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Archive for the ‘Friday Features’ Category

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Her new historical novel, set in Victorian Times

by

Eris Perese

The most famous water ways in the world are the two beautiful Straits—the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. The Bosphorus connects the Black Sea, where Russia has ports such as Sevastopol, to the Marmar Sea. Each year approximately 50,000 ships pass through the Bosphorus. Grain, produce, and 3 million gallons of oil are transported through the Bosphorus each year. The Dardanelles connect73s the Marmara Sea to the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and from there to the world’s shipping lanes. For hundreds of years, the Straits were under the control of the Ottoman Empire and when the Ottoman Empire became the Turkish Republic in 1923, the Straits became known as the Turkish Straits.

The Turkish Straits have long been the coveted entrance to the world for land-locked Russia. For over two hundred years, as her territory and population expanded, Russia has tried to secure warm water ports, year-round ports such as Odessa that do not freeze in the winter. Warm water ports would enable her to increase her trading capacity. In the early days, it was the Ottoman Empire that controlled the Straits, and the Ottoman Empire fought many wars to prevent Russia from capturing them and the Ottoman Empire’s capital city of Constantinople. Now it is the Republic of Turkey that controls the Straits and faces Russia’s renewed attempts to wrench control of the Straits from Turkey through invasion of the Ukraine, parts of which were once known as Crimea. Russia’s goal: capture of the port city of Odessa.

My historical novel– Lady Munevver: The Opium Merchant’s Daughter— is set in the Victorian period as England is preparing to enter the War in the East, the Crimean War, to support the Ottoman Empire that has been invaded by Russia. Russia’s 1853 invasion of Crimea results in three Empires—England, France, and the Ottoman Empire– declaring war on Russia. It precipitates a disastrous marriage for Lady Munevver. It changes the world with advances in ships and military weapons, the development of the telegraph with its ability to deliver war news almost instantly, and the creation of modern nursing in Scutari Hospital.

In Surrey, England, the merchant father of beautiful but handicapped Munevver is obsessed with gaining acceptance by the Ton. Refusing Munevver’s plea to marry her childhood love, William of Yorkshire, he arranges a marriage with James, the dissolute son of an impoverished, hard-handed Duke.

When England is drawn into the Crimean War, James joins the Light Brigade and sails to the Ottoman Empire to fight the invading Russians. After learning her husband has died in Scutari Hospital, an improvised hospital for English soldiers located across the Bosphorus from Constantinople, Munevver, terrified at what her father-in-law might do, flees England. Her destination: the ancient city of Aleppo in the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire where she hopes her uncle will shelter her in his vast trading compound.

Her escape ends in Constantinople when. the Sultan, irate at Queen Victoria’s command that he return the widow of one of her Lords, arranges a marriage for Munevver with Ari, a member of his court. Problem solved. Munevver is now the wife of an Ottoman citizen. She is invisible.

Banished to the ancient, primitive city of Ankara, the young couple struggles to survive political intrigue, intense cold, and lack of medical care. After Ari dies of tuberculosis, Munevver is desperate to return to Yorkshire, to her grandfather and to the man she loves, William. But how? Dare she accept the quid pro quo arrangement offered by the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan’s mother?

Available in e-book and paperback.

Amazon Buy Link

Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont—Jericho, Vermont to be precise—close by the home of Wilson Bentley (aka Snowflake Bentley), the first person in the world to photograph snowflakes. She learned from her Vermont neighbors that pursuit of one’s dream is a worthwhile life goal.

As a seventeen-year-old student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern who told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and forced population exchanges. After they married and moved to Buffalo, Eris worked as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

After taking time off to raise five children and amassing rejection letters for her short stories, Eris earned her master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo. Later, she taught psychiatric nursing at the University and wrote a textbook for psychiatric nurse practitioners—a wonderful rewarding but never to be repeated experience.

Eris now writes novels, usually international, contemporary romances. Her interest in history and her experience in psychiatry often play a part in her stories. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Western New York Romance Writers. In addition to writing, Eris’s interests include Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders; Eradicating Honor Killings, supporting the Crossroads Springs Orphanage in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS, and learning more about Turkey, Cyprus, and Kurdistan.

Learn more about Eris Field on her website. Stay connected on Facebook.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

An easy but tasty quick main dish

by

Emma Lane

Busy days we look for easy but tasty quick main dishes. This is a family recipe that is sure to please both parents and kids (or grandchildren). The young ones will love the mac & cheese and barely notice they are eating veggies. Easy to add side dishes to round out the meal without much fussing. Serve ice cream for dessert.

Quick & Easy Mac and Cheese Casserole

1 small onion

1 small carrot, grated

⅓ cup frozen green peas

½ lb. ground beef

1 box mac & cheese

½ can cream of chicken soup

Melt butter in a frying pan. When the foam subsides, sauté onion, carrot, and peas until onion is translucent. Spoon mixture into a microwaveable dish.

Use the same pan to fry ground beef until browned. Be sure to break meat into small pieces. Drain fat.

Cook mac & cheese per package directions.

Combine meat, mac & cheese with vegetables. Stir soup gently into mixture. (Save other half of soup for eggs next morning.)

Warm casserole in microwave oven for two minutes or until steaming. Serve with green salad.

This casserole dish may be prepared the day before and refrigerated for easy warm-up.

Here are some tasty side options we enjoy with the casserole:

Pear Salad

Apple slices dotted with yogurt or sour cream

Apple sauce with cinnamon

Sliced melon

Green grapes

How about a peek at one of my cozy mysteries written under my pseudo name Janis Lane?

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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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Birthday

by

Linda Lee Greene, Author/Artist

“You know what the trouble is, don’t you?” the man in the aisle seat in my row said to me. My head on its stiff neck cranked in his direction, an enquiring eyebrow lifted in irritation. It had been my habit over the years to avoid airplane conversations. I used such occasions to let loose full-bore my intrinsic reserve.

“It’s all that heavy baggage stuffed top to bottom in the hold,” the man went on to explain. “You’d think that people would learn by now that if they want an easier takeoff and a smoother flight, they’d pack lighter than before. Seventy-nine of these flights and nobody seems to have learned that lesson—nobody but me that is. This is the extent of my gear,” he said as he placed a small leather pouch no larger than his open hand on the empty seat between us.

“Cheeky fellow,” I said to myself and then turned my face back to the window. All of a sudden, fuming, black clouds split open and barraged the airplane with a torrent of rain. The vessel rose and dropped, rose and dropped like a rollercoaster car. My knuckles white on the armrests, I nearly lost my breakfast. I stole a glance at my seat companion and was astonished at his utter composure. His hands folded softly in his lap and eyes closed, his chest expanded and contracted in gentle, easy breaths. It appeared that his experience of our journey was the opposite of mine.

Moments that seemed an eternity passed by, and the plane leveled and found its balance for a while. I thought it expedient to discover the source of the man’s serenity. “What’s your destination?” I inquired.

“As far as the plane will take me,” was his reply. “Further along than last year,” he added.

“I never seem to get very far at all from my starting point,” I admitted. “There have been trips where I even went backwards.”

“Same here,” he confessed.

“What’s different this trip?” I asked.

“I had a dream. I take messages in dreams to heart. In the dream, a voice told me flat out that I had to lighten my load if I expect to ever get where I’m supposed to go, and especially to get off the ground for my very last trip, which the voice told me is still far in the future. So, I started unloading my enormous suitcase.”

“Unloading it of what?”

“The voice told me to begin by dumping outworn regrets and then pointless guilt; childish resentments and envies and jealousies and grudges; unspoken apologies; unattended amends, and pernicious unforgiveness. Getting rid of those things alone would lighten the load a whole lot. But that wasn’t enough—not nearly enough. There is this thing called ‘yearning,’ that wistful longing for things that will never be. Do you know what I mean?”

Pastel and acrylic painting, “Coppers” by Linda Lee Greene

“Do I ever!” I answered. I pushed back into my seat, closed my eyes and thought about all my companion had said. Without a doubt, unforgiveness would continue to stick to me like glue. And must I accept that I will never live in that villa-of-my-dreams in Tuscany; that I will never know if so-and-so really loved me; that I will never be sure that my children will be okay without me? Hardest of all will be to give up agonizing over those unfinished things: the paintings I will leave undone; the poems, essays, blog posts, and books I won’t complete.

If I rid myself of all those things, I guess my suitcase will be pretty empty—probably not entirely empty, because I’m quite sure nobody gets out completely clear and clean. But maybe I can get it down to a small pouch like my companion’s. If I keep chiseling away so that by the end of this spiritual journey known as ‘my life,’ maybe, just maybe I will be as weightless as a butterfly, and who knows how wonderful my final flight will be and where it will take me?

“Happy 79!” my companion said to me.

“How does he know I’m 79?” I asked myself. Just before I drifted off to sleep, I remembered that nobody boarded Flight 79 any other way. Outside the window, the storm raged again, and I was no longer afraid.

Linda

Readers were introduced to American Nicholas Plato in multi-award-winning author Linda Lee Greene’s A Chance at the Moon, which is available for purchase on Amazon. In Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey, Nicholas boards a plane for Sydney, Australia with bags that are stuffed full of anger and heartbreak and other life-defeating issues. Little does he know that he is arriving at the time and place to empty his baggage, and to risk himself to love.

Here’s a peek at multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene’s latest book, Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey. It is a blend of visionary and inspirational fiction with a touch of romance. The story unfolds as ex-pat American Nicholas Plato journeys into parts unknown, both within himself and his adopted home of Sydney, Australia. In the end, the odyssey reveals to him his true purpose for living. The novella is available in eBook and paperback.

Driven by a deathly thirst, he stops. A strange little brown man materializes out of nowhere and introduces himself merely as ‘Potter,’ and welcomes Nicholas to his ‘Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.’ Although Nicholas has never laid eyes on Potter, the man seems to have expected Nicholas at his bizarre habitation and displays knowledge about him that nobody has any right to possess. Just who is this mysterious Aboriginal potter?

Although they are as mismatched as two persons can be, a strangely inevitable friendship takes hold between them. It is a relationship that can only be directed by an unseen hand bent on setting Nicholas on a mystifying voyage of self-discovery and Potter on revelations of universal certainties.

A blend of visionary and inspirational fiction, and a touch of romance, this is a tale of Nicholas’ journey into parts unknown, both within his adopted home and himself, a quest that in the end leads him to his true purpose for living.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.

Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger. It was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a hold of her.

She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook.

Garden of the Spirits of the Pots is available in eBook and/or paperback on Amazon.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Favorite Authors

by

Vonnie Hughes

Some authors produce quality books year after year and I have the utmost respect for them. They don’t churn out something quickly for the Christmas trade and other celebratory dates. Instead, they research and work, work and polish.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Most books by Tami Hoag such as Down the Darkest Road and Live to Tell. I think my favourite is Still Waters. Why? Because her novels are so detailed, and the solution of the mysteries is never obvious. In fact, the character of the antagonists and protagonists holds the key to the solutions each time. For example, in A Thin Dark Line, it is the generations-old, warped solution of ways to protect a family that bubbles to the surface and the bloody mindedness of an ambitious female cop who stands up for her rights amongst male chauvinism that would chop most women off at the knees, that points the way to reasons for the crime and the discovery of the perpetrator(s).

Many books by Jayne Ann Krentz, not her very early ones where the hero was a dyed-in-the-wool MCP as was the fashion of the day, but her books from about 1998 onwards and also her historicals. Love the way her heroes say “huh.” It can mean so many things: they can be having a revelation, they may disagree with the heroine but they sure as hell are not going to say so, or it can be simply their version of a civil reply to modern discourse. My favourites are the Eclipse Bay series and her historicals written under the name of Amanda Quick such as Mistress (Regency) and The Third Circle (Victorian). Most of all, however, I enjoy her futuristic paranormals such as Siren’s Call set on Rainshadow Island and In Too Deep set in Scargill Cove. These appeal to me because of her light hand with the paranormal concepts and the quirkiness of the main characters. She creates otherworlds without belabouring the point. Sometimes writers create alternate worlds that require an immense investment on the part of the reader to learn the settings and morés of those worlds which can have the effect of having the reader skip pages and eventually put the book down. Not so JAK who, after many years of writing, knows just how far she can go to create a world not so very dissimilar to our own.

Obviously, I can’t go far without mentioning the greatest modern storyteller – Nora Roberts. I don’t like many of her earlier books which now seem dated, and I don’t feel that her paranormal ones are in the least bit convincing. However, I totally enjoy her recent single titles such as Tribute and Whiskey Beach. And I especially enjoy The Inn at Boonsborough series. I once saw a review where the reader criticised the Boonsborough ones because they had too much building detail in them. Now that’s the part I am intrigued with. I am not a purist romance reader, so I like a bit of meat with my coffee froth. I wait for each new release of Nora’s, as do thousands of others, not all of them women by a long way.

Stieg Larsson, in particular his series of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Anti-right-wing extremist and magazine editor-in-chief, what a shame most of his books were only found after his death in 2004. I suggest for those who want a touch of reality watered down with a little idealism, read Larsson. Whether you see the movies first or read the books first, I promise you will enjoy Lizbeth Salander, the toughest cyber-expert on the planet.

Rick Mofina, a great suspense writer endorsed by the best suspense writers such as James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Sandra Brown, Tess Gerritsen etc. He is Canadian and so less inclined to use acronyms which can be a relief for a reader steeped in jargon which has to be researched. I thoroughly enjoyed Be Mine and my next choice is The Dying Hour. He writes about a crime reporter and unravelling detective in several of his novels, then switches to another team in his later books. If you like suspense and that ‘unable to put it down’ feeling, then choose Mofina.

Another one to keep an eye on: Going to read more by J.M. Gregson. Have just finished The Fox in the Forest about the murder of a well-liked town vicar. The murdered man is one of those rare characters whom everyone liked. Of course, the reader thinks “mistaken identity?” Gregson has an impressive writing record of both non-fiction and fiction. I enjoyed the British outlook to solving crime – stoic, authentic and painstaking – and the author’s writing experience showed by his excellent characterizations. No character was just a sketch. It was an in-depth exploration of people both likeable and unlikeable.

So, what authors do you enjoy? Have you stopped to ask yourself Why do you like their writing?

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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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Old Age

by

Alicia Joseph

Wrinkles cover her thin-skinned ninety-two-pound body, compliments from her eighty-seven years of living in this, at times, tumultuous world. But she’s as easygoing as they come, mostly unbothered by external noise.

She’s a headstrong, entirely capable, and stubborn woman. I love all of those qualities about her. She minds her own business and lives the way she wants. She talks to me in her beautiful Irish accent. She was born on a farm in Ireland. She rode a horse to school with a trap in the back where kids hitched rides on the way. She misses the horses. The farm had rabbits and dogs and pigs, but she loved the horses the most.

A couple years ago, her son privately talked to her doctor to persuade the doctor to tell her she couldn’t drive anymore. One day she joined me for a walk with my dog Phil and she had a disgruntled look on her face. I asked what was wrong.

“I know my son told my doctor to tell me I can’t drive anymore. I’m not stupid.” She looked up at me with her thin lips pressed bitterly against each other and her short brown hair swaying in the breeze. “But I do what I want. He’s not the boss of me.”

Later that day I was sitting on my front lawn with Phil and her garage door opened. Seconds later, a blue van backed out of the garage and down the driveway. She pulled into the street and gave me a wave from behind the wheel as she passed.

She’d found her keys. She’s determined like that.

Another day I was walking Phil past her house, and she was in the garage pounding out a dent in her car. I asked her what happened. She said she hit something in the garage but had to hurry because her son would be over soon. I asked if she needed help, she answered, “No, just don’t tell my son.”

That made me smile. Most everything about that special woman makes me smile. I wish to be more like her. I was down one day and told her about it. She told me she doesn’t think about thoughts that bring her down. I imagine that isn’t something she just started doing in her later years. I’m sure she lived by that adage even when she was younger and raising six children. She talks of her past without regret or resentment. She had a hardworking husband, (whom she also tells me wasn’t the boss of her) but times weren’t always easy, especially the early days in Ireland when work was hard to find or when one of her children took their own life.

None of her pains from the past show on her face now. At least none that I can see, though it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. She chooses to live as happily as she can. Not many people make that choice. Some live bitterly and filled with anger. When my nieces and nephews were young, they’d come over and play in the street. Naturally, they’d make a lot of noise. She’d always come outside, not to yell about all the racket, but to sit on her front porch and watch the kids play because she loved to hear the sound of children’s laughter.

Margaret lives across the street from me, and she loves to sit at her front window with her cat. No matter how bad of a day I may be having, when I see her face at the window I always smile because she waves at me with such excitement, huge smile and arm waving fast and high, as though she’d been waiting all day to see me. I will miss that when the day comes where she is no longer at the window. Hopefully that won’t be for a while.

Margaret came over a couple days ago to tell us she and her son and daughters are going to England but won’t be stopping in Ireland. She doesn’t have much family there anymore and doesn’t want to impose on the ones still there. We sat and got to talking and she shared with me how happy she is that we are neighbors. She went on about how comforting and safe she feels that we are right across the street from her. Margaret doesn’t live alone. She has her daughter, and her son stops by almost every day, yet still she appreciates that we are neighbors.

That meant something to me, and I hope she knows how much I appreciate that we are neighbors, too.

Here is a glimpse into one of my books. I hope you enjoy it.

“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

AMAZON BUY LINKS

 

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Getting going again

by

Sharon Ledwith

I have to be honest. I haven’t been writing fresh content for my blog lately. I can blame Covid-19. I can blame not feeling like it. I can blame laziness. Truth is, after the world closed up for a few months in 2020, I found that I was burned out. Disenchanted with my publishing career came a close second (a.k.a. overworked and underpaid). So I knew it was time for a reevaluation. This put everything into perspective for me and has taught me how to relax and be calm. One major lesson I learned during the pandemic was to embrace the concept of Wu Wei. In its purest meaning, Wu Wei reminds us to align with the present, and accept the flow and course of nature. Simply put, ‘go with the flow.’ Easy said. Not so easy done.

Wu Wei means—in Chinese—non-doing or ‘doing nothing’. It sounds like a pleasant invitation to relax or worse, fall into laziness or apathy. Yet this concept is key to the noblest kind of action according to the philosophy of Daoism—and is at the heart of what it means to follow Dao or The Way. According to the central text of Daoism, the Dao De Jing: ‘The Way never acts yet nothing is left undone’. Huh? How’s that possible when it comes to writing your magnum opus? Or even your mini opus? This is the paradox of Wu Wei. It doesn’t mean not acting, it means ‘effortless action’ or ‘actionless action.’ It means being at peace while engaged in the most frenetic tasks (insert anything creative here) so that one can carry these out with maximum skill and efficiency. Ever heard of being ‘in the zone’? That’s Wu Wei. Being at one with what we are doing, in a state of profound concentration and flow. Got it?

The hustle and bustle of the pre-Covid-19 world was getting to me. Too scheduled (my fault). Too many plans and not enough time to enforce them (also my fault). Too much pressure to be the perfect author/writer (more of a wake-up call). Too much ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ So when the world stopped in March 2020, so did I. What a breath of fresh air! No commitments. No obligations. Just a pause, a break, a respite. That’s when I found that Wu Wei was the prescription that I (and I believe the world) needed so desperately.

You can find evidence of Wu Wei everywhere in nature: in the tree that bends in the wind, then adjusts itself back into its original shape, and in a flowing stream—submissive and weak—until the water has gradually eroded the rocks to cut a path. Wu Wei involves letting go of ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things (or ourselves) and invites us instead to respond to the true demands of situations, which tend only to be noticed when we put our own ego-driven plans aside. What can follow is a loss of self-consciousness, a new unity between the self and its environment, which releases an energy that is normally held back by an aggressive, willful style of thinking. Try writing when anxiety is knocking at the door or you’re pushing against deadlines or the demands of the day. Doesn’t work, does it?

A good life could not be attained by Wu Wei alone—but this Daoist concept captures a distinctive wisdom we may be in desperate need of, especially in these post pandemic times. We are in danger of damaging ourselves through old patterns and belief systems that do not serve us anymore. Change is happening at a fast rate, and writers need to adapt if they want to survive in the publishing world. So the next time you find yourself staring at a blank page or screen, get up and go for a walk or make some tea. That way you’ll be swimming with the current of creativity, instead of wallowing in a pool of despair.

Have you heard of Wu Wei? If so, do you mindfully practice it? If not, are you willing to give it a try? Trust me, this concept will change your life. Either way, I’d love you to share your comments. Cheers, and thanks so much for flowing by!

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

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

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

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the award-winning 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 spoiled hubby, and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.

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

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Friday Features’

Showcases

a new book

by

Stella May

Time travel fans have been waiting eagerly for Time & Again, Book 2 in the Upon a Time series by Stella May. Here’s a little to intrigue you on May’s latest romantic fiction.

After months of working like a woman possessed, Nika Morris kept her promise. Coleman House is finished. It’s gorgeous. Spectacular. Brilliant.

It’s breaking her heart.

Because once the new owners move in, she’ll be cut off from the time portal to 1909, where she met and fell in love with Eli Coleman. Now stranded in her own time, she’s waited months for the key to reappear in its hiding place. Only it hasn’t. Which means Eli must have believed the terrible things she was accused of.

Back in 1909, Eli is stunned at his best friend’s deathbed confession of a shocking betrayal. Nika—his Daisy, his time-traveling wonder—was innocent. Once he finds the key, he wastes no time stepping through the portal, determined to make things right.

But the moment Eli stumbles into her shiny, noisy, confusing future, he realizes reconciliation won’t be simple. There is more than one emotional bridge to rebuild before he and Nika can return to the time their love was born—and live their destiny out to the fullest.

This book releases August 25, 2022 in both paperback and e-ebook. In a hurry to get your copy? Pre-order the e-book on Amazon today.
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’

Guest talks about

Strawberry Soup!

by

Linda Lee Greene

Kay, my lovely physical therapist, received me most graciously on my first appointment, and then she led me to a private consultation room. One of those perpetually youthful, mature women, she also appeared as fragile as a feather, better suited to ballet than physical therapy. But appearances can be deceiving, as I was soon to find out. Following the question-and-answer session, she instructed me to lie down on her little couch, and then she went to work scrutinizing my body. It was then that I got the strong feeling that Kay is living her calling. Her immense strength and wisdom are in her hands. Her hands tell her things about her patients that go unrecognized by some medical professionals. For instance, mere moments into her exploration of my body, she said to me, “You are very strong, Linda. Did you grow up on a farm?”

“No,” I replied. And then I thought to myself, “Does she feel my history, my ancestry in my body?” I recalled then Carl Jung’s theory of the collective consciousness, which suggests that our experiences/knowledge/wisdom are inherited. Scientific experiments have revealed this phenomenon to be possible, and that the information is stored in the form of nucleic acid codes within cells. There is speculation (some call it evidence) that certain sensitive types can tap into this pool of material, person to person. Maybe Kay is one of those sensitive types.

Of course, while I technically did not grow up on a farm, I was born on my maternal grandparent’s farm, spent the first two years of my life there and was a frequent visitor during the rest of my childhood and into my adolescence and far beyond. While I have always been aware that I carry my farmer ancestors in my heart and mind, I didn’t understand until Kay’s inquiry the extent to which I also carry them in my body—how they are etched in me, blood, muscle, sinew, and bone. Further into the hands-on examination, Kay found and then probed certain hot spots on my body and proclaimed, “Ouch, that hurts!” Here I was trying to be all stoic and brave, and she voiced my pain. You have to appreciate a person like that.

This set my mind awhirl about Kay’s story, as well. Maybe I’m reading too much into her, but I’m wondering if she is a bona fide medical intuitive, like Caroline Myss. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Kay sees into my soul and knows how unmindful I am of my body most of the time. I bet she sees so clearly the love affair I have with my brain with its sparks of spirit that set it on fire so often. My brain keeps me company. It comforts me. It talks to me like a best friend, whereas my body delights in jabbing me at every turn with aches and pains and has been relentless in that pursuit since I was sixteen. No wonder I turn away from it whenever possible and romance my brain.

By way of Kay’s instructions in therapeutic exercises and meditation on the here and now, I have high hopes of easing into a healthier relationship with my body with its own brand of magical hands that are at the ready in the formidable gene pool of my ancestors.

Every Thursday morning through hot June and July, I have and will continue to trudge along to my physical therapy session. It is hard work and afterwards, I have been tempted to reward myself with a stop at Dairy Queen for a hot fudge sundae. However, I have come up with a better, healthier treat in the form of a refreshingly simple, cold soup sitting elegantly on a shelf in my refrigerator. It has been referred to as a smoothie masquerading as a soup. I like to think of as a soup topped off with sweet toppings such as sugar-free whipped cream, sugar-free vanilla custard, low-fat vanilla yogurt and the like. I often swirl in a scoop of Slimfast’s Rich Chocolate Royale Powder©.

Cold Strawberry and Yogurt Soup

1 lb. fresh strawberries or 3 packages (10 oz. size) thawed frozen strawberries in syrup

1 ¼ cups vanilla yogurt, divided

3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar or equivalent amount of stevia sweetener

2 tbsp. orange juice concentrate

⅛ tsp. almond or vanilla extract, or ½ tsp. lemon juice

In a food processor, combine the strawberries, 1 cup yogurt, confectioners’ sugar or stevia, orange juice concentrate and extract, cover and process until blended. Garnish each serving with a dollop of remaining yogurt or other toppings.

Multi-award-winning author Linda Lee Greene’s GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS, which is a blend of historical fiction and memoir of her ancestors, receives rave reviews:

5 stars Wonderfully Written!

“This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I loved the Americana. [It] reached out and touched my heart, mind and soul. [It] provided tremendous insight into what many American families endured during the first half of the 20th century. It captures you and draws you in. This is most certainly a five-star novel.”

GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS is available in eBook and/or paperback.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.

Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger. It was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a hold of her.

She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Major League Baseball is no longer America’s Pastime. What does that mean for the future of the game?

by

Anne Montgomery

The folks who run Major League Baseball are scared. Really scared.

First, kids aren’t playing the game anymore. Gone are the days when children would organize a neighborhood game, pretending to be their favorite players, policing the rules themselves, without parents scrutinizing everything from their playing time to their batting and fielding stats and coaches who often care more about winning than nurturing young people. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you noticed a child walking down the street lovingly clutching a baseball glove. See what I mean?

Don’t get me wrong. Some kids do play baseball. A lot. They participate in travel leagues, sometimes year-round, a practice that often guts youth and high school teams and leads to baseball burnout because the “season” never ends. Children, some even at the pre-teen level, are being convinced they are Major League prospects. While there are certainly a handful of such children, for the most part, Mom and Dad, your kid is not one of them, no matter how much money you throw at their training.

I was an amateur baseball umpire for almost 25 years, and I’ve seen participation at youth levels drop precipitously over the years.

Speaking of money, kids in poorer communities can’t afford the baseball gloves and bats and shoes necessary to play, not to mention the fees needed to pay for uniforms, field facilities, and umpires. And often in the inner city there are no baseball fields on which to play.

The other problem is the changing dynamics of childhood. Before digital electronics, kids couldn’t wait to change into their play clothes after school and head outside. I know some of you remember those days fondly, but many of today’s kids simply wouldn’t understand why anyone would want to leave the house. After all, with their unfettered access to social media, video games, and streaming services to distract them, there’s almost no reason to ever venture off the couch.

Another one of baseball’s big problems is the game itself. Unlike football, basketball, and ice hockey that have a lot of action, baseball is slower and much more cerebral. At least it was before scoring became the most important aspect of the game. The preponderance of and importance placed on home runs is killing all those beautiful fielding plays that made baseball brilliant.

 

So many pitches are going yard, Major League Baseball is altering the ball to make it less bouncy. The new ball will be tested in the low Minors. The league is also tinkering with rules to shorten games.

 

 
As a former TV sportscaster and an amateur umpire of almost 25 years, I don’t think there’s anything more exciting than a runner going for a triple. Though a triple play is damn close. And yet for years baseball executives tinkered with the ball to increase scoring. Yes, I know they swear the balls were never juiced, but I don’t believe them. Home runs have soared to ridiculous numbers, which leaves all those fielders standing around doing nothing. That gets pretty boring after a while. By the way, if you’re not sure homers are an issue note that in 2014 4,186 pitches resulted in home runs. In 2019, that number exploded to an all-time record 6,776.

So now, baseball’s bosses are trying something new, albeit at the Minor League level. They are once again changing the ball. Rawlings has “loosened the tension of the first wool winding,” according to a memo from the commissioner’s office. That will slightly reduce the weight of the ball and make it less bouncy, the hope being a reduction in home runs.

But that won’t help solve baseball’s biggest problem: Time. Unlike other sports there is no clock on the diamond. An average MLB game lasts almost three hours and ten minutes. By comparison, an NBA contest averages just two hours and 15 minutes. As our attention spans dwindle, our ability to stay engaged is declining, a situation that is doubly difficult for young people who Major League Baseball needs to survive.

Baseball has already lost its status as America’s Pastime, having been supplanted by football. And, as in all sports, fewer kids are coming out to play. That does not bode well for the future of the games, especially baseball.

Here’s a glimpse at my latest women’s fiction novel for you reading pleasure.

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.
 

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Friday Features’

Guest shares about

Farewell, Fridge-freezer!

by

Carol Browne

Humans tend to become emotionally attached to inanimate objects. People love their cars, for example. I don’t have a car, but I do have a fridge-freezer. Or rather, I did. It died on me this week, announcing its demise by tripping out all the lights and the other household appliances and sending me into a panic that had me phoning my landlord for help. He sent round an electrician who restored equilibrium to the fuse box and read the fridge-freezer its last rites.

I joked with the electrician: “How dare it break down after twenty-eight years of constant service!” He agreed that they don’t make white goods like that anymore. But when he’d gone, I felt a bit sad. I remembered the day I bought that fridge-freezer brand new. I had escaped from a bad marriage and found a place to rent and was filling it with what I needed to start my new life. Things were not destined to go smoothly, however, and there were to be many house moves and relationships ahead. Throughout all those house moves my longest-lasting relationship has been with my fridge-freezer!

I sat at the kitchen table and reminisced. All the things I had been through over those twenty-eight years! And that fridge-freezer had stood without complaint in whatever kitchen it found itself in (and for a few years, in a draughty back porch). It moved between houses and bungalows, from the town to the countryside, bumping about in removal vans and trucks. Along the way it lost its pristine-white sheen and gathered fridge magnets like barnacles. Its edges became a little rusty, the shelves cracked and the little light no longer worked when the door was opened. But it steadfastly did its duty, a silent witness to the dramas around it and the passing of time. And sometimes when I woke in the night, its gurgling and purring sounds drifted from the kitchen to my room and reassured me, though I don’t know why. It was just a machine but somehow it had become a friend.

I remembered as a child the time before we even had a fridge and how difficult it was for my mother to keep food fresh. The day the first fridge arrived was everyone’s birthday come at once! It had an icebox and that meant ice cream! Nowadays, we take such devices for granted. What a shock it is when they stop working for us.

Yes, I had taken that fridge-freezer for granted. It never let me down until this week and I am lost without it until a replacement is delivered. We have been through a lot together and I know I will never see its like again. It will be a wrench to see it loaded onto yet another truck, because this time it won’t be going to another kitchen in another home. This time it will make its final journey when the city council hauls it away to put it out of its misery.

Yes, it’s an inanimate object, insensate and soulless and just a hulk made of plastic and metal, but I know that when they take it away, I will be thinking, “Goodbye, old friend. Thanks for everything. It’s been a blast.”

Once upon a time a little girl wrote a poem about a flower.
Impressed, her teacher pinned it to the wall and, in doing so, showed the child which path to follow.
Over the years poems and stories flowed from her pen like magic from a wizard’s wand.
She is much older now, a little wiser too, and she lives in rural Cambridgeshire, where there are many trees to hug.
But inside her still is that little girl who loved Nature and discovered the magic of words.
She hopes to live happily ever after.

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

Fantasy author Carol Browne is a published author who is currently seeking an agent.

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