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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A new recipe from Stella May who brings us her favorite cookie.

This is my hubby’s favorite cookie. I must admit it is mine, too. I hope you like them as well. My recipe makes 10 – 12 medium cookies or 7 – 8 large ones.

Almond Cookies

4 egg whites, right out of the refrigerator*

⅓ cup organic sugar, or ½ cup for a sweeter taste

1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup almond flour (I use super-fine blanched)

Almonds, slivered or whole

Pre-heat oven to 250° F.

Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Pour egg whites into a glass bowl. Set your mixer on high speed. Whip until whites are very firm.

Gradually add sugar, almond extract, and flour. Drop dough onto cookie sheet using a tablespoon or a scooper. Add an almond on top of each cookie, then set pan into oven.

Bake for 20-25 min, then turn off the oven, but leave cookies inside for another 40-45 min.

Remove and enjoy.

*Store the yolks in the fridge to scramble for breakfast the next morning.

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.

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Friday Features

Cover Reveal

A new Regency Romance Drama

by

Vonnie Hughes

Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press! Acclaimed author Vonnie Hughes has written another exciting Regency romance drama with just a bit of fluff and interesting facts sprinkled in. This is novel is destined to soar on the bestseller lists!

 

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Air conditioning
The invention we can’t live without!

What to you is the greatest invention in human history? The wheel? Sliced bread? Electricity (not exactly an invention)? The light bulb? The list is endless of the various inventions in human history, but only one that helps when the temperatures move beyond 90 degrees, can there be any doubt that our most amazing piece of technology is the air conditioner?

In 1902 Willis Carrier created the Apparatus for Treating Air for a Brooklyn printing company—a break-through that, as it developed and spread over decades, changed the human condition. Today close to 87 percent of U.S. homes have AC, but we’re old enough to remember when it was a luxury.

During heat waves, people barely moved or did anything. You would sit in front of fans of all sorts to try to stay cool. Some even used tubs of ice in front of the fan to blow cooling air. Nights were a sleepless ordeal, with sweat pooling in various places of the body. Then morning came and you had to wash the damp sheets. Did we mention we lived through this? Carrier set us free from such torment with his invention. Why is he not honored with a special day on the calendar?

Air conditioning is not simply a comfort but has now become a part of modern life. Without it keeping people and computers working when the mercury climbs past 90 all activity would slow or even stop. Would computers even operate? Air conditioning has made it possible for millions of people to live in the Sun Belt states that nature intended for lizards, not humans. As the world warms, the demand for AC grows ever greater. Currently consuming 12 percent of U.S. home energy expenditures, some climate change warriors suggest we all wean ourselves from Carrier’s invention. They argue for a return to a more natural way of life. Been there, done that, not going back!

Sorry, we’d give up about everything else before we went back to living without conditioned air. If they come for our AC, as the saying goes, they’ll have to pry it out of our wonderfully cold, dead fingers.

Now, if your AC is working, settle into a comfy chair and check out some of our hot books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The heroine of our book, Son of the Moonless Night, with ten facts about her.

One of the fun things about creating characters is coming up with quirks, personality traits, and interesting tidbits about their personal background. Katrina Romanovski is one of our reader’s favorite characters. We’ve already been asked if she is going to appear in another book. Much to the reader’s dismay, we wouldn’t reveal the answer.

Here are ten interesting facts about Katrina Romanovski, the heroine from our new book, Son of the Moonless Night-The Turning Stone Chronicles, book three.

    1. She is from Transylvania but not Romania. We do solve this mystery in the book.
    2. She hunts paranormals. Hates vampires. And swears by Count Dracula.
    3. She wears a huge Celtic cross as a talisman against vampires.
    4. She not only hunts paranormals, but she’s had her share of paranormal boyfriends. No zombies please, they’re just too creepy.
    5. She is a blonde version of NCIS’s forensic scientist Abby but with a medical degree.
    6. She decided to leave her father’s paranormal hunting business because she was looking for normalcy in her life. Instead she found Owen, the hero of Son of the Moonless Night, a shape shifter.
    7. She is part gypsy, on her father’s side. Her mother is British. Prim-and-proper breeding war with Katrina’s gypsy walk-on-the-wild side. The gypsy usually wins.
    8. She has traveled the USA as an FBI agent but now likes Cleveland, the mistake by the lake.
    9. She loves Italian food but has trouble cooking it, especially when Owen is around.
    10. She spends a lot of time in alleys.

Here is a little more about Katrina from the book:

A crash in the alley stopped Katrina Romanovski mid-stride. Like the October mist swirling in off the lake, her gypsy blood stirred sending her intuition into high gear. Something unnatural was happening.

Go see what’s wrong. She heard her father’s voice as clearly as if he stood next to her.

On the heels of his words came her mother’s pragmatic warning in clipped British tones. You know what curiosity killed. Katrina pushed the ever-present warning aside. Mom never approved of Dad’s supernatural hunts and even less of his drawing her into them.

Pulling the oversized cross she always wore out from under her shirt, Kat looked around for a weapon. Please, not a vampire. I hate vampires! A piece of wood sticking out of the trashcan at the front of the alley caught her eye.

Grabbing it, she broke the end off into a sharp point. The mist-filled air filtered the light from the single bulb over one of the alley doorways. The wind swirled the loose trash around making a quiet approach difficult. Sidestepping the paper, with the stake in one hand and holding the gun she took from her purse in the other hand, she crept into the alley.

A roar echoed against the buildings, the sound nearly sending her running. That roar wasn’t a vampire. It sounded more like an animal. Kat inched closer. In the yellow pool of light from the back door of the building, a black bear, over seven feet tall, reared on its back legs and swung its paw at the man standing at the edge of the light. He crashed to the ground, shirt torn open from the slashing claws. Blood covered the fabric, and he clasped his left hand over his shoulder to stem the flow. The bear bent toward him, teeth bared in a smile. A wicked smile.

Kat aimed her gun, but before she could pull the trigger, a shot rang out. The flash of gunpowder lit the face of the injured man. The blast reverberated against the buildings. With an enraged bellow, the bear staggered backward against the wall. Shaking his head, the animal dropped to all four paws. Weaving like a drunk, he lumbered toward his attacker. The man took aim again, shooting the animal between the eyes. Animal and human collapsed on the dirty, littered pavement.

As she started to move forward, Kat’s gypsy senses crawled over her skin like angry red ants. As she slipped back into the shadows, the bear shed fur. Changing size. Then, finally, turning into a man.

Shape shifters. Her stake wasn’t any good against them, and her bullets weren’t silver. This one appeared dead anyway. Had the wounded man seen the shift? Tossing the stake aside, she paused by the shifter and quickly moved to the wounded man. Out cold. Still human.

When she touched him, his eyelids fluttered open. “Did I get it?”

“What?”

“The bear.”

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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>

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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.

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Friday Features’

Is Happy to share the news

Soul Mate Publishing is proud to announce the release of a

new book by

Janis Lane

Murder by Proxy, a Detective Kevin Fowler cozy mystery.

A blizzard blows in big-city crimes which spill into the peaceful small town of Hubbard, New York, catching the attention of Detective Kevin Fowler and staff. What unusual acts engage the Secret Service with the local cops? A young man is found badly beaten in the heated greenhouse of the Young Family Plant Nursery. Early spring melt reveals a sinister vehicle with a deadly cargo, even as the master of the greenhouse welcomes part-time alumni.

Romance swirls, tumbles, and produces surprising changes among the group of friends at Buddy and Rita’s diner. Beverly hires a young, ambitious reporter to work at the growing newspaper and starts a new adventure of her own, while Kevin watches over the townspeople of Hubbard. The mystery of a toxic skunk is finally routed by troublesome out-of-towners. An unexpected wedding shocks everyone but the Young Family. Spring has arrived and May is in full bloom in the Western New York small-town Americana, as another beautiful bride walks toward the flower-laded bower under the approving eyes of a group of fond friends.

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.

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