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.

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