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Archive for the ‘CD Hersh paranormal romance author’ Category

Friday Features’

We talk about

Collaborative writing … how and why it works for us

image from Microsoft Clip Art

Lots of people we know look at us as collaborative writers and say, “I don’t know how you two do it. I’d kill my spouse if I had to work with him/her.”

Well, we’re both still alive and well and loving working together.

So what’s our secret? For the inquisitive minds who want to know, here are a few reasons why our writing partnership works.

  • We like each other and respect each other—a lot. Respect is paramount in any working relationship.
  • We’ve been together more years that we’ve been apart. As a result, we know each other very well.
  • We have complimentary talents and we recognize that. Donald is a great idea and plotting person, and Catherine is good at the technical part of writing, the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and etcetera.
  • We laugh a lot when we’re working together, even if it’s a serious scene. Nothing brings people together like laughter.
  • We plot our stories in detail, but still allow room for the characters to take us to unexpected places. When they do what we haven’t planned, both of us have to sign off on what has happened before it makes it into the book.
  • We’re willing to throw ideas, scenes and whole sections of each other’s writing out. There are no sacred cows in our partnership.
  • Our methods of collaborative writing are fluid. Sometimes we create using a totally collaborative effort, literally writing together line-by-line (we’ve created a number of our plays using this method). We might revamp something one of us has created as a solo writer, or we might work with one of us functioning as the major writer and the other as editor. Changing things keeps our interests up and our egos in check.
  • And last, but certainly not least, we keep the lines of communication open. Writing is usually a solo job, but when you’re working with someone else, you have to let them know how you feel about what’s being plotted, written, and critiqued. If you don’t, then you can stifle the creative flow as well as the collaborative relationship. When we plot and one of us throws out a hasty, “I hate that idea!” (and we’ve done that) there are no hurt feelings on the part of the other person. We will ask for clarification as to why, and the protesting party must come up with a reasonable excuse, but we never get upset, want to quit working together, or get a divorce over it.

We can’t speak to the writing methods of other co-authors, although we have read that some write opposing chapters or each take a point of view, something we haven’t tried yet. However, as a married couple and co-authors, we do feel we bring something unique to the table—a spark we hope will take us a long way on our writing journey. A spark that enriches our personal relationship. For us, that’s enough reason to work together as C.D. Hersh.

Have you ever co-authored something? What worked for you in that relationship?

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The multi-talented Sloane Taylor with her review of the first book in our series, The Promised One.

Allow me to introduce you to two amazing writers, C.D. Hersh, who are the reason for bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. I only have time to read for pleasure when I go to bed. You have no idea how much sleep I lost because I couldn’t close their book. And I am not a paranormal enthusiast.

The plot is well woven and kept me turning the pages long into the night. The characters are realistic even though all but two are shifters. They have all the qualities and faults of any normal human. Love Eli! It had to be difficult for C.D. Hersh to stay in his accent and never digress. The conflict is strong and fitted in smoothly. The love scenes are well written, filled with passion, but never step over the line. This is a book I highly recommend.

Be sure to check out The Promised One, the first book in the Turning Stone Chronicles series, you won’t be disappointed.

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

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Friday Features’

We’re talking about

How To Write The Next Book

by

C.D. Hersh

At some point, in the beginning of every writing journey, we authors wonder if we can really write a book. We ask ourselves: Can I do this? And if I can, will I be able to write a second book? Will my next book be as good as the first book? Will an editor love book number two as much as the first one? And, heaven forbid, what will I do if no wants the next book I write— assuming I can even finish it?

When we started our publishing journey back in 2012, with the pitch of the first book in our paranormal/urban fantasy series The Turning Stone Chronicles to Soul Mate Publishing, we had some of those questions. Book One, The Promised One was taking a maiden journey into the editorial world of queries. And after the rejection stories we heard from other aspiring authors, we truly thought we’d have our first rejection slip. We had ideas about where the remaining books in the proposed series were going, but not much more than nutshells of ideas and a few paragraphs written in a black-and-white school composition book. Book number one didn’t even have a contract, and here we were bold enough to assume we could write and sell a six-book series.

Four years later (2016), with the release of book number four in the series, The Mercenary and the Shifters, we were now more than halfway through our series. Ah, but life had some interesting twists planned for us as we started on book number five. More later.

The journey has an interesting one. We’ve had a few surprises along the way. We never expected our series to sell on the first toss over the publishing world transom. And we certainly didn’t expect the editor would want all six books without ever seeing them. We also didn’t expect the overwhelming learning curve of marketing that came crashing down on us. But somehow, we figured it all out—including the total replotting of book 4 when a minor character in book 3, Son of the Moonless Night, suddenly decided she wanted center stage and took over the plotting process. We also learned, thanks to a lovely review we received, that we can write without the dreaded sophomoric slump in our later books.

If you’re just beginning your publishing journey and you’ve answered “no” and “I don’t know to the questions in the opening paragraph, you are starting your journey off stifling your creativity. If you can finish a single book that has all the elements an editor wants, then never fear. You can write another book as good as the first and maybe even better.

Now for the “more later” promised above. With the release of book four in July 2016 we started on plotting for book five. However, we got asked by our publisher to join a group of twelve other authors and to write a book in the series of The Soul Mate Tree. That happened in February of 2017 plus then a lot of promotion for the rest of the year as we tried to get back to plotting book five. The next three years proved to be a health challenge plus being asked to write and direct three Easter dramas at our church. Book five is plotted but still being written. Maybe this year? Now back to writing the next book in a series.

Here are some tips to help you make your goal of book number 2, 3, and more.

  • Keep a positive attitude. A lot of people want to write a book. Many say they’re going to write a book SOME DAY. You have written a book. You’ve slapped those all-important two words on the last page—THE END. Additionally, if you got a contract from an editor, you have validation that your book was good. So don’t let doubt get in your way.
  • Don’t wait until your creativity well runs dry to begin the next book. Writing stirs up our muses, and there’s no better time to start thinking about the next book than while you are working on your current book.
  • When you have an idea for the next book, let the need to write it spur you on. Having a second story waiting in the wings compels us to finish the WIP.
  • When you get that nutshell of an idea for book number two, write it down! Don’t say, “I can remember that.” Chances are you won’t. Instead, drop it in a computer file or paper file, whichever works for you. Read it often. Think about it before you go to bed, but not if it makes you an insomniac. Let it bubble and stew in the back of your mind until a full-blown story is born.
  • Capture ANY wild story ideas that come your way. No tidbit you find remotely interesting should be ignored. You never know when inspiration for the next book will hit. The plot could be residing in a snippet of conversation you overhear at your favorite restaurant, a story you read in the newspaper, or even an interesting road sign. The Turning Stone Chronicle series originated from a road sign for a place named Turning Stone that we passed on a long road trip. We said, “What an interesting town name. Could we write a story with that title?” And the rest is history.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Continued practice of the craft makes you a more skilled writer. Keeping a weasel word list, noting the places where your editor or beta readers say you are weak, and continuous education in the craft will improve your writing skill and storytelling ability. The more we write, the more second nature the job becomes. So, when the next book comes along, you’ll have an easier time putting it down. And who doesn’t want that?
  • Planning on writing a series be sure to keep a world book. Nothing slows the writing process faster than trying to remember someone’s eye color from book one or any other character’s feature or a place name.

For all the readers out there, here’s an excerpt from book four of The Turning Stone Chronicles, The Mercenary and the Shifters. We hope you’ll like it.

“My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.”

Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.

“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona.

They hit the floor as the pottery on the raised fireplace hearth exploded, sending shards across the room. Mike shoved Fiona behind the nearest chair then scrambled across the rug to the blown-out window. Removing his gun from his back-of-the-waist holster, he peered over the windowsill. Seeing no one in the driveway, he swiveled around to check on Fiona. The red laser point danced around the room, searching for a target.

Mike followed the trajectory of the beam. The shot came from across the street in something high. He remembered seeing a tree house in the yard across the road from the mansion.

“Who lives across from you?” he asked.

“No one right now. The house is for sale.”

“I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign.”

“We’re in an exclusive neighborhood. The HOA forbids sale signs.” Another shot rang out.

Mike whirled around in time to see Fiona’s head sticking out from behind the chair. The image of her head reflected in the fireplace mirror. “He’s using the mirror to target us. Do these curtains close?”

“Yes. The cord’s on the other side of the window.”

“I’m going to crawl under the window and close them. He’ll probably see my reflection in the mirror and start shooting, so stay hidden. As soon as the curtains close, crawl to the window as fast as you can and follow the wall to the entryway. Then get the hell out of the front of the house. Got it?”

“Got it.” Fiona’s voice quavered up the scale.

“You okay?”

“Scared, but okay.”

As Mike crawled along the floor, a volley of shots rang out. The remainder of the pottery displayed on the hearth shattered. When he reached the other side of the window, he yanked the drapery cord. The curtains billowed closed.

“Now, Fiona!” he shouted.

As she belly crawled across the floor, Mike held his breath. Bullets sprayed the room, punching through the heavy draperies, the shots veering from floor to ceiling.

Don’t ricochet! he commanded.

Fiona reached the cover of the exterior wall, and he let his breath out in a whoosh.

“Hurry!”

When she came within arm’s reach, he grabbed her hand and yanked her the rest of the way across the room and into the entry.

“Do you have a panic room?”

She nodded, her eyes filled with fear. “In the basement, behind the trophy wall.”

“Get in it, and don’t come out until I tell you to.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get the SOB who’s trying to kill you.”

Amazon buy links:
The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)

Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)

Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)

The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Writing from the C(Catherine) of C.D. Hersh who shares a dinner story.

My writing partner (The D in C.D. Hersh who is my husband) and I were talking about the Super Bowl over dinner one night. He commented that the game of football was a lot like writing a book.

“How so?” I asked.

“Football is a series of scripted plays set within the rules of the game,” he said. “With the object being to win. Writers have a scripted set of plays to work within too—the basic structure of a plot—with the goal being a satisfying ending. Certain plays are designed to fool the defense. The team that does this the best, with twists in the plays the opposition doesn’t expect, ends up with the big score and wins the game. The writers who come up with the best plot twists, the ones that make you go ‘whoa, I didn’t see that coming’ are the writers who often succeed in the business. The ones who score big and win the game.”

I admit I hadn’t thought much about comparing football to writing, but after thinking about what he said, I saw the connection. For example, last night we watched the romantic comedy When in Rome that had plot twists that made us both say, “Didn’t see that coming.” And believe me, as writers we are always dissecting the movies we watch. See if you can figure out the plot twists in this fun movie.


When in Rome, Italy, at her sister’s wedding, Beth, who doesn’t believe in love, meets the best man Nick and discovers she’s attracted to him. During the reception the priest comes by and asks Nick if he’ll come play poker with him again, explaining to a shocked Beth that he’s new to the priesthood and is still working on getting a handle on some temptations. Nick declines, saying the padre cleaned him out already and whisks Beth off to dance.

Later, giving into her attraction, Beth follows Nick outside with a bottle of champagne and sees him kiss another woman. Disillusioned, and drunk, Beth picks up four coins and a poker chip from a lover’s wishing fountain in the town square. Legend says those who throw their coins in the fountain

will have their wishes come true. Love has never worked for Beth, and she decides to save the wishers from ill fated love by removing their coins.

When she returns home to the States, the men who threw the coins in the fountain begin appearing, professing their love. One of the guys is Nick, the best man at her sister’s wedding. As her relationship with Nick grows, Beth discovers the lovesick men stalking her have fallen under a spell cast by the fountain when she removed their coins. To remove the spell she must return the coins to each of the men.

While at Nick’s apartment one night she sees a poker chip on the table that is identical to the one she removed from the fountain. She breaks up with him, believing he is under the spell too. Beth returns the coins to the men and, as she does, they snap out of the spell, everyone that is but Nick, who professes his forever love for her.

At this point, any romance reader knows that Nick isn’t under the spell. It’s too contrary to the rules of romance. True love always wins out. But the writer hasn’t shown us who the poker chip belongs too. All along we are lead to believe the chip belongs to Nick. We’ve seen a poker game at his home using the same chips. He’s acted with the same lovesick impulses the other four men displayed. There’s a plot twist in the wings, but we haven’t quite figured it out yet.

A year later Beth and Nick are back in Rome, preparing for their wedding when one of the lovesick men, a magician who played sleight of hand with Nick’s poker chip, comes to her and says he gave her the wrong chip back. Beth now believes Nick is still under the fountain’s spell.

As the wedding scene plays out, it’s obvious the priest is having trouble with the wedding sermon. He draws out the invitation to object to the marriage. He gives the bride inappropriate compliments. He changes the vows to “will you have this woman as your awful wedded wife?” He’s clearly under duress performing this wedding. When he asks Beth, “Will you have this man as your awful wedded husband?”

She presses the poker chip into Nick’s hand and runs out of the church. Nick follows and she confesses to him that he’s under the spell of the fountain because she removed his poker chip from the water. He doesn’t really love her.

“This isn’t my chip,” Nick say and throws it back in the fountain.

In the background, behind Beth and Nick kissing in front of the fountain, you see the priest whirling around on the square shouting, “I’m free from temptation!”

The second twist? The owner of the chip didn’t wish for love, but to be free of it.

Just like a football team’s defensive back is fooled by a play action pass, we have to admit—we didn’t see that one coming.

Here’s a sample of a miss-direction for the police and our main characters in our first book The Promised One. In this story a shape shifter is murdered and returns to the natural persona: a man. The problem was he had been shifted into a smaller female whose dress did not fit well over his muscular male body. Trying to keep the police from drawing the wrong conclusions keeps the main characters busy coming up with plausible explanations for a man in a dress that is too small for him.

EXCERPT
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.”

As you can see miss-direction can be quite startling when not expected. Do you have some memorable plot twists in stories that you consider winners? We’d love to hear them.

The Promised One The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1
In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.

Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones, and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.

For the rest of the books in our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles, click over to our book page.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Our book Can’t Stop the Music that opens at Woodstock and is filled with musical references of the era and food.

Today we’re talking about love, food, and magic. Love was plentiful at Woodstock. Magic mushrooms were probably plentiful, also, but food not so much. The producers didn’t expect the overwhelming crowd that should up and the vendors ran out of food in a very short time.

But you don’t have to worry about that, because we’ve got a special treat for you today.

As writers, we know that love and food go together like romance and a happily-ever-after ending. Maybe that’s why in most of our novels the hero and heroine share a meal of some sort. There’s just something magical about a special dinner with the one you love. Don’t you remember that special dinner, or dinners, with your honey? On the first dinner Catherine made for Donald she accidently fed him a toothpick—which he unwittingly ate. Trust us, we remember that!

Like most humans, we like to eat, and food works its way into our stories. In Blood Brothers it was a steak dinner. In Son of the Moonless Night exotic fish was on the table. And in all of The Turning Stone Chronicles books the immortal Scottish Keeper of the Stone has an ever-present cup of tea and scones on the kitchen table.

In our book, Can’t Stop the Music (The Soul Mate Tree Book 2) the hero cooks an Italian meal for the heroine that is positively orgasmic. Can’t Stop the Music is a nostalgic romance set in Woodstock 1969 and contains a paranormal element. The paranormal involves a magic Soul Mate Tree that grants soul mates to deserving persons.

The Soul Mate tree is
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.

And our heroine and hero are in definitely in need of a happy ending.

Speaking of happy, who doesn’t love a delicious pasta dish? We do, but pasta is something we don’t eat a lot of anymore because of the high carb content. Recently, we’ve begun experimenting with ways to make high-carb pasta meals friendlier, because we do miss our pasta. In the process, we’ve discovered things like lentil and soybean pastas that are great substitutes for wheat pasta. They have a high fiber to carb ratio, which not only puts more fiber in the diet, but slows the release of sugars into the blood stream, both which are great boons to people with insulin resistance issues. The soybean pasta is fantastic and has become our go-to pasta for spaghetti.

Unfortunately, we haven’t found a soybean lasagna. So, Catherine got creative and made a meatless version of lasagna that uses a smaller amount of lasagna on the bottom of the dish and substitutes sliced zucchini for the pasta in the other layers. Putting a single layer of pasta on the bottom provides the traditional taste of lasagna and helps the servings come out of the dish better, without the added high-glycemic carbohydrates. We made this lasagna recipe meatless, but you could use a meat sauce if you prefer. Bon appétit!

Mushroom Zucchini Lasagna

Serves four

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets oven-ready lasagna pasta
  • ½ jar (1 1/3 cups) spaghetti or marina sauce (any flavor you prefer)
  • 2-3 ounces fresh baby spinach (2-3 handfuls)
  • One 8-ounce box sliced mushrooms
  • 2 small zucchinis, sliced into scant 1/8 inch thick ribbons
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 12 tablespoons low-fat ricotta cheese

Directions:

  • Trim ends of zucchinis until they fit inside a square 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Then slice zucchinis into scant 1/8 inch thick ribbons. Place on a plate and salt liberally both sides. Let stand about an hour to draw out the excess moisture. Rinse off salt and pat slices dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  • Rinse mushrooms and place in a skillet or large saucepan. Using 2 sharp-bladed spatulas, coarsely chop mushrooms in the pan. (Alternately, you could use a knife and cutting board, but Catherine found this method to be quicker.) Sauté mushrooms in a couple tablespoons of water until the mushrooms darken and excess water from the fungi has appeared in the pan. Drain and set aside.
  • Fit the 2 sheets of pasta in the bottom of a square, 1-1/2 quart baking dish, breaking edges off as necessary so the pasta lays flat in the bottom. Remove pasta and broken pieces from the dish.
  • Pour 1/3 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of the dish and lay the pasta sheets and broken pieces on top.
  • On top of this base, layer 1/3 cup pasta sauce, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/3 cup mushrooms, a handful of spinach, torn into small pieces, and four tablespoons of ricotta cheese (dotted over the top of the spinach), and enough zucchini slices to cover the ingredients. Spread the ingredients so they are evenly layered. Repeat layers to the depth the dish allows, ending with a layer of zucchini, sauce, ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  • Let stand and couple of minutes before cutting. Catherine found using a chef’s knife to cut the layers works best to cut through the zucchini without destroying the layers. Serve with a fresh salad and warm, Italian garlic bread.

Note: We went light on the cheeses, which gave each square of lasagna about 1 serving each of the cheeses. If you like a heavier cheese taste, add more cheese on each layer.

Serve the lasagna with a fresh green salad and some yummy Italian bread and you have a complete meal.

After the dishes are done and you’re ready to relax, download Can’t Stop the Music (The Soul Mate Tree Book 2) and take a trip back to Woodstock 1969 with our heroine Rose and her Italian stallion Dakota. To whet your appetite, here’s a peek at Rose and Dakota’s first meeting. Enjoy!

Can’t Stop the Music
By C.D. Hersh

As they made their way to the festival site, Rose and her friends grooved to the music coming from the stage.

When they reached the makeshift bridge over the road, someone yelled, “Hey beautiful! You with the red hair.”

She looked around to see if there was anyone else with red hair. Then she glanced up and spotted two guys, one blond and the other dark-haired, leaning over the side of the bridge.

“Yeah, you,” the blond called out as he caught her gaze.

Willow halted beside her. “He’s cute. How about him?”

Rose looked away, her gaze landing on the other guy.

He jabbed his companion in the ribs. “Quit trying to pick up every girl you see.” Then he leaned farther over the rail. “Don’t pay any attention to him. He’s high.”

“So she’s not beautiful?” Willow yelled to the hippie.

She poked her friend. “Stop it, Willow, you’re making a scene.” In spite of her protest, her gaze remained on the dark-haired guy.

He rested his elbows on the rail and stared back at her. The intensity of his expression shot heat into her belly.

“I didn’t say that, just that she shouldn’t pay attention to him.” He flapped a hand at his blond buddy, then tapped his own chest with his thumb several times as if to say, ‘Choose me!’

Does he want me to pay attention to him? Her heart thumped in rhythm to his jabbing thumb.

“Take that one,” Willow whispered. “He’s the real cutie.”

Before she could respond, the crowd pushed them forward. When they reached the other side of the bridge, she looked back, searching for the dark-haired hippie, but the spot where he’d stood was empty.

Just my luck. I see someone who’s intriguing and he disappears.

With a sigh, she continued the trek to the festival grounds.

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Friday Features

We talk about

How football and writing

are

Similar

Written by the C.(Catherine) of C.D. Hersh

My writing partner (The D in C.D. Hersh & my husband) and I were talking about the Super Bowl over dinner and he commented to me that the game of football was a lot like writing a book.

“How so?” I asked.

“Football is a series of scripted plays set within the rules of the game,” he said, “with the object being to win. Writers have a scripted set of plays to work within too—the basic structure of a plot—with the goal being a satisfying ending. Certain plays are designed to fool the defense. The team that does this the best, with twists in the plays the opposition doesn’t expect, ends up with the big score and wins the game. The writers who come up with the best plot twists, the ones that make you go ‘whoa, I didn’t see that coming’ are the writers who often succeed in the business. The ones who score big and win the game.”

I admit I hadn’t thought much about comparing football to writing, but after thinking about what he’d said, I can see the connection. For example, last night we watched the romantic comedy When in Rome that had plot twists that made us both say, “Didn’t see that coming.” And believe me, as writers we are always dissecting the movies we watch. See if you can figure out the plot twists in this fun movie.

When in Rome

While in Rome, Italy, at her sister’s wedding, Beth, who doesn’t believe in love, meets the best man Nick and discovers she’s attracted to him. During the reception the priest comes by and asks Nick if he’ll come play some more poker with him, explaining to a shocked Beth that he’s new to the priesthood and is still working on getting a handle on some temptations. Nick declines, saying the padre cleaned him out already and whisks Beth off to dance.

Later, giving into her attraction, Beth follows Nick outside with a bottle of champagne and sees him kiss another woman. Disillusioned, and drunk, Beth picks up four coins and a poker chip from a lover’s wishing fountain in the town square. Legend says those who throw their coins in the fountain will have their wishes come true. Love has never worked for Beth, and she decides to save the wishers from ill fated love by removing their coins.

When she returns home to the States, the men who threw the coins in the fountain begin appearing, professing their love. One of the guys is Nick, the best man at her sister’s wedding. As her relationship with Nick grows, Beth discovers the lovesick men stalking her have fallen under a spell cast by the fountain when she removed their coins. To remove the spell she must return the coins to each of the men.

While at Nick’s apartment one night she sees a poker chip on the table that is identical to the one she removed from the fountain. She breaks up with him, believing he is under the spell too. Beth returns the coins to the men and, as she does, they snap out of the spell, everyone that is but Nick, who professes his forever love for her.

At this point, any romance reader knows that Nick isn’t under the spell. It’s too contrary to the rules of romance. True love always wins out. But the writer hasn’t shown us who the poker chip belongs too. All along we are lead to believe the chip belongs to Nick. We’ve seen a poker game at his home using the same chips. He’s acted with the same lovesick impulses the other four men displayed. There’s a plot twist in the wings, but we haven’t quite figured it out yet.

A year later Beth and Nick are back in Rome, preparing for their wedding when one of the lovesick men, a magician who played sleight of hand with Nick’s poker chip, comes to her and says he gave her the wrong chip back. Beth now believes Nick is still under the fountain’s spell.

As the wedding scene plays out, it’s obvious the priest is having trouble with the wedding sermon. He draws out the invitation to object to the marriage. He gives the bride inappropriate compliments. He changes the vows to “will you have this woman as your awful wedded wife?” He’s clearly under duress performing this wedding. When he asks Beth, “Will you have this man as your awful wedded husband?” she presses the poker chip into Nick’s hand and runs out of the church. Nick follows and she confesses to him that he’s under the spell of the fountain because she removed his poker chip from the water. He doesn’t really love her.

“This isn’t my chip,” Nick say and throws it back in the fountain.

Have you figured out yet who the chip belongs to?
A throwaway line in the first half hour of the movie set this plot twist up. A line that meant nothing at the time. A line that makes you go, “Oh, yeah, now I see it.” A plot twist that makes this movie fun, memorable, and a winner.
The owner of the poker chip is the priest.

In the background, behind Beth and Nick kissing in front of the fountain, you see the priest whirling around on the square shouting, “I’m free from temptation!”

The second twist? The owner of the chip didn’t wish for love, but to be free of it.

Just like the defensive back is fooled by a play action pass, we have to admit—we didn’t see that one coming.

Do you have some memorable plot twists in stories that you consider winners? We’d love to hear them.

Visit our Amazon Author Page to check out our books to see if we have delivered the “didn’t see that coming” moment or go to our web links in the menu above to find our books.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

How to Write a Christmas Play by C.D. Hersh . We also share our Christmas novella Kissing Santa.

If you’re like us, you love a great Christmas story. In fact, last year we devoured Christmas movies well into springtime. This summer, Catherine started bugging Donald to look on Roku and Sling for new holiday movies. Being the nice guy that he is, Donald agreed. We already have several queued up for watching. So when we were approached to write a post about “How to Write a Christmas Play”, we thought about it for a bit and said, “Sure. We’ve done that.”

There are a lot of things we could say about how to write a Christmas play, or any play for that matter. The basics of writing a good book are the same as writing a play. You need a good story, good characters, and good conflict. There are some differences, however. We could talk about the nuts and bolts of playwriting, such as:

    • Formatting.
    • Making the last moment of the play a satisfying ending.
    • Always keeping the action moving forward since time shifts and short scenes that hop around don’t work well for plays.
    • Proper scene structure.
    • How a play script usually has little dialogue or action tags or setting description.
    • And so on.

However, since these elements are things that you can learn from a book, we decided to take a different approach and focus on the five lessons we found to be most important in play writing by walking you through one of our most successful Christmas plays.

Catherine has always loved Christmas, but an interest in writing Christmas stories, particularly Christmas themed plays, started in the 1990s when we were in our church’s drama group. The church leadership decided to put on an outdoor re-creation of Bethlehem set on the night of Jesus’s birth. They would build a representation of Bethlehem in the church parking lot. The village would have several historically researched shops, a synagogue, a house, an inn, animals, and the stable where Jesus was born. Originally the leadership wanted a walk-through diorama where the town’s characters interacted with each other, but not with the people visiting the event. Our drama leader knew Catherine was a freelance writer and that we were interested in writing plays, so she urged us to create a script for Back to Bethlehem, which was the name of the event.

Lesson 1: Accept the challenge
We had never done a play before, but had acted in plenty in the church drama ministry.
So when we were asked, we accepted the challenge. We dug into playwriting
books and brushed up on the nuts and bolts of playwriting.

Lesson 2: Start early
In early spring of the year the event was to be hosted, we threw ourselves into the job and read and reread the Christmas story from the Bible. We learned it’s never too early to think about Christmas when planning a Christmas story. If you’re out of the Christmas season when you need inspiration, put on the Christmas music. Put up your tree in June. Don your Santa hat and beard. Go Christmas shopping and wrap the gifts. Do whatever it takes to get into the Christmas spirit.

Lesson 3: Look for the unexpected. Find the twist. The new in the old.
Religiously, Christmas is about Jesus’s birth. Secularly, Christmas is about Santa, gift giving, charity, family gatherings, food, joy, and cheer. If you’re planning a Christmas story, play, or book, you need to figure out how to make a well-known story unique and fresh. Since most people visiting Bethlehem would know the biblical story of the virgin birth, our challenge was to create a new tale, yet keep the age-old tale intact for the hundreds of people who would travel back to Bethlehem on a mulch-strewn tar parking lot.

To make an old story new, we suggested the visitors to Bethlehem follow several characters through the town as they looked for Mary, Joseph, and a baby born in a stable. One character, Myriaden, went from shop to shop looking for Mary interacting with all the townspeople, asking if they had seen a young pregnant woman, telling them how she’d traveled with her from Nazareth. And in case some of the newcomers to the town missed Myriaden, a group of rowdy shepherds who saw the heavenly host also came through the town looking for the baby born in a stable. Another set of characters, the Roman soldiers, told a different part of the story—the part of the suppression of the Jews and their disbelief in the shepherds’ tale of angels singing in the sky.

Mary, the shepherds, and the Roman soldiers told the stories of the Bible in an unexpected way, as Christmas plays depicting Jesus’s birth normally center around Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The interesting thing about the Back to Bethlehem drama was that it became an interactive play. While our characters, both those “leading” the visitors and those in the shops, had set lines to say, they ended up interacting with the visitors to Bethlehem who wanted to know more about the town, the time and the story. So, we developed a set of improvisational lines for the characters to use. They always kept in character as they had spur-of-the-moment conversations with the visitors. Visitors were immersed in the drama, and that was very unexpected and very delightful for them.

It’s highly unlikely that your Christmas drama will be as improvisational as Back to Bethlehem was, but the example certainly shows the twist in this story. We broke the fourth wall of the stage and completely immersed the audience in the drama.

Lesson 4: Watch your Dialogue
As with books, dialogue is important and should sound natural no matter your genre. Plays, unlike books, are composed completely of dialogue. You have a few moments to capture your audience. They can’t go back and hit rewind or flip the page back if they think they missed something You don’t have the luxury of internal thoughts, or rambling commentaries (unless you’re Shakespeare). Plays don’t have exposition and, just like books, shouldn’t have author intrusion. If you can’t write without a lot of narrative, exposition, or description, you have a book, not a play.

Here’s an example of the importance of dialogue.
Because we were writing for a historical period in which we did not know how the people sounded, in English, we chose to use a more formal language, with no contractions or slang. It was just different enough that it gave a unique flavor to the actors’ speech. When they were interacting with the visitors, they also did not recognize modern day terms or items the visitors might say or show to them. Once when Catherine was talking to a visitor, he used the word technology while admiring her earrings.

Catherine said, “I do not understand this word, sir.”

“Where did get your earrings?” he asked.

“The goldsmith hammered them out for me,” she replied.

“If they’re made of gold, then you’d better hold on to them,” he said.

“As you wish, sir,” Catherine replied. Then she reached up and grasped both of her earrings, bowed, and walked away.

Peals of laughter followed her as she exited. In Bethlehem, Catherine would not have known the slang “Hold on to them.” So, she reacted literally. We’re fairly certain those visitors remembered their visit to Bethlehem for a long time. And that’s what you want your audience to do, too.

Lesson 5: Create a dramatic ending
The town of Bethlehem was noisy and crowded. Roman soldiers bellowed at the local beggar, harassed the shop keepers, and insulted the shepherds looking for a baby in a manger. Shop keepers shouted at passersby to come buy their wares. The women at the well gossiped loudly. The priest in the synagogue taught his young charges, quoting the scriptures in Hebrew. The guests at the inn complained at the crowded conditions. But when visitors passed through the small hallway into the stable, the whole atmosphere changed. Mary and Joseph spoke softly and calmly to all who approached them. Myriaden, who had found Mary, whispered and admired the baby. The shepherds bowed down and worshipped him. Even the visitors who came to see the town spoke in hushed tones as they gazed on Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Although you heard the sounds of the busy town, everyone in the stable was quiet and reserved, even the children. Coming from the hustle and bustle of the crowded town into the quiet stable was a magical moment. Even today, nearly twenty years later, when we meet people who visited our Bethlehem they comment on how much it touched them. As writers, isn’t that what we want to do with our stories—touch people?

We’ve written several Christmas plays—Back to Bethlehem, which ran for 5 years at our former church and was sold to two other churches; a Christmas musical that has not been yet published, and four Christmas puppet plays that have been performed at our current church. We also wrote a Christmas novella Kissing Santa, which is part of the Christmas Collection Sizzle in the Snow, published by Soul Mate Publishing.

If you want to write a Christmas play, we suggest you read a lot of plays. Study the craft of playwriting, and apply the five lessons we’ve talked about. Remember, they translate to your manuscripts whether you’re writing plays, stories, or books.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Playwriting Year!

While you’re thinking about your next Christmas play or story, take a peek at this excerpt from C.D. Hersh’s Christmas novella Kissing Santa.

When Sam S. Klaus, a professional Santa, has a fling with a beautiful elfette at a Santa Conference, he wants to make her Mrs. Klaus, but his intended disappears before Santa can pop the question.

EXCERPT
Anna Noel studied the trim backside of the Santa standing in front of her. He appeared younger than most of the Santas at the Santa Claus conference she’d chosen to attend this year. A lot more attractive than any Santa she’d ever met. For the briefest of moments she let her mind wander, lingering on Christmas wish number nine—make love to Santa. A heated flush climbed her chest as she envisioned the scene, and she flapped the jacket of her green elf costume to cool down.

Her gaze traveled over his hips, chest, and to the beginnings of a snow white beard. Then to his shock of silver hair underneath the white-trimmed, red Santa hat.

Yep. Definitely a Santa she wanted to know. Too bad she wouldn’t be the elf to his mall Santa. They could get to know each other and more.

The conference registrar drew her out of her Christmas fantasy with a loud, “Miss? Are you with this Santa?”

“What? No. I don’t have a Santa. I’m here alone.”

Sexy Santa turned and held out his hand. “Me, too. I’m Sam S. Klaus.”

A smile curled her lips as she took his hand. “As in Sam Santa Claus?” His warm palm sent tingles through her fingers as he gently squeezed them.

A lopsided grin slanted his cheek upward, and he flashed a brilliant smile. “You have the same warped sense of humor as my parents.” He gave her a mock bow. “Sam S., for Santa, Klaus, with a K.”

“That’s your real name?” He let go of her hand. She fought to keep from grabbing it back. A real Santa Klaus? How great was that?

“The same, and you are?”

“An—” She stopped, suddenly unwilling to reveal her name. A rollercoaster of emotions raced through her, suggesting she might hit number nine with this Santa. If she did, and it didn’t go well, she wouldn’t want Sam Klaus to know her real identity. “An elf, who needs a Santa,” she said. “How about we team up? I’ll be your personal elfette, and you can be my Santa.”

Buy Links >eBook>Paperback

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a novella, Can’t Stop The Music, with twelve other authors from various genres with a book coming out each month in 2017.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Find all our book here Amazon Author Page.

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Friday Features

Character interview with the

Hero of

The Turning Stone Chronicles

Moderator: Today we are talking with Rhys Temple, the hero in The Promised One and an important character throughout The Turning Stone Chronicles. There are several questions we would like to ask you today and then we will let the commenters ask some questions if that’s okay with you?

Rhys: Fire away.

Moderator: Was it difficult working with Alexi Jordan while falling in love with her?

Rhys: Difficult? No, I wouldn’t say it was difficult, especially with the way she looks and moves. Working with her was easy as we seemed to fit together very well, and as our love grew, going to work got easier each day. Things only became difficult when I found out about her secret and the Turning Stone Society.

Moderator: Did you suspect that Alexi had feelings for you?

Rhys: There were some signs, hints you might say, over the years. Alexi has a very intense way of looking and reacting when she is interested in something. I could see that appear in her when the other women in the office made any overtures toward me. Gladys said Alexi really went at a couple of the women when they were deciding who was baking my birthday cake. Glad I wasn’t in the squad-room for that.

Moderator: Were the consequences of admitting your love worth the risk?

Rhys: Well, that question hasn’t been fully answered yet through the four books in the series. Our authors, C. D. Hersh, don’t plan for us to come to fully grasp what all the risks are until the sixth and final book of the series. I have to say though; if you don’t take a risk on love then I’m sure you are going to miss out on a lot. Took me some time to understand that.

Moderator: How long have you known you loved Alexi?

Rhys: Ha! Everyone seems to ask that question. Of course, she looked great from the beginning, so I was attracted. But it was her drive, determination and, I think, dedication to the police work that really drew me in. If I have to pick a specific point that would be about a year after we started working together. There was a murder case, about a dock-worker, where she didn’t wait for me to get to her location before she charged in. For some reason something told me to go around to the back side of the warehouse to enter. That put me behind the guys who had tied Alexi up and were going to use her as a hostage. I was able to take one of them down but the other one almost stabbed me in the back. Even tied up, Alexi was able to block the knife, but she got sliced on her arm. From that point on I realized I loved her.

Moderator: What’s next for the two of you?

Rhys: I’m not the one you should be asking. I am aware that our authors are working on the fifth book of our series and, given what we’ve been through, I’m guessing there is more shape shifting and fighting the rogues. I’m hoping we get to settle back soon and let the youngsters take over but before that happens Alexi has to realize that our son has grown into a man.

Moderator: Okay, now that Rhys has answered some questions from us, what question would you like to ask him?

 

Excerpt from the Promised One:

No one knew what Rhys Temple liked better than Alexi Jordan. That’s what made them such good partners. That same intimacy would also make them great lovers, a thought that had crossed her mind many times.

Alexi retrieved Rhys’ birthday cake from the back seat of her car. The privilege of baking this momentous-occasion pastry had almost brought her to blows with the rest of the females in the precinct office. She scooped up his birthday gift and then dropped it as the cake box slid down her arm. A quick slap on the clear plastic lid stopped the perilous drop, but squished the yellow roses she’d so carefully crafted onto the German Chocolate cake.

She examined the decorations. Rhys’ name, age, and birthday salutation were intact. She sighed. “So much for presentation.”

A deep chuckle sounded behind her. “Need some help?”

“Hey, birthday boy.” Alexi motioned toward Rhys. “Get your gift.”

His eyebrows rose, and a seductive grin eased across his face as his arm circled Alexi’s waist.

Electricity shot through her causing her to shudder. “Not me.” At least, not for now. “The box. In the car.”

“Oh, that gift.” He released her, his hand trailing across her back.

She jabbed at him with her elbow.

He shrugged, his grin playful. “You can’t blame a guy for trying.”

He’d been “trying” for some time now. It was starting to get to her, but there was no way she could afford to give in. Too many things stood in the way.

As he maneuvered his tall body in front of her, his taut abdomen brushed against her in a way she felt was purposely seductive. Old Spice cologne mixed with a manly scent, uniquely Rhys, drifted past her. She loved the way he smelled.

She backed away. He made concentrating difficult. So much that in the year and a half they’d worked homicide, she’d often been tempted to ask for another partner. But the thought of not spending most days with him always changed her mind.

 

Now here is a little about the paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in The Series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

 

The Promised One, book one:

When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

 

Blood Brothers, book two:

Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.

 

Son of the Moonless Night, book three:

Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.

 

The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four:

A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

 

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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

 

See our other books on Amazon HERE

OR

Click on the links below to find books in the various genres in which we write.

The Turning Stone Chronicles

Contemporary Romance

How about some relief from the stress and pressure of figuring out what to serve your hungry guests during holiday get-togethers, events, or celebrations? We’ve collaborated with thirteen busy authors, of various ages and genres to compile a FREE holiday-inspired cookbook. The ABCDs of Cooking with Writers will become your go-to recipe book for entertaining over the holiday seasons, hosting events, or celebrating that special day.

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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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