Monday 28 December 2015

Lights! Camera! Action!

Happy Holidays to all my followers! If you didn't get the chance to watch my first video author interview with the charming Adam Giles for Mirror World News, then here's your chance. During our interview, I talk about my time travel series, what's coming up next, and give some pointers to fellow writers. It was fun to do, and although I was a tad nervous, I think I pulled off my first face-to-face interview with style and finesse! At least I hope I did! Wink.

Wishing you all the best in 2016, and thank you for investing your time by tuning into my weekly blog! I really appreciate your support and kind comments. Cheers and please enjoy! Roll'em, Adam...

Monday 14 December 2015

Book Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom…

I was looking for a book to take with me on my recent holiday (something light and easy to read)—so when I saw the title of this book, my heart almost stopped. Huh? Another book using the name time keeper? Perish the thought! And not written by just any author, but by Mitch Albom who has rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, including being Oprah’s Book Club pick. I reached for the book and checked the publication date. To my surprise The Time Keeper was published in 2012, the same year as the first book in my young adult time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis came out through my former publisher. Coincidence? I think not.

Here’s the gist of this novel…

The Time Keeper is a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours. The man who became Father Time.

In The Time Keeper, the inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world-now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began-and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

After reading The Time Keeper, I found Albom truly has a gift for words. He has a unique brand of storytelling, one I’ve never come across before, which made this book flow easily. The tale is original and inspirational. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how to read Albom’s prose, but soon I found that I couldn’t put it down. I’d get to the end of one chapter, then was hooked into the next one. Although Albom’s spiritual convictions shine through, he’s not preachy, and leaves room for his readers’ imagination to percolate throughout the story. I loved the way certain myths were introduced into the mix—the Tower of Babel and Father Time—to give the story an air of familiarity. All and all, this book is worth the investment of your time, whether on vacation or cozying up on the couch at home.

Having read this book made me stop and think about how I spend my time and what is truly important in my life. Trust me, when you’re on your death bed, you’re not going to wish you could have spent more hours at work. Life is all about relationships, how you treat others and how you treat them. Life is about what makes you happy, what fulfills you. Just to stop and be still in the moment—now that’s a gift you can’t count.

So what about you? Read any good books lately? Would love to hear your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday 7 December 2015

Book Tour: Goth Girl, Virgin Queen by JoAnne Keltner...

Book Information:

Title: Goth Girl, Virgin Queen

Author Name: JoAnne Keltner

Genre(s): Young Adult Paranormal

Length: Approx. 298 pages

Release Date: December 3, 2015

Jackie Turov, a Different Kind of Psychic...

Jackie Turov (Goth Girl, Virgin Queen) hates being called psychic. When her friends compare her to Madam Sophie, the local fortuneteller and serious fashion crimes offender, she swears she’s not psychic—not like her. Although Jackie denies her psychic gifts because of the guilt she carries, she’s right in that she has different abilities than Madam Sophie.

There are many types of psychics, which are based on the ability they possess. For example, mediums communicate with the dead. Clairvoyants see things that can’t be seen with the five senses. Since they can see things that the normal person can’t, they are typically helpful in offering people guidance. Some psychics use divination tools, such as Tarot cards and tea leaves, to predict the future or to gain insight into a person’s life. Others can see and interpret auras, the colorful energy fields that surround living things. Empaths pick up the emotional states of people. Psychometrists read objects and people through touch. And claircongnizants know things intuitively, typically by picking up a “gut” feeling. This is just a short list of psychic types, and many psychics have a combination of abilities.

So what kind of psychic is Jackie? Jackie is an empath and a psychometrist. Plus, she can read auras. She absorbs the emotions of people just by being near them and also picks up emotions and information through touch. This information tells her things about a person’s past and about the present. Her empathic ability is the most crippling for her because she absorbs emotions into her body. This makes her sick, especially when the emotions are toxically hateful or extremely sad.
Madam Sophie is a classic mind reader, plus she uses psychometry and divination tools to gain insight.

Jason (Jackie’s best friend) argues that Jackie is psychic in the traditional sense, that she can predict the future because she predicted the Holy Resurrection fire. Is Jason right? Does Jackie also possess the power to see into the future? Read Goth Girl, Virgin Queen to find out.

About Goth Girl, Virgin Queen:

Calling Jackie Turov psychic makes her cringe. But Jackie’s no normal seventeen-year-old. She picks up emotions from people and objects like a freak. The emotions make her sick, and the guilt she feels for lying to her church when she was twelve causes her to deny her psychic abilities.

So Jackie goes goth to make others stay away from her and forget her past. But her past is soon resurrected when her jealous friend Trish invites a demon, a persecutor of healers, to steal away Jason’s love for Jackie. The demon causes Jackie to be bullied for the lie she told and puts her best friend, Jason, in danger.

Jackie must learn how to use her gift to protect Jason and herself and to heal the negative energies of those around her. To do so means she must overcome her guilt and accept who she is before the demon claims her soul.

Read an Excerpt:

The medicine cabinet mirror—dotted with rust and turning gray—made the powder foundation on Jackie’s face look ashen and her jet-black hair, blurry. She looked like a shadow of a girl. She smeared black lipstick on her lips and shook out her shoulder-length hair. Her straight-cut bangs veiled her mascara-lined eyes, and the layered ends of her hair stuck out in defiant wisps.

Some of the kids at school—the ones she didn’t hang out with—called her Goth Girl. Some, whose memories wouldn’t die, called her VQ for Virgin Queen.

Jackie preferred Goth Girl, to be one of the living dead, to be numb to the emotions that plagued her. But this was what she wanted, not what she got.

Goth Girl or Virgin Queen, she was a freak, absorbing the emotions around her like a sponge. Sometimes the emotions made her sick. Sometimes they made her see things.

Because of this, she kept to a tight-knit group of goth friends—Jason, Zeta, and Trish—and avoided social activities. She attended high school only because Mom wouldn’t let her homeschool. Mom was afraid she’d hang with Babu all day, making piroshki and doing needlepoint instead of studying. Jackie, afraid of what life offered a freak like her beyond high school, had to admit that hanging with Babu all day was tempting.

Typically, Fridays were movie nights for Jason and her, but tonight would be different. Tonight, she’d subject herself to a hodgepodge of emotions from crowds and rides and the very ground she’d walk on to protect Jason. For this, she would need physical and spiritual strength, which she sought from Babu these days.

Babu’s door was cracked, and Jackie slowly pushed the door open. “Babu?”

The room smelled of beeswax and down. A candle burned on the shrine on the dresser. The flickering flame animated the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir and cast shadows across the picture of Babu, Grandma, Mom, and Jackie. Although Babu didn’t speak English, and Jackie didn’t understand much Russian, Jackie knew Babu kept that picture on her shrine to pray for Grandma, who passed away several years ago; for Mom, who divorced Dad; and for the girl who saw the Virgin when she was twelve—for the girl she had become as a teen.

Babu sat in bed, a country quilt spread over her legs, her thumb pressed against a knot of her prayer rope, her head bowed sleepily, and her lips wording prayers.

“I wanted to say goodbye,” Jackie whispered.

Babu crossed herself and then smiled at Jackie, her gold eyetooth shining from the light of the bed-stand lamp. She patted the empty space beside her. “Sadees.”

Jackie sat down beside Babu at the edge of the bed and took Babu’s hand in hers. Babu’s hand was warm and knotted with arthritis. Jackie rubbed her thumb over the bumps on Babu’s knuckles; her black fingernails were a sharp contrast to Babu’s flour-white skin.

She wasn’t afraid to touch Babu’s hands and absorb her emotions. Jackie got a good feeling from her. Babu filled Jackie’s inner vision with white light. She renewed her spirit. And this is what Jackie needed for the commitment she had made for tonight.

Kooda eedyosh?” Babu asked.

“I’m going out,” Jackie said as if Babu understood her. This is how they communicated: Babu telling her stuff she couldn’t understand, Jackie telling Babu stuff she couldn’t understand. Somehow they carried on fine this way.

Eedyosh sdroozyamee?”

“I’m going with Jason.”

Babu rubbed the top of Jackie’s hand and ran her thumb over black fingernails. “Fsyevo kharoshevuh,” she said in a comforting tone and gently squeezed Jackie’s hand. Then she cupped her hands around Jackie’s jaws and pulled her forehead to her lips. Jackie imagined Babu’s kiss imprinted on her forehead and carrying Babu’s blessings and love with her tonight.
Meet the Author:

JoAnne Keltner is the author of Goth Girl, Virgin Queen (Solstice Publishing, 2015) and Obsession (Musa Publishing, 2013 ed.). As an only child and avid daydreamer, she spent hours alone in her backyard on the South Side of Chicago, which she imagined to be everything from an alien planet to the Antarctic. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, four dogs, cat, and three chickens. When she isn't writing or freelance editing, she's obsessively streaming popular TV shows.

Social Media Links:

Monday 30 November 2015

Why Writers need R&R…

Recently, my hubby and I just got back from vacation. We went on a Caribbean cruise for our 30th Anniversary—a trip that had been on our bucket list for such a long time. We also spent a couple of nights in New Orleans—love the energy and party atmosphere down there! This was also the first long vacation we took together (read: no kids in tow) in twenty-five years. Um, yeah. You read that right. Twenty-five years? That’s like 175 in dog years!

In the past, vacations were usually centered around family. We journeyed to our cottage with our son or camped up north with our daughters. Ah, the good old days of black flies and mosquitoes! That said, when you own a vacation home, you really become popular to family, friends, and long-lost relatives, especially in the hot, summer months. But when it’s time to pull in the boats and docks or put away garden furniture for the colder seasons, you can’t see their butts through the dust. Wink.

My writing seemed to flow with the seasons too. I’d wrap up stories and schedule a pile of blog posts by the end of June in anticipation for school wrapping up, the hot weather, and onslaught of summer guests. Although I loved seeing family and friends, it wasn’t much of a ‘vacation’ for me. You know what I mean. Someone has to cook, clean, fetch drinks, feed the pets, wash the clothes, grocery shop while others are sitting on the dock, sunning themselves with a cold one. By mid-October, I was finally back in my writing groove, working on the next novel, doing research, or picking up where I left off with my story. Oh, and don’t forget about all the book promotion and marketing an author has to do. No wonder many writers burn out!

I believe 2015 was my turnaround year—click HERE to read the full story. Every writer needs a year that shakes up things like one of those snow globes until everything settles and you can see clearly. What I saw was one stressed-out author who barely kept it together. We writers can only do so much. We need down time just as much as a doctor or accountant or a plumber. Vacations are meant to recharge us, take us away from our same old routines. We all need a period of renewal to calm our minds and rejuvenate our bodies. Play time is just as important as work time, even if you can get away for only a few days.

I found it - the 7th Arch of Atlantis!
Since I’ve returned, I feel renewed and relaxed, and certain things don’t bother me as much. I even unplugged from my phone during the entire seven day cruise. Egad! And you know what? Life went on, and the world didn’t stop turning because I wasn’t tweeting or sharing. Being away from my keyboard also gave me a fresher perspective on my work-in-progress too, and I was able sit down with no distractions and make a plan for the rest of the year. I’d forgotten why I started writing in the first place—yes I want to supplement my income (what writer doesn’t?), but also want to follow my dream, and do what makes me happy. And isn’t that why we’re all here on Earth in the first place?

So what about you? Do you have any plans for a vacation in the future? Are you ready to unplug and relax? Would love to hear your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday 23 November 2015

Book Tour: The Curse At Pirate's Cove by Rita Monette...

Follow the Tour for Reviews, Guest Posts, Exclusive Excerpts, and Spotlights!

“When one man’s treasure is another man’s curse"

Book Information:

Title: The Curse at Pirate’s Cove

Series:  Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, Book 2

Author Name: Rita Monette

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Adventure, Mystery

Tags: Middle Grade, Adventure, Pirates, Bayou, Louisiana

Length: Approx. 208 pages

E-book:  978-1-987976-02-1
Paperback:  978-1-987976-01-4

Re-Release Date: Nov.17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

About the Book:

Nikki Landry is turning eleven years old, and is looking forward to riding her bike to school. That is until it falls apart. Papa can’t afford a new one. Is she doomed to ride the smelly old school bus from now on?

Hearing of an old pirate ship, and a legend about long-ago pirates burying treasure on a nearby swamp island, Nikki sees a way out. But when she makes a birthday wish for the pirate’s gold, things go terribly wrong. Did her wish trigger an ancient curse?

Join Nikki and her friends as they find themselves sailing away aboard a haunted schooner with ghostly pirates into the Gulf of Mexico … and into the year eighteen fourteen.

How will they ever find their way back home?

Pierre Part Louisiana

by Rita Monette

I have been spending the last few weeks in my home state of Louisiana, promoting my books and visiting relatives.

Today I visited my brother in the small town of Pierre Part, Louisiana, which also happens to be the home of Troy Landry of the Swamp People TV series, and where my series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, begins. No, Nikki is not kin to Troy—at least I don’t think so.  

The town is about as Cajun as anywhere in Louisiana. Folks there make their living in the bayous, where crawfish, crabs, and alligators are plentiful.

However, I came across one man that makes his living gathering old cypress and turning it into artistic creations. His name is Adam Morales. He says he is blessed to be able to see things in the old remains of cypress trees. Here are a couple of his creations... 

Many folks in Pierre Part still live in houseboats, just like they did back in 1956 where my stories begin.

This week is the release of book two, The Curse at Pirate’s Cove, which is set in the nearby town of Morgan City, and in the Atchafalaya Swamp, where Mr. Morales collects the cypress for his artwork. 

Follow the Tour:

Purchase Links:


Mirror World Publishing:


Barnes and Noble:

Meet the Author:

Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state.

Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father—who made his living in those bayous—of reasons to stay out of the swamp.

She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that make their habitat on the Cumberland Plateau, working in the garden, and frequenting waterfalls.

Social Media Links:

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Great Giveaways for the 2015 Holiday Season...

‘Tis the season to start thinking about giving and receiving, isn’t it? So what better way to kick off the upcoming holiday season with a Goodreads Giveaway and a chance to receive a Kindle full of over fifty tween reads via the Emblazon Christmas Giveaway! Sounds like Santa is coming early, doesn’t it?

The Emblazon Kindle Christmas Giveaway begins Tuesday, November 17th and ends Tuesday, December 1st. That’s two full weeks for a chance to win your adolescent a new Kindle pre-loaded with over fifty ebooks for your tween. Just visit HERE to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance win this awesome gift for your tween girl or boy!

I’ve also decided to create a Goodreads Giveaway for only Goodreads members in Canada and the United States so the winner will be able to receive a signed copy of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis in time for Christmas. The Giveway commences on November 18th and ends December  9th, so there will be plenty of time to mail the winner his or her copy. Wishing you all good luck and happy holidays! Cheers!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis by Sharon Ledwith

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends December 09, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday 16 November 2015

Hit your Readers in the Heart…

In order for an author to be successful, he or she must have a successful author brand. Your brand is your name. It’s what people connect you with or think about when your name is mentioned. For example, Stephen King = horror, Rick Riordan = young adult myths and legends, JRR Tolkien = epic fantasy, Kelly Armstrong = paranormal romance, and Diana Gabaldon = time travel romance. I could go on, but you get the picture. Each name evokes a genre or a series, and each brand is high concept.

So how do you develop your author brand (name) into a household word that conjures creepy clowns or teen demigods or hobbits or sexy werewolves or time traveling standing stones and kilts? You need to hit your readers in the heart. Create a positive emotional experience so that they’ll become loyal readers and word of mouth heralds for each book you publish.

This strategy is the basis of social media. You connect with others because of what they say, pictures they post, or the experiences they share. Somehow, an emotional cord is struck, and you want to reach out to people and give them your support or a kind word or thank them for making you laugh your ass off for posting a cute dog or kitten video. Emotion connects us all, makes us human. And depending what you share or post, if people like what they read or see or hear, they begin to trust you. If you’re an author who writes books with animals as main characters, you can bet you’ll grab the interest of animal lovers all over the world.

One way to help figure out your ‘brand’ is to create a tagline for yourself, just as you would for a book. I did a lot of soul searching on this and decided that I wanted to conjure feelings of nostalgia with each book I write—give my books that ‘good old days’ spin. Who doesn’t like happy memories of their childhood? So I came up with: Escape to the past and have a blast. Simple and direct. I want my readers to escape from the mundane and be drawn into a familiar world where they’ll have a pleasurable and exciting experience. At least that’s my hope!    

When you find out what makes your audience tick, you’ve hit their sweet spot. You give them more of what they want. They need it. They crave it. Write it for them. Make them feel through your words. It’s what authors do. It’s what we crave.

So what about you? When it comes to reading, what hits your heart? What do you crave? Would love to hear your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday 9 November 2015

A Meal Fit for a High Priestess...

In my book, Legend of the Timekeepers—the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series—Istulo, a high priestess from the Black Land is a whiz when it comes to concocting potions and elixirs. But I bet she’d trade an arcane secret or two just for a taste of this mouth-watering ham and potato brew. Easy to prepare with a prep time of 20 minutes and cook time of 25 minutes, this heavenly soup will get a thumbs-up from even the fussiest high priest or priestess in your brood.

Thumbs-Up Ham and Potato Soup

3½ cups peeled and diced potatoes
⅓ cup diced celery
⅓ cup finely chopped onion
¾ cup diced cooked ham
3¼ cups water 2 tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tbsp. butter
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

COMBINE potatoes, celery, onion, ham, and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil. Lower temp to medium heat. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper. 

MELT butter over medium-low heat in a separate saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute.

STIR in milk lowly as not to allow lumps to form until all. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4-5 minutes. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through.

SERVE immediately.

Now, while you’re waiting for the potato and ham soup to digest why not put your feet up and relax with a good book? Ready for a trip to Atlantis?

Monday 2 November 2015

Promo Feature: YA Author Lisa Orchard's The Starlight Chronicles...

“The Starlight Chronicles”
The box set is on sale for $.99!


Lark Singer is seventeen years old and already on the way to a brilliant music career. But as she and her band, Starlight, gear up for a competition, life seems to be throwing her a few curve balls. The mysteries of her past seem to be unraveling, and she’s no longer certain she wants to know those answers or how knowing about her past will affect her difficult relationship with her mother. And when her best friend, Bean, changes things between them, all her plans for a musical future are placed in jeopardy. How can she balance her complicated personal life to keep her musical goals on track?


Gideon Lee
Lark Singer


Social Media Links:

Author Bio:

Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series that Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.

Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Monday 26 October 2015

Set Sail with MG author Rita Monette’s newest Nikki Landry release…

Batten down the hatches! The pirates are coming!  

The Curse at Pirate’s Cove, the second installment in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend series, is due to be released next month, on November 17. 

It was previously scheduled for October 17, but was postponed due to unforeseen problems. 

But Nikki and her friends know exactly what the problem was…it was those pesky pirates…and the curse. Yes, they’ve been at it again. 

Here’s a description of the book and what’s going on with Nikki in book two:

“When one man’s treasure is another one’s curse.”

Nikki Landry is turning eleven years old, and is looking forward to riding her bike to school. That is until it falls apart. Papa can’t afford a new one. Is she doomed to ride the smelly old school bus from now on? 

Hearing of an old pirate ship, and a legend about long-ago pirates burying treasure on a nearby swamp island, Nikki sees a way out. But when she makes a birthday wish for the pirate’s gold, things go terribly wrong. Did her wish trigger an ancient curse?

Join Nikki and her friends as they find themselves sailing away aboard a haunted schooner with ghostly pirates into the Gulf of Mexico … and into the year eighteen fourteen. 

How will they ever find their way back home? 

Here’s an excerpt from the book: 

“How do you know it’s a pirate ship?”
“It has to be, Nikki. Listen.” He turned toward me. “I was out at Uncle Luke’s this past weekend, and he told me all about it.”
“I ain’t believing there’s no pirate ship out in those swamps.” I lifted my chin.
“Just hear me out, Tomboy.” He sounded impatient. “There’s a legend that goes along with it, see.” He leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “There might even be a curse.”
“A legend?” He had my attention. I prided myself in being a super legend buster ever since I solved the one about Ghost Dog Island last year. I even got my picture in the newspaper. “Well, tell me about it.”
“I’m trying to.” He waved his hands in the air.
We propped ourselves against a couple of large limbs and got out our lunch bags.
“Uncle Luke says he first heard about it back when he was a kid. He says a friend of his grandfather, by the name of Beco, was out trapping on Fog Island with his buddy Clamare. They came across this here hole in the ground with a half-buried wooden chest, see. It had a big old lock on it. There was a couple of coins in the dirt, so Clamare picked them up and slipped them in his pocket. Beco decided he’d go back for some tools and shovels to dig the rest of it out, and told Clamare to stay there and watch the chest. On his way out to the edge of the island, he saw this ragged old ship. Thinking it was kind of odd looking for being in the swamps and all, he got a little closer. It had a broken mast and raggedy sails.” He poked me with his elbow. “When was the last time you ever saw a fishing boat with sails?”
I shook my head. “Never.” I unwrapped a peanut butter and jam sandwich and took a bite. “What’d he do?”
“Well, he started to board it, see?” Spikes dug into his own lunch bag. “But then he heard some talking coming out of the boat. He stopped right then and there, ’cause he didn’t know who might be on that old wreck out in the middle of nowhere, and there weren’t no other boats around. This one had a big old hole in the hull, so it couldn’t have sailed there on its own. At least anytime in recent history.”
“Then what?” I licked some of the jam off my fingers.
“Then someone stuck his head up over the bow, see. He had on one of them three pointed hats that pirates always wore. Old Beco yelled a big hello, and the man took out a pistol and shot over his head. Well, Beco took off right then and there. That night, he went down to T-Noon’s bar and got drunk, and told some other fellows about it. The next day, they all went back out to the island with shovels and brought guns just in case that crazy guy in the boat was still there.”
“Was he?” I asked.
“Nope. The ship was gone, and so was Clamare.”
“What about the treasure?”
“They never could find it. Not even the hole it was in.”

About the author:

Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. 

Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father, who made his living in those bayous.

She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that inhabit the Cumberland Plateau.

Monday 19 October 2015

Blast from the Past: Grandma's French Soup...

In my middle grade/young adult time travel books I try to write in a scene where my characters sit down for a meal or share some food together. In The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, I’ve got a scene where Melody Spencer is dishing out rabbit stew in bread bowls for the kids. In Legend of the Timekeepers, two of the characters—She-Aba and Tau—are introduced to a ‘long yellow fruit’, a.k.a. bananas. Why do I do this? Simply put, so readers can relate to my characters. We all need to eat, and coming together to eat gives my characters a place to talk over their dilemmas, make plans, reassess the situation, and recharge their batteries.

So when I finally got my hands on my grandmother’s coveted French Soup recipe, I thought it fitting to share this fabulous meal. It’s so easy to put together and a bonus for those cool days or evenings. Many a tale has been told digesting this soup around the table, and my hope is that this meal will spark new conversations between you and your loved ones.

Vive la French Soup!

1 lb lean ground beef
2 small cans or 1 large can of tomato soup
1-14 oz can of green wax beans (do not drain)
1-14 oz can of yellow wax beans (do not drain)
1-14 oz can of peas (do not drain)
1 can sliced mushrooms (if desired, drained)
4 medium-large potatoes (cubed)
½ teaspoon of salt
Dash of pepper
Worcestershire sauce or Tabasco sauce to taste
Garlic powder to taste (if desired)
Crock pot

FRY the lean ground beef and drain.

ADD the canned vegetables, potatoes, tomato soup, drained ground beef, and seasonings into the crock pot.

COVER and cook on slow for approximately 8 hours.

SERVE with biscuits or rolls.

NOTE: Please feel free to experiment with this recipe. My mom adds one small can of tomato sauce to add flavor to the soup. The above recipe will serve a family of eight. Voila. Dinner is done. Now what will you do with all that time on your hands while the soup is cooking in the crock pot? How about indulging in one of my books from The Last Timekeepers series?

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Introducing YA author: Sara Stinson...

Thank you for having me on your blog today, Sharon!
My name is Sara Stinson. I have a Young Adult Fantasy I want to share with you called Night Owl.  It’s Book One from the Hally Witch Series.
It will be ready to purchase October 17th!

I’m going to give a new twist for today’s blog.  I hope you like it!

Sam Hopwoods is a reporter and a good friend of Skyla Hally’s in Night Owl.  The book is written from Skyla’s point of view.  He’s going to interview her.  In this way, you can get to know them and other characters in the remarkable world of Magic Hollow. 

Sam: Hi, Skyla. 
Skyla:  Hey, Sam.  Well, here we are again.
Sam:  Yeah.  I can remember the first time I interviewed you in Magic Hollow.
Skyla:  Me too.  You did a great job!  I know you’ll do great today.  The Pen Pusher Newspaper will be proud.
Sam:  Thanks.  I hope so.  I wouldn’t want to upset Mr. Pigsters or the Magical Council at Roddenbury Castle.
Skyla: You’ll do fine.  Let’s get started.
Sam:Wow, um, where to start?We’ve all been through so much, you, Alec, Pennie, and me.  (He says with a serious tone.)
Skyla:Yes, we have.  Everything has changed since my seventeenth birthday.  My parents murdered, me moving to live with my grandparents. 
Sam:  I’m sorry about your parents.  Maybe that’s where we can start…with the Deathstalkers, the monsters who killed your parents.
Skyla:  Okay.  They are what brought me to where I am.  The Deathstalkers have been after me since before I was born.  They’ve tortured and killed many of my father’s people and my mother’s.  There are seven of them.  They’re the seven deadly sins, and they’re after my powers.  Seems they need them to survive. 
Sam: Where did these Deathstalkers come from?
Skyla: Over 600 years ago, these creatures were created from the Black Plague.  Seven vampires, from a respected coven known as the Vardons, fed from the sick inflicted with the disease, generating this evil bunch.  A vampire named Helfrador is their leader. 
Sam: Helfrador.  I remember him. (Sam narrows his eyes.  It’s more of a goofy look.)  I stared Helfrador straight in the eyes when he was coming out of the tunnel that unforgettable night.I’m not afraid of him. 
Skyla: (Laughing) Yeah, right.  I think you need to get on with the interview and not give too much of the story away…or embarrass yourself.
Sam: (Slumping in his seat again and massaging his chest, Sam looks over his notes, his face turning red.)  So, after your parents were killed, you moved from North Carolina to Madison, New Hampshire.  Tell the readers what you found to be hidden in Madison.  (He leans in closer to Skyla.)  You know, the first time you went through a portal. 
Skyla:  (Smiles) Grandma Lil’ and Aunt Fanny were the first to take me through a portal.  A portal connects two places.  This portal will take you to Magic Hollow.It’s where witches and wizards can be themselves, where candy shops come alive, and where wizards and witcheslike you and me can go to school.  Of course, you and I know, I’m homeschooled for now.
Sam:  Skyla, you are The Hally Witch of Magic Hollow.  The magical world has waited many years for you to be born.  Can you tell the readers about this prophecy? 
Skyla: When the Deathstalkers drank blood from the sick, it gave them unbelievable strength.  They now know this strength will not last forever.  That’s why they want mine.  Taking my powers will not only give them the strength to survive, but will stop me from stopping them.  If they succeed, they will not only have power over the mortals, but the magical world too.I have much to do and much to learn before I can go face to face with the Deathstalkers.  Grandma Lil’, Saada Byrd (A witch and helper who lives behind the main house along with her husband Obi and their son Little Peg), and Aunt Fanny Cornels (Grandma’s sister and owner of Fanny’s Fun Flavors) are teaching me daily.  I have lessons to read and potions to learn.  Sometimes I think my brain’s going to implode.  Oh, and I also have help from Rigspul.
Sam: Who’s Rigspul? 
Skyla:  I guess I haven’t told you about him.  He’s a box, although, he doesn’t like to be called a box.  He’s more like a beautiful antique trunk.  (She giggles.) And he’s ticklish.
Sam:  Um, okay.
Skyla: He is.  He’s very nice when he wants to be and deadly when he needs to be. 
Sam: I think I’ll stay away from him.
Skyla:  Probably a good idea.
Sam: Let’s talk a little about this ghost you’ve been seeing. 
Skyla:  The ghost is a big part of the story.  Let’s save her for the readers.  (She pauses.)  I will say the ghost is known as Witch Hagnar.  Believe it or not, there’s a love story behind her.  By the end of the book, the readers will love her.
Sam:  Sounds romantic, and strange, since we are talking about a ghost who was a witch.(Sam scans his notes again.) I have one more thing I’d like for you to talk to our readers about. 
Skyla: Okay.  What’s that?
Sam: (He smiles) Alec Stone.
Skyla: (Now her face turns crimson.) Alec comes into my life after I move to Madison.  He’s very good-looking.  Girls go crazy over him.  (She pauses and smiles.)  He has been wonderful to me.  He lives with Chief Jo.  Other than that, you’ll have to read to see if there’s anything else between the handsome guy and me.  (Skyla winks.)
Sam: I understand.  Don’t want to tell too much. 
Skyla:  What about you, Sam?  Don’t you have a special someone? 
Sam: Haha.  Not telling.  The readers will have to read to find out about me, too.  (He playfully points at me.)  Two can play that game.
Skyla: I’m glad we met in the story, Sam.  You, Alec, Pennie, my grandparents, Obi, Saada…oh, I could go on and on.  Everyone has been so kind to me, you know?  I just hope I can hold up to my end of the bargain with this prophecy. 
Sam: You will, Skyla.  All your friends and family, we’ll be there by your side the entire way.  Together, we’ll stop the Deathstalkers. 
Here are two excerpts from Night Owl
Chapter 5 – Physical Changes
He gently took my hand and guided me across the room.  Mina walked over and stood with me.  I heard her footsteps and smelled her scent. 
I raised my hands slowly, removing both pieces from my eyes.  I opened them, but all was blurry.  A cloudy outline of a mirror hung in front of me.  I closed my eyes again. 
“Let them rest a few seconds,” Dr. Krumble said caringly. 
Not responding, but doing as he said, I waited. 
A minute ticked away and Dr. Krumble spoke.  “This time your vison should improve.  Don’t force it, Skyla.  Be calm and take your time.  Take a deep breath and slowly let it out.  That’ll get the blood circulating.” 
I did as he said.  I took a deep breath and as I exhaled calmness washed over me, allowing my body to unwind from my head down to my toes.  I remained composed even after hearing Mina gasp. 
As my vision became clearer, I understood why she was so astonished.  Like my hearing, my vision had greatly been enhanced, but startling were the physical changes of my eyes.  They were the color of a Snowy Owl like my father’s eyes mixed with the green eyes like mother’s, causing my features, to me, to look almost animalistic. 

Chapter Eighteen – Secrets in the Family
I started out calm.  I had never raised my voice to Grandpa.  Forgetting the words Little Peg had warned me about, the panic grew quickly, and finally, anger surfaced as I responded. 
“You do?  How do you know, Grandpa?  How could you possibly know what I’m feeling?  I don’t know what I’m feeling?  I’m happy here, truly, I am.  Don’t ever think I’m not, but my emotions and thoughts are becoming unmanageable and flipping on me.  Even now...I don’t mean to be so...angry.  But I feel trapped.  I felt this way in that room.  It wasn’t that we were closed in a room like a claustrophobic feeling,” I said, trying to explain my anger.  “It was something deeper.  My senses were so strong, all of them.  My emotions heightened, and my vision was stronger than ever.  I saw and felt what Hagnar felt,” I said with horror and fear showing in my eyes.  “I could see through her eyes!”   
“It’s normal, Skyla, to relive moments in your visions,” Grandpa said reassuringly. 
“Normal?  Is it normal to reverse the role and be the murderer in my vision and to enjoy being the one who’s pursuing the person?  Is it normal to want to kill the person, smelling their blood and wanting it?”  I cried, my body now severely shaking. 

I enjoy creating my characters and bringing them to life.  I am also writing a series called The Finger Bones Series.  Finger Bones is a ghost who helps three energetic kids chase and send ghosts to their next destination.  At one of the schools nearby, I had a younger student ask me if I had asked Finger Bones to have Christmas with us.  The child was concerned Finger Bones would celebrate Christmas alone.  How cute is that?

I am now retired as a Speech-Language Pathologist, but I continue substituting.  I’m married and have two grown children, two cats, and one spoiled Yorkie named Addie. 

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