Leigh Goff

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NEW RELEASE: UPON A TIME

NEW RELEASE for TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE AUTHOR STELLA MAY

E94 23 Nov Stella May CoverNoOtherTimeCover1The eagerly awaited Book Three in Stella May’s highly acclaimed time travel romance series Upon a Time is here! This series makes a great Christmas gift for all readers on your list. It is available in e-book and paperback. Here is a peek of Stella’s New Release.


The only way to save their future is risk a journey back to her past.

Time is running out. The message rings in Abby Coleman’s head as clear as the chime of the grandfather clock, hertime portal on Amelia Island. Her instincts scream that she must move. Act. But where? And why?

Through she leaped forward a century in time to live an independent life, she reluctantly admits she needs Alex, the insufferable thorn in her side who had the audacity to make her hope. Dream. Yearn.

Alex is through waiting for Abby to come to her senses. And to his complete surprise, the maddening, beautiful woman admits she loves him. Yet to his everlasting frustration, she refuses to marry until she solves her mystery.

In a blinding flash of light, the portal spits out a desperate, heavily pregnant Nika, and the reason becomes all too clear. With Abby missing from her own time, Eli stands accused of her murder. The only way to clear his name is for Abby to go where Alex can’t follow—back through the portal. And one passionate night together may be all they’ll ever have.

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Talented author Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website. marina-no-glare

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

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 35 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

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


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How I Got My Agent

by Leigh Goff

 

 Query Tracker was my go-to for the initial search for a literary agent that represented young adult fiction. I read through Lauren Bittrich’s information, visited her agency’s website, and did more research. With her editorial background and interest in YA, she seemed like a great fit for my new manuscript, WICKED SWEET. I sent her my query letter with the required first twenty-five pages attached. She replied two days later that she loved the sample pages and would be thrilled to read the full manuscript.

 

It’s easy to say I had a feeling she was the one, but I did. And fortunately for me, the stars were aligning. I immediately sent the full manuscript to her. Two days later, she sent another email requesting a meeting via Google Meet! I cried for ten crazy, happy minutes. After I composed myself, I did an internet search for what to do when you get the email for The Call.

Oh gosh, shouldn’t have done that. All of sudden there were posts and articles from other literary agents saying that just because an agent requests a meeting/phone call, it doesn’t mean she is going to make an offer. She might want the author to revise and resubmit. Was that really a possibility?

 

I deflated a bit, but my instincts kept telling me to get ready and I was optimistic. I wrote down a few questions I wanted to ask her and on the day of The Call, I had to calm my nerves. As the meeting started, my voice was a bit shaky answering her questions. But when the meeting neared the end, my nervousness had been replaced with excitement. She was fantastic and I wanted to work with her.

 

However, I still had other agents with my manuscript. I asked Lauren for ten days to get back to her and then I notified the other agents of the offer. After some back and forth with those ladies, I knew who I wanted to work with. It was Lauren. Day ten arrived. We emailed each other that morning and a few hours later, my representation was official.

For anyone interested, here is my query letter for Wicked Sweet.

Dear Ms. Bittrich:

WICKED SWEET is a YA contemporary with magical elements that will appeal to fans of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic and Heather Webber’s Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. It is complete at 90,000 words.

New school. New town. New chance to fit in. There’s nothing to connect sixteen-year-old Abigail to her family’s witch history except Abigail, and in her remote Southern town where supernatural fears run high, an empathic talent and a rebellious attitude are enough to let suspicions wreak havoc on her life.

As Abigail delves into a forbidden romance, she also finds herself irresistibly drawn to the local tale of a sixteen-year-old witch burned at the stake centuries earlier. Danger begins to find Abigail who’s discovering the witch’s story has dangerous parallels to her own, especially when an enemy is watching, waiting to toss a match. Together with her coven of diverse misfits who host wicked séances and haunted bonfires, they must overcome frenemies, small town fears, and uncover the deadly lies being hidden by her true love’s powerful family in Whispering Point before history repeats itself. 

I am the author of three YA novels, KOUSH HOLLOW (The Parliament House, 2020), BEWITCHING HANNAH (Mirror World Publishing, 2017), DISENCHANTED (Mirror World Publishing, 2015). I am a member of SCBWI and I have my bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. I am also descended from an accused witch from seventeenth century Virginia. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Leigh Goff

 

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Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction because the teen years are a time of taking risks, discovering the unknown, and experiencing all those heart-pounding, swoon-worthy firsts. 

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Her three novels are available on Amazon. Her fourth book, Wicked Sweet, is out on submission. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, which is set in South Carolina.

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


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NEW RELEASE for STELLA MAY

It’s here for all you time travel fans to enjoy in e-book or paperback! 

Time & Again, Book 2 in the Upon a Time series by Stella May, is by far her best novel yet. Here’s a little to intrigue you on May’s latest romantic fiction.

E63 Marina Cover Reveal TimeandAgainCoverAfter months of working like a woman possessed, Nika Morris kept her promise. Coleman House is finished. It’s gorgeous. Spectacular. Brilliant.

It’s breaking her heart.

Because once the new owners move in, she’ll be cut off from the time portal to 1909, where she met and fell in love with Eli Coleman. Now stranded in her own time, she’s waited months for the key to reappear in its hiding place. Only it hasn’t. Which means Eli must have believed the terrible things she was accused of.

Back in 1909, Eli is stunned at his best friend’s deathbed confession of a shocking betrayal. Nika—his Daisy, his time-traveling wonder—was innocent. Once he finds the key, he wastes no time stepping through the portal, determined to make things right.

But the moment Eli stumbles into her shiny, noisy, confusing future, he realizes reconciliation won’t be simple. There is more than one emotional bridge to rebuild before he and Nika can return to the time their love was born—and live their destiny out to the fullest.

Amazon Buy Link

Marina No GlareTalented author Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

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

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 35 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

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


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Cover Reveal for Upcoming New Release, Time & Again

Time travel fans have been waiting eagerly for Time & Again, Book 2 in the Upon a Time series by Stella May. Here’s a little to intrigue you on May’s latest romantic fiction.

After months of working like a woman possessed, Nika Morris kept her promise. Coleman House is finished. It’s gorgeous. Spectacular. Brilliant.

It’s breaking her heart.

Because once the new owners move in, she’ll be cut off from the time portal to 1909, where she met and fell in love with Eli Coleman. Now stranded in her own time, she’s waited months for the key to reappear in its hiding place. Only it hasn’t. Which means Eli must have believed the terrible things she was accused of.

Back in 1909, Eli is stunned at his best friend’s deathbed confession of a shocking betrayal. Nika—his Daisy, his time-traveling wonder—was innocent. Once he finds the key, he wastes no time stepping through the portal, determined to make things right.

But the moment Eli stumbles into her shiny, noisy, confusing future, he realizes reconciliation won’t be simple. There is more than one emotional bridge to rebuild before he and Nika can return to the time their love was born—and live their destiny out to the fullest.

This book releases August 25, 2022 in both paperback and e-ebook. In a hurry to get your copy? Pre-order the e-book on Amazon today.
Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

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

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

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


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Romance Meets Outdoor Dining

from Sloane Taylor

Spring is an amazing time of year and my favorite because that’s when the Earth comes alive. All sorts of beautiful things happen. Trees are budding, tender plants push through the ground, and romance is in the air and warm weather is just a few weeks away.

I am a romantic through and through. Always have been and with any luck I always will be. Romance is much more than a quick trip to tangle the sheets. It is about being with someone you love and doing little things to show them how much they mean to you. In my case I cook because I love it.

When summer arrives and the gardens are ablaze in color, I want to move the romance outside. So why not share a summer night with your someone special? What better way than with a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine, and music. You don’t need much to set the mood and turn your patio, balcony, or kitchen into a lover’s nook. Make your night special with great food because is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

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A printed flat sheet is perfect for a festive tablecloth or set out placemats for the plates and serving dishes. Use plenty of candles in different sizes and a variety of holders scattered around the table to enhance the mood, but definitely avoid scented candles. Stemmed wine glasses sparkle in candlelight and add a festive feel to your dinner. Use your regular dishes or, for fun, mix it up with a number of different plates that don’t match but complement each other for the different courses. Experiment and have fun.

Now that you have the perfect location and setting for you and that right person, may I suggest you spoil yourself with an intimate dinner meant for lovers. It is easy to prepare, and leftovers make marvelous sandwiches. This recipe also works great in the oven.

Ask your butcher to dress the tenderloin. If he won’t, then you need to remove the excess fat and sliver out the silver strip along the side. Easy to do. Slide a sharp knife under the strip close to one end. Use a back and forward motion like sawing to ease your knife between the meat and the strip as you lift it away from the beef.

MENU

Marinated & Grilled Beef Tenderloin

Potatoes Baked on the Grill

Grilled Asparagus

Sautéed Mushrooms

Dry Red Wine – Valpolicella 

Marinated & Grilled Beef Tenderloin

2 – 3 lb. (1 – 1.5kg) beef tenderloin

½ cup (120ml) olive oil

½ cup (120ml) dry red wine

3 rosemary sprigs or 1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried

6 thyme sprigs or 1 tsp. (5ml) dried

1 bay leaf

3 garlic cloves, chopped fine

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Oil to coat grill grate

Combine all ingredients in a long bowl or plastic bag and a shallow pan. Marinade in fridge 2 – 20 hours. Seems like a strange time span, but the longer the marinade the tastier the beef.

Remove meat from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling or roasting in oven. Meat needs to be almost room temperature.

Grill Instructions

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Pat tenderloin dry. Discard marinade. Add beef, close lid, and grill 15 – 20 minutes or until meat is done to your preference. Be sure to turn meat several times to avoid burning.

Oven Instructions

Preheat oven to 400° F (200°C).

Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Pat tenderloin dry. Discard marinade. Add beef to pan. Roast 30 – 40 minutes or until meat is done to your preference. Save the juice to moisten he meat when you serve.

Baked Potatoes on the Grill

1 russet potato per person

Olive oil

Aluminum foil

Butter

Sour cream

Chives

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat gas grill to medium-high.

Wash potatoes under cool water. Pat dry. Poke several sets of holes in each potato with a fork. This stops the potato from bursting as it bakes. Rub potatoes with a small amount of olive oil to keep the skin soft. Wrap each potato in a section of aluminum foil.

Place potatoes on upper shelf of grill. If you don’t have an upper shelf, then lay them at the outer edges of your grill.

Grill 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning every 15 – 20 minutes. Test if done by inserting a toothpick into the potato. It should glide in easily.

To serve, remove foil and then cut an X across the top of each potato. Using potholders squeeze the ends toward the center until the potato mounds.

Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, and pepper.

Grilled Asparagus

6 – 8 asparagus per person

½ cup (120ml) olive oil

2 tbsp. (30ml) lemon juice

½ tbsp. (7.5ml) garlic powder, not salt

1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim, then discard, the tough bottoms off asparagus with a sharp knife.

Combine oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, basil, and pepper in a glass or ceramic dish. Stir well. Add asparagus. Stir gently to coat the spears.

Set gas grill to medium-high heat. Poke a few holes in a piece of aluminum foil then set it onto the grate. Lay spears on top. Turn frequently to avoid burning.

Asparagus are done when they color to medium brown, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Arrange spears on a dish and serve immediately.

Sautéed Mushrooms

6 – 8 mini bella mushrooms

1 tbsp. (15ml) olive oil

2 tbsp. (25g) butter

½ small onion, sliced thin

2 tbsp. (30ml) dry vermouth or white wine

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Clean mushrooms with a dry paper towel to remove bedding soil. Slice them in half lengthwise if medium or into thirds if large.

Over medium heat, drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a medium-sized frying pan and add butter. Stir in onions and mushrooms. Sauté until almost tender, 3 – 6 minutes.

Pour vermouth or white wine over the mushrooms and continue to heat.

To serve, grind pepper across the top and spoon into a warm serving dish.

This dish is best cooked and served on the same day. Leftovers are soggy.

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.

To learn more about Taylor go to her website. Stay in touch on Blogger, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available on Amazon.


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Cover Reveal from Stella May’s Upcoming New Romance

COVER REVEAL for Stella May’s latest Time Travel Romance.

This engrossing novel has wonderful moments of humor and honest soul-searching. This book contains a house flipper who talks to her projects, a beloved grandmother, a case of mistaken identity, and a slow-burn romance. Look for its release on Amazon and all major vendors September 27, 2021.

The twist of a key answers many questions…but could also break her heart.

BLURB: Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

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

Stella writes fantasy romance and time travel and is the author of the family saga/trilogy Once & Forever, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and all are partners in their family business.

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


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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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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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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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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.