A Writer’s Garden-Janis Lane talks about Willows

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Today’s Writing Gardener guest is Emma Janis Lane–two authors for the price of one. Emma Lane writes Regency romance. Her pen name counterpart, Janis Lane, writes romantic cozy mysteries. Today, she will be talking about–

WILLOWS IN YOUR GARDEN

willow catkins

Recently I overheard a patron mention his willow tree had budded, a sure sign of Spring. I felt a rush of panic. No! I couldn’t be late to harvest the silver buds before the catkins appeared. Whereas the little kitties are sweet, they do not stay on the branches very long. Harvested early, the decorative silver buds will be around as long as you like. Spring finds my vases full.

Once pretty willow shrubs lined our service road and supplied me with an abundance harvest, but borers found and riddled the trunks. I am pinching myself to remember to plant twigs to start them all over. In Spring, when the soil is saturated, a willow branch may be rooted by simply sticking it in the ground where you’d like a nice shrub. Careful. Some consider it invasive. Often willows are planted on the banks of streams and ponds to prevent erosion because the roots are abundant and healthy. (‘ware the borers!)

Folk Lore “Wearing the willow” is a term used to describe the lonely heart of a lover who has lost her mate either to another person or death. Willow branches on a hat may also mean that person is hopeful for romance. (Waggles eyebrows.) A well-known television celebrity couldn’t control his laughter while describing Dyngus Day in Buffalo, NY. Always the day after Easter, this Polish American holiday is celebrated with the boys switching (gently) the girls with willow branches and splashing them with water. (A Polka dance or two might be expected.) The next day is turn about fair play for the girls. As you may imagine, these antics have their origins in ancient traditions. Long branches of willow buds are a celebration of Spring in cold country.

ROMANCE: Who can resist the dreamy, swaying branches of a weeping willow? When plotting a Regency Romance, I occasionally allow courting couples strolling the grounds in the warm breezes of early summer the privacy they long for. The swaying green curtain on the stream bank offers privacy to steal a quick kiss. This proved handy in Belinda, My Love when the heroine received her very first kiss by the besotted rogue who had waited patiently for her to grow up.

Medicinal: The willow has a long history of usefulness to mankind. Hippocrates mentioned the willow for medicinal properties. Willow leaves and bark yield salicin, a principal component of aspirin, which was used as both an anti-inflammatory and pain relief. Research reports pure salicin is tough on the digestive system, but it’s interesting to read about the early Native American’s frequent use of the willow bark as medicine.

Crafts: Basket makers made use of the strong but pliable branches. I’ve used them for crafting wreaths instead of grapevines on occasion. I’ve admired a trellis made from willow branches as well. Last but not least, the twisty willow, which grows into a mid- sized tree, produces unique branches for walking sticks. The gnarled branches also add winter interest. Willow, in any of its many varieties, can be both beautiful and useful in your garden.

 

About the Author:

Emma Janis Lane 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 color. She writes Regency Romance as Emma Lane, but also delights in dipping into a Cozy Romantic Mystery, pen name Janis Lane.

Part owner of a plant nursery,she will answer gardening questions at her website emmajlane.com

Whispers of Danger and Love by [Lane, Janis]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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara M. Britton author of Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey on Wednesday Writers

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Today’s Wednesday Writers guest is author Barbara M. Britton, author of the Biblical romance novel Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey, whose story has its origins in the book of Judges from the Bible. Barbara is sharing a post, an excerpt, and a book trailer today, so keep reading to find out about Naomi’s Journey.

Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey –To maintain her family’s honor, can Naomi abandon the shepherd who has not only captured her body, but stolen her heart?

Welcome, Barbara!

 

Hi Catherine,

Thank you for having me on your blog. I love your readers!

 

Checking on Mom’s Facts

I thought I knew a lot about the Book of Judges in the Bible. After all, I had taught chapel and told the story of Gideon’s battle against the Midianites using glow sticks for props—“A sword for the Lord!” I had also heard about poor Samson’s troubles once his hair was cut by Delilah. I remember being at a Biblical costume party when a man came in with slinky-like goggles to represent Samson’s eye gouging incident. How creative! And of course in Judges, there’s Deborah, a pioneering female warrior for the tribes of Israel. But I had no idea at the end Judges, there is a Sodom and Gomorrah-ish story where the tribe of Benjamin is almost wiped out by the other tribes of Israel. How did I miss this?

This crazy battle among the tribes didn’t end well for Benjamin. Their tribe was left with 600 men—no women, or children. What’s a Benjamite to do since the other tribes have taken an oath not to give their daughters in marriage to those wicked Benjamites? And marrying outside the tribes of Israel is forbidden by God’s Law. Well, some bold Benjamites do a grab-and-go of unsuspecting girls who just want to dance at a feast. What happened to these girls? The Bible doesn’t give us details. We do know the tribe of Benjamin went on to give us the first king of Israel, Saul, and the apostle Paul. Babies were born, so the tribe survived.

My latest novel “Building Benjamin” follows girls who were abducted from the feast. Naomi, my heroine, is none too happy with Eliab, her kidnapper. She is waiting on a rescue until she discovers Eliab has suffered loss just like she has due to the craziness in Judges 19-21. Romeo and Juliet fell in love with each other in a short amount of time. Perhaps, Naomi and Eliab can put aside their differences and see if love is possible with God as their bond.

I knew I had to write this story when my youngest son thought I was kidding about this incident in the Bible. My son ran upstairs, grabbed his Bible, and laughed as he read about men hiding in a vineyard to snatch a wife. In all the absurdity of Judges, my latest story was born.

I hope you enjoy “Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey.”

 

Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey

By Barbara M. Britton

Love Grows Where God Grafts the Tender Shoot.

Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife.

As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her tribe.

Excerpt:

Here’s an exchange between Naomi and Eliab after her abduction.

“Rest, Naomi. You are a tower of stones. The mule listens to one master.” Eliab’s arms closed around her, holding her next to his body. His tunic wasn’t the most comfortable bed, but his body was warm, and up until this point, he had not harmed her.

She prayed her father would find her before Eliab desired a union and made her his wife.

Fighting sleep’s snare proved useless. As the mule swayed side to side, her eyelids became millstones. When her eyes fluttered open, a pomegranate-red ribbon of sky rose above the hills. For a moment, before her body fully awakened, she floated, blissful, believing she was sleeping in her mother’s arms, rocking gently, back and forth.

Her head snapped upright. She was not in Shiloh. She was on a mule maneuvering a downward path to a wicked land.

“Ah, you’re with me.” Eliab sat as straight as a rested merchant carting goods to the market.

“And you’re still here.”

“I am not a dream.”

“You’re a curse.”

“Good. I chose a quick-witted wife.”

 

 

Purchase “Building Benjamin” on Amazon, Target, B&N

 

About the Author:

Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb kicked off her Tribes of Israel series in October with the release of “Providence: Hannah’s Journey.” Naomi’s journey, “Building Benjamin” is out now. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America.

Connect with Barbara on her website, Twitter, facebook and Goodreads

 

A Writer’s Garden 2017—Through the Garden Gates with Catherine Castle

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When Does A Gardener Stop Being a Gardener?

 

columbines from Catherine’s garden

It’s that time of the year again. Spring! And with spring comes the annual A Writer’s Garden blog series.

Soon, when it finally stops raining, we writer/gardeners will be able to get up from our computers, dust off the garden gloves, and hit the weed patches. I’ve already got some writer/gardeners lined up for the April, May and June, and will be filling the rest of the spots soon. So be sure and follow by email so you can get the garden posts, in all their pictorial glory, as they appear each Thursday, beginning April 13.

The mowers and weed whackers are going strong in the neighborhood as I write this post, disturbing a sunshiny and otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon—one of the few non-rainy days we’ve had recently in my neck of Southern Ohio.

As I sit at the computer listening to the motorized racket, I’m pondering a particular question: When does a gardener stop being a gardener? I ask this because as my body ages (my back in particular) gardening gets harder and harder, especially the clean-up. I’ve hired a local landscaping company to come in and do my clean-up this year, and a monthly weeding, because I’m just not physically able to put in the hours needed to clean up last year’s dead flowers and dig out the ground-level weeds.

I’m also considering graveling a number of ground-level beds alongside the house and installing raised potting systems in the gravel beds. Of course that will mean I have to water more often, so some sort of self-watering or drip line will have to be installed. I need a planting surface that is high enough that I can pull my garden stool alongside, sit, and plant and harvest in the raised pot.

Years ago, when I was younger, I wrote a piece for the local newspaper about a raised bed system in a retirement/nursing home. The wooden beds were fairly shallow and the bottom high enough that wheelchair-bound residents could roll their seats under the planter and reach the edges of the bed to dig in the dirt. At the time, I thought it was interesting, but not something I wanted to see in my yard. Flowers growing at ground level intrigued me more. I dreamt of cascading waves of blooms sweeping across the lawn and a vegetable garden that rivaled my grandmother’s, complete with picket fence. She canned all of her and Poppy’s food for the winter from her own garden. I never achieved those heights of horticulture, but the dream and desire was there.

Now, I’m perusing garden catalogs and lusting over galvanized tubs and gigantic, self-watering planters big enough to plant corn in. My how one’s perspective changes!

My ability to do the physical side of gardening is becoming more and more limited, but that doesn’t stop my desire to dig in the dirt, watch the plants grow, pick a bouquet of flowers from my yard, or harvest my own tomatoes.

Some people get cabin fever every spring. I get gardening fever. I have it today. My fingers are itching to pull some weeds, reposition some flowers, and stroll through the garden center for veggies and a big tray of marigolds. I love marigolds! Even when my back twinges at the thought of bending, I still have the desire to garden.

So, to answer the burning question of the day—When does a gardener stop being a gardener?—I think NEVER! And now for a really bad gardening pun.

Old gardeners don’t stop being gardeners—they just don’t do it as mulch. ☺

 

 

About the Gardener:

Gardener/writer Catherine Castle has been gardening all her life in pots, plots, and wherever she can find dirt. Her favorite thing about gardening is the satisfaction she gets from a well-weeded flowerbed. When she’s not gardening she’s writing sweet and inspirational romance.

Her debut novel, The Nun and the Narc, is a multi-award-winning inspiration suspense romance.

Captured by the local Mexican drug lord after she interrupts a drug deal, novice Sister Margaret Mary risks losing her life, her vocation, and her heart when she falls for undercover DEA agent Jed Bond who is imprisoned with her. Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary. Jed knows she’s off limits, but his heart can’t help wanting this woman who’s been promised to God.

Her next novel, a romantic comedy with a touch of drama, entitled A Groom for Mama, is slated to release in September 2017. Follow Catherine through this blog or on  Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCastle

 

D.R. Grady and Army Rangers on Wednesday Writers

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Today I’m welcoming D.R. Grady back to the blog. D.R. has been a guest on the blog several times. Click on the highlighted words to see some of her other posts. It’s always a pleasure to have her visit again. She’s got an interesting post on Army Rangers, because the hero of her book The Trouble with Nerds is one of those big, bad boys who put themselves on the line to protect us. Go Army! And Go Nerds! They make the world run.

Well, that’s enough of my grandstanding. Let’s get on to the matter at hand and the excerpt D.R. has provided for us about her contemporary romance with suspense elements, The Trouble with Nerds.

 

Army Rangers

 

Cole Morrison, the hero of The Trouble with Nerds, is a retired Army Ranger. He had to leave the military earlier than expected, and he’s not happy about it. Most likely because it’s difficult to become an Army Ranger, as the training is rigorous and takes utter dedication.

Only men are currently permitted to train as an Army Ranger as of this writing. They must show potential as leaders, as well as display stamina, discipline, courage, and motivation. Once the potential candidate meets both the necessary physical fitness and academic goals, he then enters Army Ranger School and must complete the three following phases: Benning, Mountain, and Florida.

They have to learn to safely parachute jump in addition to learning how to navigate on land, both during the day and night. They also train for mountain, desert, water, and swamp survival.

Their training is arduous because they are expected to combat others with impressive fighting skills. Therefore, these candidates excel under intense conditions. Army Rangers experience food and sleep deprivation and must learn to persevere through these circumstances. Their training is so harsh, candidates have died. (This doesn’t happen often, fortunately.) They train to the limits of their endurance.

They undergo extensive physical training, but are also assessed in their mental capabilities throughout their schooling. How they handle various situations, their reaction to the hardships they face, and how quickly they solve problems are all part of this evaluation.

Army Ranger candidates are extensively trained in combat arms as many will be fighting in close combat, and/or direct fire situations. They also undergo driver instruction, rope training, map reading, and medical basics, as well as other intensive studies they will need while working as a Ranger.

Once the candidate has completed his training, he is then permitted to wear the tan beret, which marks him as a seasoned warrior. His grueling training serves him well on each combat mission he faces. These men are among the United States Armed Forces most elite warriors.

And, I must add, they make excellent heroes for those of us who write romance novels.

References:

https://www.army.mil/ranger

http://www.goarmy.com/ranger.html

 

THE TROUBLE WITH NERDS

by D. R. Grady

 

Odd things keep happening to Dr. Sara Newton. She’s a soon-to-be-unemployed pediatrician with an alleged stalker, a hot cop on her heels breathing dire warnings, and way too much student debt.

It doesn’t help that the hot cop is Clay Morrison, her best friend’s older brother. The man has made her heart pound and her palms sweaty since puberty. The trouble is, he only interacts with her when he’s expounding on new security measures. He sees threats everywhere.

Clay Morrison is frustrated. He hates his new job, misses his Army Ranger days, loves his well-meaning, pushy family—and when did sweet Sara Newton grow up? She won’t admit she has a stalker, and she won’t keep out of his thoughts. He can only protect someone in denial for so long. No matter how attractive she is…

Clay and Sara are circling each other, trying to meet in the middle. Then a brand new threat sends them in a completely different direction.

 

Excerpt:

She glanced at her watch when they stood to pull on their coats. “How have two hours passed?”

His lips quirked. “I enjoyed myself.”

“The service wasn’t slow.”

“No, but we didn’t hurry.”

“We didn’t.” There had been no need. “I enjoyed this evening. Despite it being Monday.”

He settled one large hand in the small of her back again. Standing in her personal space, as they exited the restaurant.

Her brain buzzed with questions. Had she actually relaxed in his presence that long? What had they talked about? What did she eat? Did he consider them a couple?

They strolled across the parking lot and stopped beside his vehicle. The massive SUV sheltered them as a nearby streetlight cast a glary glow across them and the vehicles on either side.

Sara glanced up at his face. Cast partly in shadow by the light and angle, it appeared even more intriguing.

“Why are you spending so much time on me?” Oh no, I didn’t just blurt that question, right?

“You’re in danger.”

Nothing else could have punctured her love haze as effectively.

“I see.” Weak, Sara.

He tilted her face to his with a forefinger under her chin. “And because I’ve been thinking about you for years.”

She gasped. “For years?”

“Sure. I first noticed you when you turned sixteen.”

“You were in the army by then.”

“It wasn’t until I’d been gone for a while that I recognized you were growing up.”

She hitched one shoulder. “Everyone does.”

“I wasn’t paying attention while still at home.” His voice remained guarded, as though there might be more details, but he didn’t intend to share them.

Wanting to know those details she placed a hand on his arm. At the same time, he wrapped both arms around her and hauled her against his hard body. His warmth and scent encompassed her, throwing any brain function into neutral.

Then his lips covered hers.

Want to read more? Go to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJ3CK1G

 

About the Author:

 

D.R. Grady lives with her husband near Hershey, PA. She adores chocolate, laughing, collecting bags, books, and shoes, and writing stories that resonate with others.

Connect with D.R. Grady at:

Website: www.drgradybooks.com

Twitter: @drgradybooks  Amazon Author page:  Facebook Page: D.R. Grady

Google+: D.R. Gradybooks

Other works by D.R. Grady  The Morrison Family Series:

Free Short Stories: Math Nerds and Mechanics, Tall Golf

The Me Series:

The Dragon Chronicles Series:

For additional buying options and updates, please visit my website-

http://www.drgradybooks.com

 

To Riches Again by Darlene Franklin–Wednesday Writers

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Today Darlene Franklin is back on Wednesday Writers to talk about the origin of her inspy historical romance novella To Riches Again. She is also sharing an excerpt from the book. Welcome, Darlene!

 

Thanks, Catherine.

 Like most of my books, To Riches Again grew from several sources.

It started with a Bible verse. When I read Isaiah 32:18-20 in The Message, I thought, “Here’s a story. Someone cut off from prosperity, who seeks a new life in the country.”

My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood— in safe houses, in quiet gardens. The forest of your pride will be clear-cut, the city showing off your power leveled. But you will enjoy a blessed life, planting well-watered fields and gardens, with your farm animals grazing freely. (Isaiah 32:18-20)

Before I developed the idea further, my editor (Cynthia Hickey at Forget Me Not Romance) came up with a series idea: Spinster brides and the orphan trains. The rest of the story came to my mind at that point. A rich socialite lost everything in the stock market crash of 1929 and traveled west with a group of orphans, looking for a new life for herself as well as them.

The trains weren’t actually called “orphan trains” at the time of their operation, and not all of the children were literal orphans. However, for the sake of simplicity I made Ian and Bridget orphans. In a novella, I also shied away from the hard years facing Kansas farmers in the 1930s. (The Wards survive the Dust Bowl poorer but intact. That much I know.)

The story fits into what is known historically. The orphan trains which began operation 1854 drew to a close in 1929. Agreements which had allowed continued placement of orphan children in several western states expired and weren’t renewed. Instead, local communities increased their support to allow poverty-stricken families to remain together.

I couldn’t identify the actual date of the last orphan train, but I did locate a suggestion that it traveled as far as Kansas in 1930. To the best of my knowledge, Elyssa’s story is plausible.

 

TO RICHES AGAIN

by Darlene Franklin

 

Elyssa’s new yellow dress

A year ago, life was full of promise.

Elyssa Philbin partied with the rest of New York’s elite, not worrying about anything beyond her newest dress.

Ian and Bridge McDonnell, although part of a poverty-stricken family, lived secure in their parents’ love.

Bill Ward looked forward to a prosperous crop, a new baby, and his loving wife.

Everything changed before the calendar turned to 1930.

To Riches Again chronicles Elyssa and Bill’s return to wholeness after they have both lost everything—thanks in part to two orphan children.

Excerpt:

Elyssa Philbin straightened the bow tie around eight-year-old Ian McDonnell’s neck and freshened his sister Bridget’s braids.

Ian took his little sister’s hand. “Do you think Mr. Ward will still want us when he meets us?”

Elyssa’s heart quickened. “I’m sure he will.” Although how a single man planned to raise two children on his own baffled her. “God has just the right home waiting for you.” She had prayed for each child since they’d left New York two weeks ago.

The dozen children still on the train were the last of the hundred who’d left New York with her to be placed out of their homes. Not because the good people of that city had provided homes for all its needy children, but because of changing political and economic times. The organization which for seventy-five years had provided thousands of orphans with new lives via trains west was shutting down.

That made the parents and children brought together by this final train doubly blessed. She would have to trust Ian and Bridget’s future to the Lord—and to Mr. Ward. She worried about them, though. Had their very Irish names warned him of their red hair and pale skin which would burn easily? Would he spook at the sight of Ian’s spindly arms? Would he see Bridget’s intelligence and sweetness beneath her grimy exterior?

And what about Mr. Ward? Elyssa hated to see children growing up without two parents. And if—when, surely—Mr. Ward married, would newborn babies take Ian and Bridget’s places in his heart? Would his wife reject them?

 

Want to read more? You can find To Riches Again here.

 

About the Author:

Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. This year she expects to reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears monthly in Bookfun Magazine. Her most recent titles are The Pony Express Romance Collection, Love’s Compass, and To Riches Again.

 

Website and blog  Facebook  Amazon author page

You can check out more of Darlene’s posts on this site by clicking here.

 

Ten Reason Writers Need Pencils–Celebrate National Pencil Day

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It’s National Pencil Day today!

This fun holiday is brought to you courtesy of Hymen Lipman, who received a patent for a pencil with an attached eraser on March 30, 1858. While pencils were once only yellow, today we can get them in a wide assortment of colors and designs.

As I writer, I collect pencils when I travel, pens too. You can see some of my pens in the front of the  pencil collection below. The soldier at the forefront is a standing pen from Colonial Williamsburg. I think he’s absolutely adorable!

Pencils are usually relatively inexpensive as mementoes, and one day I plan to have my hubby build me a display case for my slender treasures.

For now, though, I thought I’d extol the joys, and uses, of pens from a writer’s perspective. After all, we started this writing journey with a yellow number 2 pencil and that funny dotted-line-in-the-middle school paper.

Ten reasons writers need pencils

  1. You don’t need electricity to use a pencil. So you can write in a storm, at the park, if you unexpectedly find yourself in a dystopian society, or any other place you might choose.
  2. When you’re ready to write a word down, there’s no pesky computer delay because your CPU is too full.
  3. When the lead runs out, you can throw the stub away without any hesitation. The wood deteriorates, unlike pens which need refilling and last in a landfill forever, or computers that also don’t deteriorate and require special care to wipe your personal data and stories from them.
  4. When you make a mistake it’s easy to erase. Not so with a pen.
  5. You also don’t need electricity to sharpen your pencil. A handy-dandy, tiny, portable sharpener is all you need. Or a knife. Don’t opt for the latter if you’re the clumsy sort though.
  6. They come in an assortment of colors and designs, so when you’re experiencing writer’s block you can stimulate your muse by studying the pencil’s ornamentation.
  7. When your plot or characters aren’t cooperating you can take out your frustration by breaking your pencil in half. Just be sure you have a replacement on hand for when those pesky characters finally start behaving.
  8. Pencils make great stabbing utensils for use on rejection letters, that horrid first draft, and other bothersome papers related to your writing. There’s a sense of satisfaction in killing a page that has brought you grief.
  9. Pencils can write upside down, in zero gravity, and in water. That means you can lay on your back, in bed, outside, or any other place you choose, and still write your book. Or if you’re planning a trip into space, your trusty pencil will work while you’re enroute and when you reach wherever you’re going, provided you’re still alive when you get there. I can’t think of a reason you’d want to write underwater though. On the water, maybe. A pencil would work well there, too.
  10. A typical pencil can write about 45,000 words. That’s a novella length book. Now that’s a fact I never knew before today!

Happy Pencil Day! Take a moment today and celebrate the humble pencil. Hunt up a fresh, or a used pencil, sharpen it to a stabbing point, and write something new.

Muffins and Moonbeams with Elizabeth Maddrey on Wednesday Writers

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Wednesday Writers is welcoming Elizabeth Maddrey back to the blog series. You can check out some of Elizabeth’s other posts on this blog here. Today, she’s got an excerpt of her contemporary Romance Muffins & Moonbeams and a post about researching your setting. Welcome, Elizabeth!

 

Thanks, Catherine

Generally speaking, I’m a suburban setting writer. I live in the ‘burbs of D.C. and, maybe it’s wrong to admit, but I kind of like them. I like having everything within easy reach. There are cons, of course, like traffic, but overall? I’ve loved setting my books here in the D.C. area so readers can get a little glimpse of what I consider home. But for Muffins & Moonbeams, since it’s part of a multi-author series, I had to stretch outside of my comfort zone quite a lot. Not only were we not setting this series in the suburbs, we were setting it in Idaho.

I have never been to Idaho. I have nothing against it at all, but it was so far outside my comfort zone that I think we could reasonably say it was in my discomfort zone. Small town. Agrarian in nature. In Idaho. So I did what every writer faced with something like this does: I loaded up Google maps and zoomed down into the street view of the area near where we set our town so I could see, roughly, what the landscape and architecture looks like. I spent hours zooming around small towns in southern Idaho and their surrounding area and I discovered something: I really want to visit Idaho.

It’s beautiful there. There are gorges where rivers run wild and beautiful places to hike. And the towns? They look like something out of any picture book with a small-town America Main Street. It felt warm and friendly, like it was the kind of place where people know your name and take the time to stop and chat. (Some of the other authors in the series have actually been to Idaho and they confirmed my impressions.) I hope you’ll take a chance on our little fictional town of Arcadia Valley, Idaho, even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool suburbanite like me. It might just surprise you how homey it feels.

 

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

Muffins and Moonbeam

By Elizabeth Maddrey

 

Malachi Baxter is happy to hide in the background and manage the business-end of the family bakery. He’d much rather live in the online world of computer games where he can explore the galaxy and no one has to know he’s deaf.

Ursula Franks designs websites during the day and spends her evenings battling alien races online where relationships are easy and uncomplicated. When she agrees to design a website for the local Community Supported Bakery, she has no idea that Malachi is the real man behind her online persona’s best friend and her own secret crush.

As the two work together on the website, they uncover an attraction, but will they be able to put aside past hurt and insecurity to find love?

 

Excerpt:

Malachi clicked on the mission, double checked that he had all the required equipment on board, and opened the map. He chose the first star system he’d need to visit and set the ship in motion. It wasn’t instantaneous transport, which made the game a little more fun. Things could go wrong en route. There were pirates for one, and the handful of people who were irked at him for beating them to prizes. Most of them got over it and remembered it was just a game. But there were others who needed a stiff dose of reality. He tried to steer clear.

“Started without me?” Scarlet Fire’s chat message popped up.

“Just barely. You can still join if you want.”

“Sound good. I’ll beam in?”

“Perfect.” Malachi closed out of the armor customizing screen he’d been in and ran through the halls of his ship to the transportation hub. He verified that it was her and clicked to allow her to join the party. Her avatar materialized. He swallowed. It wasn’t as if he didn’t run into roughly the same avatar all the time—you could only customize your clothes and hair—but something about hers always made his heart stop. Which probably meant he needed to get a real life. “Welcome. We’ll hit the first system in about two minutes. How was your day?”

“Got a new client. Always a good day. Even better, they’re a referral from a previous client and they’re local.”

“Don’t you do web design? Why does local matter?”

“Doesn’t necessarily. But sometimes it helps if there are hiccups.” Her avatar’s hair color changed from bright red to blonde. “What do you think?”

“It’s different.”

“Is that good or bad? Was trying to go a little more real to life.” The hair changed back. “Maybe that’s not a good thing?”

She was a blonde. It didn’t fit his mental image. Not surprising as he’d essentially un-animated her avatar and dressed her in normal clothes when he was forming it. But…blonde worked, too. “No, I liked it. It just took me by surprise.”

“Don’t you ever want people to know the real you?”

He shook his head and tapped the keys to dock the star ship at the port where they’d find the first leg of their mission. The best part of online multi-player games was having the chance to be who he really was without first waiting for people to get over the fact that he was deaf. “Not really.”

Want to read more? You can find Muffins and Moonbeams at:

KindleNook:   iBooks:   Kobo:

 

About the Author:

Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace on their way to their own romantic happily ever after.

Connect with Elizabeth at:

Website:   Facebook:   Instagram:  Twitter: @elizabethmaddrey

 

 

Coffeecake Chaos and Ryan Jo Summers on Wednesday Writers

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Today Ryan Jo Summers is back on Wednesday Writers. Today she’s giving us the background behind her latest novella Coffeecake Chaos. The novella is part of the Food and Romance Go Together Anthology Vol 1, which comes out mid to late April, 2017 from Melange Books. Ryan’s story is sweet romance, but she doesn’t know the heat level of the other stories in the anthology. In addition to today’s Story Behind the Story post, Ryan Jo is sharing a yummy recipe that goes along with her book title—Coffeecake Chaos.  I can’t wait to make this delicious treat! Welcome, Ryan Jo.

 

Coffeecake Chaos

By Ryan Jo Summers

(Food and Romance Go Together Anthology Vol. 1)

 

Avianna Goodman and Sawyer Steele had been young lovers. Now she is a caterer, building her own business. Right now she needs cash to help her family. He’s being ordered to stop his wild ways and settle down to take over the family empire. His controlling mother has picked out the perfect heiress for him. Now they need the right caterer to launch the perfect engagement celebration.

 

 

Coffeecake Chaos – the story behind the story

 

A publishing house had two calls for submissions going at the same time. They wanted short stories for anthologies. The first one was To Love a Scotsman and the other was simply food related somehow. I was more interested in the love a Scotsman idea, but dually noted the information for both calls.

Then I left them to simmer, like a pot on the stove, to see which one would eventually surface as a good storyline.

Unfortunately, I really could not come up with anything solid for the Scotsman story, hard as I tried. I had a hero’s name and that was about it. Eventually, I had to admit I just didn’t have a story there. Bummer.

However, I was building my pet sitting business, and one of my new clients was a team of caterers. There was a clear food connection! I started thinking that would be a fun career—at least in a literary world. I started paying close attention to little things they said, just bits of conversation. And the wheels started turning.

Going back further, years ago (90’s), when I was newly married, I would make a streusel coffeecake while cooking breakfast—it was that crazy easy to whip up—and give it to hubby to share at his work. It earned me brownie points with his co-workers and made him seem like “the man”.

Over a period of a few weeks, the plot grew, centered on a caterer and her coffeecake. The characters fleshed out like plump browned fowl, the plot thickened like gravy, and a story was created like a menu paired with good wine.

I submitted “Coffeecake Chaos” and soon the good news came that it had been accepted.

 

Streusel Coffeecake

Ingredients:

Filling: Mix below items together with fork in small bowl before mixing cake batter: ½ C brown sugar, 2 Tbls. flour, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbls. melted butter  and ½ C nuts (optional) Batter:  1 ½ C sifted flour, 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt and ¾ C sugar. ¼ C shortening,   ½ C milk and one egg (Well beaten)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with pastry knife or fork. Blend in egg and milk.
  3. Spread half of batter in greased, flat 8 X 8 or 6 X 10 inch pan. Sprinkle with half of filling. Add rest of batter and sprinkle remaining filling on top.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Good served warm or room temp.

Optional topping: warm maple syrup and mix with brown sugar and drizzle over top. Or blend a few teaspoons milk with powdered sugar until runny and drizzle over top. Crumbled, cooked bacon or chopped nuts are good sprinkled over this too.

** I really don’t recall where this recipe originated from to give proper credit to. I inherited it from my mother and tweaked it some over the years.

 

About the Author:

Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina author who specializes in writing romances with a twist. Love stories blended with inspirational, paranormal, suspense or time travel–or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Ryan’s dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry so she claims she came by her writing skill honestly. Apparently it’s in the genes.

Her hobbies include bird-watching, houseplants (50ish and growing), poetry and yard work. She loves to gather with friends, hike in the forest with her dog, paint ceramics and canvas and work on wiggly word find puzzles. She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. Living in the mountains, she dreams of the shore and frequently uses the water as scenes for her stories.

Ryan Jo Summers—Proud author with Soul Mate Publishing & Melange Books

WEBSITE: www.ryanjosummers.com

BLOG: http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

FB:  www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan- Jo-Summers-author-page/ 312875648810797

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ RyanJoSummers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers: Behind the Scenes with June Foster and Lavender Fields Inn

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Today I’m welcoming award-winning author June Foster to the Wednesday Writers blog. June has an excerpt and a behind-the-scenes post about her book Lavender Fields Inn. Welcome, June. How did you come up with the story idea for this book?

 Thanks for having me, Catherine.

Writing’s never work when the story’s fun to create. Lavender Fields Inn—is one of those novels. I hope readers will agree.

Wren Tabor is taking a well-earned vacation at an inn and spa nestled high in the Rocky mountains. Perhaps her broken heart will heal after her so called boy friend betrayed her.

The hero, Graham Maier, wants to prove to his father that he’s as capable as his brother Greg. So Graham enters a local fishing tournament. Surrounded by lavender fields and stately mountain peaks, Graham and Wren find an attraction to each other, but when Wren sees Graham kissing another woman, she figures all men are alike.

Like many of my stories, this one was inspired by a real-life happening. About twelve years ago before I retired from my teaching profession—and before God called me to write stories, I taught seventh and eighth grade at a Christian school in Olympia, Washington. One of the teachers was a pretty young lady, young enough to be my daughter, and we enjoyed chatting in the teachers’ lounge.

My friend told me a funny story that I never forgot. She dated and married an identical twin. Even her husband’s mother had to look twice to tell these two brothers apart. Once, she went to a family dinner. She and her husband planned to drive separately as they both came from work. When she walked into her mother-in-law’s living room, she saw her husband sitting on the couch watching a football game on TV.

She leaned over the couch from behind him and kissed his prickly cheek then gave him a hug. Only thing, he wore a new aftershave. He turned around and stared at her with wide eyes. She still didn’t get it until he told her she’d kissed the wrong guy. The man was her husband’s brother.

My friend enjoyed laughing about the incident at the time she told me, but the night of the family gathering, she felt like crawling under the table.

Don’t want to give too much away, but this true-to-life event sparked the story idea. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Lavender Fields Inn

By June Foster

 

Love grows amid the flowers in the magnificent Rockies,

but sometimes romance can be deceptive.

 

Wren Tabor hopes the cool Colorado air at Lavender Fields Inn will heal her aching heart after her former boyfriend betrays her. When she literally bumps into handsome accountant Graham Maier, the painful memories from the past begin to fade. But after she sees Graham kissing another woman, she figures no man can be trusted.

Graham Maier needs to prove to his father he’s as capable as his brother Greg. The Rocky Mountain Anglers’ Tournament at Gold Pan Lake will give him the chance. But he must win first place. After he meets Wren, a woman like the unnamed girl who’s occupied his dreams, he can’t understand why she suddenly won’t speak to him.

Can Wren learn to trust men again? Can Graham understand how valuable he is in God’s sight?

 

Excerpt:

Graham Maier peered into his car’s trunk and unloaded the duffle bag, fishing pole case, and tackle box. Lavender Fields Inn dominated the landscape on the other side of the parking lot, with the magnificent Rockies in the background, a reminder of his purpose here. The Rocky Mountain Anglers Tournament. He slammed the trunk closed. Most guys saw the event as a relaxing fishing retreat, but not him. Even the mountain breeze with aromatic pine conifers and evergreens didn’t sooth his stomach’s churning. The tournament wasn’t merely a spare time, fun event but another opportunity to prove to Dad he could do something better than Greg, especially since his brother hated fishing.

Graham firmed his lips, grabbed his luggage, and trudged into the lodge. Straight ahead, an attendant escorted two women up a curved stairway. His mouth went slack. It couldn’t be. The one with shiny dark hair―so like the nameless girl who’d occupied his dreams more than once in the last five years.

Setting his luggage down, he stepped toward the staff member at the counter.

“Yes, sir. Welcome to Lavender Fields Inn.” The receptionist smiled. Her nametag introduced her as Tessie.

“Thanks. I need to register and sign up for the fishing tournament.”

Tessie passed him some papers. “Sure. Fill these out. Then go down the hall in that direction.” She pointed to the right. “The registration table’s in the conference room. If you want to leave your gear here, Zach can take it to your room in a few moments.” She handed Graham a key.

“Sure.” Graham signed the few papers and ambled down the hall to the tournament desk. A brightly colored poster with Rocky Mountain Angler’s Association on the front was taped on the wall above a long table manned by two men in shirts with RMAA and a rainbow trout embroidered over the pocket.

Graham stood behind three other guys already in line. He tapped his toe in time with his pounding heart. Spinner fishing had always intrigued him. If he could come in first place, Dad might be proud of him for once since his father loved the sport.

When the line moved up a step, Graham planted his feet on the tiled floor and allowed another thought—the persistent image in his dreams. Light brown eyes with flecks of gold twinkled above a petite nose and luscious full lips. Raven, shoulder length hair graced creamy, smooth shoulders. With a start, he drew his attention back to the tournament registration desk. He had to shake the image of a woman he’d never met and concentrate on winning the fishing tournament.

Want to read more? You can find June’s book at http://tinyurl.com/j36sqds

About the Author:

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Since then she’s also written Ryan’s Father, Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, The Almond Tree Series: For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew and Almond Street Mission. Also available is Lavender Fields Inn and Christmas at Raccoon Creek. Find all June’s books at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Find June online at junefoster.com.

 

June’s links: junefoster.com     https://www.amazon.com/author/junefoster

https://twitter.com/vjifoster        https://www.facebook.com/authorjunefoster

 

 

 

Button, Button. Who’s got the Button?

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March is National Craft Month, and I like to craft.

I’m a closet Martha-Stewart-wannabe without the extra time needed to do it all up right. Anyway,  I talked about this special holiday earlier this month on Stitches Thru Time, a group blog where I post monthly with a group of lovely ladies. So, I thought I’d share that crafting post with my own readers this week.

Everyone knows about knitting, crochet, sewing, and quilting. These are fairly common crafts using standard materials. But have you considered the lowly button when it comes to crafting?

When I was a teenager, my mother and I used to go to this warehouse fabric shop and get material to make our clothes really cheaply. The also had a huge bin filled with buttons. Mom would always buy a mason jar of buttons every time we shopped there. Sometimes there would be enough matching buttons to use on a dress or blouse, but most of the time they were mismatched.

While Mom didn’t do much with her buttons, I discovered later in life that buttons were kinda cool. Buttons are not just for closing your shirts. They can embellish pillows, add creative touches to clothing, create mosaic styled pictures, add pizzaz to your handcrafted cards, become the base for crocheted flowers, or decorate your hair. You can even create jewelry using buttons. And jewelry is right up my alley—costume, beads, real gems, or any other medium. Just ask my hubby.

Here are some button items from the jewelry chests of my family members.

Antique matching button bracelet and earrings that belonged to my mother-in-law.

Crocheted and fabric covered button pin (red and black) made for me by my sister-in-law and black and white fabric covered earrings that match a scarf I got from my mother-in-law.

 

 

 

 

Button necklace: Note the small beads sewn on one side, which gives it a reversible look.

My niece Jacque’s button bracelet. Notice that it’s twice the width of my bracelet. Both Jacque’s and my bracelets are crocheted with elastic thread. The buttons are attached by crocheting the buttons to the band by catching the loop shanks of the buttons on the outer side of the elastic band.

These are only a few examples of the types of button jewelry you can make. For more ideas, just search the internet for button jewelry and get inspired to create using the humble, mostly utilitarian, but often beautiful button. My own research for this post set me off on a trip to the craft store. The possibilities for unique jewelry are endless.

Happy Crafting!