Wednesday Writers—A Worthy Heart by Sara Williams

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Sara Beth Williams who will be sharing an excerpt and the story behind the story from her Contemporary Christian Romance A Worthy Heart . Welcome, Sara!

Thanks, Catherine,

Sometimes characters, like people, are stubborn. We all know those friends and those characters, right? I shouldn’t be surprised that Joel and Serena were the most stubborn out of all of my characters.

Out of the three books in my second chance novel series, A Worthy Heart was the most difficult to write. The first book, When Hearts Collide, flowed like water from my fingertips, and then organically began to develop into a series. I had developed six characters total, and quickly realized that after Lacey and Jay, the next four needed their own stories.

While my third book, Anchor My Heart’s theme and premise remained almost unchanged throughout the drafting process, A Worthy Heart changed drastically from its early drafts. When I first turned it into my editor, she sent it back to me and explained that it read too much like a woman’s fiction novel and not enough like a contemporary romance. I’m so grateful for her knowledge and her patience! As I had an entire series planned, I opted to implement her suggested changes.

Building Joel and Serena into likeable people who grew out of their immaturity, people who became stronger and better and wiser, was much harder than I anticipated. Having to stick to the backstories already implemented throughout When Hearts Collide both helped and hindered that process.

All and all, bringing their stories to life challenged me as a writer to rely on knowledge, not just instinct, and to study and absorb and learn everything I could about writing, plotting, character development and revision. I could not be more proud of the end product and I’m so thrilled that it finaled in the 2020 Selah Awards. The beauty of this story takes my breath away whenever I sit down and read my paperback copy.

I leave you with an excerpt from A Worthy Heart and this bit of wisdom: diligent perseverance through difficult situations will pay off.

A Worthy Heart

By Sara Beth Williams

Joel Bennett has always known Serena Hayes as his sister’s gregarious best friend. In the three years since Lacey began college, Serena became a regular houseguest, but lately, she’s absent more than not. When Joel discovers she’s in an abusive relationship, protectiveness from within roars to life.

With only a part-time job to support her and nowhere to go, Serena fears leaving her current relationship would jeopardize her chances of graduating college. After a brutal attack leaves her no choice, she courageously moves out. On her journey toward regaining confidence, self-worth, and independence, Joel falls in beside her, encouraging her. The way he emulates Godly love and compassion draws her close–not just to him, but to the God who can satisfy her longing for love better than any man,

Attraction sizzles between them, but events from their pasts cast shadows of doubt. When the unthinkable happens, can Serena open her heart to a second chance at love, or is she destined to be alone?

Excerpt:

Joel: YOU BUSY?

Heart blipping, Serena typed a response. WATCHING A MOVIE. WHAT’S UP?

Joel: CAN YOU COME DOWNSTAIRS?

She covered her mouth, tempted to run to the window at the far end of the room to

check the parking lot down below for Joel’s car. WHY…ARE YOU DOWN THERE OR SOMETHING? She added a winking smiley.

 Joel replied instantly. MAYBE.

She assessed the fact that she’d not done one thing to ready herself for any kind of

company. ARE YOU SERIOUSLY? IT’S TOO COLD TO WALK ALL THE WAY DOWNSTAIRS IF YOU’RE PLAYING A PRANK.

As she typed, she slipped from the couch and wove between three other girls, then

darted toward her room. A vibration indicated another response. IT’S NOT COLD OUT. And then another. I’M AT THE BENCH WHERE WE ATE DINNER TOGETHER.

Heart fluttering, she threw off her pajamas and snagged a long-sleeve blouse from

her closet. He’s here. He came here for me!

After some searching, she found her favorite pair of dark blue jeans, then slipped on a pair of flats. Her phone buzzed again from her dresser.

Joel: SO HOW GOOD IS THAT MOVIE YOU’RE WATCHING?

She exhaled to calm her heart rate before sending a reply. BE DOWN IN 5.

Much quicker than she normally would, she ran a brush through her hair, spritzed on a bit of body spray, and snagged a jean jacket from the closet. She grabbed her purse and darted from the room, then locked her door behind her. She hurried toward the elevator, rounded the corner, and half screamed as she collided with Joel’s tall and solid

frame.

His deep laugh mingled with her stunned, sputtered laughter as he stepped back and

steadied her, cupping her shoulders. “You all right?”

She nodded. “I thought you were downstairs?”

His arms fell to his sides. “Well…I was.” She laughed as he grinned. “Now I’m up

here.” His crooked half grin, half laugh stole her breath. Dressed in slacks and a collared shirt, he looked as if he’d come from work. But he doesn’t work on Saturdays. Right?

He stepped back again ever so slightly, one hand concealed in his pocket. “I came to see if you were busy today.”

“Not particularly.” She cradled her jacket, waiting.

“Will you go to a movie with me?”

Her heart screamed Yes! But the practical part of her screamed this was much too

soon. “Would this be considered a date?”

Serious brown eyes locked with hers. “Only if you want it to be.”

She released a shaky breath. Did she want it to be? It’d been about two months since

she’d left Chris. Was she ready to jump into another serious relationship? Because she

knew Joel; he wasn’t the casual-dating type. She had to go all in or not at all.

“How about…I let you know at the end of the evening?”

“Sounds like a plan.” His eyes glowed as he produced his phone from his back

pocket. “Here, want to pick a movie?” He held out his phone, a movie app already open.

“Me?” She accepted and held the phone carefully, gazing at him instead of the screen.

He nodded and waited. She scrolled down the list of movies, noting the times, ratings,

theater locations, and descriptions. Trying to recall everything she’d learned about him

in the last three-ish years, she finally chose an action comedy, then handed the phone

back.

Without hesitation he purchased tickets, then pocketed his phone with a grin. “The

movie doesn’t start until five.” That meant they had roughly three hours to spare. “What would you like to do in the meantime?”

She laughed as she tunneled her arms into her jacket. “I don’t know. This was your

idea.” She hit the button for the elevator.

“But I want you to choose.”

They walked onto the open elevator. “Are you hungry?” she asked.

He nodded and leaned a shoulder against the wall. “Are you?”

She nodded.

“Then let’s find somewhere to eat.”

Want to read more? You can find A Worthy Heart at Amazon

About the Author:

Sara Beth Williams is a wife, mother of two daughters, and temporary caretaker of a lovable old lady pit and a spunky Pomeranian-Shih Tzu mix. She lives in Northern California. When she’s not held hostage by the keyboard, she enjoys music, teaching, reading and spending time with her family. She is all about connecting with readers! Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,

Receive a FREE short story when you sign up for her newsletter.

Tasty Tuesdays—Romance Meets Outdoor Dining from Sloane Taylor

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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, 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 it is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

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.

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

Sloane

For more great al Fresco meals check out Sloane’s cookbook

Romantic Meals to Dine al Fresco: Black & White Edition (Meals to Make Together): Taylor, Sloane: 9781732363540: Amazon.com: Books

About the Author:

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 http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/ every Wednesday.  The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Connect with Sloane on Facebook, Twitter,. Website, and her Amazon Author Page

Musings from a Writer’s Brain –The Greatest Gift: An Unplanned Sequel by Karin Beery

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I love reading a series, but I never planned to write one—it’s tough remembering all of the names, dates, and descriptions of every characters, place, and event. I’m tired just explaining it! I was happy writing new characters in new places for each book.

But then something strange happened…I found myself without a book contract.

Okay, that’s not really strange. I’ve spent more of my life without a book deal than I have with one, but after having two books published in two years, I expected (wanted, hoped) it would continue. It didn’t. It was partly my manuscript, partly a series of unfortunate events. Regardless, I could see a big hole in my publishing schedule.

Enter the panic.

Enter the tears.

Enter my friend Jessica wanting to know why the crazy ex-girlfriend in Practically Married was named after her. (It wasn’t—Jess is named after a girl I knew in high school, but don’t tell my friend.)

Jessica’s question got me thinking—why would Russ have dated Jess if she was crazy? And if she wasn’t really crazy, why would he have broken up with her?

My friend gave me the greatest gift you can give a writer: inspiration!

One question led to another led to another led to another. And then, because I don’t understand the point of fiction without kissing scenes, I had to give Jess a love interest, but wouldn’t it be great if she wasn’t interested?

The ideas took off and a few months later I’d written Avoiding Marriage: A Practically Married Novella.

This time, I did the work myself—hired editors, designers, and formatters to self-publish my first book. My first novella. My first sequel! It’s been a stressful, exhilarating, frustrating, exciting time, and I’m happy to be in the home stretch. Avoiding Marriage is now available to buy!

But … then I read the reviews:

“I know there are other books with these characters, so I am looking forward to reading more about them in the future.”

“I wanted to keep reading to see what happens next, so I’m looking forward to the next in the series.”

“I want [another] novel that shares more of what happened between [Jess] and Russ and with her mom. I want to know what happens to Felix, Carter and her mom.”

Looks like the series will continue…

Avoiding Marriage

 by Karin Beery

Two years ago, Jessica Miller made a mess of her already confusing life. Now, she’s back in Boyne Heights, and she’s determined to fix her reputation. She can’t seem to avoid the past that haunts her, but that’s the joy of small-town life—word spreads and people remember. Intent on her mission, however, she faces her past head-on, taking a job with her ex-boyfriend while avoiding her grandmother’s attempts to find her a new one.

Avoiding Marriage is available on Amazon

About the Author:

Karin Beery grew up in a rural Michigan town, where she wrote her first novel in high school. Today, she writes contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s reading, editing, or teaching it. In her free time, she enjoys watching University of Michigan football and action-adventure movies with her husband and fur babies.

Connect with Karin on her Website, Facebook, Twitter and Bookbub

A Writer’s Garden-Plants and Pets by Sally Brandle

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing. Today’s writer/gardener guest is Sally Brandle who will be sharing her garden and her garden pet partners. Welcome, Sally!

One thing about gardens, if you have good soil and rain, they will grow without any help. Of course, that includes persistent flowers such as forget-me-knots (aptly named as they reseed with fervor), wonderful geums, bee balm, euphorbia, Japanese anemones (also a bit pushy), iris, blue bells and a host of other plants which make their home in my yard. When I clip bouquets or prune, I’m generally not alone. Spock, the kitty, sees the pink harness and sits at the door. We have coyotes, and he chases birds, so he’s stays indoors otherwise.

My rescue pups, Ursa, the Heeler, and Maggie, the Shepherd, are willing to go outside and assist. When we brought them home and their outdoor help became a bit overzealous, we added a temporary (hopefully) wire barrier around the flower beds—at least until Maggie is out of her teen years. A former dog of ours was renamed from Dylan to Digger, as his determination to take out the yard ended up with us installing fake grass. We’ve had it for five or six years and love the easy care. We keep real grass down by the lake, but the no weeding or mowing advantage is hard to beat.

I was known as Sally G. Frog in college and spent my childhood loving frogs . . . now I cherish outdoor versions given to me by family and friends, and the occasional live resident.

Writing and riding my horse, Lance, who turns 31 on May 7th, keeps me busy. I’ve published four books in four years and its time for me to take a break and pull a few determined groundcovers and remove weeds.

Here’s my work in progress to fill in the flagstone with a few flowers and polite ground covers. I’ll do an update on a post in October. I pulled three garbage bins worth of a nuisance ground cover from this area. Uggh.

My parting words for happy gardening are that if you see horsetails beginning to grow, dig down carefully as far as the root goes and get rid of them! Happy almost summer, and happy gardening!

About the Writer/Gardener:

I grew up in a family of vegetable and flower gardeners. When I lived in an apartment, potted plants sufficed. The sense of being one with Mother Earth calms me.

 I write clean/sweet romantic suspense. My stories contain sensual elements, mild swear words, and villains receiving non-gory justice—along with female friends supporting one another while they search for their perfect heroes.

The Targeted Pawn is a contemporary clean romantic suspense. If you enjoy smoldering romance, mercenary villains, and rescued animals, you’ll love escaping again to Emma Springs, Montana.

 Visit Sally’s website for an overview of her books and to see what she’s about to publish next!  www.sallybrandle.com

Threats forced her to flee Seattle. Honor binds him to Montana. A second chance at love tethers them together.

Elon Hardy’s romance skills are rusty after a loveless marriage ends, but upon meeting hunky rancher, Rane Calderon, sparks blaze hotter than her welding torch. To support her collegiate sons, she’s determined to acquiesce to the bullheaded, female-phobic boss until her divorce finalizes from her deceitful husband.

A woman Rane trusted ruined his life, and at forty, he won’t be fooled again. Blisteringly mad he’s hired a female bearing a man’s name, he fights attraction for the curvy, determined brunette while thwarting efforts to build a private prison atop his Blackfeet ancestors’ burial ground.

Can Elon and Rane realize love doesn’t have a “best used before date”? If you enjoy smoldering romance, mercenary villains, and rescued animals, you’ll love escaping again to Emma Springs, Montana.

Available on Amazon

Wednesday Writers–Living Water by Allison Wells

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Allison Wells who will be sharing about her book Living Water, a modern retelling of the Bible story of the woman at the well. Welcome, Allison!

Living Water is the story of a wallflower in a family of prize-winning roses. Based on the story of the Woman at the Well in John 4, Roxie DePrive only wants one thing – to be loved unconditionally. That desire leads her to get married fresh from high school to the first boy who pays her attention. But when that marriage is short lived, she marries again, and again. She gets married five times in all, just like our Samaritan woman in the New Testament.

I’ve always wondered what led that woman to be married so many times. Was she five times widowed? Did her husbands leave her? What happened in her life? We know that because she went to get water at mid-day, she was not a popular woman in town. Most of the village women would have gone to the well early when it was still cool. They would have traded gossip and laughs as their children ran around playing. This is a big social time for the women of the village.

But not our dear girl, she was excluded from that. She did not walk with the other women, she did not trade recipes and stories. She was likely the story on everyone else’s lips. A woman fallen from grace for some reason or another.

So I wrote her story in a modern era. Starting with her high school years in the 1990s (anyone who came of age in the 90s will love the references) and carrying Roxie through to the 2020s, we see her transformation from senator’s daughter and a first time bride to social pariah who is rumored to be a man stealer. Roxie is pushed away from polite society after her five marriages.

Just like the woman in the Bible, Roxie is at an all time low when she meets Jesus in the form of a kind pastor who offers her living water. Neither woman understands what that is until it’s explained. And then, oh, then how their lives change. In John 4 we see the woman put down her water jar and run back to town to tell everyone about the Messiah.

Y’all. The social pariah of the town literally ran to those who scorned her to tell them about Jesus. That’s powerful stuff there. She was the first evangelist. That’s the power of Jesus coming into your life.

Roxie’s life is strife with sin and condemnation. But because someone believed in her and encouraged her, she turned her life around. I do love a good story of redemption and this is a big one. No matter how many times you stumble, God will always be there to pick you up. He guarantees it in Psalm 37:24.

I hope and pray that this story of redemption will resonate with all readers. No matter your past, you have a future with God in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Living Water

By Allison Wells

As the lackluster youngest daughter of a U.S. Senator, Roxie DePrive spends her life thirsting for one thing: to be loved unconditionally.

So, when her first boyfriend turns into her first marriage, Roxie’s life undergoes a drastic change. And when that first marriage doesn’t work out, she marries again.

And again.

Until Roxie marries five times.

The first marriage is puppy love, then dangerous love, convenient love, wishful love, and one that might possibly be the real deal.

And yet, none of the men she marries can quench the thirst she feels in her heart. It’s only when she meets a man who knows her entire life and all her mistakes that Roxie learns the power of something else-the deep and abiding peace of Living Water.

A modern retelling of the Woman at the Well in the New Testament, Living Water shows us that no matter our past, it’s God’s love that truly quenches the thirst of our souls.

Excerpt:

Remi came into the restaurant mad as a hornet. He was muttering and sputtering what I could only figure were expletives in French.

“What’s the matter?” I asked as I chopped peppers across from him. There had been no hint of anger when I had left our apartment an hour before. I wondered what would cause such a change in demeanor so quickly.

“Stupid government,” he said before ranting again in French. “My visa has expired. I have to go back to France.”

I stopped my knife mid-chop. “Go back? Why? Can’t you stay here?” I knew Remi had his own life, but I was asking for purely selfish reasons. Remi had been such a wonderful friend to me. I didn’t want to lose him.

“I have tried to extend it, but it’s been denied. I will be deported within the week,” he said, throwing his hands up in the air. “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave this restaurant and you, cherie. And I cannot leave Becca.”

I began chopping again, hoping the repetition would help me think. An idea came to me immediately. “I know! Why don’t you and Becca get married?”

Remi’s face softened and he looked at me. “Ah, Roxie, I wish it could be. But est impossible.”

I came around the table we were working on and took his hands. “But why? It would allow you to stay here. And I admit, Remi, I need you. You’ve been such a great friend to me.”

“Roxanne,” Remi sighed. “We have not told you and Erin the whole truth. Becca and I are in love, yes. But the reason she moved in so fast is that she is trying to get a divorce from her husband. So we cannot get married because she already is married. He is what you say about Josh – a bum.” Remi looked down at his shoes, embarrassed.

“I had no idea,” I whispered. “My divorce was over pretty quickly. But we had an annulment. Can’t she do that?”

He shook his head. “No, apparently not. I see no way through this. But it kills me to think of leaving Becca. I was going to propose to her and everything. You know, after the divorce was final.” He pulled a little ring box from his pocket and showed me a modest, but dazzling, little engagement ring. I shook my head at the shame of it all.

Surely there was an answer somehow. Later that day as we were preparing for dinner, several men in black came to the restaurant asking for Remi. Chef Tallant burst through the kitchen doors from the front room in a tizzy. “Remi, you need to go. Immigration is here!” Chef Tallant was a hard boss, but he treated his employees like family and he had grown increasingly fond of Remi. He pushed Remi’s arm in an effort to slide him out the back door.

“What do you mean immigration is here?” he asked, his voice high. “I thought I had more time!” Remi looked from Chef to me, his eyes pleading.

Thinking quickly, I stood next to Remi and dug into his pocket. I opened the ring box and put it into his hand and shoved Remi down on his knee. The door burst open and three men in suits stood in the doorway just in time to see my fake excitement at a wedding proposal that had not actually happened.

The men looked at the scene before them. Chef Tallant stood mouth agape. Remi on the floor before me with a ring extended. The rest of the kitchen looked shocked. Hopefully this plan would work.

“What’s going on here?” asked the one in front. His eyes narrowed and his mustache twitched.

“Shh,” Chef said, waving a hand at the man. “Do not interrupt this beautiful moment.” He had caught on immediately.

Remi looked distressed, so I quickly piped up, “Yes, I will marry you!” I grabbed the ring and put it on my finger. I was relieved it fit. I bent down and hugged Remi, helping him back to his feet. Quietly I whispered, “Play along.”

Once he understood what I was doing, he jumped into the role. “Oh, cherie, I am the happiest man today!” And he kissed me. It was probably the most dramatic kiss I had ever received in my life; I had to stifle a laugh.

Once the moment was over, everyone in the kitchen applauded. Everyone, that is, except for the three uniformed men who had intruded. “What the devil is going on?” the first one asked again.

“Don’t you see? They are in love!” Chef exclaimed, shaking his round body before him. “I will make you the best wedding cake! I will make all the food for your wedding!” He came over to us and kissed us both on the cheek.

“Remi Bonhomme? You will have to come with us,” the man with the mustache said. He took two huge steps toward us.

I cozied up to Remi and batted my eyelashes at the men. “You can’t take him, we just got engaged!”

Want to read more? You can find Living Water at Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, and monsterivy.

About the Author:

Allison Wells is an author, avid reader, and sweet tea addict. She graduated from Clemson University and began writing books as a way to escape the doldrums of newspaper reporting. Allison is married to a wonderful man and they are raising one red-headed teen daughter and three wild boys in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Check out her daily adventures on social media. Her motto is, “Life is Short, Eat the Oreos.”

Connect with Allison on Facebook: Instagram: Goodreads: and YouTube

Wednesday Writers, Allison Wells, Living Water, Christian fiction, redemption,

Tasty Tuesdays—Grandma’s Meatballs and Spaghetti from Viola Russell

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picture courtesy of Pixabay

My novel Love at War is a WWII historical romance set in New Orleans.  The family matriarch is a German native, and many of my family members noted similarities between the mother Magda and our own grandmother, Viola.  Of course, many family stories and lore formed the basis for Love at War.

I started writing the book after my mother died when I began reading letters her brothers wrote home while deployed.  The scene that aroused the most discussion, however, was not about battle scenes or historical documentation. Rather, a dinner table scene in the novel resulted in multiple emails, phone calls, and text messages. 

The family had gathered for Sunday dinner; the main dish was meatballs and spaghetti. Many of my cousins expressed horror that I’d described the gravy as “brown gravy.” My cousin Trudy said, “Grandma’s meatballs were never in brown gravy, always red.” Cousin upon cousin emailed about this issue.  “I vote red.” “I vote brown.” The red gravy cousins won. 

My cousin Emmett resolved the controversy surrounding my betrayal of family tradition.  “Grandma’s stewed chicken had the brown gravy. The meatballs were always in red gravy.”

 Well, I’m almost certain I remember some brown gravy with the meatballs, but I agree that she fixed meatballs more often with red gravy than with brown.

Pardon me, Grandma, for my inaccurate recollections! 

My mother used her mother’s recipe for meatballs and spaghetti, and I want to share it with this audience.

Grandma’s Meatballs and Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  1. Shallots–3 stalks
  2. Butter–1 Tablespoon
  3. Breadcrumbs–1 cup
  4. Ground meat–1 pound
  5. Salt–1 Tablespoon
  6. Pepper–1 Tablespoon
  7. Lea and Perrins Sauce-1 Tablespoon
  8. Cooking oil–1 teaspoon
  9. Onion powder–1teaspoon
  10. Garlic powder–1 teaspoon
  11. Sugar–a pinch
  12. Bay Leaf–3-4
  13.  1 can tomato paste
  14. Parsley–1 teaspoon
  15. Oregano–1 teaspoon
  16. Flour–2/3 cup
  17. Bell pepper–1/2 of a bell pepper

Steps:

  1. Chop Shallots into a bowl with the ground meat
  2. Mix ground meat, shallots, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and Lea & Perrins sauce into a mixing bowl.
  3. Roll the ground meat in flour into compact balls and place in a pot.
  4. Heat cooking oil in another pot and fry the ground meatballs. (The balls must be compact. My mother used to say that keeping things tight and compact was also good advice in life)
  5. Set aside the meatballs.
  6. Drain excess grease into an empty can.
  7. Put a pinch of sugar and bay leaf into the tomato paste can.
  8. Stir shallots and bell pepper with butter in a pot. 
  9. Spoon tomato paste into the pot.
  10. Add water or beef broth.
  11. Stir while seasoning with parsley, oregano, salt & pepper.
  12. When seasoning comes to a boil, add the meatballs.
  13. Cook on a medium flame for one and one half to two hours.
  14. Cook spaghetti for approximately 10-15 minutes.
  15. Spoon gravy and meatballs over spaghetti.

While the sauce is simmering, check out Viola’s book Love at War, available on Amazon

Love At War

by Viola Russell

Nuala Comeaux and her brothers are part of a typical working-class family living life on the brink of World War II. Like most Americans, they pray war won’t come their way, but Nuala is more preoccupied with her budding romance with the handsome and intoxicatingly sexy Keith Roussell. Nuala willingly gives in to his charms, but soon, the tides of war will engulf Nuala and her family. Nuala marries Keith, and soon, Keith and her brothers are overseas, facing the enemy. 

Keith’s talent with a rifle earns him the respect of the top brass, and he soon works as a sniper under the command of ranking officers. When Nuala learns of Keith’s death at the hands of a dangerous German general, she joins the female branch of the military. From there, she is recruited for OSS and joins her highly decorated brothers on clandestine operations. Even though patriotism plays a part in her motivation, Nuala is also consumed with the desire to seek revenge for the murder of her sniper-husband. 

About the Author:

Viola Russell is the pseudonym for Susan Weaver Eble. A homegrown New Orleanian, she holds a doctorate in English literature from Texas A & M University. She has traveled far and wide and relishes the memories she has made in places as distant as England, Ireland, Canada, and Jamaica and as near as Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, California, and Massachusetts. She lives with her husband Ben, the love of her life, in a New Orleans cottage and is most comfortable at her computer creating the worlds that drift into her imagination.

Connect with Viola on her website

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Finding a New Home by Anne Montgomery

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from Anne Montgomery

“Ms. Montgomery, there’s a cat outside.”

Two of my students stared at me.

“Go and get it,” I said, immediately rethinking that idea after they’d left the room. I hoped the cat wasn’t mean or scared and left the kids with bloody gashes. I tried to stop them, but they were gone.

A short time later they returned, sans cat. “We couldn’t catch it,” they said in unison.

“OK.” I was relieved, but just momentarily.

“It’s so hot out there and the cat is panting.”

I looked at the sweet girl who tried to rescue the animal. “Is it hurt?”

“I don’t know.”

Crap! I’ve had more kitties than I can count over the years. Strays and cats who’d wound up in shelters. But I didn’t want another one. I still had three furry felines – down from seven – most of whom died after long, pleasant lives. And a big cattle dog, as well.

The problem is, I’m getting older, and whenever I’m faced with a new pet I start doing the math. If said animal lives 15 years, how old will I be? What if I die? Who will take care of them. While I know my sweetie pie is as devoted to our four-legged friends as I am, what if we both died?

“So, you think the cat might be injured?” I said again.

She shrugged.

“Let’s go.” I led my students outside and found a sleek, black, kitty with big gold eyes. The creature meowed and ran right to me. I picked him up and prepared to be speared with curved, pointy claws, but he just laid his head on my shoulder, clearly no feral beast.

As it was lunchtime, I put the young cat in my office and, as I ate, he jumped into my chair, curled into a ball and slept at my side. “Well, aren’t you a sweet boy.” I patted his head and he purred loudly. I squinted as he closed his eyes. “But I don’t want another cat.” He ignored me.

Later, the girl who found him appeared and said she wanted to take the cat home. “My mom said it would be OK.”

I looked at the kitty and he stared back at me. “Great!” I said, not feeling great at all. “Let’s find a box.”

After we placed the cat in the container, I waved and watched her walk away. I admit, I was a bit sad. Still, I’d done the right thing.

“We found a cat at school today.”

My sweetie pie peered at me over his glasses, then glanced around the room.

“You’ll be proud of me. I found him a nice home.”

He raised both eyebrows, and didn’t have to say, How unlike you to not bring it home.

Later, I thought about the cat and decided to call the girl’s home to make sure he was settling in. Her father answered the phone.

“I don’t want a cat!” he said, an edge to his voice. “I don’t like cats. I don’t want it in my house. If she keeps it, we’ll put it in a cage in the backyard.”

I sat up. It was close to 110 degrees in the Arizona desert that day. “A cage?” I jotted down the address. “I’ll be right there.”

An hour later, I released the kitty in my living room, and he quickly made friends with Westin, my deaf Bombay cat. And then I noticed the similarity. They were almost identical. They nuzzled one another and again I realized this cat was no stray. He belonged to someone. He blinked at me and meowed. “No, my friend. I can’t get attached to you.”

A few days later, the vet waved a hand-held machine over the cat’s shiny fur. My heart beat quickly. A chip would be good,” I told myself. I’ll take him back to his owners, who are surely missing him.

“No chip.” The vet said.

I exhaled, then stared at my new kitty, who the vet informed me was just a baby at ten months old. I started to do the math, then stopped. I realized it didn’t matter that I’d be pushing eighty when he reached 15. As much as I tried to deny it, this cat was mine.

He head butted my hand and stared at me with those huge gold eyes.

We call him Morgan.

 
Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. 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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

A Writer’s Garden–Bugs and Blessings by Susan Miura

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing. Today’s writer/gardener guest is Susan Miura who will be talking about one of  most gardeners’ least liked subjects: Bugs…with a twist. Welcome, Susan!

How did creepy, slimy garden creatures transform from “enemy” to “blessings” in my gardener’s heart? Years ago, as a little girl picking vegetables for dinner in our backyard, I dreaded the emergence of buggish things: the spider descending down a kohlrabi, a beetle skittering along an eggplant, bees hovering over cucumbers, and the worst of the worst…the big, fat, terrifying hornworm poking it’s head out of a tomato. It was truly the stuff of nightmares.

Fast forward a few decades and the little garden girl is a wife, mom, and author with a passion for nature photography. Over the years, those creepy crawlies have been the subjects of Creation lessons as I worked with my children among the flowers and veggie plants, talking about God’s amazing design of our world and all living things, and the science behind what they do and why. They’ve also been the focal point for many nature photos. But it was when I got a macro lens that everything, truly, came into focus. (See what I did there?)

Through the magic of my lens, I was able to observe what the naked eye could not, and even after years of using it, the images never fail to take my breath away. To see the tiny dot indentations on the beetle’s wings or the individual hairs of a pollen-dusted bee is nothing short of miraculous.

Even that scary tomato worm, artistically patterned with its dots, lines and a row of spots that resemble eyes, is both exquisite and whimsical when magnified 100 times.  And spiders? Their intricate designs are the stuff of art museums.

But it wasn’t only insects that emerged into things of beauty, it was the plants themselves. No one would be surprised to hear that flowers look downright otherworldly through a macro, but even simple vegetable plants transform into something mystically marvelous.

As a gardener and photographer, I eagerly anticipate the planting and photography that comes with spring. And as an author, I can’t resist infusing some of my characters with my passion for nature, in all its forms.  

About the Writer/Gardener:

Susan grew up in an Italian-American family where much of the backyard was used for growing vegetables, with one circular area dedicated to flowers. She worked side-by-side with her father planting onions, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and other Italian favorites. Her passion for nature, writing, and photography lead her to travel, write books, and create presentations using her nature and travel photos.

Susan worked as a Chicago-area newspaper reporter, then as a television reporter in Albuquerque before returning to her home state of Illinois. She currently works in public relations, teaches writing workshops, and gives travel presentations throughout the Chicago suburbs. She is president of the American Christian Fiction Writers Chicago chapter and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her young adult novels have won the Readers’ Favorite, Moonbeam, Illumination, StoryMonsters, and Best Book awards, and her new release, Surviving Carmelita, is her first inspirational women’s fiction.

Connect with Susan on her Website: susanmiura.com  Instagram: susanmiura1  Facebook: susanmiurawrites  Twitter: miura10

Surviving Carmelita

by Susan Miura (publisher: CrossRiver Media)

 Where do you run when your world implodes?

“Mom?” Ashley’s shakes can be heard in that single, whispery word. “Mom, what happened?”

I take a breath, unable to turn my head. Unable to move at all. “I don’t know, Ash.” But somehow I do know, beneath skin chilled by the breath of demons, that whatever just happened will change everything.

It was Josie’s hands on the wheel, her foot on the pedal. Her fault. Now, sweet, beautiful Carmelita will never see her fifth birthday. Where do you run when the world implodes and you can’t even function as a mom? Josie leaves her Chicago suburban home to stay with a cousin in Key West, unaware her journey is guided by an unseen hand. Unaware that a trailer park pastor, a battered horse, a pregnant teen, and a mysterious beachcomber might just set her on the path toward an inconceivable hope and redemption.

Includes a recipe by cookbook author Nancie McDermott.

You can find Surviving Carmelita at Amazon Barnes and Noble and CrossRiver Media

Wednesday Writers—The Reluctant Billionaire by Carol Underhill

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Carol Underhill who will be sharing an excerpt from her Contemporary Christian Romance The Reluctant Billionaire. Who doesn’t love a good billionaire romance? I know I do. So, without any further ado, let’s welcome Carol and get reading!

The Reluctant Billionaire

By Carol Underhill

The Reluctant Billionaire by [Carol Underhill]

With her husband’s ultimate betrayal, and the finalization of her divorce, Jessica Palmer’s dreams for her life go up in flames, leaving her devastated and lost. Now, she’s leaving Chicago and moving back into her parents’ house in an effort to rebuild her life. Longtime neighbor and friend, Liam Engstrom, is the only reason she hasn’t completely fallen apart, but the closer they get, the more she realizes the depth of his feelings.

Liam has loved Jessica since they were teens, but she never noticed him as more than a friend. Now that she’s single, he’s determined to show her how much he cares and that not all men are like her ex-husband–if she’ll let him.

Jessica is reluctant to trust again after what her husband did to her, and Liam refuses to be the rebound guy, but their attraction is hard to deny. So, together, with a little help from God, they decide to give love a chance. But between Liam’s recent inheritance and an unwanted public billionaire status that has people lining up with their hands out, and Jessica’s ex-husband monitoring her every move, their relationship is off to a rocky start. And when tragedy strikes, Liam pushes everyone away—including Jessica. Can they both learn to forgive and grow, or are they doomed to be alone?

Excerpt:

“Liam’s here.” Her dad’s voice carried from the living room, jarring Jessica from her thoughts.

She took a deep breath and left her bedroom. Despite this being a fake date, there was nothing fake about the way her heart started racing when she walked into the living room and saw Liam standing there. He looked red-carpet ready in his black tux. It fit him as naturally as his work clothes or swim trunks. His white shirt set off his suntanned face with his trimmed beard.

His mouth gaped as his gaze swept over her. “Wow, you look great.” He walked over and stood in front of her.

“You’re too tall for Liam,” Julie said. “You should ditch the heels for something shorter.”

He put his hand on Jessica’s shoulder, and she blushed. “It’s okay. I like to be able to look her in the eye,” he said.

“Are you sure? I have a different pair of heels that would put me a couple of inches shorter.”

“You’re fine.” His voice was husky.

Jessica held up a necklace and a string of pearls. “I can’t decide which to wear. What do you think?”

Liam pulled a velvet box out of his pocket. Jessica gasped when he opened it, revealing a silver necklace with diamonds and sapphires. The necklace was obviously a Douglas Engstrom original and probably worth a fortune.

“Would you consider this appropriate?”

“It’s beautiful.” Jessica lightly touched the gems. “But it’s too valuable to wear.”

“I thought you could wear it in memory of Dad.”

“Oh, but—” Her gaze flew to his. “You should save this for someone special.”

His face paled, and she could tell he struggled with what to say.

Jessica’s dad stepped forward. “I think it’s a great idea. Fasten that thing around her neck.”

Liam hesitated. The velvet box moved as his hand trembled. He was nervous.

“I can do it.” Her mom took the necklace out of the box. “Turn around, Jessica.”

When Jessica turned her back to Liam and her mom, she met Julie’s enraged expression. And her dad’s gentle one. He seemed pretty pleased Liam was asking her to wear the necklace. Did her dad have an ulterior motive in mind? Was he trying to be a matchmaker? That was an unusual thing for him to do.

She walked over to the hall mirror. The reflection was of a sophisticated woman with her hair swept up and perfect makeup. Her dress shimmered in the light, and the diamonds and sapphires sparkled at her throat.

Liam appeared in the mirror behind her. His admiring gaze nearly took her breath away.

“I guess I’m ready.” She spoke a little too loudly, stepping away from the mirror and picking up her silver clutch.

Want to read more?

You can find The Reluctant Billionaire at Amazon 

About the Author:

Carol Underhill lives in rural Michigan a few miles from the farm where she grew up. She is mom to three adult children and a spoiled Lab. Her household also includes several rescued cats. She likes finding new authors on Kindle and binge-reading all their books. Carol rewards herself for meeting deadlines with a cup of fudge-flavored coffee. She enjoys quiet mornings and spending time with her family.

Connect with Carol on her website and blog: Facebook: or Twitter

Love #Billionaire #Romances? Check out The Reluctant Billionaire by Carol Underhill on #WednesdayWriters A #mustread #contemporary #Christian romance via @AuthorCCastle  via @carolunderhill7

Tasty Tuesdays—A Potluck Favorite from Judythe Morgan

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POTLUCK FAVORITE

There’s a church potluck scene in When Love Endures, which always makes me think about my favorite potluck dishes. These green beans and new potatoes are always a big hit. That’s why I chose to share with you today.

The recipe is an adaptation of how my grandmother and mother cooked green beans. You can also find dozens of recipes in Southern cookbooks or on food websites. But this one has family twists like cooking in chicken broth, using red onions, not white, and a secret ingredient—that dash of Worcestershire sauce. All of which give the green beans a flavorful taste.

I don’t think my mother or grandmother ever used a recipe. They simply washed and snapped the beans, quartered the new potatoes, and simmered on the stove all afternoon, filling the house with the most delicious aroma.

I usually cook our beans in my six-quart crockpot. They taste as wonderful as those cooked on the stovetop. I can tell you, folks gobble them up whenever I take green beans and new potatoes to church potlucks along with a batch of corn bread muffins.

Same as Nick pigs out on Sarah Fitzpatrick’s Zucchini cake at their church potluck.

~~

FRESH GREEN BEANS with New Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

6-8 slices of bacon, chopped

1 large red onion sliced

2-3 pounds of green beans, trimmed and snapped (can be left whole if desired)

8 small new potatoes, quartered or sliced

32 ounces chicken broth

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Dash of Lea and Perrin Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS

Cook chopped bacon in a skillet over medium heat until evenly browned.

Drain the bacon pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.

Cook the sliced onion in bacon drippings until translucent.

Place cooked bacon and onions, green beans (snapped or whole), and quartered or sliced new potatoes in crock pot and cover with chicken broth.

Simmer on low heat until the green beans are tender. 6-8 hours. You can also cook in a Dutch oven on stovetop until done.

Before serving, sprinkle with vinegar, Lea and Perrin Worcestershire sauce, and pepper to taste and toss.

Yummy when serve with cornbread, rolls, or biscuits. It’s sure to become a family favorite and a hit at potluck meals.

FYI: All portions can be increased or decreased depending upon how many servings you want. Nutritionists recommend one cup cooked green beans per person. I find most people come back for seconds so I plan accordingly.

While you’re letting the green beans cook, check out Judythe’s  Fitzpatrick Family Series: Eight Preacher Kids Each with a Sweet Love Story of their own.

When Love Endures Fitzpatrick Family: Sarah

By Judythe Morgan

Sarah Fitzpatrick, pianist extraordinaire, gave up on true love when her high school boyfriend, Nick Stephens, ran off to marry his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Nick’s daughter shows up in her music class eleven years later. One look at the man, and old dreams come back to life. She must find a way to keep the little girl and Nick out of her heart. She won’t risk losing everything again.

Nick Stephens has other plans. Sarah is, and always has been, the love of his life and he’s back in Burton, TX to prove it. But there are secrets Nick must keep, from Sarah and his daughter. Secrets that could destroy everything he hopes to build.

Can their second chance survive new secrets?

Want to read more? You can find When Love Endures on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

About the Author:

Judythe Morgan traveled a lot as an Army brat then Army wife. She’s been a teacher, an antiques dealer, former mayor’s wife, and sometimes-church pianist. Mommy to an Old English sheepdog named Finnegan MacCool and a Maltese named Buster, there’s always a wild adventure brewing on their walks.

Her diverse experiences make her life full, her characters vivid, and her stories authentic and award-winning. Besides fiction, she writes a weekly blog at www.judythewriter.com  Sign up for her free newsletter at https://judythemorgan.com/contact/ to keep up with her latest news and subscriber-only sneak peaks.

Connect with Judythe on Facebook: Twitter: Goodreads