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Archive for the ‘Guest author’ Category

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The ever-engaging Joanne Guidoccio who brings us her latest books on sale. Be sure to get your copies today!

People want to believe in the magic of mermaids.

When the television channel Animal Planet aired Mermaids: The Body Found in 2012, over 3.5 million viewers watched as scientists discussed the existence of these aquatic creatures. The interviews and phone-camera footage were so convincing that many of the viewers were disappointed when a brief disclaimer flashed in the end credits noting that the “documentary” was a work of fiction. Later, producer Charlie Foley revealed the “scientists” were really paid actors. He did, however, admit to believing in possibilities and the power of the imagination, concluding that we haven’t found everything out there yet.

So, it is not surprising that young girls (and older ones) are fascinated by the original Hans Christian Andersen mermaid tale and the Disney version. Often dismissed as fluff, the fairy tale and the movie contain valuable life lessons.

Prepare to Take Action

While Ariel enjoyed many privileges in her father’s kingdom, she craved more excitement and adventure. Whenever she had any free time, she would swim up to the surface and collect human artefacts. She would often dream about living among the “barbaric humans” her father detested. When she finally met Eric, she was ready to leave the kingdom.

We don’t have to wait for a prince or the right circumstances. If we feel any stirrings or restlessness, we need to take action, any action, however small that will move us closer to what we truly desire. And it doesn’t have to be dramatic or life changing. We can start by reading and journaling about the life we desire, taking courses, or approaching possible mentors.

Guard Your Voice

Ariel had to learn this lesson the hard way. From the start, we know that she has the most beautiful voice in the kingdom. When she rescued Eric from drowning, her voice is what he heard first, even before opening his eyes. But Ariel takes that wonderful gift for granted and does not hesitate to exchange it for human legs.

This lesson can be interpreted on several levels. We need to use our voices to express our emotions and our desires, and sometimes, we may need to raise our voices to be heard. Also, we should not ignore or dismiss inner beauty and focus entirely on outer looks.

Swim in the Deep End

In the opening scenes, Ariel is fearless as she skilfully navigates the deep waters of the kingdom. Intent on surfacing and interacting with humans, she swims boldly and effortlessly while avoiding encounters with sharks.

It is advisable to take baby steps when trying out a new venture, but it is important not to stay small for too long. At some point, it is necessary to take risks and go beyond our comfort zones. Avoiding challenging situations will not ensure our safety. Annoying and troublesome creatures can be found at all water levels.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change the Script

In the original fairy tale, the mute ex-mermaid could only smile when the handsome prince married someone else. Knowing that the prince’s wedding would only bring heartache and seal her fate as “foam on the crest of waves” saddened many readers who wanted a happily-ever-after ending for the little mermaid and the prince.

When Walt Disney Productions decided to produce an animated film based on The Little Mermaid, they also decided to change the ending. There was some backlash but the executives were not deterred. The worldwide response was an overwhelming one. Since 1989, the film has grossed over $200 million worldwide and has been credited with beginning the Disney Renaissance, an era that breathed life back into the animated feature film genre.

Blurb – Between Land and Sea
After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged, weathered, and abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. She faces her human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, she reinvents herself as a career counselor, motivational speaker, and writer of self-help books. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers. As Isabella evolves into Barbara Davies, she embraces her middle-aged body, heals her bruised heart, and learns to love again.

This contemporary version of The Little Mermaid offers hope and inspiration to anyone who has been dumped, deceived, or demoted. It will also appeal to mermaid enthusiasts.

On sale for 99 cents

Amazon (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Between-Land-Sea-Joanne-Guidoccio-ebook/dp/B00F9U5Q50

Amazon (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Between-Land-Sea-Joanne-Guidoccio-ebook/dp/B00F9U5Q50

 

 

Blurb – The Coming of Arabella
On the day of her engagement party, an ex-mermaid’s life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of another mermaid—a sister she has never known. Under normal circumstances, Barbara Davies would be overjoyed, but her special day is already wrought with tension. While Barbara is not the first mermaid from the Mediterranean kingdom to settle in small town Ontario, she has yet to reveal her origins to her fiancé. So, when Arabella, the gorgeous sister whose disturbing black eyes banished her to the island of Crete, saunters into her life, clutching the arm of Barbara’s discarded lover, a powder keg of emotion is released.

Relationships falter and careers stall as envy stirs in the hearts of the sisters. On the verge of meltdown after her fiancé leaves Canada for a teaching job in Vermont, Barbara flees to Arizona hoping for a reprieve. There, she finds solace at a retreat for ex-mermaids and a second chance at love with a charismatic preacher. As she contemplates a new life in the desert paradise of Sedona, shocking secrets emerge and tragedy strikes. A stronger and wiser Barbara rises up to face these new challenges and embrace the best parts of her mermaid heritage.

On sale for 99 cents

Amazon (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Coming-Arabella-Mediterrean-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B0147VXEPU
Amazon (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coming-Arabella-Mediterranean-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B0147VXEPU/

 

Bio
A member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime, Joanne Guidoccio writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Websitehttps://joanneguidoccio.com

Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/Joanne-Guidoccio/e/B00FAWJGCG/

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

by

Yasmine Phoenix

Photo coutesy of Vinay Tadepalli Unsplash

For years I got up, showered, dressed, drove the kids to school, and then joined the masses riding the electric train to Chicago to work. Sweltering summers and below zero wind chill I walked to my office. Of course, I enjoyed city events during lunch time being in downtown Chicago was great. Then at the end of the day reverse commute back on the train, pick up kids, and then home to cook dinner. Friday was family pizza night.

Now I work from home, I don’t have to get all dressed up and drive in the insane Atlantic traffic. And my kids are grown. I’m also an author so sometimes I go to a local café or Starbucks. It’s an opportunity to get out of my four walls and interact on a somewhat personal level with people. In other words, listen in on random conversations.

Technology. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ to paraphrase Captain Kirk in Star Trek, Wrath of Khan who stole it from Charles Dickens. Writers are introverts and today’s technology is for us the best of times and the worst of times. We don’t have to leave our homes – almost ever. Everything we need is an App away from our finger. We can live our total existence – At. Home.

Want to move? You can sell your home online, buy another one online, and have a service pack and deliver your possessions to the new home. Online, folks.

We write, research, submit, publish, and promote our books from our desks. Gone are the days of submitting via snail mail, traipsing to the post office to mail synopsis, first three chapters, and query. We submit everything online.

It gets even better. Think about everything you can do from the comfort of your home, your bed, your car. Shopping malls are having a difficult time competing with online shopping and many stores are closing. When in Chicago, I go to Water Tower, sit, drink Starbucks, and watch shoppers, mostly young people, tourists, or city residents’ shop. I ride the CTA. Everyone is praying, their heads bowed, nope they’re staring down at their phones. It’s not just the young, older riders are playing games or are on Facebook.

How about attending a basketball or football game? Tickets are sky high, You have to be searched to get in. And it’s damn cold. Why not watch with friends? At. Home. The line to the bathroom is shorter. And of course – order food to be delivered. There’s Apps for that.

Hungry? Grocery shop? I hate walking down every aisle often impulse buying. Now I put together my Kroger grocery list, pay, and schedule a pick up day and time. And I don’t have to get out of my car. Whole Foods, Instacart deliver groceries as well. If I still lived in Chicago, I’d surely take advantage of this in the winter. At. Home.

Order out? Pick up or delivery. Restaurants, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell deliver. And we once believed the drive-thru was awesome. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Jenny Craig, online meal services that setup meals according to your dietary requirements and then delivered to your home. Even comes with cooking directions. Kroger and Publix have started meal service programs. Grub Hub, Door Dash are utilized by restaurants to deliver from a variety of restaurants. You can order Chinese, Thai, American, whatever and have it all delivered. Wait sixty minutes for a table? Late from work? Your family’s dinner can be timed to meet you at the front door. At. Home. And once we thought pizza delivery was a big thing.

Need a doctor? You can arrange – with an App a consultation with a physician via your smartphone. Your medication can be delivered. At. Home.

Need a car? In case you want to venture out of your home. There’s an App. When I lived in Chicago, I used Zipcar. I’d set up a location, day and time for a car. Car came with a gas card and a special parking space. I drove the Prius across the street from where I lived. I had a choice of vehicles luxury, compact. I test drove different makes in case I wanted to buy a car. Did you know you can purchase a car online and have it delivered? At. Home.

Don’t need a car? Lyft and Uber. I used both when I first moved to Atlanta because I had no idea where the hell anything was. Still don’t know, but being driven around gave me the opportunity to learn where places were and sightsee at the same time.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let’s not forget Amazon. Believe me I’ve tried. The bane of my existence and yours too, admit it. I’d probably ball up in a fetal position if it disappeared. From books, to toilet tissue, toys, small appliances, clothing, food, handbags (yeah I know), items you didn’t even know you needed/wanted can be found and delivered – free (Prime) to your front door. I’ve found myself staring at the Amazon delivery app following the delivery route as they make their way to my front door. I think that would be called stalking if I weren’t paying for the goods. It’s amazing how many empty Amazon boxes I see on a weekly basis in the recycle bin. Prime. When I needed a particular type of bandage after my knee surgery, I couldn’t find it at any nearby drug store. I looked it up on Amazon and in two days it was delivered.

When my daughter’s orders are delivered – I’m not saying she shops a lot on Amazon, but she shops a lot on Amazon. At first, I was concerned but I understand why. She’s a busy professional with an active child and little free time. Having it delivered she saves precious time. As a writer the same applies. Need notebooks, goody bags, and of course copies of your book. There’s Amazon self-publishing.

Alexa. She’s in a lot of homes. Yeah, mine too. Echo show. I tolerate her. Don’t trust her. My eight-year-old granddaughter has Alexa and damn if mine doesn’t respond quicker to her. Netflix and Prime Video. Replacing traditional networks. You can subscribe to individual networks. More innovative and interesting series – no commercials. Plus note only can you watch at home – wait for it – also on your phone, iPad, or Tablet.

Hotspots. Remember when we made fun of the name ‘iPad’ when first introduced by Apple? I just binged Good Omens on Prime. I’m a Terry Pratchett fan. Networks run the same programs over and over and over again. Boring. On Prime Video I can watch the entire Farscape and any other beloved series without commercial interruption. At. Home.

Have you experienced or watched someone when the Internet goes down? Panic, heart palpations, loss of appetite, loss of mind. The world coming to an end? You’re trapped in your home, you’re all alone, isolated you’ll never receive another email again – and that’s just the first ten minutes.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Physical proximity is no longer necessary. We have to make time to be out with friends. The smartphone, smarter than us. Tethered to this little beast that weighs four to six ounces. We text each other even if we’re in the same building. Attending a workshop and a friend is sitting on the other side of the room? Text them. We conduct our lives on the phone and sometimes it plays out like a soap opera with no filter. Who hasn’t heard conversations that belonged behind closed doors? We write on our phones, save the document, send via email, and edit. Or play Candy Crush.

Face it we’re trapped in our homes, and its paradise. Need to clean? Roomba.

Next time you’re out with friends, count how many phones are on the table. One of my Sophisticated Ladies makes me put my phone away when we are together. It must be in my purse. So far, she hasn’t slapped my iWatch on my wrist. I FaceTime my cousin. At. Home. All from our personal space – no pants required.

For my call center job, we have meetings in an online meeting room. Easy way to get one hundred agents from all over the country together. One day we’ll have dinner with friends, each of us in our home, chatting away to holograms of each other.

You can hire fitness trainers to come to your home. Or…. I just saw a commercial for a fitness program called Mirror. It’s an interactive exercise program. No more going to the gym when you can work out in front of a six-foot mirror with others, in front of their Mirror, in real time classes or take one of the videotaped classes and then log in and post your results. No social interaction? If your friends have Mirror it’ll be just like going to the gym. Except you’ll be At. Home. In my sci-fi novel, my protagonist tries to avoid her fitness coach who appears in her home via hologram to remind her that she’s missed classes. The future is now people.

Not to be morbid but the old tradition of viewing the deceased in their home could return. Never. Leave. Home.

Like I said, it’s the best of times, we should embrace the goodies, especially now in these scary worst of times. When life is better and the bans are lifted, put on clothes, get out, enjoy the arts, look at real people, eat food in a real restaurant, and enjoy the world. Besides your Amazon order will be waiting when you arrive home.

If fantasy and futuristic romance are your thing then Book Two in my Witches Brew series, a stand alone novel, is a perfect read while you’re at home. Here’s a peek.

When love stalls, who are you going to call? Red a mystical and magical red dress created to help women discover love and recognize their self-worth.

Delphine Richards is the founder and CEO of Plum Events a successful party planning company in Chicago. The holidays are the busiest and Valentine’s Day is the last one of the season. Her employees work hard to create spectacular parties and stay out of Delphine’s way. She hates this day for lovers.

Kevin Poe, her fiancé, broke up with her a year ago on Valentine’s Day. Since then she’s dedicated her life to growing her business. Love won’t destroy her again.

Kevin Poe loves Delphine but her constant interference in his teaching career drove a wedge between them. When one of Kevin’s students needed him, Delphine neglected to tell him. That was the final straw. If Delphine couldn’t stop trying to change him, then they shouldn’t be together.

Enter Red, a mystical and magical red dress sent to help Delphine rediscover love and realize she can’t control everyone and everything – including herself.

Yasmine ‘Yas’ Phoenix was born and raised in Virginia but calls Chicago home. She loves tennis, professional and amateur and plays in local leagues. Her writing block is the four major Grand Slams, Indian Wells, and other tournaments. No, she can’t tape then watch. Yas loves to read, especially murder mysteries. She is a Terry Pratchett, Discworld fan, and scans the news for potential plot ideas. Melding romance and paranormal in her stories is her goal. Yas always asks the question, “What if?” She is a sucker for old black and white movies like Casablanca on one hand, and Deadpool on the other. She believes her family is her greatest gift and support.

Learn more about Yasmine Phoenix on her website. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Saunders’ Choice

by

Gina Briganti

Saunders’ Choice is a standalone novella in the enchanting Natural Gifts fantasy romance series. If you like irresistible attraction, mystery, and love against the odds, then you will adore Gina Briganti’s tale of the deep.

She lives life below the waves. What will a man sacrifice to discover it’s not a dream?
Mermaid Velvet has always had a special fascination with the World. And studying its two-legged humans has given the aspiring comedian unique skills to make her audiences laugh. But when she saves a human who believes he’s drowning; she’s stunned by the magic that flows between them.

Saunders is trapped between two realities with no memory of his past. Lost in a strange, underwater domain, he comes face-to-face with an alluring goddess of the sea. When he disappears from her realm, he’s desperate to reunite with the entrancing beauty.

As Velvet continues to bring Saunders out of the darkness, her love for him grows along with her fear that his next disappearance might be his last. And as his memories slowly return, Saunders must decide if he is willing to leave the World permanently for a chance to be with the mermaid he desires.

Can Velvet and Saunders overcome his terrible fate and sink into each other’s perfect arms?

Buy Saunders’ Choice to dive into an ocean of passion today!

EXCERPT
Swimming along, Velvet continued to send a friendly wave to every creature she saw. She rounded the corner of a huge coral reef and saw a murky, shaded part of the coral ahead. If she had a middle name, it would be Curious. Velvet thought nothing of swimming into the darkened water.

A naked man was swimming furiously to the surface, struggling and thrashing in a panic.

He thinks he’s drowning.

If his panic didn’t give him away as a visitor to the Dreaming, his energy did. She didn’t know many visitors, but she had met more than anyone else she knew. Why did she find visitors so compelling? She often wondered about that.

Once, she had shared a romance with a visitor. His name was Joe, and he was sixteen years old at the time. For one whole summer, that was what he called it, they spent all of his time in the Dreaming together. Then Joe admitted to her that he felt weird about having an invisible girlfriend, and they stopped seeing one another in that way. They were friends now. He’d long since grown up and was happily married to a new visitor to the Dreaming. A woman named Dana.

Velvet stopped her reverie and flashed into action, quickly pushing the stranger to what would appear to be a surface to him. She held him while he gulped air, and spurted water from his mouth at the same time.

The stranger turned wild eyes to Velvet. He scanned her from head to tail, and then started racing away from her.

Velvet called out sarcastically, “Was it something I said? Most people have to know me awhile before they swim away at high speed.” As soon as she said it, she felt terrible and her compassion kicked her butt. She called out, “I’m sorry. I hope you’re okay.”

The visitor never looked back.

AMAZON BUY LINKS


A few days ago Gina Briganti had a poll website asking which of four tattoos readers thought this lovely mermaid would wear. Here’s the winner.


Gina Briganti writes fantasy and sci-fi romance in north Texas. She also writes holistic health non-fiction because real life can be magic, too. Her credentials in holistic health include certification as a Reiki Master Practitioner and teacher, certification as a nutrition consultant, and a degree in holistic nutrition.

When she’s not writing, eating delicious healthy food, reading, or making videos, she is spending time with family and friends. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a lab and chow mix.

Connect with Gina on Facebook, & her Amazon Author Page, & YouTube channel, & Instagram, & Twitter, & Bookbub, and on Goodreads. There are exclusives announcements that she shares only in her newsletter, which you can sign up for right here.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

How to Save the Life of an Author

by

Linda Lee Greene

BOOKWORM  – Watercolor painting by Linda Lee Greene

It is a fact that “Muse,” that mysterious and severe task-master chains authors to their writing instruments for weeks, or months, and sometimes years at a time. They aren’t allowed to eat, or brush their teeth, or bathe, or sleep. They almost never get to see other human beings. Muse makes them ignore the ring of the doorbell and the phone, and pull the drapes and close the blinds. Nothing, nothing, nothing must get in the way of scratching down those precious lines. At long last the book is done—finished—complete! And authors wait; they wait; they wait for feedback from readers, feedback that is the lifeblood of writers, that keeps them motivated, that keeps them sane, that rescues their self-esteem, and that very well might save their life!

Accumulating reader reviews of books is a huge hurdle for authors, and the truth is that without reviews, books don’t stand a chance of reaching a wide audience, even though they might be very worthwhile reads. Nowadays, by way of cyberspace, something like 4,500 new books per day hit the bookseller market, a large percentage of that number written and self-published by highly talented and fearless authors. The crushing heap of competition they are under demands that many good reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads is the best, and perhaps, the only way they can crawl out from under the pile and receive the notice they deserve.

A lot of readers would like to post reviews but feel intimidated by the process. You’re in luck. You can write something as simple as “I loved it!” or “This is one of the best books I’ve ever read!” or “I couldn’t put it down!” If you didn’t like the book, explain the reason in the review because that’s information the author needs to be a better writer.

Please support authors by posting reviews of their books, especially at Amazon.com. All you have to do is go to Amazon and type in the name of the book. When the correct page comes up, click onto the space on the right indicating the number of current reviews. The reviews page comes up. You will see a series of five stars on the left side of the page. Click onto the star that corresponds with your rating of the book. The fifth star on the right indicates the highest rating. A dialog box in which to type your review is directly below the stars. And below that, a box shows in which to title your review. When you have done all these things, click “submit” at the bottom of the page. And wallah—you’ve saved the life of a hard-working and lonely author!

My crime thriller novel, A Chance at the Moon is on Amazon. I welcome your review.

Was it chance or destiny’s hand behind a man and a woman’s curious encounter at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas? The cards fold, their hearts open, and a match strikes, flames that sizzle their hearts and souls. Can they have the moon and the stars, too? Or is she too dangerous? Is he? Can their love withstand betrayal? Can it endure murder?

While the cards at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas fail to distract them from their troubled pasts, on the side, the actress and the gambler play a game of ‘will they won’t they’ romance. Meanwhile, an otherworldly hand also has a big stake in the game. Unexpected secrets unfold brimming with dangerous consequences, and finally, a strange brand of salvation.

Amid the seductions of Las Vegas, Nevada and an idyllic coffee plantation on Hawai’i’s Big Island, a sextet of opposites converge within a shared fate: a glamorous movie-star courting distractions from her troubled past; her shell-shocked bodyguards clutching handholds out of their hardscrabble lives; a dropout Hawaiian nuclear physicist gambling his way back home; a Navajo rancher seeking cleansing for harming Mother Earth; and from its lofty perch, the Hawaiian’s guardian spirit conjured as his pet raven, conducting this symphony of soul odysseys.

The Cast of Characters
Actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms escapes the shadow of her mother’s gruesome murder and the relentless demands of Hollywood and loses herself in the cards at Las Vegas casinos. But like hounds on the scent, the scandal tracks her. And true to her history, it shows up in the person of dashing Hawaiian gambler, Koa Kalua’i. Neither of them are strangers at taking risks and too often losing. Will they win in their chance at the moon this time?

In Hawaiian cosmology, Aumakuas are guardian spirits whom many believe to manifest in physical form. Koa Kalua’i knows the tenet to be true, because Raven has not only been his winged-pet since the earliest days of his childhood on his family’s coffee plantation on Hawaii’s Big Island, but also his Aumakua. They make a remarkable pair, dedicated to righting wrongs.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, and orphaned as little kids, twin brothers Nicholas and Tobias Plato grew up tough but tenderhearted, qualities they put to use as actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms’ bodyguards. Who knew that Nicholas would play such a pivotal role in Olivia’s life: her most trusted friend and guardian, and in the end, her savior?

Navajo rancher and computer geek, Sam Whitehorse uncovers a secret, terrorist stockpile of materiel burrowed in the side of one his people’s sacred mountains in Nevada. It is a threat that he and Las Vegas gambler, Koa Kalua’i must expose and eliminate, but potential government involvement in the matter complicates such an offensive. And why does actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms insert herself into the whole affair?

Amazon Buy Links PaperbackKindle

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 strong hold.

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 at her online art gallery and join her on Facebook. Linda loves to hear from readers so feel free to email her. Blog: http://Ingoodcompanyohio.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/LindaLeeGreeneAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/LindaLeeGreeneAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LLGreeneAuthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest/LindaLeeGreene/

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Turkish family recipe from Eris Field who also shares her latest captivating book The Marital Bargain: Wife for Five Months.

My husband was Turkish and enjoyed it when I made meals from his mother’s recipes. This was one of his favorites, and mine too because it was easy and delicious. It’s also similar to one described in my latest book The Marital Bargain: Wife for Five Months.

ROAST LAMB LOIN
Use your favorite recipe to roast lamb until done but still pink on the inside.

RAS el HANUT YOGURT

    1 cup plain yogurt
    1 tsp. Ras El Hanout*

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

Drizzle a small amount on the lamb at serving time.

*Ras el Hanout is a seasoning found in stores that sell Turkish or Arabic food. To make your own combine a small amount of coriander, allspice, fennel, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, anise seed, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and turmeric in a bowl.

Photo courtesy of Akemy Mory Unsplash

PILAF – TURKISH RICE

    3 tbsp. butter
    1 small onion, chopped fine
    3 cups water
    1 tsp. salt
    1½ cups long grain rice (Riceland rice is a good choice)
    2 tbsp. butter, melted

Melt butter in a shallow pot that has a cover.

Add onion and sauté until translucent over low heat. Stir to prevent browning.

Stir in water and salt. Bring to boil.

Stir in rice. Cover pan and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook 20 to 25 minutes (Do not remove cover. Do not stir). When done, use a clean dish towel or a paper towel to replace the lid. Let stand 10 minutes.

Pour melted butter over rice. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve in a heated dish.

TURKISH GREEN BEAN SALAD

    1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into one-inch lengths
    3 Roma tomatoes, quartered
    1 medium onion, chopped
    3 tbsp. olive oil
    ½ tsp. salt
    ½ a lemon, juiced
    1 tbsp. dry mint leaves

Layer green beans first, onions second, and arrange tomatoes on top in a saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. Sprinkle with dried mint. Cover with lid and cook over low heat without stirring for 25 minutes. Let cool. The olive oil and lemon juice make a dressing for the salad. Garnish with a light dusting of grated lemon peel and serve at room temperature.

DESSERT
Grapes, pistachios in the shell (the best pistachios are from Antep or Siirt), pomegranate arils (seeds).

Here is a brief intro to my latest contemporary romance novel. I hope you enjoy it.

For Laury, growing up on American Naval Bases in the Middle East resulted in a fluency in languages and a wariness of men. Now, after completing a psychiatric nurse practitioner program, she faces a mountain of student loans. While waiting to learn if she’s been accepted for her dream job, she works as a private duty nurse caring for Roberta, an elderly matriarch living alone in a 30-room mansion on Billionaires’ Row. Roberta’s granddaughter had agreed to stay with her while she recovered from eye surgery, but she has disappeared along with Roberta’s money and credit cards.

Damon, Roberta’s grandson who is volunteering with Doctors Without Borders, requests emergency leave to fly home from Iraq. After his wife divorced him, Damon had vowed never to marry again, but with only days to find a way to safeguard his grandmother, he offers Laury a bargain—a five-month marriage. She will protect Roberta while he returns to perform reconstructive surgery for child refugees and he will pay off her student loans. What could go wrong?

Readers who like novels with characters who must find strengths within themselves to overcome their difficulties will enjoy this story. They’ll learn different cultures’ approaches to families, marriages, and finances, about the Kurds who fought beside Americans in Iraq, about refugees, and about abuse. They will also learn about the power of love.

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

Music being part of her writing life

by

Gina Briganti

Press play to listen to the Deep in the Dreaming playlist while you read the rest of the blog post.


Music

Sometimes I’ll listen to the same song until I feel like it has got it’s message across in how it relates to the character, scene, or story I’m writing. Wake Me Up by Avicii was key to unlocking how and why Draper ended up spending most of the last decade in the Dreaming. I listened to the song at least ten times while I was exploring Draper and creating his past.

Girls Like You cover by Walk Off The Earth. When Draper’s attraction to Elena continues to deepen, he decides that they could be special in each other’s lives, and that she understood him. Listening to this song while I was writing the book didn’t vibe 100% because Elena wasn’t doing what Sarah is singing about here. Not Elena. And Draper’s addiction history mean no ganja or alcohol. There was no escaping the song at the time because it was on most of my radio stations and in my playlist, just like Draper and Elena found themselves in the same places at the same time.

This playlist is influenced by the infectious energy of my favorite band, Walk Off The Earth. My daughter and I met the band during their November 2018 tour in Dallas. It’s a moment I hope to remember forever. What an amazing group of musicians they are!

I Like Me Better by Lauv perfectly describes how Draper feels when he’s with Elena and it’s why he faces his personal demons and steps up when Elena needs him most. This is another example of a song filling in pieces of a character’s emotional landscape.

We’ll jump way ahead in the story with the Love Lies cover by Walk Off The Earth. There comes a point when Draper has to wonder if Elena is more dedicated to (spoiler) than she is to him. I was feeling pretty bad for Draper when I wrote this part and so was Draper. Listening to the song helped put me in the right frustrated, confused head space that Draper was in.

Head Above Water by Avril Lavigne clicked when everyone was struggling. Were you glad to see Avril back with such a strong song? I was! I know this song speaks to people going through tough times. I needed the angst in this song to infuse scenes I wrote, which it did.

Drag Me Down cover by Walk Off The Earth illustrates the determination Elena needed to overcome her biggest obstacles in the worst place anyone can imagine, a parallel dimension where confusion, treachery, and evil reign supreme. Draper stands behind her. A truly awe-inspired moment in the story. My family loves this song, including my three-year-old granddaughter who sings it and stomps her feet on time with the video. Yep, that melts her G.G.’s (Grandma Gina’s) heart every time.

That’s Amore by Dean Martin was a fun addition to the playlist because it speaks to Elena’s roots and one of Draper’s favorite places to vacation. They needed a love song to celebrate with. These two could definitely appreciate Martin’s light-hearted vibe after what they went through.

I listen to playlists I’ve made from books I’ve written in the past and ride the nostalgia wave created by the music, which feeds into writing scenes for characters from previous Natural Gifts books. The playlist for Desert Sunrise (Book 2 of the Natural Gifts series). includes Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big and Rich and Indian Outlaw by Tim McGraw. Those songs give me a good sense of Lucy’s playful, saucy spirit and help put me in her head space when I wrote scenes for her in this book and in future Natural Gifts books.

Music has always been a huge part of me, enriching, inspiring, consoling, and entertaining me through all phases of my life. I’m a closet songwriter and if you’ve seen someone singing and dancing to a good song in a store, that was me or someone channeling me.

I want to hear about your relationship with music in the comments.

Thank you for reading!
Gina

Deep in the Dreaming Ad 1 (1)

Elena Zucchero has lived and lost in reality. Now she fills her heart through her work as a hypnotherapist by helping her patients improve their lives. But when a nightmare plagues her sleep, she learns her friends have gone missing in an addictive alternate plane. And the only way to save them may require feeding the demons of her handsome new client…

Draper Montgomery painfully resists the call of the Dreaming. But despite his dangerous cravings, he senses his enchanting therapist has a wound he can help heal. And to satisfy his heart’s desire, he may just have to risk the very foundation of his mind…

As Elena and Draper discover a deeper soul connection, the therapist struggles to keep her distance in the hunt for her friends. If the people she loves even want to be saved…

Will the perilous hunt to rescue her friends lose them their lives and their souls?

Deep in the Dreaming is the fourth standalone book in the captivating Natural Gifts paranormal romance series. If you like mysterious worlds, conflicted characters, and love that conquers all, then you’ll adore Gina Briganti’s enthralling tale.

Buy Deep in the Dreaming to slip into another world today!

 

Watch the YouTube video here.


Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. She also writes about Reiki (a relaxation technique) and self-help. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Visit her website and blog for book trailers, newsletter sign up, and whatever else she thinks up.

Stay connected on Facebook, Gina’s Amazon Author Page, YouTube, Pinterest, , and Instagram

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The cook extraordinaire Sloane Taylor who brings us her latest new dish to try. Here’s Sloane.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the enticing aroma from this easy recipe and the taste is superb. Studs and I have served this menu to skeptical guests and they fell in love with it.

Cook pasta prior to starting fish. Re-warm by running hot water over the just noodles before serving.

Serve with Whole Grain Spaghetti, Tossed Salad, Italian Bread,
and White Wine – Pinot Grigio

TANTALIZING COD

    1 tbsp. olive oil
    ½ med. onion, sliced thin
    2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
    ½ cup dry white wine
    5 lg. Roma tomatoes, chopped
    ½ cup black olives, sliced
    2 tbsp. parsley, chopped or 1 tbsp. dried
    1 tbsp. capers, drained and chopped
    ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
    4 cod fillets, about 6 oz. each
    ½ tbsp. fresh basil, chopped or 1 tsp. dried

Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add oil. Heat until it shimmers. Add onion, stir until translucent and lightly browned. Stir in garlic, cook 30 seconds. Add wine, cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with the juice, olives, parsley, capers and red pepper. Heat to boiling.

Lay cod fillets over tomato mixture. Lower heat to medium. Cover skillet and cook until cod turns opaque throughout and flakes, about 9 minutes.

Sprinkle basil across the top.

Serve over whole grain spaghetti.

Don’t prepare extra. Leftovers have a stale taste and tend to be tough.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Learn more about Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Romantic Meals to Dine al Fresco, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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