Monday, 29 October 2018

Book Release: A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery...

Acclaimed journalist Anne Montgomery weaves her latest mystery/suspense novel around one of the most enduring cold case crimes in Arizona history.

Following in-depth research into the deadly 1995 cold-case derailment of an Amtrak train in the wilds of the Arizona desert, novelist Anne Montgomery penned the story of Jason Ramm, a broken former Special Forces sniper, and Kelly, the lonely pregnant teen who appears to be his salvation in the 2018 suspenseful mystery A Light in the Desert releasing November 6, 2018 from Treehouse Publishing Group.

Set in Hyder, Arizona, Montgomery’s A Light in the Desert details the crumbling world of a former soldier whose crimes assault his conscience and an isolated child who, in the guise of love, falls victim to abuse. Is Ramm her savior or something more insidious? Montgomery suffuses the tale with heartbreaking melancholy, both from the point of view of a rejected child who understands little of the outside world and the assassin who’s descending into the grips of an odd mental illness, the Jerusalem Syndrome, that threatens to replace who he is with something else.

A former ESPN sportscaster, Montgomery, a foster mom to three sons, works in Arizona as a football referee and high school teacher at a Title I school where many of her students live in poverty, some are abused, and others are relegated to foster care. On why she wrote the book, Montgomery says, “I have seen the suffering of neglected and abused children first-hand. Often, their voices go unheard. I believe child abuse needs to be a topic we address with ardent regularity, loudly and often, so that someday, perhaps, this cruelty can be relegated to the past.”

This novel is a definite must read!

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

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil as local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters arrive on the scene. As the search for the saboteurs heats up and the authorities question members of the cult, they uncover more questions than answers. 

And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY NOW from MIDPOINT BOOK SALES

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.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Get Ready for Halloween with a Bewitching Punch and YA Paranormal Read by Leigh Goff...

No trick here. This is a treat all you adult ghosts and goblins are sure to enjoy.

BEWITCHING PUNCH

1 750-ml bottle orange vodka
2 750-ml bottles Prosecco
2 1-liter bottles of orange-flavored seltzer
½ gallon orange juice
½ gallon lemonade
2 pints orange sorbet

Gently mix vodka, Prosecco, seltzer, orange juice, and lemonade in a large punch bowl.

Scoop the sorbet into the punch bowl, so it has time to melt. Add the ice ring to keep the punch cold and colorful.

ICE RING

Water
15 seedless red grapes
10 maraschino cherries, halved
1 orange, peeled and sliced thin

In a 6 – 6½ cup ring mold, arrange thin citrus slices and grapes or cherries in an attractive design. Pour water into mold to partially cover fruit. Freeze.

When frozen, add water to fill mold ¾ full. Refreeze. At serving time, unmold and float fruit side up in punch bowl.

If you prefer, freeze ring without decorations. Or, instead of water, freeze with orange juice. This will keep punch cold without diluting it.

Serves 12 - 15

Here's a little from my latest novel to put you in a Halloween mood.

Hannah, the thirteenth great-granddaughter of the Wizard Earl Fitzgerald, has always known she was descended from a troubled legacy of alchemy and dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial; however, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the secrets she must unlock – including one that reveals the location of an unimaginably powerful elixir.

Enemies will hurt her. Loved ones will make her vulnerable. And the impending prophecy that drives her to unleash her magic will cause her to unearth the sins of the past and doubt any promise of a future. Without knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she’ll survive the game Fate is playing, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

EXCERPT

The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.
I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.
My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?
“W?”
A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.
In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”
“This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.
I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”
His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”
“Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”
“To help you. I want to help you.”
“Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”
He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?” Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”
“You read the note.”
His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”
I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.
“Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.
The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?” “It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”
What was he besides completely contemptible?
“It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”
I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.” A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”
Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”
“Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.
“Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”
He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”
I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.
He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”
I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”
“You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.
My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.

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

Monday, 15 October 2018

In Proper Proportion by HL Carpenter...

So there we were, with a packet of strawberries threatening to go soft and the need for a recipe to make good use of them. None of the sauce recipes we found called for as many berries as we had.

 And then we realized all the recipes could be reduced to proportions. In this case, the proportions were 1:1:2, meaning that as long as we used 1 part water, 1 part sugar, and 2 parts strawberries, we could adjust the quantities to achieve the result we wanted.

Once the sauce was made and we were eating vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce topping, we began to think of all the ways we use proportions in our writing.

Here are two examples.

Book covers

The Golden Ratio or Golden Mean is a mathematical concept that creates a symmetrical, eye-pleasing composition. Yes, we know—math! EEK! Thanks to web-based calculators, you don't actually have to do the calculations.

But understanding the idea that proper proportions are an important design element will make your book covers naturally attractive. As a bonus, you can use the Golden Ratio to design your logo and website, and to choose the right text size and spacing for your printed marketing materials, such as bookmarks.

Time management

Much as we'd like to write ALL THE TIME, we schedule our days to include other tasks that go along with the business of being indie authors. For example, we allot 20-25% of our workday to marketing. We want to keep the results we achieve in proportion to the effort we expend.

We also need a lot of time to refill the creative well—or, as some would say, loaf around doing nothing. Here, the trick is to keep the proportion of time off to work time in harmony so we don't end up procrastinating instead of starting new projects.

Whether or not you like math—or strawberry sauce—we're sure you can figure out other ways to apply proportions to your writing. Tell us your tips in the comments!

And now a little from our fun Space Opera. We hope you enjoy it.

Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?

Ichann Count is an expert at accounting warfare. She spends her days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau and crushing on her really cute co-worker. When the Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 geysers to the surface, Ike finds herself—and her really cute co-worker— drowning in trouble.

Can Ike save them both? Or will events continue to burble downhill?

EXCERPT

The biggest surprise about the Shewawa Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 was that no one on Xerios read the signs correctly.
Oh, the Celestial Council knew cosmic numbers of Shewawans were swelling the ranks of the opposition. Who could miss that? Long before the proposed Water Tax had taken effect, news reports overflowed with stories of protestors and frivolous arguments—well, arguments the Council called frivolous. The protestors were deadly serious. When civilized avenues of protest failed, they turned to more forceful ways of expressing displeasure.
Tax accountants who'd been posted to Shewawa on standard duty tour understood the brewing danger. We encountered antagonism every day, first hand. We sent urgent red-alert notices to Xerios. We nearly melted the tax hotline advising the Council's Senior Tax Commissioner of the agitation boiling in the colony.
The STC and the rest of the Council dismissed our warnings. They refused to believe a ragtag group of upstarts would challenge their authority to impose the Water Tax. So events continued to burble downhill, the way they do when no one has the courage to face the truth or the vision to chart a new course.
I never expected to get caught up in the rebellion. I was not a Shewawantologist. I was a Certified Etherworld Accountant, an expert at numbers warfare. Maybe I should have been less casual about the impact of the Water Tax, since I was part of what the protestors had begun to call the "oppressors." But in some ways, I was as blind as the Council.
As surely as my name was Ichann Count, I knew what was going to happen. I just didn't want to acknowledge my intuition or admit the protestors had a valid complaint.
Why would I? I was an ordinary Xerian, doing an ordinary job. Like a gazillion others across the Tri-Galaxies, I got up every morning, ate breakfast, brushed my ivories, and went to work. I spent my days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau with a hundred other CEAs. I also spent a considerable amount of time crushing on my hunky cubicle-sharer, Fifo Ventry.
The Monday the Water Tax went into effect, I sat behind my light-beam privacy curtain, working on an audit report and stealing glances at Fifo. Outside my little bubble, the office was in turmoil. My co-workers had abandoned their desks. They gathered in uneasy clusters by the main conference room, sipping hot fragrant Starshine coffee and muttering to each other.
We were all waiting for our boss to brief us on his morning's skull sessions. He was confabbing with the political factions on Xerios who wanted us to enforce the legislation as well as the Shewawan revolutionaries urging its repeal.
None of us expected the news to be good. We'd hoped to be back home in Xerios by now, but redeployment was doubtful. The Water Tax meant fathoms more work and the Tax Bureau was already short-staffed.
I wrapped up the audit report on the local branch of the AquaDrip Water Company and touched the moon-metal brooch I always wore. Dad had given it to me a few months after Mom died, when I was a skinny ten-year-old. I opened the ornate clasp and studied the hologram inside. I always studied the hologram of my parents on their wedding day when I needed strength or courage. That happened a lot.
In the picture, Mom wore a lacy bridal skinsuit. She was slender and tall, like a long drink of water, though she seemed tiny beside her imposing new husband. A cascade of dark blond hair flowed back from her intelligent face as she looked up at Dad. Her smile was insouciant and beguiling.
As always when I touched the brooch, Dad's words echoed in my mind. "Mom wanted you to have this picture so you can carry her close to your heart, Ike. When you're grown, you'll be exactly like her."
Though he too had long since passed and would never know, at least part of his prediction had come true. I missed out on Mom's beauty, but I inherited her mental acuity. Fortunately. I needed the advantage of Brainbox genes to figure out the problem at AquaDrip. The company was in serious financial difficulty.
I stared across the office at Fifo as I balanced the audit disk in my hand. Neither of the higher-ups I reported to would be happy to read my recommendation for fixing AquaDrip. Still, someone had to face the truth. I just hoped that truth wouldn't circle back and drown me.
At the same time, I knew it would.
The only question was how quickly the water would run downhill.


Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni ng in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, GoodReads, and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, 8 October 2018

My Recipe Review Prepared from the Cookbook: Date Night Dinners by Sloane Taylor...


Book Details:

Publisher: Toque & Dagger

Publication Date: May 29, 2018

ASIN: B07DD5HDVL

Page Count: 136 pages

Genre: Cookbook

I added an extra bottle of Chardonnay...just in case.


So, I decided to take a chance and prepare Sloane’s special Chicken Cutlets from her Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening cookbook. This recipe drew me in for some reason, and I liked the serving suggestion that accompanies this meal. Plus, she had me at Chardonnay. Wink. Here’s what the Gourmet Goddess herself, has to say about this dinner choice: “This is a lovely meal for two to share by candlelight or with family and friends and rousing conversation. It’s also perfect al fresco on a Sunday afternoon.” Sounds good, right?

I went all in and used the suggested servings which included roasted potatoes, candied orange carrots, and my favorite white wine—Chardonnay. My mouth waters just thinking about this succulent supper! Below are the ingredients to create Sloane Taylor’s simple and tasty version of Chicken Cutlets and suggested sides, as well as my review. Bon appetit!


Chicken Cutlets

What You Need:
5 slices bacon, chopped
¼ (30g) cup flour
3 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 tbsp. (15ml) butter
4 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine
1 tbsp. (15ml) fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 tsp. dried
¼ tsp. (1.25ml) red pepper flakes
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
2 tbsp. (30ml) lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Candied Orange Carrots:

What You Need:
½ lb. (250g) packaged mini carrots
Juice from one medium orange
1 pinch nutmeg
¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup
4 tbsp. (57g) butter
Fresh parsley, chopped



Roasted Potatoes:

What You Need:
3 tbsp. (45ml) olive oil
3 tbsp. (45ml) cider vinegar
1 tbsp. (15ml) kosher salt
1 tsp. (5ml) dried thyme
1 red potato per person, quartered but not peeled






What I Thought: 5 Star Sizzle and Yum

My mouth still won’t stop smiling. Or watering. To be honest, meals like this overwhelm me for some reason. I’m not the greatest cook, but I thought I give it the old college try and throw myself to the mercy of the judges (hubby and daughter). The whole meal tasted excellent, and it got a thumbs up from my family. Mind you, I had a little help from my daughter with the preparation, but all and all, I loved the way this meal came together. Either one of the sides can be easily served with different main courses too.

Satisfaction guaranteed with every bite!
Just a few things to consider. If you have a gas stove, adjust your times accordingly. The potatoes were slightly burnt on the bottom, but this didn’t deter from the taste. We had to add a little flour to thicken the sauce with the Chicken Cutlets, and we’re so glad we did. Would I do this dish again? You bet! And next time, I won’t feel so stressed or overwhelmed. Cooking is all about the experience and experimenting with the ingredients. It’s almost like an alchemic dance with food. Yeah, sometimes it gets messy, but in the end it’s the satisfaction of creating a meal that’s not only sublime to your palate, but to your whole being as well. Cheers!

Cheers for creating this fabulous meal, Sloane!

Follow the tour to read reviews about many different recipes in the cookbook:



About Date Night Dinners:

Ready to ignite that old flame? Or perhaps spark a new one? Take your partner by the hand and turn on your stove. A true romantic, award-winning author Sloane Taylor brings her creativity to the kitchen with easy-to-make meals sure to spark the intimacy and quality time you want with your special someone. Cooking together is only the start of the fun!

Create 45 complete dinners for two or flavor your evenings with a new dish. These 80 recipes use everyday foods already on most kitchen shelves. The recipes are easily increased for those fun times friends or family join your table.

Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening, is an ideal gift for engagements, bridal showers, anniversaries, or for anyone who wants to spice things up.



Meet the Author:

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy. Taylor currently has seven romance novellas released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Her first solo venture into non-fiction is a cookbook with eighty of her favorite recipes DATE NIGHT DINNERS, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening. Excerpts from her books can be found on her website, blog, and all popular vendors. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Guest Post: Believe in Your Writing, and Yourself by Andrew McDowell...



Sylvia Plath said the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. Yet the simple fact is every writer who is serious about his or her work will face it. I’m sure every writer can agree that they are their own worst critic. Ever since I became serious about my writing and getting published, I’ve been plagued by self-doubt and still am. Battling self-doubt is never easy, but it cannot be avoided either. So how can you overcome it?

Well, after you’ve invested so much time into a project, and so much passion, it becomes impossible not to see it through, which ties back to two of the Four P’s of Getting Published: patience and persistence. These virtues combined demonstrate the reverse of self-doubt: self-confidence. Certainly sometime it might not seem to exist, but even if you cannot see it, it must be there if you’ve waited and endured so long to see your writing become the best it can be.

Some writers see it instead as a challenge, one that you should enjoy taking on. Now that delight often only seems present in the moment; especially one has completed the first draft or the final one. But when it comes, relish in it, because you didn’t give up. You cannot sell yourself short, however much it or the world may seem to tell you to. If you give up, then self-doubt has won the battle, and your creativity will wither and die.

Yet as I previously stated, self-doubt is unavoidable. I continue to endure it even as I persevere. So what to do then? Well, self-doubt is rooted in fear – the fear of being rejected and criticized. We all feel fear. It too is unavoidable, something which Saershe states in my novel Mystical Greenwood. So the simple fact is it’s no use denying the presence of fear and self-doubt. And yet, that is how it can be defeated.

As Saershe tells my protagonists, one must accept that they feel fear to grow stronger, and only when acknowledging and face fear can one overcome it. That’s because by acknowledging you feel fear and self-doubt, it takes away its power to stop you. You will constantly battle it, and you won’t emerge unscathed, but you will emerge nonetheless, because your self-confidence endured and you believed in your writing, and yourself.

Further Reading
  1. Ambers, Lorraine. Dream Big and Don’t Hold You Back.
  2. Ambers, Lorraine. Positive quotes: Don’t Fear.
Book Blurb:
Mystical Greenwood, Book I of One with Nature

Dermot is a fifteen-year-old boy living in the land of DenĂº who has always longed for something more in life. His life changes when he encounters a gryphon and a mysterious healer. Drawn into a conflict against one determined to subjugate the kingdom, Dermot and his brother Brian are forced to leave their home.

A legendary coven must now reunite, for they are DenĂº’s greatest hope. In the course of meeting unicorns and fighting dragons and men in dark armor, Dermot discovers a deep, sacred magic which exists within every greenwood he crosses through, but his own role in this conflict is greater than he suspects. Can he protect those he loves, or will all that’s good be consumed by darkness?


Author Bio:
Andrew McDowell wanted to be a writer since he was a teenager. He studied at St. Mary’s College, and the University of Maryland for grad school. He is a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and an associate nonfiction editor with the literary journal JMWW. Andrew has also written and published poetry and creative nonfiction. To learn more about him and his writing, visit his website and blog at andrewmcdowellauthor.com.

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