Tasty Tuesdays–Sweet Summer Time Desserts from Jennifer Hallmark

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Summer time growing up was full of memories, especially ones of the sweet variety. My Mom shared a birthday with our country on July 4th and mine followed in August. A favorite we both loved to enjoy on our special day was homemade ice cream.

Nothing too fancy. Vanilla was good for me. And to spoon it atop Granny’s (Mom) chocolate cobbler made it a treat no one in the family could resist.

Both recipes are simple to make with a minimum of ingredients. They would be a recipe that I know Martha, the grandmother from my novel, Jessie’s Hope, would have made for her family, especially when the cousins and aunts and uncles were all over for a visit.

Check out Jessie’s Hope for a summertime Southern read, then invite the family over for cobbler and ice cream.

I believe you’ll enjoy the book and the sweets…

Vanilla Homemade Ice Cream

1 can of evaporated milk

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 ½ cups of sugar

2 Tablespoons vanilla

Whole milk

I mix the first four ingredients in my ice cream freezer tub, then add milk until I reach the fill line. A simple recipe for delicious ice cream.

Granny’s Chocolate Cobbler

¾ cup margarine

1 cup self-rising flour

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ tablespoons cocoa

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt margarine, pour into 13 x 9-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, milk, and vanilla together, then spoon over margarine.

Then take 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup cocoa and mix well. Sprinkle that mixture over batter. Pour 1 ½ cups of boiling water over it all. Don’t stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

While the cobbler’s baking and the ice cream making, check out Jennifer’s book…

Jesse’s Hope

By Jennifer Hallmark

Years ago, an accident robbed Jessie Smith’s mobility. It also stole her mom and alienated her from her father. When Jessie’s high school sweetheart Matt Jansen proposes, her parents’ absence intensifies her worry that she cannot hold on to those she loves.

With a wedding fast approaching, Jessie’s grandfather Homer Smith, has a goal to find the perfect dress for “his Jessie,” one that would allow her to forget, even if for a moment, the boundaries of her wheelchair. But financial setbacks and unexpected sabotage hinder his plans.

Determined to heal from her past, Jessie initiates a search for her father. Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love when additional obstacles–including a spurned woman and unpredictable weather–highjack Jessie’s dream wedding?

All Day Today (August 10th) Jessie’s Hope is only 99 cents.

Jessie’s Hope on Amazon

About the Author:

Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction with a twist and her website and monthly newsletter focus on her books, love of the South, and favorite fiction.  

Jessie’s Hope, her first novel published by Firefly Southern Fiction, was a Selah Award nominee for First Novel.

You can subscribe to her newsletter here and visit her on Facebook and Instagram.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain – Getting the Nudge by Rachel Pellegrino

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Do you know how many devotionals I have sitting on my bookshelf? 17

That’s right, 17. Of course, this number doesn’t include the ones in the boxes that have yet to be opened from our last move right before the pandemic.

Now, I’m going to be vulnerable with you and ask you to guess how many of those devotionals I’ve read in the last few months, let alone two or three years? Three!

Yep. That’s it. Just three. Go ahead and shake your head. I’ll wait.

I’m not sure what it is about a devotional, but I love having them on my nightstand and bookshelf. I love looking over and knowing there is a title to help inspire me when I feel uninspired or assist with my faith walk when I feel like I’m struggling. But I don’t always read them.

The truth is when I started out as a children’s publisher, I never intended to produce a devotional. I was all set to only publish fiction, and entertaining and “fun” fiction at that. I wanted to provide kids with clean and faith-based stories and characters that they could fall in love with and share with siblings and friends.

I was a teacher for many years and I love fiction, so this has always felt like a good fit. Then, COVID hit.

As the days turned to weeks and then to months, I realized that along with my Bible, I was pulling out my devotionals more. I was hungry for something that would ease the fear and worry I was feeling. I was searching for answers on how to cope. I was looking for inspiration and encouragement. I enjoyed my fiction stories, but I yearned for comfort I couldn’t find in all those interesting stories.

Then, it hit me as I did this searching that it might be the same for my daughter. She’s nine and aside from me, the one she trusts daily to comfort her, assuring her that all would be well, that God was going to be with us, and that she was going to be okay, I saw her reading more and she began to seek out books that would comfort her, inspire her, and allow her to not think about all the things the adults around her were worrying about.

So, as God usually does, He began to nudge my thoughts and nudge my conversations to what many on our team already knew was missing. Yep, a devotional for kids.

And, that God-nudge can really shake you a bit. Since starting Little Lamb Books, I’ve had days where I felt confident and days where I wondered just what He was thinking calling me to own a publishing company. I mean, it was a nudge from Him that started this whole thing to begin with.

So, once I fell down the research hole of comparative titles and themes and topics, I wondered more than once what I was getting us into, but I also felt a peace that this was what we needed to do.

The blessing of working with amazingly talented authors is that you can go to them with an idea and watch that idea develop into real pages of a book. Much like a writer that participates in a book club or critique group, being vulnerable and honest with others opens up the opportunity for inspiration to strike and greatness to come forward. And, of course, taking a leap of faith and following the nudge that God gives can teach you to rely on Him for the answers to all your questions and needs.

It’s been over 12 months of working on a project that started as nudge that led to a conversation with our editor and became a full-fledge devotional for ages 6-11. I’m super thankful for everyone who worked on the entries, illustrations and design. I’m inspired by the entries that I know will help so many families and kids. I’m beyond in love with the finished product full of bright colors and adorable animals.

But, even more, I’m beyond blessed by a Heavenly Father that gave me the nudge and trusted me to bring to life the biblical truth that will encourage young kiddos to believe in who He made them to be – unique and loved.

Interested in a Children’s Devotional? Check out

All God’s Creatures: 60 Days of Devotions for Animal-Loving Kids

Scripture meets sheep in a sixty-day devotional made just for kids!

Encourage habits of Scripture reading, prayer, and journaling with Little Lamb Books’ first children’s devotional! With contributions from over fifteen children’s books authors and an introduction by the publisher, All God’s Creatures: 60 Days of Devotions for Animal-Loving Kids explores a variety of wonderful animals God created and the amazing traits each one exhibits to show each of us how to be more like Christ. Children will love learning fun animal facts while learning Scripture and practicing prayer habits that will last a lifetime.

About the Author:

Rachel Pellegrino is the founder and publisher of Little Lamb Books, an award-winning indie publisher of faith-based fiction and non-fiction for elementary, middle grade, and young adult readers. Passionate about empowering authors who write Christian children’s literature, Rachel strives to take fresh manuscripts and turn them into fulfilled author dreams and is focused on bringing stories to life that are creatively entertaining, full of interesting characters, and uplifting to children as they grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Based in Texas with her husband, kiddos, and their two dogs, Rachel talks with her hands, prefers Pepsi to coffee, and has a growing plush lamb collection.

You can find Rachel on her website links: http://littlelambbooks.com  https://www.rachelpellegrino.com

Connect with her on social media at   Facebook : Instagram : Twitter :

A Writer’s Garden–Theme Gardens by Emma Lane

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from Emma Lane

Theme gardens can be fun for adventurous gardeners who want to shake things up.

Photo by Emma Gossett on Unsplash

Colorful annuals. Their raison d’etra, reason for living, is to bloom and make seeds. To keep them full of their bright and beautiful blossoms frequent culling of the old blooms is the secret. Paying attention to color combinations will enhance bedding petunias such as blue and yellow; red, white and blue; primary colors-red, yellow and blue; all pastels.

 

Perennials are friends forever. The trick here is to plant staggered bloomers. Daffodils and tulips for spring give way to lupine and peonies in April and May. June is for roses (and brides) and July owns lilies. Hibiscus and other members of the family (Rose of Sharon) for late summer, and we all appreciate summer’s wind up with splashes of intensely colored mums and sunflowers. There are many beautiful perennials to be planted in between. Careful attention to foliage varieties is also important for a successful perennial bed: spiky Crocosmia, spreading Dianthus, and pretty round-leafed Baptismia australis which has an herbal gray cast to its foliage.

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Butterfly and humming bird gardens are always fun. Certainly the tiny hummers appreciate blooms where they can dip in and steal a drop of nectar, but I’ve seen them take a tiny taste of flat but colorful yarrow. My son gifts me a huge fuchsia for Mother’s Day which is the very day I usually spot the first humming bird. They love this plant! Hummers prefer trumpet shaped blooms they can dip their long bills to drink the nectar, but I have observed them sipping from a daisy.

 

Shade gardens are wonderful underneath shaded walkways. Besides the enormous varieties of hosta, spring bulbs can be followed with blue bells and other shade loving perennials. Brunneria is a precious substitute for hosta. Deer treat it with disdain. Begonias have a large variety for annual shade; my favorite is non-stop begonia in their vivid colors. Spring blooming shrubs are glorious such as rhododendrons, azaleas, dogwood and many others that liven up the woods before the trees leaf out.

Cutting gardens are wonderful for those who appreciate fresh cut bouquets for inside. Reserve a bed especially for: gladiola, tall zinnias, phlox, sunflowers, snapdragons, lisianthus, lilies, just a few of the varieties that are splendid cut flowers.

 

… which leads me to call attention to my latest Cozy Adventure/ Mystery, Whispers of Danger and Love.

The heroine is a landscape architect who speaks gardening. She struggles with a client who demands a cutting garden midsummer, (and a hunky detective who seems bound to destroy her plants.) I enjoyed relaxing in her garden even as I created it from my own imaginings. It was also fun to watch the sparks fly between a couple who knew each other as children but must readjust their thinking as adults.

About the Writer/Gardener

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

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

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

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Wednesday Writers–Interview with Mary Ann Diorio, author of Miracle in Milan

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today we have an author interview with MaryAnn Diorio and an excerpt from her newest release Miracle in Milan. Thanks for being with us today, Mary Ann!

Please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.

Miracle in Milan is the story of a young, female auditor who discovers evidence that the man she loves is an embezzler and who must choose between ruining him or ruining herself.


Amy Torelli, Chief Auditor for New York City-based Enson Pharmaceuticals, is assigned to audit the books of Enson’s Italian branch in the enchanting city of Milan, Italy. Having made an inner vow never to trust a man again because of her father’s betrayal, Amy finds herself falling in love with Enson Italia’s American-born Vice-President, Ted McMasters. Will Ted be the one to cause her to break her inner vow?

Ted McMasters is on the run. A run from rejection. From himself. From God. Having been wounded by a father who made him feel worthless, and having been dumped by the woman he wanted to marry, Ted is determined to keep all women at bay. But will Amy be the reason he changes his mind?


How did you come up with the concept for this book?


The Lord gave me the idea for this story several years ago. Italy has always intrigued me, especially since my mother was born and raised there. Having lived and studied in Italy, I wanted to write a story set in that beautiful, romantic country. Interestingly, I ended up first writing my trilogy titled The Italian Chronicles, based on the life of my paternal great-great grandmother. But I knew that another story set in Italy lay dormant within my heart. That story was Miracle in Milan.

 Setting is important in books. I noticed that your story is in set in Milan, Italy. Were you inspired to set the book in Italy because of a visit to the country? If not, tell the reader why this setting inspired you.

As mentioned, I have close ties with Italy through my Italian mother. While a student there, I had occasion to visit Milan, the financial and business capital of Italy. When it came time to writing a novel based on financial intrigue, Milan seemed to be the natural choice.

What genre is this book, and why do you like to write in this genre?


Miracle in Milan is a novel of romantic suspense. Actually, this is the first novel I have written in this genre. My main character is a young American woman who works in New York City for a global pharmaceutical firm. The story flowed organically out of who she is and the lie she believes, a lie that has stood in the way of her fulfilling God’s call on her life. I enjoyed writing in this genre and look forward to writing more romantic suspense.

Do you write in more than one genre? If so, why?

Yes. I started out writing historical women’s fiction with an element of romance. Three of my novels–The Madonna of Pisano, A Sicilian Farewell, and Return to Bella Terra–are all historical women’s fiction set in Italy and America during the late 19th century and early 20th centuries. My novel titled In Black and White is a historical romance set in the 1950s, in the United States and Ghana. I also write fiction for children.

While I particularly enjoy writing historical fiction, I like to use the genre that best fits my character and story. When a character emerges in my heart, she emerges within a time period. I instantly know what century she lives in and, in most cases, what decade. The time period has a lot to do with making my character who she is in the natural and in the supernatural.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

I am blessed to be able to write full-time. I used to have a day job as a university professor of foreign languages.

Name three interesting things most people don’t know about you.

  • My mother tongue is Italian.
  • I play the mandolin, an instrument my maternal grandfather used to play.
  • I am also a visual artist and paint in oils and acrylics.

What’s next for you? Are you currently working on something new?

I’m working on a novella titled The Captain and Mrs. Vye. Summary: When a young widow inherits an oceanfront inn upon her husband’s death, she receives more than she bargained for as a whaling boat captain becomes her first tenant and disrupts her heretofore peaceful life.I am also writing a middle-grade novel titled Dixie Randolph and the Secret of Seabury Beach, the first novel in a six-book series for eight-to-twelve-year-old children.  

It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? (a quote, a Bible verse, a precept you live by or have tried to instill in your children?)

There is nothing more important in life than accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Savior and Lord and living for Him. This is what Jesus meant when He said in John 3: 3 that a person must be born again in order to experience eternal life. One may accomplish great things in the earth, but, ultimately, unless one knows Jesus, everything else is meaningless. While one’s name may be listed in many records of earthly accomplishments, all that matters in the end is that one’s name be listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

There are four quotes on which I have based my life:

1) John 8: 32 – “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
2) Philippians 3: 10 – “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings….”

3. “Only one life; ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” ~ Charles Studd

4. “The true success of my life will not be judged by those who admire me for my accomplishments, but by those who attribute their wholeness to my having loved them, by those who have seen their true beauty and worth in my eyes.” ~ David Grant.

Years ago, I created a mission statement by which I have lived and written. It is this:
To create works of art that communicate Christ’s love and connect people to Him.
CREATE. COMMUNICATE. CONNECT. This is what I’m all about.

Thanks for being part of the blog, Mary Ann. It’s been a pleasure to host you. Good luck with your book. It sounds intriguing!

Thank you so much for featuring me, Catherine. I trust that I will bless your readers.

MaryAnn


Miracle in Milan

By Mary Ann Diorio

When young, female auditor Amy Torelli is assigned to audit the books of her company’s Italian branch in Milan, she discovers convincing evidence that the man she loves is an embezzler.

Excerpt:

      “This way, Ms. Torelli.” Giorgio led her into his private office and shut the door. It was a modest office, as far as offices go. Nothing like Mr. Conklin’s plush space in the downtown Manhattan headquarters. A medium-sized window overlooked a narrow street with another office building on the opposite side. In one corner of the office space stood a large plant about the size of a small fig tree. On a credenza behind the desk was a picture of two small children sitting on either side of a lovely woman who looked to be in her late thirties. Very likely Giorgio’s wife and children.

          “Please, sit down.” Giorgio pointed to a small sitting area in the opposite corner furnished with two barrel chairs and a small coffee table.”

          Amy took the chair to the right and sat down. Her muscles tensed.

          Bassetti sat down in the chair across from her, crossed his legs, and folded his hands in his lap. “First of all, I want to thank you for making the long trip to Italy to help us.”

          Dare she say she’d had no choice but to lose her job if she’d refused? “I’m glad to do what I can.”

          Bassetti cleared his throat. “I don’t know how much you know, but Enson Italia is on the verge of bankruptcy.”

          Amy nodded. “Yes, Mr. Conklin explained as much to me.”

          “Then you know that we are in a precarious situation. The future of our Italian operation depends on your discovering what is going on.”


          Amy stiffened. There it was again. The burden of responsibility resting squarely on her shoulders. A burden she didn’t like at all. She hated having the ball in her court “Yes, I understand.”  She squared her gaze on him. “So, what are your thoughts on the problem?” She loved to toss the ball back to where it belonged.

          Bassetti shifted in his chair. “Frankly, I don’t know.”

          Amy sensed he was lying. “But surely, from your perspective as president, you have some idea, do you not?” His dodging annoyed her.

          Bassetti squirmed. “All I can say is that we have discovered some expenses that do not align with our expenditure categories and that seem to have no correlation with our normal business expenses.”

          “Has anyone investigated those unusual expenses?”

          Bassetti’s eyes narrowed. “That is what you are here to do.” His voice was curt.

Want to read more? You can find Miracle in Milan at  My Book Table  Amazon (affiliate) Print:  EBook:  and Universal Link:


About the Author:

MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of fiction for both adults and children. Her stories are powerfully moving and deal with the deepest issues of the human heart.
MaryAnn resides in New Jersey with her wonderful husband of 51 years. They are the blessed parents of two amazing daughters, a very smart son-in-law, and six rambunctious grandchildren. You can learn more about MaryAnn and her writing at maryanndiorio.com.

Connect with MaryAnn on her Website: Facebook: Amazon Author Central: BookBub



Tasty Tuesdays–Italian Potluck Casserole from Sharon Ledwith

from Sharon Ledwith

An Italian dish full of sausage and veggies that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and a napkin on your lap. The preparation takes about half an hour, with a bake time of 25 minutes, a setting time of 10 minutes, and serves ten of your hungriest family or friends. This hearty meal is ideal for those weekend warriors set to do some renovations at their home or cottage. Serve with a side salad, garlic bread, and your choice of wine, and you’ve got the makings of a trip to Italy without leaving the comforts of your home.

Potluck Penne and Sausage Casserole

16 ounces penne pasta

1 lb. bulk Italian sausage

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1½ tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms

6 garlic cloves, minced

15 oz. tomato sauce

14 oz. pasta sauce with meat

2 cups shredded part-skimmed mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain and transfer to greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Fry sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes, breaking into crumbles. Drain and remove from pan.

In same skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes and stir frequently. Add zucchini, mushroom and garlic. Cook 6 – 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Be sure to stir often.

Add tomato sauce, pasta sauce, and sausage. Pour the mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cover casserole with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes. Uncover. Bake until golden brown and cheese is melted, 15-20 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Once dinner is done, and you’ve had your last sip of wine, I’m sure you’ll be ready to escape into your living room for some much-needed quiet time. Why not make a cup of tea, then relax with one of my books? May I suggest a nostalgic visit to Fairy Falls or perhaps go back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Just remember to breathe once in a while as you’re being led on a bumpy, unpredictable ride along with my characters.

Here’s a glimpse of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Valuable Memories by Anne Montgomery

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from Anne Montgomery

A while back, I returned home to find the front door ajar. My first concern was that my dogs had gotten out, but when I went inside, they both stared at me and wagged their tails. Did I spy a wee sense of guilt on their doggy faces?

Though I saw nothing out of place in the living room, something felt wrong. Then, I approached my bedroom and a chill ran down my spine. The mess inside showed I’d been burglarized. I briefly wondered if the perpetrator was still in the house, but since the dogs were sitting placidly, I realized I was alone.

“Really?” I squinted at my two cattle-dog pups. “You couldn’t bark or something?”

They responded by vigorously wagging their tails.

I turned back to the mess in my room. The drawers had been rifled. The decorative boxes on my dresser had been dumped onto the bed, what remained of my jewelry scattered in glittery bits on the bedspread and floor. It was easy to see that the good stuff was gone. That the really good stuff was in a safe gave me a moment of relief. But then I thought of my ring, the emerald and diamond piece my sweetie pie presented to me on a beautiful day in the desert, an adornment he purchased because of my love of emeralds and because he wanted us to be together forever.

The box where I kept the ring was empty.

It wasn’t until later that I noticed my office had been searched as well, but nothing appeared to be missing.

Sadly, I was wrong. “I can’t find my log.”

“I’m sure it’s here somewhere,” Ryan said.

But we searched and the book was gone. I was heartbroken.

What had disappeared was my dive log, a planner, of sorts, dedicated to those of us who scuba dive. The idea is that when you’re a new diver, reflecting on what happened underwater is a good way to become a better diver. Generally, we document the conditions: water and air temperature, dive site, date, and dive profile. Then we write down what we saw – beautiful jewel colored fishes on a sunlit reef, magnificent sharks, charming dolphins, sea turtles and star fish and eels and nudibranchs.

But we also revisit what went wrong on a dive: losing track of your partner, not paying attention to air consumption, getting caught in a current, misplacing the dive boat. The log contains stamps, as well, verifying special dives on wrecks and others where we descended below 100 feet.

So, the log is a reflection on our dive memories and underwater performance. The idea is to document your first one hundred dives, a milestone I was approaching.

The other day, Ryan and I were walking our dogs. I don’t recall how the question came up, but it hung between us. “Which do you miss more, your emerald ring or your dive log?” he asked.

I didn’t answer right away, but I couldn’t lie. “My dive log,” I said wistfully.

“I knew you’d say that.” Then he smiled.

I’m so glad he understood.

Now, I have a new dive log that Ryan bought me, one with lots of clean, white pages. I guess I’ll just have to start over, so I’ve got a lot of diving to do.

Yes!

Here’s a little from my latest women’s fiction book. I hope you enjoy it.

A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Amazon Buy Links

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

A Writer’s Garden–What COVID Did for My Garden by Caroline Warfield

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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 Caroline Warfield who is sharing the good things that COVID did for her garden. Welcome, Caroline!

Gardens are one thing; gardening is another. I generally say I love the first, but I’m not fond of the second, nor particularly skilled. Covid turned that on its head.  We could no longer plan visits to the public gardens we’ve known and loved—from Longwood near Philadelphia to Versailles and the Vatican Gardens. Worse, we had no way  to visit ones still on our bucket list, such as Kew. All we could do is stare at our own piece of earth. Perhaps that was a blessing.

The plantings across the front had to go first. At the very beginning of the pandemic, we hired a crew (masked and outside) to remove ugly yew bushes and plant flower beds. We thoroughly enjoyed the sequence of blooms all spring and summer. Four little plants, short and unassuming in the very back puzzled me. I didn’t recognize them and worried they were unrecognized weeds. They weren’t. Imagine my  delight this spring when they shot up  into glorious bloom—Foxgloves.

We spent weeks staring at sprawling patch of grass out back. We removed the dead and dying pines that lined the back lane, and planted four trees.

Charging into the second spring, we raised the vegetable patch three inches and  filled it with mushroom compost.

Then  we plunged into a tougher project, a flower border along our back patio. Removing sod  to create a new bed exhausted us, particularly when we realized the spot was heavily  clay. We learned about the uses of gypsum and hard work, but we did it. We used the rest of the compost, and lined the patio with  bee balm and other hummingbird-friendly flowering plants. I’m rather proud of it!

By then restrictions were lifting and a visit from a friend gave me an excuse to visit Longwood Gardens again. Next year it will be back to visits to great public gardens, but our own ground will be much the better for our year of Covid.

Book Two of The Ashmead Heirs has a pivotal scene in a rose garden… but that is a story for another time.

About  the Writer/Gardener:

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Connect with Caroline on her Website and Blog   Facebook    Twitter   YouTube                                            

The Ahsmead Heirs

About the Series

When the old Earl of Clarion leaves a will with bequests for all his children, legitimate and not, listing each and their mothers by name, he complicates the lives of many in the village of Ashmead. One of them grew believing he was the innkeeper’s son. He is the first of The Ashmead Heirs.

Book One: The Wayward Son

Sir Robert Benson’s life is in London. He fled Ashmead the day he discovered the man he thought was his father had lied to him, and the girl he loved was beyond his reach. Only a nameless plea from his sister—his half-sister—brings him back. He will not allow a ludicrous bequest from the earl who sired him turn him into a mockery of landed gentry. When a feisty little termagant with flashing eyes—and a musket—tries to turn Rob off the land—his land—he’s too amused and intrigued to turn away. But the longer he stays, the tighter the bonds that tie him to Ashmead become, strengthened by the powerful draw of the woman rooted on land he’s determined to sell.

Lucy Whitaker’s life is Willowbrook, its land, its tenants, its prosperity—and her precious  apiary—but she always knew it wasn’t hers, knew the missing heir would come eventually. When a powerful man with military bearing rides up looking as if he wants to come in and count the silver, she turns him away, but her heart sinks. She can’t deny Rob Benson his property; she can only try to make him love the place as she does, for her peoples’ sake. A traitorous corner of her heart wishes Rob would love it for her sake.

His life is London; hers is Ashmead. How can they forge something lasting when they are torn in two directions?

Available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase

Wednesday Writers–Finding The Key Factor By Carole Brown

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When beginning the story of THE GOLDEN TOUCH, Book Five of the Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries, I needed a KEY factor. (Not to be confused with a spiritual or romantic element of the story). 

Here’s what I knew:

  • the protagonists: Jazzi (Jazmine) Sanderson and Ryle Sadler, their careers and/or past, their personalities, their faith element
  • the basic plot: mystery and romance
  • the setting
  • the first chapter

But I still didn’t have that thing—that emotion—the characters were searching for…until I, unknowingly hit upon it. What Jazzi and Ryle were both seeking, although unknown to either, was a place that felt like HOME. The place that makes a person feel content, relaxed and at peace, even when trouble is brewing, even when you’re still searching for that one person who makes the world go ’round for you.

Where was it? Appleton, West Virginia. The small town where everyone knew everyone and their business, or at least assumed they knew. Where friends were friends for life, even when that small town held secrets, trouble and problems.

Ryle, who was rich, innovative and smart, living in a big town and traveling across the country for work was happy, or thought he was. But when he chanced upon Appleton, West Virginia, small, friendly, clean and sometimes a nosy place, but where friends were loyal and ready to help in any way they could, Ryle realized he’d found that spot that felt like home. Adding that to solving the mystery and finding love, was the answer his heart had craved, even though he didn’t know it.

As for Jazzi, wild, beautiful young lady that she was, felt unloved by her adopted parents, and flew the coop from Appleton as soon as she was of age. What she didn’t realize, that instead of blaming others for her unhappiness, it was of her own making. It wasn’t until she returned to Appleton, more mature now, accepting of her own mistakes, and finding a meaning for her life, that her heart grasped the one place that could ever feel like home. Appleton.

Once that revelation that they’d found the place their hearts had sought for, although through different methods, it was then their hearts could open to accept the love facing them. And it was only then that both were able to relax enough to allow God to lead them in the right path. 

The Golden Touch, Book Five of the Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries

By Carole Brown

Not again.

Ryle Sadler stared down at the financial statement lying on his desk. His investment firm had just sent him another record of overwhelming success. Time to sell his share in this stock.

Ryle came from the poor side of the tracks, but that had no bearing on his success in life—which he kept hidden from everyone, especially those in Appleton, West Virginia. But when he buys the local, rundown bed and breakfast, mysterious revelations from beneath the site are suddenly threatening to ruin his good standing with the citizens.

Then along comes Jazzi Sanderson. Jazzi has a reputation of being wild, but Ryle sees more than is on the top layer of this woman. Beneath that tough, wild streak lurks a woman who wants to be loved by the right person, a woman who is tender-hearted and who is just finding out that God is real.

Is Ryle and Jazzi’s worlds too far apart or can their differences help them solve the mystery that lies beneath Ryle’s bed and breakfast? Will the evil person behind it all be able to silence them, or can Ryle’s golden touch prevail in this endevor too?

The Golden Touch

Chapter One

Ryle Sadler stared at the unkempt bed and breakfast in front of him. The urge to buy this place was stronger than ever, and he couldn’t understand it. He’d never bought or invested in anything on an urge. He’d prayed about this crazy urge for sure. Many times. No answer came back from God. Only this confusing push to buy it. Now.

He hadn’t amassed his wealth by going on urges. No sirree. Coming from the poor side of town had taught him plenty, and two of those things were listening and learning. Those had gotten him where he was now.

The Golden Touch. That’s what the investors in the world called it, and that’s what he had. Or so they said. It scared him, truth be told, that everything he touched turned to gold. Didn’t matter whether it was stocks or an act of generosity in helping a struggling business person. Everytime—so far—had been successful.

But this, this business that Maisie, the owner, cared little about, was neither of those things. If he bought it, would it change his touch? Would it be the knife to cut the string of wins he’d experienced so far? Would it be his first failure? After all, what did he know about bed and breakfasts?

Nothing.

A young woman exited the place, her purple hair a distraction from her beautiful features. Toby and Amy Sanderson, Jazzi Sanderson’s sister and brother-in-law, had confided that she’d taken a room there to be on her own—in spite of the inn’s rundown condition. She didn’t know her own beauty or worth.

He’d had little to do with women. Too little time, and, frankly, no one so far, who’d garnered his attention long enough.

But this woman. Ryle’s heart gave an unusual ping forcing a frown on his face.

She saw him then, and gave a shy, little wave—a complete contradiction to her reputation—the smile on her face as bright as the sunshine from the heavens.

And then he heard the voice.

Invite Jazmine Ashley Sanderson to help you at the bed and breakfast.

No. That was crazy. What was wrong with him? He’d never done such a thing. Invested in businesses by using his money, yes, to do what he felt was his calling. But asking a woman he barely knew to help him get this place up and running? Would she laugh at him? Would the whole town of Appleton consider him the biggest fool ever to cross their path? Her sister, Amy, had been upset with her when Jazmine had refused the offer of staying with her. Why had she insisted on renting a room here, of all places?

She did have a reputation. And not such a good one.

What if she accepted, thinking it was a lark, an easy way to get some money, with no improvement in her personality? Or worse, be irresponsible? Could he trust her to have the same vision as he?

No, it wasn’t his responsibility what she did. But then, he didn’t think helping someone continue on the broken path they were on was beneficial either. Still, his calling was to help. What they did afterwards was their responsibility.

So, what’s it to be? Will you obey my direction on this?

The dark cloud suddenly covering the sun seemed to be frowning at him.

“I always have.” Ryle couldn’t even hear his own whisper as he mouthed the words.

And as suddenly, as it had been covered seconds ago, the sun popped from behind the cloud, sending its golden beams straight down to shine on the bed and breakfast.

Ryle gave up the struggle. It might be interesting—and a learning process for him—if this adventure was a failure. Time would tell.

The groan that escaped his lips assured him he wasn’t looking forward to it.

Want to read more? You can find The Golden Touch on 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?

Connect with Carole on her   Personal blog: Facebook: Amazon Author PageTwitter

Tasty Tuesdays–Mother’s Macaroni and Cheese from Gail Pallotta

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Of all of my recipes, people most often ask for my mother’s mac and cheese.

Mother’s Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

Elbow macaroni noodles

cheese

milk

eggs

salt and pepper to taste

margarine or butter (optional)

Directions:

Greased casserole dish. (I use olive oil)

The amount of noodles determines the number of servings. To serve four, prepare enough noodles for four.

Drain noodles. Fill a one-cup measuring cup with the cooked noodles and pour them one at a time into the greased casserole dish.

Measure exactly as many cups of grated cheese as there are noodles. (For example four cups of noodles and four cups of cheese) Cheeses can be all one kind or mixed—2 cups of cheddar, 1 cup of Monteray jack, 1 cup of Colby. Use what you like. If there are extra noodles, save them for another dish. The amount of cheese must equal the amount of noodles.

Beat an egg. Stir into noodles and cheese. (Egg Beaters can be used)

Pour milk into the casserole dish until it’s almost even with the mixture of cheese, noodles and eggs.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Completely cover the top of the macaroni and cheese with more grated cheese. Dot with margarine or butter if desired.

Bake on 350 degrees about forty-five minutes or until the entire casserole is firm.

There are over two dozen recipes in the back of Cooking up a Mystery, a culinary, cozy mystery with romance. However, these tasty dishes come from Heavenly Delights, a book compiled and edited by Pam Nichols Griffin, staff writer for “The Destin Log” in Destin, Florida, as a fundraiser for Mission Love Seeds. This charity based in Florida, was created to help children throughout the world. It also responds locally after disasters to demonstrate God’s love. Learn more here.  

Cooking up a Mystery

By Gail Pallotta

Laney Eskridge worked to put her husband through dental school. Then he left with another woman. She’s on edge from the emotional scars and her parents’ deaths. Then she hears unexplained noises in her new tea house, and her anxiety is tripled. Add a budding romance with Eric—a guy with a fear of commitment—and it’s all too much to handle. She cuts ties with Eric and plunges into making her business pay off.

When Eric discovers that Laney’s in danger, he vows to protect her. But can he make a lasting promise? Will she trust him? . . .and when they overhear a threat that could cause national turmoil, will anyone believe them? There’s more brewing than herbal tea in Cooking up a Mystery.

Buy Cooking up a Mystery on  Amazon   Barnes and Noble  Books a Million   Kobo  

About the Author:

 Gail Pallotta is a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A 2013 Grace Awards finalist, she’s a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner and a TopShelf 2020 Book Awards Finalist. She’s published six books, poems, short stories and several hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. She loves to connect with readers.

Sign up for her newsletter. Visit her website and Facebook page.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–How to Find Your Perfect Mate by Emma Lane

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from Emma Lane

The way I see it, it’s all about nature, selection of the fittest et al. Mother Nature is a clever old gal. She will coat her choice for you in pink clouds and rosy dreams of romance. Matter of fact, I’m convinced she invented romance. It’s the unidentifiable essence that attracts one gender to the other seemingly without reason or plan.

I mentioned her cleverness, right? What she wants is a balance, which, perhaps, is all about the continuation of the species. I can find no other explanation why I wound up with a mate the exact opposite of me. Couples are, by definition, two halves which make a whole. I have allowed for the attraction of natural curiosity, which is present in all humans, and perhaps all living things. I stare with blank shock at a man who will eat oatmeal every morning for 12 months of the year. And be content for that meal to continue indefinitely. Even if I ate the most delicious sausage link for six mornings, and loved it, the seventh day I would vomit. I have an innate need for variety. He is grounded in consistency. It plays out over most of our personal choices the same way. Our tastes are opposite.

I could attribute these differences to the male/female preferences, but must pay attention when, in the last coffee klatch, one lady swears she loves oatmeal for breakfast, but her husband needs variety. (He might be the one with the wobbly marriage, but you didn’t hear it from me.) No, I keep coming to the same conclusion.

On the whole, Mother Nature wants solidly conceived children, also a balanced family unit. So, she takes a person of a certain persuasion and a person with the opposite preferences and MATES them. For posterity. The glue that keeps these people in a constant tug of war is the very thing we call ‘romance.’ Sometimes we call it, ‘he’s driving me crazy.’ But it produces lovely well-balanced children, and fairly comfortable living conditions on a daily basis. He kills spiders and I deal with his mother. Mother Nature smiles benevolently down on couples grinding against one another (that’s not dirty, I swear) smoothing and rounding the obstinate edges, while romance acts as a sweet buffer.

The proof of my theory is when you see a couple in their waning days holding hands and deferring to their spouse’s tastes. He’s learned to eat oatmeal only three times a week and she joins him now and then. They smile at each other with fond memories of epic battles fought and won, mostly remembering only how sweet it was making up.

The End (Flipping the pages of my pamphlet on how to introduce variety . . .)

Here is a brief intro to the cozy mystery series Emma writes as Janis Lane.

MURDER in the JUNKYARD sees the demise of a man no one likes, a romance, and plans for a wedding as Detective Fowler and his friends keep their small-town America free from danger.

Detective Kevin Fowler is furious that low life has targeted his town where people live in blissful safety. Brenda Bryant is out junkn’ for good things when she stumbles over the grotesque body of a man beloved by no one. Suspense heats up when large sums of money are found in two different places. Drug money is suspected and Brenda targeted by someone who wants the money returned. Detective Fowler faces surprise after surprise as he peels back the surface of Hubbard, New York and deals with its shocking underbelly. Meanwhile romance infiltrates the group of friends with a wedding in the making.


AMAZON BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

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

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

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.