Leigh Goff

Author


2 Comments

Art: Painters and Writers Have Much in Common

from Carol Browne Christianna Cassisa, an artist friend, recently posted some of her paintings on Facebook. I love her art because she has a unique style and her work seems to have a life of its own that I can only describe as magical. Some creatives really do have a special gift for breathing life into their artistic concepts. Here are three of my favorites. As usual, I remarked upon how much I love her paintings and how perfect and brilliant they are. Her response was that I hadn’t seen her failures, and I never would. Nobody would, because they are mediocre and fall short of her vision. She couldn’t make them work on paper.

She said, didn’t I as a writer experience the same phenomenon, where no matter what you do, you can’t make the medium you work with reflect the ideas in your mind? The similarity between our two art forms struck me very forcibly then, yet it had never occurred to me before. One of the major frustrations of creative work is when a great idea takes root in your mind but you can’t do it justice in the physical expression of it.

For some months now I have been struggling with one of those great ideas. It is dark and unsettling and the perfect premise for an intelligent thriller. It’s an idea that won’t leave me. To discard it is unthinkable.

I wrote three different versions of chapter one and binned them. Likewise, characters have been introduced and quickly shown the door. Backgrounds changed colour and setting. Dramatic conflict between faceless characters led to long verbal exchanges that had no mouths to speak them. Only the idea, the central premise, remains, both egregious and ingenious, demanding manifestation. And I can’t make it work on paper. This idea is like a seed that is full of potential but in the hands of an indifferent gardener may never reach for the sun and bear fruit. It is too good an idea not to run with it, and yet it has no legs. I could wish this idea had been given to someone else. Let them sit and stare at the wall, trying to work out a plot! I have been infected with the germ of an idea for a great story, but so far it is peopled by phantoms and written on water. At some point, I might have to tell myself to let it go. If that happens it will mean having to face the possibility that I’m not up to the job. I was given a good idea but it surpassed my abilities as a writer. I’m not prepared to give up just yet because this idea is bold and brave. It is a commentary on our times. It has important topics to explore, essential truths to impart, observations to set down and questions to pose. But without a structure these themes float around like rudderless boats, seeking anchorage in a shared harbour. The harbour they are searching for is the book I have called Now You Don’t. It has a title so it should exist. But it doesn’t. It’s a non-book. Because I can’t make it work on paper. Here’s a little from my book that did work on paper.

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

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem. Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they? As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself. Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

EXCERPT

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

“Indeed. Just energy vibrating at different frequencies,” he said. “So while you think about that, here’s another interesting phenomenon that has been recorded many times, and it seems to me it has something in common with imaginary friends. Have you heard of the third man syndrome, Gill?” I had to admit this meant nothing to me. “Here’s an example of it,” he went on. “A mountaineer called Frank Smyth attempted to climb Mount Everest but had to turn back before he reached the summit. He reported that although he was completely alone during his descent, the feeling that someone was with him was so powerful he tried to share his Kendal mint cake with this person. “The phenomenon is said to originate with Shackleton in 1916. While he was exploring Antarctica, Shackleton saw the apparition of a person alongside his two companions. There are countless reports of this from people who have survived terrorist attacks or extreme trauma. Some sort of threat to existence or even severe social isolation” — at this point the Professor gave me a knowing look — “can trigger this phenomenon. Some people might try to explain it with terms such as guardian angel or spirit guide, but could it be a hallucination or defence mechanism that switches on to help the brain deal with trauma and stress? It frequently happens that these apparitions offer comfort and support, and yet what of those cases where the third man not only gives advice but even leads people to safety when they find themselves in a life-threatening situation? That goes beyond mere imagination surely?” He raised his eyebrows, as if inviting a response, but his information had overwhelmed me. “I see I’ve given you something to think about. My advice is you go and do some research on this yourself.”

For a moment my mind slipped, stumbled, staggered about looking for something to grab on to. What was going on here? I looked at the Professor and he stared back, innocent as a kitten, waiting for me to speak. If I didn’t speak, would our exchange stop now? I was really talking to myself, for God’s sake. He can’t have done any research. He didn’t exist. I must have done it and either forgotten I had, or pretended to forget so it would all seem like new information. Was I so needy I had to resort to these ludicrous mind games? “You’re not real,” I said. I stood and marched out of the room, my jaw clenched so hard it ached, my hands balled into fists. If there was no gin in the fridge, there’d be hell to pay, but, thank God, there was nearly a full bottle. Two stiff drinks were all I’d need for now, just to take the edge off.

Amazon Buy Links e-BookPaperback
 
Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.
Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.


2 Comments

Date Night Dinners: A Taste of Italy

from Sloane Taylor

This quick recipe is ideal for those days you are too busy to fuss. Add a salad and a loaf of crusty bread to round out dinner. After you assemble all the ingredients on your counter pop open a bottle of Soave white wine from the Veneto region in Italy to enjoy while you cook. It’s perfect for this meal.

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash
Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only 2 12-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts in oil 3 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. lemon juice 3 tsp, kosher salt less will not disturb the flavors 1 tsp, freshly ground black pepper 1 pound linguine ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Halve the leeks lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces. Wash well to remove any sand grains.

Cut the artichokes lengthwise if large.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the leeks, and cook until soft but not browned, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove the leeks from skillet and set aside.

Increase heat to medium and add the artichokes. Cook about 3 minutes stirring often.

Return the leeks to skillet and toss to mix. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Cook the linguine according to the package directions, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Add vegetables and toss with half the Parmesan cheese. Add a little pasta water to moisten if necessary. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

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

Sloane

Ready to ignite that old flame? Or spark a new one? Take your partner by the hand and turn on your stove. A true romantic, award-winning author Sloane Taylor brings her creativity to the kitchen with easy-to-make meals sure to spark the intimacy and quality time you want with your special someone. Cooking together is only the start of the fun!

Create 45 complete dinners for two and flavor your evenings with a new dish. These 80 recipes use everyday foods already on most kitchen shelves. The recipes are easily increased for those fun times friends or family join your table.

Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening, is an ideal hostess and holiday gift, or for anyone who wants to spice things up.

 

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

Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Summer Sizzle, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.

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


Leave a comment

Mirror’s Despair–Book Release Giveaway & Excerpt

Mirena’s back to claim what’s hers; this time, Tendro is ready for her. 


Welcome to the 1-week book release tour for 
Mirror’s Despair
Mirror Worlds, Book 4
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred


About Mirror’s Despair:

Following ten tense years of absence, Mirena Calanais suddenly resurfaces as the Avatar of the Destroyer. With Abraxas’ dark army at her back, she’s determined to reclaim what she feels is her due; control over the lands the Panarch’im once ruled.

His political career and his marriage both drying up, Tendro Seynor long suspected this day would come, but what he isn’t prepared for is Mirena’s return to his personal life. There’s more to Mirena than her persona as the Dark Avatar; she’s the mother of the son Tendro hasn’t seen since the day he was born. As her presence in his life grows, Mirena confides in Tendro that she’s being haunted by someone who should be dead. As this vengeful presence closes in on her and the Destroyer’s hand thouches the world once more, they begin to realize their son may be at the center of it all and his innocence hangs in the balance.

Can Tendro and Mirena put aside their rivalry for the sake of their families, or will the bad blood between them finally escalate to the point where it has the power to tear the entire world apart?

Book Details:

Page count: 242
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Publish Date: October 17, 2020
ASIN : B08FF7M8MQ

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing
Ebook 
Paperback 

Amazon

Meet the Authors:

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends. 

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, training to become a nurse. 

Connect with: 


Author Pages: 

Justine’s Amazon Page: https://amzn.to/31FIrMC 


Giveaway Information:

ONE entrant will be selected randomly using the Rafflecopter platform to receive choice of 1 of the books from the Mirror Worlds series located here https://amzn.to/3lP3XWN. It is the entrant’s responsibility to read about the books and make their selections. Sapphyria’s Book Promotions shall be held harmless if winner does not like the content of the book selected as a prize.

This giveaway is open to all U.S. entrants with US mailing addresses/Kindle accounts and who are 18 years of age or older. The giveaway is scheduled for October 16, 2020 through November 20, 2020 and winner will be selected via Rafflecopter. There is no other way to enter this giveaway. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the winner notification email from Sapphyria’s Book Promotions to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected. Void where prohibited and no purchases are necessary to enter this giveaway. See Rafflectopter for entry options. Sapphyria’s Book Promotions reserves the right to not award any books if entrants do not follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form or the information in the Giveaway Information section.


EXCERPT

Bundled up against the cold, Mirena moved low-hanging branches out of her way as she navigated through an orchard. It was not yet winter, but it was also no longer the season for apples; the trees were wild and overgrown, the rows between them almost indistinguishable with no real path to speak of, at least not that Mirena was using.

Beyond the last row of trees, a small barn could be seen. Mirena headed unerringly for the structure but stopped when an unnatural-sounding howl broke the afternoon’s pastoral stillness. After standing still for a moment, Mirena continued, hesitating at the barn door before knocking on it. There was a pause as the muffled sounds from inside quieted and then the wooden sliding door slid just far enough to the right for a face to appear in the crack.

“Oh, Mirena, it’s you,” Abraxas noted.

She frowned. “Who else would it be, all the way out here?”

“Oh, you know,” he said with a shrug, but did not move aside or open the door any further.

Her frown deepened. “You’ve been spending quite a bit of time out here lately.”

“Oh, have I? I’m sorry, I’ll get back to the renos tomorrow.”

“That’s not,” she began, then seemed to change tactics, putting her hands on her hips. “What’s in the barn, Abraxas?”

He sighed, rolling his eyes, then stepped back, letting the door slide open slowly under its own power. As if on cue, something from within the barn started whining in a petulant kind of way. “You said you didn’t want to know, so…”

She tentatively stepped into the barn. The light just barely trickled past her form, illuminating the heavy wooden table erected in the centre of the space, and on it was a thing that shied away from what little light there was, bucking and clawing in its attempt to shield itself from what was clearly causing it distress.

It was entirely black, almost darker than the colour usually allowed for, and it seemed to steam slightly, or at least an inky blackness seemed to emanate from it. As far as shapes went it was vaguely canine. At least, it had four legs which ended in what could be described as paws, if a dog’s paw had curved talon-like claws coming from it.

It had a dog’s head, large and square, though its fangs looked more like the kind of tusks you might find on a wild boar, only pointed downward, and from those fangs dripped more of that inky blackness. Mirena shuddered. The creature somehow managed to look both massively muscled and severely underfed at the same time. It was strapped down on the table, but watching it struggle, she wondered how long that would last.

“This is what you’ve been working on?” she asked, not knowing what else to say.

He nodded, his eyes glowing with excitement over his new project. “This guy is just a prototype, but yeah. I intend to make them bigger, stronger, and fiercely loyal, and then breed them. They’ll be like guard dogs, but better and deadlier, of course.”

“You have strange hobbies,” she told him.

“It’s not just a hobby,” he countered. “It’s our future.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Just imagine it, whole armies of these creatures, and more. Combine that with any who remember the call of the Avatar of the Destroyer and we can finish what we started-”

“But what about Greyson?” she interjected.

“What about him?” Abraxas countered. “He’ll be safe and protected. He’ll be on our side.”

Mirena frowned again. “I don’t want him to experience war at his age, and I don’t want to have to sit out being a mother when I should be there with you, claiming what is rightfully ours. We’ll take it all back someday, I promise, but can we just wait until Greyson is a little bit older?”

Abraxas’ expression was far away, imagining something, but eventually he nodded. “I’m going to need some time to perfect the process, then breed and train my army anyways.”

Mirena shook her head. “Have fun,” she told him dubiously. “I’ve got to get back to the house before Greyson wakes up from his nap. Just do me a favour, okay? Don’t let him see what you’re doing.”


2 Comments

Coffee Cake & a Great Book!

From Chris Pavesic

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

Cranberry Walnut Coffee Cake

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

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

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

Preheat oven 400° F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to play the game.

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

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

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

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

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

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


Leave a comment

No Halloween Tricks Here!

This is definitely a treat for your favorite ghosts and ghouls. Two Halloween books from children’s author Tina Ruiz. The amazing illustrations are done by Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children’s books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina’s children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.
The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni, who are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant. What makes this story different from any other children’s book, are the names which the author has given to her characters. Example: Tess Ding, Chris P. Bacon, Mr. Noah Lott, Harry Pitts, Miss Turi, Walter Melon, Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, etc… The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.
The pictures are bright and the story is fun. It was written not only to entertain kids, but also to challenge their minds. Every character has a name with a double meaning. Such as: Mr. Noah Lott, Mrs. Faye Ding, Mrs. Frieda Livery, Upton O’Goode, Adam Zapel, and Ella Vader, to name but a few. Here’s a hint to help you solve the puzzle, Ed Zortails is his name really heads or is it tails? You’ll have to buy the book to find out. Solving the double meaning of the words will be delightful for children and adults alike. On the off chance someone can’t unravel a name, Tina supplied a cheat sheet at the back of the book. As with all of her children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.
Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz has now written wrote thirty books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school. Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees. Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance. Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.


2 Comments

Zing Goes the Heart Strings

by Catherine Castle

You may not know this about me, but I’m a fan of the television shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

I’m not crazy about all the drama and some of the physical stuff that goes on, but I do like to watch and root for the stars looking for that one and only soul mate with whom they hope to spend the rest of their lives. Granted, most of them haven’t found that true love, but I still root for them. At the end of every show, most bachelors or bachelorettes ask their potential spouses, or hopefully by that time their fiancées, “Will you accept this rose?” This means they see promise in the relationship and believe they have found their special person.

No matter the season, the bachelor or bachelorette, IMHO, are looking in the wrong places for that true love. There’s always one guy or girl who is a troublemaker and for some inexplicable reason the bachelor or bachelorette keeps giving the rabble-rouser a rose. Go figure.

I’m a firm believer in true love. Zing goes the heart strings and all that stuff. But sometimes what the heart wants isn’t the best thing for either party involved. Besides love, there’s a practical side to choosing a life mate. A life-long relationship requires more than sex appeal and hormonal attraction. Love and hot passion lasts for a while, but the day-to-day stuff is what makes the living loveable.

For those looking for love, here are a few hints to help find that perfect man. These suggestions may seem tongue-in-cheek to you, but trust me, they are important. I know!

MAKE SURE YOUR INITIALS WORK.
You don’t want to make the mistake my mother almost did when naming one of her children. Thankfully, she discovered the initials of the name my father had chosen for their child spelled A.S.S. Not something you’d want monogramed on the towels in the guest bathroom. So, line up the first initial of the last name of your beloved with your first and middle initials. If it spells something embarrassing, you’d better change one of those names. His. Or yours, if you just can’t live without him.

MAKE SURE YOUR INTERESTS ALIGN.
You’ve heard about the golf widow or the football widow. I’m here to tell you there’s a widow for every interest out there. If you don’t know what your potential spouse is really fascinated by you could end up a widow long before he is six feet under.

My husband was an athlete who loved to run. Every night after work, he’d come home, put on his running shoes, and head out the door. He even ran a couple of mini marathons. For years he tried to get me to run with him. I’d lace up my running shoes and lope off with him, but every time I did I ended up face down on the sidewalk. Heck, I can’t even walk without tripping, so I don’t know why he thought I would be able to run. Finally, he gave up on me being a running partner. We found other things we could do together because we had a lot of common interests like singing, ballroom dancing (which I could do because he was holding me up), acting, and playwriting. So, pay attention to the hobbies and interests of your potential spouse. If he has nothing in common with your interests, or what he loves isn’t something you can work around, think twice before hitching your wagon to that person. Remember, the passion may fade, but most likely, the hobbies will remain.

LOOK FOR SOMEONE WHO FINISHES THE JOBS THEY START.
I loved my dad and so did my mother, but he had a bad habit of starting a job and not finishing it. Mom wanted a bathroom in the basement, so Dad obliged and put in a toilet. For years the lone fixture sat in the middle of the basement—no walls, no privacy, and no users. It wasn’t until they went to sell the house that Dad finished the project. Too late and too little. If you can live with that, fine, but otherwise, check out your future spouse’s follow-through abilities.

MAKE SURE YOU SEE EYE TO EYE ON FOOD.
There’s nothing worse than cooking two meals for dinner. One for her and one for him. Or leaving your favorite ingredient out of every meal because he or she, depending on who is the cook, won’t eat it.

Even worse, is the scenario I discovered upon my mother’s death when Dad began giving away all the home-canned green beans in the cupboard. Thinking he was reacting out of grief, just getting rid of things that reminded him of her, I said, “Dad, we aren’t going to take the food from your table.”

He replied, “I hate green beans. Always have.”

“But Mom served them every night. Why did you eat them if you hated them?” I asked.

“Because she served them,” he replied.

I was aghast and awed that he’d eaten a hated food every day for thirty-seven years without a single complaint. I immediately told my husband to let me know if I ever served something he hated. He has. And I’m okay with that.

So, if you must marry and you don’t see eye to eye on food, at least tell your beloved you do or don’t like a food before they die. Preferably, early on.

BE HONEST ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT SPORTS.
My Dad managed the church softball team, and he recruited my athletic spouse, who was my boyfriend at the time, to play on the team. Naturally, I went along to watch, cheering like mad whenever my boyfriend came up to bat. I even learned how to keep score so I could sit in the dugout near my honey. We dated for a number of years, and I was always there in the bleachers, even after we married and had a child.

After he quit playing softball and wanted to watch the professional games on TV, I wasn’t interested.

“I thought you liked sports,” he said.

“I liked watching you play sports,” I replied. “There’s a big difference.”

He didn’t get it. Imagine that.

MAKE SURE YOUR LIFE PHILOSOPHIES ALIGN.
There are a number of hot topics that can unhinge a relationship quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” Four of the hottest are religion, politics, money, and childrearing. If you don’t know where your beloved stands on these issues, find out. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time the person you marry will still be the same person when he hits retirement. His political standing will most likely remain either conservative or liberal. An atheist usually remains an atheist, and a religious person usually remains religious. The holes in a spendthrift’s pockets get bigger, not smaller. A tightwad’s fist gets tighter. And fighting over how to raise the kids benefits no one, especially the children. Discovering his life philosophy after you’re married is too late, because you can’t change the other person to fit what you need. Many women have tried and failed. So, find out before you marry. Life will be so much easier when you’re in sync with your partner.

DON’T CHOOSE THE BAD BOY.
The troubled soul may be the hero fictional heroines long for. The big, strong, brooding sexy man who can deck anyone, win any fight, or conquer any mountain is a common romantic figure. But in the long run, a man with such a dark side is probably not the kind of guy you really want to take home to Mother.

I once dated a guy who had the dark, handsome, sexy looks that would make a girl who met him in the night tremble and swoon with fear and excitement. He was a bit of what we used to call “a hood.” He left town for a while, and when he came back I jumped at the chance to go out with him again. Our first date on his return was at the drive-in theater—what they used to call “a passion pit.” A movie on a giant screen, watched in a car, in the dark. A perfect recipe for disaster.

When he tried to get me in the back of his station wagon, fitted out with comfy blankets and pillows, I declined. “So and so (the name omitted to protect the un-innocent) would do it,” he said, in an effort to convince me to do what I knew was wrong.

“Then go get her,” I replied. I spent the rest of the night fending him off and didn’t get to see a bit of the movie.

We never had another date, and that was just fine with me. He was enough to cure me of the bad-boy longing. Now I advise young women to go for the nerds. Not only are they nicer, but they will make more legal money than their bad boy counterparts and stay out of jail.

And last but by no means least: LOOK FOR THE NICE GUYS.
Nice guys, contrary to the old saying, do not finish last. Everyone loves a nice guy: the one who is respectful, doesn’t boast, opens doors for ladies, and keeps his temper in check. I’m sure you know him. He’s the man who has respect for himself, for you, and for others. He’s considerate and loving. Every other word out of his mouth is not a curse. His speech is tempered with wisdom. He’s the kind of man your mother hopes you’ll bring home. The kind of man who will love you more than he loves himself.

When you find one, ask him, “Will you accept this rose?” If he says, “Yes” hang on to him. You won’t be sorry you did. I know I’m not.

If you’d like a romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, where the heroine is looking for a fiancé in all the wrong places, pick up the award-winning novel A Groom for Mama by Catherine Castle. Here’s a peek.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t want—”

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

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.


3 Comments

Sizzling Summer

from Sloane Taylor

Quick and easy and oh so good. This is a delicious meal for two and it’s terrific when friends or family come for dinner. Simply increase ingredient amounts proportionally and you’re good to go!

Serve with Pear Salad, Sautéed Broccoli, and White Wine – Riesling.

CHICKEN KABOBS
1 – 1½ lbs. (500 – 750g) chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 med. onion, quartered
1 med. red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1 med. yellow pepper, seeded and ribs removed
3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine
¾ cup (180ml) olive oil
¾ cup (180ml) honey
1 tbsp. (15ml) soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 small can pineapple chunks, drained
10 – 16 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
Vegetable oil for grill

Cut chicken into 1½ in. (3.8cm) pieces and then place into a plastic bag or bowl. Separate onion sections, add to chicken. Slice peppers into 1 in. (2.54cm) pieces add to chicken. Set aside.

Whisk garlic through pepper together in a small bowl. Add half, maybe a little more, this mixture to chicken. You need to hold back some marinade for basting while you grill. Cover and refrigerate 1 – 2 hours.

Coat grill lightly with olive oil. Set grill to medium-high.

Thread chicken and veggies onto skewers, e.g.: chicken, onion, mushroom, yellow pepper, chicken, pineapple, red pepper, and so on. Make sure all the pieces touch but aren’t jammed against one another. Discard remaining marinade.

Grill 12 – 15 minutes. Brush skewers with held back marinade and turn frequently so meat cooks evenly.

No skewers? No problem.

Drain chicken mixture in a colander. Heat a skillet on the grill or stove. Add reserved marinade, chicken and remaining ingredients. Sauté 12 – 15 minutes, stirring and turning frequently.

Chicken Kabobs, Pear Salad, and Sautéed Broccoli are just three of the easy and delicious recipes you will enjoy from my latest cookbook. Here’s a little more info for you.

Romance meets Outdoor Dining
Why not share a summer night with someone special?
What better than a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine and music?

Create 45 delicious and complete dinners for two that can be cooked on your grill or stove. No exotic or expensive ingredients needed. These 103 recipes use everyday products already in your kitchen cabinets. Increasing the dinners is a snap for those fun nights friends or family join you.

You’ll love Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer, Book 2 in the Meals to Make Together series, because great food is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

Add a little romance to a starry evening with a delicious dinner perfect for two. Uncork the wine and enjoy!

Grab your copy today.

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

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

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

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


Leave a comment

Cover Reveal: Mirror’s Despair

Welcome to the cover reveal for 
Mirror’s Despair
Mirror Worlds, Book 4
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

About Mirror’s Despair by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred:

Mirena’s back to claim what’s hers; this time, Tendro is ready for her. 

Following ten tense years of absence, Mirena Calanais suddenly resurfaces as the Avatar of the Destroyer. With Abraxas’ dark army at her back, she’s determined to reclaim what she feels is her due; control over the lands the Panarch’im once ruled.

His political career and his marriage both drying up, Tendro Seynor long suspected this day would come, but what he isn’t prepared for is Mirena’s return to his personal life. There’s more to Mirena than her persona as the Dark Avatar; she’s the mother of the son Tendro hasn’t seen since the day he was born. As her presence in his life grows, Mirena confides in Tendro that she’s being haunted by someone who should be dead. As this vengeful presence closes in on her and the Destroyer’s hand thouches the world once more, they begin to realize their son may be at the center of it all and his innocence hangs in the balance.

Can Tendro and Mirena put aside their rivalry for the sake of their families, or will the bad blood between them finally escalate to the point where it has the power to tear the entire world apart?

Book Details:

Page count: 242
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Publish Date: October 17, 2020
ASIN : B08FF7M8MQ

Pre-Order Link: https://amzn.to/3jsJDcy

Meet the Authors:

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends.

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, training to become a nurse.

Connect with:

Website: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

Author Pages: 

Justine’s Amazon Page: https://amzn.to/31FIrMC 


8 Comments

You Can Call Me Jenna…

The mystery guest interview today is with Jenna Ashby, a self-described cool eco-warrior from Koush Hollow.

Unknown-10

What’s your full name?

Technically it’s Jennifer Ashby, but don’t call me Jennifer. Rayna, my mother, calls me that. I prefer Jenna (most of the time) and my middle name is Crossland, which is my mother’s maiden name, however, I have a feeling that’s not really what it’s supposed to be…

Tell us about your parents.

They divorced when I was little and I moved with my dad from Koush Hollow outside of New Orleans to Atlanta. I was fifteen when my dad died tragically last year, and I had to move back to live with Rayna. She’s rich, ambitious, and she pretty much has my whole life planned out for me, which is so not going to happen. One day she wants me to take over her exclusive social club, the Diamonds & Pearls, but I’m an eco-warrior at heart and have no intention of hanging out with those snobby women, attending balls, or wearing pearls. Needless to say, life with Rayna is going to be a challenge—mostly for her.

Do you have any distinguishing 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. 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.

diamonds-and-pearls-3-gina-sullivanWhat 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 wants me to forget about him and focus on being perfect, but I’m not perfect. I’ve made bad choices. I keep making mistakes because of other traumatic events that keep sending me whirling. I regret the mistakes, but that’s what being sixteen is all about. It means making mistakes. No one’s perfect. We all have regrets and maybe others can learn from my mistakes.

Unknown-9Who is the most important person in your life?

My dad was 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 that Rayna wants to paint as perfect. His name is Hayden and he’s more like me than any of the wretched 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 friends back in Atlanta. We would cosplay together and have the best times. I even had a long-distance boyfriend who I detest now. In Koush Hollow, I hang out with Lauren and Abigail. They’re Pearls and on Rayna’s approved list, but they are starting to grow on me. They want me to become a Pearl, too, so I can meet with the mysterious Marais sisters and have access to their stupid beauty treatments. What they don’t know is that I’ve already met them. Lauren keeps hinting at the price I’ll have to pay to be a Pearl. We’ll see what happens.

images-4What 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 beignets for breakfast, a Muffuletta for lunch, shrimp and grits for dinner, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips to snack on while I binge on Netflix shows.

Unknown-13Speaking of Voodoo, are the Marais sisters seriously Voodoo priestesses?

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 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 sexy, Destine is into health food, and they all tell me I remind them of their late sister Chelsea. I don’t know how that’s possible, but they’re so beautiful beyond their appearance, I like the comparison.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

unnamedBUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


2 Comments

Koush Hollow: A Witch Riding Nightmare

unnamedLeigh Goff’s newly released YA Southern Gothic novel is titled KOUSH HOLLOW, which is the fictional town outside New Orleans where the story takes place. The name was inspired by the word cauchemar and it’s Southern meaning.

Koush is a derivative of cauche, which means a terror that comes in the night. In French it means to press or trample. The word mare comes from Old English and means an incubus or night-goblin. In southwest Louisiana cauchemar has another meaning. It refers to a witch-riding, a supernatural attack while one sleeps.

Various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas have different names for this phenomenon that has been experienced over the centuries. In seventeenth century North America, victims of accused Salem witches suffered from these witch-riding nightmares. The same kind of attacks are mentioned in present-day Southern folklore. The terrifying supernatural event occurs in the moments before waking up when one tries to move, but cannot. The paralysis is blamed on the supernatural and described as a feeling of pressure on one’s chest as if a demon were sitting on it or as if a witch were riding the person.

Unknown-1Some believe the evil creature sucks the breath out of its victim while slowly killing them. During this sleep paralysis, victims claim to be choked or prodded with the creature’s claws, and they are filled with panic until the creature disappears into thin air. Some believe there is no meaning to the event while others believe it is a warning to seek forgiveness for one’s sins. The painting by Johann Heinrich Fuseli aptly titled The Nightmare depicts a cauchemar with a demonic creature posed on a woman’s chest while the horse in the background stares wide-eyed with fear on its face.

As KOUSH HOLLOW is set outside of New Orleans in a place where bayou magic abounds, dreams are frightening, and beauty masks the real monsters, it’s a well-suited title.

BLURB
Beauty is a curse on the world for it keeps us from seeing who the real monsters are.”

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother. As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow: How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing? As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT

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

Tap, tap.
My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.
“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”
“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”
She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”
My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.
“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”
I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.
“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.
I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

BUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble