Catherine’s Comments–Not My First Rodeo by Catherine Castle

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courtesy of Pixabay

A week from yesterday my husband called me into his office to look at something on his computer. On the way into the room I jammed my foot against the metal chair leg of my office chair, pitching me forward, toward the sharp corners of a metal file cabinet. I managed to catch myself before I fell into the furniture, saving my upper body from injury. The lower half wasn’t as lucky.

As a jolt of pain shot through my baby toe, I yelped out the name of a beaver’s home. The expletive came out before I could stop it.

Hubby peered around his computer monitor. “What did you do?”

“I hit my toe on the chair leg.”

“You okay?”

I limped into the chair. “I won’t know until the pain stops.”

“Sheesh, Catherine. Why don’t you watch where you’re going?”

“I would, if I could see my feet.”

“Why can’t you see your feet? I can see mine when I walk.”

Sounds logically enough, if you’re a man, and you don’t have a well-endowed front porch that blocks your vision from the chest down. And if your middle name isn’t Graceless. And if you haven’t run into chair legs so many times that it’s become a normal habit.

“I’ll be all right.” I pulled my computer screen closer so I could see. We have a double screen setup in his office.  “Now what did you want to show me?”

Half an hour later the pain had subsided, but there was still enough aching that I was pretty certain I was not going to be all right. I eased myself out of the chair and limped into the living room where I could get a better view of my foot. It hurt to walk.

“Honey,” I called. “You need to come look at this. I think I broke my toe … again.”

He obliged. After a quick look at my toe, he said with a cringe in his voice, “You really did a number on it this time. Your toenail is to the outside of the toe.”

“Nah,” I said. “It’s been like that since I broke it about twenty years ago. You should see how I have to contort my foot to clip that nail. But that…” I pointed to the way the toe was separated from the other digits. “That is not normal. I think you need to go down to the basement and get me one of the old rigid-soled walking shoes from the last time I broke a toe.”

“Do you want to get it x-rayed?” Hubby asked.

“I’ll wait until tomorrow. Our insurance will pay for an ER visit for an accidental injury up to 72 hours from the event.  And I sure didn’t plan to walk into this chair, so it’s an accident. It’s not hurting as much now. If the bruising is worse we’ll go in the morning. Besides, this isn’t my first broken toe rodeo. I know what to do.”

A few minutes later he came back up with three different walking shoes. “There’s also one that’s boot height and another that reaches to the knee. Which one do you want?”

“I’ve got five different broken-toe shoes? I had no idea we’d saved so many of them.” I grabbed the black shoe. “This one has a rubber sole. It will be safer to walk in on the linoleum floor.” Remember my middle name is Graceless, and the other shoes had hard plastic soles. I don’t know what the designer of those shoes was thinking, putting plastic on the bottom of a broken-foot shoe. “If the x-rays indicate I need one of the other types of walking boots, we’ll just come home and lace me into a taller version.”

As a purple bruise crept across my foot, I knew with certainty that’d I broken my left baby toe. The same one I’d broken in February of 2019 when I shattered my shoulder. I prayed the break wasn’t in the same place, or I’d be in the knee-high boot for eight weeks. I covered my toe in comfrey ointment to help the bruising, put on a tight sock to keep the toe aligned, and eased into the walking shoe.

The next morning the ER nurse was quite amused when I refused a wheelchair, saying, “I’ll walk. It doesn’t hurt, and this isn’t my first broken toe rodeo.”

Heck, over my life time it’s not my first broken anything rodeo. I’ve broken my right ankle; my right big toe (I dropped a bowling ball on that and still bowled three games.); my right baby toe twice, once on the morning I was supposed to get surgery on my knee;  my left baby toe twice, my shoulder, and my right arm. And yes, the right is my dominant side.  My husband who played softball and purposely dove head first and slid feet first into bases and other ball players has never broken a single bone. But then he can see his feet.

Fortunately this break wasn’t bad or in a spot that gets a lot of pressure when I walk, which is why it doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately, I was only 33 days away from making it a full year since my last bone break on October 19, 2019. The ER doctor said I’d probably have to only wear the shoe for 4 to 6 weeks. Since I never wear heels it won’t cut into my fashion sense too much. And it gives me an excuse to toodle around the grocery store in a motorized cart. That’s a much cooler option for shopping, when you’re wearing those lovely COVID masks, than trudging around the aisle breathing in your own carbon dioxide, getting lightheaded from the fumes.

And do you want to know the really funny part? All three of the old walking shoes came apart after only three days of use. Two came apart while I was out shopping. I had to Frankenstein walk to the car, dragging my left foot behind me so I wouldn’t end up barefooted. The rubber-soled shoe cracked right where my toe needed to be supported. We spent our own dime—or rather dollars—on a new walking shoe.

I just hope this walking shoe sits so long in the basement that it falls apart before I need it again.

No! Wait! I hope I never need it again!

Oh, and don’t feel bad if you’re laughing at me. I laugh at me all the time.

 

What about you? Do you have your own broken toe stories you’d like to share?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances and loves writing humor. Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

 

Check out Catherine’s romantic comedy with a touch of drama A Groom for Mama. 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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

A Writer’s Garden–A Rose Garden Tour by Catherine Castle

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing.

Today’s writer/gardener guest is, me–Catherine Castle.

 

A ROSE GARDEN TOUR

 

I found myself with an empty slot on this week’s garden blog, so I thought I’d fill in.

Readers often want to know if authors insert themselves into their books. I’ve noticed that there are a few things that always seem to slip themselves into my books. Flowers tend to be one of those things. That’s probably happens because I’m a gardener and I love flowers.

My sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, is no exception. At one point in the story, Allison, Jack, and Mama visit a rose garden. So I thought it would be fun to show you some pictures of the rose gardens I’ve visited. Next to day lilies I think I like roses best. Especially a dozen red roses in a flower vase. I haven’t had much luck growing roses, except the hardy knockout rose n (pictured above). I do have a couple of them in the front yard.

But, enough about me. On with the garden tour!

 Columbus park of Roses, Columbus Ohio

Isn’t this bench inviting? This garden has hundreds of rose bushes. The minute you walk into the park you’re surrounded by the heavenly scent of roses. I imagined the garden Allison, Jack and Mama visited smelled as heavenly as this one.

 

Innswood Metro Gardens

My husband took the shot of the roses through a circle opening in a lattice gazebo. I just love the juxtaposition of the dark and the light.

 

 

 

Kingwood Center garden

This as another artistically composed shot from my husband’s camera. He was an art student, so naturally he looks at the composition of a photograph when he shoots.

 

 

 

 

 

The Roses at Disney World

This picture was taken during Disney’s Flower and Garden Show. Every year in March-May they display hundreds of beautiful flowers. If you’ve never been, and you love gardens, you really should try to get there. It’s fantastic. I think this shot was probably taken in mid to late April.

 

Catherine’s garden

And of course, I couldn’t show you the lovely pictures of gardens I’ve visited without including one of my own award-winning garden. This is the view out of my office window. I planted knockout roses and ribbon grass around the ugly transformer box in the front of my yard. I got tired of looking at the hulking green metal box all the time. The power company came once and cut the roses back to the ground. They sprung back up, shooting new branches from the stump. Gotta love a hardy rose like that!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little trip through the roses.

What about you? Do you love roses?

 

ABOUT THE WRITER/GARDENER:

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

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

 

A 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.

 A Groom for Mama is available at Amazon and  Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday Writers–Real Life in Fictional Novels by Carole Brown

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest is Carole Brown who will be talking about using real life in your fiction novels. She also has an excerpt from her newest book, Caleb’s Destiny, a clean, inspirational Historical Western Romantic Suspense.   Welcome, Carole.

 

REAL Life in Fictional Novels by Carole Brown

 

These are some statements authors hear often:

  • No way that could be true!
  • Listen, I’ve been in the military/police force/medical/law/whatever, and I’m telling you, that didn’t/couldn’t happen.
  • Where on earth do you get these crazy ideas?
  • Hoping these things don’t happen in real life!

Sorry. They do, and worse.

Writers hear those type of statements all the time. What people/readers sometimes don’t realize:

  • we research. Heavily.
  • we take our ideas from real life. It’s what creates that sense of being there, of experiencing what our characters are going through.
  • we interview people. Which helps us in developing our own characters
  • we watch/read the news. This gives us ideas of how to create new situations and tension in our books.

How can we use true life events in our novels?

  • I got the idea for With Music in Their Hearts from an older gentlemen who wrote a short story about a man who served as a civilian spy during WWII. It was said the author was the man, but he never admitted to it. Whether true or not (and I lean toward true), it made for a great plot for my first WWII novel.

 

  • Take my debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman. My husband came up with the plot of an abused woman seeking revenge over the death of a daughter. Lots of men go after revenge, and some women do too. But to stand up in a cult situation? The idea came from a certain cult in a certain state several years ago. Did the idea pan out? I think so, with the book finaling in several contests and becoming an Amazon bestseller in different categories numerous times. Lifelike enough, I’d say.

 

  • And then there’s my newest novel: Caleb’s Destiny. Years ago, my family and I worked with the Native Americans in New Mexico and Arizona. One of our excursions included a trip up a mountain with a older man named Jeb so that he could take us gold panning. Now our experience is not the same as the men in Caleb’s Destiny experienced, but it gave me the excitement of looking for gold, the sense of the land, and the feel of what it could have been like in the 1800s.

So, yes, real life is full of extraordinary things that we, as writers can and do use in our books. Never doubt that yes, that could, maybe, probably did happen somewhere to someone.

Where does this leave us? Right at the door that reads: Truth is stranger than fiction. And in a nice spot where we can smile at the skeptics and say, “You never know!

 

Caleb’s Destiny

by Carole Brown

Mr. Michael, Destiny Rose McCulloch, and Hunter have a mysterious history. Why were three fathers, all business partners, murdered under suspicious circumstances while on their quest to find gold?

Hunter, who is Mr. Michael’s ranch manager, is determined to find the answers and protect the precocious young lady who he suspects holds a key answer to his questions.

Mr. Michael wants only to be left alone to attend to his property, but what can he do when Destiny refuses to leave and captures the heart of everyone of his employees?

Destiny almost forgets her quest when she falls in love with Mr. Michael’s ranch and all the people there. And then Mr. Michael is much too alluring to ignore. The preacher man back east where she took her schooling tried to claim her heart, but the longer she stays the less she can remember him. She only came west to find a little boy she knew years ago. A little boy all grown up by now…unless, of course, he’s dead.

 

 

Book Excerpt from Chapter Six

 

After he settled into a seat across from her, he picked up his fork and looked at her. “Dig in.”

She hated it, but her cheeks were heating up again. “Do you mind…?”

“Mind?” His first bite headed toward his mouth. “If you eat?”

Why hadn’t she just said a silent, quick prayer? “Uh, I’d like to say a prayer. I’ve grown used to doing it at sch—uh, home.” And Richard had always insisted on it.

He dropped his fork. “Of course. Go ahead.”

Closing her eyes, she pressed her hands together. “Heavenly Father, we ask for your beautiful—I mean, bountiful blessings on our snack—breakfast, uh, tonight.” Destiny wanted to sink through the floor. She, who was the epitome of gracefulness at school; she who wanted to impress this confident man, was stumbling like a drunken cowboy. Whispering a “Father, forgive me” for butchering what should have been a simple prayer, she hastened to finish it. “Thank you for Mr. Michael’s hospitality, and help us to further our friendship.”

Ugh. He’d think she wanted something more than friendship. Destiny cringed and refused to glance at him. “Amen.”

Had that been a snicker? Surely not. She picked up her fork and shoved a tiny bite of egg in her dry mouth. She chewed and swallowed, but the former delicious-looking omelet refused to go down. She reached for her coffee and felt the food slide down with the coffee.

Ah, reprieved.

“Tell me, Miss McCulloch—it is Miss?”

He was laughing. She could hear it in his voice without even seeing his face. Her appetite vanished just as her temper kicked in. “It is Miss McCulloch to you, Mr. Michael, and I’ll thank you not to laugh at me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” And this time his voice was serious.

 

Want to read more? You can find Caleb’s Destiny at Amazon

 

About the Author:

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

Social Media Links:  Personal blogFB Fan Page:  Amazon Author Page

Tasty Tuesdays–Baked Caramel Corn from Chris Pavesic

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from Chris Pavesic

Is there anything better than homemade sweet and salty caramel corn? Not only does it taste delicious, the aroma that fills the air when you are cooking it is heavenly.

Baked Caramel Corn
Nonstick cooking spray
24 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Coat bottom and sides of large roasting pan with nonstick spray. Place popped popcorn in roasting pan.

In saucepan, slowly melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Gradually pour over popped popcorn, mixing well. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.

While you enjoy your treat why not read 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.

 

 

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

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–An Author’s Comfort Zone by Sharon Ledwith

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by Sharon Ledwith

This post could have also been dubbed ‘Balance 101 for Authors’. It’s been almost eight years since the first novel in my young adult time travel series hit the cyber bookshelves. To this day, I remember that there was so much to do, and it felt like there wasn’t enough time to do everything. Sometimes, I still don’t. I needed a time portal just to get all my marketing and promoting put in place or at least a diary. This included getting a website up and running, ordering promotional giveaways, setting up blog hops (are they still a thing?), writing a multitude of blog posts, and joining the appropriate social media networks. The lists seemed endless, and when the date finally arrived for my book release, I was wearing my shoulders as earrings.

Needless to say, by the end of my first book blog tour, I was exhausted, spent, and bent out of shape. Even my eyelids ached.

What I learned from the whole experience years ago is that authors need to learn to structure their writing life, or their writing will take a nose dive. We need to learn to create balance so that the task of being a writer plus a marketer plus a promoter doesn’t wear us down. So, how do we do this when so much is expected of a writer nowadays?

Start with finding your comfort zone. Find your personal comfort level with promotion or marketing, do that and do no more. That’s it. Do it. Or you’ll get burned. If you don’t heed my advice, then sure as shooting, negativity will leach into your writing. And that’s the last thing a writer wants!

Need help finding your comfort zone? Go to the dollar store and buy a timer or download a timer app on your phone. It will be one of the most important investments (and cheapest) as a writer you will make. For less than two dollars you can purchase a piece of sanity to help you organize your writing life and keep you in your zone. Set your timer to check emails. Fifteen minutes? Twenty minutes? Then do the same for Facebook and Twitter. But keep in mind which activity will help you as an author in the long run. Apply the 80/20 rule. Write (produce) for 80%, promote and market for only 20%. After all—social networking is a marketing strategy—as long as you treat it as such. Then, once you have laid the timer law down, set it for how long you want to sit and just write, with no interruptions (unless the dog or you really need to pee).

So, stop pushing the zone. Relax. Let go. Breathe.

That doesn’t mean writers shouldn’t learn or try new things. By all means learn and try. Get your hands dirty if you must. But don’t burst a vein in your brain doing it. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you collapse into a quivering mass of writer goo. As writers, we must protect our work—and ourselves. It takes time to build an on-line (and off-line) marketing presence in this publishing world. Learn this, cut yourself some slack, and prosper.

Thank you for reading my article! How do you find balance as a writer? Do you use a timer, or have you tried other ways to create balance in your writer’s life? Love to read your comments!

Ready for a trip to Atlantis? Here’s a brief intro to one of my time traveler books.

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

AMAZON BUY LINKS


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

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

Catherine’s Comments–An Unexpected COVID Side Effect by Catherine Castle

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You can’t turn on the news nowadays without hearing about another long-term COVID side effect: lung damage, heart damage, brain damage, blood clots, post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety. All those are pretty scary. It’s enough to make me want to retreat into my home and never leave, turning me into an agoraphobic.

But the side effect this pandemic has had on my home is pretty scary, too.  Not only am I turning into a hoarder of toilet paper, facial tissues, rubbing alcohol, and bars of soap…and I won’t even mention the stack of paper items and non-perishable foods in the basement pantry.  I’m also facing the dreaded issue of clutter. An issue I thought I’d conquered, at least in the public, open floor plan spaces of my home.

 

Once dealing with the mail was simple. You took it out of the mailbox, opened it, sorted out the bills, and threw away the junk mail. Easy peasy, right?

Now we have a new system. Remove mail from the box, using a plastic bag; open the bills that need to be attended to right away; place everything else on the side board in order of date received. Once mail has sat for seven days, you can now look at the non-essential items. This process has turned my side board into mail-center central. Not a very pretty sight.

This clutter extends to other parts of the house, too.

When our groceries come in, I wipe everyone of them. However, as my disinfectant wipes dwindled (because you can’t find them anywhere!), I’ve begun setting things on the floor beneath the kitchen bar until I feel it’s safe to touch them. Twenty-four hours for paper and cardboard products and packages that come in the mail, because they won’t fit on the sideboard. Three days or more for items with hard surfaces like glass or plastic and items in plastic bags.  Germ phobic that I am, it’s usually more, rather than just three days.

The other day my husband said, “Honey, you’re going to have to take care of the stuff under the bar. I’ve been kicking those bags for days now because they’re creeping into the living room. And the exterminator is coming this week. She won’t be able to spray along the edges with all those bags in the way.”

I gingerly peeked into one of the bags. “Hey! Remember those socks you were looking for?”

“The ones we bought a month ago?” Hubby asked.

“Yeah.” I picked up the bag with the socks. “I think they’ve been in quarantine long enough.”

Hubby snatched the bag. “Ya think?”

“Ooh,” I said as I looked into another sack, “Scratch the cheese crackers off the grocery list. I just found another box.”

I could go on, and on, and on, but I think you get the drift. COVID has turned me into a clutter bug…once again.

Only last September, in preparation for the installation of our new flooring, we’d moved, packed up, or given away all the items we didn’t want in our open-plan living area any more. The rooms had become untidy with too much inherited furniture and stuff. The knick knacks on top of bookcases and cabinets were removed. I sorted the overflowing bookcases, trimming them down. I dressed up the kitchen table with a flower centerpiece. We rearranged the furniture to make the living area appear more spacious. Sitting in the living area was calming and enjoyable again like it had been eighteen years ago when we first moved in.

I’d conquered clutter!  At least in the places visitors would see.

For nearly six wonderful months my main living area was spotless, airy, and open. I could see the walls. There was space around the furniture! I’d kept it that way, for the most part, so guests could walk in anytime and see an orderly house.  A quick sweep of the main room, and a few door closures, tidied everything up.

Then COVID hit. I went into pandemic buying mode, because I was not going to be caught without food in my pantry or an empty toilet roll. I canceled the cleaning girl indefinitely. She has to touch sooo many surfaces to clean (and I really miss her because her arrival forced me to pick up before she came). We cleared out shelves in the basement to hold most of my pandemic food supplies, which created giant piles of things to go through and trash or give away.

The kitchen pantry is jammed again, as are both freezers.

And I’m getting ready to tear out my hair!

COVID, thy name is CLUTTER!

And I’ve succumbed. I just pray it’s temporary.

The sad thing is there are only two of us living in this jam-packed house. I can’t imagine what COVID CLUTTER must be like for larger families.

What about you? Are you suffering from COVID CLUTTER SYNDROME?

 

Take a break from the pressure of COVID issues and lose yourself in Catherine’s award-winning romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama.

A GROOM FOR MAMA

By Catherine Castle

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

 

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

 

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

 

About the Author:

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Writer’s Garden–Garden Joy and Learning by Judith Rolfs

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing.

Today’s writer/gardener guest is Judith Rolfs. Judith is sharing a post and a garden video today. Welcome, Judith!

 


Are we ever too old to enjoy playing in the dirt, especially when we’re planting beautiful flowers? I think not. The aesthetic and psychological benefits of gardening are huge. We have an opportunity to add to the beauty of God’s world. I experience joy knowing I’m personally responsible for my little plot of earth and tending it well for God’s glory.

As a writer, time spent working with my hands frees me up to let my mind wander along diverse paths. I can be mentally engrossed in imagining characters with peculiar traits and planning intricate plots. Being surrounded by God’s creation helps spur my own creative faculties.

Best of all, I like the life lessons I learn from gardening. I’m amazed at the flowers like Impatiens that last all summer. Others open for only a few days to a week like my glorious peonies. I wish they’d stay the entire summer like the glowing hydrangea spectacular with extended life. Who am I to judge how long any plant or human life should be as long as it is fruitful and accomplishes the purpose for which God created it?

I wander through my garden every day to see what exciting new blossom has appeared in my personal world. And yes, from time to time, I ponder the new, human acquaintances that enter my world for a brief or extended stay. I am in awe of them as well and take time to pause and enjoy their presence in my life.

These are lessons I have acquired from gardening and God willing there will be more ahead for me and you.

I also like to make my garden enticing with comfy chairs and swings to encourage children to sit outdoors and read. Encouraging young readers is vital. You’ll notice in the background of my You-Tube video an anniversary gift from my husband, a large sculpture of a mother and child sitting on a bench reading. I’d love for you to check out my book Parent’s Treasure Box of IDEAS. You’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of IDEAS to stimulate learning about academic subjects, social skills, and most importantly about God, the Creator of our beautiful outdoors.

Connect with Judith  on  YouTube  or her website

 

Parent’s Treasure Box of Ideas:

Tips to Help You Teach Your Child

by Dr. Judith Rolfs

My latest book just released September 9th is called Parent’s Treasure Box of IDEAS and the subtitle is Tips To Help You Teach Your Child. It’s quite a stretch from my mystery novels and mystery fantasy books for children but I felt it was timely. Parents have had to become more involved in their children’s education than ever before with the changes in school routines.

Parent’s Treasure Box of IDEAS is about giving parents tips and curriculum ideas to use at home to creative meaningful learning opportunities for their children. The book contains an entire section on NATURE and how important it is to engage children in fun outdoors activities like gardening. I used to give my grandchildren little plots to tend in my garden to immerse them in the satisfaction of watching growing things.

 

 

 

 

 

Tasty Tuesdays–Rouladen (Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls) from Tina Griffith

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from Tina Griffith

I was born in Germany where my mother frequently filled our home with the most amazing aromas. This is one of my favorite recipes and I want to share it with you.

Rouladen – Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls
6 slices top round steak, 4 x 6 inches, sliced ½ inch thick
6 tsp. German or coarsely ground mustard
½ cup onion, chopped fine – divided
5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 dill pickle spears cut in half lengthwise
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Toothpicks or kitchen twine
3 tbsp. lard or vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Place meat between 2 pieces of cling wrap or waxed paper. Gently pound meat to ¼ inch thick. Be careful not to tear the meat.

Spread mustard along meat slices. Sprinkle on ¼ cup onion and garlic. Lay a pickle piece at the bottom of each roll or the narrow end.

Roll meat into a cylinder starting at the pickle end. Pierce with toothpicks to hold together or tie with twine.

Brown meat on all sides in a medium size frying pan. Lay rolls in a roaster pan.

Add water to the frying pan and bring to a boil, scraping the sides and bottom to collect all the meat bits. Whisk in four and butter. Pour this mixture over the meat rolls.

Bake 1 hour or until meat is fork tender. Remove toothpicks before serving.

If you prefer a thicker gravy, combine 2 -3 tablespoons flour in ½ cup water. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper then stir into roasting pan gravy.

Boiled potatoes or dumplings along with red cabbage make this meal complete.

While you’re waiting for the rolls to cook check out Tina’s romances on her Amazon Page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Check out her books on her Amazon Page.

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

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

A Writer’s Garden- My Affection for Dahlias by June McCrary Jacobs

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing.

Today’s writer/gardener guest is June McCrary Jacobs, who loves dahlias. Welcome, June

 

‘MY AFFECTION FOR DAHLIAS’

JUNE McCRARY JACOBS

I moved to California from the Midwest when I was six-years-old, and it wasn’t until the early 2000s that I saw my first dahlia. It was love at first sight from my perspective!

 

We were on vacation on the Mendocino Coast in Northern California, and we decided to make our usual visit to the magnificent Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg. Something was different on this visit because this was the first time we were visiting the Gardens in late June, and that was the key. Summer is the prime blooming time for these spectacular flowers in this location.

Those were the days before I had a digital camera, so I took photos on my old, trusty Kodak film camera. I think I filled two rolls of photos of the flowers from the Dahlia Garden alone. These treasured pictures are displayed in one of my many photo albums. When I bought a digital camera, my photo remembrances of my summertime visits to this same garden were stored on SIM cards. The photos I’m sharing here are from a visit to the Gardens in the summer of 2017.

I feel the Lord’s presence keenly when I am in a garden or park surrounded by His wondrous creations. I feel at peace; I gain comfort from the trials and tribulations of life when I am immersed in His beautiful world. During times of grief or pain I have sought solace in nature—a park, a public garden, or even in our own home gardens.

This past spring I planted six dahlia tubers in our gardens. Unfortunately, the tuber I planted in an urn on our patio was a dud, but the other five—oh, my! They are now beautiful Decorative Dahlias, each a different color of the rainbow—white, yellow, magenta, rose pink, and light pink. They delight me each and every day whether I’m looking at them from my window or I’m standing right next to them. There is no sign of them slowing down with their blooms either, as each of these plants still has half a dozen or more buds on their stalks. I can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord has blessed us with many spectacular sights and sounds of nature, but I feel especially fortunate that the colors and shapes of dahlias have touched my heart in such a poignant way for the past two decades.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER/GARDENER:

June has always loved flowers, plants, and trees. She credits her extraordinary Grandma McCrary for inspiring her love of nature at a very young age; a love that includes animals.

June writes Christian romance, historical and contemporary, for adults. She also writes historical adventure fiction for middle-grade readers. In addition, June is a professional sewing designer and has published seven sewing pattern books of her original designs for adults and children in the Kindle Store on Amazon.

 Social Media Links:  Blog:  Pinterest:  Facebook:

 

‘RES-Q Tyler Stop’, a middle-grade historical adventure

by June McCrary Jacobs

It’s the summer of 1968 in Sonoma County, California, and eleven-year-old Weston Gregg and his nine-year-old sister, Wendy, are looking for fun things to do during their summer break from school. When they discover some abandoned rabbits, they hatch an idea to make a positive difference for animals and people in their small town of Tyler Stop.

They decide to form ‘Rescue Each Species-Quickly’, or RES-Q Tyler Stop.

There are challenges to face as they move forward into their new venture, including standing up to someone who is targeting Weston’s friends for being different and a painfully bad decision.

Will Weston have to handle these issues on his own or will he learn to accept the advice and wisdom shared by some important people in his life? Join Weston and his family and friends as they share some adventures and learn and grow together in RES-Q Tyler Stop.

Buy Link for ‘RES-Q Tyler Stop’:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers–Koush Hollow by Leigh Goff

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Today’s Wednesday Writers guest is Leigh Goff. Leigh will be sharing an excerpt from her newest YA release Koush Hollow, a southern Gothic set in New Orleans with a mystery and an environmental twist. Welcome, Leigh!

 

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT:

This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans released on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.