Sunday, 16 January 2022

10 Ways Authors Can Keep Their Characters in Turmoil and Their Readers Reading by C.D. Hersh...

We recently came across an old email entitled Instructions for Life. The 45 positive recommendations on the list are meant to help make one’s life better. By turning some of the instructions upside down and we created bad life advice that will keep novel characters in turmoil.

Next time things are going too smoothly with your WIP try throwing one of these in the mix.

    • 1. Let them believe in love at first sight, but fight it like it can’t exist.
    • 2. If they make a mistake, don’t let them be too quick to acknowledge it.
    • 3. Let them fall in love deeply, passionately, and with people they would never choose. They might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.
    • 4. Make them fight to keep their values, but make sure they do keep them. No one loves an un-heroic hero.
    • 5. Remember silence is sometimes the best answer and unanswered questions are always suspect.
    • 6. Let them dredge up the past; it makes for good conflicts.
    • 7. Let them read between the lines … a lot. Miscommunication thickens the plot.
    • 8. Let them slowly discover that not getting what they want is sometimes the best thing that ever happened.
    • 9. Never let them mind their own business. You can’t get in trouble that way.
    • 10. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risks, and make them willing to risk everything to reach their goals.

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping your characters in turmoil?

Now if you want to see what we do with our characters how about checking out our series.


Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. 

As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. They are two hearts creating everlasting love stories.  

Catherine and Donald look 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. 

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their Website and at Soul Mate Publishing. Stay connected on Facebook, their Amazon Author Page, and Twitter.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Heat Up Your Winter with Cookbook Author Sloane Taylor's Spicy Jambalaya...

With winter in full swing, I asked cookbook author and gourmet guru, Sloane Taylor to stop by and prepare us a pre-Mardi Gras dish guaranteed to keep you warm enough to make you believe that you're in the middle of New Orleans on a steamy summer evening. Welcome, Sloane! My virtual kitchen is yours, so let's heat things up...

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
½ tbsp. garlic, chopped
¾ lb. andouille sausage, sliced to pieces 1 inch thick
2½ cups chicken stock, possibly more
½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ cup paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. tabasco sauce2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup rice
1 cup green onions, chopped, include plenty of green

Warm a Dutch oven on medium heat. Pour in oil. When it shimmers add onion, celery, and green pepper. Sauté 7 – 9 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Adjust heat so onion doesn’t burn. Add garlic. Sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly.  

Stir in sausage and stock. Add remaining ingredients, except rice and green onions, and then stir well.

Add rice and bring to a boil. Cover then lower heat to simmer. Cook 25 minutes. Stir well after each 10 minutes so rice doesn’t stick to pan. Add more stock if the food looks dry.

Sprinkle green onions across the rice mixture when you serve.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!


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's cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Summer Sizzle, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.

Excerpts from her books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

A New Year of Being Resilient in my Author Life…

As we close up the second year of the pandemic, albeit a more hopeful year than 2020, I can’t help but wonder what’s in store for us resilient humans in 2022. Perhaps resilience is the key. Being resilient in your chosen profession and your life. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything it’s to truly be resilient in the face of adversity. To adapt, go with the flow, rebound, or be flexible. It’s how we’ve survived throughout the millennia, and how businesses choose to evolve instead of die. Remember Sears? If not, do a check and see what businesses survived during this pandemic. How did they adapt? What did people do to keep themselves (and their customers) safe and protected? That’s where the answers will lie.

With our hands tied these past two years, even authors have had to give up in-person events such as book signings and doing public readings or book launches. Zoom became our friend in order to reach readers. Social media continued to thrive, though we should be mindful of what content we allow into our energy system. If we keep our wits about us, we’ll thrive. That’s what I plan to do in 2022. With the release of my latest time travel young adult book (number three in the series) The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, last September I worked hard promoting it (mostly online) to become my publisher’s bestselling author in the second half of the year. I’m high fiving myself in the mirror for that achievement! However, being a resilient author (or insert a profession here) doesn’t stop there. Like the Covid-19 virus has trained us, we need to mutate into the next variant if we want to better our best. After all, that’s what evolution is all about.

 Speaking of evolution, my publisher is celebrating their eighth anniversary in the publishing biz in 2022, and have got an amazing deal for readers who love to escape into a book. So, without further ado, Mirror World Publishing is offering a discount of 20% off ebooks and paperbacks in their online store to their friends, family, and fans for the entire month of January 2022. How does it get any better than that! Use the code MWFAM22 to cash in on some really great reads this winter by visiting to feed your need to read!

In case you never got the chance, please check out my candid interview with my publisher below as we go ‘beyond the bio’. I share some personal and professional info, as well as what’s happening next in my author life. Cheers and wishing you and your loved ones a safe and wonderful new year! Happy reading…

 Tell us a bit about yourself, your hobbies, or your background.

Only a bit? LOL! Actually, I really think my Twitter account bio nails it: Author of THE LAST
TIMEKEEPERS and MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS YA series. Lover of single malt scotch, anything arcane, and ancient mysteries.

Allow me to explain.

I’ve always loved watching shows or reading about the unexplained, supernatural, ancient mysteries, and legends throughout my life. Topics like Atlantis, the Druids, Robin Hood, Voodoo, monsters, and psychic abilities intrigue me. I’m a deep thinker, as well as an analytical thinker (in fact I’m an over-thinker) which prods me on to do the research needed to get those golden ‘fact’ nuggets I can use to make my books entertaining and educational for the reader.

Of course, the single malt scotch needs no explanation after a hard day of writing. Cheers!

What's your writing process like?

Cut a vein and write. Kidding. My writing process is always the same for every book. First, I start with the characters and build the story around them. The characters—my characters—must carry the story to completion, and give readers closure. It’s a must. In order to do this, I begin writing out character tracking sheets (stats on character appearances, clothing, likes and dislikes, etc.) which have served me well throughout the writing process. Then the fun begins. Research, research, and more research. I love this part of the process too. Only when I have enough facts, and I feel my characters are fleshed out sufficiently, then I begin to plot the novel. That’s another thing—I’m an intuitive plotter and love to outline the entire storyline. I also make sure I leave enough room for my Muse to pop in and direct me to where my imagination wishes to go.

Hindsight has taught me that I’m a little anal when it comes to managing my writing life, and love to be prepared and organized when getting to the guts of a story. Guess that’s how I’m built!

Tell us about your books and why you write in the genre that you do, or for the age market you've chosen.

A psychic once told me I’d always be a little girl at heart, so I figured why not write for her? I believe the young adult genre chose me, and not the other way around. The first book I penned was a supernatural romance thriller with shapeshifters, witches, and African folklore in the mix. When I received a critique from a dear friend who said my ‘voice’ was definitely more for the young adult crowd, I almost fell off the chair in shock. The more I thought about it, the more I knew in my heart that her constructive critique was bang-on.

Presently, I have two young adult book series on the go: The Last Timekeepers time travel adventures, and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mysteries. Both series contain a healthy dose of humor, mystery, and the unexpected; served with a dash of inspiration, entertainment, and education on the side.

What do you have going on right now in your writing life? Anything new we should be looking out for?

Well, the third installment (fourth if you count the prequel) of The Last Timekeepers series entitled, The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave came out on September 17th, 2021 which I was so excited about! It’s been a long time coming, as this book was put on the backburner so I could release books one and two of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. Once I caught up with those launches, it was back to the writing grindstone to complete the next time travel adventure which is set in antebellum Georgia during 1855. My poor characters are in for the rides of their lives with this Timekeeper mission!

Currently, I’m working on the next book in Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Sticks and Stones, where the main character’s latent psychokinetic ability is unleased in the most unexpected ways. So, keep an eye out for this book in the near future!   

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

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this 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.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

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.

Sunday, 26 December 2021

Hitting the (BBQ) Sauce for the Holidays by Author Helen Carpenter...

My hubby and I like to hit the sauce at lunchtime—no, wait! That didn't sound right! What I meant to say is we like barbeque sauce for lunch! At least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

While we're not sauciers or even a saucier's apprentice, we do enjoy experimenting with flavors, because we are well aware that what's sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the chicken.

However, in the case of our Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken, we seldom think outside the box—the box being the carton brick of fresh, sun-ripened Italian tomatoes that is the base of this delicious recipe.

Tomatoes in a box? Yep. We highly recommend that you give your can the boot. Switching to the box will turn you into a superb saucy chef, and the effect on your condiments will be awesome sauce. Pretty soon you'll be hitting the sauce too! (The barbeque sauce, of course!)

Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

1 box (26.4 oz) finely chopped tomatoes
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp black pepper
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken

Put tomatoes, cheese, sugar, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper in crockpot. Stir to mix.

Add chicken.

Cook on high setting for 2-3 hours; or low setting for 4-6 hours.

Serve on rolls, or eat as a main dish with a side of chips.

Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author duo named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. the Carpenters worked from their studio in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-If, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years  and appreciates everyday, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

Love Those Fictional Christmas Baddies...


Ebenezer Scrooge

Scrooge. The Grinch. Mr. Potter—not Harry—the miserable old coot in the wheelchair from the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. These are a few of my favorite Christmas Baddies—those characters who challenge, set up road blocks, and create a swill of holiday ‘uncheer’ for the heroes of their stories. They’re fun to watch and read about, these naysayers of Christmas crank. Can’t they possibly see how wrong they are? That they are creating their reality? No. No they can’t.

My favorite character to date has got to be Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. He’s like a fly in a spider’s web that keeps struggling against his true self until he gets all wrapped up in what he’s created (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes) that it’s almost too late to save himself against himself. I mean, it really takes a meeting with the Grim Reaper to jar that tightwad into a philanthropist? Really?

The Grinch
Then there’s Dr. Suess’s, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Stink. Stank. Stunk. That little green creature makes the
Martians in H.G. Wells novel, War of the Worlds approachable, cute, and cuddly. Thank goodness for people like Sue Who. She knew what this Christmas Spirit was all about, and influenced that miserable green Grinch’s heart to open and expand three times its size. You can take away the presents, decorations, candy, and that roast beast, but not the true meaning of Christmas—not the love. Cheers to all you Sue Whos of the world!

Mr. Potter

Finally, there’s crotchety old Mr. Potter. Kind of like a Mr. Scrooge, but much worse. He had no ghosts of Christmas past, present or future to visit him. He only had plucky George Bailey, who really didn’t want to stick around Bedford Falls anyway. Let’s face it, if George had left, then Mr. Potter’s life would have been a hell of a lot easier. But it took an angel like Clarence to set George straight and stand up against all those ‘Mr. Potters’ of the world. Kudos Clarence!

So even storybook Christmas Baddies have something to teach the world, and continue to do so throughout their ‘fictional’ lives. And with the publishing business continuing to evolve and grow, that’s a long, long, long time. Who’s your favorite Christmas Baddie? Love to hear from you! Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday. Bah Humbug and Cheers!

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Dress Up the Holiday Season with this Tasty Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake and Relax with a YA Time Travel Adventure Read...

Talk about a dessert that delivers, this divine cheesecake takes…well, takes the cake! Whether you’re hosting the party or on board to bring something tasty, this dressed up treat will make heads turn, and mouths water. Perfect for holiday gatherings or celebrations, with a total prep and bake time of 5 hours and 30 minutes (includes refrigeration), this cheesecake easily serves a crowd of sixteen of your closest cohorts. 

Toblerone Caramel Cheesecake

1¼ cups Oreo Baking Crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
3 packages (250 g/8.82 ounces each) brick cream cheese, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping
1 bar (100 g/3.52 ounces) Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate, coarsely chopped 

Preheat oven to 350° F. 

Mix crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. 

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. 

Bake 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool cake before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours. 

Spread caramel topping over cheesecake just before serving. Garnish with chopped chocolate. Enjoy! 

While you’re waiting for the cheesecake to set in the fridge, take some well-deserved ‘me time’ along with a peek at my latest time travel release.

True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

Eleven-year-old Drake Bailey is an analytical thinker and the genius of the Timekeeper crew. However, no logic or mathematical acumen can change the color of his skin, or prepare him for this third Timekeeper mission in antebellum Georgia. To survive, Drake must learn to play the role of a plantation slave and when confronted with the brutality, hatred, and racism of the deep south, he’ll have to strategically keep one move ahead of his sadistic captors to ensure his lineage continues.

In a dark world of Voodoo, zombies, and ritualistic sacrifice, the Timekeepers must ensure a royal bloodline survives. Can Drake remove both literal and figurative chains to save both himself and a devout slave girl from a terrible fate? If he can’t summon the necessary courage, humanity could stand to lose one of its greatest leaders. 


Suddenly, a radiant white light beamed from the archway like a lighthouse beacon. Drake hooded his eyes. Amanda grimaced, cradled her stomach, and fell to her knees. Perspiration beaded across her forehead while she fumbled for the Timekeepers’ log in her purse. Amanda pulled a thin, pencil-like writing instrument Lilith called a crystal chalkis out of the log’s spine, and opened the log. Her left hand jumped across the page, scrawling at an incredible rate. Amanda’s breathing became labored. She tossed the crystal chalkis and Timekeepers’ log aside, and lurched to vomit across the lawn. 

“What the—” Jordan crouched to steady her. “Amanda? Are…are you okay?” 

Treena heaved. “Oh, I don’t do pity puke well.” 

“Neither do I,” Ravi said, puffing his cheeks. “I can’t unsee or unhear that.” 

A sharp whoosh—like the sound of a spaceship’s door opening on a science fiction television show—made Drake glance into the archway. Lilith appeared with her arms open wide, and a slight halo around her slim body. The shimmering, dark blue sleeveless dress she wore billowed as if a great force rolled in behind her.  

“Greetings, Time...” Her sea blue eyes widened. “Amanda, let what you feel pass. They are old emotions embedded into the vibration of your new mission.” 

“Embedded emotions?” Drake asked. “Is that like those haunted imprints we experienced in our last Timekeeper mission?” 

Melody grabbed the garden hose and rushed over to Amanda. “John, please turn on the tap.” 

“Hang in there, Amanda, the cool water will make you feel better,” the Prof said. 

Lilith clasped her hands together, and nodded, making the numerous quartz crystals holding up her blond hair quiver. “Yes, Drake, but worse. These haunted imprints go deeper.” 

A terrible ache spiked through Drake’s stomach. He picked up the opened Timekeepers’ log, swallowed hard, and read aloud, “April 8th, 1855—Fields of blood bathe the deep south’s soil as a race of people continue to toil. Broken in body, but not in soul, they wait for a King to make them all whole. 

Drake stuffed the crystal chalkis into the spine of the Timekeepers’ log. He imagined wearing the standard issue red uniform of a crewman in his favorite space show. The crewman who always gets killed by the end of the episode. Was this a call of duty or a suicide mission? Drake’s belly burned. Now he wanted to puke too. 

Available at Amazon and all major vendors. 

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Floral Masterpieces for the Holidays by Greenhouse Guru and Regency Romance Author Emma Lane...

I love to create festive bouquets for any season, but my personal favorite is Christmas. The holiday colors are vibrant and a joy to bring together in stunning arrangements. So let’s talk a little about how you can create masterpieces for your home and as hostess gifts. The work isn’t hard. It simply takes a little patience. 

It looks easy, but the greenery for bouquets is more complicated than you might think. I'm fortunate because there is a veritable forest in my front and back yards. I deliberately refrain from trimming the evergreen shrubs out front until the holidays. That gives me a very fresh start to my bouquet which is difficult to match with store bought greenery. If you have any type shrub in your yard it will work. If not then you are forced to purchase them. I strongly recommend you visit your local nursery for the foliage you want. 

There’s a combination of old-fashioned yew shrub because it holds the needles for a good while. I add cuttings from a blue spruce just because I love the tinted color. Then my secret choice for Christmas is clippings from a juniper shrub for its heady, wintry seasonal fragrance. I once made a bouquet using only juniper but quickly learned why that wasn’t a good idea. They dry out rapidly and lose the rich green color most desired. So, tuck them in to smell good but toward the back. There are plenty of other types of evergreen shrubs for possible Christmas decorations. By all means, bring them inside and test their worthiness.

Next are the luscious red berries. They grow on a native shrub named winterberry (ilex, a member of the holly berry family) in slightly swampy terrain. No, don’t go wild crafting unless you wear high waterproof boots! Fortunately, our brilliant horticulturists have propagated this shrub for home gardeners. Consider planting them in your yard. You must have a male and female to get berries and it takes patience. They are not fast growers, but well worth the effort. Plant toward the back of the garden. The bush itself is not all that attractive until the Fall berries appear. Then you begin a vigil to pick them before the flocks of robins descend during migration. Cedar Waxwings love them too, but they are so beautiful I give in just for the pleasure of watching. Winterberries are frequently found for sale at late Farmers’ Markets and in craft and florist shops. They will dry out but seldom fall off unless bumped or roughly handled. 

You all know about poinsettia, the official Christmas potted flower. It’s the brackets that have the color. The flower itself is the small yellow center bloom.  I personally find them boring, but one day an idea came to me. I cut them as if for a cut flower bouquet. Here are a few photos to better explain.

Once I bought a pink one and lightly sprayed it a tinted blue, as a blue bouquet was what the customer needed, pairing it with sprayed-gold milk weed pods. 

The last one is a pale pink mixed with dried dock and milk weed pods, the red berries tucked in here and there with a brass colored vase. I’m particularly fond of this one. Christmas bouquets need not always be red to be lovely. 

I wish you all a beautiful healthy and happy holiday season!


Enjoy the holiday season with one or both of Emma Lane’s sweet Regency Romances collections. Here is a brief intro for you.


Families can be troublesome, but a next door neighbor can sometimes be even worse. Caroline is a strong-willed young lady and refuses to be bullied by a handsome duke. Four sweet Regency romances to get you in the mood for the season.

 Amazon Link

Winter storms swirling snow and unexpected guests on the eve of Christmas, the pungent fragrance of fresh pine boughs, springs of mistletoe hung with red ribbons, and a stolen kiss underneath the kissing ball comprise scenes of Christmas in the country. Ice skating anyone? Have a cup of wassail and toast your toes in front of a warm fire while you enjoy four short stories of sweet Regency Christmas romances. 

Amazon 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.