A Writer’s Garden–Cherry Tomato Snacks from Emma Lane

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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 Emma Lane who will be talking about cherry tomatoes and how she uses them on a snack cracker or for a quick summer meal. Welcome, Emma.

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

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

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

Party Picks   Crackers of Choice

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

Next the Spread

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

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

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

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

Meat?

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE WRITER/GARDENER

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

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter

The Duke and Miss Amabell Hawkins

By Emma Lane

The Duke and Miss Amabel Hawkins: Bonus short story: The Duke Comes Home by [Emma Lane]

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

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

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

Available from Amazon

Wednesday Writers–The Price of Glory by Caroline Warfield

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest is historical romance author Caroline Warfield with an excerpt of her early Victorian Historical Romance, The Price of Glory, set in Egypt 1839-1840. Personally, stories set in this time era and location have always fascinated me. I suppose it’s because as a teen I watched a lot of Hollywood movies with my mother that had to do with the archeological digs in Egypt. So, without any further rambling from me, lets welcome Caroline and get on with the reading of her book excerpt.

The Price of Glory

Richard Mallet comes to Egypt with dreams of academic glory. He will be the one to unravel the secrets of the ancient Kushite language. Armed with license to dig, he sets out for Meroë, where the Blue Nile meets the White. He has no room in his life for dalliance or entanglements, and he certainly doesn’t expect to face insurrection and unrest.

Analiese Cloutier seeks no glory—only the eradication of disease among the women and children of Khartoum. She has no interest whatsoever in romantic nonsense and will not allow notions about a lady’s proper role to interfere with her work. She doesn’t expect to have that work manipulated for political purposes.

Neither expects to be enchanted by the amorous power of moonlight in the ruins of Karnak, or to be forced to marry before they can escape revolution. Will their flight north take them safely to Cairo? If it does, can they build something real out of their shattered dreams?

Excerpt: the Journey Begins

The sight of Anastasie Cloutier climbing onto the boat caused Richard’s heart to stutter. When Bashkim introduced Dr. Navarre, he had referred vaguely to the rest of a medical party. Richard recalled Navarre from dinner with Cloutier Bey, but it never occurred to him the medical party might include Cloutier’s daughter.

A jolt of pleasure cut through him at the surprising turn of events, but the sight of her hakima garb boded ill for frivolity. ‘Medical Party’ sounded like business. For Anastasie Cloutier this would be no pleasure cruise.

We’ll have that in common then, he thought, rubbing his chin. At least the chances of interesting conversation during the journey have improved.

A thrill vibrated through him when the dahabiya finally began to move. He had come to one of those moments that divided a life between the time before and what happened after. Whatever the outcome, this moment marked a beginning.

He pushed away from the railing and headed in the direction of Anastasie Cloutier, eager to share his enthusiasm with someone, only to see a servant usher her and the woman with her behind the veils that marked off an enclosure.

“The women’s area,” Ahmed murmured, coming up the aft stairway to stand by Richard. He looked irritated. “Our gear is well packed, but a gang of boys has taken up residence at the end of the cargo barge. The little hooligans will cause mayhem.”

“Our men are there as well?”

“Of course. They know what to watch.”

He shrugged. “But eight weeks is a long time.” Dreadful thought. It almost upended his elation at being on his way at last. “Will it really take that long?”

“Allah permitting. Two thousand miles,” Ahmed said, raising an eyebrow at his employer. “Upriver. The wind will be with us, the current not.”

“Point taken. You did say you know how to play chess, did you not?” The two men grinned at each other in perfect accord. Khalil’s cousin had proven to be intelligent as well as efficient, educated as well as skilled. He promised to be an excellent tour guide as well.

Want to read more? You can find The Price of Glory  here:

About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

You can find me on my website

Or follow me here: BookBub: Facebook: GoodReads:

Tasty Tuesdays–Finger Lickin’ Good Fried Chicken Dinner from Sloane Taylor

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from Sloane Taylor

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

MENU

Oven-Fried Chicken

Mashed Potatoes

Corn

Spiked Watermelon

White Wine – Chablis

Oven-Fried Chicken

3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless – legs and thighs work great, too

Milk

½ cup (50g) flour

1 tsp. (5ml) dried thyme

1 tsp. (5ml) dried marjoram

½ tsp. (2.5ml) garlic powder, not salt

1 tsp. (5ml) paprika

¼ cup ((52g) shortening or lard

¼ cup (57g) butter or margarine

3 tbsp. (45ml) fresh parsley, chopped or 1½ tbsp. (20ml) dried

Place chicken in a glass dish, cover with milk, and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours. This is a perfect way to use up milk when it is close to its expiration date. You can also marinade the pieces overnight. If you choose to go longer than 3 hours be sure to refrigerate the dish. I learned this tenderizing trick from a talented chef in Salzburg, Austria.

Combine flour, thyme, marjoram, garlic, and paprika in a plastic or paper bag.

Drain and pat chicken dry. Place pieces one at a time in bag and gently shake to thoroughly coat them. Lay chicken on a plate as you coat the remaining pieces. Set chicken in fridge for at least 20 minutes to set the coating.

Preheat oven to 425° F (220°C).

Add shortening and butter to a metal baking pan just large enough to hold the chicken. Place dish in oven until mixture is melted. Add chicken. Bake 15 minutes and then turn pieces over. Cook another 20 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.

REMEMBER – all meat continues to cook for 5 minutes or so after it is removed from the oven.

Remove chicken from baking dish to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any oil. Transfer pieces to a clean plate. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

You can also make this dish on your grill. Set the grill on medium-high. Watch carefully so the chicken doesn’t burn.

Mashed Potatoes

Chicken stock, not broth

1 small russet potato per person, peeled and quartered

3 tbsp. (43g) butter

Sour cream, a very large dollop

¼ cup (60ml) milk, at room temperature

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 220° F (100°C).

Pour one-inch (2.5cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Place potatoes in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by at least one inch (2.5cm). Cover pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Potatoes are done when a fork inserts easily into a section.

Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

Keep the saucepan warm in the oven while you finish preparing dinner.

Canned Corn
Sometimes it’s good to go easy and nothing is easier than canned veggies.

1 can of corn per 4 people

¼ tsp. (1.25ml) dried thyme

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste
Butter

Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Sprinkle on thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Spiked Watermelon

An adult pleasure that tops off any summer dinner, especially when you dine al fresco.

½ watermelon

2 – 3 cups (450 – 750ml) vodka

Remove the seeds from the watermelon. Cut fruit into chunks or use a melon scooper to form balls. Place the cut pieces into a glass bowl.

Pour vodka over the melon. No need to cover the fruit. You just want enough so all the pieces contact with the vodka. Stir gently. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for several hours.

Serve melon from the bowl along with forks or long spoons.

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 every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Learn more about Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer,Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire, and Date Night Dinners Italian Style on Amazon.
Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Silver Sneakers by Anne Montgomery

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by Anne Montgomery

I have worked out most of my life. I started ice skating at five. I skied and swam. When I was 24, I started officiating sports and called football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games, an avocation I practiced for 40 years. When I was 30, I got my first health club membership and I have had one ever since.

So, I’m a long-time gym rat. I’ve lifted weights, utilized aerobics equipment, and practiced yoga, but I’m primarily a lap swimmer. I mention this because recently I turned the golden corner for those of us who spend time at the gym. The reason? Silver Sneakers.

For the uninformed, Silver Sneakers is a health and fitness program that provides gym access and fitness classes for people 65 and older. It’s covered by some Medicare plans. That means I no longer have to shell out those monthly fees to the health club.

The idea, of course, is to keep old people moving so they’re less likely to succumb to problems like heart disease, broken bones from falls, high-blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. If people get exercise, chances are they won’t become ill or injured, which keeps those Medicare costs down.

I’ve been swimming laps regularly for 35 years, so I am pretty comfortable working out.
I was feeling pretty smug the day I walked into the club and asked to be moved to the Silver Sneakers rolls. I had just finished swimming a thousand meters – sadly, I used to swim two thousand, but as I’ve already intimated, I’m old.

“Of course! I’d be happy to help,” a tall, twenty-something smiled down at me. “Sit right here. Just show me your ID and your membership card, Ms. Montgomery.”

I noted he was very solicitous.

After putting the important bits of information into the computer and handing me my new key fob, he placed both elbows on the desk. “Now, we can provide you with a free one-hour counseling session.”

“What for?”

He tilted his head. “To help you learn how to work out.”

I squinted. Did I look like I needed help finding my way around the gym? Did I look like I spent my days on the couch eating Ding Dongs? Did I look like I didn’t know a free weight from a foam roller?

Then, I had an I-glimpsed-myself-in-a-store-window moment. I know you’ve done it. You walk by a reflective surface and the person you see staring back is not the one you always imagined. I was forced to consider how this nice young man saw me. He smiled sweetly. I stared back, realizing I might now appear to be a little old lady.

I said I’d think about the offer. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to see if there’s anything I’ve been missing. I thanked him and left. Though I stared at the floor whenever I got close to a window.

Here’s a little from one of my women’s fiction books. I hope you enjoy it.

A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Amazon 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 and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

A Writer’s Garden—Sweet Memories of Flowers by Carole Brown

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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 Carole Brown. Carole will be sharing her sweet memories of flowers and those sweet people who’ve given them to her. Welcome, Carole!

Sweet Memories of Flowers

Hubby and I celebrated another anniversary this August, and as usual I received a card and flowers from him. That may seem like a mundane comment, but it’s anything but that. Every year I think the card he gives is the best one yet. Here are a few words from his card:

I hope you already know just how amazing you are to me, but on our anniversary I thought I’d tell you again, because you’re incredibly special—and I love you very much.

Every year, I love the flowers he gives me, but then I love all the flowers he gives me, whether it’s anniversary time, Valentines, or whenever. Today I wanted to share a few pictures of plants and flowers I’ve received through the years and/or some wild ones that we’ve admired together.

I never know what color of roses he’ll choose, but I ahh over them because he loves me and gave them to me. This year, he surprised me with pink roses: 

Here is a picture I took of a milkweed plant near our home. When I spotted it one day, I knew I had to get a picture of it. The butterfly was an extra bonus. Beautiful, isn’t it, in its wildness?

Flowers Hubby helped Grandson pick for me. Mismatched and uneven stems, but gorgeous because of who gave them to me. Flowers have meanings. To me, these spoke of a child’s love for a grandparent and a love of a grandfather who took time to help that grandson share.

Wild flowers are some of my favorites! Here are two different bouquets of wild flowers at two different times. I’m always amazed at the combinations of colors Hubby comes up with.

While visiting with a friend near the lake, we went to the Butterfly garden. It was a quiet, peaceful period, enjoying some of God’s creations. Here’s a beauty we spotted while there: 

And, last but not least, our beginning where we learned to share, to love the flowers around us. This is my wedding bouquet. White flowers for purity. Yellow for sunshine and happiness.

I really do believe that flowers are some of God’s best earthly gifts to us. What’s your favorite flower?

ABOUT THE WRITER/GARDENER

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

 Connect with Carole on her Personal blog, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, or Bookbub

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

            By Carole Brown

The big cat sat on the oversized rock, ears pointed toward the sky, every muscle taut, every sense at the ready.

“S-s-shut up and f-f-forget it. You’ve s-seen nothing and know nothing. I won’t warn you again. G-g-got it?”

The cat’s head swiveled, his ears twitching as if catching the hint of threat in the whisper. A soft hiss slid from his open mouth and reinforced the overtone of evil pressing in upon the scene. Within hours, lies and dark secrets are slithering all over the campground.

Coaxed into finding the animal killer at Jamieson’s Outfitters, Tara Layne, with her sidekick, Boet, is welcomed by a threatening whisper and the unfriendly eyes of a rugged and devastatingly handsome manager. Wesley Clarke, both interesting and frustrating, holds an attraction for Tara that is both primitive and exasperating.

Intermingled with her search, Tara deals with her own heartbreaking buried secrets. When a strange old Native American probes into the recesses of her heart, he encourages her to face her bitter feelings.

As Tara closes in on her search, she finds herself—and Boet—the target of someone who’s determined to outrun and outsmart her. Someone determined not to get caught.

His theme: 

Fun as fast as you can, you can’t catch me.

The question:

Can Tara run fast enough to catch this real live Gingerbread boy

before he decides to get rid of her and Boet?

Buy Link:   Amazon

Wednesday Writers–Wounded Heart by Colleen Hall

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest is Colleen Hall, author of the Inspirational Historical Romance Wounded Heart. Colleen is sharing some of the research she discovered while writing this sweet romance. She’s also included an excerpt from the book. Welcome, Colleen!

Thanks, Catherine.

While doing research for Wounded Heart, I learned that life in the West during the Indian Wars was complex. During that time the possibility of white women being captured by the tribes was a reality, and my research unearthed a wealth of information on the topic. The subject fascinated me, and I felt that it deserved recognition, so I decided to explore that scenario in my story.

Not all of the tribes treated their white female captives the same. A female captive could expect to be raped, often multiple times. Some women experienced horrific violence, while others were met with kindness. Some white women were kidnapped to replace a Native American family member who had been killed by white men and were adopted into the family in place of the dead relative. Other white captives married into the tribes and had families while adopting the tribal culture. Sometimes the women were considered to be slaves.

In white society, husbands admonished their wives to reserve the last bullet for herself to prevent capture. For white women, taking their own lives to prevent a “fate worse than death” was considered the decent thing to do. Submitting to a Native American man put a white woman in the same category as a prostitute. Although not all communities adopted such a censorious attitude toward rescued white women, the Victorian sentiment that a decent woman would take her life before submitting to a Native American man pervaded the West. Women who were recovered from captivity usually had difficulty assimilating back into white society. Many never made the adjustment, and some ran away to return to their Indian husbands.

Shane’s mother is a composite of all the captured white women whom I learned about in my research. I felt that her story should be told. Della’s experience as a captive in the Cheyenne camp tainted her in the eyes of many white people. I enjoyed portraying her fighting spirit to overcome the stigma.

Wounded Heart

By Colleen Hall

            Della Hughes longs for adventure and for freedom from the strictness and austerity of 1870s Boston society. When her uncle and guardian, General Clint Logan, uses his fortune to purchase property in Colorado and set up a horse ranch selling remounts to the western army, Della decides she must accompany him and his family to the West. Along the journey, Della encounters more adventure than she bargained for.

            Rustlers, Indians, and rattlesnakes add danger to the trek. A persistent cavalry captain who believes that Della would make him the perfect wife and a Cheyenne chieftain’s son who tells her she’s brought sunshine to his heart complicate her life. And the handsome army scout who ramrods their wagon train guards a secret from his past that makes him believe that he’s not worthy of loving Della. She must meet the challenges of the West and convince the man of her heart that love is worth risking everything to gain.

EXCERPT:

            An air of impenetrability settled over him. He appeared to have reached the limits of what he’d allow her to question. Still, Della’s curiosity prompted her to push for one more inquiry. “Mr. Hunter, I can’t help but wonder . . . why haven’t you married?”

            He swung his head toward her. “I’m not a marryin’ sort of man,” he said, his tone gentle.

            “Surely, you must want a wife and a family.”

            “Not all of us are so fortunate as to have such a blessin’. My life isn’t one that I can ask a woman to share.”

            “You do us women an injustice. Not every woman would shirk a life with you.”

            Hunter smiled, a regretful smile that pulled at the corners of his mouth and tugged at Della’s heart. “You’re very kind to say so, Miss Hughes, but you have no idea of what a life with me would entail. I can’t ask a woman to endure that sort of hardship.”

            Della shook her head and started to protest, but Hunter reached out and covered her lips with gentle fingers.

            “Shh . . . There are things about me you don’t know or understand that make it impossible for me to marry.” His hand dropped to his side.

            “But . . .”

            “No more questions. Just accept the fact that I can’t marry. I came to terms with my lot in life a long time ago.”

Want to read more? You can find Wounded Heart at Amazon

About the Author:

Colleen Hall wrote her first story in third grade and continued writing as a hobby all during her growing-up years. During her teaching days, she taught a high school writing class. In Wounded Heart, she was able to combine her love of writing with her love of history and the West. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and family, horseback riding, reading, and browsing antique stores. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and family, one horse, and three very spoiled cats.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: Facebook: Twitter

Tasty Tuesdays–Caprese Salad from Tina Ruiz

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from Tina Griffith

Before the last of your home grown tomatoes are frozen on the vine, pick a few and try this delicious salad from children’s book author Tina Ruiz. Check out her fanciful Halloween book listed below.

The Caprese Salad was born on the beautiful island of Capri, known as the Peral of the Gulf of Naples. This classic dish was created around 1920 when it first appeared on the menu of the Hotel Quisiana. The salad was part of futurist dinner organized by Filippo Tommaso Marinette, an Italian poet, editor, art theorist, and founder of the Futurist movement.

This delightful salad is one of the simplest and most appreciated dishes of the summer as it is always served chilled and is known as the Queen of Italian tables. And let’s not forget that the brilliant colors of red tomatoes, green basil, and white mozzarella are basically the Italian flag served on a plate.

How do you make this wonderful salad? My method is very easy. The amounts on each ingredient are your choice, but don’t stint on the tomatoes and cheese.

Tina’s Caprese Salad
Cooked curly pasta
Ripe cherry tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Cucumber, peeled
Black olives, sliced
Fresh basil leaves, hand-ripped
Extra virgin olive oil or Italian dressing

Cook pasta until just al dente. Drain in a colander then rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Spread pasta on a towel to dry.

Dice tomatoes, cheese, and cucumber. Scoop into a large bowl. Stir in olives and basil. Mix well.

Carefully blend in pasta and just enough oil to moisten the mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Since I have your attention, I’d like to share my latest Halloween children’s book – A Haunting Birthday Party available on Amazon. This is the second children’s book I’ve written with a Halloween theme. A Halloween Party was book one.

As I promised my grandchildren, and others who truly enjoyed the first Halloween Children’s Book, this one also contains silly character names. Example: Harry Pitts (harry arm pitts) is the narrator in this book, and the birthday party is for Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni. It takes place at the Ray Zen (raisin) Restaurant, where people like Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, are enjoying a lovely meal. Kitti Letter (kitty litter) is the waitress for that side of the room, and her job is to give all the kids a spooktacular evening. Walter Melon (water melon) is the magician, Eve Ning (evening) is the cashier, Miss Turi (mystery) is another waitress, and Mr. I. Ball (eyeball) is the manager of the restaurant.

As you can see, this is a fun treat for young and old alike.

The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni and Reece are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant.

The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.

This delightful paperback book is another wonderful collaboration from writer Tina Nykulak Ruiz and illustrator Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children’s books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina’s children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Become a Profiler by Sharon Ledwith

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from Sharon Ledwith

We’ve all heard it. Zero in on your target audience. Build your author platform according to who you’re writing for. Sage advice for sure. Books without identifiable potential readers do not sell. Let me repeat that. If you don’t have target market in mind—who you gonna call? To avoid creating a manuscript no one wants, successful writers consider who will read the fruits of their labors. They know their market, and that’s who they write for.

One of the most frequent mistakes made by beginner writers—a step above the writer who does not even bother to look at the publisher’s guidelines—is to assume that EVERYONE will enjoy what they write. You have to decide early on what posse you belong with. Pick your tribe, pick your team, pick where you roll.

A great first step toward knowing your readers is learning what they already like. Read what they read. Check book reviews. Go over the bestseller lists. What needs do these books fill? Who are the main characters? What emotions are dealt with in the story? Once done, you can find the parts that appeal to your strengths as a writer and your likes as a person, to make sure that your book is not just another version of a successful series, but rather a fresher, more vibrant work.

Probably the most important rule in writing is to know your readers, but do not become so obsessed with them that they interfere with your writing what you love. Let’s face it most of us start with ideas, not readers. Awareness is the key here. Perhaps the best way to start creating a reader profile is to start with your idea, and go through these series of questions: Who will this interest? Who will this help? Who needs to know this? Who wants to know this? Once you’ve answered those questions, you can start to identify the type of reader who will benefit.

And believe me, if your readers benefit, then you’ll benefit.

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

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

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

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

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

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

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

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

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

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

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

A Writer’s Garden–Hoping for a Harvest by Amy R. Anguish

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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 Amy R. Anguish talking about the uncertainty of gardening. Welcome, Amy!

You Never Know

Every year, when we plant the seeds in our garden, we have no idea what the outcome will be. Obviously, we have our hopes and dreams of what will happen to those plants throughout the summer. But every year brings different weather, bugs, diseases, and sometimes just bad seeds.

Still, we poke the tiny seeds into the earth, give it lots of water and as much sunshine as God will send, and then wait.

Waiting is the hard part.

As the tiny green shoots poke their heads up, branching out and expanding, blossoming and growing, our hope grows right along with it. How can it not? The excitement of seeing those first little green tomatoes or tiny green beans comes every time.

This year, we picked around 40 pints of green beans, canning most, sharing some. We ate and ate tomatoes, as well as making several batches of salsa and spaghetti sauce. And we picked squash until we were all sick of it.

But as we watched and waited for the cucumbers, which last year came in abundance, nothing but disappointment grew. In fact, something destroyed the first two plants we had come up, and we had to replant. Twice.

Same with our pumpkins. And sunflowers.

Just about the time I was ready to give up on the watermelon, it stretched out and actually gave us a nice basketball-sized one.

And just when I had decided we would just settle for the cucumbers we’d gotten from friends, we got a nice big one, with more coming on. In late summer, no less. Only weeks from autumn.

My five-year-old was thrilled, to say the least.

You never know what you’re going to get when planting seeds, but isn’t it exciting when you do get something? Just like in everything in life, it’s always worth it to try. Even if you only get a few carrots from a whole pack of seeds. Those few carrots are always worth it to my children.

And most of the time, anything we’re willing to put a little effort into, will bring us at least a small harvest.

What have you tried that may not have turned out exactly as planned, but was still rather sweet?

About the Writer/Gardener:

Amy R Anguish

Amy R Anguish

Author of An Unexpected Legacy, Faith and Hope, and Saving Grace

Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

Follow her at  her website Facebook  Or Twitter

Learn more about her books at https://www.pinterest.com/msguish/my-books/

And check out the YouTube channel she does with two other authors, Once Upon a Page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEiu-jq-KE-VMIjbtmGLbJA)

Mistletoe Make-believe by Amy Anguish

(From the Christmas Anthology Candy Cane Wishes and Saltwater Dreams-a selection of five sweet beach read Christmas novellas)

Charlie Hill’s family thinks his daughter Hailey needs a mom—to the point they won’t get off his back until he finds her one. Desperate to be free from their nagging, he asks a stranger to pretend she’s his girlfriend during the holidays.

When romance author Samantha Arwine takes a working vacation to St. Simons Island over Christmas, she never dreamed she’d be involved in a real-life romance. Are the sparks between her and Charlie real? Or is it just her imagination?

Buy Link

Wednesday Writers—Coastal Christmas Charade by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Shannon Taylor Vannatter. Shannon will be talking about her Inspirational Contemporary Romance novella Coastal Christmas Charade, which is part of the Christmas anthology Candy Cane Wishes & Saltwater Dreams. She’ll be sharing a bit of background on the book, an excerpt, and a chance to win a copy of Candy Cane Wishes & Saltwater Dreams to a lucky commenter who follows her blog tour. Information on the tour and the giveaway are at the bottom of the post. So, keep reading to learn more about this beach read Christmas extravaganza. Welcome, Shannon!

Thanks, Catherine.

This year, I wrote my first novella, which is also my first beach read. The novella collection, Candy Cane Wishes & Saltwater Dreams, includes 5 different authors with stories set on 5 different beaches at Christmas. I chose Surfside Beach, Texas as my setting, since it has the best shelling in the Lonestar state. My characters knew each other as kids. But the heroine was a rich girl whose grandparents owned the fancy inn where all the snobby kids spent their summers. The hero was a local, the handyman’s son, who never felt like he measured up. In this excerpt, she’s back to spruce up her grandparent’s inn and sell it. She hires the hero to hang Christmas lights and a massive chandelier crashes down, like Phantom of the Opera. Of course, right after that, the bride/heroine’s high school nemesis arrives.

Do you like pretend romances? Leave me a comment and tell me, why or why not?

Coastal Christmas Charade by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Lark Pendleton is banking on a high-society wedding to make her grandparent’s inn at Surfside Beach, Texas the venue to attract buyers. Tasked with sprucing up the inn, she hires Jace Wilder, whose heart she once broke. When the bride and groom turn out to be Lark’s high school nemesis and ex-boyfriend, she and Jace embark on a pretend romance to save the wedding. But when real feelings emerge, can they overcome past hurts?

(Included in Candy Cane Wishes & Saltwater Dreams – Five novellas, five authors, five beaches)

Excerpt:

Ever so, gently, he dabbed his thumb over her cheek.

The front door opened, and a brunette stepped inside behind Lark. Hillarie Chambers. Her mouth dropped open, then closed, and opened again.

Lark spun around. “Hillarie, what are you doing here?” She went to work trying to brush herself off. “I didn’t expect you until Friday.”

“What happened?” Hillarie’s high-pitched whine echoed through the massive space. “What about my wedding?”

“Don’t worry. We had a little chandelier mishap, but it’s a good thing we discovered the problem now. This could have happened in the middle of the wedding. Death by chandelier.”

Lark laughed.

But Hillarie didn’t. “Look at this mess. And there aren’t even any Christmas lights up outside.” She wailed in full meltdown mode. “You always did try to sabotage me, and now you’re after my wedding.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Hillarie. I hired Jace to have the lights done by Friday. He’s fixing this too. By Friday, right, Jace?” 

“Jace?” Hillarie focused on him, then squinted. “Tool Face Jace?”

“At your service.” Hillarie recognized him. But Lark hadn’t.

“Why are you here two days early?” Lark leaned on the staircase.

Hillarie tore her gaze away from the destruction. “Your grandmother said we could come early. I said no. But I’ve been stressed, so my fiancé talked me into it.”

“Technically, we’re closed.” Lark smiled. “To prepare for the wedding.”

The brunette splayed her hands. “I left a message on the machine late last night.”

“Is he with you?”

“Oh.” Hillarie’s eyes went wide. “I didn’t know you’d be here.” She grimaced. “Why are you here?”

Lark’s eyes narrowed. “Gran and Gramps had their name on a waiting list for a condo in Dallas. One became available. If they hadn’t jumped on it, they’d have had to wait at least six

months, so I offered to handle the wedding.”

“Great.” Hillarie’s fake smile looked more like a cringe. “Do you know who I’m marrying?”

The door opened again and a blond man with a suitcase in each hand entered. Familiar. One of the summer rich kids.

Lark’s ex-boyfriend. Thanks to Hillarie.

“Warren?” Lark frowned. “What are you doing here?” Her voice went up an octave. “Oh, you must be in the wedding party.”

“Right.” He shot her a million-watt smile, but it faded as he scanned the room. “What happened?”

“Just a little sprucing up before Hillarie’s big day.” Lark’s smile looked as fake as her nemesis’s. “Jace promised we’d be in ship shape by Friday.”

“Look, darling.” Hillarie sidled up against Warren. “It’s Tool Face Jace.”

“Nobody calls him that anymore.” Lark frowned. “They never should have.”

Lark defending him?

Her gaze narrowed, pinged back and forth between Hillarie and Warren. “Darling?”

“Um.” Hillarie’s baby blues bounced to the floor. “That’s what I wanted to tell you. Warren is my fiancé.”

Want to read more? You can find Candy Cane Wishes & Saltwater Dreams – Amazon

About the Author:

Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.

She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. Shannon is Scrivenings Press Acquisitions/Content Editor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.

Social Media:

Shannon’s Website           Shannon’s Facebook           Shannon’s Bookbub

Sign up for Shannon’s Newsletter to get a free e-book, recipes, behind-the-scenes info, & enter exclusive giveaways!

Giveaway details:

Follow my blog tour to enter the drawing for a copy of Candy Cane Wishes & Saltwater Dreams:

Sept 28th – https://shannontaylorvannatter.com/shannon-taylor-vannatter-story-behind-the-story-part-1-of-1/

Oct 1st – https://shannontaylorvannatter.com/inkslinger-blog/

Oct 2nd – https://www.inspyromance.com/

Oct 5th – https://jenniferheeren.com/blog/

Oct 5th – https://shannontaylorvannatter.com/inkslinger-blog/

Oct 6th – https://pattishene.com/theover50writer

Oct 6th – https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/blog/

Oct 8th – https://shannontaylorvannatter.com/inkslinger-blog/

Oct 12th – https://shannontaylorvannatter.com/inkslinger-blog/

I’ll pick a winner from blog tour comments and announce the winner on my blog on Oct 19th.