Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Vacation Reading Tips from Lori Bates Wright


, , , ,


Tips For Vacation Reading

by Lori Bates Wright

Vacation season is upon us! We plan how to escape our daily grind all year long. By the time that red-circled date on the calendar rolls around, we want every aspect of the glorious week to go without a hitch. If you’re like me, searching for the right books to bring is as serious as planning where to stay or how to get there.

As an author, reading has become a luxury I don’t have as much time for as I used to. When I’m not writing or researching (or speaking about writing and researching), I’m on social media promoting my latest book so that readers of romance will know it’s available to take on their own vacations.

So when my hubby announced he’d booked us on a seven day cruise, I was estatic. The prospect of having seven days to catch up on my mile-high TBR pile made me a little giddy, not gonna lie. While he poured over brochures, picking just the right excursions to fill our days, I read back covers and reviews to narrow down my top three must-reads.

Our ship pulled back into port last week, and while our vacation was everything and more I’d hoped for, I did discover a thing or two about what I’d do differently next time to make it a better reading experience overall.


  • Don’t chose a thriller set in the same location as your destination.
  • Just don’t! When a few of my friends heard we were heading to Alaska, they highly recommended a series set there by a favorite author. I thought, “Yay! I’ll be able to experience the setting firsthand.” The plot included a dead body or two that turned up onboard (you guessed it) and Alaskan cruise. Everything was going fine until the assistant chef in my book was actually a mastermind for a foreign government and he commandeered a hijacking of the ship, painstakingly poisoning the passengers one by one. You get the idea. I narrowed my eye at everyone in the elevators and suspected the room steward of planting spy cameras in the towel sculptures. When the chef offered me to cut me a “special piece” of prime rib and I insisted he taste it first, my husband had had enough. He tossed the book overboard and I still don’t know how it ends.
  • You probably won’t have as much time to read as you’d think.
  • Especially if you are traveling with friends or a significant other. I only include this so you aren’t completely disappointed when you get back home and still have two and a half of the four you brought left unread. Part of the fun of getting away is making it worth the time, expense and effort that goes into vacation planning. We feel like we need to be doing and experiencing everything available to us in order to gain the full adventure. While I prefer to hole up in the cabin in pajama pants to read, my hubby looks at the daily schedule of events and insists we can’t miss Beatles karaoke in the Cavern Lounge. For the sake of marriage and sanity, more often than not the book was put aside.
  • Leave the hardbacks at home.
  • Suitcase space is a precious commodity. Especially on the flight back home when you have souvenirs and gifts for one and all. While you look cool reading it poolside, the practicality (not to mention extra expense for over the limit bags) is just not worth it.
  • Kindle is a dream on vacation
  • I’m one of those readers who like to have an actual ink-on-paper book in my hand. There’s just something about the feel, and smell, that I love. But, for convenience when you’re travelling you can’t beat an eReader. You can have ten other books at your fingertips in case one you’ve chosen just isn’t what you’d hoped. You can get waterproof cases for them to guard against splashes. And it takes up less space in your purse or carryon than a single paperback.
  • Try an audiobook
  • Another version I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy as much as holding a good book in my hand is the audio format. But when one of the books I wanted to bring was only available in audio from my local library, I gave it a whirl. The convenience on the plane was wonderful. I laid my head back and closed my eyes, and got just as immersed in the story as I ever had reading it. The lyrical play with words was still there.
  • Forgot your book at home? Don’t panic!
  • You can download a book to you phone anytime you have access to wi-fi.
  • Most ships have a library and a limited amount of books in the giftshop
  • Most every city has a bookstore or library
  • Airports have one of the best selection of books anywhere

So kick off your heels and enjoy!

Don’t know what to read this vacation? Take a look at Lori’s book. It might be just what your vacation needs.

Field of Redemption

by Lori Bates Wright

They say confession is good for the soul.

But, revealing too much could prove deadly.

When devoted governess, Abigail McFadden, discovers her oldest charge has run off to join the Union army on his sixteenth birthday, her impetuous decision to go after him catapults her behind enemy lines and into a life-changing fight for survival.

Failing to locate the boy, Abby is stranded in Georgia with no means to get home. Under suspicion as a union spy, she takes a nursing position in a confederate hospital in Macon. Her only consolation is the work she does outside of the hospital walls in a shanty town of unwanted orphans.

Confederate Officer, Ian Saberton, a theological graduate of Yale, is thrust into war and forced to choose sides. Known for his skill in battle, his greatest struggle becomes a fight for his soul as his faith and deep convictions are put to the test.

As Sherman advances on Atlanta, Ian is sent to prepare his home state of Georgia for possible attack. Headquartered in Macon, he encounters a town full of devout Southerners who are completely unaware of the realities of war, or the imminent danger they face. He must see that the reserves are destroyed, and the town secured while avoiding a passel of matchmaking socialites.

Brought up on false charges, Abby is scheduled to be hanged. She has no choice but to trust the handsome Confederate officer who offers her a way of escape.

But will deep secrets destroy the fragile bond between them?

Want to read more of Lori’s Christian Historical Romance? You can find Field of Redemption at Amazon


About the Author:

Lori Bates Wright is an award winning author with a love for history.

Raised in New Mexico, Lori now lives in Texas with her husband of 34 years. She has two grown kids and four adorable grand boys (who leap tall buildings in a single bound!) She enjoys speaking and interacting with women of all ages.


Connect with Lori on Facebook:







A Writer’s Garden-A Garden Lesson from Tina Susedik


, , ,

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 guest is Tina Susedik Welcome, Tina !

Gardening is a Never-ending Lesson

by Tina Susedik


After three years at our current abode, I’ve come to realize how little patience I have for gardening. Not that I’m giving up on my gardens because I love flowers, but the frustration of figuring out what does and doesn’t work, is testing my patience.

I had beautiful roses at our last place. Here – not so much. I’ve come to the realization that I don’t have enough sunlight, nor the right soil. I’ve planted my last rose bush. I also love to toss out daisy seeds. The last two places, I threw out so many, I had fields of daisies. Here I have ten – yes, ten daisy plants.

When we moved here the gardens were filled with mulch – layers and layers of mulch. I couldn’t figure out why the tulips I planted weren’t spreading, until I decided to pull up the mulch and landscaping material. Instead of coming up in the holes I’d dug, they were growing beneath the material. The same was true with some of my other perennials.

So last fall, with the help of my visiting son, we took up all the mulch and landscaping fabric. Since it went around three sides of the house, it was quite the chore. Thank heavens I had his help. My next thought was “now what?”

I bought a lot of spring bulbs to plant – but then had knee replacement surgery, which put a stop to any gardening I’d planned. So, I planted them this spring. I figured it couldn’t hurt. Here is another lesson I learned: “There’s a reason why spring bulbs are planted in the fall. And one of them is squirrels. In the fall, they have plenty to eat. In the spring, they are hungry. They thought my spring bulbs had to be the nuts they’d squirreled away in the fall. At least three quarters of the bulbs were dug up. Some they ate, some they left on the ground. Several I re-planted many times.

We had a lot of snow this past winter. In fact, we had 58” of snow in February alone!! It was a rough month. With the snow being shoveled from the roof, the amount of snow (total of 100”), and shoveling snow onto them, my bushes in the front of the house were pretty-much damaged. Flat. Kaput. But as plants can do, they surprise us. Even as squished as they were, they bloomed their gorgeous red flowers and are starting to send out upright shoots.

Last year it seemed many of the perennials I planted had bit the dust. I am happy (and surprised) to see some of them come back. Maybe they didn’t like the mulch, but maybe they feel sorry for me and decided to give me a gift of regrowth. Slowly my gardens are filling in. Now if I can only keep the rabbits from enjoying them!!!


About the Writer/Gardener


Tina Susedik has loved flowers and gardening for as long as she can remember. Wherever she has lived, and it’s been many, many places, she has tried to make her surroundings filled with flowers. She is a multi-published, award-winning author in both fiction and non-fiction, covering children, military, history, and romantic mysteries. She also hosts her own radio show with Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Twice a month, on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 2:00 Central, she interviews authors in all genres. The title of her show – what else – “Your Book Garden.”



Love with a Side of Crazy

by Tina Susedik

To afford sending extra money to his parents to help with the care of his invalid brother, Brent Hopkins, an accountant by day, works as a male stripper at night. When a crazed fan pulls him from the stage, his injuries send him for an extended stay at a rehabilitation center. During his months at the center, mysterious angel statues and other gifts begin to appear in his room. A break-in at his apartment, leaves him feeling vulnerable. Is he going crazy or does he have a stalker? Marie Phister, a physical therapist, was at the club the night Brent is yanked to the ground and takes care of him until help arrives. Later, as his physical therapist, she doesn’t let on that she is aware of his identity. As their mutual attraction grows, a stalker threatens their relationship. Is her stalker and Brent’s, one and the same? Can they solve the mystery before it’s too late?

WARNING TO READERS OF SWEET, CLEAN ROMANCE. This book  contains open door love scenes.

Wednesday Writers–Forget the Mess–It’s Time for a Story with Donna DeLoretta Brennan


, , , ,



Today’s Wednesday Writers guest is Donna DeLoretto Brennan. She’ll be talking about one of my biggest issues and the jumping off point for her contemporary women’s fiction book Forget the Mess—It’s time for a Story! There’s also an excerpt. Welcome, Donna!


Confessions of a Procrastinator

By Donna DeLoretto Brennan

I often get overwhelmed with all the things I have to do as a wife, mother, author, and procrastinator.

It’s like a speeding merry-go-round that I can’t step off of. When I’m overwhelmed it’s easier to procrastinate; when I procrastinate for long periods, the other stuff piles up and becomes even more overwhelming.

For example, the lunch dishes need to be washed and I have to edit the next chapter of my novel; but I’m hitting a slump. So I take a break to do something a little more enjoyable—but it has to be something I can convince myself has a beneficial purpose. Facebook, I reason, is just such a thing. It helps me reconnect with old friends and maintain contact with new friends.

But Facebook can be like a black hole. You go on it for twenty minutes and when you look at the clock four hours have gone by. And now it’s time to make dinner, but first I have to empty the sink and I forgot to defrost the roast I wanted to cook, so I need to find something else fast. And that next chapter of my novel goes unedited today.

My solution is to “procrastinate in bursts”. Alexia is my friend in this endeavor. When I go on Facebook, I say, “Alexia, set a timer for thirty minutes.” Then, when thirty minutes have passed, she chimes at me. And, hopefully, I log off Facebook and start being productive again.

Reading a good book is another type of break I’ll allow myself. Usually, at the beginning of a book I can put it down after a chapter or two and get back on task. (Returning to it later, of course.) But sometimes, especially near the end, the book is hard to put down. All those hooks at the end of each chapter and the tension and pacing—I love the book and the world it transports me to, but the stuff in the real world that I have to do keeps mounting up while I’m away.

One solution is to read short stories or articles in magazines. It doesn’t take as long, and it’s easy to put down (for now) and finish later. And the short break does help me to relax from the overwhelm and get back on track.

That’s the idea behind my collection of short stories. Each story is intended to take you away from your current stress and worries, but they’re short, so you aren’t gone that long. You can either read another story right away, or put it down and pick it up later when you need another break.

Forget the Mess—It’s time for a Story!

Genre: Women’s contemporary fiction

When life starts to fill with mindless chores and endless to-do lists, take a mini-break to relax and reenergize. This book contains six stories to help you forget about the dishes that need to be washed or the laundry that needs to be put away. Forget the mess for now, and enjoy a story. The mess will still be there, waiting for you, when the story is finished.

  • My Good Son – The son she remembers is missing; and who is this man calling her “Ma”?
  • Pretense – Sister-relationships can be complicated, especially if you’re afraid to tell the truth.
  • Another Day – Clara looks for a way—and a reason—to keep going.
  • Spectator – When watching other people’s lives is more interesting than living your own, maybe you need to take some action.
  • Taking Care of His Wife – Brad promised to take care of Megan forever—but he never said exactly how he would do that.
  • Love Your Frenimies – When Jesus said to love your neighbor, he couldn’t have meant Gina’s neighbor, Anna.


Excerpt from Love your Frenemies, the last short story in the collection:

Finally, after almost an hour of fussing and whimpering, Ella is sound asleep and I can lie her down in the playpen for her nap. I take a moment to wonder at her small figure lying there so peacefully and content, her tiny lips curved into a soft smile that melts my mommy-heart and makes me forget the screaming fusspot she was less than thirty minutes ago.

I glance at the clock. Oh, no! It’s three-fifteen.

I rush to the side door to bring Fritz in before the neighbor kid, Peter Jacob, starts tormenting my dog into a frenzy. Just as I reach for the doorknob I hear that little Yorkie barking his head off outside. Before I have the door fully open, Ella’s screams cause my shoulders to tense and my temper to flare. I see little Peter Jacob scurrying away from the chain-link fence. He glances over his shoulder and we make eye contact. I am certain that’s a smirk on the little bugger’s face.

“Peter Jacob, what did I tell you about agitating Fritz?”

He doesn’t respond. He just hurries his chubby little legs up his driveway to his front door. He pulls open the screen and hollers, “Hey, Mom! I’m Home.”

The door slams behind him.

Fritz is still yapping away, and Ella is exercising her lungs at full volume. Just another day in the neighborhood.

Want to read more? Forget the Mess—It’s Time for a Story is available in paperback form at Amazon. A kindle version will be available soon.


About the Author:

Donna DeLoretto Brennan was a technical writer for over ten years before becoming a computer programmer. Since leaving the corporate world after her twins were born, she’s had short stories, interviews, and nonfiction articles published online and in print magazines. She’s speaks at writing conferences and other events.

She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (GLVWG). She’s served in various capacities on the GLVWG board, including several terms as Conference Chair. She’s always looking for opportunities to encourage others and to share what she’s learned.

Donna’s website is

Tasty Tuesdays–Chicken and Dumplings from Author Jennifer Hallmark


, , , , ,

Author Jennifer Hallmark is in the Tasty Tuesday kitchen today cooking up one of my favorite  country comfort meals—Chicken and Dumplings!


Jennifer’s Chicken and Dumplings


4 to 5 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 box Chicken or beef broth
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons shortening
Water or milk
Salt and pepper
Nature’s Seasons seasoning salt


Boil chicken in broth until tender. Remove chicken and cut into small chunks; strain broth. Place both back in pot and simmer on low.
Place flours in bowl. Add shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender until fairly smooth. Slowly stir in water or milk until a ball of dough is formed. If too wet, add a little more flour.
Place dough on floured surface, then knead five or six times. Roll out with a dough roller until desired thinness. Cut with a pizza cutter into small squares. I cut mine about an inch by an inch or a little bigger.
Bring chicken and broth to boil, adding more water or broth for enough liquid to cook dumplings. Season with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt to taste. Add dumplings into boiling pot, stirring constantly. When about half the dumplings are added, turn temperature to low and continue adding the rest. Simmer 10 minutes on low until mixture thickens.


Chicken and dumplings is a favorite meal around our house. And also, in Jessie’s Hope, a meal that Martha Smith, Jessie’s Mamaw, loves to cook for her family. Martha loves to cook and the more people that are there to enjoy each tasty bite, the better. A true child of the South, Martha makes fried chicken, pinto beans and cornbread, apple cake, and fresh apple muffins, to name a few of the southern delights.

Jessie’s Hope

By Jennifer Hallmark

 Years ago, an accident robbed Jessie Smith’s mobility. It also stole her mom and alienated her from her father. When Jessie’s high school sweetheart Matt Jansen proposes, her parents’ absence intensifies her worry that she cannot hold on to those she loves.
With a wedding fast approaching, Jessie’s grandfather Homer Smith, has a goal to find the perfect dress for “his Jessie,” one that would allow her to forget, even if for a moment, the boundaries of her wheelchair. But financial setbacks and unexpected sabotage hinder his plans.
Determined to heal from her past, Jessie initiates a search for her father. Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love when additional obstacles–including a spurned woman and unpredictable weather–highjack Jessie’s dream wedding?

Purchase links: Amazon Barnes and Noble



About the Author:

Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and has published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations. Her debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, released on June 17th, 2019.
When she isn’t babysitting or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on her two blogs.  She also loves reading detective fiction from the Golden Age and viewing movies like LOTR or Star Wars. Sometimes you can even catch her watching American Ninja Warrior.

Connect with Jennifer at

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Will You Accept This Rose? by Catherine Castle


, , , , ,

Will you Accept this Rose?

As you may remember from previous posts, I’m a fan of the television show The Bachelor/Bachelorette. I’m not crazy about all the drama and some of the physical stuff that goes on, but I do like to watch and root for the stars looking for that one and only soul mate with whom they hope to spend the rest of their lives. Granted, most of them haven’t found that true love, but I still root for them. At the end of every show, the bachelor or bachelorette asks their potential spouses, “Will you accept this rose?” This means they see promise in the relationship and want to get to know the person better.

This year Hannah is looking for love, and, like many before her, IMHO she’s looking in the wrong places, at least with one of the bachelors. There’s always one guy or girl who is a troublemaker and for some inexplicable reason the bachelor or bachelorette keeps giving the rabble-rouser a rose. Go figure.

I’m a firm believer in true love. Zing goes the heart strings and all that stuff. But sometimes what the heart wants isn’t the best thing for either party involved. Besides love, there’s a practical side to choosing a life mate. A life-long relationship requires more than sex appeal and hormonal attraction. Love and hot passion lasts for a while, but the day-to-day stuff is what makes the living loveable.

For those looking for love, here are a few hints to help find that perfect man.

Make sure your initials work.

 You don’t want to make the mistake my mother almost did when naming one of her children. Thankfully, she discovered the initials of the name my father had chosen for their child spelled A.S.S. Not something you’d want monogramed on the towels in the guest bathroom. So, line up the first initial of the last name of your beloved with your first and middle initials. If it spells something embarrassing, you’d better change one of those names. His. Or yours, if you just can’t live without him.

Make sure your interests align.

You’ve heard about the golf widow or the football widow. I’m here to tell you there’s a widow for every interest out there. If you don’t know what your potential spouse is really fascinated by you could end up a widow long before he is six feet under.

My husband was an athlete who loved to run. Every night after work, he’d come home, put on his running shoes, and head out the door. He even ran a couple of mini marathons. For years he tried to get me to run with him. I’d lace up my running shoes and lope off with him, but every time I did I ended up face down on the sidewalk. Heck, I can’t even walk without tripping, so I don’t know why he thought I would be able to run. Finally, he gave up on me being a running partner. We found other things we could do together because we had a lot of common interests like singing, ballroom dancing (which I could do because he was holding me up), acting, and playwriting. So, pay attention to the hobbies and interests of your potential spouse. If he has nothing in common with your interests, or what he loves isn’t something you can work around, think twice before hitching your wagon to that person. Remember, the passion may fade, but most likely, the hobbies will remain.

Look for someone who finishes the jobs they start.

I loved my dad and so did my mother, but he had a bad habit of starting a job and not finishing it. Mom wanted a bathroom in the basement, so Dad obliged and put in a toilet. For years the lone fixture sat in the middle of the basement—no walls, no privacy, and no users. It wasn’t until they went to sell the house that Dad finished the project. Too late and too little. If you can live with that, fine, but otherwise, check out your future spouse’s follow-through abilities.

Make sure you see eye to eye on food.

There’s nothing worse than cooking two meals for dinner. One for her and one for him. Or leaving your favorite ingredient out of every meal because he or she, depending on who is the cook, won’t eat it.

Even worse, is the scenario I discovered upon my mother’s death when Dad began giving away all the home-canned green beans in the cupboard. Thinking he was reacting out of grief, just getting rid of things that reminded him of her, I said, “Dad, we aren’t going to take the food from your table.”

He replied, “I hate green beans. Always have.”

“But Mom served them every night. Why did you eat them if you hated them?” I asked.

“Because she served them,” he replied.

I was aghast and awed that he’d eaten a hated food every day for thirty-seven years without a single complaint. I immediately told my husband to let me know if I ever served something he hated. He has. And I’m okay with that.

So, if you must marry and you don’t see eye to eye on food, at least tell your beloved you do or don’t like a food before they die. Preferably, early on.

Be honest about how you feel about sports.

My Dad managed the church softball team, and he recruited my athletic spouse, who was my boyfriend at the time, to play on the team. Naturally, I went along to watch, cheering like mad whenever my boyfriend came up to bat. I even learned how to keep score so I could sit in the dugout near my honey. We dated for a number of years, and I was always there in the bleachers, even after we married and had a child.

After he quit playing softball and wanted to watch the professional games on TV, I wasn’t interested.

“I thought you liked sports,” he said.

“I liked watching you play sports,” I replied. “There’s a big difference.”

He didn’t get it. Imagine that.

Make sure your life philosophies align

There are a number of hot topics that can unhinge a relationship quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” Four of the hottest are religion, politics, money, and childrearing. If you don’t know where your beloved stands on these issues, find out. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time the person you marry will still be the same person when he hits retirement. His political standing will most likely remain either conservative or liberal. An atheist usually remains an atheist, and a religious person usually remains religious. The holes in a spendthrift’s pockets get bigger, not smaller. A tightwad’s fist gets tighter. And fighting over how to raise the kids benefits no one, especially the children. Discovering his life philosophy after you’re married is too late, because you can’t change the other person to fit what you need. Many women have tried and failed. So, find out before you marry. Life will be so much easier when you’re in sync with your partner.

Don’t choose the bad boy.

The troubled soul may be the hero fictional heroines long for. The big, strong, brooding sexy man who can deck anyone, win any fight, or conquer any mountain is a common romantic figure. But in the long run, a man with such a dark side is probably not the kind of guy you really want to take home to Mother.

I once dated a guy who had the dark, handsome, sexy looks that would make a girl who met him in the night tremble and swoon with fear and excitement. He was a bit of what we used to call “a hood.” He left town for a while, and when he came back I jumped at the chance to go out with him again. Our first date on his return was at the drive-in theater—what they used to call “a passion pit.” A movie on a giant screen, watched in a car, in the dark. A perfect recipe for disaster.

When he tried to get me in the back of his station wagon, fitted out with comfy blankets and pillows, I declined. “So and so (the name omitted to protect the un-innocent) would do it,” he said, in an effort to convince me to do what I knew was wrong.

“Then go get her,” I replied. I spent the rest of the night fending him off and didn’t get to see a bit of the movie.

We never had another date, and that was just fine with me. He was enough to cure me of the bad-boy longing. Now I advise young women to go for the nerds. Not only are they nicer, but they will make more legal money than their bad boy counterparts and stay out of jail.

And last but by no means least:

Look for the nice guys.

 Nice guys, contrary to the old saying, do not finish last. Everyone loves a nice guy: the one who is respectful, doesn’t boast, opens doors for ladies, and keeps his temper in check. I’m sure you know him. He’s the man who has respect for himself, for you, and for others. He’s considerate and loving. Every other word out of his mouth is not a curse. His speech is tempered with wisdom. He’s the kind of man your mother hopes you’ll bring home. The kind of man who will love you more than he loves himself.

When you find one, ask him, “Will you accept this rose?” If he says, “Yes” hang on to him. You won’t be sorry you did. I know I’m not.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

If you’d like a romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, where the heroine is looking for a fiancé in all the wrong places, pick up the award-winning novel A Groom for Mama by Catherine Castle.


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, 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–Talking Onions with Author Janis Lane


, , ,

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 guest is Janis Lane and she’ll be talking about a smelly subject–Onions. Welcome, Janis!



Onion, i.e, Allium, is a large family which includes onion, scallion, garlic leek, shallot and chives (onion and garlic types). Blossoms are pretty in purple, yellow, white, and sometimes pink. I grew up not far from a small town known as Vidalia (locally pronounced Vy day lia, emphasis on the Vi. I won’t try to describe how to put a southern twang to the rest of the word.), Georgia. Sweet, sweet onions grow there with a patented name for the brand. The soil in the fields around the small town is very low in sulfur which puts the sting in your eyes when you peel a not-Vidalia type. Great for eating raw, but their keeper value is low.

It takes a specialized taste bud to enjoy raw onions, but professional chefs swear by the value of an onion flavoring a good stew. This writer considers an onion almost essential in the kitchen. Most are yellow, some white or purple with various degrees of the sulfur bite. Such a large family serves almost all individual preferences. Health benefits of consuming edible members of the onion family are numerous. High in nutrients and low in calories, they are also delicious.

Chives, useful herb, can be grown on your sunny window sill, but will excel outside, attracting bees with their fragrance blooms. Chives are delicious in soups, salads, and as a garnish. It’s a perennial plant hardy to zone 2-3, but the seed resents amateur saving. Tiny bulbs are easily pulled apart for transplant. Garlic chives bloom fragrant white in late summer and are delicious when a mild garlic flavor is desired. Purple blooms from chives make tasty and attractive herbed vinegar.

When I mow the lawn in summer, I plant peppermint several places in the lawn. I love the fragrance when the grass cutter nips their tops, but in one corner of the lawn, I recognize the volunteered wild onions. The smell is unmistakable; not a bit fragrant, but I think if I need to forage someday, I know where to find the edible alliums. It has a pink blossom and resembles nothing like an onion, but I know.

Decorative alliums are available in numerous varieties and most are fairly inexpensive. (Not good for eating.) Once I planted a garden in the back meadow before I finally gave over to the marauding deer population. They ate everything but these alliums, which over the years have multiplied. I use them for great cut flowers and enjoy the sweet fragrance of the blooms. Curiously they do not have the telltale onion odor when cut, but the deer seem to know and give them a wide berth anyway. After blooming, the foliage dies disappearing until the following spring. The plant spreads slowly by reseeding.

Whispers of Danger and Love is a contemporary novel which sports a lovely heroine named Cheryl, who loves her career as a landscape designer. This warm tale is a must for gardeners while waiting for the chance to get outside to commune with nature. A bonus is the handsome detective, a childhood friend, who moves next door.

Here’s a little more from my cozy mystery. I hope you enjoy it.

Whispers of Danger and Love by [Lane, Janis]When Cheryl realizes her new next-door neighbor is someone she loved as a young girl, she immediately puts the brakes on her emotions. Never again would she allow the gorgeous hunk of a man to break her heart.

Ruggedly handsome Detective David Larkin isn’t used to pretty ladies giving him a firm no. He persists, even as Cheryl fights her own temptations. The two struggle to appreciate each other as adults, even as they admit to deep feelings from their childhood.


Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.


Wednesday Writers –The Art of Rivers by Janet W. Ferguson


, , , ,

Wednesday Writers  welcomes Janet W. Ferguson to the blog today. Janet will be talking about the inspiration behind one of the more unusual characters in  her newest release, The Art of Rivers. Welcome, Janet.


Thanks, Catherine.

We have a whiney-needy cat named White Kitty and a treat-loving dog named Remi. They pretty much follow me around the house, one meowing and the other begging. The cat always wants to sit on me when I write. Because of this, I end up being inspired to write animals into my fiction. In my first novel I had an ugly dog. In the next, I had a cat named Hairy. In my fourth book, my heroine had allergies so she had a hairless cat named Mr. Darcy.

The Art of Rivers deals with a tough issue—addiction. I wanted the comic relief that pets can add. I’d written cats and dogs. I wanted to branch out. Neither of my main characters seemed the type to have a pet, so I decided to give the animal to one of my secondary characters. One of my best friends is a vet, and I asked her opinion for a new kind of pet. She had a friend with… a pet possum (or opossum depending on where you come from.) I thought that sounded crazy-interesting! I interviewed the owner and wrote a fictional version of her baby into the story.

Image by Mario Hernandez from Pixabay

Here’s a little from our interview: He is very gentle. The only sound I have ever heard him make is when he was asleep, because he snores. He is so domesticated that he doesn’t hiss at anything. He loves other animals and thinks he’s just like them. He does stay in a nice size kennel when I’m gone during the day, but he has a bed and he loves his cover. He uses a litter box, but I take him outside regularly, and he sometimes goes outside. When I get home, I let him wander around the house. He is actually pretty lazy. I find him asleep a lot. He gets a bath once a week and he loves it. His hands and feet are very soft. He loves to be held, and he likes to hold onto my thumb when I’m holding him. His vision is very poor but his sense of smell is phenomenal. I had him neutered when he was six months old which took a lot of the aggression out of him. It tamed him down to the point he is a better pet than my cats. He knows his name and will come when you call him. He loves to eat. He eats cat food and various fruits. His favorite is strawberries. His little mouth is pink when he finishes with them. He smacks louder than any kid I have ever known. He has played possum on me several times and has scared me to death because I thought something had happened. He gets in trouble when he does that.

There you have! The inspiration for Phoenix in The Art of Rivers.


The Art of Rivers

by Janet Ferguson

​Rivers Sullivan bears both visible and invisible scars—those on her shoulder from a bullet wound and those on her heart from the loss of her fiancé during the same brutal attack. Not even her background as an art therapist can help her regain her faith in humanity. Still, she scrapes together the courage to travel to St. Simons Island to see the beach cottage and art gallery she’s inherited from her fiancé. When she stumbles upon recovering addicts running her gallery, she’s forced to reckon with her own healing.

After the tragic drowning of his cousin, James Cooper Knight spends his days trying to make up for his past mistakes. He not only dedicates his life to addiction counseling, but guilt drives him to the water, searching for others who’ve been caught unaware of the quickly rising tides of St. Simons. When he rescues a peculiar blond woman and her sketch pad from a sandbar, then delivers this same woman to his deceased grandmother’s properties, he knows things are about to get even more complicated.

Tragic circumstances draw Cooper and Rivers closer, but they fight their growing feelings. Though Cooper’s been sober for years, Rivers can’t imagine trusting her heart to someone in recovery, and he knows a relationship with her will only rip his family further apart. Distrust and guilt are only the first roadblocks they must overcome if they take a chance on love.




Dark eyes and black, careless hair to match, her rescuer stared at her as if she were insane. Maybe she was. A current pulled her, launching her deeper into the rising tide. She could barely stand. Salty water splashed into her eyes and mouth. “Take this pad now! It’s getting wet!” She stretched her hand as high as she could, dog-paddling with the other to stay erect.

The man finally grabbed the tablet from her. Once both arms were free, she tried to swim toward the boat ladder, but a swell slapped her in the face. A moment later, strong hands grabbed her, pushed a red floating device under her, and pulled her toward the vessel.

“Just relax. But help me kick if you can.” He stayed close, guiding them along a rope tied to the hull.

At the ladder, he pushed her forward. “You go first. I’m right here. Let me know if you’re too tired to climb, and I’ll give you a shove from behind.”

The last thing she wanted was this stranger shoving her behind. “I got it.” She began her ascent, one waterlogged step at a time. “And I hope you put my sketchbook someplace dry.” The last sentence, she mumbled, since she probably should be thankful he’d come by at all.

“What?” The voice behind her sounded incredulous.

On board, she spied the pad lying on the passenger seat intact. “I said thanks for putting my sketchbook someplace dry.” She stood there dripping while he vaulted onboard.

“That is not what you said.” His brows furrowed under dripping strands of black hair.

Rivers took in the angle of his nose, observed the contoured lips leaving a small shadow above the scruff on his chin. There was something familiar and almost mesmerizing about his bone structure.

Want to read more? The Art of Rivers is available on  Amazon   Nook   Kobo  iBooks


About the Author

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.

Connect with Janet on her webpage, Facebook, or Bookbub.


Tasty Tuesdays–Pear Crisp from Chris Pavesic


, , , , ,

Author Chris Pavesic is back in the Tasty Tuesdays virtual kitchen with another yummy dessert. Welcome, Chris!


There comes a time when my family longs for traditional “comfort food.” This is a recipe passed down through the generations and is one of our favorites. I hope you enjoy!

Pear Crisp

4 pears, cored and sliced
½ cup packed brown sugar, less if pears are sweet
½ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ – 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, depends on personal flavor
4 tbsp. butter, softened
Vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cut up pears and layer in a baking dish.

Combine butter and brown sugar with a fork in a medium-sized bowl. Add oats, flour, and cinnamon. Use the fork to stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Use a tablespoon to sprinkle mixture over fruit.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until fruit is tender when pierced.

For an extra treat serve vanilla ice cream on top of the crisp.

While your home fills up with the tasty aromas of an earlier time, you can indulgently curl up with a good book. May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? 

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Escape from a world of darkness into a magical realm of limitless adventure.

Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami navigates the Realms and builds a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world. Time to play the game.





About the Author:

Chris Pavesic
is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Musings From a Writer’s Brain–Anne Montgomery on Pets


, , ,


from Anne Montgomery

I have, over the course of my life, been the caretaker of myriad cats and dogs and birds and fish. I know I’ve been a good pet mom to my animal friends, tending to their needs and holding the four-legged ones tight when, old and infirm, we made that last trek to the vet.

While I have done well by my animal friends, who almost universally came from streets and shelters, I do have a dark past involving some beasts, the memories of which continue to haunt me.

When I was maybe five, I found a tiny, featherless bird, who, despite what appeared to be a broken neck, chirped piteously. I held the fledgling up to my mother, who blinked dispassionately behind black cat-eye glasses.

“Maybe he’s thirsty,” I said.

“I’ll get some water.”

“No, he’s a baby. He needs milk.”

“Birds don’t drink milk.”

“Milk!” I insisted.

So my mother gave the baby bird milk … and it died.

When I was older, I discovered a crow fluttering in the grass in my back yard. I placed the bird on the patio table and decided he might be hungry. I considered what might be tasty to a crow and determined that corn was the answer. Finding none in the refrigerator, I checked the freezer and was delighted to see a package of Green Giant Frozen Nibblets. I rushed to the patio and sure enough, my crow gobbled up that icy treat. A few minutes later, he toppled over … dead.

Then there were the fishes. Shortly after my mother allowed me to plant a rock garden behind the house, my dad and I formed a tiny concrete pond, not much more than a foot wide. I joyfully filled that small depression with water, but quickly sensed something was missing. So, I grabbed an empty Skippy Peanut Butter jar, called my collie dog Betsy, and headed to the brook to do some fishing. Later, I dumped those tiny fish into my pond, quite sure they would be happy with their new living arrangements. The next morning, eager to visit my fishy friends, I rushed to my pond to discover it … empty! I did some pondering on the mystery and determined that the fish had disappeared with the water though some minuscule crack and were now traversing an underwater stream that would lead them back to the brook.


In a similar fashion, I gathered unfortunate salamanders from under rocks in the woods and plopped them into the terrarium, which I made myself. I gathered soft, green moss, which I was sure the lizards would appreciate, and uprooted other woodland flora to decorate their home. I artfully placed bits of wood and rocks in the tank, along with a jar lid filled with water, so they might get a drink or go for a swim, should they feel the urge. What I never once considered was food. I think I believed my salamanders – some black, some red sporting a dark stripe – would discover reptile sustenance in the dirt somewhere. In any case, the fact that someone, I’m guessing my older brother, “accidentally” dislodged the glass tank top, proved to be a boon for those beasts, because they escaped, heading, no doubt, for the lizard version of McDonalds, never to be seen again.

I did enjoy my lizard friends, still, in retrospect, they were lucky they managed to escape.

The good news is that, once I got a bit older, I learned how to better care for the creatures that counted on me for their survival. We kids were required to feed and provide water for our dog and cat every night before dinner. One evening, when we had collectively forgotten to nourish our furry friends, my father admonished us.

“They can’t feed themselves!” he said, clearly disappointed by our neglect. “It’s your job to take care of them. They count on you.”

I stared at my dog, a look she returned with unabashed adoration, and felt ashamed. From that day forward, my pets have eaten before me. And I have made it my goal to treat all animal friends with kindness and compassion, with perhaps one well-intentioned exception.

The giant goldfish belonged to my two young nieces.

“What’ll we do?” My sister-in-law said, wrinkling her nose at the chubby, orange creature that swam in wobbly circles.

“We will…um…I don’t know.”

She stared at me. “The girls can’t see him like this.”

I considered the alternatives. Finally, I spread my hands wide. “Put it in a plastic bag and freeze it?”

I won’t say any more about that, except that it seemed kinder and less messy than the hammer option or any of the other routes we contemplated. Surely, you can see that my intention was one of benevolence.

I hope.

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.



Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website . Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

A Writer’s Garden–Amy Anguish Shares Her Garden


, , ,

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 guest is Amy Anguish. Welcome, Amy!

Gardens are for Sharing

By Amy Anguish

You can always tell it’s peak squash or tomato season when you see fellow church-goers coming in with plastic grocery bags bulging with fresh fruits and vegetables from their gardens. It’s one of my favorite times of years, and finally, for the second year in a row, I get to be one of the ones who shares the produce from my backyard instead of relying on others to bring some of theirs my way. It’s one of the many ways I have found to “pay it forward.” After all, if that sweet, old man in Texas hadn’t brought me tomatoes for a few years, I would have had to get by with the ones from the grocery store, and we all know those don’t taste as good.

We expanded our vegetable garden this summer. It now has more room for squash and tomatoes, green beans and pumpkins. But it also has zinnias and sunflowers. Why? Because gardens are for sharing.

And I don’t just mean for sharing produce with friends and neighbors, even though my neighbors and I traded cucumbers for squash and bell peppers for tomatoes several times last year. We’re just starting to gather in a few cherry tomatoes and green beans, although flowers are adorning my squash plants and my pumpkins are starting to creep out of their bed.

I also share my gardens with the birds. My sunflowers were amazing giants, full of bright yellow heads bursting with seeds last year. And the birds made sure they devoured every single one, all the way down to destroying even the head of the sunflower. But that’s okay. Because we both got something out of it. I got my pretty flowers for a couple of weeks. And they got to feast.

My front garden bed has azaleas, roses, hydrangeas (if I don’t kill them), and several other little things, all meant to be pretty. The bed around my back porch has Lantana, Mint and Lavender, all meant to help keep mosquitoes away. There’s a huge butterfly bush in the corner that brings all sorts of gorgeous winged creatures to my line of sight. I have lilies blooming by my back fence. And daffodils and irises in various places in the springtime. Those might not share food for anyone beyond bees, but they share beauty and sometimes a nice fragrance.

I love driving through our neighborhood in the spring, soaking up the gorgeous colors popping in the dogwoods, tulip trees, flower bushes and shrubs, and various bulbs. In the summertime, the Hydrangeas and roses take over, keeping us all with something to admire. And in the fall, the leaves are stunning.

There is definitely more than one way to share. And I hope my garden can continue to flourish so I can keep passing on food and beauty to others around me.

Do you share anything from your garden with friends or family? Can you think of any other ways gardens can be shared?


About the Writer/Gardener

Amy R Anguish

Author of An Unexpected Legacy

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

Follow her at or


Faith and Hope

By Amy Anguish

Hope needs more hope. Faith needs more faith. They both need a whole lot of love.

Two sisters. One summer. Multiple problems.

Younger sister Hope has lost her job, her car, and her boyfriend all in one day. Her well-laid plans for life have gone sideways, as has her hope in God.

Older sister Faith is finally getting her dream-come-true after years of struggles and prayers. But when her mom talks her into letting Hope move in for the summer, will the stress turn her dream into a nightmare? Is her faith in God strong enough to handle everything?

For two sisters who haven’t gotten along in years, this summer together could be a disaster, or it could lead them to a closer relationship with each other and God. Can they overcome all life is throwing at them? Or is this going to destroy their relationship for good?

Available on Amazon