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Keep the Train from Rolling

August 16, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

C.D. Hersh is here to talk about pacing and its importance to a better story. They offer six ways to keep a train from rolling through your scenes.


We’re not talking about stories about locomotives or the walking back and forth you do when waiting for someone. Pacing in writing is determined by the length of the scenes, how fast the action moves, and how quickly the reader is provided with information.

Have you seen the movie “The Descendants” starring Nick Clooney? If you like panoramic views of Hawaii and lots of close-ups of Clooney, then hunt it up on your favorite streaming service. If, however, you prefer a faster paced story, this movie is not the one for you.

When we belonged to a drama group our director was always talking about pacing. She hated pauses that were longer than it took for a ping pong ball to drop from a coffee table. In “The Descendants” you could have driven trains through some of the pauses in the scenes. Can you say sloooooow?

Try as we might, we couldn’t figure out why so many sluggish scenes were needed. Some of the unnecessary scenes included close ups of an angst-ridden Clooney staring out into space, for way too long; pedantic scenes of him buried behind piles of paper at his office desk; more than one silent, plodding hospital scene with Clooney and his family, while the camera panned the room; long camera shots of Hawaii you could have fit four commercials into; and a closing movie scene where the characters spent minutes staring wordlessly at the television. The only thing in the last scene that made a point was the quilt they all snuggled under. Come on, already. Pick up the pace. Even sad stories need to move along at a clip that keeps the viewer, or reader, engaged.

Pacing is such an important part of any story. Too slow and you lose the reader’s attention. Too fast and you leave them wondering what just happened. Here are a six tips to help you keep your story’s pacing moving along.

  • Use more dialogue for faster pacing. We’re not talking about dull “How’s the weather” conversation, unless the story’s about a tornado. Make every word count and tell the reader something new.
  • Don’t repeat information. There’s no need to beat the reader over the head with information. Telling them once that Aunt Millie is dying is sufficient. They’ll remember it. They’re smart.</li
  • Use action instead of tags in dialogue. You’ll not only speed up the pace, but you’ll show the reader what’s happening.
  • Keep two or more characters on the scene. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, versus The Transformers.
  • Use narrative or description sparingly. Nothing stops a story like a side trip down memory lane or descriptions of setting and characters. Drop that kind of information into the story in short bites. The reader will still get it.
  • Create tension in the scene. Donald Maas says every scene should have tension, even every page. If you don’t have tension there’s no reason for your reader to turn the page.

Check your work in progress. Are your scenes tight and exciting, or can you drive a train or a semi-truck through them? Scenes don’t have to be action packed, just tension packed. Keep those ping pong balls bouncing around to stir up the pace.

Here’s a scene from book four, The Mercenary and the Shifters of our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles, to give you an idea of fast pace.

My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.”

Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.

“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona.

They hit the floor as the pottery on the raised fireplace hearth exploded, sending shards across the room. Mike shoved Fiona behind the nearest chair then scrambled across the rug to the blown-out window. Removing his gun from his back-of-the-waist holster, he peered over the windowsill. Seeing no one in the driveway, he swiveled around to check on Fiona. The red laser point danced around the room, searching for a target.

Mike followed the trajectory of the beam. The shot came from across the street in something high. He remembered seeing a tree house in the yard across the road from the mansion.

“Who lives across from you?” he asked.

“No one right now. The house is for sale.”

“I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign.”

“We’re in an exclusive neighborhood. The HOA forbids sale signs.” Another shot rang out.

Mike whirled around in time to see Fiona’s head sticking out from behind the chair. The image of her head reflected in the fireplace mirror. “He’s using the mirror to target us. Do these curtains close?”

“Yes. The cord’s on the other side of the window.”

“I’m going to crawl under the window and close them. He’ll probably see my reflection in the mirror and start shooting, so stay hidden. As soon as the curtains close, crawl to the window as fast as you can and follow the wall to the entryway. Then get the hell out of the front of the house. Got it?”

“Got it.” Fiona’s voice quavered up the scale.

“You okay?”

“Scared, but okay.”

As Mike crawled along the floor, a volley of shots rang out. The remainder of the pottery displayed on the hearth shattered. When he reached the other side of the window, he yanked the drapery cord. The curtains billowed closed.

“Now, Fiona!” he shouted.

As she belly crawled across the floor, Mike held his breath. Bullets sprayed the room, punching through the heavy draperies, the shots veering from floor to ceiling.

Don’t ricochet! he commanded.

Fiona reached the cover of the exterior wall, and he let his breath out in a whoosh.

“Hurry!”

When she came within arm’s reach, he grabbed her hand and yanked her the rest of the way across the room and into the entry.

“Do you have a panic room?”

She nodded, her eyes filled with fear. “In the basement, behind the trophy wall.”

“Get in it, and don’t come out until I tell you to.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get the SOB who’s trying to kill you.”

Now when your heart rate slows down how about checking out our books?

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.

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 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.

Stay connected with C.D. Hersh on social media:

Website

Soul Mate Publishing

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

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AN ITALIAN TASTE TREAT

August 11, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from Catherine Castle

Traditional carbonara sauce has an egg and cheese sauce added to the spaghetti just before serving. I don’t care for eggs added to things at the last minute, so I eliminated the eggs and sauce and came up with my own version of carbonara. I hope you’ll like it as much as we do.

Zucchini Spaghetti Carbonara ala Catherine

6 slices thick bacon

4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti

2.5 oz. can sliced black olives, drained

1 cup diced or chunked ham

1 med. zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced thin

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Divide bacon into 4 and 2 slices. Prepare 4 slices for microwaving by placing between 2 paper towels on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 3 minutes until crisp. Remove from paper while still warm and crumble.

Dice remaining 2 slices and place in a large skillet, cooking until crisp.

While bacon is cooking, boil water for spaghetti and cook as directed on package until pasta is firm. Drain fully when cooked.

While pasta is cooking, sauté ham and zucchini with diced bacon until zucchini is tender.

Drain any excess liquid from the pan.

Add olives and cooked drained spaghetti to zucchini and bacon, tossing to mix.

Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese, tossing quickly to keep cheese from clumping.

Top with crumbled bacon and serve.

Makes 2 generous main dish servings or 4 side dishes.

Note: additional cheese may be sprinkled on top of pasta after serving, if desired.

This dish makes up quick, so you won’t have time to read a book while it’s cooking, but after the dishes are done, check out Catherine’s sweet romantic comedy with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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.

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems.

In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

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Learning Welsh, Again

August 9, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

From Carol Browne

This week I made a serious attempt at tackling a life-long goal. I have always wanted to learn Welsh and now that I am semi-retired, I have the time and the inclination to take on new projects. I already have a good grounding in French and a smattering of German but Welsh has been what you might call the Holy Grail for me when wanting to learn another language. There are a number of reasons for this. As a Brit, I believe we in the UK should value and preserve all our languages. It is a shame they aren’t taught in schools. The UK comprises four nations so why should English alone be the national tongue? Welsh is a British language and the Britons were here first!

Apart from the historical and cultural reasons for learning another language, it has been shown to help with cognitive function and to ward off dementia. It opens up neural pathways in the brain and is especially good for the mental development of children. Other languages can stretch our minds with their varied uses of syntax and imagery; it is a different way of looking at the world.

I have another reason for learning Welsh, however. This one will ask many of the people reading this blog to suspend disbelief. I did have another attempt at learning Welsh a long time ago. I was about eight years old and had inherited a bookcase with its contents from my great uncle. In it was a Teach Yourself Welsh book. So I tried. I desperately wanted to learn Welsh because being Welsh was an obsession of mine. Coincidentally, all my family holidays were spent in Wales as we weren’t too far from the Welsh border. Trust me, once you cross that border you feel different. There is something a bit magical about Wales. Druids, castles, dragons, yes! But the whole ethos of that country feels otherworldly. The beaches are gorgeous too and there are stunning waterfalls and lush woodland that seem to be a natural haunt for the faerie folk.

My attempt at learning Welsh on my own at such a young age was a failure. I could write the words but had no idea how to say them. No Internet then. There were no evening classes and no college courses in Welsh, even had I been old enough to attend. I was forced to abandon the attempt. But my obsession with Wales persisted. I didn’t just want to speak Welsh; I wanted to be Welsh. Being English instead actually caused me considerable depression. Bonkers! Why would a child have such outlandish thoughts!

Fast forward twenty years to a morning bus ride on my way to work. I remember it clearly. I was gazing sadly out of the window, thinking that if anyone were to ask me what my biggest regret in life was, I would have to say, “Not being Welsh”. Only one thought cheered me up. That evening there was something to look forward to. A neighbour and I had booked readings with a local clairvoyant medium. Although we both had an interest in spiritual and esoteric matters, we had not been to a medium before and it was a bit of a giggle; but I was not prepared for what I was to hear.

When my turn to sit with the medium came, she told me about my present life and quite a few things that would happen in my future (I dismissed them at the time but they all came to pass!). She said that I could ask her some questions before I left. Something prompted me to say, “Can you see people’s past lives?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I can see some of yours. In your most recent past life you were Welsh.”

Yep, I almost fell off the chair! How could she know I was obsessed with being Welsh? Nobody knew that!

She went on to tell me I was a woman with a smallholding in Maesteg, South Wales, and I loved animals but didn’t like human society so lived like a recluse. She said, unfortunately, I had brought that vibration with me to this lifetime (I have. My bad, but it wasn’t a conscious decision!). I died of cancer in about 1874.

“One day, you will go back to Maesteg and recognise where you used to live,” she went on.

So far, I haven’t made it to Maesteg, but you never know.

The funny thing is, as soon as she told me I had been Welsh, my obsession with being Welsh evaporated along with the sadness. Something lifted and I was content with my Englishness from that point on. Fortunately, my love for Wales and the language did not go away. Now, thanks to Duolingo, I am learning Welsh and I know how to pronounce it this time, so I have more chance of success.
For all those years before that clairvoyant released me from my past-life enchantment, I endured an inexplicable longing for a place with which I felt a profound but irrational bond. It was nostalgia for a home that no longer existed and a sense of deep sorrow and regret to have lost it. I experienced something for which there is no word in English.

But there is a word that encapsulates all of those feelings. The word is hiraeth. It’s Welsh, of course!

Here’s a brief intro to my latest book. I hope you enjoy it.

An elf laments a passing era,
But truth and beauty will survive,
For they live on in stories and verses,
And in our imaginations thrive.

Nature, nostalgia, mystery and magic,
In twisty tales and poems that rhyme,
Are here, with myth and fantasy blended,
To capture another place and time.

BUY LINKS 

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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

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

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GO CAJUN

August 4, 2021 | Cooking

I had the great pleasure of attending a cooking class with my friend Bonnie several years ago. We were in New Orleans when this bright idea hit us. That’s what enjoying too many Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter will do to a person. 😊 The next day we were still hot to try our hands at Cajun cooking when we happened on The New Orleans School of Cooking. We enrolled in a class and, as our good luck would have, were the only two students. A great time was had by all!

Since then, I’ve used up all the Joe’s Stuff I bought to season the dish and had to devise a new recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

JAMBALAYA

 2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup green pepper, chopped

½ tbsp. garlic, chopped

¾ lb. andouille sausage, sliced to pieces 1 inch thick

2½ cups chicken stock, possibly more

½ tsp. dried thyme

¼ cup paprika

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. tabasco sauce2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup rice

1 cup green onions, chopped, include plenty of green

Warm a Dutch oven on medium heat. Pour in oil. When it shimmers add onion, celery, and green pepper. Sauté 7 – 9 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Adjust heat so onion doesn’t burn. Add garlic. Sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in sausage and stock. Add remaining ingredients, except rice and green onions, and then stir well.

Add rice and bring to a boil. Cover then lower heat to simmer. Cook 25 minutes. Stir well after each 10 minutes so rice doesn’t stick to pan. Add more stock if the food looks dry.

Sprinkle green onions across the rice mixture when you serve.

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

Sloane

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The Thing About Pen Names

August 2, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

From Sharon Ledwith

Who are you? No, I really want to know. For months I’ve been hanging with a great group of authors. Many of those authors have pen names—a.k.a. PSEUDONYMS. I still don’t know one particular author’s name that I’ve come to know well and count on for support and help. I find pen names funny. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept of a “secret identity.” The authors want to keep their private lives private. Their pen name is their business name. Yet, on Facebook, there’s a real photo of them next to their fake name. I find that hilarious—like unmasking Batman or taking off Clark Kent’s glasses.

Pen names intrigue me, so I did a little digging, and came up with these tidbits compliments of the Daily Writing Tips blog:

Authors throughout the centuries have used pen names. You’ve probably heard of the following authors:

  • George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair)
  • George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans)
  • Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

Authors use pen names for a wide variety of reasons. These include:

  • To remain anonymous (especially if producing a politically or religiously sensitive work)

This is perhaps less common today, but sometimes occurs if a very personal or sexually explicit work is written.

  • To change or conceal gender

In the 18th century, many female authors used male pen names in order to be taken seriously. George Eliot is the most famous example, though the Bronte sisters all wrote under pen names too.

This trend still continues in some genres today: for example, female fantasy or science fiction authors will often use a gender-neutral name (Robin Hobb) or use their initials (J.K. Rowling) as the genre has traditionally attracted more male readers and authors. A similar effect can be seen when male authors adopt a female pen name to write a chick lit or romance novel.

  • To write across multiple genres

Lewis Carroll also wrote mathematical textbooks under his real name (Charles Dodgson), so adopted a pen name for his children’s novels. Authors today who write in multiple genres will sometimes use a different name for each one, to avoid confusing readers.

  • To recover from poor sales or reputation

If an author’s real name has attracted criticism, it may be worth considering changing to a pen name. Sometimes, the first few novels by a new author don’t sell well in bookshops, leading publishers to reject future submissions. Therefore, changing to a pen name is often recommended in these circumstances.

So there you have it. If you are trying to build up a reputation in multiple genres, using a pen name (or several pen names) is probably a good idea. Even if your real name (or current pen name) has been slammed or attracted heavy criticism, switching to a new name could be a good way to go. However, adopting a pen name means building up your reputation again from scratch—a lot of work, but it may be well worth the time and effort to do so.

A final thought: if you’re using a pen name in an attempt to remain anonymous, be aware that people are often curious when they suspect a secret—you may well be “discovered” under that mask you worked so hard to create. In some cases, this can lead to great publicity, but if your publisher or fans suspects you of trying to conceal a less-than-stellar past, it may backfire.

To be you, or not to be you? What’s your choice? I’ve decided to stick with my real name.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series.

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

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

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

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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BOTTOMS UP!

July 28, 2021 | Cooking

 Celebrate International Beer Day on the first Friday in August!

International Beer Day was founded in 2007 by bar owner Jesse Avshalomov in Santa Cruz, California and is now celebrated in over 80 countries worldwide. There are three purposes of this day; be with friends while enjoying a glass of beer, celebrate the brewers and servers, and savor different beers from around the world.

I’d like to add a fourth purpose for this auspicious day; enjoying delicious meals made with beer.

Cheers!

MENU

Bratwurst

Sauerkraut

Summer Potato Salad

Rye Bread

German Mustard

Plenty of Your Favorite Beer

Bratwurst

4 – 6 bratwurst links

2 bottles of beer, not Lite

1 med. onion, sliced

Tap water

Sauerkraut, recipe below

Remove sausage from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.

Place brats, beer, and onion in a saucepan. Cover meat with cold tap water by 1 inch (2.54cm). Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325° F (160°C).

Spoon sauerkraut into an ovenproof dish. Lay brats on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn sausage and then bake another 10 minutes.

Allow sausage to rest 10 minutes before you serve so the juices are reabsorbed into the meat.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is best prepared a day in advance and then cooked with the bratwurst. This recipe substitutes some stock with beer to carry out today’s theme.

1 jar or bag sauerkraut

5 slices bacon, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

½ tsp. (2.5ml) ground thyme

1 cup (250ml) chicken stock, not broth

1 cup (250ml) beer, not Lite

Preheat oven to 325° F (160°C).

Empty sauerkraut into a colander. Rinse under tap water several times. Squeeze out most of the moisture and fluff with a fork.

Fry bacon in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Set pieces on a paper towel. Do not pour out grease rendered from the bacon.

Add onion to pan and sauté until translucent, 5 – 7 minutes. Do not brown onion, it will be bitter. Be sure to scrape in all the bits that cling to the sides and bottom of the pan.

Return bacon to saucepan. Stir in sauerkraut. Sprinkle thyme over the mixture. Mix well. Cook 3 – 4 minutes over moderate heat.

Stir in stock and beer. Cover and bake in the oven 30 minutes or until sauerkraut is tender, but still has crunch. This could take as long as 2 hours, depending on the brand you use. Add more stock, if necessary, to keep the sauerkraut moist.

If you make the kraut a day in advance, cover, and refrigerate.

Summer Potato Salad

This recipe from Germany is for four people. Don’t worry about the extra if you’re planning a romantic dinner for two. Scale back the amounts by half, but I have to tell you, this salad lasts four days in the fridge. It’s just as good then as on the day you first prepare it.

4 medium-sized white potatoes, not peeled

1 cup (100g) onions, chopped

¾ cup (200ml) chicken stock, not broth

⅓ cup (75ml) olive oil

1 tbsp. (15ml) white wine vinegar

2 tsps. (10ml) hot, prepared mustard

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tbsp. (15ml) lemon juice

Drop potatoes into enough boiling water to cover them completely. Boil briskly until they show only the slightest resistance when pierced with a small, sharp knife. Don’t overcook or you’ll have mush when you complete the recipe. Drain, peel, then cut potatoes into ¼-inch (.64cm) slices. Place them in a bowl and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Combine remaining ingredients except lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Pour sauce over potato slices. Turn them about gently with a spatula or large spoon to coat them. Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, then serve.

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

Sloane

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Seeking the Healthy Life

July 26, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

By Alicia Joseph

Day One of a Plant-Based Diet

Today is the first day of eating nothing but plant-based food for thirty days. I’ve been a vegetarian for about eight years, and then turned to veganism not too long ago. So, although I eat a lot of fruit and veggies, I am sure that I indulged way too much in my favorite vegan junk food. I’m looking straight at you Beyond Meat! Though I had always tried to balance the number of processed foods I ate with more healthy foods, I no doubt overdid it with the delicious brands of everything vegan – ice cream, pizzas, burgers, sausages, corndogs, chicken nuggets…I think you get the idea.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disorder that leads to weakness of the skeletal muscles. The first seven years were pretty hard, but the last eight years have been quite bearable without any serious flareups, until recently. I believe food is the medicine that keeps our bodies in optimal health. I hope the negative effects I feel from my disease will motivate me to stay on course and eat strictly 1 plant-based diet. I didn’t weigh myself before I started. This change is more about feeling better than losing weight, but yeah, I’m hoping for that too.

I have a pre-planned list of recipes I jotted down from a plant-based cookbook written by Dr. John McDougall, The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook, that should cover me for a couple of weeks. My fridge is stocked with all the healthy deliciousness of natural and unprocessed foods. The key is staying organized and having a meal plan.

Today’s meal was a simple carrot, celery, kale, and noodle soup followed by black bean sloppy joes over roasted potatoes.

 

One day down. Twenty-nine to go. Easy peasy.

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

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

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

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

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

AMAZON BUY LINKS
KINDLEPAPERBACK

 

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

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

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

 

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FRUITS OF THE HARVEST

July 21, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

By Emma Lane

Inside Greenhouse Three there are vigorously growing hanging nursery pots of tomatoes. These are cherry tomatoes and they come in red or yellow. Medium-sized, these fruits of the vines are just ripe for popping into you mouth without a smidgeon of preparation. Don’t ask me how I know; I’ll never tell.

Hanging Baskets of Tumbling Toms go out of the greenhouse for sale around the first of May and disappear quickly. They may need to be brought in at night, but they are already in bloom with some tiny tomatoes showing. It’s a way to get a jump start on the season for a delicious tomato taste.

Lately I’ve learned to use them in several different ways that liven up a quickly thrown together summer meal. Below are a few ideas. You’ll spin off into your own vivid imagination, I’m certain, adding salads and main dishes. This is quick and easy fixing that leaves plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine outside.

Tumbling Tom Tomato Appetizers

Party Picks   Crackers of Choice

There are tons of choices for the bottom of your snack which will wind up being topped by half a cherry tomato. I like plain old saltine, but I do experiment with any and all of the offerings. I need to mention that a homemade loaf of bread makes a fantastic “cracker” cut into small squares. Also, just plain toast cut into squares works well.

Next the Spread

These are just a few of the spreads I’ve used:

(1) Canned potted ham (or a chicken spread) mixed with mayo or a touch of mustard. Occasionally I use a pear relish mixed in that is delish. Mix and spread on your crackers lightly. Don’t glob or your cracker will collapse. Still taste good, but not esthetically attractive so soggy.

(2) I’m mad for the whipped cream cheese. ‘Nuff said about that. It’s pretty simple to spread on your crackers. You can add any old spice that strikes you as interesting. I’ve used Season all Salt, cinnamon, Italian seasoning or just a piece of fresh basil. All good. If you use the basil leaf, add a swipe of creamed cheese to glue it to the cracker else it’ll slide right off.

(3) I’m wild for ricotta cheese, but hubby isn’t so we get to ‘decorate’ our crackers individually.

Meat?

Here I use whatever I’ve got in the kitchen. Sliced ham bits are lovely, a sprinkle of the sausage you had for breakfast is great, a bit of corned beef (just a bit because it’s strong), another cheese either cut to fit the cracker or shredded and sprinkled over. Like the crackers, cheeses come in a great assortment chosen to taste.

You’ll find your own preferences for thickness. Slice the cherry tomato in half or into four slices and top your masterpiece. Use a bit of spread to stick it if toppings tend to slide.

Now is the delicate operation that remains a mystery you might keep to yourself. A very small dot of “Zesty Italian Salad Dressing. Shake first and I promise you, you must use only a very small dot on top the tomato. Voila! You are fini.

A plateful of these colorful snack crackers will disappear in a flash. Be sure you get your share. Enjoy!

May I suggest a peek into one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

EXCERPT
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.
“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

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Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her 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.

 

 

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Love, Peace, and Good Food

July 19, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from C.D. Hersh

Our book Can’t Stop the Music opens in Woodstock and is filled with musical references of the era and food.

Today we’re talking about love, food, and magic. Love was plentiful at Woodstock. Magic mushrooms were probably plentiful, also, but food not so much. The producers didn’t expect the overwhelming crowd that should up and the vendors ran out of food in a very short time.

But you don’t have to worry about that, because we’ve got a special treat for you today.

As writers, we know that love and food go together like romance and a happily-ever-after ending. Maybe that’s why in most of our novels the hero and heroine share a meal of some sort. There’s just something magical about a special dinner with the one you love. Don’t you remember that special dinner, or dinners, with your honey? On the first dinner Catherine made for Donald she accidently fed him a toothpick—which he unwittingly ate. Trust us, we remember that!

Like most humans, we like to eat, and food works its way into our stories. In our book, Can’t Stop the Music (The Soul Mate Tree Book 2) the hero cooks an Italian meal for the heroine that is positively orgasmic. Can’t Stop the Music is a nostalgic romance set in Woodstock 1969 and contains a paranormal element. The paranormal involves a magic Soul Mate Tree that grants soul mates to deserving persons.

The Soul Mate tree is
An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds.
To some, it’s nothing more than a dream.
To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.
For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

And our heroine and hero are in definitely in need of a happy ending.

Speaking of happy, who doesn’t love a delicious pasta dish? We do, but pasta is something we don’t eat a lot of anymore because of the high carb content. Recently, we’ve begun experimenting with ways to make high-carb pasta meals friendlier, because we do miss our pasta. In the process, we’ve discovered things like lentil and soybean pastas that are great substitutes for wheat pasta. They have a high fiber to carb ratio, which not only puts more fiber in the diet, but slows the release of sugars into the blood stream, both which are great boons to people with insulin resistance issues. The soybean pasta is fantastic and has become our go-to pasta for spaghetti.

Unfortunately, we haven’t found a soybean lasagna. So, Catherine got creative and made a meatless version of lasagna that uses a smaller amount of lasagna on the bottom of the dish and substitutes sliced zucchini for the pasta in the other layers. Putting a single layer of pasta on the bottom provides the traditional taste of lasagna and helps the servings come out of the dish better, without the added high-glycemic carbohydrates. We made this lasagna recipe meatless, but you could use a meat sauce if you prefer. Bon appétit!

Mushroom Zucchini Lasagna

Serves four

2 sheets oven-ready lasagna pasta

½ jar (1 1/3 cups) spaghetti or marina sauce (any flavor you prefer)

2-3 oz. fresh baby spinach (2-3 handfuls)

1 8 oz. box sliced mushrooms

2 small zucchinis, sliced into scant 1/8 inch thick ribbons

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

12 tbsp. low-fat ricotta cheese

Trim ends of zucchinis until they fit inside a square 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Then slice zucchinis into scant 1/8 inch thick ribbons. Place on a plate and salt liberally both sides. Let stand about an hour to draw out the excess moisture. Rinse off salt and pat slices dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Rinse mushrooms and place in a skillet or large saucepan. Using 2 sharp-bladed spatulas, coarsely chop mushrooms in the pan. (Alternately, you could use a knife and cutting board, but Catherine found this method to be quicker.) Sauté mushrooms in a couple tablespoons of water until the mushrooms darken and excess water from the fungi has appeared in the pan. Drain and set aside.

Fit the 2 sheets of pasta in the bottom of a square, 1-1/2 quart baking dish, breaking edges off as necessary so the pasta lays flat in the bottom. Remove pasta and broken pieces from the dish.

Pour 1/3 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of the dish and lay the pasta sheets and broken pieces on top.

On top of this base, layer 1/3 cup pasta sauce, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/3 cup mushrooms, a handful of spinach, torn into small pieces, and four tablespoons of ricotta cheese (dotted over the top of the spinach), and enough zucchini slices to cover the ingredients. Spread the ingredients so they are evenly layered. Repeat layers to the depth the dish allows, ending with a layer of zucchini, sauce, ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Bake 45 minutes.

Let stand and couple of minutes before cutting. Catherine found using a chef’s knife to cut the layers works best to cut through the zucchini without destroying the layers. Serve with a fresh salad and warm, Italian garlic bread.

Note: We went light on the cheeses, which gave each square of lasagna about 1 serving each of the cheeses. If you like a heavier cheese taste, add more cheese on each layer.

Serve the lasagna with a fresh green salad and some yummy Italian bread and you have a complete meal.

After the dishes are done and you’re ready to relax, download Can’t Stop the Music (The Soul Mate Tree Book 2) and take a trip back to Woodstock 1969 with our heroine Rose and her Italian stallion Dakota. To whet your appetite, here’s a peek at Rose and Dakota’s first meeting. Enjoy!

As they made their way to the festival site, Rose and her friends grooved to the music coming from the stage.

When they reached the makeshift bridge over the road, someone yelled, “Hey beautiful! You with the red hair.”

She looked around to see if there was anyone else with red hair. Then she glanced up and spotted two guys, one blond and the other dark-haired, leaning over the side of the bridge.

“Yeah, you,” the blond called out as he caught her gaze.

Willow halted beside her. “He’s cute. How about him?”

Rose looked away, her gaze landing on the other guy.

He jabbed his companion in the ribs. “Quit trying to pick up every girl you see.” Then he leaned farther over the rail. “Don’t pay any attention to him. He’s high.”

“So she’s not beautiful?” Willow yelled to the hippie.

She poked her friend. “Stop it, Willow, you’re making a scene.” In spite of her protest, her gaze remained on the dark-haired guy.

He rested his elbows on the rail and stared back at her. The intensity of his expression shot heat into her belly.

“I didn’t say that, just that she shouldn’t pay attention to him.” He flapped a hand at his blond buddy, then tapped his own chest with his thumb several times as if to say, ‘Choose me!’

Does he want me to pay attention to him? Her heart thumped in rhythm to his jabbing thumb.

“Take that one,” Willow whispered. “He’s the real cutie.”

Before she could respond, the crowd pushed them forward. When they reached the other side of the bridge, she looked back, searching for the dark-haired hippie, but the spot where he’d stood was empty.

Just my luck. I see someone who’s intriguing and he disappears.

With a sigh, she continued the trek to the festival grounds.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.

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 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.

Join them on social media:

Website

Soul Mate Publishing

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

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A PERFECT SUMMER MEAL

July 14, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from Vonnie Hughes

The perfect lunch or dinner that’s great for leftover vegetables. The extra bonus – it’s easy to make. Let your imagination rule on the veggies. Onion, broccoli, mushroom, cauliflower, courgettes, capsicums, corn kernels…whatever you have on hand tastes amazing in this recipe. Chopped, cooked bacon or a small can of salmon are welcome additions.

SELF-CRUSTING QUICHE

3 tbsp. butter

3 medium eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

Pepper to taste

2.5 cups mixed vegetables, chopped

1 cup grated cheese with a snappy flavor for oomph

Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).

Coat an ovenproof dish large enough to hold all ingredients with butter. Set aside.

Mix eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.

Stir in vegetables and bacon or salmon if you’re using them.

Blend in cheese.

Pour mixture into a greased dish.

Bake 40 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Here’s a little from Vonnie’s Regency romance to perk your interest.

 

Matthew Monfort has two excellent reasons for loathing members of the ton, but thanks to his father’s machinations, he finds himself inveigled into offering for Lady Verity Tristan.  Well, it’s time he married and she’s…well, she’s different; in fact, she’s quite delightful…and intelligent…and sweet… but she needn’t think she’s going to win him over.

 

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

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

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

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

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