Leigh Goff

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Finding Mr. Right

FINDING MR. RIGHT

from Leigh Goff

How do you know he’s the one? I’m a firm believer in one’s intuition. It’s the hidden sense that isn’t based on logic, but comes to us in rare moments of need. Call it a gut-feeling that many of us have had. It’s an understanding that comes from within and there’s no need to question it. I’m speaking from experience so when your inner voice says he’s a good guy, it might be worth listening.

In my latest novel, Koush Hollow, Jenna falls for the local bad boy, but he isn’t so bad once she gets to see him more clearly. He’s passionate about the bayou, he cares about Jenna because he see beyond her troubling environment, and he’s honest in how he speaks. Ultimately, he makes Jenna want to be a better person and to strive to be more than a Pearl in her mom’s superficial social club.

Here are my top five signs that he’s the one for you, and if these signs aren’t obvious and your intuition isn’t talking, I’ll explain.

1- He’s interested. He makes romantic gestures to let you know he’s into you. He sends you a bouquet of your favorite flowers. He leaves notes on your car windshield to cheer you up. He holds your hand when he senses you’re nervous. This means he isn’t afraid to show you that he wants more time with you.

2- He makes you laugh. Laughter is one of life’s simple pleasures. It could be a funny comment he makes when you wake up, or a silly joke he tells your friends over pizza. He’s a funny guy and he looks at life with a great sense of humor. He makes you want to spend time with him. It’s another sign that he’s interested in you. What’s not to like about that?

3- He remembers what you like. This is a gimme. You mentioned your favorite flavor of ice cream months ago at a Christmas party, surrounded by friends and loud music. You didn’t even know he heard you. Then, when you least expect it and you’re hiding at home with a terrible sore throat, he shows up with a pint of blueberry cheesecake gelato and you know this guy is something special.

4- He’s a good communicator. He makes good eye contact, he listens, and he asks questions. He doesn’t let you walk away from an argument without resolution. He knows it’s healthy to have different opinions, but it’s really healthy to talk them through and meet somewhere in the middle, and if that’s not possible, he’s okay to agree to disagree. Life gets tough and you need someone with good communication skills.

5- He makes you want to be a better person. You watch how he interacts with children, animals, and waiters and his kindness inspires you to be a bit more patient, smile more, or give a bigger tip, if you can afford it. He makes the world a better place to live in and you want to be by his side doing the same thing.

Here is my Hope Chest Recipe just so you're ready when the right he walks into your life.

Mr. Right’s Chicken Dinner
1 Whole chicken plus 2 chicken breasts
1 Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
1 stick of butter
1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken
1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom
2 cans of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Boil chicken and breasts for 20-30 minutes. Shred meat from the bone.

Melt butter in a pot, then add stuffing mix.

In a separate pot, add soups and broth and heat.

Use a 9 x 13 dish to layer half the stuffing on bottom, shredded chicken, soup and finally the remaining stuffing.

Cover dish with foil and then bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Here's a little from my book to peak your interest.
Koush Hollow
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters...
is deadly.
After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

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

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

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.
EXCERPT Hayden shook his head. “I shouldn’t expect someone like you to care.” “Like me? I’m not so different from you.” He cocked his hands on his hips and stared into my eyes. He concentrated, searching for something. “Jenna, what if that were true? How would that fly with your Pearl friends?” “What are saying?” “The night of the beach party—you stayed under the water for minutes. I thought you were drowning.” His gaze lowered to my mouth, sending a warm flutter of butterflies inside me. “Maybe you’re more like me than you ever thought possible.” Surprised, I pressed a hand to my stomach. I glanced back at the yacht club. “I-I have to go.” I stumbled into a walk. My mind raced. What was that look he gave me? He followed after and grabbed onto my hand. Lightning flickered from his touch and ignited my nerves. The shiver ran the length of my arm and down to my toes. My heart raced. I turned and looked at him. I wanted to feel his eyes on my mouth again. He held me fixed in his gaze. “Promise me if you decide to become a pearl girl, you’ll do it as an informed person.” His tone was deadly serious. Right there, I felt the weight of his concern. I dropped my gaze. “Hayden, I’m too smart to be a part of something that is ethically bankrupt and environmentally dangerous, if that’s what you’re worried about.” “Don’t let them change you into one of them.” I touched my hand to his cheek and traced the line of his jaw. “Do you think my mother and her friends are really part of a pollution conspiracy and a murder cover-up?” I asked referring to his childhood recollection. “Do you think I’d ever want to be a part of that?” He considered my argument for a brief second. “This is bigger than you, Jenna. It will suck you in, if you let it.” Mama appeared behind me, interrupting the discussion. “Everything okay here?” “Fine.” I breathed in and out as quietly as I could, waiting for my racing heart to settle down. “Hayden, this is my mother, Dr. Crossland. Mama, this is Hayden Black. We’re classmates and we were discussing a history assignment.” She dissected him with her eyes and everything about her expression told me she did not approve.

BUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates. Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky. You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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Sloane’s Sizzling Summer Menu

from Sloane Taylor

Ready for some good down-home type cooking that’s finger lickin’ good but doesn’t splatter grease all over your stove? If so, then this is the menu for you.

MENU

Oven-Fried Chicken

Mashed Potatoes

Corn

Spiked Watermelon

White Wine – Chablis

Oven-Fried Chicken 3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless – legs and thighs work great, too Milk ½ cup (50g) flour 1 tsp. (5ml) dried thyme 1 tsp. (5ml) dried marjoram ½ tsp. (2.5ml) garlic powder, not salt 1 tsp. (5ml) paprika ¼ cup ((52g) shortening or lard ¼ cup (57g) butter or margarine 3 tbsp. (45ml) fresh parsley, chopped or 1½ tbsp. (20ml) dried Place chicken in a glass dish, cover with milk, and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours. This is a perfect way to use up milk when it is close to its expiration date. You can also marinade the pieces overnight. If you choose to go longer than 3 hours be sure to refrigerate the dish. I learned this tenderizing trick from a talented chef in Salzburg, Austria. Combine flour, thyme, marjoram, garlic, and paprika in a plastic or paper bag. Drain and pat chicken dry. Place pieces one at a time in bag and gently shake to thoroughly coat them. Lay chicken on a plate as you coat the remaining pieces. Set chicken in fridge for at least 20 minutes to set the coating. Preheat oven to 425° F (220°C). Add shortening and butter to a metal baking pan just large enough to hold the chicken. Place dish in oven until mixture is melted. Add chicken. Bake 15 minutes and then turn pieces over. Cook another 20 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife. REMEMBER – all meat continues to cook for 5 minutes or so after it is removed from the oven. Remove chicken from baking dish to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any oil. Transfer pieces to a clean plate. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. You can also make this dish on your grill. Set the grill on medium-high. Watch carefully so the chicken doesn’t burn. Mashed Potatoes Chicken stock, not broth 1 small russet potato per person, peeled and quartered 3 tbsp. (43g) butter Sour cream, a very large dollop ¼ cup (60ml) milk, at room temperature Freshly ground pepper to taste Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish Preheat oven to 220° F (100°C). Pour one-inch (2.5cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Place potatoes in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by at least one inch (2.5cm). Cover pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 - 25 minutes. Potatoes are done when a fork inserts easily into a section. Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer. Keep the saucepan warm in the oven while you finish preparing dinner. Canned Corn Sometimes it’s good to go easy and nothing is easier than canned veggies. 1 can of corn per 4 people ¼ tsp. (1.25ml) dried thyme Pinch of salt Freshly ground pepper to taste Butter Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Sprinkle on thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve. Spiked Watermelon An adult pleasure that tops off any summer dinner, especially when you dine al fresco. ½ watermelon 2 – 3 cups (450 – 750ml) vodka Remove the seeds from the watermelon. Cut fruit into chunks or use a melon scooper to form balls. Place the cut pieces into a glass bowl. Pour vodka over the melon. No need to cover the fruit. You just want enough so all the pieces contact with the vodka. Stir gently. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Serve melon from the bowl along with forks or long spoons. 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, Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer,Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire, and Date Night Dinners Italian Style 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.


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It’s Time to Read Local Authors

04-flag-1024x683We shop local and eat local, now it’s time to read local! There is a social trend of ‘local first’ movements spreading around our nation.

Reading local benefits the community and highlights what makes it unique. Most local bookshops have sections dedicated to local authors. Independent booksellers spend a lot of time connecting with their community and its authors. If you want to find a book you’ll like, ask them for suggestions. And bonus, by supporting these shops, you’re providing jobs and supporting the local literary arts. Unknown

Many authors love to participate in neighborhood book clubs, too. Don’t be afraid to research writers in your area and reach out. If you’re putting together a list of books for your club or for summer reading, add a few local authors to it. You never know, they might just Zoom into your next meeting!

Local literary events are a great way to discover authors near you, including those hosted at libraries. There are many libraries that recognize the significance of reading local. Cascades Library in Northern Virginia is one of them and they are hosting their annual Eat Local/Read Local event this October 16th from 10am to 1pm (I’ll be there!). It’s free, there are lots of food trucks, and signed books galore, which make for fantastic birthday or holiday gifts.

bhcoverartbevel-2Reading local authors helps you learn amazing new things about the town you live in. When I wrote my second YA novel, Bewitching Hannah, historic downtown Annapolis inspired me. I wanted to highlight what makes my town unique with the hope of making it more of a destination than it already is. I included intriguing details about popular sights and historic houses as the settings where much of the action takes place. The feedback I received from my readers was that they wanted to visit these places. I created a literary tour for them that included all the sights I used in my novel. Here’s a link to the self-guided tour: https://leighgoff.com/2017/08/31/a-bewitching-tour-around-historic-annapolis/

Literary artists need their community and the community needs its artists. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Start READING LOCAL!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I love writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what I like to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, I now live in Maryland where I enjoy the area’s great history and culture.

I am a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I am also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. My debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. My second novel, Bewitching Hannah, is a young adult fantasy set in historic Annapolis.

Stay connected with me on Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads.


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Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right-for-Your-Life

from Catherine Castle

How do you know it you’ve met Mr. or Mrs. Right—the one true love of your life? Couples-hands

Now that’s the question of the century. Sometimes you know right away with a “zing” goes the heart strings. Sometimes you don’t know until certain dramatic things happen in your lives. And sometimes true love is revealed only after the loved one is gone. I saw all three of these in the lives of my parents.

Let me tell you a story about my parents, who apparently got it right.

My parents met after WWII, right before Dad was going to enlist in the Foreign Legion. He came to visit Mom’s uncle. Mom peeked at Dad from behind a newspaper during that visit and her interest in him was obvious enough that he asked her on a date. Their courtship was a short one. They met in October and by Thanksgiving the following month they were married. All Dad’s family said, “Don’t marry him. You don’t know what you’re getting into. He drinks. He gambles. He carouses around with his brother.” But ‘Love is blind.’ And Mom didn’t listen to the naysayers. That’s the “zing” goes the heart strings moment.

The dramatic happening for my folks occurred early on in their marriage. True to the warning of his family, Dad did drink and gamble and run around with his brother, leaving Mom at home with two small children.  After about two years of this kind of behavior, Mom gave Dad an ultimatum.  “It’s me and your daughters or carousing with your brother. You can’t have both. Choose what you love most,” she told him.  Dad chose us. He walked away from his old life and built a life around his family.

It took the remainder of their lives together to discover the last expression of love.

Dad was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Dinner fare for us was always a meat, which ran the gamut from pickled pigs’ feet and cow brains to fried chicken and smoked pork. Some form of potatoes (usually fried) sat next to the meat platter. Then green beans and another vegetable filled out the menu. We’d often have bread, too, from sliced store-bought bread to homemade cornbread or biscuits. Dessert was rare and saved for company. Without fail, meat, potatoes, green beans and a second vegetable appeared on every dinner table.

No matter what combination of those four dishes Mom put on the dinner table, Dad ate it. He wasn’t choosy about what meat Mom served, or how the potatoes were fixed, or what alternate veggie she served beside the green beans. He ate it all, and as I remember it, with gusto. In all the years I sat at the table with them, eating Mom’s down-home meals I never once heard Dad complain about or critique Mom’s cooking. I thought he loved everything she made, even though I always didn’t.

Then, in 1987, Mom died of complications from pneumonia. After the funeral Dad was wandering around the house saying, “You girls should take this, or this. It belonged to your mom and I can’t look at it now that she’s gone.”  We obliged him and took the offered items, because, as I’ve since learned, guys can’t deal with looking at stuff that belonged to their deceased wives.

When Dad walked into the pantry where Mom kept all her home-canned goods, he said, “Take all these green beans home with you.”

“I can’t take food off your table, Dad,” I protested.

“I hate green beans,” he replied.

I’m sure my mouth dropped open, because it still does when I think of this story. “But you ate them almost every night,” I said. “If you hate them why did you eat them?”

“Because your mother served them.”

For thirty-seven years and four months, my father ate a hated vegetable every day just because Mom served it. And he ate it without letting anyone at the table know he hated green beans. Now, if that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.

Ain’t love grand?

Unknown-1Catherine loves to laugh at herself and loves to write comedy. Check out her award-winning romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama.

Take your mind off the sound discrepancies between men and women with a copy of Catherine’s award-winning romantic comedy that has a touch of drama. You’ll laugh as Mama searches for a husband for her daughter.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.

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.Unknown

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

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


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Chocolate & Cherry Heaven

from Sharon Ledwith

A real crowd pleaser at small gatherings such as book clubs or intimate bridal and baby showers, this chocolatey, sweet treat will tempt even the most disciplined of us. If cherry is your go-to fruit that makes your mouth think you’ve swallowed a piece of heaven, then read on if you dare to concoct this sinful chunk of bliss.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CHUNK LOAF

A bit of butter for greasing the loaf pan 
1¼ cups + 1 tsp. all-purpose plain flour 
¼ cup cocoa 
2 tsp. baking powder 
¼ tsp. salt 
¾ cup granulated or caster sugar 
1 cup cherry yogurt 3 large eggs lightly beaten 
1 tsp. vanilla ½ cup mild vegetable oil 
1 cup cherries 
¼ cup sweet chocolate chips 
1 cup walnuts, chopped, use less if you prefer

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C or 165° for fan ovens, Gas Mark 4).

Grease a 2 lb. (8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½ inch) loaf pan.

Remove the pits from the cherries and cut each one in half. Place cherries in a small bowl, sprinkle the 1 teaspoon flour over top and toss gently.

Sift 1¼ cups flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

Stir in sugar, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Set dry ingredients aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and oil.

Add yogurt mixture to dry ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until all the flour is mixed in and the batter is smooth.

Gently fold in the flour-coated cherries.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then remove cake and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.

 THE GLAZE

1 cup icing sugar, confectioner’s sugar 
2 tbsp. maraschino cherry juice 
1 tbsp. water 
Drop of pink food coloring, optional

Pour icing sugar into a bowl. Whisk in maraschino cherry juice.

Gradually whisk in water, a drop or two at a time, until a smooth, drizzle-able consistency is reached.

Whisk in food coloring, if using.

While you’re waiting on your loaf to bake and cool, how about taking a break by delving into one of my books? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, either series will entertain and engage, pulling you into another time and a different place.

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

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

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

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



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, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.


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Mother’s Day Surprise

from Sloane Taylor


Mother’s Day is Sunday May 9 this year.


Do something really nice today for the lady who does so much for you throughout the year. This brunch  will show her how much you care. A few fresh flowers on the table are a nice touch.
 

MENU
Quiche
Fresh Fruit Salad
Croissants
Raspberry Jam
Butter
Zucchini Bread for Dessert
Mimosas
 Quiche
1 frozen deep-dish pie shell
1 tsp. (5g) butter
6 bacon strips, cut into ¼ in. (.64cm) pieces*
¼ cup (30g) onions, chopped
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1¼ cups (230ml) heavy cream
3 pinches white pepper**
¾ cup (85g) swiss cheese, grated
2 tbsp. (25g) butter, cut in small bites

Preheat oven to 375° F (190°C). 

Place pie shell on cookie sheet. Use a fork to poke several sets of holes in the bottom and around the sides of the shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. 

Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add bacon, and ham if you’re including it, and onion when foam subsides. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon to paper towels. 

Beat or whisk eggs, yolks, cream, and seasonings in a large bowl. Stir in cheese. 

Scatter meat, into pie shell. Gently ladle in egg mixture. Sprinkle the top with butter bits. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean. 

The dish may be served hot, warm, or room temperature. It also makes a wonderful appetizer. Leftovers reheat in the microwave beautifully. 

*Diced ham, ¼ lb. (125g), is also good in this recipe in place of the bacon or along with. All other ingredients and process remains the same. 

**No need to buy white pepper if you don’t have it. Use black pepper only a little more as it is not as strong as white pepper. 


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Romance Novels: Why Are They So Popular?

 from Anne Montgomery

Once, after reading one of my manuscripts, my agent said, “I really like the historical part of the story. Why don’t you write it as a stand-alone romance?”

I winced. A romance novel? Me?

I have a pretty good idea about
where this book is going. Don’t you?

I’ll admit here that I’ve been a bit of a snob in regard to that particular genre, which I was surprised to discover is the number one book-selling category on the planet. Not sure why I’ve often scoffed at romance novels. Perhaps it’s the covers: the swooning women with their heaving breasts, the muscular men, all sixpacks and flowing hair. Those books just never sang to me and I never understood why other people wanted to read them.

So, in an effort to learn, I contacted some of my lovely romance-writing friends. I put on my old reporter’s cap and grilled them like a detective looking for clues, my goal to understand why anyone would want to read a romance novel.

Boy, did I learn a lot!

“Romance gives us a glimpse into another world,” said author Tina Ruiz. “Sometimes it’s a world that we don’t have around us. Romance novels are like fairy tales to grown up women, where the men are nice, cater to our every whim, and shelter us from everything that might make us sad or hurt.”

“It’s possible the diversity of romance novels is a magnet for diverse individuals,” said romance author Nancy Kay. “From contemporary, to historical, to mystery and thrillers there are any number of themes to attract a number of tastes.” 

Okay. But why are these stories tops in sales department?

“In my humble opinion it’s because we live in a shattered world that is full of bad stuff and romance is the ultimate good stuff,” said author Catherine Castle. “True love, loyalty, people who care about each other’s happiness.”

“Simple answer – escape,” said author Sloane Taylor. “Escape from the husband/wife who takes you for granted. Escape from the kids demanding all your time with not even a thanks. Escape from the boss who is a major ass. Escape from the bills that keep mounting. And especially in today’s world – escape from the pandemic and it’s personal repercussions.”


“The mainly happy endings in a frequently bitchy world,” Australian author Vonnie Hughes explained.

Hughes went on to say that romance novels don’t cost as much as other genres and they tend to be shorter, so don’t require a big investment of time.

I have certainly read books that contained romance, though that part of the story was mostly secondary to the plot, so I was curious as to what exactly defines a romance novel. Of course, my first thought in our post Fifty Shades of Grey world was sex. But Ruiz pointed out that actual sex is not always the big draw.

“It is the illusion of sex that grabs our hearts,” she said. “In a lot of movies, the man and woman don’t even kiss until the very last scene.  That moment gets built up from the moment they meet until the end of the book or movie.  It’s the part we are all waiting for, so when it happens, it is absolutely wonderful.”

Still sex is often part of the format.

“Reading a book where sex is prominent is pretty awesome,” Ruiz said. “Because it gets portrayed in a different way than we have it in real life.  Some men…are not perfectly, let’s say, kempt, when they walk into the bedroom.  The men in the books and/or movies are like a Prince Charming. Every hair is in place, his teeth shine, his eyes twinkle, and his breath is probably minty fresh.”

Another rather obvious requirement in a romance novel is that romance needs to be the most important part of the story.


“The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work,” Kay said. “There can be subplots as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.”

And, there’s something else I learned. Romance novels apparently should not end on a depressing note. There must be an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending,” Kay said. “In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.”

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? I can now see the appeal of romance novels. Perhaps it’s time I gave one a try.

How about you?

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. It’s not romance but I hope it intrigues you.



As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, and Twitter.


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PIZZA EXTRAORDINAIRE

 from Sharon Ledwith

Ready for some comfort food? I bet you are! So, let’s go with a fan favorite – PIZZA! Not just any pizza, but one so extraordinaire you’ll toss all those take-out menus and never order in again. The sauce is superb and flavorful, and is worth adding the numerous ingredients. This pizza is perfect for game night and gatherings on those cool or damp days at your vacation or stay-cation home. Now that’s Amore!

SAUCE

1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. warm water (110° F/45° C)
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. anchovy paste
¾ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried marjoram
¼ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well, breaking up any cheese clumps.

Allow the sauce to sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Spread sauce evenly over the dough. Add any of toppings you like.

CRUST

2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
½ tsp. brown sugar
1½ cups warm water (110° F/45° C)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
3⅓ cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable or olive oil

Use a large bowl to dissolve yeast and brown sugar in the water. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2½ cups of flour.

Turn dough out onto clean, well-floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. You may or may not use all of the remaining 1⅓ cups of flour.

Place dough into a well-oiled bowl and then cover with a cloth. Let dough rise until double, approximately 1 hour. Punch down dough and then form it into a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 425° (220° C).

If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may spread the sauce and add your favorite toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.

Bake pizza until cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. 

While you’re enjoying your slice of mouth-watering, made-to-order pizza why not put your feet up and relax on the couch with a good book? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, I assure you that either series will take you on a journey far away from the chaos and problems of your world.


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

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

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

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



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

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


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One Step Nearer the Epilogue

from Carol Browne

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash
The metaphor that likens life to a book is a common one. Viewing our progress through existence as a series of chapters appeals to our need to put things in boxes and compartments. Each chapter can be titled after a significant event or rite of passage: infancy; puberty; marriage; first job; and so on. There is no set number of chapters and each one may have different themes and moods. The length of each chapter is as variable as the length of the entire book; it is, however, generally assumed that a valuable lesson or learning experience should be included in the narrative.

The latest chapter in my own book of life is the one headed ‘Retirement’. I have longed to reach this chapter but I am fully aware of the potential dangers that lie within its pages.  For many, retirement is the end of usefulness when we become a drain on society and not a contributor anymore. It can make us feel less important and rob us of our self-respect and purpose. We tell ourselves that we have nothing to look forward to but an eventual decline into infirmity. But, as with all previous chapters, we have a choice in how we approach this new status. It’s all a question of attitude.

We can embrace our new freedom because we have earned it, and we don’t have to let ourselves go or stop learning. We can still work if we want to, but now we can choose what work we do, and when. Retirement doesn’t have to mean bingo and chamber music, complaining about the younger generation, or behaving with dignity at all times. The contribution of the elders to society should be enormous because finally we have the time and financial freedom we need to change the world. It’s not just by doing voluntary work or becoming politically active. We are now more useful than ever before because we have a lifetime of knowledge and experience and we can use that to guide those who are still struggling through earlier chapters. I would encourage all my fellow oldsters to reject the idea that they are on the scrapheap, because the fun is only just beginning.

I’m hoping ‘the undiscover’d country’ is some way off for me yet, but when they come to write my epilogue I hope it will show me in a favourable light. I hope it will include my successes as well as my failures. I would like to think I had made a difference to the world and left it in a better condition than I found it, even if it’s in a small way. I have plans for this particular learning experience and trust that the epilogue will celebrate my success. Most importantly of all, once my book is finished, I hope those I leave behind me will give it a five-star review.

Just to prove to you sitting in a rocker all day is not in my future, here’s a peek at my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.


His adventures in Elvendom left Godwin a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. But who – or what – is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?


EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction but has also taken a plunge into non-fiction with Being Krystyna. This story of a Holocaust survivor has been well received.

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