Sunday, 18 April 2021

Guest Post: Finding a Home by Anne Montgomery...

I've invited fellow author and animal lover, Anne Montgomery to share a story about one of her recent rescues. Since spring stirs the instinctive pot for animals and birds to begin breeding, the local animal shelters become filled to the brim with kittens and puppies. Anne's story is a great reminder to get your pets neutered or spayed as soon as possible or adopt don't shop, the next time you're deciding to expand your four-legged family. Take it away, Anne... 

"Ms. Montgomery, there's a cat outside."

Two of my students stared at me.

"Go and get it," I said, immediately rethinking that idea after they'd left the room. I hoped the cat wasn't mean or scared and left the kids with bloody gashes. I tried to stop them, but they were gone.

A short time later they returned, sans cat. "We couldn't catch it," they said in unison.

"OK." I was relieved, but just momentarily.

"It's so hot out there and the cat is panting."

I looked at the sweet girl who tried to rescue the animal. "Is it hurt?"

"I don't know."

Crap! I've had more kitties than I can count over the years. Strays and cats who'd wound up in shelters. But I didn't want another one. I still had three furry felines - down from seven - most of whom died after long, pleasant lives. And a big cattle dog, as well.

The problem is, I'm getting older, and whenever I'm faced with a new pet I start doing the math. If said animal lives 15 years, how old will I be? What if I die? Who will take care of them.  While I know my sweetie pie is as devoted to our four-legged friends as I am, what if we both died?

"So, you think the cat might be injured?" I said again.

She shrugged.

"Let's go." I led my students outside and found a sleek, black, kitty with big gold eyes. The creature meowed and ran right to me. I picked him up and prepared to be speared with curved, pointy claws, but he just laid his head on my shoulder, clearly no feral beast.

As it was lunchtime, I put the young cat in my office and, as I ate, he jumped into my chair, curled into a ball and slept at my side. "Well, aren't you a sweet boy." I patted his head and he purred loudly. I squinted as he closed his eyes. "But I don't want another cat." He ignored me.

Later, the girl who found him appeared and said she wanted to take the cat home. "My mom said it would be OK."

I looked at the kitty and he stared back at me. "Great!" I said, not feeling great at all. "Let's find a box."

After we placed the cat in the container, I waved and watched her walk away. I admit, I was a bit sad. Still, I'd done the right thing.

"We found a cat at school today."

My sweetie pie peered at me over his glasses, then glanced around the room.

"You'll be proud of me. I found him a nice home."

He raised both eyebrows, and didn't have to say, How unlike you to not bring it home.

Later, I thought about the cat and decided to call the girl's home to make sure he was settling in. Her father answered the phone.

"I don't want a cat!" he said, an edge to his voice. "I don't like cats. I don't want it in my house. If she keeps it, we'll put it in a cage in the backyard."

I sat up. It was close to 110 degrees in the Arizona desert that day. "A cage?" I jotted down the address. "I'll be right there."

An hour later, I released the kitty in my living room, and he quickly made friends with Westin, my deaf Bombay cat. And then I noticed the similarity. They were almost identical. They nuzzled one another and again I realized this cat was no stray. He belonged to someone. He blinked at me and meowed. "No, my friend. I can't get attached to you."

A few days later, the vet waved a hand-held machine over the cat's shiny fur. My heart beat quickly. A chip would be good," I told myself. I'll take him back to his owners, who are surely missing him.

"No chip." The vet said.

I exhaled, then stared at my new kitty, who the vet informed me was just a baby at ten months old. I started to do the math, then stopped. I realized it didn't matter that I'd be pushing eighty when he reached 15. As much as I tried to deny it, this cat was mine.

He head butted my hand and stared at me with those huge gold eyes.

We call him Morgan.

 

Here's a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. It's not romance but I hope it intrigues you.



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

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

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, and Twitter.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Cover Reveal: Far, Far Away; 7 Stories in 7 Realms of Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology...


About Far, Far Away:

In a land far, far away… In a distant galaxy… Once upon a time…

These are all ways to begin fantastical tales of love and adventure. Gateways into the realms of imagination. In this anthology, we bring together authors from all over this world to transport you into the worlds they’ve created.

Travel through space and experience infinity three hours at a time. Explore dangerous caverns for the source of a deadly disturbance. Get stranded on a mysterious island from which no one returns, then learn to survive on a distant planet while you hope for rescue. 

In this far-reaching, magical collection love allows you to see in colour, time is vast but fragile, and changing minds and hearts in Ancient Rome is only one stop on an epic journey across time, space, and reality. 

Stories Included in the Anthology:

“Piece of Mind” by L.R. Braden

“Songs and Superstitions” by Shana Scott

“Black Spire Isles” by Barend Nieuwstraten III

“Field Notes from the Unknown Planet” by Brittni Brinn

“The Colour of Roses” by Kelly D. Holmes

“The Prime Crusade” by Buddy Young
 
“Fatestorm” by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

Read an Excerpt:

It’s 2021. The pandemic drags on and we’re all stuck inside. Blegh. Reality sucks.

So why not take this opportunity to escape into fiction?

A year ago we ran a contest and we asked writers to submit stories set in other times, places, and versions of reality. Then we had our judges pick the best ones to include in this anthology.

Therefore, the seven stories you are about to read are windows into other worlds, but also into the minds of eight extremely creative and talented individuals. We’ve included their bios and a few words from each of them so you can get to know the people who have created such imaginative stories to take us far, far away, if only for a little while.

So pack your bags, or don’t because you won’t be needing them for this journey. Instead, sit back, relax, and turn the page to find distant galaxies, alien cultures, mysterious magical islands, unknown planets, the value of colour, the fragility of time, and the fickle nature of fate.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Love is in the Kitchen this Spring with a Taste of Sloane Taylor's Date Night Dinners Cookbook...

This quick recipe is ideal for those days you are too busy to fuss. Add a salad and a loaf of crusty bread to round out dinner. After you assemble all the ingredients on your counter pop open a bottle of Soave white wine from the Veneto region in Italy to enjoy while you cook. It’s perfect for this meal. 

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash
Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
2 12-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts in oil
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tsp, kosher salt less will not disturb the flavors
1 tsp, freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Halve the leeks lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces. Wash well to remove any sand grains.

Cut the artichokes lengthwise if large.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the leeks, and cook until soft but not browned, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove the leeks from skillet and set aside.

Increase heat to medium and add the artichokes. Cook about 3 minutes stirring often.

Return the leeks to skillet and toss to mix. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Cook the linguine according to the package directions, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Add vegetables and toss with half the Parmesan cheese. Add a little pasta water to moisten if necessary. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

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

 Sloane


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

Create 45 complete dinners for two and flavor your evenings with a new dish. These 80 recipes use everyday foods already on most kitchen shelves. The recipes are easily increased for those fun times friends or family join your table. Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening, is an ideal hostess and holiday gift, or for anyone who wants to spice things up.

 
BUY LINKS

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, 4 April 2021

COLLABORATIVE WRITING How and Why it Works for Us by C.D. Hersh...


Lots of people we know look at us as collaborative writers and say, “I don’t know how you two do it. I’d kill my spouse if I had to work with him/her.”

Well, we’re both still alive and healthy and love working together.

So what’s our secret? For the inquisitive minds who want to know, here are a few reasons why our writing partnership works.


  • We like each other and respect each other—a lot. Respect is paramount in any working relationship.
  • We’ve been together more years that we’ve been apart. As a result, we know each other very well.
  • We have complimentary talents and we recognize that. Donald is a great idea and plotting person, and Catherine is good at the technical part of writing, the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and etcetera.
  • We laugh a lot when we’re working together, even if it’s a serious scene. Nothing brings people together like laughter.
  • We plot our stories in detail, but still allow room for the characters to take us to unexpected places. When they do what we haven’t planned, both of us have to sign off on what has happened before it makes it into the book.
  • We’re willing to throw ideas, scenes and whole sections of each other’s writing out. There are no sacred cows in our partnership.
  • Our methods of collaborative writing are fluid. Sometimes we create using a totally collaborative effort, literally writing together line-by-line (we’ve created a number of our plays using this method). We might revamp something one of us has created as a solo writer, or we might work with one of us functioning as the major writer and the other as editor. Changing things keeps our interests up and our egos in check.
  • And last, but certainly not least, we keep the lines of communication open. Writing is usually a solo job, but when you’re working with someone else, you have to let them know how you feel about what’s being plotted, written, and critiqued. If you don’t, then you can stifle the creative flow as well as the collaborative relationship. When we plot and one of us throws out a hasty, “I hate that idea!” (and we’ve done that) there are no hurt feelings on the part of the other person. We will ask for clarification as to why, and the protesting party must come up with a reasonable excuse, but we never get upset, want to quit working together, or get a divorce over it.

We can’t speak to the writing methods of other co-authors, although we have read that some write opposing chapters or each take a point of view, something we haven’t tried yet. However, as a married couple and co-authors, we do feel we bring something unique to the table—a spark we hope will take us a long way on our writing journey. A spark that enriches our personal relationship. For us, that’s enough reason to work together as C.D. Hersh.

Have you ever co-authored something? What worked for you in that relationship?

Following is a sample of our collaborative writing. An excerpt from The Promised One, the first book in our Turning Stone Chronicles Series.


The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”


Amazon buy links:
The Turning Stone Chronicles Series page

The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)

Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)

Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)


The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)


C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.
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 have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors.

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.

Social Media Info:

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Celebrate Good Friday with Salmon Patties and a Sweet Romance Read by Catherine Castle...

I thought it would be nice to share a homey meal of salmon patties with you today. This is my mother’s recipe, and quite frankly, I love it so much that I always put a few patties aside for breakfast. I even eat them cold. As kids, and when I could eat more carbs, these were served with white rice and gravy made from the oil and pan drippings. Nowadays I choose a more carb friendly side. I hope you’ll enjoy these.

Mom’s Salmon Patties
1 - 15 oz. can of pink salmon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced celery
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 

Drain salmon, leaving bones and skin in bowl. Add eggs and veggies and mix well. Add cornmeal and mix well.

Heat oil in skillet until it shimmers. Form patties using a 2-inch diameter spoon and fry in oil until golden brown on both sides. It may take 2 batches to cook all patties and you may need to add a bit more oil as they fry. Keep patties warm in a low temperature oven while your second batch cooks.

Makes 12 patties

After you’ve enjoyed these patties settle in with Catherine’s award-winning sweet romantic comedy with a touch of drama A Groom for Mama

As Allison travels the country in search of a husband, she has a lot of dates that involve dinner. To see what she eats as she tries to find her person, check out the book on AMAZON  and Barnes and NobleHere’s a peek at the story’s blurb.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

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.


Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Book Tour, Guest Post, and Giveaway: The Demons of Square Mile by Laurence Raphael Brothers...


About The Demons of the Square Mile:

The real story behind Brexit.

Occult Private Investigator, Nora Simeon, and her uncannily handsome partner Eyre - an elemental given human form - follow a trail of magic, murder, and conspiracy from the luxurious apartment towers of Manhattan's upper east side to the ancient depths of London's Inner Temple. Along the way they encounter powerful sorcerers, magisterial barristers, evil templars, and, of course, more demons gone rogue.

With their newly acquired ward, Martha - a rat-demon - in tow, they uncover a secret so profound it could both undermine the world's financial system and topple the British government.

Visit the Tour Hosts:

https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2021/03/tour-hosts-for-demons-of-square-mile.html


Book Information:

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (https://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/)
Publish Date: March 17, 2021
Paperback: 114 pages
ISBN-10: 1987976770
ISBN-13: 978-1987976779

Guest Post: Alternative Futures in the Nora Simeon Novellas

By Laurence Raphael Brothers

I started writing the Nora Simeon novellas with the vague idea that they were set in something like the current day, but insensibly, as I worked my way through the first one, the book slipped gently into the future. Not the distant science-fictional future of spaceships and sentient computers, nor even the middle distance of autonomous vehicles and universal surveillance, but “the day after tomorrow”. This setting offers a totally familiar world (well, except for the sorcery and the demons and all that) but one that’s not set in stone in terms of current events.

Because one thread in these books is societal criticism (hopefully not too annoying because the first purpose is entertainment) I didn’t want Nora’s world to diverge casually or accidentally from our own. Instead I wanted its divergences to be specific and limited, so that as the reader you can assume that if you know something unstated about our world, it will apply to Nora’s as well.

It was always my plan to take Nora to the UK in the first sequel, so I had to deal with Brexit, which at the time of conceiving the story was pretty clearly going to happen, but whose details were unknown. Of course, like the vast majority of economists and observers outside Britain, I was reasonably confident it would be a disaster, but the precise scale and consequences of the disaster were unclear. The easiest approach was to confront this unknown head-on, since I thought it so wonderfully stupid and self-destructive. In the story I could come up with some reason, however fantastic, that would necessarily make more sense than the idiotic actuality.

And so a point of divergence between our world and Nora’s is that in ours Brexit was the absurdly unintended consequence of in-fighting between factions of the Conservative party, neither of whom actually wanted Brexit to take place, whereas in hers it came about due to political infighting between continental and British sorcerers. The difference there is that in Nora’s world at least the group who promoted Brexit sincerely wanted it to happen, so I suppose in that respect her world is more sensible than ours.

I’d actually completed the ms when first reports came of some new form of flu or something like that arising in China. Pretty soon it became clear that if I wanted readers to imagine Nora as living in the Manhattan of our own world, I’d have to do something. Because in the novella, people can go out to restaurants and bars and hotels and take international flights without worrying and without wearing masks, either. This time, however, I decided head-on was not the right approach, despite this being totally appropriate for other current-day and near-future stories. And so, in Nora’s world, where sorcery is used in secret to influence the profits of investment banks and mold the behavior of the global economy, it’s perfectly consistent for this generally immoral and unethical art to be used, for once, for the good of humanity, in wiping out the nascent disease before it could take hold. Because, after all, Covid is terrible for the economy....

Anyway, easy and indeed appropriate as this decision was, I worried it over for a while because it seemed a bit less than forthright to finesse this terrible disease that has killed so many people and damaged the lives of literally everyone else in the world. And moreover, no one could anymore entertain the fantasy that the story’s events might be real in our world. In the end I came to the conclusion that whatever secondary moral or even political goals these books might serve, the principal one is entertainment, and that especially in this unpleasant last year with who knows how much more unpleasantness left to come, that a fantasy with no global pandemic would be far more attractive than one without.

And so, apart from one brief mention explaining how the Covid-19 was sorcerously decapitated before it could take hold, you won’t find masks, social distancing, vaccine inequity, or the perverse, stupid, and indeed wholly evil attempts of our various political leaders to downplay or minimize the disease anywhere in The Demons of the Square Mile.

Read an Excerpt:

 “Simeon Investigations.”

“We have your minion,” said an inhuman voice. A demon’s for sure, unless it had been synthesized. It sounded like shards of broken glass jangling in a paper bag, but I could understand it. What I couldn’t understand was how anyone could kidnap Eyre without getting their asses handed to them. Gun or no gun.

“Who are you?”

More broken glass sounds, but no words. After a few seconds I realized it was laughter. At last the voice answered. “We would be foolish to divulge our true name. Call us Émigré.”

“What do you want?”

“We have a job for you.”

I felt a flash of red rage. My little pet fire elemental, Spark, flared up in sympathy from its urn on the windowsill, and I thought I might just burst into flame myself.

“You stupid infernal-plane motherfucker! I charge a hundred an hour. All you had to do was clear a check and I’d work for you. But now–”

“Now we have leverage, yes?”

“Let me speak to him.”

“Certainly.”

Brief silence, and then Eyre came on the line. His voice was weak. I wanted to reach through the phone and tear broken-glass-voice to pieces with my hands.

“Hey, Nora,” he said. “I’m really sorry about this. They got hold of my sigil somehow. They know what I am.”

“Eyre,” I said, “listen to me. I’m coming for you. Don’t fight them yourself.” I was thinking, Not till I get there.

“No fear of that,” he said. “It’s – you’ll have to see. They say they’ll let me go if you work for them. But I don’t think–”

Eyre’s voice cut off and broken-glass-voice resumed.

“Nora Simeon is known to us as a hunter of demons. She was contracted to hunt the demon Barbatos. She fulfilled her contract and killed the mighty demon Azriel.”

Actually, it was Eyre who had the final word against Azriel, but there was a lesson there I wanted this demon to learn.

“I’m a PI. An investigator. Barbatos was just a missing person job. But listen carefully. Azriel would have been in no danger from me, except she attacked Eyre. My partner, Eyre. I’ve got nothing against demons these days. Not unless they kidnap my friends. Do you understand me, Émigré?

A pause. “Yes.”

I knew even as I was saying it how stupid it was. But I couldn’t help myself. I was too damn angry.

“If anything happens to Eyre, I will destroy you, too. Count on it. But if you release him right now, I might just let you live.”

A longer pause. The phone was slick and uncomfortable in my hand. Then: “Very well.”

“What?”

“Come to us. We will release your minion into your care. We – do not wish to be destroyed. We are used to negotiations in our world and – and we realize that we now exist in your own. We wish you to do a job for us. We will pay. We did not believe you would listen to us if we solicited your services without leverage.”

“Okay. Where are you?”

“We are located at...” Another pause, and I heard indistinct jangling noises away from the phone. “Yes. 87th Street and York Avenue. The red building. Apartment 18E.”

Demons on the upper east side. Why not?

“All right,” I said. “I’ll be there shortly.”

Yet more silence, like it was thinking about saying something else. Then: “Goodbye.”

I smelled something burning, turned my head to see a thin swirl of black smoke rising from around Spark’s pot. The tiny elemental had gotten so hot from my emotions during the call it had scorched the paint right off the windowsill. Fortunately it was a metal sill and frame, with nothing inflammable nearby. Spark had been growing stronger lately, more in the last few months than it had during the previous ten years since I’d summoned and bound it as my first and only successful feat of sorcery. I shook some powdered incense into the elemental’s urn as a treat, and like a dragonfly made of flame, it flew up and spiraled around my body, leaving only a faint sensation of warmth behind. Spark had already forgotten my rage of a moment before. Any other time I would have stopped to play with it, but not today.

I returned to Eyre’s desk and retrieved his pistol, a massive old Colt M1911, made sure it was loaded and safe, and dropped it into a tote bag along with his phone. My own compact Ruger went into its tailored holster. Maybe Émigré was telling the truth about letting Eyre go, but if it wasn’t, I’d have something to say.

Purchase Your Copy:

Mirror World Publishing Paperback
Mirror World Publishing Ebook

Amazon Paperback
Amazon Ebook

Meet the Author:


Laurence Raphael Brothers is a writer and a technologist. He has published over 25 short stories in such magazines as Nature, the New Haven Review, PodCastle, and Galaxy's Edge. His WWI-era historical fantasy novel Twilight Patrol was just released by Alban Lake. For more of his stories, visit https://laurencebrothers.com/bibliography, or follow him on twitter: @lbrothers.







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Sunday, 14 March 2021

A Soothing Soup Recipe and Couple of YA Fantasy Reads by Chris Pavesic...

 My sister-in-law Breen loves to cook and occasionally works her magic in my kitchen. Just the other day she prepared one of our family favorites. We thoroughly enjoy a bowl or two during winter as lunch or dinner. For me the pepitas make this dish a hit. I love scooping them out one at a time with a spoonful of soup!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
4 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-in. cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion, roughly chopped
8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
Pepitas (Shelled pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place squash on baking sheets; avoid overcrowding.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Pour in the chicken broth and add thyme.  Bring to a boil. 

Remove the squash from the oven and add to the broth.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Using a regular or immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Serve warm.  Top with pepitas if desired.  

Why not read a good book while you enjoy your soup? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? 

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler's Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.
 

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame. 

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Chris Pavesic
 is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. 


Learn more about Chris on her website and blog

Stay connected on FacebookTwitter, and her Amazon Author Page.


Sunday, 7 March 2021

When It Comes To Writing, Age Doesn't Matter by Catherine Castle...

Age Doesn’t Matter

Just Ask Abraham’s Wife Sarah

I got a text from my daughter the other day. It read, “You’re kind of like Laura Ingalls Wilder. She didn’t get published until 65.”

 I took a bit of umbrage to that statement, and pulled a bit of pride from it as well. I’d love to be an internationally well-known writer like Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was one of my favorite authors –as well as my daughter’s favorite author, now and when she was young. I wasn’t so crazy about the 65 bit, however. I was under 65 when my first book was published, and well under 65 in how-young-you-feel-and-look years. (And isn’t that what really counts?)

 However, my daughter’s statement got me to thinking about how our accomplishments aren’t limited to age. I was actually in my early 40s when I began writing professionally as a stringer for our local town newspaper. I’d always loved to write and had filled a notebook full of poems, written dozens of short stories that never made it past the Mom-thinks-it’s-wonderful stage, and composed countless school essays that always made great marks. The writing assignments that other students groaned about, I relished. I loved everything about them, from the research, to the actual writing, and even the editing—things that serve me well now as a published author.

Writing and reading have always been my passions, along with singing and acting. As a teenager I wanted to be a rock-and-roll singer or act on stage. At the time, writing never even entered my realm of careers. It was only a hobby I loved. I never made it to the limelight of center stage, in spite of the many times I tried out for school plays or musicals. I got chorus parts, but never the starring roles.

Ahh, but never give up. There’s a time and a place for everything and, for some of us, that time comes later in life. Today, I’m a published author—both as a solo author and co-authoring with my husband. I sing onstage at church, praising the Lord who gave me my voice. I’m also co-writing plays for our church (with my husband), acting and co-directing in plays for our church. Granted, it’s not Hollywood, which I have decided I wouldn’t want to be part of now anyway. Nor am I on the New York Times Bestseller list, to which I still aspire. But I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to. I’ve discovered doing what you love, at any age, is satisfying beyond belief.

Here’s the interesting thing about how everything turned out: I believe I’m right where God wants me to be, at the time of my life he wanted me to be there. After all, if he could give Sarah and Abraham a child in their old age, at just the right time to begin His plan of salvation for the world, who am I to question why my bit of success didn’t come when I was twenty?

Mine is not to wonder why, but just to do and be satisfied. So, if you’re bemoaning the fact that you haven’t “made it” yet in the publishing world, or with any other goal you’ve set for yourself, don’t. Just keep working toward that goal and relish the success, no matter how big or small, when it comes.

Catherine achieved her goal publication and also won several awards with her debut book, The Nun and the Narc. Check out the blurb and read a sample on Amazon.

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

The Nun and the Narc is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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 @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

ROMANCE NOVELS: WHY ARE THEY SO POPULAR? by Author Anne Montgomery...

Once, after reading one of my manuscripts, my agent said, “I really like the historical part of the story. Why don’t you write it as a stand-alone romance?”

I winced. A romance novel? Me?

I have a pretty good idea about
where this book is going. Don't you?

I’ll admit here that I've been a bit of a snob in regard to that particular genre, which I was surprised to discover is the number one book-selling category on the planet. Not sure why I’ve often scoffed at romance novels. Perhaps it’s the covers: the swooning women with their heaving breasts, the muscular men, all sixpacks and flowing hair. Those books just never sang to me and I never understood why other people wanted to read them.

So, in an effort to learn, I contacted some of my lovely romance-writing friends. I put on my old reporter’s cap and grilled them like a detective looking for clues, my goal to understand why anyone would want to read a romance novel.

Boy, did I learn a lot!

"Romance gives us a glimpse into another world,” said author Tina Ruiz. “Sometimes it's a world that we don't have around us. Romance novels are like fairy tales to grown up women, where the men are nice, cater to our every whim, and shelter us from everything that might make us sad or hurt.”

“It’s possible the diversity of romance novels is a magnet for diverse individuals,” said romance author Nancy Kay. “From contemporary, to historical, to mystery and thrillers there are any number of themes to attract a number of tastes.” 

Okay. But why are these stories tops in sales department?

"In my humble opinion it's because we live in a shattered world that is full of bad stuff and romance is the ultimate good stuff," said author Catherine Castle. "True love, loyalty, people who care about each other's happiness."

"Simple answer – escape," said author Sloane Taylor. "Escape from the husband/wife who takes you for granted. Escape from the kids demanding all your time with not even a thanks. Escape from the boss who is a major ass. Escape from the bills that keep mounting. And especially in today’s world – escape from the pandemic and it’s personal repercussions."


“The mainly happy endings in a frequently bitchy world,” Australian author Vonnie Hughes explained.

Hughes went on to say that romance novels don't cost as much as other genres and they tend to be shorter, so don't require a big investment of time.

I have certainly read books that contained romance, though that part of the story was mostly secondary to the plot, so I was curious as to what exactly defines a romance novel. Of course, my first thought in our post Fifty Shades of Grey world was sex. But Ruiz pointed out that actual sex is not always the big draw.

“It is the illusion of sex that grabs our hearts,” she said. “In a lot of movies, the man and woman don't even kiss until the very last scene.  That moment gets built up from the moment they meet until the end of the book or movie.  It's the part we are all waiting for, so when it happens, it is absolutely wonderful.”

Still sex is often part of the format.

“Reading a book where sex is prominent is pretty awesome,” Ruiz said. “Because it gets portrayed in a different way than we have it in real life.  Some men…are not perfectly, let's say, kempt, when they walk into the bedroom.  The men in the books and/or movies are like a Prince Charming. Every hair is in place, his teeth shine, his eyes twinkle, and his breath is probably minty fresh.”

Another rather obvious requirement in a romance novel is that romance needs to be the most important part of the story.


“The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work,” Kay said. “There can be subplots as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.”

And, there’s something else I learned. Romance novels apparently should not end on a depressing note. There must be an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending,” Kay said. “In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.”

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? I can now see the appeal of romance novels. Perhaps it’s time I gave one a try.

How about you?

Here's a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. It's not romance but I hope it intrigues you.



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

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

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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, and Twitter.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Guest Post: A Writer's Alphabet by C.D. Hersh...

Over the years we have learned a great deal about writing and what it takes to survive in this business. Today we would like to share those ABC's with you.


Affirmation¾As writers we get a lot of rejection.  It helps if we have some affirmation.  So, the next time you get a good comment from a critique partner, an editor, or even your child who says “You’re a good writer, Mommy,” tuck it away in a special file.  Then when you feel like chucking the computer out the window and giving up on writing, pull out those affirmations and tell yourself, “ I can do this.  I am a Writer!”

Brainstorming¾Brainstorm without putting checks on your imagination.  Don’t be afraid to think of the most outrageous ideas when you’re brainstorming.  “What if” may be the best tool a writer has to stimulate his imagination.

Creativity¾Never let anyone say you don’t have creativity.  The very fact that you want to write shows you have creativity.  Just keep thinking about your story, asking “What if”, and letting all your skills and thoughts take you into the world where your characters live.  Eventually, you’ll find, or create, what you need.

Discipline¾Every writer needs it; most of us do not have it.  The discipline to sit down in front of the computer every day, even when you don’t feel like it, will get you through the rough parts of your stories.

Edit¾ISSAC B. SINGER said, “The wastepaper basket is the writer’s best friend.”

Think of yourself as a writer first and an editor second.  Write, rewrite and rewrite some more.  Never, ever, send that first draft to an editor.

Fodder¾Everything you see and hear and everyone you meet is fodder for a writer.  Writers have great excuses for eavesdropping on the world.  Ideas, character sketches, names, plot twists¾you name it and you can find inspiration for it among your family, friends and the guy sitting next to you in McDonalds. Don’t let them know what you’re up to, however.  If they recognize themselves in your next story they may never speak again when you’re around.

Grammar¾Webster defines grammar as “a study of what is to be preferred and what is to be avoided in inflection and in syntax.”  When you present your manuscript make sure the grammar is correct.  Don’t depend solely on your computer grammar check; its suggestions are not always right.  Instead, invest in a good English or grammar handbook and use it.  The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual has a nice section on grammar and punctuation that I use all the time.  If you have trouble with grammar find a friend or an adult enrichment class that can help you brush up on your grammar.  You don’t have to be able to diagram a sentence, but you do have to be able to put it together correctly.  That goes for punctuation too.

 Hope¾Hope should spring eternal in the hearts of writers.  As long as you have something circulating among editors you should always have hope. Never give up, not even when you have enough rejection letters to wallpaper your office.

Ideas¾There are no bad ideas.  Even the worst idea can provide a springboard for something better.  Keep all your ideas in a file so you can pull them out whenever you have a dry spell.  You’ll be surprised what new, and better, ideas might spring from an idea you considered trashing.

Journaling¾Journaling is a great way to keep your writing flowing, especially on those days when you can’t, or don’t, get to the computer.  Write at night, in the morning, in the bathroom, or any place where you and your journal can go.  Put down your emotions, your thoughts, impressions, snatches of conversations, or visual images.  All these things can be story sparkers or sensory descriptions you might be able to use in some other writing.

Know How¾Like every profession, writing is a job that takes skill.  You can’t be an electrician or a plumber without learning the ropes¾the skills and the tricks of the trade.  That’s true in writing too.  To become a success as a writer you have to study your craft, learn the best way to write an article, a scene, a chapter, a book.  You have to know how to structure your plots and characters, and you have to become knowledgeable about the business.  Learn all you can about writing and the writing business so you can succeed.

Laughter¾Keep a sense of humor about yourself and your writing.  There will be plenty of times that you will get your feelings hurt as a writer¾someone won’t like your baby, a critique will rub you the wrong way, an editor might ask for umpteen revisions.  If you can face life, and writing, with humor you’ll be able to get through most anything¾and even have some good story material in the process.

Marketing¾If you want to sell, then know your market.  Don’t waste your time, and an editor’s time, by sending manuscripts that aren’t suitable for the publication.

Networking¾Do it!  Network with anyone in the writing business that you can.  Editors are besieged with unsolicited manuscripts.  Any time they can connect a face, organization, or conference to you, you are one step ahead of the game.  Take every opportunity to meet, talk with and mingle with editors.  Don’t forget networking with other writers too.  You can’t know all there is to know about the publishing world and what is going on.  Take advantage of any information other writers have to offer.  Getting published is not always about talent.  Sometimes it’s also about being in the right place, or submitting to the right place at the right time.

Organization¾If you can’t find the computer, your copious notes, or the paper and pencil under the clutter in your office, then you can’t write. The more organized you are the less time you’ll spend hunting and the more time you’ll have for writing.

Perspiration¾Don’t wait for the Muse.  Writing is one-percent inspiration and 99-percent perspiration.  If you wait for inspiration, you might as well be taking a nap while you’re sitting in front of you computer.

Query Letter¾Queries can be more intimidating and frustrating than writing the whole darn book.  I know plenty of writers who dread the “Query Letter.”  The query is an editor’s first glimpse of you and your story.  Consider it an important, but necessary, evil of your craft, and learn to conquer it.  The Writer’s Market has great examples of how to write a good query.

Reading¾“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Cicero 

A writer who doesn’t read will soon find himself out of touch with the very world for which he is writing.  Read, read, and read everything that you can.  Fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, cookbooks, cereal boxes, dictionaries, children’s literature, and certainly read in whatever genre in which you want to write.

Solitude¾The life of a writer is a solitary one. “Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of a writer.  He must be alone, uninterrupted and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” LAWRENCE CLARK POWELL  Learn when, and how, to shut the door and lock out the world.  Find the time and the place that works best for you.

Tenacity¾“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” RICHARD BACH

            Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected 64 times and was ready to toss it in the trash.  A friend convinced him to try just one more publisher¾the rest is history.  Seuss could have remained an amateur if he had given up.  Don’t give up.  You might miss your chance at a bestseller.

Universality¾Want to sell?  Then make sure your stories and articles have a universal appeal. There is nothing new under the sun, just a different way to tell it.  Stories with universal appeal never go out of style.

Virgin Reader¾Every writer needs one of these.  We get so close to our “babies” that we can’t see their flaws.  But, believe me, an editor will.  So, find someone you trust to give you fair, constructive criticism¾someone with a fresh set of eyes to look at your writing¾and let them be a Virgin.

Write¾“Planning to write is not writing.  Outlining a book is not writing.  Researching is not writing.  Talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing.  Writing is writing.” E. L.  DOCTROW 

‘Nuff said.

Xercise¾(Yes, I know it’s not spelled that way) Writing takes a lot of mental power but doesn’t exercise the other body muscle groups (except the fingers).  So, to keep yourself healthy¾and maybe even sneak in some writer avoidance time¾take time to exercise.  You’ll come back to the keyboard refreshed and awake. A bonus¾getting the endorphins revved can even kick your brain into gear and help you solve whatever writing problem you’ve been facing.

Ying and Yang—A writer needs balance, in his life and on the page. Too much time alone with the book isn’t a good thing. Neither are pages of narrative or back story with no dialogue or action. Find that happy medium in your life and your literary pursuits.

Zeal¾“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

If a writer’s “dog’s life” isn’t what you want, then you had just as well close your notebook, break your pencil in half, and find something else to do with your life.  Zeal, passion and a love of your work will keep your writing fresh and alive.  If you don’t like what you are doing you probably will not succeed at it.

Please allow us to introduce you to our paranormal suspense series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)

Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)

Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)


The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)


C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.
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 have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors.

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.

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