Perfectly Together by Linda O’Connor on Wednesday Writers

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perfectlytogether3_850Today on Wednesday Writers I have guest author Linda O’Connor who will be talking about her latest contemporary romantic comedy, Perfectly Together, book number 6 in the Perfectly series. She also has an excerpt for your reading pleasure. Linda, tell us about one of the challenges of writing this book, aside from solving the problem of the heroine putting down roots and the hero reaching for the sky, as your hook says.

Thanks, Catherine,

I’m very excited to release Book 6 in the Perfectly series, Perfectly Together. I wrote Perfectly Together as the final book in the series. But I also said that after the third book, haha, so we’ll see if it sticks. I really enjoyed writing this book because I had a number of characters from the other books “pop” in. The challenge was to do that without making it contrived. Eight of the twelve main characters are doctors – so that made it a bit easier. They meet at medical functions, share patients, or become the patient – one of the doctors is an obstetrician and one is pregnant! Altogether, the six books take place in three different settings – one larger city and two smaller northern Ontario towns. So I also incorporated the three towns into Book 6. It may sound like a bit much, but the two smaller towns are close together, which made it easier for Jayden and Cole in Perfectly Together to visit and work in both. All of the books in the series are stand-alone stories, but I hope Perfectly Together ties the other books (perfectly :D) together and gives readers a glimpse into what the characters are doing now. It’s like an insider secret – readers of the whole series can have fun with that additional layer!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Perfectly Together

By Linda O’Connor

Newly graduated naturopathic doctor Jayden Locke has a dream – start a practice in small-town Emerson and never move again. She’s found the perfect office building to buy. It passes an inspection, design plans are drawn up, and the bank okays the loan. Only one problem.

Dr. Cole Cameron scoops it before she has a chance to submit an offer. What?

It’s a good investment. Cole isn’t interested in settling down. He works three jobs in three different towns and would just as soon keep moving. But something about Jayden’s defiant eyes and sexy smile makes him pause and reconsider.

What are the chances that a heart filled with wanderlust and a soul longing for a home fit Perfectly Together?

 

 

Excerpt from Perfectly Together:

The weight of disappointment settled on her shoulders and an ache filled her chest. Her dream tumbled like a collapsing house of cards. She couldn’t bear it, and turned to go.

“Wait, maybe we could work something out.”

She looked back.

His eyes lit up and the green flecks glowed. “I planned on renting it out. We can renovate the interior to suit. Sounds like it would work out perfectly.”

For you, maybe. She longed to own. The thought of renting, of living at the whim of someone else, made her stomach twist in knots. She couldn’t do it. She wanted stability and needed permanency.

She blinked back tears. It had been so close.

“You’re thinking of a clinic? Are you a doctor?” he asked.

“I’m a naturopath – a doctor of naturopathy.”

Cole’s eyes widened and he smirked. “A naturopath? Interesting. What exactly do you do? Hand out herbs? Read a crystal ball?” He grinned. “Voodoo?”

Jayden put her hands on her hips. “Naturopaths follow the same curriculum as medical doctors and then get additional training in natural medicine,” she said stiffly.

He held up his hands. “Sounds very . . . important.”

She narrowed her eyes. Was he mocking her? “I don’t think renting would work. I was really looking to buy.” She couldn’t keep the disappointment from her voice. “Good luck to you, though.” She glanced around one last time and walked to the front door.

A hand on her arm stopped her. “Take my card,” Cole said, offering it to her. “Think about it. If you change your mind, give me a call. I’m hoping to get underway in the next couple of weeks.” He tilted his head, the green flecks twinkling. “You know, you don’t look like a naturopath.”

Pft. She rolled her eyes. Should she even bother taking his card? She glanced at the open expanse out the window, the sunlight streaming in, and the view of the mountain.

Would it be worth it? Her dream property, at what cost?

He raised his eyebrows, and her heart stumbled at the interest in his dark blue eyes, the green specks mocking her with a dare.

She plucked the card out of his hand. Hopefully it had a picture on it. It might be a useful target for dart practice.

Want to read more? You can get Perfectly Together at Amazon:

 

About the Author:

linda-oconnor-authorLinda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at the local home décor store. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories 😀 ). She hangs out at www.lindaoconnor.net.

Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Social Media Links: Website: Facebook: Twitter: Amazon Author Page: Blog:

 

 

Who Lives In Your Attic?–Musings from a Writer’s Brain

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Stephen King once said his muse was a guy who lived in the basement and smoked cigars. Well, I think my muse, or maybe I should say muses, live in the attic of my skull, because they’re always running around shouting at me at the most inconvenient times.

Currently, I have 12 disciples and Jesus living in my cranial attic, and they’ve been keeping me awake a lot recently. I know . . . you’re wondering why these particular characters are residing in my head. It’s because my husband and I are writing and directing an Easter play centered around the last Passover supper Jesus had with his disciples. We’re condensing Judas’ betrayal, the Seder meal, and part of the events at the Garden of Gethsemane into a thirty minute drama. And we’re trying to do it in a seamless fashion that won’t require blackouts between scenes. Not sure that’s going to work, though. Especially after the conversation Jesus and the disciples had with me.

We’d been working on the script for some time, but something wasn’t gelling to my satisfaction, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. But with the calendar eating the days, we didn’t want to wait any longer to get the script to the actors. So, we had a meeting with them a few Sundays back after church, and we gave them what we’d prepared.

Then the voices started mumbling. “We could do this, or this,” they said. “Maybe you should put some more props on the table.” “Are you sure the audience will make that leap with you?” they asked. “I think you missed something,” they whispered. While I twisted and turned in the bed, for four long hours, they kept nagging me.

I hate when you think something is complete only to discover it’s not. It’s really annoying, and those 13 characters in my head were not making things any better. When I finally came up with a solution they started celebrating. There was no sleeping after that.

So, at 4 a.m., on a Sunday night, I tried to sneak out of bed, without jiggling the mattress and disturb my husband, and get my ideas onto paper before they vanished. My feet hadn’t even hit the floor when he said in a very not-asleep-voice, “Are you awake?” Apparently, he’d been wrestling with the rehearsal schedule. So, we got up, put on our bathrobes, and sat at the kitchen bar counter working out the issues that had been bugging us. After about an hour, we had resolved our problems enough we could both go to sleep.

As a writer, I live with voices in my attic most of the time. And when they start poking at me, it’s hard to do anything except listen to them, get their thoughts on paper, and hope they’ll shut up long enough so I can get some rest. Because if they don’t insomnia will ruin my health and drive me nuts. And the Lord knows I’m ditzy enough. Just ask my husband and our best friends.

What about you? Where do your muses live and how do they annoy you?

 

The Story Behind The Amish Wanderer by Laura Hilton On Wednesday Writers

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amishwanderer_coverToday, I’m welcoming award-winning author Laura Hilton back to Wednesday Writers. Laura has talked about her book The Amish Wanderer on Wednesday Writers before, but I have to tell you sometime about this visit. When I read her post for the first time, I literally got cold chills, and I was sitting less than 3 feet away of an electrical heater going full blast. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this story behind the story of The Amish Wanderer. Welcome back to the blog, Laura.

Thanks, Catherine

I didn’t intentionally set out to write an Amish story loosely based on a true story. If fact, when people asked me if I would write my maternal grandparents’ story, I told them no.

 

But when time came to write Bethany’s story, all I knew was a short paragraph blurb about it. Bethany and her once-upon-a-time boyfriend Silas who left that particular Amish district and her before their relationship became serious. I didn’t know their backstories, really, and had no idea how the story would proceed. And since I don’t plot, I spend a lot of time praying about the story, because really, I want to write what He says to write. He knows who He wants it to reach.

So I sat down to pray about it. And God gave me a verse. Which is unusual at the beginning of the story. Usually, for me, it’s at the middle when God reveals His theme for the book. But this time, it was at the beginning. The verse is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

And the verses caused more prayer. What am I supposed to do with it?

I was driving to Melbourne (Arkansas, not Australia) to pay property taxes and get my vehicle tags renewed, listening to the radio as we (my three daughters and I) drove down Larkin Road (that’s not the real name, just what everyone calls it—we have a lot of those around here: Day Road, Moko Road, etc—because there are ghost towns on these roads so they are called by the name of the ghost town). A song came on the radio and I don’t remember the name of it, or even who the singer was, but when I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opening line to my story.

The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

 I’m sure the people at the county clerk’s office might have been a little concerned about the state of my mental health when they saw the words scribbled at the top of my bill. I did get a strange look. I didn’t offer an explanation. And they didn’t ask.

When I got home, I started writing and paying close attention to Bethany’s mental clues (and Silas’s) to figure out what their stories were. And how they tied into the verse God had given me.

And then, without even realizing it until it hit, I knew who’s story I was writing.

My grandmother’s. My grandfather’s.

Except they are different. My grandmother wasn’t date raped. It was a member of her own family. And she wasn’t in love with my grandfather. She just discovered he was leaving the Amish and she wanted—needed—to escape.

Neither were Christians at the time. My grandfather was saved on his death bed. My grandmother’s youngest child was a teenager when she was saved. My mother, her sister, and all their girlfriends went to a tent meeting for a United Brethren Church and my grandmother attended one of the meetings with her daughters and was saved as a result. And their testimonies ultimately led to the salvation of my uncle and my grandfather.

Both of my grandparents had a lot of issues to work through as to why God allowed the bad things in their lives to happen. That they eventually came to Christ is a miracle but I’m glad they did, as I was raised in a Christian home.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people? The short, pat answer is: because sin entered the world. Yes, God could stop them. But what if He uses the bad thing to refine a person’s faith, to draw them closer to Him as a result?

How a person reacts to the bad things directly ties in to how they affect them. In my story, Silas chose to trust God even though he feared for his life. No, he didn’t like what had happened, but even though he didn’t see how, he trusted God was working behind the scenes to bring Silas to where he needed to be, spiritually and physically. On the other hand, Bethany believed God had rejected her. Pushed her away and didn’t care about her. If He didn’t care for her, why should she care about Him? So she went into a stand-off with God.

The lessons ultimately learned, for both my grandparents and my characters, brought them to their knees before the living and holy God who was, and is, and is to come. And I trust God will use this story to help a reader out there who might be questioning something terrible that happened in their life.

You might not see how now and may not know why until eternity, but God has this. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

The Amish Wanderer

By Laura Hilton

 

Bethany Weiss has been fascinated by Silas Beiler since he spent a couple of years in Jamesport, Missouri, before he and his family moved to another Amish community. They hadn’t kept in touch, but she hasn’t forgotten the friendly young man who brought her lemonade and took her home once from a Singing years ago. When she finds a man sleeping in her family’s barn, like Jesus sleeping in the hay, she is stunned to recognize Silas. He’s left the Amish and is backpacking across the country. She talks him into staying, at least until after Christmas.

 

Silas’ family has never been happy living in one area for long, and their vagabond ways are wearing on him. He’s lived in Amish communities all over the nation, moving whenever his daed became disgruntled with the leaders, and he’s looking for some sense of stability. His intentions are to make it back to Pennsylvania and stay with his Englisch onkle and his family—and pursue an education. Will Bethany be the one to bring Silas in from the cold? Or will he continue on his way to his extended family and become Englisch?

 

About the Author:

laura-pictureLaura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye and currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

Links for Laura and her books:

http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q 

visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/ 

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/

 Purchase my books: Amazon   CBD: Barnes and Noble: Deeper Shopping

 

 

Origami Heart Corner Bookmark-A Quick Valentine Gift

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I’ve been fascinated with origami for a long time, but haven’t tried my hand at it much. My daughter has given me a number of origami folded dollars as birthday and Mother’s Day gifts—flowers, rings, hearts—and I can’t bear to disassemble them and spend the money. LOL.

While researching for a Valentine’s Day blog last year on a group site I post on, I discovered this adorable heart corner clip bookmark at a URL that doesn’t exist anymore. So I hunted for one similar to the picture above and I found one at http://origami.about.com/od/Origami-Decorations/tp/How-To-Fold-An-Origami-Heart-Bookmark.htm.

I made the original in the picture using some scrapbook card stock and thought I’d share it with you. The card stock is a little heavy, and I would suggest scrapbook papers or origami papers, if you have some on hand. My corner bookmark is a bit on the large side because I wanted to make folding it easier. (I know, I shouldn’t have used card stock if I wanted easy folding, but it was the first thing I came across in my disorganized scrapbook stash that had a pattern in it.) I used a 4 1/2 inch square. As you can see from the photo below,

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my bookmark is a bit large for the interior pages of the trade-sized book I used it on. I would suggest using a smaller square to make a more comparable page to bookmark fit. And practice with something besides card stock. ☺

I think this would be a cute, and quick, gift for your reading-addicted Valentine, as Valentines for your reading club ladies, or even as giveaway swag attached to your business card or on the corner of the books you sell at a book signing. They’re unique, easy to make, and you can get a bunch from an 8 x 11 ½ sheet of scrapbook paper.

And while you’re creating this adorable bookmark, why not pick up a copy of my multi-award-winning inspirational suspense book, The Nun and the Narc, available at Amazon. Doesn’t the heart look adorable on the cover?img-20150127-00468

Happy Folding!

Catherine

 

 

Get A Different Name Day-Musings From A Writer’s Brain

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Today is Get A Different Name Day. Not sure where this special day came from, but it’s one writers can identify with, as many of us have different names—as in pen names.

But what if you’re not a writer and you haven’t chosen a writing alias? Why would you want to get another name? The reasons are myriad.

Maybe you were only given one name and wanted to have a middle name like most everyone else. My parents didn’t give my sister a middle name and she decided she wanted one. So, she chose a middle name that was the same as one of our aunts. As a result she received a monetary gift from said aunt. When my sister realized being a namesake involved getting gifts, she decided to change her middle name to that of another aunt in hopes of receiving more loot. Mom and Dad put a quick stop to her scheme.

Or maybe your parents inadvertently, or purposely, chose a name whose initials spelled something you wouldn’t want monogrammed on your towel. My dad had a rascally side to his humor and told my mother he wanted to name one of his daughters Anna Sue, after his sisters. Mom thought it was a pretty name, and she agreed, until she realized when you put our last name with the rest of the moniker, the initials spelled. A.S.S. That was the end of Dad naming the kids.

Maybe your name was great when you were a kid, but then someone with your name becomes famous, and suddenly you’re carrying the moniker of one of the most reviled presidents of the President of the United States. It happened to my brother-in-law. He couldn’t order pizza using his full, real name because the servers hung up on him. They eventually started leaving my sister’s name instead.

Like authors, many performers choose a different name than the one they were born with. Some new names have an echo of the person’s real name like Natalie Wood, whose birth name is Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, or Chevy Chase (Cornelius Crane Chase). Others choose a name with no relationship to their real name, such as Ben Kinsley. His birth name is Krishna Pandit Bhanji, or Alan Alda who began life as Alphonso d’Abruzzo.

Here are a few more stage names I found interesting. Can you match them to their owners? Without looking them up? Once you do, you’ll see why they decided to choose a new name.

A. Maurice Micklewhite                                                  A. Rock Hudson

B. Leroy Harold Scherer Jr.                                            B. Audrey Hepburn

C. Archibald Alexander Leach                                        C. Truman Capote

D. Truman Streckfus Persons                                        D. Michael Caine

E. Steveland Judkins                                                     E. Cary Grant

F. Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston             F. Stevie Wonder

 

 

  • Answers to quiz:
  • Maurice Micklewhite/ Micheal Caine
  • Leroy Harold Scherer Jr. /Rock Hudson
  • Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston/ Audrey Hepburn
  • Truman Streckfus Persons/ Truman Capote
  • Steveland Judkins/Stevie Wonder
  • Archibald Alexander Leach/ Cary Grant

You may not be ready to celebrate Get A Different Name Day like the celebrities above, but if you do, consider this: In ancient times, names were important, and often impacted the lives of the those who held the names. In Biblical times names were also changed when significant events affected a person. The persecutor of the early Christians, Saul, became the apostle Paul upon his conversion. Abram became Abraham when he under took his sojourn at God’s request. When Jacob fought with the angel he was renamed Israel.

So when choosing your name for this weird holiday, look for something that has meaning to you, a nice ring to it, and showcases your personality, or who you’d like to become.

Who knows, you might like the new moniker so much you decide to keep it.

Do you have a story about your name you’d like to share?

 

 

 

The Birth of a Lie–Deborah Piccurelli on Wednesday Writers

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Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Deborah Piccurelli, author of the novelette Love Comes Calling, published by Prism Book Group. Deborah wrote her Christian novel based on the premise of a lie, which some might call an oxymoron since lying breaks one of the tenets of Christianity. But let’s have Deborah explain what she means.

 

 

THE BIRTH OF A LIE

 

Lying does not bode well for a Christian story. And that is what intrigued me about the theme of Love Comes Calling.

I wrote this novelette years ago when a top publisher put out a call for submissions for several romantic anthologies; two historical and two contemporary. I write contemporary, so those were what I checked out. The one that caught my eye had been named “A Well-kept Secret.”

As different scenarios began floating around in my mind, I realized I was drawn to the challenge of creating a beautiful story from a situation where one person would have to have done something unconscionable to an innocent victim. A situation wrought with controversy on both sides of the good versus evil spectrum, if you will. However, that individual would also be one of the main characters and a love interest, at that. How could I accomplish this?

I figured the male main character would have to be wealthy; someone used to getting what he wants. The female lead, in my mind, needed to be portrayed as a sort of delicate flower with an underlying layer of courage and strength. The following are who I perceived to be the perfect people to populate the pages of my book:

Derek Spencer: The handsome young heir to a magazine fortune who is now coming to terms with what a mess his life had once been.

Charlotte (Charlie) Parkes: A beautiful, one-time prima ballerina who is no longer able to maintain her career as a result of Derek’s carelessness.

Now, for the lie. Simple. Derek wants to make up for what he’d done to Charlie, so he finds out where she lives and shows up there. She doesn’t know who he is, and he ends up keeping his identity a secret. This opens the door to many possibilities, doesn’t it?

As for that publisher I originally wrote this story for – I submitted on the very first day they were accepting. The next day, they sent it back, stating they had decided not to publish that particular anthology. As anyone would imagine, my dream was hopelessly deflated. Until 2014. Prism Book Group held a contest, which became the perfect opportunity to give this book another chance. I entered it, and Love Comes Calling became one of three winners.

And here I am today telling the story of its conception.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Love Comes Calling

By Deborah Piccurelli

He was the man of her dreams . . . and her worst nightmare.

New Christian, Derek Spencer, falls for Charlie Parkes the very day he shows up on her doorstep to make up for what he’d done. But Charlie’s sister mistakes him for a home improvement contractor, and he decides to play along until he finds a way to explain who he really is.

Charlie is attracted to Derek, but knows the attention he shows her is only flattery. How could this handsome guy fall for someone with a face like hers? Nevertheless, the two form a relationship, bringing a joy to Charlie that’s way beyond her wildest dreams.

But what will happen when Derek’s true identity is revealed?

EXCERPT:

Before leaving the kitchen, he asked, “May I take you out somewhere for lunch tomorrow?”

Stunned, she almost dropped the plate she had been drying. “Ou-out?”

“Yeah, you know, a restaurant? Where someone else will be serving the food?”

“I-I… Okay. Sure.” Are you crazy, Charlie girl? Everyone will see you and stare at you. Then poor Derek will be embarrassed.

“Good.” He turned to walk away.

“Wait.”

He stopped and waited.

“On second thought, maybe I’d better not.”

In a nanosecond, he closed the space that separated them. “Why?”

His closeness made her claustrophobic. She half-turned her face away. “Oh, Derek, you don’t want to be seen in public with me.”

“Excuse me, but I think that’s my decision.”

“Please.” She moved away from him to replace a bowl into the cabinet and to put a more comfortable distance between them. “I don’t want to embarrass you.” He’d trailed her steps, and his breath ruffled a wisp of her hair. She turned and backed up, only to bump against the counter.

“What makes you think you’ll embarrass me?”

“Oh, c’mon, you’re not blind. People will stare and wonder what a good-looking guy like you is doing with someone who . . . looks like me.”

She dodged to escape his nearness, but he was too quick and trapped her between his arms as each of his hands grasped the edge of the counter. His height required him to lean slightly in order to accomplish this, putting them nose-to-nose.

“No. You’re not going to run away. Listen to me. You’re beautiful.” She turned her face, and he pulled her chin up so that she had no choice but to look into his eyes. “You are beautiful. I don’t care what anyone thinks. I like spending time with you, and I’m not ashamed of that or of you.”

 

Want to read more? Love Comes Calling is available at Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble

About the Author:

deborah-piccurelli-5-26-16Deborah M. Piccurelli enjoys reading and writing romantic books. She is the author of two novels, a novella and several cause-related newspaper articles. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an advocate for sanctity of life. Deborah lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons.

WEB CONTACTS:

Website: www.deborahmpiccurelli.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/deborah.piccurelli

Twitter: @DebPiccurelli

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1030596.Deborah_M_Piccurelli

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/DebPiccurelli

 

 

A Tea Party for One–Musings From a Writer’s Brain

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Photo by C .Castle

January was Hot Tea Month and before we get too far away from the celebration I want to share some of my favorite teas with you.

I’ve always been a tea drinker. When I was a teen, my mother would brew me a hot cup of black tea, heavily sweetened, with a dollop of milk and boil an egg for my before-school-breakfast. As I grew older I added more tea varieties than the old standby of black tea to my cupboard—more than I care to admit to.

One thing that inspires my tea collection is reading about fictional characters and the tea they drink. Years ago I read a story about a heroine who was in Ireland and was served Irish tea, strong, sweet, and with lots of cream. It made my mouth salivate. Then one day, while shopping in the English import section of a local store, call Jungle Jim’s, I discovered a box of Taylor’s Irish tea. I snapped up the box, rushed home, brewed a cup, and doctored it up just like I remembered the novel heroine did. I fell in love with the cuppa. For many years, Irish tea was my go-to brew.

Then Starbucks and Panera came to town and I fell for their chai teas. Loaded with sugar, they are a rare treat for me, but I discovered varieties I could brew at home and doctor with artificial sweetener and low fat milk. Not quite the same but do-able.

Another tea inspiration is our bi-annual trip to Disney World. I love going into the Epcot Twinings store (pronounced Twin-ings, not twine-ings according to an English friend of a friend). On my last trip there I bought some pumpkin chai—two of my favorite flavors.

In an Italian restaurant in Epcot we had pizza and a Harney and Sons iced tea, from England, that was so sweet naturally that I needed no sweetener, and that’s saying a lot for me, since I love sweet tea. Back home, I hunted in the English import section of Jungle Jim’s and found a canister of the coveted tea.

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Photo by C. Castle

I’ve also come to love hibiscus tea, mostly because it helps keep my blood pressure under check so I don’t have to take as much medicine. The taste is fruity enough that I can get by on a minimum of sweetener, too. Right now my favorite hibiscus tea is The Republic of Tea’s Watermelon Hibiscus.

Currently, my favorite of all is Downton Abbey’s Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding tea. Labeled as a dessert tea, it has the taste of chai, with a hint of caramel. Similar to chai, but different. It’s as good hot and is it cold. I’m especially fond of it with a splash of spiced latte creamer. I also like Downton Abbey’s Bates Blackberry tea, which has a wonderful scent and a natural sweetness that doesn’t need any sugar.

I skip the cookies with my tea, but if I ate them I’d choose a buttery shortbread. I didn’t have any shortbread on hand for the headline picture, so I put my second favorite, oatmeal raisin, on the plate. Yum.

Now, my taste buds are raging, so I’m off to brew a cuppa.

How about you? Do you have a favorite tea?

Angels Abound with Love by Janis Lane on Wednesday Writers

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book-cover-angels-abound-with-loveToday Author Janis Lane is here at Wednesday Writers to tell us about her Christian Romance Angels Abound with Love. She’ll also be sharing an excerpt of her book. Janis, what’s the concept behind Angels Abound with Love? By the way, I love the cover on this book!

 

Thanks, Catherine.

Who has cried out, Please God, help me! and never wondered afterwards if your panicked prayer had been heard? Angels Abound is a romantic story that peeks into the lives of church members who question how God works in their everyday activities. Love in all its many phases plays an important role. Which young couple finds more than they thought? Love is in the air! Different forms of prayer are studied and questions posed by Peter, the Director of Religious Study who privately wonders if pretty Sarah is a gift straight from God. Serious debate is heard discussing Messengers of God–a current phenomenon of today? Is that wedding bells ringing, and what is that blue tint in the air? And finally, what is Christian Fellowship and how does it benefit normal lives?

Join the church members of small town America as they interact, live, and love practicing their Christian faith.

 

Angels Abound with Love

By Janis Lane

 

Excerpt:

Mark Mallory turned his attention to the delicate face gazing down at him and felt a slight jolt to his constitution. Surely an electric plug had no connection, but it certainly felt like it. He stood up, tugged on his well-worn t-shirt and brushed a hand over his close-cropped hair.

“I’m standing in for his mom,” he said quickly. “She called and asked me to bring Robbie to you. She’s on her way. Oh, sorry–Detective Mark Mallory. I volunteer on Tuesday’s at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club.” He wiped his hand on his jeans and reached it out to her.

“How do you do,” Cathy returned. She nodded her head and smiled.            “I heard there’s a new doctor taking over for Doc Smitty. Welcome to town.” He shook her hand, feeling foolish as she looked steadily up at him; her calm gray-blue eyes, heavily fringed with dark lashes, seemed to be taking his measure. Her lack of height failed to diminish her air of authority. He hadn’t expected such an attractive young woman to be standing in for old Doc Smith and belatedly regretted his sweaty T-shirt and well-worn jeans. Was that his big toe peeking out of his sneakers? How did that happen? He tried to tuck one shoe behind the other hoping she wouldn’t notice.

“How about we get you on a table so I can check that arm?” the doctor said, turning her attention to her patient. Doc Cathy led the way, Robbie trailing her slowly, as they all headed for the examining room.

She reached for the boy, her hand brushing against the detective’s, but Mallory preempted and easily lifted Robbie to the table. His nose registered a nice fragrance from the doctor’s hair, a clean, fresh fragrance with a hint of what? Flowers and a faint smell of some sort of antibacterial wash. Their shoulders brushed. He felt his interest sharpen as a smile grew on his face.

Quickly she leaned away, a faint, rosy wash of color mounting first her slender neck and then her fair cheeks. One tawny curl, which had escaped the severe hairstyle, lodged behind one shell pink ear and dangled casually. She brushed at it impatiently with one hand, but the curl persisted and settled back on her shoulder, as if in defiance to the austere bun on the back of her head. She turned to her nurse.

“Liz, would you call my home and explain to my aunt I’ll be late, please?” Cathy asked, a note of crispness entering her voice, as she sat down on the stool beside her exam table. “Now, little fellow, let me see that arm.” She held out her hands to the boy and favored him with an encouraging smile.

Robbie looked at her with suspicion but cautiously and carefully held out his arm.

“Owee!” He protested vigorously as Cathy gently manipulated the limb. She sighed as he wiped the tears from his eyes. The detective murmured to the boy and patted him on the back.

“I’m sorry, Robbie, but I suspect you have a small crack in your bone. We need to have an x-ray to be sure. There’s a place over on Elm Street that may still be open. Let me give them a call. Otherwise you’ll need to go to the emergency room at the hospital.” She excused herself while Mark consoled Robbie who toughed away his tears in spite of the pain in his arm.

“It didn’t hurt much,” he denied, while his friend comforted and praised him for his bravery.

Cathy made the call and turned back to the detective who was watching her.

“They’re closing, but they promised to wait for you if you go right over,” she said. He held her gaze, as if he were mesmerized by her words, while she seemed to struggle visibly to maintain her professional aplomb under his intense stare. She turned away shrugging one shoulder as if to wish him away.     

Oops, if that wasn’t a brush off, then my name isn’t Mark Mallory. Serves me right, but in my defense, I didn’t expect to find such a classy lady in the place of the old doc.

“I must get home for an important appointment, but I can meet you back here after they finish the x-ray. Tell the technicians to page me at home when they have the completed film. You can bring it back with you.” She handed him a card with her home phone number on it.

* * * *

           Driving home to Aunt Serena and little Elisa, who was hopefully to be her new foster child, Cathy reviewed her day, a quite extraordinary day. Meeting the congenial policeman put a smile on her face. He was one handsome man and…Now was no time to be distracted by a good looking detective even if it was obvious he spent time working out. Policemen probably needed well developed muscles to help them catch criminals—and to keep themselves healthy. She, a new, and maybe temporary foster parent (she didn’t know yet) needed to keep her thoughts centered. No time for flirting with the local police.

She was still astounded by her impulsive offer this morning to take charge of a four year old orphan in need of a foster home. She almost gasped at her own temerity, but the thought of providing urgent shelter to the tiny girl-child pleased her.

Want to read more? You can find Angels Abound with Love at Amazon

 About the Author:

emma-booksigning-4-17Although Angels Abound is generic religious fiction, the author is frankly Episcopalian, who is usually found pounding the keys deep in Regency Romance or Cozy Mysteries. She calls Western NY her home and the study of plants and flowers her avocation. You can connect with Janis at her Website

 

 

 

 

Musings From a Writer’s Brain–Backward Humor

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Today, January 31, is National Backward Day. According to various websites, National Backward Day is all about doing things backward. You can reverse your habits or your direction or even the order in which you eat dinner. Frankly, I’m all for the last activity. I mean, who doesn’t like dessert first? Sometimes my husband and I will eat lunch for breakfast and nosh on cereal for dinner. That usually happens when breakfast is so late it’s even beyond calling it brunch.

I have absolutely no idea how this quirky holiday got started, but it sounds like fun, especially if you’re a kid. Imagine going to school with your clothes on backward, walking to classes backward, sitting in your desk facing the rear of the room, although I think the teacher might take issue with this.

My mother celebrated Backward Day even when it wasn’t the official holiday. She always read her magazines from the back to the front. I could never figure out how she made heads or tails—or should that cliché go tails or heads?—of what she was reading.

Before cars had seatbelts, my sisters and I used to sit backward in the rear seat, sometimes with our legs crossed, other times kneeling or standing, while we waved and made faces at the drivers in the cars following us. Once Daddy had an accident while we were seated that way, and we all ended up on the floor behind him and Mom. Nowadays, they would have hauled my parents to jail for child endangerment had they discovered me and my siblings unseated on the floor. If you believe the authorities, we should have died numerous times from our unsafe childhood practices, yet here I am, still alive and kicking.

I often practiced writing my letters backward when I was a kid, and I didn’t even know about Backward Day then. Back then (no pun intended) I also didn’t know I was following in the footsteps of the great inventor and artist Leonardo Da Vinci, who not only wrote his letters backward but wrote from the right to the left. I learned that tidbit sometime during my college days. I was still practicing backward writing then. It was fun.

In the Sixties I remember playing Iron Butterfly’s rock song “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” backward in an effort to hear the hidden message supposedly embedded in the record. I can’t say that I ever heard any message, though.

We used to play old home movies backward. My husband’s mother filmed him and his dad as they dug a basement under their house and piled the dirt next to the foundation. It was great fun watching the dirt fly from the pile onto Dad’s shovel.

One thing I never do is look backward while walking forward down steps. I used to do that a lot, until I fell down a flight of steps because I missed one I didn’t see… because I wasn’t looking where I should have been. I basically body skied, on my chest, down the entire flight, which included a right-angle landing midway down. Miraculously, I didn’t break a single bone, but, man, was I bruised up.

Writers are often encouraged to edit their manuscripts backward. Being a blonde, I always had trouble figuring out how one would do this. I’m a great speller, and I really know my homonyms—backward and forward. But when I read the sentence “After all, there are very few words that are spelled the same backward as they are forward.” and reverse the letters, I see “drawrof era yeht sa drawkcab emas eht delleps era taht sdrow wef yrev era ereht, lla retfA” What the heck does that say?

Now, if the manuscript used the words racecar, radar, madam, civic, and kayak, nun, noon, peep level, or the sentences “Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots!” or “Madam, I’m Adam.” I could figure that out, because those words and sentences are the same backward and forward. Because the only sure way to know if a word you are reading backward is spelled correctly, is if the word is a palindrome and spells the same thing forward as it does backward.

I’ve written some backward humor to celebrate National Backward Day and maybe taught you something new about backward writing. What are you planning to do to celebrate this day?

P.S. I eventually figured out the way to read your manuscript backward. Look at each word as it’s written forward and check the spelling, because when you edit that way you are basically looking for spelling and repeated words, not sentence structure. I was just yanking the chain on your writer’s pen today. ☺

Happy National Backward Day!

 

Wednesday Writers—Catherine Castle and The Nun and the Narc

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TheNunAndTheNarc2_850Hi, everyone, and welcome to my Wednesday Writers blog series. I’m filling an empty spot today on my guest list, and I’m going to share some background snippets about the characters in my multi-award-winning inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc. I’m also presenting one of my favorite excerpts from the book.

Everyone is curious about novice Sister Margaret Mary. She’s a spunky heroine with adventure in her soul. She eats chapulines (fried grasshoppers) from the Mexican market, wields a skillet against the bad guys, and rushes into situations when she should think twice before acting. A tomboy life with her brothers taught her how to be daring. She also likes to do less risky things, like garden, so she gets garden duty at the convent. Unlike a lot of the sisters in the convent, she can still kneel—another reason why you’ll find her in the convent’s gardens most of the time. Because she’s younger than most of the sisters, and because Mother Superior is questioning her commitment to her upcoming vows, Sister Margaret was chosen to go to Mexico on a housebuilding trip. While she’s there she befriends a teenage boy named Rafael who loses his mother as the charity is building their house. Sister Margaret can relate to his hurt, because she lost her mother and knows how that feels. Her attempts to keep the boy out of trouble land her in the middle of a drug deal where she gets kidnapped by the local drug lord’s thugs, along with the hero of the story, Jed Bond. And when Sister Margaret finds herself inexplicable attracted to Jed, he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows.

Jed Bond, which is his undercover name, comes from a long line of cops, but he’s the first undercover agent in the family. He started out as FBI undercover agent and later joined the DEA because a drug user killed his father. Jed has a sweet tooth, as witnessed by the amount of candy he consumes while waiting in the Mexican market for his drug contact. He also likes working alone. So when Sister Margaret comes on the scene, she complicates his drug bust operation, in sooo many ways. In spite of the way she hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion, Sister Margaret begins crumbling Jed’s defenses, and he finds himself opening his heart to the novice who shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor does. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Jed begins to question his own beliefs as he falls in love with the sister. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

 

Excerpt From The Nun and the Narc

By Catherine Castle

 

Margaret inched forward, hoping to hear what they were saying. A mariachi band nearby blared out a tune, the polka-like melody destroying any hope of eavesdropping. The shriek of off-key brass sent chills up her spine. She covered her ears and moved closer to Rafael and the stranger.

After a couple of minutes of conversation, the man removed an envelope from his jacket and pulled out a handful of bills. He folded them in half and then slipped them into Rafael’s extended hand. With a furtive glance around, Rafael moved closer to the man, blocking Margaret’s direct view, and handed something to the stranger.

A wave of apprehension swept over Margaret. The chapulines she’d snacked on earlier that morning threatened to see the light of day.

A drug deal! Of all the things Rafael could do, this was the worst.

Esperanza had fought so hard to keep her son away from bad influences. Now he appeared to be involved in the very thing she’d hated most. Margaret imagined Esperanza banging on the gates of purgatory, trying to get out and rescue her son.

She hesitated for a moment, hearing Mother Superior’s admonishment. Stay out of trouble while you are in Mexico, Sister.           

Silencing the nagging voice in her head, Margaret charged forward, protective instincts in full swing.

Stopping Rafael and talking to him about the dangers of drugs surely wouldn’t qualify as trouble. Bluntness, maybe, but not trouble. It was more like saving. Yes, that’s it. I’m saving him.

Margaret grabbed Rafael by the shirt. “I’ve been searching for you, young man.” She faced the stranger, giving him her best withering stare. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

The man stuffed the plastic bag into his jacket pocket. “Who is this?”

“Some crazy gringa.” Rafael shrugged, hard, trying to escape her grasp.

The plastic bag contained something white. Heroin? Cocaine? Margaret tightened her hold and drew Rafael closer. She would save him whether he wanted to be saved or not.

“Get out of here,” Rafael snarled.

“What would your mother say if she saw this?”

Rafael’s expression darkened. “Leave my mother out of this!” He wrenched out of Margaret’s grip and spun around to face her. His expression morphed from anger to fear. “¡Madre de Dios!”

The man’s head jerked around. “Get down!” he shouted.

Rafael took off running down the street as the top row of pottery in the stand exploded like popcorn.

Margaret jumped at the loud noise and whirled around searching for the source. The man removed a gun from his jacket, swung around, and scanned the area.

Margaret’s knees buckled at the sight of the handgun. Her body tensed, her gaze frozen on his weapon. He fired off a couple of shots. Heart thumping like a jackhammer, she ran for cover behind the open car door. The window glass shattered as bullets whizzed over her head. She scrambled into the car and crouched on the floorboard. Another row of pottery shattered, sending fragments into the car like tiny projectile rockets. Sending up a quick prayer, she covered her head.

Slamming the door shut as he passed, the man leapt over the trunk. He jerked open the driver’s door then jumped behind the wheel. Jamming the car into gear, he roared out into the market street. Shoppers and vendors screamed, leaping out of the car’s path.

Margaret scrambled into the passenger seat. “Stop this car immediately!”

“Keep down,” he ordered, “unless you want to get shot.”

The rear window glass erupted into the car’s interior, punctuating his words. The man fired at the attackers through the shattered back window.

“Shot?” Her voice rose an octave. “Oh, dear Lord in Heaven, what have I gotten into?”

“Trouble, Lady.” He fired off another round. “Big trouble.

 

The Nun and the Narc is the recipient of The 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and The 2014 Rone Award and was a finalist in the 2014 Epic contest, 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Genesis contest, and the 2nd place winner in the Dixie contest.

You can find The Nun and the Narc in EBook and print format at Amazon and print format at  Barnes and Noble