Archive for the 'Author Friend Promo' Category

HAPPY HOLIDAY MEMORIES

November 29, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Holidays

from Stella May

When I was a child, December 31st was the happiest and most anticipated day of the year.

You see, in my old country, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even know what Christmas was. Instead, we celebrated New Year. How come? Well, I was born in the former USSR, the communist country, where Christmas as a religious holiday was banned since 1928. (I think they reinstated it in 1991, but I am not positive.)

But, back to my story. As sad as it may seem to you, our New Years were festive, and happy.

We decorated our flats with an abandon.  A fresh pine tree was a must. I still remember how it smelled—fresh and green like hope. And, oh God, the decorations! Hand-made, or store bought, and the garlands… We had our own version of Santa Claus—Ded Moroz, who had his lovely granddaughter, Snegurochka.

Oh, the New Years of my childhood! It was pure joy, and expectation of something wonderful, and magic rolled into one.

The smell of tangerines permeated the air. Those little orange delights were an absolute necessary attribute of any New Year’s celebration–- even more than champagne.

My mom slaved in the kitchen for days to put the biggest and most scrumptious meal on the table. And the most favorite dish of all? Olivier Salad, of course. (Look for the recipe in December on this blog.) It was, and still is, a synonym of New Year.

Then, on the big day, we would put our best china and gather around the table for dinner. For children, it was the biggest thrill, because only on New Year’s Eve we were allowed to stay up all night, eat sweets, and watch TV until we dropped.

And only the children received presents. Mostly, it was sweets, fruit, books, and an occasional toy— nothing the modern children would consider a ‘present’, especially a Christmas present.

But we were waiting for those special presents all year and treasured them immensely.

To us, they were precious. They represented something special–New Year.

No one wrapped our presents simply because we didn’t have any wrapping paper. I remember my mom used cellophane and some ribbons to make our presents a little more festive.

I remember how she would hide these funny-looking bundles from us, and how happy she was when she’d manage to transfer them in the middle of the night under the tree, and then looked surprised when we find them in the morning.

But most of all, I remember the feeling of absolute and total happiness. Oh, what a joy it was, that magical New Year’s night! The exhilaration, anticipation, celebration! I remember everything so vividly like it was yesterday, and my heart breaks a little each and every time.

In my family we keep the tradition and celebrate New Year’s in a big way. Now I am slaving in the kitchen, using my mother’s recipes to put on a celebratory dinner. And every year, there are tangerines, champagne, and Olivier Salad. And presents? There will be plenty of presents for everyone— not only for children. And they will be wrapped in a pretty paper, and adorned with festive ribbons and bows.

Just in a little over a month, we will sit around the table, and raise our glasses to toast 2022, wishing for health and happiness, peace and prosperity.

May this coming year be kind to everybody. Stay safe and healthy, love each other, care for your loved ones, and always keep a positive attitude.

Happy New Year, or as we said in Russia, с Новым Годом!

Stella

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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LET THEM EAT CAKE!

November 24, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from Linda Lee Greene, Author/Artist

Jill: “How are workers expected to survive on minimum wage when every dollar goes toward their rent?”

Jack: “What do I care? Let them eat cake.”

Jack: “Our budget shows that every one of our managers will get an end-of-year bonus.” Jill: “What about the rest of the employees?”

Jack: “Such is life. Let them eat cake.”

Marie Antoinette, queen of France in the years before and during the French Revolution, to whom the idiom is famously attributed, never said, “Let them eat cake” in response to being informed that her starving peasant subjects had no bread to eat. It got stuck to her through time because she was the epitome of indifference and insensitivity among the ruling and upper classes toward the realities of life of ordinary people. This type of obliviousness of their own advantages and numbness to the misfortunes of working-class people on the part of the privileged is a feature of all of human history, unfortunately.

While Antoinette’s head was being lopped off by the guillotine at the Place de la Concorde, a major public square in Paris, plantation slaves in the Caribbean were fermenting molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, into alcohol. Distillation of the by-products concentrated the alcohol and removed some impurities, which produced the first modern rums. It didn’t take long for rum to find its way to delectable French pastry and voilà—the soggy, boozy, classic French dessert, Baba au Rhum cake was born in Paris—too late for Antoinette, who would have relished it, no doubt, but just in time for us to delight our guests with it at any special get-together.

The cake recipe was created by David Tanis and yields a dozen babas.  The frosting is from a cookbook by Shelia Del Guercio that is now out of print. The beauty for busy cooks is that a small, unsoaked portion, or all of them, can be stored away in the freezer for up to two months. A day before their debut on your table, defrost and then keep them in an airtight container. If yours is a big and/or a really hungry crowd, bake up several batches ahead of time and freeze them. For best results, you need a tender and sticky dough, so be sparing in the amount of flour you incorporate into the mixture. Or, place the dough in the refrigerator for a while, because cold dough is easier to handle.

BABA AU RHUM

2 tbsp. active dry yeast

3 tbsp. granulated sugar

¼ cup lukewarm water

4 large beaten eggs

1 pinch sea salt

½ cup (113 grams/1 stick) softened unsalted butter

2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour

½ cup (80 grams) golden raisins

½ cup water

Butter for baking tins

Flour for dusting

Place yeast and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Add water and then stir until dry ingredients are dissolved. Set aside for 10 minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Whisk eggs and sea salt into yeast mixture.

Soak raisins in water while you prepare complete the next step. In a separate medium-size bowl, work together butter and flour until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Drain raisins then add to egg-yeast mixture. Whip with a wooden spoon to a soft, sticky dough, or prepare dough in a standing mixer. Cover bowl and set in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.

Butter 2 mini-muffin tins or 12 mini-ramekins. Uncover dough, dust with flour, and turn it out to a clean work surface. Add flour as necessary to make dough manageable and knead lightly to a large, slightly sticky ball. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 2 ounces/55 grams). Dust the pieces with flour, roll into separate balls, and place in the muffin tins or ramekins. Cover loosely and set in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the balls double in size.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Bake babas 15 to 20 minutes until lightly brown on top. Turn babas out of their molds and onto a baking sheet. Return to oven for 5 minutes to brown all over. Remove from oven and cover the babas with a clean towel to keep them soft. Store cooled babas in an airtight container at room temperature if making in advance of imminent serving.

TOPPING

2 pints strawberries, setting aside 12 strawberries

3 tbsp. Cointreau, 3 tbsp. Cognac, 1 tbsp. Grand Marnier

2 cups whipped cream

1 pint coffee ice cream

Meanwhile, clean and hull the strawberries, setting aside 12 of them. Place the rest of the strawberries in a bowl and pour over them all of the designated liqueurs. Stir gently and let sit for 1 hour. Then fold into the mixture with a rubber spatula the whipped cream and ice cream. For each guest, cut 1 baba in half horizontally and place on a dessert plate. Top with an additional scoop of coffee ice cream, the strawberry/liquor mixture, and crown with a whole strawberry.

Or substitute the ice cream with a dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry on top.

Readers were introduced to American Nicholas Plato in multi-award-winning author Linda Lee Greene’s A Chance at the Moon, which was published in 2019 and is available on Amazon.

Greene takes readers on yet another adventure of Nicholas’ whirlwind life in her Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey. In this sequel, Nicholas shows up in Sydney, Australia. The principle plotline unfolds as on one Saturday of sightseeing he gets lost in Australia’s forbidding yet alluring outback, and there he happens upon a pintsized hut on a lonely plot littered with hundreds of clay pots of every size and description. Driven by a deathly thirst, he stops. A strange little brown man materializes out of nowhere and introduces himself merely as ‘Potter’ and welcomes Nicholas to his ‘Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.’ Although Nicholas has never laid eyes on Potter, the man seems to have expected Nicholas at his bizarre habitation and displays knowledge about him that nobody has any right to possess. Just who is this mysterious Aboriginal potter?

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

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

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

AMAZON BUY LINK 

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

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

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

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook.

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Keep Your Characters in Turmoil!

November 22, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

from C.D. Hersh

We recently came across an old email entitled Instructions for Life. The 45 positive recommendations on the list are meant to help make one’s life better. By turning some of the instructions upside down and we created bad life advice that will keep novel characters in turmoil.

Next time things are going too smoothly with your WIP try throwing one of these in the mix.

    • 1. Let them believe in love at first sight, but fight it like it can’t exist.
    • 2. If they make a mistake, don’t let them be too quick to acknowledge it.
    • 3. Let them fall in love deeply, passionately, and with people they would never choose. They might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.
    • 4. Make them fight to keep their values, but make sure they do keep them. No one loves an un-heroic hero.
    • 5. Remember silence is sometimes the best answer and unanswered questions are always suspect.
    • 6. Let them dredge up the past; it makes for good conflicts.
    • 7. Let them read between the lines … a lot. Miscommunication thickens the plot.
    • 8. Let them slowly discover that not getting what they want is sometimes the best thing that ever happened.
    • 9. Never let them mind their own business. You can’t get in trouble that way.
    • 10. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risks, and make them willing to risk everything to reach their goals.

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping your characters in turmoil?

Now if you want to see what we do with our characters how about checking out our series.

 

 

 

 


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

They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Plus their paranormal series titled The Turning Stone Chronicles.

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

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their Website and at Soul Mate Publishing. Stay connected on Facebook, Amazon Author Page, and Twitter.

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HITTING THE SAUCE

November 17, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

from Helen Carpenter

My husband and I like to hit the sauce at lunchtime—no, wait! That didn’t sound right! What I meant to say is we like barbeque sauce for lunch! At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

While we’re not sauciers or even a saucier’s apprentice, we do enjoy experimenting with flavors, because we are well aware that what’s sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the chicken.

However, in the case of our Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken, we seldom think outside the box—the box being the carton brick of fresh, sun-ripened Italian tomatoes that is the base of this delicious recipe.

Tomatoes in a box? Yep. We highly recommend that you give your can the boot. Switching to the box will turn you into a superb saucy chef, and the effect on your condiments will be awesome sauce. Pretty soon you’ll be hitting the sauce too! (The barbeque sauce, of course!)

Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

1 box (26.4 oz) finely chopped tomatoes
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp black pepper
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken

Put tomatoes, cheese, sugar, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper in crockpot. Stir to mix.

Add chicken.

Cook on high setting for 2-3 hours; or low setting for 4-6 hours.

Serve on rolls, or eat as a main dish with a side of chips.

Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author duo named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. The Carpenters worked from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-if, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years  and appreciates everyday, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and  Facebook .

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THANKSGIVING MEMORIES

November 15, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Holidays

from Emma Lane

Thanksgiving is family, food, and thankfulness. It’s when you have this homing urge to join your people over a huge roasted turkey. When you were ten you punched your cousin in the nose for some remark he made. When you were eighteen, you were bored and wishing to be somewhere else, but mom made you stay. When you were twenty-eight, you were setting up the children’s table. And so it goes right down to Grandpa who at 90 announced he didn’t need to watch his cholesterol any more and reached for the butter dish. (I loved it when he did that.)

Our turkey is carved in the kitchen, makes it easier for serving. But when the grandchildren were young, they always expected that rooster to make an appearance at Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition as such. They are grown-ups now, but they still search the china cabinet for the collection of salt ‘n pepper shakers, each person has his/her favorite set. Our dining room table is custom made wide at the bottom to seat two people comfortably. As a result, I have no matching pad. Straw oversized placemats do an admirable job of protecting the wood surface from the heated dishes. I use a table cloth, but still enjoy the colorful cloth placemats to echo the vibrant Fall colors. With the addition of fruit cups, water glasses, and matching candles, the table arrangement is complete, waiting only for the train of hot dishes and the blessing before the feast is begun.

Turkey for everyone! White for the kids and dark meat for my hubby and me. They have always been convenient preferences. We reserve baked ham for Christmas dinner.  Lima beans (butter beans) for my son, green bean casserole for my daughter. Each person has a favorite. I love yellow squash while my hubby adores sweet potato soufflé. My daughter makes all the pies, usually pumpkin and apple. The grands like the fruit cups that are sometimes surrounded by red Jell-O and sometimes by whipped cream. Dressing??  We make a raison (Crasins substitute) and walnut type topped by a couple of baked chicken parts. The recipe changes almost every time. There is a fresh veggie plate with tomatoes, celery, carrots, and sliced zucchini for nibbling. Other dishes may be added each year.

Once I had an idea to bake a mid-sized (huge) Hubbard squash and stuff it with a mixture of squash, onion with a touch of maple syrup topped with scrambled southern style sausage. It was so tasty, but a bear to get to the table. I dropped it from the menu. What memories does your family love each Thanksgiving get together?

Happy Thankful Day to you and yours from my home to yours.

Emma

How about a glimpse into my new Cozy Mystery, MURDER AT THE LOOKOUT while you digest your feast? 

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

 

 

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Best Cheesecake EVER!

November 10, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from Sharon Ledwith

Talk about a dessert that delivers, this divine cheesecake takes…well, takes the cake! Whether you’re hosting the party or on board to bring something tasty, this dressed up treat will make heads turn, and mouths water. Perfect for holiday gatherings or celebrations, with a total prep and bake time of 5 hours and 30 minutes (includes refrigeration), this cheesecake easily serves a crowd of sixteen of your closest cohorts.

Toblerone Caramel Cheesecake
1¼ cups Oreo Baking Crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
3 packages (250 g/8.82 ounces each) brick cream cheese, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping
1 bar (100 g/3.52 ounces) Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool cake before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Spread caramel topping over cheesecake just before serving. Garnish with chopped chocolate. Enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the cheesecake to set in the fridge, take some well-deserved ‘me time’ along with a peek at my latest time travel release.

True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

Eleven-year-old Drake Bailey is an analytical thinker and the genius of the Timekeeper crew. However, no logic or mathematical acumen can change the color of his skin, or prepare him for this third Timekeeper mission in antebellum Georgia. To survive, Drake must learn to play the role of a plantation slave and when confronted with the brutality, hatred, and racism of the deep south, he’ll have to strategically keep one move ahead of his sadistic captors to ensure his lineage continues.

In a dark world of Voodoo, zombies, and ritualistic sacrifice, the Timekeepers must ensure a royal bloodline survives. Can Drake remove both literal and figurative chains to save both himself and a devout slave girl from a terrible fate? If he can’t summon the necessary courage, humanity could stand to lose one of its greatest leaders.

 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, 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.

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Meet the Unforgettable Jenna Ashby

November 8, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

By Leigh Goff

For the release of the Koush Hollow audiobook, Jenna Ashby provides insight into her character and life in a mystical town where magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

Tell us about your name?

It’s Jenna Ashby. Rayna, my mother, calls me Jennifer, which I despise. My middle name, Crossland, comes from Rayna’s maiden name, however, I have so many strange dreams about where I come from that it makes me wonder if Crossland is what it’s really supposed to be.

Tell us about your childhood.

My parents divorced when I was a little kid. I moved with my dad from the bayous of Koush Hollow on the outskirts of New Orleans to Atlanta. My dad died in a terrible accident last year. I was fifteen and had to move back to live with Rayna in her creaky, old house. She’s career-driven, ambitious, and she pretty much has my whole life planned out for me. Don’t worry, though. Her plan is so not going to happen. I mean, she wants me to head her vapid social club one day, the Diamonds & Pearls. How could I even consider that? I’m an eco-warrior at heart and have no intention of hanging out with those materialistic, society women whose priorities are seriously mixed up. I’m also done attending balls and wearing pearls. Needless to say, life with Rayna is going to be a challenge—mostly for her.

Do you have any distinguishing physical features?

Besides my cool short, blonde spikes of hair, I have these interesting red marks on my hands. They’re crescent moon-shaped and Dad always told me they mark me as special, but Rayna hates them. She thinks they make me less than perfect. I don’t care. I’d rather be unique than perfect. What’s strange is that since I’ve returned to Koush Hollow, they’ve been acting up. I think it has something to do with being near the bayou, but I’m not sure why.

What is your greatest regret?

Not spending more time with my dad before he died. I’ve really struggled to deal with him being gone, too. Rayna is desperate for me to forget about him and focus on being Pearl perfect, but I’m not perfect. I’m a freaking mess. I’ve made bad choices. I keep making mistakes because of other traumatic events that keep sending me whirling. I regret some of my mistakes, but that’s what being sixteen is all about. No one’s perfect. We all have regrets.

Who is the most important person in your life?

From the beginning, my dad was and still is the most important, but since I’ve arrived in Koush Hollow, I’ve met someone who makes me question what’s going on in the world around me. His name is Hayden and he’s more like me than any of the wretched Diamonds or Pearls. He irritates me most of the time, but he’s smart and cares about Lake Pontchartrain and the bayous around us, which aren’t as healthy as they used to be. He blames Rayna and the nuclear power plant where she works, but she’s a former marine biologist. There’s no way she would do anything to hurt the environment, right?

Who are your friends?

I had the coolest best friends back in Atlanta who liked to cosplay. In Koush Hollow, I hang out with Pearls, Lauren and Abigail. They’re on Rayna’s approved list, but disregarding that horrible fact, they are starting to grow on me. They want me to become a Pearl, too, so I can meet the mysterious Marais sisters and have access to their secret beauty treatments. What they don’t know is that I’ve already met them. Lauren keeps hinting in a strangely weird way at the price I’ll have to pay to be a Pearl. She knows money isn’t an issue for Rayna, so it must be something else they want. We’ll see what happens.

What is your favorite food?

The one thing I love about being back in New Orleans is the food! It’s all freaking amazing. A perfect day would begin with sugar-dusted beignets for breakfast, a mouthwatering Muffuletta for lunch, shrimp and creamy grits for dinner, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips to snack on while I binge on my Netflix faves.

Speaking of Voodoo, word around Koush Hollow is that the Marais sisters are Voodoo priestesses. True or False?

What I can tell you is that they’ve got all kinds of mystical stuff going on at their place on the bayou. I’ve seen them painted as skeletons, dancing, chanting, and tossing dead fish into a bonfire. There’s Mama Ismay, she’s the oldest, although they all look so young, it’s hard to tell. Lisette is super sexy, Destine is into some strange, but healthy food choices, and they all look at me like I remind them of someone…

Here’s a brief intro to my new audiobook. Click the audible link below to hear more.

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 16-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.

BUY LINKS

Audible

Amazon

Apple

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.

You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
 

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No-tomato Crockpot Chili

November 3, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from Catherine Castle

Recently tomatoes have been cut from our diet. I love tomatoes and many of the recipes I cook are tomato based. Here’s the issue: tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, along with a few more of my favorite foods such as peppers and eggplants. In some people the nightshade plants make arthritis worse and eliminating nightshade foods can help keep arthritis at bay.  The problem comes when one family member loves tomatoes and the other one now has to avoid them.

There are very few, if any substitutes for tomatoes, so I’ve been on the hunt for ways to make my favorite dishes without tomatoes for the non-tomato eating half of our family, yet please the tomato-loving member. It’s been tough, especially with chili season upon us.

So, I set out to conquer the problem. Here’s one of the recipe I came up with: No-tomato Crockpot Chili. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

No-tomato Crockpot Chili

1 pound ground beef

½ large onion, diced

One garlic clove, diced – optional

2 cans of beans*

1 small can diced chilies, if the non-tomato eater can eat them without issues

1 can beefy mushroom soup (I used Campbell’s soup)

¼ cup water, or less if you want a thicker chili

Chili powder to taste

Spaghetti – optional

Salsa, your heat preference for the tomato-eating family members

Cheese for topping – optional

Break up ground beef in a large skillet and brown along with the diced onion and garlic.

Add beans and bean liquid, diced green chilies, soup, water, and chili powder to crock pot. Stir to mix well.

Drain beef mixture of fat and place in a crock pot. Stir to mix.

Cook on high for 2 hours or until hot, or on low 4-6 hours or until hot.

At serving time, place spaghetti in bottom of bowl and add beef chili.

For those who can eat green chilies and tomatoes, top their bowls with ¼ to ½ cup of salsa and 1 teaspoon of green chilies to each cup of the beef-soup-based chili.  Stir lightly to combine.

*The bean liquids help make up for the loss of the volume of the tomatoes. You can use seasoned or unseasoned chili beans, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, or lentils. Your choice and you can mix and match beans types.

While your chili is cooking settle into a comfy chair and check out Catherine’s multi-award-winning, inspirational romantic suspense book, The Nun and the Narc. It’s not your usual inspirational romantic suspense. Here’s what one reviewer said:

“You know that you aren’t supposed to laugh during a romantic suspense book, right?  And it’s a different kind of Inspirational Romance, too.  There were times in this book that I was rolling with laughter.  We needed the laughter considering that Maggie and Jed were dealing the Mexican drug cartel, trying not to get killed in the process and coming to terms with their faith and each other.  Oh and falling in love…

… Ms. Castle wrote some the most dramatic scenes that I’ve read in a while.  She could write an action/thriller movie with no problem.  I really felt like I was the fly on the wall and actually cringed, ducked and held my breath.  I will also say the James Bond references were spot on.  Jed Bond!  LOL!  Priceless and needed when you are dealing with the cartel.  Also, the humor that she writes helps with the tension and action sequences, too.

Don’t worry about the book being “preachy” or heavy handed.  Ms. Castle wrote a book that everyone can relate to in one way or another…” From Harlies Books.

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicably attracted to him, he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them by making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion, and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

Amazon Buy Link

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.

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WILDCRAFTING

November 1, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

from Emma Lane

Have you been diligently gathering dried material for Halloween and Thanksgiving bouquets? Decorations? Herbs for the winter? Besides the cultivated types, there is material provided by nature.

Dock – is a wild plant with unique seeds. It’s very difficult to dislodge them from the stem. I delight in using them for just about everything from giving extra height to a fresh bouquet to adding substance to a dried arrangement. Wildcrafting is fun. At the nursery, we have dock gathering parties roaming the countryside to gather nature’s bounty. The old chicken coop is stuffed by Labor Day with great bundles of drying dock.

Cattails – The minute you see the slightest tinge of brown, they must be picked and hung to dry to avoid a burst of bird nesting fluff that will explode later. Pick early.

Spirea – This wonderful, deer-resistant shrub leaves long stemmed seed heads. Harvesting will encourage a second bloom.

Two invasive foreign species are Purple Loosestrife and a road side, reed grass called Phragmite. Might get wet feet, but worth it for the interesting tassels. A hunting and gathering day is really fun, but beware of traffic, deep ditches that are hidden by grass, and, of course, poison ivy/oak. Always wear jeans, long sleeved shirt and preferably gardening gloves.

Common cultivated plants for drying are Statice, Strawflower, Gomphrena.

 

Last but not least are little pumpkins. Really a type of seed pod, real name Physalis – common name Oriental Lanterns. They are the making of fall dried bouquets. A perennial that is, I kid you not, the ugliest plant you’ve ever seen, produces these delightful seed pods in the fall. They like shade. Do plant them behind the garage or someplace you don’t want to see every day. They are also invasive and will take over a cultivated bed with great gusto.

Here’s a glimpse into my new Cozy Mystery Release, MURDER AT THE LOOKOUT. It is 4TH in the Detective Kevin Fowler series.

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

 

 

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This Treat is No Trick

October 27, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from Tina Griffith

I used to make these Pinwheels for my kids when they were in elementary school.  The recipe is pretty easy and quite versatile.  By that I mean, you can flavor and add color to both layers.  Example: add cinnamon or almond flavoring to the chocolate dough, and add peppermint flavoring and pink food coloring to the white one.  Can you imagine eating a purple and green spiral cookie on somebody’s birthday?  Or how about a black and orange cookie on Halloween?

And just before you put them in the oven, you can also top them with sprinkles, candy shapes, or just plain sugar.  Use your imagination to make the most interesting of cookies for any holiday or celebration, because  experimenting is part of the fun with this dough.

Grama Tina’s Spiral Cookies

¾ cup of softened butter

1 cup of white sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons of vanilla

2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon of baking powder

cocoa powder, peanut butter or Nutella – optional

rainbow sprinkles or candy shapes – optional

5 drops of food coloring – red, yellow, pink, orange, black – optional

1 teaspoon of cinnamon, almond, or nutmeg – optional

3 or 4 drops of flavoring – peppermint, lemon, etc. – optional

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Lay parchment paper on 2 large cookie sheets or grease well.

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy.  Then beat in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour with baking powder. Add to butter mixture in 2 additions, stirring until it becomes a soft dough.

Divide dough in half.  Add cocoa powder (and/or cinnamon, peanut butter, Nutella, or mint flavoring).  Mix and set aside.  Now move to the other ball of dough.  Leave this white and add mint or a cinnamon flavoring or any flavoring you like and coloring. Remember – both the colors and flavors should go together well.

Roll each ball out flat, and then place one on top of the other.  Take one end and slowly roll this up into a log.  Length-wise or width-wise determines how large your cookies will be.

Once you’ve completed rolling the dough, wrap it in plastic and place in the refrigerator until chilled.  This could take up to 2 hours, but you can leave it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to bake, take the log out and remove the plastic covering.  Beginning at one end, slice the cookies about ¼” thick and place them on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for about 10 minutes – you want them to be a lovely golden brown.  Let cool and serve.

**HINT – using a piece of thread instead of a knife, makes it easier to cut the dough.

Ophelia’s Curse is a suspenseful and intriguing novel from start to finish. The story will give you goose bumps and have you sitting on the edge of your seat. In short, this story will tickle your senses on a level that you’ve not known before. The thin line between witchcraft and terror is remarkable and written as if Tina Griffith had the gift of pure magic. This is an hypnotic and provocative book. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the twists and turns prove you wrong.

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.

AMAZON

 

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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