on. A world with no rules? A world I get to create? I can do anything I want, anything at all, just so long as it… is believable.

That’s right. That’s the kicker. It can be all made up in your head, not a shred of what one would consider normal, but— . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Soul Mate Publishing blog

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

A favorite family recipe fromAlicia Joseph who brings us her delicious Caramel Brownies.

Every family has their favorites. For mine it’s the following recipe. Hard to keep these delicious brownies on hand once their sweet baking aroma hits the kitchen.

CARAMEL BROWNIES

Brownies
1 pkg. German chocolate cake mix.
½ cup. butter, melted
⅓ cup evaporated milk
½ cup nuts, walnuts or pecans

Topping
1 lb. caramels
⅓ cup evaporated milk
6 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine cake mix, ¼ cup melted butter, evaporated milk, and nuts with a fork. Spread in a 9” x 13” pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Place caramels and evaporated milk in a saucepan. Carefully melt on medium heat. Spread mixture on top of baked brownies. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and drizzle with dollops of remaining butter.

Bake 15 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

Grab a brownie and then pour yourself a glass of milk. Get comfy and enjoy a little from my latest release.


“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.

Prologue
1993

I was jerked from my sleep while the phone was still buzzing its first high-piercing ring. I glanced at the clock on the nightstand beside my bed. It read 4:17 a.m. I knew something was wrong.

The second ring was abruptly broken up and my mother’s muffled voice carried into my room. I was already sitting upright in my bed when my bedroom door squeaked open. My mother’s slight figure appeared as a shadow near my door.

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

“What’s wrong?” My voice was no louder than a whisper.

I watched my mother slowly make her way into the dark room. I couldn’t make out the expression on her face, but the stiff movement of the outline of her body was hesitant.

She turned on the lamp and sat down beside me. Her face was pale. She let out short, shallow breaths. It seemed difficult for her to look me in the eyes.

“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened?”

Finally, my mother looked at me with pain in her eyes. “Lyssa . . .” She smoothed her hand gently across my arm. “Abbey’s dead.”

I took in her words without an ounce of denial. The reality of what my mother had told me was instant.

My best friend was dead.

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. Her first novella, Her Name, was published by Musa Publishing in 2014. Her Name is a sweet, romantic story about a woman who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life.

Loving Again is her second published novella. Alicia is currently working on a new novel called A Penny on the Tracks, a coming of age story about love and friendship. Alicia has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon.

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.

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