Sunday 7 April 2024

Guest Post: A Writer's Imagination by Paranormal Romance Author C.D. Hersh...

 

People frequently ask how and where we got our ideas to write one story let alone a series. Honestly, sometimes it's not easy, almost like ramming your head into a huge cement abutment. Yet thankfully storylines and scenes magically appear in our minds. Sometimes more than we want.

Every book demands who, what, where, and why. The plotline. From time to time that necessity confuses those images into a gnarled mess. But we work through it. 

So how do we find ideas that allow our imaginations to run rampant? Magazines and old telephone books are marvelous for coming up with character names. Be sure to follow the mix and match theory. That means do not use the full name of any one person or you might find you have a lawsuit in the making.

We love to travel and often our imaginations are sparked by a billboard or other people on the road, even pit stops offer fodder for a new story. Those diners and rest stops are a wealth of fodder too an author.

The grocery store is another great place to gain ideas. For example – the next time you’re in the store take a good look at the lady scanning your purchases or maybe it’s the bagger who draws your attention. Maybe on this trip you notice something different about one or the other. Maybe something different in her dark brown eyes as if they’re hiding a secret. Of course, you can’t ask, so you allow your imagination to take over. What if she’s a crime stopper by night? After a hard day on her feet, she shrugs out of her sweat filled uniform then into black jeans, a black turtleneck, and low-heeled boots. She shakes out her chocolate brown hair from its topknot and it cascades to her shoulders…You get the idea.

As writing partners, we bounce ideas off each other with the C in C.D. Hersh writing explicit notes. After a few days or we revisit C's list and start the occasionally wonderful, but more often heart wrenching, practice of elimination. After all, what writer doesn’t love his/her words? We do our best not to judge or tick off each other too much since we're married. Besides, I love my wife. Seeing her happy makes me happy. 

Here is a little about our shapeshifter series on Amazon. We hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we did writing them.

TITLE: The Turning Stone Chronicles

GENRE: Urban fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

HEAT LEVEL: Sensual

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world?

Find out in The Series The Turning Stone Chronicles

Book one of the chronicles titled “The Promised One” available on Amazon
In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.

Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.

Book two of The Turning Stone Chronicles titled “Blood Brothers” available on Amazon.
When Delaney Ramsey is enlisted to help train two of the most powerful shape shifters the Turning Stone Society has seen in thousands of years, she suspects one of them is responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. To complicate matters, the man has a secret that could destroy them all. Bound by honor to protect the suspect, Delaney must prove his guilt without losing her life to his terrible powers or revealing to the police captain she’s falling for that she’s a shape shifter with more than one agenda.

The minute Captain Williams lays eyes on Delaney Ramsey, he knows she’s trouble. Uncooperative, secretive, and sexy, he can’t get her out of his mind. When he discovers she has a personal agenda for sifting through all the criminal records in his precinct, and secretly investigating his best detective, he can’t let her out of his sight. He must find out what she’s looking for before she does something illegal. If she steps over the line, he’s not certain he can look the other way for the sake of love.

Book three of The Turning Stone Chronicles titled “Son of the Moonless Night” currently available on Amazon.
Owen Todd Jordan Riley has a secret. He’s a shape shifter who has been hunting and killing his own kind. To him the only good shifter is a dead shifter. Revenge for the death of a friend motivates him, and nothing stands in his way . . . except Katrina Romanovski, the woman he is falling in love with.

Deputy coroner Katrina Romanovski has a secret, too. She hunts and kills paranormal beings like Owen. At least she did. When she rescues Owen from an attack by a werebear she is thrust back into the world she thought she’d left. Determined to find out what Owen knows about the bear, she begins a relationship meant to collect information. What she gets is something quite different love with a man she suspects of murder. Can she reconcile his deception and murderous revenge spree and find a way to redeem him? Or will she condemn him for the same things she has done and walk away from love?

Book four of The Turning Stone Chronicles titled “The Mercenary & the Shifters” available on Amazon.
A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing ... him.

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles Series page are available on Amazon. Their standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, is in the Soul Mate Tree collection with twelve other authors from various genres.

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to the husband and wife co-authors whose pen name is C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s while co-authoring a number of dramas, six which have been produced in Ohio, where they live. Their interactive Christmas production had five seasonal runs in their hometown and has been sold in Virginia, California, and Ohio. As high school sweethearts, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. Which is why they write it!

When they aren’t collaborating on a book, they enjoy reading; singing; theatre and drama; traveling; remodeling houses (Donald has remodeled something in every home they’ve owned); and antiquing. Catherine, who loves gardening, has recently drawn Donald into her world as a day laborer. Catherine is an award-winning gardener — you can see some of her garden on their website.

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

You can see excerpts of their books, connect with, and follow C.D. Hersh at:

Website

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Sunday 31 March 2024

Home-Style Dinner in a Bowl and a Taste of Two Young Adult Fantasy Adventure Series by Sharon Ledwith...

This one-pot Ham and Split Pea Soup is tremendously heart-warming and comforting, and absolutely ideal to make with that leftover holiday ham. Healthy and delicious this hearty soup is loaded with tender split peas, tasty ham, and lots of veggies for lunch or dinner! Soak the split peas the night before for a total of 10 hours before you begin. With a prep time of 15 minutes and a cook time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, this mouth-watering ‘meal in a bowl’ serves 6 of your closest pod members and freezes easily. Perfect for those looking to shed those pounds and want to eat healthier. I’d say that’s a win-win, wouldn’t you?

Home-Style Ham and Split Pea Soup 

2 cups dried split peas, green or yellow
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium or no sodium added
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1½ pounds meaty ham bone or ham shanks

Soak the split peas. Add the split peas to a pot and cover with 2 quarts of cold water. Soak overnight.

Sauté vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until the vegetables soften and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds or until aromatic.

Add remaining ingredients. Pour in the chicken broth, water, and stir. Add the split peas, bay leaf, dried thyme, and ham bone. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 1 ½ hours.

Finish the soup. Carefully remove the bone from the soup, cut off the meat, and dice it. Return the meat back to the soup. Cook on low for another 30 minutes or until soup has thickened. Discard bay leaf and serve.

NOTES:

Always rinse your peas thoroughly before soaking or cooking to remove any dirt particles.

If it looks like your soup is too watery, remember the longer it cooks, the thicker it gets.

Add a little smoked paprika to the soup to enhance the smokiness of the ham.

If you don’t have enough ham, add some cooked bacon to amp up the flavor.

This soup can be kept refrigerated for about a week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

While you’re waiting on your soup to cook, how about taking a break by delving into one of my books? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, either series will entertain and engage, pulling you into another time and a different place.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with its freakish power. There’s no hope for a normal life, and no one who understands. 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…until mysterious things start to happen.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, Book #3

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀


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 ׀


Sunday 24 March 2024

Guest Post: Some Teens Should Try a Gap Year by Women's Fiction Author Anne Montgomery...



Young people need to have an idea of what they want to do in the future before going to college.

It's almost time for the graduation season, and, in that regard, I want to mention an idea with which I wholeheartedly agree. And yet, just a few years ago I would have been completely against the idea.

In Abby Fawk’s USA Today Article “College can wait, but finding your life purpose can’t,” Fawk opines that American teens facing that jump to a postsecondary education are often unsure what they want their future to look like, so heading straight to college is a mistake.

As a former high school teacher of 20 years, I know Fawk is correct. I have faced hundreds of children across my desk, and when I asked what they thought their lives might look like in ten years, I was—more often than not— faced with blank stares. I would then go into my, What do you want to be when you grow up? spiel. I’d ask: What do you like to do? What are you good at? What will someone pay you to do? And again, I often received no reply.

Then the children graduated, most without any idea regarding what might make them happy in their business lives. We teachers have hammered into them that the next stop must be college. (Note that when I say college, I’m referring to any form of post-high school education.  Wanting to be a carpenter, an electrician, or an airplane mechanic are equally fine choices as wanting to be a doctor or a neurophysicist.)

What isn’t fine is having no idea what you want to study and then plowing ahead to your college of choice.

That college education is expensive, so before you go, have a plan. 

“College is the single biggest investment we can make in a young person’s life,” Hawk said. “Four years at a flagship state school can now cost $100,000 and private college can run three to four times that figure. Yet the vast majority of students arrive unprepared to make the most of the experience.”

Fawk believes that it’s time for students to revisit the idea of a gap year. As I said earlier, I did my best to dissuade kids who wanted to take a year off before getting additional education, because statistics showed that once young people start earning money, they are less likely to give up that cash flow and return to school.

But Fawk explained that a gap year, if done right, is not about losing forward momentum and can be a rewarding launch pad to a bright future.

“It’s to gather experiences and insights that inform everything that comes next,” she said.

Fawk is the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, a program devoted to giving young people the chance to immerse themselves in other cultures, to stretch their comfort zones, and to forge relationships with people who are different than they are. If this sounds a bit like the Peace Corps, it is. The idea is to take the year following high school graduation and expand one’s horizons. To learn more about yourself by living alongside others in a completely different environment.

A gap year can include volunteer activities such as working with Habitat for Humanity.

But the GCY project is not the only way students can accomplish these goals. A stint in the military, the Peace Corps, or volunteering can also help young people find out who they are and what they want in life.

Studies show that American teens are growing up more slowly than the generations that proceeded them. Young people struggle with basic skills like time management, problem-solving, and navigating relationships. Why then do we shoehorn them into making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives when many are clearly not ready?

The idea is to give new high school graduates a little breathing room before they make that leap. A well-thought-out gap year just might be the answer.

Please allow me to give you a brief intro to my latest women's fiction novel for your reading pleasure.


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

Amazon Buy Link


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.

Thursday 21 March 2024

Book Tour: The Pheeworker's Oath by Adam Gaylord...


Welcome to the -Week Virtual Book Tour Schedule for The Pheeworker’s Oath by Adam Gaylord - SciFi, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery 
March 17-22, 2024)


About The Pheeworker’s Oath:

Humans don’t belong on this world. The refugees who crash-landed on the Atipok homeworld can’t see or touch phee, the elemental power which flows through rock and stone like living rivers of light. From the moment of his hatching, healer Takey has manipulated phee to heal, bending strands to his will to mend muscle and bone for both human and Atipok alike.

But when the Atipok queen is murdered and her death blamed on an orphaned human child capable of pheework, the first of her kind, a rift is torn between the two races that could spell the end of humanity. Anti-human factions seize power and the Atipok army is on the march. Can Takey survive long enough to unravel the strands of conspiracy, protect the child, and broker a peace to avoid genocide without betraying his own people or himself?

Genres: 

SciFi, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery

Book Tour Schedule: 

https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2024/03/book-tour-schedule-for-pheeworkers-oath.html

Praise:

From Aimee Ogden, Nebula Finalist:

A compellingly alien protagonist, who also has the deeply-held and familiar belief that a better world is possible. 

In THE PHEEWORKER'S OATH, neither compassion nor cruelty are traits limited to humankind. There are no easy answers to the complexities of human refugees building a new home for themselves on a different world--but it is easy to care about the compellingly alien Takey, and about his deeply-held and familiar belief that a better world is possible. 

From Rachael Jones, WFA Finalist & Tiptree Award honoree:

The Pheeworker's Oath is a timely science fiction tale about a stranded human colony dependent upon the Atipok, aliens with near-mystical abilities that allow them to control their environment and their very bodies. It is a fascinating examination of how manipulative leaders harness fear of the other to gain power, and how the only way to break that power is to find kinship with the very beings you've been told to fear. This adventure story showcases timeless themes and intriguing worldbuilding. Come for the cool alien powers, stay for the lizardlike Atipok--but don't you dare call them Lizards!

Purchase Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING:

Paperback: 


Meet the Author:


Adam Gaylord (he/him) lives in Colorado with a wife that is smarter than him, their two monster children, and a very handsome dog. When not at work as an ecologist, he’s usually writing, baking, drawing comics, or some combination thereof. Look him up on GoodReads or find him on Twitter/BlueSky @AuthorGaylord.

Connect with Adam Gaylord :

Twitter:
https://amzn.to/4acJJPB

Goodreads Author Page: 

Sunday 17 March 2024

Author in the Kitchen: A Quick and Easy Easter Dinner Served by Cozy Mystery Author Emma Lane...

Easter will be here soon, so I took the liberty of inviting Bestselling Author Emma Lane, who also writes under the pen names Janis Lane and Sunny Lane, into my virtual kitchen to celebrate the upcoming holiday with me and my readers. So, let's dole out the chocolate bunnies, and get this Easter celebration started! The stove is on, and the oven is preheating. Get that apron on, and do your thing, Ms. Emma...

My goal is to serve food with as little fuss as possible while still producing an attractive, delicious, and healthy meal for my family and guests. Hopefully this plan will give me more time to enjoy everyone.  I encourage you to add your own favorites. 

MENU
Baked Ham
Raisin Sauce
Candied Carrots
Ambrosia
Dinner Rolls
Peaches al la Mode


Ham

Hams are already cooked you merely want to warm it through. Follow the package directions so as not to dry out the meat.

Raisin Sauce
1 ½ cups water
¾ cup raisins
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. cornstarch

     Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in raisins, then boil until raisins are very tender, 5 minutes. 

Whisk in brown sugar and salt, then gradually whisk in cornstarch to avoid lumps forming. Simmer over low heat until glaze has thickened, 10 minutes.

Serve in a gravy boat for your family and friends to spoon onto their ham.

Candied Carrots


Are always a favorite. This recipe works great in your
 microwave.

5 – 8 baby or mini carrots per person
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
Dash of maple syrup ¼ cup water
Parsley for garnish, optional

Cut carrots in half or thirds into long pieces.

Mix remaining ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Stir in carrots. Nuke until carrots are fork tender. Careful not to overcook. Spoon sauce over carrots before serving.

Ambrosia

I have mentioned before I am originally from the south of the U.S. Oranges and coconut mixed together is Ambrosia in South Georgia. Use a pretty glass bowl if you have one. I use my mother’s cranberry bowl and love the contrast of the bright orange colors. This is a messy recipe to prep as you must remove the orange membrane. Do prepare the dish the day before and refrigerate to really blend the flavors.

1 orange per person if small, ½ if large
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
¼ cup orange juice
1 small can crushed pineapple

Stir all ingredients together then scoop into a serving bowl.  

Canned biscuits or Crescent Rolls

Follow the recipe on the package.

Peaches a la Mode
1 can sliced peaches in light syrup
Vanilla ice cream
Granola, optional
Maraschino cherries
Cherry juice

Spoon 3 – 5 peach slices in individual dessert dishes. Add a generous double scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top with a maraschino cherry and a sprinkling of granola. Drizzle sparingly with cherry juice.

Other fruits are also tasty prepared this way.

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


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


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

Sunday 10 March 2024

Celebrate Your Name! Even If You Change It by Sweet Romance Author Catherine Castle...


March 7-13 was Celebrate Your Name week. Established in 1997 by American onomatology hobbyist Jerry Hill, Celebrate Your Name Week (CYNW) is a week for embracing and celebrating your name.

Before you say, “Why would I want to celebrate my name?” think about this--your name identifies you. It is the one thing that will be in your life now and forever. It can define your ethnicity, your heritage, how you look at yourself, and sometimes how others look at you. If you hate your name you can change it, but the original moniker will still be on your birth certificate. Your name will be used throughout your life to identify you in a myriad of ways: on your driver’s license, bank accounts, health accounts, mortgage deeds, insurance policies, social media accounts, professionally, and friends and family will say your name hundreds of thousands, or even millions of times, over the course of your life.

Think about your name or names if you have a middle one. Do you know what they mean? Do you know how you got them? Do you know how long it took your parents to decide on what to name you? How important was your name to those who named you? Have you ever wanted to change your name, and if so why? How did that change work out for you?

I know the answers to a few of those questions. My birth names mean pure and peace. I was named after both of my grandmothers, whose names at the time of my birth were very old-fashioned. My aunt Ella, on my father’s side, always addressed me by my first and my middle names. I suppose she didn’t want me to forget my paternal grandmother, whom I never met. I can still recall my aunt’s voice addressing me. She was the only one who ever called me by both names and somehow it became extra special to me.

I don’t know how long it took my parents to decide on my name or whether they had chosen it before I was born or after. Back then you had to have male and female options, since the gender was a surprise until the baby arrived.

I do know that it was very important to my mother that people called me Catherine, not Cathy. While in high school I shortened my name to Cathy and introduced myself that way at school. Catherine was too long to write on homework papers and very old-fashioned at the time. I wanted to be hipper back then. At church, and in front of my mother, I was always Catherine.

That dichotomy caused me a lot of problems. Although I cautioned any boy to whom I gave my home phone number to ask for Catherine—not Cathy, they invariably forgot. When Mom got to the phone before I did, which was often since she had a phone beside her easy chair, I’d hear, “Sorry, there’s no one here by that name.” Then she’d hang up the phone and glare at me. I lost a lot of potential boyfriends and dates that way. One icy answer from my mother and they never called back. I think they thought I’d given them the run-around with a wrong number. As the years went by, I grew out of my Cathy phase and now I have to correct people when they shorten my name. I still answer to Cathy at my high school reunions. Mom’s not around anymore to glare at me in disapproval and it’s just easier for those few hours to answer to the nickname.

My grandmother was called Cat by her brothers. I used to think that was a horrible nickname and cringed whenever I heard her addressed that way. When my nieces and nephews came along, Cat was easier to say than Catherine, so I adopted Grandma’s nickname. It shocked the heck out of my family when I gave those babies the okay to call me Cat.  Now I’m Aunt Cat to all of them. I now eschew the high school nickname I gave myself and love the birth name I once hated. Ain’t life funny?

When I began my fiction-writing career, I changed my name again. I kept my first name, because I like it a lot now. I’ve grown into it. I also thought keeping my first name would be less confusing at writing conferences. If someone called me Nancy, I might think they were talking to another person and unintentionally ignore them. That would be bad.  I did, however, choose a different last name—one that would fit easier on a book cover and had a nice alliteration to my first name. My pen name is Catherine Castle. With that name change I became an author of sweet and inspiration romance.

 I still remember the first time a stranger in a bookstore asked, “Are you Catherine Castle?”

Startled, I looked at her and said, “Yes, I am.” No one had ever recognized my author persona before and I wondered how she knew me.

She must have seen the question in my gaze because she said, “I recognize you from your picture on your website.”

I left the bookstore with a big grin on my face that lasted for several hours. A complete stranger knew who Catherine Castle, the author, was! 

Shakespeare wrote, in Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…" This popular quote is often used to imply that it didn’t matter that Romeo’s name was associated with the house of Juliet’s family’s sworn enemy.

I suggest that your name does matter and that your name affects who you are. A boy named Sue will have a very different life than one named Chauncy. So if you love your name, or are just indifferent to it, embrace it. Take a few minutes this week to celebrate your name. Find out everything you can about your name. Dig into its history. You might be surprised as to why you are named what you are and how your name has made you who you are.

If you need to change your name for some reason, choose wisely. In the Bible, when a name change happened it often reflected some new aspect of one’s life, a thing that changed them and defined their new life paths. Your name can define you, too. So make your new name a good one.

Celebrate name week—Celebrate!

Catherine Castle is very picky about how she chooses the character names for her books. She once wrote an entire book inserting the name Mother 2 into the pages because she couldn’t think of the right name for that antagonist character. Her critique partners thought it was a real hoot, but when she finally came up with Mother 2’s name—Tiberia—they all agreed it fit her perfectly.

In her book A Groom for Mama, she named one of the characters in honor of a dear friend who battled cancer. Here’s a peek at the blurb. 

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

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

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

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

Follow her on Twitter, FB, or her blog.

Sunday 3 March 2024

A Recipe and Read: Piping Hot and Wonderful Minestrone Soup and a Romantic Suspense by Vonnie Hughes...

I've invited my Kiwi author friend, Vonnie Hughes from down under to share one of her favorite dishes in my virtual kitchen today. Since there's still a chill in the air, I thought this was the perfect choice to warm up our bodies and fill up our bellies. The stove is all yours, Ms. Vonnie...

This soup tastes great and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It's a must in our house whenever the weather turns cold.

MINESTRONE SOUP
1 tbsp. butter
4 slices bacon, chopped or ½ lb. gravy beef, minced/ground
1 onion, chopped
½ lb. fresh tomatoes or 1 jar/can, chopped
1 carrot, scraped and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery or other seasonal vegetable, chopped
½ cup haricot beans that have been soaked overnight, green beans work too
3 tbsp. macaroni
3 tbsp. rice
3 tbsp. spaghetti
½ tsp. salt
Pepper to taste

Melt butter in a frying pan. Add bacon or meat and fry until crisp. Stir in onion and tomatoes.

Carefully pour mixture into a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Fill pot halfway with water. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Cook 2 hours in slow cooker or 15 minutes in pressure cooker.

Here's a little from my latest romantic suspense. I hope you enjoy it.

Who can you trust if you can’t trust your own mother? Through the clammy fog, Celie Francis hears the chilling message. “I know who you are, Celie. I know where you live.” And in the terrifying aftermath she reconnects with her dysfunctional family in ways she had never imagined.

BLURB:
Abused and abandoned as a child, Célie Francis knows better than to trust anyone. But after she witnesses a murder, she's placed in the Unit "New Zealand's witness protection program" where she's expected to trust strangers with her life.

It's psychologist Brand Turner's job to ease witnesses into their new identities, not to protect them, but Célie stirs feelings in him that are far from professional. When it appears someone is leaking critical information that could endanger Célie, Brand will do anything to protect her. But first he has to convince her to trust him.

Adrift in a frightening world, Célie would like to believe the handsome psychologist is everything he seems, but as witnesses are murdered and danger swirls around them, Célie must decide "can she trust Brand with her life? 

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Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads. a>.