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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

fantasy settings

by

Jaycee Jarvis

One of my favorite things about writing fantastical settings is the excuse to research anything that strikes me as a cool world building detail. I’m a bit of a world building magpie, in that I’ll collect cool factoids or interesting discoveries to incorporate in my writing. I’m a natural history hobbyist, and always amazed by the rich natural world around us. Of course, I also sometimes need to seek sensory details to bring a fictional world to life.

For example, there is a bridge in Secret Courtship connecting two settlements on opposite sides of a river. While the bridge only appears in a few scenes, I wanted to understand what such a structure would look and feel like, particularly in my low tech setting. It was quite fun to go down the research rabbit hole, looking up various ancient techniques for crossing rivers. I was lucky enough to be in Washington DC last summer and visit an exhibit about the Inka empire in the National Museum of the American Indian. The Inkas built ingenious woven grass suspension bridges over vast chasms in the Andes. The museum had a life-sized partial bridge on display with a full explanation of the process of making it, along with stunning photos of the completed bridges from different time periods. I was enchanted, and knew I’d found the perfect inspiration for the bridge in Trimble. I modified the manuscript to add a few rich details, and was thrilled with the result.

Getting the setting just right is very satisfying to me as an author, and I hope my readers enjoy it too. To be totally immersed in the land of Destin, check out my recent release, Secret Courtship.

Blurb:
Devoted to the Goddess of the Future, an elegant beauty is blessed–or cursed–with near-perfect foresight.

Han-Mystic Ophelia d’Marana lives a rich life as the strongest seer in the bustling tropical town of Trimble, but still she feels alone. She aches for a family with every beat of her heart. She would take comfort from a prophesy predicting the birth of her child, except the foreseen father is Han-Builder Ulric.

The rude, crude earthworker has no place in her pious life, and has never seen her as a woman worthy of a tumble, until a passionate night proves him susceptible to her beauty. Emboldened, Ophelia hopes to share her destiny with him. But Ulric can’t risk his heart, not again. Instead, they enter into a loveless arrangement to beget a child, each keeping painful secrets close.

When Ophelia’s most ominous prophesy comes to pass, the uneasy lovers overcome their differences to work together against a mysterious plague threatening the city. As their passion burns hot, Ophelia finds she has more in common with Ulric than she ever dreamed. She’s in danger of losing her heart to a man in love with a ghost . . .

If she doesn’t become a ghost herself first.

 

Excerpt

Ulric slowed as they approached their home. Only a lonely meal warmed by the house charmaid waited for him inside.

Fighting the melancholy dragging at his feet, he scratched the top of Racon’s head. In return Racon bumped his skull against Ulric’s hip, a happy sound in his throat. A spark of warmth lightened Ulric’s heart. At least with his waccat at his side, he was never truly alone.

A shadow moved behind the stained-glass window on the ground floor. Ulric frowned. He expected Gracie, the charmaid, to be resting in the heat of the day. Curious, he took the three steps into the house in one stride, Racon trailing behind him.

“Ophelia.” A tightness in his chest relaxed. He wouldn’t be alone after all.

Han-Mystic Ophelia had trained to become a Hand the same season as Ulric. She and Ulric’s roommates, along with Han-Bursar Quintin, had formed a tight-knit group of year-mates. Ulric often felt on the outskirts of their comradery, tolerated more than understood, yet he welcomed even their backhanded affection.

Ophelia looked up at the sound of her name. Radiant as always, her blue sari covered her hair and drifted over her shoulder. The embroidered fabric glimmered in the light from the window. With her grace and elegance, she brought to mind the Goddess she served.

“You’re home,” she said, relief clear in her voice. Her gold and white waccat Felice rose and padded over to sniff his fingers. “How is Racon?”

“Racon?” As pleased as he was to see his year-mate, he suddenly realized the oddity of her presence. On Maranasday, Ophelia had a duty to cast fore-tellings at the temple scrying pool from dawn to dusk. How had she managed to escape? “Why are you here?”

“The Goddess sent me.” She stood and gestured at his waccat. “For Racon.”

Apprehension shivered down Ulric’s spine. There was no reason for Marana, the Goddess of Water, to take an interest in his waccat.

“Racon’s fine,” he said, refusing to believe otherwise. “You want to eat?”

A frown marred her perfect features. “I’m not here to dine with you.”

He grunted and headed to the courtyard at the back of the house. He was hungry even if she wasn’t.

Ophelia sighed, somehow managing to make the tiny sound more exasperated and condescending than any scold.

Bio:


Jaycee Jarvis has been an avid romance reader since devouring all the Sweet Dreams books her middle school library had to offer. Also a fantasy fan from an early age, she often wished those wondrous stories had just a bit more kissing. Now she writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop, creating the kind of book she most likes to read.

When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children and a menagerie of pets.

Jaycee is a Golden Heart® finalist and author of the Hands of Destin series. The first book in that series, Taxing Courtship, released in June 2018.

Where to find Jaycee:
Amazon
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Bookbub

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The remembrance’s of Tina Griffith who shares a favorite recipe today!

I (Tina) was born in Germany where my mother frequently filled our home with the most amazing aromas. This is one of my favorite recipes and I want to share it with you.

Rouladen – Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls

    6 slices top round steak, 4 x 6 inches, sliced ½ inch thick
    6 tsp. German or coarsely ground mustard
    ½ cup onion, chopped fine – divided
    5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
    3 dill pickle spears cut in half lengthwise
    Freshly ground pepper to taste
    Toothpicks or kitchen twine
    3 tbsp. lard or vegetable oil
    2 cups water
    2 tbsp. flour
    1 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Place meat between 2 pieces of cling wrap or waxed paper. Gently pound meat to ¼ inch thick. Be careful not to tear the meat.

Spread mustard along meat slices. Sprinkle on ¼ cup onion and garlic. Lay a pickle piece at the bottom of each roll or the narrow end.

Roll meat into a cylinder starting at the pickle end. Pierce with toothpicks to hold together or tie with twine.

Brown meat on all sides in a medium size frying pan. Lay rolls in a roaster pan.

Add water to the frying pan and bring to a boil, scraping the sides and bottom to collect all the meat bits. Whisk in four and butter. Pour this mixture over the meat rolls.

Bake 1 hour or until meat is fork tender. Remove toothpicks before serving.

If you prefer a thicker gravy, combine 2 -3 tablespoons flour in ½ cup water. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper then stir into roasting pan gravy.

Boiled potatoes or dumplings along with red cabbage make this meal complete.

Here’s a bit from The Elusive Mr. Velucci, a timeless romance, I hope you’ll enjoy while your dinner is cooking.


Enrico and Sadie were now standing alone, and it was their turn to say good-bye. They faced each other, he took her hands in his, and he spoke in an extremely compassionate tone.

“I didn’t realize how much you would mean to me when we first met”, he whispered with total sincerity. His eyes had filled up and he could hardly see, and with everything in his soul, he very much wanted to stay right where he was. He was miserable because he knew he couldn’t, so he promised to come back as soon as possible.

“Enrico”, she whimpered, as she looked lovingly into his eyes. Her voice had a gentle softness to it, with undertones of abandonment. She wanted to say a thousand more words, but they got stuck in her throat.

“I know”, he revealed, in a voice that was fragile and shaking. It was quite evident to everyone around them, that he wasn’t prepared to say good-bye to the beautiful girl standing in front of him. He brought his forehead forward until it was touching hers, and they cried with immense fear that they would never see each other again.

An announcement came over the P.A., which stated that all passengers must get checked in. It was in that moment when Enrico knew in his heart, that no miracle was coming and that he would have to leave. He pulled his head back from hers and looked deep into Sadie’s unhappy eyes. He had not expected to fall in love, and now he could feel his own heart breaking.

Enrico placed both of his hands against the sides of her face, and slowly closed his eyes. With all the love he had inside of him, he kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her nose, and then her mouth. It baffled him that this woman had provided him with the absolute need to love another living soul, for he would not have guessed that to be possible. He wanted to hold her, take care of her, know her whereabouts, and love her for the rest of his life, but he could not; he had waited too long to change the course of his immediate future.

Enrico was becoming frustrated that he had taken eight months to get to know her, but he had only had six hours to really love her. He pulled her body closer to his, and then held on tight. ‘If only I had known or acted sooner…’ he whispered.
Enrico needed to go, so he ended their embrace as hurriedly as it had begun.

A flash of wild grief suddenly ripped through her soul, as Sadie realized the true reality of what was happening. “Enrico!” she cried from every pore in her body. Her eyes were begging him to stay, while her heart was breaking into a million pieces. The whole thing suddenly felt very real, and severe panic began to fill every fiber of her being.

Enrico examined her face and he knew what she wanted. “I’ll be back”, he assured her, in a voice that was both soft and trying to stay strong. He picked up his suitcase with one hand, and he placed something in her hand with the other.

Without looking to see what it was, she swaddled the object safely in the palm of her hand, while keeping her eyes locked with his.

Enrico twisted his upper body to face his family and shouted, “Good-bye everyone!” He turned around to take one more look into the face of his beloved Sadie, and then he began to walk away.

“No!” she shouted loudly. The simple word dissolved into the air like a crispy leaf in the fall.

Enrico hadn’t gotten very far, and now it was him who was falling apart. He took one more look in her direction, put his hand to his mouth, and blew her a kiss. “Bye for now!” he said quietly. As he faced forward again, he began to cry. Not full-out crying like a small child who had gotten hurt on the playground, but a grown man’s frustration and enormous displeasure of things that he couldn’t fix or change.

Nothing in her mind or body was able to let him go, and now Sadie felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her muscles were paralyzed and she was experiencing numbness all over. Her eyebrows were raised, her eyes were wide open, and a look of extreme anxiety shot across her face.

While Enrico was moving his feet, he was trying to hide his appearance from the other travelers. He was utterly depressed and having a hard time forcing his emotions to stay down. He tried to make it look like he was holding back a sneeze rather than a flood of tears, but when one or two drops of salty water leaked out from their moist environment, Enrico wiped them off of his face with the sleeve of his right arm and kept going.

Sadie had been watching the man she loves walk away, and with an incredible amount of courage, she boldly took a few steps towards him. “En-ri-co!” She shouted his name as she extended her left hand far in front of her body, but he didn’t turn around. With sheer desperation gushing from the very core of her soul, she wanted to run after him, to hold him one last time, but she knew she couldn’t; their time was up.

Enrico heard her calling him, but he couldn’t bear to turn around again; he knew that if he saw her, he would run back into her arms and he would never let go. Instead, he made himself a promise to return to New York as soon as he could.

Sadie stood frozen in her tracks, while anxiety guided her every thought. She watched Enrico, as he continued to walk in a hurried pace, and she wanted him to come back. “Enrico”, she sighed, with little air passing through her trembling lips. “I love you.” Her head was bent in sorrow while the world was crashing down around her.

After Enrico boarded the large vessel, he made sure to stand on the very end of the large deck. He was facing her, but they were so far apart. His hand leaped high into the air and swayed back and forth, as he watched her wave back to him. He could tell that she was beckoning him to come back, and it was killing him that he couldn’t.

Sadie’s heart leaped in her chest when she saw him. “Enrico!” she called loudly. She saw him waving, and she waved back with as much energy as she could muster. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the handsome man, who only hours ago, had made passionate love to her. “I’m here!” she cried. Her voice had cracked and was full of raw emotion.

Enrico’s face was wearing the biggest smile of his life, and he waved with all of his might. “Sadie!” he called, as if she could hear him.

“Enrico!” she shouted. She knew in that instance that he was the man who she would love for the rest of her life.

The ship blew its horn a few times, and then it slowly pulled away from the dock.

“No!” she screamed, as her body went into an even bigger panic mode. Tears were trickling down her moist and flushed cheeks, as her soul was being smashed into a thousand different pieces. “Please don’t leave!” she pleaded at the top of her lungs. She was yelling with as much force as she had in her body, and was stunned that no-one was looking in her direction. ‘Why were they not helping me get him back?’ she wondered wildly.

“Sadie!” Enrico called, but the sound of his words were not as clear anymore. “I love you!” he added happily. “Can you hear me?”

With all the noise that was around her, Sadie’s ears didn’t get to receive his tender words. “How will I go on without you?” she cried, while choking on her own tears. Her heart was in her throat, her will to live had been taken away, and now there was a horrible, empty ache in her soul.

“Enrico!” Sadie shouted at full volume. She continued to step closer and closer to the edge of the platform, as the ship appeared to go further and further away from the shore. “No-o-o-o-o!” she screamed, as if that would somehow stop what was happening.

With each moment that passed, their hearts were growing heavier with the sadness that was now weighing them down. Minute-by-minute, their emotional pain was getting worse, and almost an hour later, the ship was nothing more than a mere dot on the large body of water.

Sadie had fallen to her knees before the ship had totally disappeared, and it was then when she discovered what Enrico had placed in her closed fist – a beautiful silver locket. On the left side of the elaborately engraved heart, was a picture of Enrico. On the right, was a picture of her.

AMAZON BUY LINKS E-BOOK PAPERBACK

Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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Tell Again Tuesday

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

 


 

The 5 Essential ‘Abilities’ of the Romantic Hero

By Ella Hayes

Oh my goodness I have such a blog post for you!

Mills and Boon Author Ella Hayes is here to talk about the essential abilities of the romantic hero. I always fall madly in love with Ella Hayes’s male characters and to me she’s the queen of creating sexy male heroes. Her latest character Zach Merrill, from Italian Summer with the Single Dad, made me throw out my new year’s resolution about not getting carried away with fancying fictional hunks and don’t get me started on her character, Cormac from Her Brooding Scottish Heir.

I am a hot mess before this post has even started so let’s quickly hand over to Ella Hayes.

Hello, here are my essential hero attributes: . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Lucy Mitchell’s blog

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Author and Artist Linda Lee Greene who brings us her recipe for Blueberry-Blackberry Cobbler.

At my advanced age, a ‘mushy’ bottom pretty much comes with the territory. But to save your baked-goods from the same fate, there is a little trick you can use as a deterrent. Keep reading to find it.

Several months ago, I learned that victims of thyroid disorder, which I have been since the age of 16, should adopt a gluten-free diet. Carbs are also a problem for me. I looked around for a nutrition plan that would best suit my needs. I found it in the Keto Diet. A side benefit is that I am losing weight on this easy diet plan. Now when I look in the mirror, I see promise of the svelte and fit creature I was when young. It is a tremendous incentive to keep on keeping on.

A favorite gluten-free, low calorie, low carbs, high protein dessert that I stumbled upon by fooling with a recipe in Keto in 30 Minutes, edited by Jen Fisch of Ketointhecity.com, is one I call ‘Blueberry-Blackberry Cobbler’. I treat myself to a filling and satisfying 2-inch square of it drenched in icy-cold, Aldis’s Friendly Farms Original 30 calories per cup almond milk on many late evenings. Blue Diamond almond milk is also a good one. Neither of them is thick and greasy like Silk almond milk. Coconut milk works, if it is your preference. And no, this dessert will not go to your hips, unless of course, you gobble down the whole thing in one sitting.

Blueberry-Blackberry Cobbler

¼ cup gluten-cholesterol-sugar-free coconut flour
4 large eggs
4 oz. cream cheese, softened, I prefer Neufchatel, it contains less fat and has a tangy bite to it
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup Erythritol or three packets of Stevia, plant-based, sugar-free sweeteners
1 tsp. vanilla extract (organic, if possible)
1 tbsp. lemon zest (I use four drops of ‘Young Living’ essential lemon oil)

Nonstick butter cooking spray
4 pats butter
¼ cup blueberries
¼ cup blackberries

Pre-heat oven to 425º F.

Combine all ingredients before cooking spray together in a mixing bowl.

Coat the sides and bottom of an 8-inch. x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Place a thin pat of butter in each corner of the baking dish. Set dish in the oven until butter melt, about 2 – 3 minutes.

The thick batter spoons nicely into the warm baking dish. Now here is the trick to avoid turning your cobbler into a ‘mushy-bottomed-mess.’ Rather than mix your fruit into the batter, spoon blueberries and blackberries onto the top of the batter. You can use any fruit you choose, but be careful, most fruits outside the berry family are high in carbs and will go to your hips.

Bake about 20 minutes.

I whip up this delicious dessert in the evening so I can cut myself a warm square of it right out of the oven. It is a yummy soother to a gnarling, late-night tummy.

While your cobbler is baking, how about taking a peek at my latest romance/crime-thriller?

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.

Was it chance or destiny’s hand behind the movie-star and gambler’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.

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 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 at her online art gallery and join her on Facebook. Linda loves to hear from readers so feel free to email her.

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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

Eris Field talking about hoarding.

Image by Deedee86 from Pixabay

Hoarding is a clinical disorder that affects 5% of the population. It tends to start when the person is 12 to 13 years old, often after a loss—death of a loved one, parents’ divorce, or losing cherished possessions in a fire, flood, or hurricane. It has a genetic component. That is it tends to run in families. It also has a neurobiological basis. It has been found that there are abnormalities of certain brain structures (areas of the brain). These brain structures are involved in decision making, attention, organization, and regulation of emotions. Their impairment of functioning is evidenced in emotional responses, thinking, and behaviors that are different from people who do not have a hoarding disorder.

In addition to their compulsive hoarding disorder, 25% of people will have co-existing illnesses such as depression and anxiety. In addition, people with hoarding disorder often experience problems with planning ahead, making decisions, and having an unrealistic desire for everything to be perfect.

Symptoms of hoarding include:
• Experiencing severe anxiety over the thought of discarding possessions because the saved items give them a sense of security
• Buying or saving things that are unnecessary, worthless, or useless
• Accumulating huge amounts of objects that have little or no value such as old magazines, telephone books, clothing, shoes, hats, bottles, boxes, and empty food containers
• Having numerous animals such as cats that they cannot care for
• Inability to organize space for items—hoarded items take over space needed for activities of normal living

The effects of hoarding can be severe and often affect family relationships, work, health, and everyday life activities such as cooking, shopping, sports, and having friends, children or grandchildren visit.

Hoarding disorder often results in:
• Crowded, dangerous (risk of fires or falls), and unsanitary living conditions including the presence of vermin and mold that may endanger the person’s health
• Loss of a cooking space, eating area, and living room, bedroom, halls, closets, basement, garage, porches, and yard due to accumulations of hoarded items
• Loneliness
• Family conflicts and isolation from loved ones
• Inability to perform work as expected
• Financial problems related to compulsive purchasing of unneeded objects or the care of an accumulation of a large number of pets
• Legal problems such as threats of eviction.

What you can do to help:
• Encourage them to seek professional help
• Suggest self-help groups such as Clutterers Anonymous
• After treatment, help them with their belongings if they ask for help. Remember that many feel great anxiety if anyone touches their things
• Remember that hoarding is an illness like other illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease,
• Don’t remove things without their permission
• Don’t expect perfection or constancy

My novel, The Gift of Love, is a story of hoarding and the perils of the disorder. I hope it helps you understand the problem so many people must face.

Laurel, a 26-year-old slightly impulsive pediatric nurse learned her survival skills through early years in foster care. Her life dream is to provide a home for six abandoned children. But, before she can do anything about the dream, she must sell the huge old house her adoptive parents left her. She must sell it before she falls even deeper into debt. To put it on the market, requires tackling the escalating compulsive hoarding of her reclusive half-sister who lives with her. Paper of all kinds is filling the rooms and hallways of the house. She has tried reasoning, nagging, and threatening. Now in desperation, she borrows from her Union’s Retirement Fund to go to a conference on the latest treatments for Compulsive Hoarding.

Andrew, a 39-year-old psychiatrist, is never impulsive. A reticent, somewhat austere man, he limits his interactions with people to his work. His life is strictly planned and modelled on the life of his grandfather who was one of hundreds of orphaned boys raised by Father Baker. Despite the scorn of his father, an entrepreneurial plastic surgeon, he prefers to practice psychiatry in the underserved communities of Buffalo, New York. Being handed Jamie, the mute two-year-old grandson of his father’s second wife, as he is about to leave for the conference where he has agreed to fill in for a colleague is definitely not part of his life plan.

When they first meet, a series of unfortunate events cause Laurel to view Andrew as arrogant, rude, but disturbingly attractive and Andrew to view Laurel as a dangerous distraction to be avoided. Faced with a crisis, they are forced to work together, but will they be able to put aside their protective armor and trust each other enough to let love in?

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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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The chill in the air and all things that go bump in the night that are about to happen. Time to curl up with a good romantic thriller by Tina Griffith .

On Hallow’s Eve, as the veil between the two worlds was thinning, the face of the full moon was lit up like a Christmas tree. The dead would soon come alive, the alive would dress up as the dead, and witchcraft had a way of piggybacking off other spells. This was the ideal night to be a witch, for the effectiveness of all incantations, divinations, and other avenues of magic, was perfect.

Jayla is a clever witch, who had been cursed in her teens by her friend, Ophelia. Since then, she has had to retrieve dark souls from shrewd men in order to survive. While she has taken hundreds of souls in her lifetime, this story is about her trying to take the one which belongs to Roger Casem – the man she accidentally fell in love with.

Could she kill him, as she had done with the others? If she wanted to continue living, she must. But today, when his eyes skimmed her body with unbelievable passion, she began to recognize her own needs. As she blushed and turned her face away from him, Jayla did the only thing she could.


Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The regency historical romance author Vonnie Hughes bringing us her newest captivating book that transports you into 1800s Britain. Be sure to get your copy today!

Regency historical romance at its finest is what you get with this compelling novel by Vonnie Hughes. This book sweeps you back to Britain into the early 1800s where life for the wealthy was filled with elegance and grand parties. But there is more to the era of great achievement both politically and in the fine arts. The rich attended soirees while the poor scrounged in any way possible for food. Hughes touches on the reality of the era and its costs to the people. Definitely a book to read.

What happens when a man achieves his secret wish at the expense of a brother he despises? How does he then live his life?

John Trewbridge is destined to spend his life in the British army. If he had been thinking clearly, he’d never have enlisted with the 71st regiment. But Serena ripped the heart out of him when she said that he was only a second son and therefore of no account. She was echoing the words of John’s older brother, Spencer, who has spent years crowing about his future plans for the marquessate he will inherit. Yet it is John who loves the Trewbridge estate and everything that goes with it. When he is sent home from Corunna, injured, he discovers that Serena is about to marry Spencer.

On a raw winter’s day John meets Marguerite Ninian. Crippled from birth she hides from the world and John, despairing and disillusioned, lashes out at her, telling her that instead of feeling sorry for herself and should pity the injured soldiers who had limbs amputated. Not an auspicious beginning.

But over time her humour and intelligence help John to understand that second is just a word, not a value judgment or a statement of mind. Cautiously John and Marguerite move toward a tentative friendship until Spencer implodes and smashes the Trewbridge family apart.

EXCERPT

Spencer’s arm was trapped beneath the phaeton. The pain must be excruciating. John tugged off his glove and held tight to Spencer’s free hand. “No, Spence. I envied you Trewbridge, not the title. Oh, and sometimes I envied your famous way with the ladies. But I didn’t want to be you.” He noticed he was talking in the past tense and reined himself in. How callous could he be?

“No. I’m too dull to enjoy racing around, trying to keep ahead of my conscience.” Spencer ignored the last comment. “Dull,” he rasped. “I told her that would singe your whiskers.”

“For a time it did,” John murmured. “But I’ve found someone who needs me and doesn’t think I’m dull. And I have an estate that will not give me sleepless nights like the responsibility of Trewbridge would.”

There was a long silence and John felt the world shrink down to just the two of them, in the dark, with the sounds of rescue far away. Then Spencer’s cracked voice whispered, “But you will have it all now, while I dance with demons.”

“I don’t think so. We’ll get you out of here. More men are coming. We will lift this damned phaeton off you and—”

“No!” Spencer’s voice rose again. “I do not want to be saved.” He gave a slight huff that might have been a laugh. “Never did.”

Buy Links

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The paranormal and urban fantasy of Yasmine Phoenix and her new book The Chronicles of the Red Silk Dress. Book Two in the Witches Brew series that is a stand alone novel perfect for all fantasy lovers. 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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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines on the book

The Elusive Mr. Velucci a passionate love story that will have you rooting for the hero and heroine to succeed while they fight against all odds. In paperback or e-book, this is the ideal gift for those that truly love a good romance. Or maybe get it for yourself?

Sadie was twenty-one years old when she met the very handsome and charming Enrico Velucci. Even though they were both aware that he would only be in New York for a few months, they ended up falling deeply in love. When it was time for him to board the enormous ship back to Italy, they were sobbing while uttering their final goodbyes. We
ll keep in touch every single day! they agreed as one heartbreaking voice. The passionate promise lingered in the air like a delicate mist while the large vessel sailed away from American soil.

Since that fateful day, life had become tattered with many surprises and unexpected complications. Sadly, it was enough to keep the young couple separated for much longer than they had hoped. And after not speaking for a little more than twenty years, Enrico was shocked to find himself standing face-to-face with Sadie Adams the mother of the girl who his son wanted to marry.

How could Sadie tell Enrico that he is the father of her daughter? Because she still loved him, she knew she had to, and it needed to be done as soon as possible.

AMAZON BUY LINKS E-BOOK PAPERBACK

Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Read Full Post »

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