Archive for 2020

Good Eating – Southern Style

September 16, 2020

from Leigh Goff

My latest novel, Koush Hollow, is a Southern Gothic tale that deserves to be paired with Southern cuisine. This is one of those comfort dishes I seek out when I head farther south. It makes for a mouth-watering breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This recipe comes from the late chef Bill Neal who has influenced cooking across the South. This particular recipe was borrowed from Cook’s Corner on My Recipes.

Photo by Iain Bagwell

Shrimp & Grits
2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
¾ cup half-and-half
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup regular grits
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. hot sauce
¼ tsp. white pepper
3 bacon slices
1-pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ tsp. black pepper
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. hot sauce
Lemon wedges

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Add Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients. Keep warm.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and salt; dredge in flour.

Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly brown. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.

Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. Top with crumbled bacon; serve with lemon wedges.

How about a little more Southern charm while you enjoy your delicious meal?

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT
This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

BUY LINKS AmazonThe Parliament House

Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Sloane said @ 12:21 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | 3 Comments

Unique Art Work from a Forgotten People

September 14, 2020

from Catherine Castle

I’ve discovered a new art form which I have claimed for my own artistic purposes — Ledger Art.

Ledger Art is an adaptation of Plains Indian hide painting that developed as buffalo hides became sparse.

Before the Plains tribes were forced onto reservations, they had a tradition of painting their personal stories on buffalo hides, shields, tipis, and clothing. The men usually painted representational pictures of life happenings. The women painted abstract, geometrical designs. After the Indians were forced onto reservations and buffalo hides became scarce Caddo and Indian Plains artists, began painting and drawing on paper, canvas, and muslin. Ledger art, also called warrior art, is traditionally done by men, and drawn in one-dimensional outlines and filled in with bright colors. As used ledger pages and other written-upon materials were passed to the Indian artists, they began to draw over the written words, not wasting any materials they could use as canvases.

In recent years Ledger Art has had a resurgence. Contemporary ledger artists, male and female, still draw and paint on antique ledger paper when they can find it, but they have added other sources of paper, including old maps, sheet music, railroad tickets, and other documents as their canvases. Often artists create juxtapositions between the paper’s content and what they have drawn. Many contemporary artists still use the flat, one-dimensional style of drawing. Others have begun to create more three-dimensional art on ledger canvases.

After reading about Ledger Art in one of my Native American magazines, I was captivated by the art samples I saw. I went on an internet search and found more examples. I’ve included a couple of links so you can see this fantastic work. I especially love Dolores Purdy Corcoran’s ledger art. You can view it here.

More of this work is available at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Although contemporary ledger artists often use ledger art to honor pre-reservation culture or comment on, or poke fun at the world around them, I found a new use for ledger art. Using my poetry, I have begun to create my own form of Ledger Art, placing hand-drawn images, or computer images of pictures I’ve taken or drawn, on top of the poems, which I place on blue-lined notebook paper. I haven’t access to antique ledger paper, although I have been on the hunt for it when I’m antiquing.

At first I struggled with using a form of art that claims to be an exclusively American Indian art form. Then it occurred to me I have Choctaw blood in my ancestry. I’m a little bit Indian. I can also draw those one-dimensional figures, and using my poems I can create my own ledger paper. Once I got that notion in my head there was no stopping the creative juices. I stayed up late several nights as the ideas for poem-related ledger art, and ledger art written on my own music compositions flowed from my brain. Granted, I might not have the artistic skills of some of the contemporary ledger artists today, and most of what I create will never see the inside of an art gallery, but what I’m creating is in the spirit of the art form, since many of the poems I’m planning on using have a relationship to things that have happened in my life and my family’s life. I think it will make a nice legacy for my daughter to have one day.

The only thing I need now is a few more hundred hours a week to create everything I want to write, draw, and compose. Ah, being an artist is such a problem. 

Have you ever seen Ledger Art? What do you think about this art form?

Here’s a peek at my award-winning romantic comedy with a touch of drama A Groom for Mama for your reading pleasure.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

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Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

Sloane said @ 12:29 am | Author Friend Promo | 1 Comment

Scrumptious Shepherd’s Pie

September 9, 2020

from Sharon Ledwith

Weekends at our house are reserved for old stand-by meals that are perfect for any family members who happen to ‘drop in’ unexpectedly. You know who I mean. Those adult kiddos who were in the neighborhood checking out garage sales or friends who pop by just to see what project you’ve been working on lately. Yeah, them. One dish that everyone seems to magically appear for is our scrumptious shepherd’s pie. Easy to prepare, and makes 6 servings, I guarantee your guests won’t go home hungry. Add a tossed green salad on the side, and a chilled bottle of beer or glass of wine, and they just may overstay their welcome.

Scrumptious Shepherd’s Pie
1 lb. (454 g) ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1¼ cup frozen peas and carrots, cooked and drained
1 package brown gravy mix (0.88 ounces/25 g)
1 cup water
1 egg, beaten
3 cups, mashed potatoes
Paprika

Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).

Fry ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until beef is browned. Drain fat. Add seasoned salt, peas and carrots. Mix well.

Prepare gravy mix with water according to package directions. Add some gravy to beaten egg. Gradually add egg-gravy mixture to gravy, stirring constantly. Combine gravy with meat.

Pour meat mixture into a shallow, ovenproof dish. Spoon potatoes in mounds over meat then use the back of a large spoon to blend the mounds. Sprinkle top with paprika.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until heated.

While you’re waiting for your slice of mouth-watering, meaty shepherd’s pie to digest why not put your feet up and relax on the couch with a good book? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, I assure you that either series will take you on a journey far away from weekend chores and dirty laundry.

Here’s a glimpse into one of the books from Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, my teen psychic mystery series.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

AMAZON BUY LINK


Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Sloane said @ 12:59 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

September 7, 2020

To All Our Friends,
from 

the Taylor Family

Sloane said @ 12:41 am | Holidays | Comments

FRESH FROM THE OVEN

September 2, 2020

from Chris Pavesic

Fill your home with the beautiful aroma of fresh baked coffee cake. This recipe is easy and oh so tasty you’ll want to make it often.

Cranberry Walnut Coffee Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. olive oil
⅔ cup milk
1 egg
⅔ cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
olive or avocado oil to grease the baking dish

Topping
½ cup chopped walnuts
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Glaze
1 cup confectioner sugar
2 tbsp. milk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven 400° F.

In a large bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir contents of both bowls together.

Pour into a greased baking dish. Spread cranberry sauce over batter.

In small bowl combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle over cranberry sauce.

Bake for 18 – 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients then drizzle it over coffee cake.

Why not read a good book while you enjoy your warm coffee cake and favorite beverage? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

AMAZON BUY LINK
SMASHWORDS BUY LINK

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Sloane said @ 12:26 am | Cooking | Comments

Living with Third Man Syndrome

August 31, 2020

Why I Wrote psychological Fiction
by Carol Browne

When I was recently asked to write a post about why my latest book is psychological fiction, I hesitated. After a lifetime of keeping quiet about my mental health issues, I was reluctant to shine a light on anything that might expose them to public scrutiny. They say you should write what you know, but that can often be disturbing. However, public opinion on such matters has shifted significantly in recent years and the stigma caused by any kind of psychological divergence from what is considered normal, is quickly fading as more people are open about their quirks and aberrations. And once you start researching this subject you find you are not as strange as you thought you were!

Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash

I have been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt when it comes to coping with OCD, depression, social phobia, and panic attacks, but years of living on my own brought on another phenomenon that was to inspire my latest novella Reality Check. The phenomenon is called Third Man Syndrome and it meant nothing to me until I was researching the book. In effect, it is when social isolation or trauma makes people imagine there is someone with them when there isn’t. At first, I didn’t know this had a name. I assumed it was like having an imaginary friend and that’s how I approached the book. I got so intrigued by this subject I thought, “What if a lonely person imagined LOADS of people who weren’t there? What if they lived in a house full of imaginary people and interacted with them?”

The imaginary friend phenomenon was the starting point but the book ended up being an investigation into the nature of reality itself as the main character tries to work out what is going on. Is this a symptom of madness? Are these people real or not? And what do we mean by ‘real’? Reality itself has so many layers it might turn out to be impossible to define it with any certainty.

And when you think about it, this is what we writers do. We create loads of imaginary people and build worlds for them to live in. They are real to us and we hope our readers feel the same way. And if it’s a symptom of anything it’s the fact that we humans are doomed to live mostly in our heads. We are both blessed and cursed with boundless reserves of imagination and creativity.

Yes, I do have an imaginary friend. I try not to talk to her but I can’t help myself. She’s only real in so far as she exists in my head. But if you live alone, eventually you must have someone to bounce ideas off. You have to be able to tell someone about your day. You must get advice from somewhere. How many other people experience this, I wonder? I have often seen lone shoppers in the supermarket talking to themselves about what to buy for their dinner. Perhaps they aren’t really talking to themselves but to someone only they can ‘see’. I expect they live alone like me and they can’t help it. So far I have resisted the temptation to talk to my imaginary friend in public, but it’s only a matter of time!

Here’s a brief intro to my psychological fiction book. I hope you like it.

Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

EXCERPT
“Everything is energy,” I said, and swallowed down a lump in my throat. A lump composed of both unease and excitement in equal measure.

“Indeed. Just energy vibrating at different frequencies,” he said. “So while you think about that, here’s another interesting phenomenon that has been recorded many times, and it seems to me it has something in common with imaginary friends. Have you heard of the third man syndrome, Gill?”

I had to admit this meant nothing to me.

“Here’s an example of it,” he went on. “A mountaineer called Frank Smyth attempted to climb Mount Everest but had to turn back before he reached the summit. He reported that although he was completely alone during his descent, the feeling that someone was with him was so powerful he tried to share his Kendal mint cake with this person.

“The phenomenon is said to originate with Shackleton in 1916. While he was exploring Antarctica, Shackleton saw the apparition of a person alongside his two companions. There are countless reports of this from people who have survived terrorist attacks or extreme trauma. Some sort of threat to existence or even severe social isolation” — at this point the Professor gave me a knowing look — “can trigger this phenomenon. Some people might try to explain it with terms such as guardian angel or spirit guide, but could it be a hallucination or defence mechanism that switches on to help the brain deal with trauma and stress? It frequently happens that these apparitions offer comfort and support, and yet what of those cases where the third man not only gives advice but even leads people to safety when they find themselves in a life-threatening situation? That goes beyond mere imagination surely?” He raised his eyebrows, as if inviting a response, but his information had overwhelmed me. “I see I’ve given you something to think about. My advice is you go and do some research on this yourself.”

For a moment my mind slipped, stumbled, staggered about looking for something to grab on to. What was going on here? I looked at the Professor and he stared back, innocent as a kitten, waiting for me to speak. If I didn’t speak, would our exchange stop now? I was really talking to myself, for God’s sake. He can’t have done any research. He didn’t exist. I must have done it and either forgotten I had, or pretended to forget so it would all seem like new information.

Was I so needy I had to resort to these ludicrous mind games?

“You’re not real,” I said.

I stood and marched out of the room, my jaw clenched so hard it ached, my hands balled into fists. If there was no gin in the fridge, there’d be hell to pay, but, thank God, there was nearly a full bottle. Two stiff drinks were all I’d need for now, just to take the edge off.

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.

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

Sloane said @ 12:15 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments

NEW RELEASE for LEIGH GOFF

August 26, 2020

This is the book you’ve been waiting for! Leigh Goff has written another fabulous story that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Koush Hollow is a definite read for all ages. Be sure to grab your copy today.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT
The excerpt below comes from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

BUY LINKS AmazonThe Parliament House

Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Sloane said @ 12:42 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments

LAW of SMALL THINGS

August 24, 2020

by Elliott Baker

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I was sitting next to my four-year-old grandson and he began his sentence with, “When I was a little kid…” We all see ourselves as more enlightened than we probably are. Just the nature of our egos.

One of the prime reactions of the younger part of ourselves is to direct responsibility elsewhere. We all do it. “Wasn’t me.” “He did it, she did it.” If we are energy beings, collections of energy, and quantum theory as well as current accepted understanding says we are, then additional energy feels good, and less energy feels bad. We approach the one and avoid the other. Accepting responsibility costs us energy in the short term, but often saves us more in the long term. Here’s where delayed gratification comes in. We develop delayed gratification as we mature. Would I rather go to a movie, energy resource, than go to work, boring energy suck? You bet. But through a certain amount of learning pain, I choose the latter in order to pay for a movie at a later date. It works.

Exhausting fear through anger while displacing responsibility feels good in the moment, but does nothing to affect the cause of the fear, leaving it to grow larger while it continuously drains our energy.

Our most common response is, “What can I, one person, do against a worldwide problem?” The obvious answer is nothing and so I vent that fear through anger, all the while telling myself that I am helping the cause. I’ve done something because I shared my resentment with someone else and allowed them to share theirs in return. We both feel better getting that momentary relief from the emotional pressure of fear. Problem is, I wonder if that response does anything other than add energy to the problem without actually assisting in its solution.

Image by ipicgr from Pixabay 

Well, what can I do against the momentum of eight billion people? In physics there is something known as ‘weak force.’ I have to assume that it’s named that because each individual reaction is, well, weak. But in aggregate, it performs crucial work allowing for some spectacular results. Among others, it initiates the nuclear fusion that fuels our sun. Fairly significant. The law of small things.

What if, instead of venting our fear energy, we channel it into a positive exchange? Support another life stream in any way you can, whenever it occurs to you to do so. The size of the energy you expend is unimportant. That you sent the energy out in support of another, no matter how small or unmeasurable it might seem is everything. The law of small things will take it from there.

Venting resentment does little but congeal into violence which in turn does nothing but create more resentment which…

Why not try something different for a change. Compliment a friend or loved one. Add positive energy to the miasma of fear that currently envelops us all. Power is unimportant. Frequency is unimportant. Intent is everything. The law of small things.

Here is a little from my first novel in The Sun God’s Heir series. I hope you enjoy it.

René Gilbert awoke shackled to the wall of a four-foot-high ship’s slave hold.

The filthy bilge water splashed over his head and then receded. Under sail.

The North Atlantic, 1672. To survive René must escape a slave ship in the midst of the ocean.

Focus on the first thing, his fencing master’s voice rose from within his memory.

“Don’t drown,” he thought. His second thought was the memory of a wooden rod speeding toward him for his sarcasm.

Rapier sharp, pulse pounding action across the warp and weave of the seventeenth century. Sailing ships, pirates, and past lives contend in this first book of an award-winning trilogy.

Bordeaux, France

Three men bled out into the dirt.

René stared at the hand that held the bloody rapier. His hand. Tremors shuddered through his body and down his arm. Droplets of blood sprayed the air and joined the carmine puddles that seeped into the sun-baked earth. He closed his eyes and commanded the muscles that grasped the rapier to release their tension and allow the sword to drop.
Years of daily practice and pain refused his mind’s order much as they had refused to spare the lives of three men. The heady exultation that filled him during the seconds of the fight drained away and left him empty, a vessel devoid of meaning. He staggered toward an old oak and leaned against its rough bark. Bent over, with one hand braced on the tree, he retched. And again. Still, the sword remained in his hand.

A cloud shuttered the sun. Distant thunder brushed his awareness and then faded. Rain. The mundane thought coasted through his mind. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced down hoping to see a different tableau. No, death remained death, the only movement, that of flies attracted to a new ocean of sustenance.

The summer heat lifted the acrid blood-rust smell and forced him to turn his head away. Before him stretched a different world from the one in which he had awakened. No compass points. No maps. No tomorrow.

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Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott’s Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

Sloane said @ 12:22 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments

CHOCOLATE – MORNING GOODNESS

August 19, 2020

from Tina Ruiz

Morning or afternoon, everyone. I want to share this chocolate hummus dip/spread recipe with you. The photo is stock because I kind of made a mess in my kitchen and the picture I took doesn’t look as appealing as this one. Maybe because I couldn’t stop taking spoonfuls out and shoving this mixture into my mouth. LOL Anyway, while I’ve made hummus before, I’ve never made a chocolate version. Already I think it’s fabulous on the chocolate chip pancakes I also made this morning. Next, I’ll try it on toast for lunch today.

On A Side Note – I am a girl who likes to freeze things, and pancakes are no exception. Package them in twos, or enough for one serving, with a parchment sheet in between them. This makes it easier when you want to separate them later. To reheat, pull them apart, and either throw them in a frying pan, or on a plate and slide them into the microwave oven for 2 minutes. Easy peasy.

Back to the hummus. Here’s the recipe for the healthy version I make.

Chocolate Hummus
15 oz. can of chickpeas
2 tbsp. aquafaba (chickpea water)
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt

Open a can of chickpeas and save 2 tablespoons of the water, also known as aquafaba, then drain the can.

Add chickpeas, aquafaba, and the remaining ingredients to a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Since I have your attention, I’d like to announce my latest Halloween children’s book – A Haunting Birthday Party available on Amazon. This is the second children’s book I’ve written with a Halloween theme. A Halloween Party was book one.

As I promised my grandchildren, and others who truly enjoyed the first Halloween Children’s Book, this one also contains silly character names. Example: Harry Pitts (harry arm pitts) is the narrator in this book, and the birthday party is for Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni. It takes place at the Ray Zen (raisin) Restaurant, where people like Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, are enjoying a lovely meal. Kitti Letter (kitty litter) is the waitress for that side of the room, and her job is to give all the kids a spooktacular evening. Walter Melon (water melon) is the magician, Eve Ning (evening) is the cashier, Miss Turi (mystery) is another waitress, and Mr. I. Ball (eyeball) is the manager of the restaurant.

As you can see, this is a fun treat for young and old alike. I’m excited for the world to see my second Halloween children’s book.

The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni and Reece are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant.

The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.

This delightful paperback book is another wonderful collaboration from writer Tina Nykulak Ruiz and illustrator Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children’s books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina’s children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.

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Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

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 husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

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

Sloane said @ 12:01 am | Cooking | Comments are off

FACING OUR FEARS

August 17, 2020

Once Was Enough

by Anne Montgomery

Most people are afraid of something. For me it’s tight spaces. I’m not sure when I first fell victim to this phobia, but it might have been on a high school Friday night when a bunch of us were going to a drive-in movie. (Remember those?) I was encouraged to get into the trunk of a car before we drove through the gates – something about too many kids in a car. In any case, I freaked, and clawed the underside of the hood and yelled until they let me out.

So, I’m claustrophobic, a malady that smacked me in the head one day when I was one hundred feet below the surface of the sea staring at a hole in the ocean floor.

I’d been told about the lava tube we would encounter. I glimpsed the small opening as another diver’s fins disappeared into the darkness. I paused, sizing up the mouth of the cave. It was not much wider than my wingspan and perhaps three-feet tall.

I turned to my sweetie pie, who was hovering by a woman who was uncomfortable diving. I pointed to the mouth of the cave and he shook his head. Then he took the woman by the hand and helped her swim above the tube.

I stared at that hole and wanted nothing to do with it. It looked so small and dark, but then I saw a light flickering inside and, without thinking, I swam to the opening and ducked inside. White sand flowed along the cave floor. I saw fins in front of me and followed. Then, suddenly, the fins and the light vanished, leaving me in total darkness.

I stopped abruptly. Then panicked and considered backing out, but turning around in that narrow space in complete darkness was problematic. The back of my tank caught on the top of the tube. The contact was slight, but was enough to make me sick to my stomach. I dropped to the floor and dug my hands into the sand in an effort to calm myself. I started sucking air, which was bad. The compressed air in a scuba tank is used up quickly on a deep dive. I had to move forward soon, but was frozen.

I raised my head and stared into the darkness. I held one hand before me but could see nothing. I dug my free hand into the sand and lifted the other, pulling myself forward, gripping the sand so hard my hands hurt. Slowly, I moved forward and down. The tube descended beneath the sea floor, angling deeper as I went.

Why had I not brought a light? And why had I been dumb enough to go in without such an important piece of equipment? I continued inching forward. How long was the tunnel? Why had I not asked? The questions swirled. I was tempted to reach to the side to see how wide the tube was, but was afraid to know the truth.

Sometime later, I caught a glimmer piercing the top of the tube, a broken spot in the ceiling that glowed with soothing blue light. I rounded a bend and was graced with an opening. Dim light flooded the the cave, illuminating walls that were startling close. I kicked hard and exited. My sweetie pie was overhead. He knew how I felt about small places, so he was concerned.

Later, after a hot shower and a strong, grown-up beverage, we talked about that deep, dark, watery hole.

Yes, I’m glad I tried to conquer my fear, still I don’t think I’ll do anything like that ever again.

Here’s a little from my latest women’s fiction book. I hope you enjoy it.

A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

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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.

Sloane said @ 12:24 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments are off