Sunday, 19 June 2022

Mystery in the Garden by Author and Master Gardener Emma Lane...

For years I chastised myself for the plants that died in my little kitchen garden. Located outside my window, I envisioned enjoying the beauty of the perennial flowers as I sipped my morning tea and ate breakfast. (I gave up coffee years ago.) Year after year I tried many plants and shrubs: roses, coneflower, coreopsis, it didn’t matter what I tried. Even the Bradford tree we planted a few years ago failed to thrive. It hasn’t died yet, but not a healthy branch on it. This story has different characters that all play an important part in the mystery. 

1. Elm trees   2. Spirea shrubs  3. Bearded iris  4. A wild flower called ‘Elecampane,’ an elegant, tall perennial in the sunflower family. They all combine to hint at a solution that should have occurred to me years ago but didn’t. 

Everyone knows of the sad demise of the majestic elm trees. This property, an older home, had stumps in both front and back yard. One of the neighbors suggested they were once the poor dead elms. On the way ‘back forty’ there were piles of huge trunks which we assumed were the elms. 

The kitchen garden was formed in an oval adjacent to one of those large stumps. Chipmunks made happy trails all through and I imagine underneath. They played riotous games of tag visible out my over-looking window. It was such a perfect location to build a garden already growing in my imagination.


Now on the edge, native winterberry, male and female, reside happily with pink spirea, a low shrub, one of the first to bloom in the spring.

An offshoot thrust out from the oval is planted in happily thriving deep purple iris. That's it. Nothing else has survived over the years. The center is full of opportunistic with no redeeming traits. 

I have a fondness for wildflowers and have gathered enough seeds over the years that many thrive around the yard. Enter our last character in the mysterious failure of my kitchen garden. Elecampane colonizes, slowly and non-invasive, but it likes company. I welcomed each and every single one of those graceful and elegant tall perennials as they established themselves in a circle around my non-existent kitchen garden.

As I sipped my tea, with chin in hand, I studied those plants. “Like guardians around the failure of a garden,” my muse whispered. Epiphany is a strange word with unclear meaning in my opinion. However, I do think I had one as I gazed at my poor weedy garden in which nothing much ever grew. That was NOT an elm tree stump.

Recently an enormous walnut tree had had to be removed. I learned the meaning of the word ‘allopath,’ a chemical repellent emitted by the roots of the walnut tree and select other plants. Even after the tree is removed, the chemical will remain in the soil effectively repelling, or even killing most plants that try to invade its perimeter. I knew of that wicked talent. It never occurred to me that an elm. . . .it wasn’t an elm, was it? That stump was clearly something different and more ominous. It was obviously a walnut or some other species with the same ability to deter any invading plant.           

There stood the soldiers (large stalks of elecampane) arranging themselves just on the edge of the bed broadly hinting to me the root (sorry) of the problem. I am not a terrible gardener, just a bit dense. Once I dismissed the idea of that being an elm stump, everything else fell in place. Shew. Now for the solution.           

A willing creator of a mini patio for plants only has just finished placing the last of the concrete blocks. It’s still a work in progress. I need to move the large blue birdbath and more pots of flowers, but at last, I have a kitchen garden. Already I sigh with pleasure at the sight first thing in the morning.



Here is a glimpse into my latest Cozy Mystery. It is the 4th in the Detective Kevin Fowler series.

When is it not fun to be a blond? 

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending that unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

Amazon Buy Link

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

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. 

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.


Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

This Year, Celebrate Father's Day with a Meaty Treat and a Time Travel Read with the Kids...

This recipe is one for the guys. And I’m sure the fellows on The Last Timekeepers team would wholeheartedly agree. After all, Jordan, Drake, Ravi, and Professor Lucas will tell you that they build up quite an appetite traveling into the past to keep time safe. So instead of settling for something like rabbit stew or salty cookies, these brave lads would rather sink their teeth into a strip of melt-in-your-mouth beef jerky. Plus, this healthy, high-protein snack won’t spoil when you’re traveling to faraway places—like Nottingham in 1214 or Amsterdam in 1942.

Easy to prepare with a prep time of 15 minutes, marinade time of approximately 3 hours, and cook time of 3 hours, you’ll discover making your own beef jerky is not only fun and relatively quick, but also something you can do with your favorite person! You can have your butcher slice the beef for you, or do-it-yourself. BTW—this makes a great Game Day snack or fabulous Father’s Day gift.

 
Hubby’s Homemade Beef Jerky

¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. smoked paprika, or to taste (we use regular paprika)
1 tbsp. honey, or more to taste
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 pounds of beef, top round, thinly sliced

WHISK all ingredients, except the beef, together in a bowl.

ADD beef to bowl and turn to coat the meat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator 3 hours to overnight.

PREHEAT oven to 175° F (80° C)

LINE a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over the foil.

TRASFER beef to paper towels to dry. Discard marinade. Arrange beef slices in a single layer on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet.

BAKE beef until dry and leathery, 3 to 4 hours. Cut with scissors into bite-size pieces, and enjoy!

Since you’ve got 3 hours to do whatever your heart desires, why not check out what those time traveling guys are up to by perusing one of my books from The Last Timekeepers series? Happy eats!
  

The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, Book #3: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE 

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - AMAZON.CA - BARNES & NOBLE 
 
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - BARNES & NOBLE

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - BARNES & NOBLE 

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.



Sunday, 5 June 2022

Moving On with my Writing Life by Author Alicia Joseph...

When I was in college, back in 1998, I took a creative writing course where I wrote two horribly written short stories and some really bad poems. The stories were called The Hideout and The Attic. Apparently, I wasn’t very creative with titles back then.

To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t toss those papers in the trash the moment the semester ended. But not only did those pages make the trip back home with me, they managed to survive a couple decades in a bin with so many of my other failed writing attempts. 

About eight years ago, (damn time flies) I pulled out that dusty bin and went through those old writings. It had been a while since I’d written at that time, and I wanted to get back into it. After all, being a writer was always my dream. Life, with all of its distractions, had pulled me off course for a little while, but I found my way back to it, and I thought past writings was a good place to start. 

Turns out, I was right. 


Even though those old stories were really bad, as I read through them, I found a storyline in each I could build on. I turned The Hideout into a novel titled A Penny on the Tracks that was published in 2017. It’s an LGBTQ coming-of-age story about friendship, loyalty, and the struggles of coming out. The story revolves around two best friends, Lyssa and Abbey, who discover a hideout near train tracks. They spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. But their innocence shatters when the hide becomes the scene of a tragic death. 

As for the other story, The Attic, that one went through many rewrites with two major plot changes and took me two extra years to write. It was frustrating and many times I wanted to give up, move on to another story, but it was contracted. The new name of that book is Annabel and the Boy in the Window. I’m unable to put into words the relief I feel in finally putting that story to rest. 

I am now in the process of revising what was my first attempt at writing a full-length novel that I wrote shortly after graduating college. I had finished it, but as with the short stories, the writing was horrible. 

So, in the bin those pages went. A couple of years back I fished the pages out of the bin. Just like the short stories, I found a storyline I could work with. I hope to be finished with the story my summer. After that, I have two more previous attempts at novels I will look at and see if there’s a storyline in them to work. 

Despite having a drawer full of new story ideas, I can’t leave my old stories behind. They take up too much space in my head. I need them gone before I can fully concentrate on new projects. 

If you’re a writer, do you keep old stories? How do you decide which ones to salvage and which one to let go? I now realize it’s not just old stories I have a hard time letting go. Past relationships, old friendships, cherished memories from a time that can never be lived again, all have a hold on me.

Here is a glimpse into my coming-of-age novel A Penny on the Tracks. I hope you enjoy it.

"When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else." 

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they're about to graduate high school, Abbey's family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.  

AMAZON BUY LINKS




Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Meet YA Author Asa Rodriguez and his Amazing Coming-of-Age Fantasy Series...

Let me introduce myself, dear reader.  I am author Asa Rodriguez.  I find that art and all forms of self-expression are extremely important in life.  And I started this coming-of-age fantasy series about an orphan boy called Ben, because he is learning to discover himself throughout the journey, just like any of us.

#1 IN THE SERIES:  "THE CALL OF THE SHAMAN."

"Ben took a few steps forward and said, “Thank you! What I meant was, how is it possible that you can talk?!”

“What do you mean?? You can talk! Why couldn’t we?!” protested the willow tree.



Q:  In the story, we see Ben struggle so much with himself, perhaps confused about his own journey and who he is.  So, what is the main character's greatest fear??
  
A:  Ben is a member of an indigenous tribe.  He's lost his parents mysteriously, and this has brought him a lot of doubt and anger.  And now, not accepted by his own tribe because they think he's cursed, he's been taken to the White man's orphanage.  He finds himself rejected, neglected, lacking belief in who he is.  We can say he feels lost.  He secretly fears himself, and what he might become, in this sense.

Q:  In the start of the book we find out that a spiritual leader visits the orphanage and employs Ben.  Then we discover who he really is, and he takes Ben on a great journey, which is the beginning of the adventure.  Why is Adit Acharya taking Ben on a journey of self-discovery??

A:  Adit Acharya is a spiritual seeker, guru, and spiritual author.  Adit was the good friend of Ben's father.  And he knows how special Ben is, so he's trying to help him find himself and discover all that he needs to discover about his parents' death.

Q:   What can you tell us about Shadow...??  Shadow is a magical, very unusual creature.

A:  Yes, Shadow is exactly that, a shadow turned to life.  Shadow is Ben's shadow.  And Shadow is the same as Ben in every way, but he is a baby.  A baby in the sense that Shadow is just learning about his own emotions.  Now that he is a living being he feels joy, sadness, excitement, misery, and all these human emotions Ben feels.  

And this is why Shadow is needed by Ben's side, because he represents what Ben truly is.  Shadow is a perfect reflection of Ben--spiritually, emotionally, psychologically.  And if you follow the series, then you can see that Shadow is there in each adventure, best friends with Ben.  

FREE DOWNLOAD:

I've made a serious effort with these following retailers to offer the book for FREE for whomever feels interested. So if you seek a coming-of-age story that brings fantasy and insight, gods and demons, and more, then you will absolutely enjoy this read:

All I ask is that you support me by posting a brief review on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or your blog if you have one.





COMING MAY 31st:

Also, I wanted to take the opportunity to let the reader know that #3 in the series, titled "The Book of 1st Witchcraft," is ready for preorder May 31st.





Where you can find Asa Rodriguez:




Author's website:  https://asarodriguez.com





Sunday, 29 May 2022

The Death of Customer Service by Guest Author Anne Montgomery...


Yep! It's gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Now listen, children, as we discuss a strange phenomenon that existed many years ago. It’s not exactly extinct, but it's so rare today, most people haven’t ever experienced it, save for those of us who are…um…old.

I’m talking about “customer service” which, by definition, is the support a company offers their customers. Support both before, during, and after one purchases a product, which makes being a customer, well, nice.

Once upon a time, kind workers hurried to assist shoppers with their acquisitions and if you called on the phone an actual person – who was generally very sweet – would work hard to help a buyer overcome any problems or concerns.

But somewhere along the way, customer service went the way of the dinosaurs.

“Excuse me sir,” I said holding out a bill that I’d received from AT&T. "I was accidentally charged for two cellphones instead of one, so my bill is double what it should be.” I smiled sweetly.

A long time later, while I watched the gentleman poke his tablet, he threw up his arms. “I can’t help you.”

I then requested to see the manager.

“I’m very busy right now,” the young woman said in a huff. “I will get to your problem tonight after five. I’ll call you.”

Think about it. When was the last time you felt like a company cared about your satisfaction?

Though my first thought was to mention that there seemed to be no unattended customers in the store, I acquiesced. That evening, I waited. No call. So, I returned the next day and the whole scenario replayed itself. I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I smiled. “You didn’t call me,” I said in my most honeyed voice.

“Yes, well…” she sputtered. “I’ll get to it later.”

I am loath to admit that the not-so-nice version of me began leaking out. “I think you should sit down and we can take care of it now.”

She stared around the room, as if looking for cover. Then, to my surprise, she sat. Still, the outcome was not what I expected. After fussing with her tablet, she called over the first guy I’d dealt with and insisted he would fix the problem. Then she promptly disappeared. I’m not sure what she thought had changed from his inability to help me the day before, still I found myself facing him again.

Finally, with my day slipping by, he stared at me. “You should call AT&T’s customer service line.”

"I don't want to wait on hold. Couldn't you call for me?" I folded my hands and batted my eyes.

He refused.

Now, I’m not the type to get loud or angry in public. After all, I was a sports official for 40 years and, in that capacity, I wasn’t allowed to lose my cool. Still, when I stood and followed him to a payment kiosk, he barked. “You stay six feet away from me!”

I squinted. I was doing my social-distancing due diligence. Did he think I – a little, 65-year-old woman – might kick his ass. (Yes, it occurred to me, but I promise you I did nothing untoward.)

Soon thereafter, my sweetie pie and I were searching the isles at Home Depot. He asked one of the employees for help and the man shouted, “I’m having a bad day!”  After which, he threw his clipboard and stalked away, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Then, one of our favorite restaurants, which we have patronized for years, gave us poorly done take-out and refused to replace it. And I can’t count the hours I spent on hold with Amazon and Social Security and Medicare and Cox Cable, often not connecting with a single human being and getting little or no satisfaction in regard to the issues I called about. "I'm sorry. I can't help you. I'll connect you with someone who can." Then click, you're disconnected after waiting on hold for half an hour and you're forced to begin the whole dreary process again. 

Here’s the thing. All of this pretty much happened in the same couple of weeks.

So, the question is, why are we, the customers, being treated so badly? Companies are shunting their customer service responsibilities as they hide behind technology. “Please listen to this recording as our options have changed.” “Please go to our website.” “We are experiencing very long wait times, so call back later.”

Eieee!!!

Imagine the joy if you got to speak with a real person who actually solved your problem in a reasonable amount of time.

What can we do? Not much probably, though it would be nice to see a website that listed corporations according to their customer-service amenities. Just think, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to choose companies with which to do business according to their efforts on our behalf? Imagine the joy if a real person answered our call promptly, sincerely listened to our complaint, and kindly rectified the issue in a reasonable amount of time.

Bliss!

Sadly, that probably isn’t much more feasible than bringing the dinosaurs back to life.

Still, a girl can dream.

Here's a brief intro to my latest women's fiction novel for your reading pleasure.


A reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician and discovers that black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

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

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

Amazon Buy Link


Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

The Perfect Dessert for Victoria Day Weekend: Cupcake Fantasy by Author Helen Carpenter...

The day was perfect; one of those low humidity, blue sky, breeze-off-the-lake days that made tourists flock to central Florida. Green and yellow tents filled the park and costumes were the attire of choice. Dogs in costumes, babies in costumes, teens in costumes, turtles in costumes; every life form Andi encountered wore a costume.

Her own costume was her usual jeans and boots, topped by a red tank and a red cap to match the red linen covering the platter of cupcakes in her hands. This year the cupcakes were salted caramel apple. The recipe was new and the friends who’d taste-tested had raved over them. They were sinfully delicious and should easily be the best cupcakes in the park.

She’d still baked three batches before she was satisfied. Competition in the Cupcake Wars at the annual Cooter Festival was always fierce.

She signed in, took her number, and walked to the table at the end of the tent. To get to her assigned spot, she had to step around a lumbering turtle. The damp lettuce leaf draped over its shell was only partly a costume. The real reason for the decoration was that the turtles—or cooters as the locals called them—were well cared for and the festival organizers were making sure this one stayed cool.

Andi put the cupcakes and her bag on the table and took her place beside a leggy teen. The girl had crafted sugar lily pads, fairy wings, and miniature frogs to go with her mint and chocolate cupcakes. With their pink frosting and blue polka dots, the cupcakes seemed ready for an impish tea party as she positioned them on a miniature tree-shaped stand.

After Andi finished setting her cupcakes on the upended crystal goblets she’d brought, she walked along the exhibit table to greet the other contestants. The confections were as varied as the bakers. Classic vanilla, red velvet, peanut butter truffle, tiramisu, banana walnut, double maple, pumpkin spice—all mouthwateringly scrumptious and worthy adversaries. With luck the proud presenters would not be sore losers.

When the judging began, Andi took her assigned place and handed out samples to the judges. As her friends had proclaimed, her cupcakes got high marks for taste. But when all the votes were tallied, the leggy teen’s presentation won the blue ribbon.

Andi congratulated the young baker and admired the silky ribbon. Then she distributed the rest of the salted caramel apple cupcakes to the passers-by and packed her goblets. As she stepped past the exhibit table, she hooked her boot around the metal leg and tugged. The table tipped. The teen’s beautiful display landed in the dirt with a splat, icing-side down. The other contestants gasped. The lettuce-draped turtle moved in for a taste.

Andi settled her hat more securely over her hair so her horns wouldn’t show and elbowed her way through the crowd.

There might have been better cupcakes than hers in the park that day. But she didn’t think so.

Sinfully Delicious Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes


Batter

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Put ¼ cup apples and 1 tablespoon butter in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute at 50% power to soften. Mash with a fork (lumps are okay). Let cool.

Cream together the stick of softened butter and brown sugar. Blend eggs and vanilla into the creamed mixture. Add the mashed apples and heavy cream to the batter and mix well.

In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Add to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Batter will be thick.

Fold chopped apple pieces into batter.

Line a 12-muffin tin with baking cups. Spoon batter evenly into the cups.

Bake 20 minutes.

Let cupcakes rest in pan for five minutes. Transfer to baking rack to cool completely.

Frosting
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in pot on stove over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Stir in salt.

Let mixture bubble for 2-3 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost cooled cupcakes.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream

Heat sugar and water in pot on stove over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils.

Let mixture boil without further stirring until it browns to the color of caramel. Add butter and stir until butter is melted.

Remove from heat. Add heavy cream. Stir until the bubbling stops and the sauce is smooth. Drizzle over cupcakes.

Remaining sauce can be used for other recipes.

For additional flavor, garnish cupcakes with a sprinkle of salt.

Makes 12 cupcakes

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

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

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Ready. Set. Let Mirror World Publishing's Writing Contest Begin...


From Here to There Anthology Contest

Contest opens May 15th, 2022 and we will be accepting submissions until the end of June.

What we’re looking for: Short stories and novellas ranging between 5000 to 25,000 words that are science fiction, fantasy, adventure, time travel, romance, or some combination of the above that focus on a theme of travel from one place to another or journey before destination. This includes people in transit, portals, time travel, space travel, spaces between, quests, ect.

We’re looking for original, unpublished works and as always we prefer stories with engaging openings, character-driven stories, and quality world-building.

There is a fee of $20 CAD to enter, but all money raised will go toward prizes for the winning entries as well as production of the book, From Here to There: Far, Far Away Vol. 2 to be released next summer.

Winning entries will receive: A contract for publication in From Here to There + $65 CAD + 1 Author Copy of the finished paperback

As always, submissions and inquiries are to be sent to submissions[at]mirrorworldpublishing.com. Instructions on how to properly submit to follow!

If you’re not a writer, or don’t plan to enter but still want to support the creation of From Here to There, please consider purchasing an ebook or paperback copy of Far, Far Away Vol. 1 in our store and we’ll put aside all profit form this title to go toward the contest and production of Vol. 2!

Connect with:






Links:

TO ENTER

ENTRY FORM:

STORE: 


Last Year's Contest Anthology:

FAR, FAR AWAY Vol. 1





Sunday, 8 May 2022

The Original Cakewalk and Having Your Just Desserts - Cheesecake Style...

Y’all ready to set the flo’? Say what? Not sure what I’m talking about? You’re not alone. I had no idea what “set the flo’” meant until digging into the research I needed to bring readers into my point-of-view character Drake Bailey’s world in the third book of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series. Set in 1855, during the antebellum period in Georgia, Drake discovers that it’s not the best place for an African American time traveler, but he endures and lives to tell his tale.

Plantation slaves in the deep south of America weren’t given many pleasures in their hard lives. Author Julius Lester sums it up beautifully when he wrote in his book, To Be A Slave, “The prayer meetings, the parties, and the holidays did not make being a slave pleasurable. Nothing could do that, but whatever pleasure the slave was able to provide for himself was a remarkable testimony to the ability to retain humanity under the most inhuman conditions.” One of those small pleasures was to set the flo’ or set de flo’—a dance style competition—where the best couple or single dancer won a cake through their creative jig.

In The Last Timekeeper and the Noble Slave, I wrote a cakewalk scene during the slaves’ Good Friday celebration. My interpretation of a set the flo’ dancing contest involves an elder slave drawing a circle on the dirt floor with a charred corn cob. The rules require the dancers not to step outside the circle or they’ll be disqualified. Next, the fiddler would call out to begin the competition. Since I had slave couples compete, the man and woman would bow to one another, then the woman placed her foot on her partner’s knee, so he could tie her shoelace. Traditional cakewalk dance contests had the woman put her hands on her hips while the man rolls his eyes and grins before they started dancing. I combined both techniques to break the tension and create the necessary humor in the scene.

Strutting was an element always present in set the flo’ dancing, and there were different styles, such as water dances. As you may have guessed, this jig demanded the dancer keep a glass or pail of water on his or her head and see how many kinds of steps they could make without spilling the water. Um, no thanks. Already dressed in their best clothes, why tempt fate? The fluid and graceful steps of the dance may have given rise to the colloquialism that something accomplished with ease is a ‘cakewalk’, but the life of a slave was far from that.

However, there is an interesting element with the history of this dance. A firsthand account from ex-slaves interviewed during the 1930’s shares that the cakewalk was meant to covertly mock their owners without getting punished, through the signals and expression of dance. Now that’s what I call getting their just desserts!

Speaking of desserts…

What’s better than a 12-slice cheesecake to serve at your next family gathering or function? Getting to choose a mini version of your favorite cheesecake and indulge without the guilt of having a large piece. Enter Cheesecake Shots…

Cheesecake Shots
1 cup Graham Crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
2 packages (250 g/8.82 ounces each) Brick Cream Cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream

Suggested Toppings
⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping and 1 bar (100 g/3.52 ounces) Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 can of cherry or blueberry pie filling

⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping and pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Mix crumbs and butter; press into bottom of 12-count muffin pan (1 tablespoon in each cup).

Beat cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until well blended.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour a ¼ cup of mixture over crust in each cup.

Bake 18 – 22 minutes or until center is almost set. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Depending on what you choose for a topping: spread caramel topping over cheesecake just before serving and garnish with chopped chocolate or pecan halves, or add a dollop of your favorite pie filling, and enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the cheesecake shots to set in the fridge, here’s a taste of The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave available for purchase on all your online bookstores. 


True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

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

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

 Amazon Buy Link 

Sunday, 1 May 2022

This Paranormal Day, Celebrate All Things That Go 'Bump in the Night' with Author C.D. Hersh...


Annually May 3 is Paranormal Day, a day to talk about scary things like ghosts, vampires and other undead creatures that go bump in the night, and sometimes in broad daylight. But why wait until May when we have today?

Where we live, in Southwestern Ohio, one of the most haunted cities in the area is Cincinnati, Ohio. Here’s a sampling of some haunted spots in that fair city.

Music Hall, in downtown Cincinnati, built on top of a pauper’s grave, is rumored to be haunted and was selected as one of the Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places in America.


Union Terminal, or the Cincinnati Museum Center as it’s known now, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a security guard named Shirley, who was murdered there.


At the Cincinnati Art Museum a seven foot specter rises from a mummy sarcophagus.

Kings Island Amusement Park employees have reported sightings of a little girl in a period 1900s blue dress believed to come from the graveyard adjacent to the park.

Mother of Mercy High School has a nun, Sister Mary Carlos, who haunts the auditorium, which is named after her. The Sister interferes with performances unless she is asked for permission to use the space and is invited to the performance.

At the Cincinnati Zoo not all the animals are caged. A ghostly lioness prowls the park at night.

We haven’t seen any of these apparitions, and don’t plan on going ghost hunting to find them, but Catherine has lived in a few places her family believed to be haunted.

As a young girl she lived in an old house that had been subdivided into apartments, and her parents believed the apartment they lived in was haunted. Pictures and items would be moved to different places when they came home; a cousin saw a man standing at the foot of her bed one night; and when the neighbor’s children would call at the door for Catherine and her sister to come out and play, a man’s voice would answer saying, “They aren’t home.” Funny thing was, no one was home when kids came calling … except the ghost.

In another home where Catherine lived a murder had taken place years before. Her folks kept the scary information a secret from the children. While she lived in the house, Catherine had a recurring dream of a woman who appeared at her bedroom door and urged her to climb out the second story bedroom. Catherine would always awaken before she made it out the window. When the family moved, she mentioned her dream to her mother, who told her about the murdered woman. She had died at the top of the steps by the door to Catherine’s bedroom. Her mother believed the ghost of the woman was trying to kill Catherine and that if she had ever gone fully out the window she would have died. That dream, no matter how hard she tried to replicate it, has never occurred in any other home where Catherine has lived.

Catherine’s sister Carolyn lived in an apartment in the basement of Westwood Town Hall, in Cincinnati, Ohio, another reported hot spot for spooks. The town hall is reported to be haunted by the ghost of a former security guard who hung himself in the building after he was fired. Some resources say the ghost is known as Willy, others say his name is Wesley. There are many reports of stage sets, costumes and orderly things found in disarray. Water faucets turn on by themselves and locked doors are unlocked, lights turn off and on and children have reported seeing a man on the ground and in the building.

Carolyn and her husband were caretakers for the hall around 1971. “We had to clean the buildings,” Carolyn said, “and we would hear whispers around us.” Carolyn believes there is more than one ghost because of the multiple voices they heard. They would be in bed in their basement apartment of the town hall and could hear racket going on and what sounded like people bumping into the walls when they knew no one was there. “On one occasion we had to clean a room on the upper floor where a train group met. We could hear voices in the room and the door wouldn’t unlock. When we finally got the door open, there was no one inside.”

After Catherine’s sister learned the building was haunted she wouldn’t go into the main area by herself.

Can’t say that I blame her!

Now that I’ve thoroughly frightened myself by writing about all this spooky stuff at night, I think I’ll go double check the dead bolts, flip on all the lights, and look up some paranormal ghost busters … just in case.

Happy Haunting!

Have you ever had any spooky, paranormal encounters?

While you think about that here’s an excerpt from the first book in our Turning Stone Series, The Promised One.

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.”