When a Play Becomes a Book–Blog Tour for A Groom for Mama


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When a Play Becomes a Book

By Catherine Castle


It’s day 3 of my blog tour for my sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, and I’m over at Rose Allen McCauley’s Stories from Small Towns with Big Hearts blog talking about where I got the idea for A Groom for Mama.

Don’t forget to play the dating game I set up on my Pick a Date and Win an Ebook post on release day for a chance to win a free Ebook of A Groom for Mama. You can click here to get a chance to win between now and September 12. Winners will be announced on Tuesday September 12, at noon. So play soon.

And now, on to today’s blog tour post at Rose Allen McCauley’s blog site.

Readers often want to know where we writers get our ideas. They are everywhere. Sometimes you even borrow from yourself. Take my newest book A Groom for Mama—it’s not an original idea, at least to me.

In 2003 my husband and I were into writing plays. We were part of a drama group at our large church and had been participating in drama as actors and as playwrights, when my hubby heard an announcement on our local radio advertising a contest for radio plays.

You may not be old enough to remember radios plays, but we are. They were a great source of entertainment filled with sound effects. Actors had nothing but their voices and sound effects with which to tell the story. That’s quite a challenge. Additionally, our church had recently presented a musical that had some musical and theatrical clips from radio advertising and dramas. My husband got to play The Shadow in one of the clips. Radio was on our minds. So, when we heard about the contest, my husband and I decided to write a radio play and enter it. To read more click here…



A Writer’s Garden with Author Ryan Jo Summers


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Today’s gardener writer is Ryan Jo Summers, who will be talking about Emma and George—two trees in her garden. Welcome, Ryan Jo.


Thanks, Catherine

I have always admired formal yards and gardens, with sweeping terraces of blooms, multiple shades of different sized flowers, and natural rock gardens. Bonus drool for water features and koi ponds. Sigh….one day….


old steps with ivy and ferns spotted on one of my dog walks

As I write this now, a gentle rain is falling. The approaching growls of thunder chased me inside from where I was planting today’s shipment: Old-fashioned Bleeding Hearts in white and pink, another rose, and a Goji berry. I got as far as the pink bleeding heart when the approaching storm sent me inside to this instead.

squirrel and Oak leaf hydrangea

Two and a half years ago I bought my very own place here in the south. It’s a half acre, home of a 1920 cottage. I love it! There were already two flower beds installed, flanking the walkway, full of oakleaf hydrangea, forsythia, and endless daylilies. Plus a few odd bits that some I’ve yet to identify and others I’ve yet to decide whether to keep them or move them out.

split rail fence I installed, with ‘established in 2014’ plaque, planted with dwarf burning bushes, roses and black-eyed Susan

Two more beds had been established once upon a time, one held a rotten tree stump and some hostas and another forsythia bush while the other was depressingly empty. They held such promise! In the time I’ve lived here, I’ve added to both those gardens, slowly over each planting season, and added four more flower beds to the yard. (Five if you count the transplanted day lilies moved to flank the garage door).

stone steps alongside house, with assorted flowers slowly growing, just starting to peek over the lattice border

Now, I adore fences and random steps, almost as much as I like water features. For me, rustic is the way. Since I pet sit/ dog walk part time, I see a good bit of landscaping and gardens. I like snapping photos of scenes of stairs and fences that inspire or delight me. They don’t necessarily have to go anywhere, or hold anything in or out. Just simply being in the right place, with the right look, creating the right impression is an art all to itself. Like spotting a random painting in a gallery, not anything specific or unique about it. It just has that right look. It just is. Such is a good garden scene.

Emma — looking upward in the fall after her leaves were gone

Now, at my house are many tall, stately trees. In the courtyard in the back are two trees in particular, that have endured themselves to me in a special way. One, an oak, is right outside my kitchen window. I sense a femininity about it and call her Emma. I often ponder how old dear Emma is, for she is very tall and quite wide. Squirrels delight in racing up and down her weathered trunk.

— Emma’s roots outgrowing her allotted space

Doubtlessly, the courtyard slate stone was installed when Emma was still younger and more slender, as her roots and widening trunk have pushed the stones up and aside over the years. Poor planning on someone’s part.

Emma and her trunk having grown around a hanging hook

There is also a hanging hook attached to Emma’s trunk, about six feet up, for hanging pots, bird feeders, wind chimes or whatever. Unfortunately, and further proof of the lack of consideration people have shown Emma over the years, her trunk has grown over the hook, sealing it like a giant scab over a wound. I wonder how that must have hurt as her trunk grew and now the hook has become a permanent part of her trunk.

Mighty George

A few feet away from Emma stands George, a straight, noble-looking Pine. George is huge, both in height and circumference. He reminds me of royalty, like a king, hence his royal name. Scattered around him, at the height of roughly thirty feet or so are three of his off-spring.

curious wrinkles at the base of George’s trunk

English ivy grows rampant around the courtyard, and encircles George’s trunk like a green robe. Diligence on my part keeps the ivy growing around George, and not up his massive trunk. Unlike Emma, George has no blemishes or human fallacies to mar his noble stature.

Considering how long Emma and George have lived, and the house they saw built, the stories of the people who lived inside, and the relaxed under their branches, I wonder what stories these two trees could tell. As I watch my newly planted flower gardens grow, I also enjoy the richness of two special trees. Once upon a time they were but small saplings, and they have grown to leave an indelible mark in this place and on me. I hope the maple seedlings, plants, and flowers I am planting now will one day leave another mark once Emma, George, and I are gone from this life.


About the Gardener/Writer:


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 (50 ish 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.

WEBSITE: http://www.ryanjosummers.com/

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

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

TWITTER:        https://twitter.com/RyanJoSummers

 Coffecake Chaos

by Ryan Jo Summers

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.





Wednesday Writers–Pick a Date and Win an eBook from Catherine Castle


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Welcome to Wednesday Writers!

I’m departing a bit from the usual Wednesday Writers posts because today is release day for A Groom for Mama, Catherine Castle’s sweet romantic comedy with a touch of drama, from Soul Mate Publishing.

Normally, you’d see a post about some aspect of the book—but today, since this is my website and it’s such a special occasion, I’m celebrating the book’s release by offering a free eBook to the commenter who picks the correct bad date my heroine, Allison Walters, got stuck with from the list of disastrous dates below. If more than one commenter chooses the correct date, the winner will be chosen randomly from those answering correctly. I hope you’ll join in the fun and let your friends know about the giveaway as well. Please leave your email, written as janedoe(at)myserver(dot)com (to deter internet robots), and insure I can reach you if you are the winner. All readers commenting will be eligible to be in the drawing, but if your name is drawn and I cannot find your email, I will have to draw again.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.

If you haven’t heard about the story yet, here’s a brief blurb.


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.

 he 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.

And now for the date challenge. Which of the disastrous dates listed below did Allison get stuck with?

  • Birdwatching for the black-throated blue warbler
  • Illegal bungee jumping from a skyscraper and subsequent arrest
  • Karaoke in a downtown dive bar with a date who can’t sing
  • Spelunking for bats in crawl-on-your-belly shallow cave
  • A wresting match with Balderdash and Balls
  • A SAVE THE WHALES protest rally
  • A lecture on the physics of the collapse of the WTC towers

Do you know which date is the real one for Allison? Be sure to leave your choice in a comment for a chance at the free eBook, A Groom for Mama.

And now for a peek at the book:

Excerpt from A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle

With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”

“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”


Want to read more? Check out A Groom for Mama on Amazon.


For more fun posts about the book, check out the month-long A Groom for Mama blog tour Catherine will be having by going to the blog tour page on this website.  Follow daily for new insights into the book and more chances to win your own eBook of A Groom for Mama.

About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. 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. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Both books are available on Amazon.

Social Media links for Catherine:

Catherine’s website: https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/

Catherine’s blog: https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/blog/

Catherine’s Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/catherinecastle

Catherine’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7085414.Catherine_Castle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCastle   @AuthorCCastle

Facebook: https://facebook.com/catherinecastleauthor

Stitches Thru Time: http://stitchesthrutime.bogspot.com/

SMP authors blog site:   http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/












A Writer’s Garden with Author Janis Lane


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Today Janis Lane is visiting talking about cutting gardens and cut flowers for all season. Welcome, Janis.

Thanks, Catherine.

It is possible to gather flowers for your vases without deliberately planting a cutting garden. Possible, but much more fun to set up a section of the garden for bringing the blossoms inside. Harvesting these blooms will not denude your carefully planned perennial landscape.

In Spring, Tulips, Daffodils, and Peonies are perennial friends who return year after year. One of the best cut flowers is Gladiola. Staggered planting of the bulbs (which are fairly inexpensive.) will prolong the harvest. In temperate climates, gladiola bulbs will renew, but pulling them up and storing will guarantee next year’s bloom. Other bulbs are simple and, again, fairly inexpensive.

Asiatic and Oriental Lilies and other in the same family are excellent mid-summer flowers. Day lilies may be used if you understand the stem must contain more than one bud as they open and close in one day. Sunflowers, Dahlias and members of the Rudbecia family are primo for late summer.

In the greenhouse we grow an exquisite plant, Lisianthus, for our commercial bouquets. Super valued for their longevity once harvested, they are not an easy plant to germinate. Grab a few if you find them at your florist or farmers market. They come in several colors: pink, rose, pastel yellow, and deep blue. I love the two-colored ones that are white trimmed with blue.

Last but certainly not least, Zinnias are an all-time favorite. Careful to choose the tall variety for your vases. Enjoy your flowers out and inside!

In Whispers of Danger and Love, the heroine, a landscaper, meets a challenge to create an instant cutting garden for a lady whose knowledge of gardening is next to nil. Cheryl chooses gladiolas and stakes them upright. The ruse works and her client is happily able to harvest her own bouquets. I admit I enjoyed working on this novel as it allowed the gardener in me to “play in the dirt” while I wrote the story.

About the Gardener/Writer:

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   Connect with Emma on Twitter

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

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


Wenesday Writers–Darlene Franklin and The Mermaid’s Song


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Today I’m welcoming Darlene Franklin back to Wednesday Writers. Darlene has been a frequent guest author on the series, and today she’s going to give us some historical background on the Acadians and the part they play in her book Mermaid’s Song. Welcome back, Darlene.


Thanks, Catherine.

Acadians were French settlers in the area now known as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick , Prince Edward Island in the 17th century

Acadians settled on the coast four years before French settlers went to Quebec on the St. Lawrence River. Acadians and French had different cultures.

Acadians became French subjects according to the treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

When the French and Indian War began in 1754, British doubted the neutrality of the Acadians and kicked them out, A few remained in Maine (Eddie Bourgoin in Acadian Hearts is one of these Acadians) but the most ended up in Louisiana, the Cajuns.

The deportation was called Le Grand Derangement or The Expulsion of 1755.

During the French and Indian War, in 1754, the British built a palisaded star fort to prevent the Canadians and the Indians from using the Kennebec River to attack English settlements.

That’s the historical background of Mermaid’s Song.

Justine is an Acadian being deported to an unknown destination in the colonies when her boat is shipwrecked near Ft. Hallifax. She alone survives. She is taken in by a merchant’s family, but others suspect her of being a foreign spy.


Mermaid’s Song

by Darlene  Franklin

Noble Prescott is drawn to the scene of a shipwreck by a sweet song sung in a language he didn’t understand. The songstress is barely alive, holding onto a piece of the ship’s railing. Her dress wraps around her legs like a mermaid’s tail.

Thus begins this imaginative retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale.

Justine Battineaux, an Acadian forced from her homeland on Cape Breton Island by British decree, finds herself adrift in the Maine colony. She doesn’t know the language and is distrusted as a foreigner.

Noble lives up to his name, providing shelter for Justine—and protection, as distrust turns into danger. For himself, his family—and the woman he comes to love.

How will Justine and Noble overcome the evil woman’s schemes to find their own love everlasting?

Want to read more? Check out the book on Amazon.

About the Author:

Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. Mermaid Song is her fiftieth unique title! She’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears in five monthly venues. Other recent titles are Wilderness Weddings and Opposites Attract. You can find her online at: Website and blog, Facebook, Amazon author page


Links: Website and blog


Amazon author page

Twitter: @darlenefranklin


A Writer’s Garden with author Sandra Ardoin


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Today’s A Writer’s Garden guest is Sandra Ardoin talking about volunteers in the garden, and she doesn’t mean people who help you weed. I’d like to have some of those. LOL.  Welcome, Sandra!


Enough is enough. Maybe.

by Sandra Ardoin

They’re called volunteers because they “volunteer” to pop up in places and in numbers you never even considered.

No. Don’t thank them. They’re glad to do it.

Sometimes, these sprouts are a welcome addition to my garden and perfect for filling in little holes here and there. Often, all it takes is a slight shift in location. It certainly beats having to buy more plants, although for me, that is a fun hobby in itself. I love to rescue those poor babies left to wither on a sales rack.

Other times … volunteers are not so welcome. Take my hellebores. PLEASE! Also known as Lenten Rose for their bloom time, these are prime plants for shade. They set off a winter garden in various muted colors, flowering when most everything else is brown, leafless, or hibernating underground.

A few years ago, I started with six rescued plants. Because I’m lax in deadheading, today I have what seems like millions but is probably only hundreds. They pop up all around the parent plant, but I also find them several yards away. In the next twenty years, I expect to see the fifty acres of woods behind us covered with hellebores. 😊

Since I have all of that particular plant I’ll need for my lifetime, my only choice has been to get down on my hands and knees—something not as easily done as in previous years—and beg pull the invaders out by the roots. It’s a hard thing for me to do. I don’t like killing plants.

It’s hard to tell, but all those little green spots are seedlings.

Hellebores aren’t my only invaders, though. Blackberry Lily is another plant with seeds that love to spread their wings and fly far and wide. Then there are native Columbines, and don’t get me started on the Bee Balm!

Even though I have more volunteers than I can use, my gardens wouldn’t be the same without them!

About the Gardener/Writer

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, and antique store prowler. Visit her at http://www.sandraardoin.com/ and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

A Reluctant Melody – 2016 Grace Award Finalist

Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most. A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life.  When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage.  Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?


Wednesday Writers Welcomes D.D. White author of Journey of Redemption


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Today I’m welcoming D.D. White to Wednesday Writers. Diane will be talking about her inspirational novel Journey of Redemption, which has its plot based on the Orphan Train. Welcome, Diane. Can you tell us how you came to write Journey of Redemption?

Hi, Catherine.

My publisher was doing a bundle of orphan train stories. I had never heard of the orphan train before and began my research. I contacted a man in Missoula, Montana who kept track of the orphan trains from years past and could actually tell a family member who inquired the time and date their loved one took a train and where they went. My story is fiction, but I learned a lot about the founder and the Children’s Aid Society who started this work from the mid 1850’s until 1930. I chose 1923; it was my dad’s birth year, plus I knew they’d have cars, phones and other conveniences. I write contemporary so that went back far enough.

I’ve never been to Montana, so I chose a train that was going there. My main character is a young girl, Grace, who is from Misery Row. She gets lost in New York City trying to find her mother, and is fortunate that a young school teacher grabs her before she steps into the street in front of a truck. Sadly, Grace’s mother is gone when they return to her rat infested apartment, and she clings to her new friend and elementary school teacher Anna. At seven Grace has had no education and tries to learn the words and ways of her loving Anna. When Anna learns about the orphan trains going to all the 48 states as well as Canada and New Mexico, she makes plans for Gracie to have a better life. Anna is 20, not married and finds a new life, too.


Journey of Redemption

By D. D. White



“Watch out, dear.” Anna Morris was quick to pull the young girl back from the loud crunch of the passing pickup rounding the corner. “Where are your parents? You aren’t alone on this busy street, are you?” She stooped down eye level with the young miss.

“Mama left and don’t know where she is…but she always comes back, she does.” A single tear made its way down the girl’s cheek. “I guess today she forgot, so I started to look for her and lost myself.”

What will Anna and young Grace find when they return to locate her mother at Misery Row? What awaits her and can she adapt to a new life? Follow Grace and Anna as life changing plans and decisions are made. Will she leave New York or continue to roam the streets she has always known?

About the Author:

Diane started her writing at an early age, but it wasn’t until her husband’s work took them to a small southern town she wrote her first column, “Yankee Viewpoint’s” for a local newspaper. Returning to her home-state of Michigan, she did stringer work over the years, ancestral history, and donor appeal letters for non-profit organizations. Diane became a columnist for a weekly magazine, for four years. She is the author of over three-hundred short stories. Her books to date are: Carolina in the Morning, On a Summer Night, Texting Mr. Right, Winter Wonderland , This Side of Heaven, and Stories from a Porch Swing, Lilacs in May, Journey of Redemption, and soon to be released, Beyond the May River. She and hubby, Stephen, have been married for forty-five years, and they are the parents of three grown children and three grand-gals, and live in the Sunshine state.


Contact Diane at:




twitter: @writerddw


A Writer’s Garden with Zoe M. McCarthy–Straw Bale Gardening


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Zoe M. McCarthy is guesting on today’s A Writer’s Garden. I just love the post she’s got, too. I saw this gardening method at Disney World last summer at their Flower and Garden Expo and was intrigued by it. It’s great to get the low down from someone’s who’s actually used it.

Straw Bale Gardens are Just Right for Us City Folks

 John and I are retired city folks transplanted to the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. In this rural area, people have tractors to get their gardens ready for planting. We don’t have farm equipment, so we were attracted to the idea of straw bale gardening—no dirt, no plowing, and no squatting to harvest vegetables. This is the third year we’ve planted a straw bale garden following advice from Joel Karsten’s book, Straw Bale Gardens.

In straw bale gardens, the bales become ovens to germinate and grow fruits and vegetables. It’s important to use straw bales, not hay bales.

We knew our daily visitors would be problems, so we built an eight-foot fence that deer can’t jump and reinforced the lower fencing with smaller-holed chicken wire that bunnies can’t wiggle through. We laid landscaping fabric to discourage voles and moles.

Before we could complete the fencing, seven deer stopped by to sniff our bales and discuss among themselves what in the world we were doing. They seemed indignant at the chicken wire going up.

We performed a 10-day process to turn the bales into growing ovens. Fertilizing and watering. Again and again. Warm water only. On day five, we poked our fingers into the straw and felt the heat inside.

We ran soaker hoses on top of the bales. Timers attached to the hoses water the plants daily from our well. We can’t over water bales. It was nice to be able to travel and know that our plants would have plenty of water.

Then we planted seeds for cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, carrots, beans, edible sugar pumpkins, strawberries, and watermelons in a thin cover of potting mix (not soil—no dirt touches the roots) into thirty straw bales. We wrenched apart the straw a bit and inserted seedlings for some vegetables, such as peppers and tomatoes. We planted impatiens in the sides of the bales. All done.

Cabbages attracted worms, so we didn’t plant them again. Not a favorite anyway. This year slugs feasted on tender shoots, but they now drown in baby food jars filled with beer. Potatoes go in the sides of bales, but as yummy as they were, we only reaped a few. We harvested a few strawberries the first year so we didn’t plant them again, but they returned in washed down bale humps, and this year they came up again in those old humps and flourished!

We novices have been proud of our bountiful harvests. We make pumpkin soup, bread, and pies. The carrot cakes are to die for. I have fresh lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and carrots for my salads every day. We’ve learned how to freeze and can. The most popular for us is the jars of hot salsa.

Straw bale gardens are great for city dwellers. A few bales installed on a patio and they have a garden.

Is planting in straw bales something you’d consider? Why or why not?

 About the Gardener/Writer:

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of Gift of the Magpie and Calculated Risk, writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing that opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, gardening, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at http://www.zoemmccarthy.com/ .

 Gift of the Magpie

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.

Gift of the Magpie is a contemporary inspirational romance; it’s romantic with kisses.

Gift of the Magpie Buy Link




Wednesday Writers–Married by Mistake by Laura V. Hilton


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Laura V. Hilton is back on Wednesday Writers today, talking about the Story Behind the Story of Married by Mistake. Welcome, Laura. I can’t wait to hear about Married by Mistake. BTW, I love that title and Mackinac Island. I’ve always wanted to write a story set there.   

Thanks, Catherine.

When my agent asked me if I’d be willing to write a historical novella for a collection she was putting together for another author, I jumped at the chance. I usually write Amish romance (which I love) but I wanted to try my hand at historical. And a novel set in my home state of Michigan would be a dream come true. I had several ideas and I pitched them all to my street team to see which they liked best and the majority chose this idea.

upper peninsula Michigan

Then I went to my brainstorming group to help me figure out the hero’s story. And one lady in there, mentioned the Krump family in German and a war they provided weapons to the Boers in South Africa. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupp – also http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/boer-war-begins-in-south-africa. The Upper peninsula in Michigan produced iron ore ( http://www.miningartifacts.org/Michigan-Iron-Mines.html) and what if….

The story was born from there.

Mackinac Island was a popular vacation destination in the Victorian era where the wealthy city residents went to escape the heat of the city. A perfect setting for a wounded hero to escape from gossip – at least until the socialites arrived – and then have to face his demons and come to terms with his past.

While writing this story, I also was homeschooling my two youngest children and my youngest daughter (a reluctant reader) was reading Alice in Wonderland out loud. Since that was a new book on the market at the time my story was set, it seemed fun to include bits and pieces of that story in mind, wrapped with the history of the island and the mess our hero and heroine would soon find themselves a part of.

I hope you enjoy reading Second Chance Brides Romance Collection – as well as my novella, Married by Mistake.

Here’s an excerpt:

Married by Mistake

by Laura V. Hilton

Chapter 1

Mackinac Island, 1902

A kiss.

The sea spray touched Bessie O’Hara’s face as gently as she imagined he—whoever he might be—would some day brush his lips across her cheeks.

She couldn’t wait.

If only she could skip all the tiresome courtship rituals like monotonous parlor visits and chaperoned strolls. She’d also eliminate the formal calling cards and fluttering fans society demanded and go straight to the happily-ever-after.

It wasn’t that easy. She glanced at her two cousins, giggling behind their fans, as they stepped off the ferry onto the dock leading to the island. They looked toward some gentlemen who’d come to meet the boat. Judging by their clothing, they were there for the summer season as well. They certainly weren’t employees hired to drive the buggies and wagons.

Bessie smoothed her hand over her dress. Splotches of water dampened the material under her touch. With a sigh, she looked around for her family’s carriage. Papa had wired ahead and told the driver when to meet the ferry. She didn’t see the carriage, but a large crowd blocked her view.

She didn’t want to do this. Not that she minded visiting her family’s vacation home on the island, or escaping the stifling August heat of Grand Rapids, or even spending time with her cousins. But this was so much more than a summer reprieve. Henrietta and Rosella were husband-hunting and dragging her along, completely against her will.

And worse? Her parents completely agreed with her cousins. It was time she got married. That was a woman’s highest calling—to manage a husband and a household.

Or so she’d been told.

She’d been looked over so many times before she was afraid of facing another rejection. Was she somehow defective because her hair wasn’t pale blond like Rosella’s or a deep, dark red like Henrietta’s? She dreaded being put on endless display in the “meat market” and found lacking over and over during the tiresome rituals.

If only she could have said husband handed to her, dropped in her lap, maybe even delivered, gift-wrapped with a ribbon and a card reading, “Here he is. Treat him well.” Instead she’d been forced to endure countless teas in stifling parlors from her usual place on the fringes.

Bessie stepped up her pace to catch up with her cousins who already neared the end of the dock. She didn’t want to be left behind. A gentleman wearing a plaid cap stood in her way, talking to someone, and she stepped to the side to keep from hitting him, but he turned sharply and bumped her in the side with his elbow. Her foot landed on the edge of the dock. She groped for something to grab onto but came up with nothing but air. She gulped a breath that emerged as a high-pitched squeal, and tumbled toward the water.

A strong hand grabbed her by the back of her dress, jerking the fabric up tight, and she flailed. Was this how a fish on a hook felt? She eyed the cold, fishy water she’d almost fell into. Seconds later, another hand closed around her elbow, the grip tightening as the hand on her dress released the material, slid around her waist and hauled her back against a firm chest.

Shocks raced through her body like the rise and fall of waves crashing against the shore during a storm. His arm firm against her, the man loosened his grip on her elbow. Then the arm wrapped around her waist slid away.

Slid—the fingers took a leisurely tour of the silky fabric covering her abdomen. There had to be something improper about this, but the touch set her senses on fire, charring her thoughts almost before they formed. She tried to take a deep breath and lightheadedness made her dizzy, overwhelmed with how quickly her situation had changed from impending bath to rescue.

“Watch where you’re going.” The voice was brusque, hardly matching the rest of the sensations. And with those harsh words, he released her. Her feet set firmly on the wood planks, free from his disturbing touch.

Bessie jerked her shoulders in an angry twitch as she turned carefully around and moved away from the edge of the dock. She didn’t want a repeat performance. “Watch where I’m going? Let’s try being more careful, Mr….”

Her voice trailed off as she stared into grayish-blue eyes, the color of the water on a winter day. Stubble shadowed the man’s chin, and his equally dark hair, a bit on the long side, peeked out from under a plaid cap.

He adjusted the brim as a muscle jerked in his jaw.

Wait. He was the man who’d stood on the opposite side of the ferry and stared at her during their ride over to the island, his gaze boring into her until she turned.

He’d quickly looked away.

Her fingers had itched to sketch his portrait. Strong. Dark. Handsome. And dangerous. She tried to memorize his features, but he’d glanced back at her and caught her staring.

Then it’d been her turn to look away and try to distract herself by listening to another half hour of her cousins giggling about potential prospects.

“You.” The single word sputtered out without warning. She resisted the urge to clamp her hand over her mouth. Maybe she should apologize for being so rude. But then she’d need an explanation for why she’d said it and she had none. Other than… well, he drew her and made her long to be his helpmeet. Not that she’d ever admit it to anyone.

He bowed at the waist, his lips twisting into something resembling a grimace, and he waved his hand. “Ladies first.”

Want to read more? Check her book out at http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q


About the Author:

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


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

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

Connect with Laura at:

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

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

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

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

 Purchase my books:

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

CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=laura+hilton&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/laura-hilton?store=allproducts&keyword=laura+hilton

Deeper Shopping http://www.deepershopping.com/index.php?query=laura+hilton&x=0&y=0&module=productsearch&_logmode=Y&querymodule=SPX



Cover Reveal for A Groom for Mama by Catherine Castle


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Whoo Hoo! It’s the beginning of busy week for me. I’m revealing the cover for my sweet romantic comedy A Groom for Mama here and over at Sloane Taylor’s blog today and getting ready for my month-long promo tour for the book. Oh, and I just got my pre-order link for A Groom for Mama on Amazon.

Rather than give you the blurb, which you can read on Sloane’s blog or on Amazon (please click on the links to read the blurb), I’m going to tease you with a hook and an excerpt from one of the heroine Allison’s disastrous dates. Mama and Jack, the ex-boyfriend who’s been roped into finding his old girlfriend a husband through his dating service, are eavesdropping on the couple.

I hope you’ll be interested enough to hop on over Amazon and click on the pre-order link. Only 3 weeks and 3 days until the book can be delivered right to your Kindle!


A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle


From their table at The Old Country Barn restaurant, Jack and Beverly spied on Allison and her date. It wasn’t his choice, but this whole dating fiasco hadn’t gone the way he wanted. Watching Allison flirt with Thurston Howell the Third had become uncomfortable. That’s what he’d nicknamed him. The idiot had shown up in a skipper’s hat, white slacks, deck shoes, and a royal blue blazer—an outfit straight from the set of the 60s television show Gilligan’s Island.

“Allison must feel underdressed,” Beverly whispered as she peered around her menu at her daughter seated three booths away. “I tried to get her to wear something snazzy. I just knew he’d come looking sharp.”

“How’d you know?”

“It’s a no-brainer. Anybody who says he likes long cruises on the family yacht is pretentious. Pretentious people show off. Honestly, who owns a yacht in Colorado? It’s a ski haven.”

In spite of himself, Jack cracked a smile.

Want to learn more about A Groom for Mama? Watch for my month-long blog tour information posted on this site beginning September 6.


About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. 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. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Both books are available on Amazon.