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Friday Features’

Guest shares

A low-calorie pumpkin-based custard

by

Suzanne G. Rogers

A friend of mine invited me to a potluck, with the caveat that she was following a low-sugar diet to lose weight. I offered to bring dessert and began looking for a low-calorie pumpkin-based custard recipe on the Internet. I wanted to find something that didn’t require any artificial sweetener, and I found what I thought was the perfect recipe.

It was a disaster.

If your idea of delish is eating pumpkin puree with a spoon, that dessert would have been perfect for you. Therefore, I modified it into something tasty, without the cloying sweetness often found in pumpkin pies.

Image by Conger Design from Pixabay

Suzanne’s Pumpkin Custard

    1 15oz. can pumpkin
    4 eggs, beaten
    ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
    2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    ½ tsp. salt
    2 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Fold pumpkin into eggs. Stir in milk, both vanillas, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar. Divide mixture into 4 small ovenproof bowls.

Be sure to use cooking spray on the inside of the baking dishes. I also use a squirt of cooking spray inside my measuring cup before I add the sweetened condensed milk, so it slides out better.

You can adjust the added sugar to taste, but this recipe as written comes out to just under 250 calories per serving. Best served cold, but I’ve eaten it warm because I couldn’t wait and it was good then, too. I’ve also eaten it for breakfast as well as dessert because I’m a grown person and I can do what I like.😊

Add a dollop or two of whipped topping, or for something really scrumptious, make a batch of vanilla sugar-free pudding and put a few tablespoons on top before you dig in. Of course, you’ll also be adding more calories, but the vanilla pudding makes for a really nice treat.

For another calorie-free treat, pick up my Victorian-era romance, Duke of a Gilded Age. The sweetness is built into the story, so it won’t go to your hips.

When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril and will cost more than one man his life.

Duke of a Gilded Age is available at this Universal Link, Amazon, and Google Play.

Suzanne G. Rogers lives with her husband and son in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, and the occasional gator. She’s owned by two Sphynx cats, Houdini and Nikita. Movies, books, and writing are her passions.

Learn more about Suzanne G. Rogers on her historical romance blog and her fantasy blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to check out her website for the Sweet Romance written by Suzanne G. Rogers.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The garden guru Emma Lane bringing us her most recent tips.

Gardens grow of their own volition. You labor with the lay out and lovingly place the plants. By the third year, your garden has selected what it will and will not accept. But it’s gorgeous, healthy and you wouldn’t change a single thing. (Okay, maybe you’ll move that fragrant dianthus in front of that balloon flower which is taller.) Some of it is your fault because you couldn’t resist that church sale and your neighbor shared several perennials. Status normal. Allow your garden nostalgia. You show it off by saying, “I got that one for next to nothing on sale, Susan Smith gave me that one when she moved to Florida, I miss her so! My mother-in-law finally broke down and shared that rose. Would you believe how she can make cuttings and root them?” This iris came from … and that one came from…

SEASONAL: Do plan spring shrubs/bulbs which are so welcome. Fall red/yellow leaves.

INVASIVE: When someone mentions the plant is invasive, believe it! I love the golden blooms of Rudbeckia Goldstrum, but it will take over if given the chance. Plant it way over there where you can mow it if need be; same with any sort of mint.

PARTNERSHIPS: Delphenium back up to fences almost poetically, a partnership. Peonies are almost small bushes. I love to make a back ground hedge row from them. Yellow coreopsis and red yarrow are made in heaven for hot colors.

FRIENDSHIP: The deer, rabbits, groundhog, the neighbor’s pets, etc have destroyed some of your hard work? This is your opportunity to share and discover new friends. What better way to become acquainted? You’ll learn to laugh and maybe learn new gardening secrets while you commiserate.

Now that your garden is all you want it to be, take a good book and relax in all that beauty. May I suggest one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

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

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

EXCERPT

Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.

“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

Four Ways to Structure a Novel

By Lorraine Ambers

Every writer has a different process, a different way of creating, and every story is unique in the way it’s told. What all of them have in common are basic structure rules. In this post we’re going to explore four different types of plotting a story structure . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Lorraine Ambers blog

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Seasonal fruit

by

Carol Browne

In the USA, it’s Fall; in the UK, Autumn. Whatever you call it, it’s that time of year for mists and mellow fruitfulness and it’s the fruit that takes centre stage. We harvest an abundance of russet-coloured apples and use them for apple-bobbing and cider. Their colours echo the colours of the leaves. But Autumn has one other iconic fruit and that is the blackberry. It is dark and rich and guarded by thorny brambles, a treasure in the hedgerows that we must take care to harvest. For centuries this fruit has been picked and enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is an ancient source of nutrients and is extremely beneficial to health; the berries’ dark purple colour created by the antioxidants they contain.

Blackberries are an image important to the childhood memories of one of my main characters in The Exile of Elindel. It is strange to think of people picking blackberries for so many centuries. The continuity of this seasonal practice has continued regardless of what else has happened in the world. I myself live in the countryside where the opposite side of my road is entirely hedgerow and as I write this, it is one huge blackberry factory! Strangers have suddenly descended upon us to fill their buckets and baskets with fruit. We won’t see them at any other time of the year. I just hope they leave some for the birds who need them far more than these humans!

I’m sure elves love blackberries too.

Image by Emma Larocque from Pixabay

BLACKBERRY BRAMBLE SORBET
900 grams (4.5 cups) blackberries
1 whole lemon, with peel, chopped, remove seeds
1 lemon, juiced
425 grams (2 cups) castor sugar (superfine sugar in the USA)

Purée blackberries in a food processor. Add lemon bits, juice, and sugar.

Blend until well incorporated. Set in fridge and chill for 2 hours.

Place in an ice cream maker and churn until set.

No ice cream maker? No problem. Freeze the bramble in a metal pan. Scrape and stir the mixture every half hour for a 2 – 3 hours to create a fine ice.

Here is a little from my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

Godwin’s adventures in Elvendom left him a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. Who—or what—is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.

Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Special Feature

Heroine from

Can’t Stop the Music

by

C.D. Hersh

The 50th anniversary of the musical festival Woodstock is today August 15th through the 18th. We thought our heroine Rose would like to talk about her book, Can’t Stop the Music, which begins at the famous Woodstock Festival August 1969.

 


 

Hi, I’m Rose.
I can’t imagine why my authors would want me to talk about what you can read. It’s true, I attended Woodstock in 1969. While there I came across a flautist playing Minuet in G. So I joined in and played a flute accompaniment with her. That’s something you can read about in the book but, you can’t hear. Now there is a recording I can share. Hope you enjoy the song.

Thanks for listening,
Rose.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The importance of flowers in our award winning book, Can’t Stop the Music. Written about a time when flowers were the rage.

With the 50th anniversary of the musical festival Woodstock coming up this August 15-18, we thought it would be a great time to talk about our book, Can’t Stop the Music, which begins at the famous Woodstock Festival August 1969. What better subject to talk about than flowers and flower children, since both were a big part of Woodstock.

Experts say, “Write what you know.” For us that advice often means flowers enter the stories we create. In our award winning book, Can’t Stop the Music, we tell the story of a flower child who encounters a magic tree while at the iconic Woodstock Musical Festival. The tree promises her the soul mate of her life.

In one of the scenes, the hero brings a bouquet of flowers to the heroine, Rose, similar to the one pictured above. The bouquet contains a red rose, daises, lilies, and a sprig of rosemary, because Rose’s full name is Rosemary.

Flowers have played an important part in our relationship. Catherine loves flowers and has a garden full of them, and Donald has always given flowers to her. Sometimes they arrive for birthdays and anniversaries and Sweetest Day. Sometimes she’s gifted posies for absolutely no reason at all.

He’s presented flowers to her a single bloom at a time, brought to the table by different restaurant servers. They’ve arrived at hotel lobbies while they’ve been out of town. He even made his fellow construction workers stop by the roadside while he cut boughs of forsythia (one of Catherine’s favorite spring-flowering bushes) to bring home to her. Catherine loves this story as she envisions the other manly construction workers giving her husband a hard time for being so romantic. The best part is Donald didn’t care one bit. He knew the armful of yellow blooms would melt his wife’s heart. Gotta love a guy like that!

With a flower history like ours, we just had to put a romantic nosegay in our nostalgic romance book, Can’t Stop the Music, where a flower child of the 60s gets her own beautiful bouquet.

Can’t Stop the Music is book number 2 in the Soul Mate Tree collection. The collection has 12 books, each written by a different Soul Mate Publishing author. The sensual to steamy romance books, which span a range of genres and settings, revolve around an ancient, magical tree that grants needy persons the soul of their lives.

 

The Soul Mate Legend says:

It’s an ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

For college senior and hippie wannabe Rosemary—Rose for short—a teaching job is within her grasp, but she wants more. She wants love, the kind of love that has bound her parents for so many years. When she’s dumped by her current boyfriend because her morals can’t bring her to give in to free love, she finds herself at Woodstock in the middle of the biggest free-love, music festival of the Sixties. Alone, again. Until a magical tree grants her wish and she finds the man of her dreams—and loses him before she really knows who he is.

Dakota meets the girl of his dreams at Woodstock, but a jealous wannabe girlfriend drives them apart before he can discover Rose’s last name and where she comes from. After he sees a disappearing tree that promises him true love, a frantic search to find Rose comes up empty-handed.

Short Excerpt:

In his hand he held a bouquet of mixed flowers containing a single red rose, some white daisies, a couple of lilies, and a spike of pungent rosemary.

He held them out to her. “You weren’t wearing flowers in your hair at Woodstock, so I wasn’t sure what kind you liked. I hope these are okay.”

“They’re beautiful.” Waving him inside, she took the blooms from him. “How sweet of you.”

“I thought flowers for my flower child, Rose, were appropriate.”

His footsteps behind her stopped, and she turned. He stood staring at her Woodstock collage.

“This takes me back.” He tapped the glass over the Woodstock ticket. “This ought to be worth money someday.”

“Too many memories attached to sell those mementos.”

He closed the gap between them and embraced her, holding her close. “Remember when I held you in my arms at Woodstock?”

She giggled. “Technically, one arm. You held up your guitar case with the other as we slid down the hill.”

“I didn’t tell you then, but holding you felt right. Still does.”

She lowered her head. He tipped her chin up until she gazed at him.

“This date has been a long time coming, Rosemary.” Then he kissed her.

For a second she didn’t move. Then as his kiss deepened, she fell victim to its power. Her arms wrapped around his neck, the fragrance of rose, lily, and rosemary swirled around them as the bouquet rested against his back. After what seemed an eternity, he released her.

“I should get these flowers in water before the heat of passion wilts them.” And me.

Want to read more? Can’t Stop the Music is available on Amazon.

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Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

The Amazon Conundrum (AKA Why Some of My Books Are in Kindle Unlimited and Most Are Not)

By Lindsay Buroker

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, because I get these questions a lot:

    Why isn’t X book available in Kindle Unlimited?
    Why isn’t X book available on Kobo/Barnes & Noble/Apple/etc.?

I wanted a place to send folks where I can explain. It’s hard to get all the points across in a response to someone’s Facebook comment. Especially since I always forget how to do the darned hard returns (SHIFT + ENTER, in case you also didn’t know or keep forgetting) there.

So, here’s the scoop: . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Lindsay Buroker blog

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