Tasty Tuesdays–Summer Soup from Sloane Taylor

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from Sloane Taylor

When the days are muggy and hot, cool down with this light and refreshing meal. Add a loaf of crusty fresh bread and a bottle of chilled, crisp white wine to make dinner complete.

GAZPACHO – Cold Fresh Vegetable Soup

Image by Яна Тикунова from Pixabay

1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
5 medium Roma/plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. garlic, chopped fine or pressed
4 cups French or Italian bread chunks, crust removed
4 cups cold water
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tsps. salt
4 tbsps. olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste

Combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, garlic, and bread in a large bowl. Stir in water, vinegar, and salt. Ladle mixture into a blender or food processor. Be careful not to overload either appliance. Set on high speed until you have a smooth puree. Pour the blend into a clean large bowl and whisk in olive oil and tomato paste.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum. Just before serving stir well to recombine ingredients. Ladle into a chilled tureen or large soup bowls.

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

Sloane

About the Author

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning 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, Romantic Meals to Dine al Fresco, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Plotting 201 by Christina Sinisi

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Plotting 201. Faith Points.

by Christina Sinisi

I’ve been writing my whole life and am now in my 50s. While I only published my first novella last year, I’ve studied the craft for decades. In the early years of my writing fiction, I was a pantser—someone who wrote by the seat of her pants and let the muse take me where it would. Over the years, however, I found that I did much better at NOT getting stuck in the mire of the middle if I at least plotted the overall story line and created a GMC for each of my characters.  For this blog, I’m going to focus on what I call faith points.

I especially love a story board and wanted to share that technique with aspiring writers. I am indebted to Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors as well as many other workshop presenters whose words are imprinted on my brain even if some of their names are faded from my memory.

Start by gathering white, blank notecards and taping them onto a display board that you might buy for a child’s science project.  On the left, in bold letters, post Act 1, in the middle Act 2 Parts 1 and 2, and on the right Act 3. I have a picture and more detail on my own blog found at www.christinasinisi.com. Using different colored post-it-notes to represent the different threads—pink for the heroine (yes, stereotypical, but easy), blue for the hero, red or black for the villain (if you have one, if not, the antagonist or source of conflict),  yellow for plot points, rose for the romance, and if you’re writing inspirational, purple for the faith points.

Just as both the hero and heroine need to have a romance arc—where they start off not in love and work their way to a commitment of some form—each requires a struggle with their faith that goes from weaker to stronger by the end of the book. If you’re writing a novella, only one of the characters really has time for this development. The other main character should, in my opinion, be strong in the faith and help the other person reach a point of trust in the Lord.

If you’re writing a full-length of novel, however, in the inspirational market, both the hero and heroine could face a crisis of faith along with the main story and the romance. So, yes, writing this kind of novel is harder in a way. Not only do we need a story, but there needs to be a romance and faith growth. There are many ways we humans can struggle with our faith—I teach a Psychology of Religion class and the research discusses this in terms of conversion. A person can go from no faith to a faith. An individual could go from a lukewarm faith all her life to a passion for Jesus. An individual could go from a strong faith and then something terrible happens or maybe a lot of small challenges and loses his or her faith. The Long Dark Night of the Soul could, in truth, be the terrible thing that drives this person back to his faith because he can’t survive without the Lord.  Then, he prays and/or reads his bible or talks to a spiritual leader or another person of strong faith and comes out on the other side.  To experience the Joy of connecting with our Savior.

Authors need to intentionally put their characters in situations where their faith will be tested because we humans face situations where our faith is tested. We live through these characters for a short time, and hopefully strengthen our faith as they do theirs. Hopefully, we laugh and love along the way, but iron strengthens iron.  If the best way to write a story is by purposefully planning the main points of the action, we cannot give the faith development less effort.

 

Christmas Confusion

By Christina Sinisi

When Tiffany Marano’s high school sweetheart drove off to join the Marines and never looked back, she swore off men. Now, she’s content to teach at Summer Creek, South Carolina’s local elementary school, lead a Sunday school class, and spend weekends with her niece—until Nick Walsh suddenly reappears wearing a wedding ring and with a daughter in tow. Everything about Tiffany’s calm, quiet life is now one disordered mess.

Nick Walsh comes face to face with Tiffany after all these years, and sparks fly. But not the happy glittering kind, because each of them thinks the other responsible for their estrangement. Before they can work it out, though, Tiffany’s sister disappears. Left with custody of her niece and forced to work with new police detective Nick to find her sister, old feelings begin to resurface. As they start to unravel the truths that left them confused and apart for too long, Nick must learn to let go of his past. But can Tiffany let go of her fear and learn to trust that God isn’t the only one who won’t abandon her?

Want to read more?

You can find Christmas Confusion at Amazon.

 

About the Author

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christina Sinisi writes stories about families, both the broken and blessed. Her works include a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and the American Title IV Contest where she appeared in the top ten in the Romantic Times magazine. American Title IV Contest where she appeared in the top ten in the Romantic Times magazine. Her published books include The Christmas Confusion and the upcoming Sweet Summer, the first two books in the Summer Creek Series. By day, she is a psychology professor and lives in the LowCountry of South Carolina with her husband and two children and loves a good cooking challenge.

Connect with Christina at her Website, Facebook and Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine’s Comments–Do You Have This Human Weakness? by Catherine Castle

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Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?-

-Henry Ward Beecher

 

When I read this quote I said, “Oh, that is soooo me.”

As a kid going into the library, I could never choose just one library book. Three was the minimum, and I’ve been known to go as high as seven, or ten, if I was checking out non-fiction for research or skimming.  I always returned before the two week borrowing limit was over and checked out another armload of books. Of course, back then I had the luxury of time on my side. No housework, cooking, gardening, or other jobs to do. I don’t read books as fast as I did as a teen, but I still collect them. I haven’t lost my love of books, or my weakness for the written word.

That love of books bled into bookstores, and my pocket book, as I grew older. My kindle is filled with books: books I’ve bought, free books I’ve downloaded, and books given to me by other authors to review. In fact, I’ve even got books on my phone—a place I never thought I’d read books on. I have a stack of snail mail advertising books that I think I might like to buy someday. And we won’t even mention the home book shelves. Or maybe we will, since this post is about my human weakness when it comes to books, and bookstores. They, too, are crammed full and spilling onto the floor with fiction of all genres, non-fiction of all sorts, cookbooks, crafting books, research books, writing books and even dictionaries. A quick glance around the shelves in my office and I can find at least 5 different dictionaries.  Really, who needs that many dictionaries?

I am without doubt a confirmed bibliophile, a disease that apparently even Henry Ward Beecher had, as well as many of America’s wealthy homeowners, as witnessed by some of their great libraries.

Pictured above are the book shelves in the living room of poet CARL SANDBURG. Every room, including the bathroom, and every hallway had shelves like these. All I wanted to do was stop and peruse them, but the docent wouldn’t let me. Sigh.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to work in a library or a bookstore. Being surrounded by all the tomes filled with historical knowledge, poetry, facts and tips about anything you were interested in, and stories that could carry you away to foreign lands, imaginary lands, and let you live vicariously through the characters’ lives has a great appeal. But as I grew older and the desire to own those volumes began to overtake me, I realized I wouldn’t make any money working at a bookstore, because I’d spend my entire pay on the store’s merchandise.

In fact, the disease, and the accompanying human weakness, is so bad that while signing my books at a book store, the author next to me mentioned a book that sounded interesting, and I popped onto my phone and downloaded it using my Kindle app. It was the only book bought at my signing table that day. LOL. When I attended the Lori Foster RAGT event, and couldn’t find a book that interested me (which is a wonder in itself), I ended up buying books for my niece!

Here are just a few titles to which I’ve succumbed most recently. I’m in the process of reading some, some have been read, and others are on the TBR list.

  • Alienated by Melissa Landers
  • Gateway to Gannah series by Yvonne Anderson
  • Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown (a cozy mystery)
  • Mama, I am Yet Still Alive: a composite diary of 1863 in the Confederacy, Jeff Toalson, Editor
  • Best of the Covered Wagon Women, editor Kenneth L. Holmes
  • Desperate Deeds by Patricia Gligor
  • Confederato de Norte by Linda Bennett Pennell
  • Hog Insane, by Carole Brown
  • Dating Cary Grant by Emelle Gamble
  • The Marital Bargain: Wife for Five Months by Eris Field
  • Recipes to Create Holidays by Sloane Taylor
  • Hair Calamities and Hot Cash by Gail Pallotta
  • My Fair Guardian  by Suzanne G. Rogers
  • A Season for Killing Blondes by Joanne Guidoccio
  • A Musket in My Hands by Sandra Merville Hart

This is only a sample of my 50 Kindle pages of books, plus a few print books from my shelves. I have many more on my wanta-buy-list.

What about you? Do you have the Bibliophile disease and the weak human nature that Henry Ward Beecher speaks of ? Be honest, and let me know how it has manifested itself in your reading life.

Catherine hopes you’d like to add her books  to your list  of  wanta-read-books. Here’s a teaser from her multi-award-winning inspirational romantic suspense The Nun and the Narc.

The Nun and the Narc

By Catherine Castle

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

 

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

 

Excerpt:

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.

BUY LINK

 

About the Author:

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

 

 

 

A Writer’s Garden–Making Garden Memories by Becky Van Vleet

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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 Becky Van Vleet, a gardner who loves to create memories. Welcome, Becky!

 

There are so many aspects to my gardening that I love. The sweet fragrance of my flowers. The amazing fact that my perennials know when it’s time to pop their heads up each year. Working my hands in the rich dirt in my vegetable garden and sometimes feeling a worm. Harvesting my herbs and veggies every summer for my family to enjoy. In fact, I would have to say that working in my flower and vegetable gardens is very therapeutic for me. I reap the pleasures and joys of gardening as I also deal with destructive hail and drought. (Note hail covering!)

Every spring I look forward to setting out my hummingbird feeder in anticipation of the hummers who will put on a sweet show for my husband and I to enjoy.

 

A few years ago, I started painting rocks with my grandchildren’s names to display in my front yard. My little Grands get excited when they come to visit and walk right past this visual of their special garden markers. When I’m tending to this section of my flower beds, I think about the stone markers in the Old Testament we read about in Joshua 4:5-7, and then I pray for my grandchildren.

 

 

 

In addition to my love of gardening, I especially enjoy creating and preserving family memories for the next generations. I have endearing memories of picking green beans in my grandmother’s garden in southern Indiana back in the 1960s. After we had a couple of sacksful, we would sit on her back porch and break the beans in preparation for cooking. We would converse about all kinds of things as we snapped away. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my grandmother was imparting life lessons to me—love your family, work hard, read your Bible, honor God, don’t cheat, be kind, and much more. We had no background music. We simply had the tranquility of the farm house, fresh air, and birds singing. Sweet memories!

So now this grandma likes to have my own grandchildren break green beans with me every summer as we snap and talk. I hope I am preserving my own memory and creating a new one for them!

 

 

 

About the Writer/Gardener

Becky Van Vleet is a retired teacher and principal. She and her husband make their home in Colorado Springs where Becky enjoys oil painting, hiking and biking, as well as gardening. Becky’s children’s picture book, Talitha, the Traveling Skirt, was inspired by a true family story to preserve a treasured family memory. Her first book has already won two awards and her second children’s book, also inspired by a true family story, is due to be released the end of the summer. Becky enjoys writing projects to preserve family memories.

Connect with Becky on her social media sites  Website:  Facebook: Instagram

 

Talitha, the Traveling Skirt

by Becky Van Vleet

Meet Talitha, a little plaid skirt that likes to travel. Through the years, she visits many two-year-old girls in a special family who wear her to get their pictures taken. But Talitha encounters problems when she least expects them. Filled with colorful and detailed illustrations, young children will delight in this heartwarming story about a little skirt’s adventures.

Want to read more about the traveling skirt or purchase it for the little girls in your family? You can find Talitha’s story at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers–Fade to White by Tara K. Ross

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Today’s Wednesday Writers’ guest is author Tara K. Ross. Tara will be sharing her debut novel Fade to White as well as an excerpt from her short story Pressing into Stillness that leads into the book.

Welcome, Tara

 

Thanks, Catherine.

In almost every great novel, the story starts long before the first line. However, as authors, we want to draw a reader into the action right away. The story must begin in a moment of change. This is what I tried to do with Fade to White. Thea Fenton’s story though is a culmination of experiences that make her who she is. For a character to become real and relatable, they must live a life with memorable firsts, unforgettable highs and lows and life-changing lasts. One specific last event in Thea’s life challenged her to rethink her purpose in the world. It forced her to consider pain and death and to move beyond it. It happened on the night of her grandmother’s death. Here is a short excerpt from a short story I wrote, called Pressing into Stillness, that offers a window into the last conversation she had with her grandmother before she passes:

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“Can I turn on some music or read to you?” Anything that distracted me from waiting for the inevitable.

Her cheeks appeared hollow beneath the crinkled layers of skin but the muscles that remained crested her eyes into appreciation. Simple things gave her such happiness. A cup of tea. Soft jazz music. Words perfectly combined. She cleared her throat and whispered “…lovely.” Her words were few now. And her wisdom? I already missed it.

I swiped through my playlists until I arrived at “Billie and Grams.” The list was full of memories from this past year, and a tremor re-entered my fingers. Billie Holiday’s Love is Here to Stay swooned through the room and with it the scent of cinnamon in the oven, dancing shadows from the firelight and Gram’s voice reading Little Women under a crocheted blanket.

How did this happen so fast?

I leaned toward the pile of books, all familiar to me now. Most of our past few weeks consisted of The Bible, C.S. Lewis, Robert Fulghum, and Louisa May Alcott. An eclectic mix of faith, fiction and philosophy will keep any person on the right path, she often said.

I chose the top three and spread them across the edge of her bed, next to her painted fingertips. “Your choice.” I expected her to choose the Bible, her reliable request over the past few days.

Her gaze shifted downward and she laid her hand on the closest book. Not her leather-bound NIV from who knows how long ago, but a thin C.S. Lewis book, called The Problem of Pain.

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In the first few lines of my debut novel, Fade to White, Thea says that ‘it started with a story in the newspaper’, but there was a greater story planted in her heart long before the death of a classmate. That story already had an ending. Thea’s grams, spent her last moments pouring out as much of this truth as she could. It’s through her pain and death that Thea realizes a greater story. One with an ending that ignites her spark and allows her to share that light not only to herself but beyond. It started with a conversation.

If you would like to read Pressing into Stillness, the short story that first moves Thea into a place of wonder and questioning, please visit Tara’s website at www.tarakross.com.

 

Tara’s debut young adult contemporary novel, Fade to White, continues this story:

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Thea Fenton’s life looks picture-perfect, but inside, she is disintegrating. Wracked by anxiety no one seems to understand or care about, she resorts to self-harm to deflect the pain inside.

When a local teen commits suicide, Thea’s anxiety sky-rockets. Unexplainable things happen, leaving her feeling trapped within her own chaotic mind. The lines between reality and another world start to blur, and her previously mundane issues seem more daunting and insurmountable than ever.

Then she meets Khi, a mysterious new boy from the coffee shop who seems to know her better than she knows herself—and doesn’t think she’s crazy. His quiet confidence and unfounded familiarity draw her into an unconventional friendship.

Khi journeys with her through grief, fear, and confusion to arrive at compassion for the one person Thea never thought she could love.

EXCERPT:

My phone starts to ding rapid-fire. The discourse between my parents heightens. A familiar tension fills my chest. The oatmeal churns in my stomach. Did one of them just say my name? The room is brighter. Too bright. I peer in the direction of the front window. Where is the window? The usual California shutters and collection of white cupboards blur. All I see are pewter knobs. I swing my head over to Dad and his dark housecoat. His silhouette is turned toward Mom, but his features are barely visible. What is happening? He is less than three feet from me. Why can’t I see his face? The haze thickens. Am I fainting? But there are no stars, no darkness—just light. Endless, blurring, white light.

I’m dying.

Oh please, no—I can’t be dying!

I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. The air is sucked from my throat. I can’t breathe. My ears pound. Strained voices fade.

Wait. What is that? A sound, soft at first, grows like a strong wind or a plunging waterfall. It overpowers my racing heart.

Be still.

Want to read more? You can find Tara’s book Fade to White at Amazon: Barnes and Noble: and Lighthouse Publications of the Carolinas

 

About the Author:

Tara K. Ross lives with her husband, two daughters and rescued fur-baby in a field of cookie-cutter homes near Toronto, Canada. She works as a school speech-language pathologist and mentors with local youth programs. When Tara is not writing or reading all things young adult fiction, you can find her rock climbing the Ontario escarpment, planning her family’s next jungle trek or podcasting/blogging at www.tarakross.com.

FADE TO WHITE is her debut novel.

Connect with Tara at Instagram: @ tara.k.ross :  Twitter:@tara_k_ross Goodreads

 

 

 

Tasty Tuesdays– A Roast Lamb Loin Dinner from Eris Field

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from Eris Field

My husband was Turkish and enjoyed it when I made meals from his mother’s recipes. This was one of his favorites, and mine too because it was easy and delicious. It’s also similar to one described in my latest book The Marital Bargain: Wife for Five Months.

ROAST LAMB LOIN

Photo courtesy of Akemy Mory Unsplash

Use your favorite recipe to roast lamb until done but still pink on the inside.

RAS el HANUT YOGURT

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. Ras El Hanout*

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

Drizzle a small amount on the lamb at serving time.

*Ras el Hanout is a seasoning found in stores that sell Turkish or Arabic food. To make your own combine a small amount of coriander, allspice, fennel, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, anise seed, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and turmeric in a bowl.

PILAF – TURKISH RICE

3 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1½ cups long grain rice (Riceland rice is a good choice)
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Melt butter in a shallow pot that has a cover.

Add onion and sauté until translucent over low heat. Stir to prevent browning.

Stir in water and salt. Bring to boil.

Stir in rice. Cover pan and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook 20 to 25 minutes (Do not remove cover. Do not stir). When done, use a clean dish towel or a paper towel to replace the lid. Let stand 10 minutes.

Pour melted butter over rice. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve in a heated dish.

TURKISH GREEN BEAN SALAD

1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into one-inch lengths
3 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
½ a lemon, juiced
1 tbsp. dry mint leaves

Layer green beans first, onions second, and arrange tomatoes on top in a saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. Sprinkle with dried mint. Cover with lid and cook over low heat without stirring for 25 minutes. Let cool. The olive oil and lemon juice make a dressing for the salad. Garnish with a light dusting of grated lemon peel and serve at room temperature.

DESSERT

Grapes, pistachios in the shell (the best pistachios are from Antep or Siirt), pomegranate arils (seeds).

Here is a brief intro to my latest contemporary romance novel. I hope you enjoy it.

For Laury, growing up on American Naval Bases in the Middle East resulted in a fluency in languages and a wariness of men. Now, after completing a psychiatric nurse practitioner program, she faces a mountain of student loans. While waiting to learn if she’s been accepted for her dream job, she works as a private duty nurse caring for Roberta, an elderly matriarch living alone in a 30-room mansion on Billionaires’ Row. Roberta’s granddaughter had agreed to stay with her while she recovered from eye surgery, but she has disappeared along with Roberta’s money and credit cards.

Damon, Roberta’s grandson who is volunteering with Doctors Without Borders, requests emergency leave to fly home from Iraq. After his wife divorced him, Damon had vowed never to marry again, but with only days to find a way to safeguard his grandmother, he offers Laury a bargain—a five-month marriage. She will protect Roberta while he returns to perform reconstructive surgery for child refugees and he will pay off her student loans. What could go wrong?

Readers who like novels with characters who must find strengths within themselves to overcome their difficulties will enjoy this story. They’ll learn different cultures’ approaches to families, marriages, and finances, about the Kurds who fought beside Americans in Iraq, about refugees, and about abuse. They will also learn about the power of love.

Note to readers of sweet romance, this book has an open door love scene between a married couple. 

 

Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont—Jericho, Vermont to be precise—close by the home of Wilson Bentley (aka Snowflake Bentley), the first person in the world to photograph snowflakes. She learned from her Vermont neighbors that pursuit of one’s dream is a worthwhile life goal.

As a seventeen year old student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern who told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and forced population exchanges. After they married and moved to Buffalo, Eris worked as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

After taking time off to raise five children and amassing rejection letters for her short stories, Eris earned her master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo. Later, she taught psychiatric nursing at the University and wrote a textbook for psychiatric nurse practitioners—a wonderful rewarding but never to be repeated experience.

Eris now writes novels, usually international, contemporary romances. Her interest in history and her experience in psychiatry often play a part in her stories. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Western New York Romance Writers. In addition to writing, Eris’s interests include: Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders; Eradicating Honor Killings, supporting the Crossroads Springs Orphanage in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS, and learning more about Turkey, Cyprus, and Kurdistan.

Learn more about Eris Field on her website. Stay connected on Facebook.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Five Truths from a Scaredy Cat by Deena Adams

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Hi, I’m Deena, and I’m a scaredy-cat.

Now that I’ve let that cat out of the bag, (sorry, couldn’t resist J) I’ll explain. I’ve never been much of a risk-taker. I tend to play it safe and escape pain and broken bones—and a broken heart—any time I can.

As a new writer, I deal with fears like rejection, failure, inadequacy, being judged, and getting hurt on a regular basis. If I succumb to these fears, I’ll be paralyzed and unable to move forward in God’s calling on my life to write.

When I attended my first writer’s conference in May 2019, I fought against several of the aforementioned fears. What if I make a terrible first impression? What if I choke when someone asks me what I’m writing about? Is my hook and pitch catchy enough? Will a publisher or agent tell me I’m wasting my time?

These are just a few of the possibilities the enemy whispered in my ear during the conference and over the last year and half since I began my writing journey.

As a believer in Jesus, I’ve had to practice what I’ve always encouraged others to do when fear comes knocking. Cling to God and His truth.

Here’s what I’ve learned about my fears:

 

Rejection will come but that doesn’t mean I’m no good.

 An agent asked for a proposal at the conference. I worked hard on it for months and finally hit send on my computer only to receive a rejection about six weeks later. God remined me that my identity doesn’t come from an accepted or rejected proposal but is rooted in Him. And so is yours.

 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

 

Failure only happens to those who try.

God asked me to write so I do, and sometimes what I produce isn’t very good. God asks for obedience, not success. The results of our efforts are up to Him, not us. And success in His eyes may look different than what the world tells us.

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

 

My inadequacy highlights God’s glory.

 I’m not perfect. I have many weaknesses and can only do a few things well. God determines which gifts each of His children possess. We’re not granted all of them, so we must fight the human tendency to compare ourselves to others. We’ll lose every time. The beauty of my inadequacy is that God’s glory shines even brighter.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

There will always be someone who will judge me, but only God’s opinion matters.

 I’ve spent way too many years worrying about what other people think of me. Living to please everyone ends with pleasing no one. Someone won’t like my book. It won’t be their style or they’ll find the one typo in a 350-page manuscript and point it out in a review.

We must live for the audience of One, for the applause of One. God is the ultimate Judge we will all stand before one day, so why not let go of the attempt at people-pleasing and just obey God instead?

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

 

As a writer for Christ, I’m going to get hurt.

 Following our dreams and taking risks guarantees hurt. We shouldn’t expect smooth sailing. If we’re writing for God and sharing His truth, persecution is promised. We can take comfort in the fact that when others hurt us, God draws us close.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Be encouraged brothers and sisters. As children of God, we have no need to fear. We are fully loved by God, fully accepted. He never leaves us, and He protects us from enemies. When He looks at His children, He sees beautiful masterpieces completing the good work He planned for us.

So, when fear threatens to immobilize you, remind yourself what God says, and kick fear to the curb. Fear is from the enemy, and the enemy is a liar.

 

About the Author:

Deena incorporates her vast array of experience as a thirty-year Christ follower, a Navy/pastor’s wife, and a court-appointed special advocate volunteer into hope-filled stories.

Her mission to etch hope on broken hearts shines through in her fiction writing and on her blog, The Advocate’s Pen. Deena is an active member of ACFW and several writer groups, secretary of ACFW Virginia, and a multi award-winning writer.

She and her husband live in beautiful Virginia. When she’s not writing, reading, or serving in her church, you’ll find her hanging out with family and friends and doting on her six grandchildren.

Connect with Deena on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Links:  WebsiteFacebookTwitter

 

 

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–The Call of the Australian Outback by Catherine Castle

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The Call of the Australian Outback—Slang That Is

 

 

Mcleod's daughters screenshot.jpg

Hubby and I have become hooked on an Australian television series called “McLeod’s Daughters.” We thought it might be fun to see the landscape as the show is filmed entirely in the Australian outback. “McLeod’s Daughters” is an Australian television series that ran from 2001 to 2009. We watch it on Hulu, which has become our main form of entertainment, especially since COVID hit and we don’t go to the movies anymore. We tend to binge watch, and once we run out of one series, we hunt for another. We only have 4 shows of Murdoch’s Mysteries (out of Canada) left, so we started watching “McLeod’s Daughters.”

It took us a few shows before we understood the Aussie accent, which I think is pretty cool. It annoys my husband a great deal when I parrot the actors’ lines in an attempt to get a handle on their accents. I had no trouble with the more well-known Aussie slang words such as G’day (hello), righto (okay), mate (friend), have a good one ( good-bye), and walkabout (lost, can’t be found).  Now, after three seasons of shows we can catch about 99 percent of what they say, as long as they don’t rush the sentence, although one of us almost always says. “What did they say?” at least once per show.

One night we were watching and a character came into the ranch’s kitchen and said, “The windmill’s cactus.”

Hubby looked at me and said, “What did she say?”

“Sounded like cactus, to me,” I replied.

“Cactus? Why would she say that?”

I shrugged, and a second later another character repeated the word, this time more clearly. “Definitely cactus,” I said. Hubby gave me a blank stare. “Maybe it’s Aussie slang,” I suggested. Then I pulled out my cell phone and went to the fount of all wisdom—the internet—and googled What’s the meaning of the Aussie word cactus?

 Sure enough, it was Aussie slang. CACTUS in Aussie slang means: beaten, finished, ruined, kaput, dead, useless, broken.

Curious about this usage, I  did some research. Apparently the prickly pear cactus, which was brought to Australia in the late 1700s, is the source of this interesting terminology. The plant quickly became a pest, overrunning farmland. In the 1920s, the caterpillar/moth Cactoblastis was introduced to combat the pesky plant. The insect was successful and practically  eliminated  the plant within a few years, hence the word cactus came to mean beaten, finished, dead, kaput.

Over the course of three seasons we’ve learned a few new slang words, and I’ve gone down the Aussie slang rabbit hole. I’m sure I’ll learn more as the show progresses. After all, I sit with my cell phone ready to access the internet at any word I don’t know. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the new ones I’ve learned with you.

  • Brumby: wild horse.
  • Cactus: beaten, finished, ruined, kaput, dead, useless, broken.
  • Mozzie: mosquito
  • Rack off: get lost
  • Stuffed: tired
  • Show pony: someone who tries hard, through dress or behavior to impress others around him.

The last term, show pony, was first used when the estranged McLeod sister Tess, newly arrived from the city, was asked if she could ride a horse. She replied in the affirmative and then tentatively approached her horse whispering for him to be kind to her. The other four women in the scene in chorused, “Show pony.” While the sister tried to mount her horse, the four women burst into laughter and rode off.

It wasn’t until I stumbled on the meaning of show pony, that I fully understood what was going on in this scene. I thought the women meant the city sister had only had a few horse riding lessons. Instead, they were recognizing her attempt to fit in and impress her new country family and friends. Knowing the meaning of the slang word changed the whole scene for me.

I’ve found Aussie slang rather colorful, and have decided to adopt some of it. Granted, I won’t have much occasion to say Brumby, since I’m a city girl. The only wild things I’ve ever seen in my yard are birds, squirrels, feral cats, rabbits, and an occasional deer sitting on my ornamental grass. Never any wild horses. But I rather like cactus, show pony, and stuffed. I think I’ll also add righto, and thingo (whatchamacallit) which I ran across in my research. In addition to the new terms I’ve learned, I discovered I’ve been using Aussie slang much of my life without even knowing it.

I’ve always said fridge, vedgies (veggies in the USA) veg out (which I can do quite nicely), Vee Dub (Volkswagon), spiffy (great, excellent), and no worries (no problem, forget about it).

Who knew I could speak Aussie? I’ve never  set foot on the Australian continent, and I’m halfway to being part Aussie. I may even add the famous greeting G’day! to my repertoire. In fact, this summer while I’m working in the garden (translate yard to American English) I’ll even be doing the Aussie salute as I wave away the bothersome flies and gnats.

Ain’t slang grand? With all my new-found language skills, I’ll fit in like a show pony with the next Australian I meet. In the meantime, have a good one.

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You won’t find any slang in Catherine’s romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, but you will find plenty of humor in this award-winning book. You can check out a sample on Amazon, or purchase the book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

 

About the Author:

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Writer’s Garden–Me and My Garden, The Dearest of Friends by Tema Banner

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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 Tema Banner who is talking about embracing her garden spirit Welcome, Tema!

 

Me and My Garden, the Dearest of Friends

by Tema Banner

Herb Garden

You could say gardening is in my genes, but as a child, I tried to weed it out. My parents were organic before organic was cool. They refused to use insecticides, instead they ordered ladybugs from California to put on our fruit trees and their four children, of which I am number two, picked the beetles off the green beans.

I remember the exact moment when I crossed over from trying to weed gardening out of my life to embracing everything it represented: memories of my childhood, the deliciousness of homegrown food, the peace and comfort of being in the garden. I was still young at eighteen and had the opportunity to pick green beans with a friend’s mother. With the sun beating down on my head and the smell of earth wafting up my nose, I did a 180 and knew that garden was as deep in my soul as some of those weeds that seemed to go to China. Since that day I have loved it!

My garden is not on the same grand scale as my parents, we have raised garden beds for veggies, which are great because they are easier on your back and cut down on those pesky weeds. My parents didn’t plant flowers, there simply wasn’t time, they were focused on gardening for the purpose of supplementing our food stock; we canned or froze everything and years after I was out of my parent’s home, there were still cans of homemade applesauce on the shelf. While I love having the fresh veggies and have done some canning, it has been more a novelty than a necessity – with the COVID-19 event I am rethinking this strategy. Everywhere I have moved, I have tried to have some spot to garden whether it is a small herb garden, strawberries along the side of a patio, or pots filled with flowers.

Rose Garden

When my husband and I purchased the house where we now live, we finally had space for larger plots to plant veggies and a palate to design using flowers and shrubs. I knew the raised bed at the head of our driveway was destined to be a rose garden. I am still learning roses, but oh how lovely their scent, and their beauty – nothing like the artistry of our Creator! I hope when I get to heaven, the Master Gardener allows me to tend His garden. How about you? How did you become a gardener and what are some of your favorite garden memories?

 

About the Writer/Gardener:

Outside of writing, gardening is my greatest pleasure. Planting, watching the metamorphosis of the plants from seed to fruit, it is a wonderful picture of how God works in our lives. I write Biblical and historical romance and am currently working on a Biblical fiction series, Daughters of the King. My website is www.temabannerauthor.com and I may be followed at https://www.facebook.com/temabannerauthor/or https://www.instagram.com/temabanner/.