Sunday 31 July 2022

Come Celebrate Canada’s Civic Holiday in Cottage Country…

Pretty much every province or state has an area tourists flock to during the warmer summer months and long weekends. You know what I mean. A town or place where travelers arrive to put up their feet and let their hair down for the holidays. In my home province of Ontario in Canada, we have plenty of those nostalgic vacay spots. Towns swell to almost ten times their size when the kids get out for the summer until they return to reality at the beginning of September. However, there’s one town that’s near and dear to my heart they’ll never find on any map or GPS system: Fairy Falls—the setting for my teen psychic mysteries series.

I actually envisioned Fairy Falls from what I remembered of a tourist town during the early 1970s, while we were visiting a friend’s cottage. This town has since grown, but some small cottage towns never grew much, and when major highways were built to take on more traffic, these towns were bypassed, and much of their economy suffered. Call it the pros and cons of progress, but I think much of the innocence was lost to those quaint, tourist towns when change was forced upon them.

I didn’t want to lose that ‘small, tourist town feeling’ when I created Fairy Falls. True, change is good, but there’s something about going to a tourist town and connecting with the people living there that somehow leaves you feeling better than you did before you arrived. I also wanted to be realistic in the fact that growth is a necessary part of life, and Fairy Falls will have to deal with all kinds of challenges that will create conflict and divide the residents, believing that they are doing what’s best for their hometown.

So what would I recommend tourists see or do in Fairy Falls? When we used to live in cottage country, we’d visit the local bakery in the tiny town five minutes south of us. The smell of fresh baking does something to a body. Sometimes it takes you back to when life was simpler. The downtown core of Fairy Falls hosts such a bakery, and is situated so you can sit at one of the ample tables beside the Vista River and enjoy your sweet treat, while watching the boats slowly putt by. Or better yet, book a boat tour to go on a three-hour cruise that takes you through a lock system, and into Blueberry Lake. Don’t forget to wave at Gertie Ellis if you catch a glimpse of her on the shoreline while she’s inspecting her blueberry bushes.

Other draws to this tourist haven include The Court Jester, the local bar and grill, serving up down-home, mouth-watering food that you can’t get anywhere else. I suggest you try their Jester Burger, topped with a slice of Canadian back bacon and pepper jack cheese, piled high with onions, garlic, and mushrooms, all fresh from the Fairy Falls Farmers’ Market. Add a pint of locally brewed Blackfly beer, and this meal will bring tears of joy to your eyes! Sit on the patio and enjoy the view of the Vista River where it may transport you to back to those good old days, and happy childhood memories. Oh, and make sure you don’t forget to stop by the Fairy Falls Farmers’ Market on Saturdays to score a deal from one of the crafters, produce, or food stands. Tell them Sharon sent you…

Before you go, I’ve got a bonus treat for you that you can enjoy for the rest of the summer and beyond. Most of the ingredients can be found at any tourist town farmer’s market, but trust me, Gertie Ellis’s maple syrup and blueberries are to die for! Plus, the fact that fresh fruit is in season makes this tasty delight a lot easier to create. Happy holidays and enjoy wherever you vacation!

Maple Blueberry Smoothie


  • 1 cup blueberry yogurt
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries


  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Blender


In a blender, combine the yogurt, milk, syrup and cinnamon. Add blueberries and blend until smooth. Garnish with fruit. Cheers!

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:


Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:


Sunday 24 July 2022

A Recipe and A Read: Southern Style Tomato Gravy and a Cozy Mystery by Author Emma (Janis) Lane...

I’m a displaced Georgia Peach living in Western New York and hardly ever saying “y’all” anymore. But I must share a delicious recipe from my past that my family and I still enjoy often.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a treat. I warn you though, there are as many recipe variations for this gravy as the imagination can handle. The same is true for its uses. My hubby likes to whip up tomato gravy from the drippings of bacon or sausages. From there the choices to use this amazing gravy are many: over meat loaf, over fresh biscuits, over meat such as pork chops, southern fried steak, etc. I love mine over rice or grits. Another version is a favorite that’s a quickie made from V8 juice.

Here is a sample of one of the many ways to create one of the secrets of Southern Cooking. Feel free to improvise and create your own version and favorite.


2 tomatoes or 1 can stewed tomatoes
2 heaping tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. bacon or sausage drippings
1 cup water or milk
½ tsp. sugar
Salt and/or pepper to taste
2 green onions, chopped fine for garnish
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped for garnish

Optional Ingredients

Dash of garlic powder or onion powder

Peel and chop tomatoes, set aside. 

Measure flour to exact number of drippings, tablespoon to tablespoon, Add to hot drippings in stovetop skillet. Stir well to make a paste or roux. Cook on medium heat until thickened. 

Add chopped tomatoes or chopped stewed tomatoes with juice, stir frequently. 

Slowly add small amount of milk or water and thin to desired consistency. If you add milk to your tomato soup, you’ll no doubt prefer your gravy that way as well. 

Add sugar, salt and/or pepper, and any of the optional ingredients. Heat through. Pour gravy into a serving bowl. Cascade garnish over the top and serve. 

The V8 Recipe is simple. Add one heaping tablespoon of flour to cold juice. Stir to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until desired thickness. Add a bit of salt and pepper. It hardly needs additional for extra flavor, but you will find your own preferences as you sample. Enjoy. 

It brings out the delicious taste if you say “y’all” three times before you eat. Yes, ma’am!  

Y’all come back now. 😊        

Here is a peek at my latest cozy mystery for your reading enjoyment. 

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 17 July 2022

Guest Post: The Magic of Girl Scout Camp by Author Anne Montgomery...

 One thing we teachers get to have that most other adults don't is a real summer vacation. Not the week or so most people take during the warm stretch of the year, but an actual couple of months off. (They don't pay us much, but we do have perks.) 

As the school year winds down, I am often reminded of those summers when I was a kid, a time when I got to be someone else. 

I stood before a wrap-around mirror at Lane Bryant, a store that originally supplied clothing for pregnant women, and then moved on to the plus-size juggernaut we know today. I was 12. 

"It's not my fault," my mother said to the saleswoman, wringing her hands. "I feed her fish and salad with no dressing." 

The woman nodded. "I'm sure you do, still the child needs a size 16 in that dress." 

I turned away from my fashionably attired mother in her spike heels and cat eyeglasses, wondering if she realized that, while I was fat, I was not deaf. I could hear the pleading in her voice. "How did I end up with an obese daughter?" 

Being an overweight kid in the 1960s was a rarity, as most any class picture from the time will clearly show. Add to my girth the fact that I was a tomboy and cared little about my appearance and rarely brushed my red hair, so my mother had it sheared short. Perhaps she thought I might find the style disturbing and be prompted to care more about my looks. But the only thing my bowl cut with a prominent cowlick in the front did was confuse people in regard to my gender. Sometimes, I was asked if I was a boy or a girl. 

By fifth grade, I was a thickly proportioned five-foot-five. In photographs with other students, I was, on occasion, mistaken for the teacher. Other kids teased me, but they never got too close. I think I actually frightened some of them. I did have a few friends, but when I turned 12, the girl who lived two houses down announced one day that she would no longer spend time with me.

"You're a fat girl," she said, not looking me in the eye. "Boys don't like fat girls. If I'm your friend, they won't like me either." She turned and walked away. She never spoke to me again. 

I sometimes stared at other girls in my class. By comparison most seemed to be petit, delicate little things. One in particular, a blond, blue-eyed child with perfect pitch and straight A's, always stood out. She wore white lace ankle socks and played the piano. When the parts were cast for the school play one year, she was named the head fairy. My role? Head witch. 

Every summer my parents sent me to Girl Scout Camp. The first time I was eight and went off for two weeks. That led to annual month-long excursions I would continue until I was 17. 

I quickly learned that at camp no one forced you to brush your hair. What truly mattered had nothing to do with appearance. The most important thing at camp was swimming, for this was the activity that opened the doors to almost everything else. Campers were labeled according to their aquatic skills and assigned a cap color. Red was reserved for those most likely to sink like stones. Yellow caps had some skills but needed serious monitoring. Green caps could hold their own in the water and blue caps were masters, swimmers the counselors never worried about. 

One year, a new cap category was created just for me and one other camper. Casey and I were anointed white caps, after we completed the Red Cross Senior Life Saving course, which meant we had unfettered access to sailing and water skiing, canoeing and even scuba diving. I sometimes walked the dock when the other girls were taking their lessons, striding past the roped-off areas that kept the inexperienced swimmers from straying. I'd head out to the far end of the wooden-planked pier, not the least bit self-conscious about how I looked in my bathing suit. I would stand and stare out over the lake, where no ropes or buoys marred the view. Then I'd dive in, going deep into the dark water, feeling freer than I ever did on land. 

The other thing that made me special at Girl Scout Camp was music. I had acquired an old guitar from my aunt and had taught myself a few rudimentary cords. (It's rather amazing just how many songs you can play with G, Em, C and D7.) I learned quickly that the girl with the guitar was highly prized around the campfire every night. And when we'd sung our last song to the snap and pop of logs dying in the fire, we would head to our brown canvas tents that nestled in the trees, perched on wooden platforms, the sides rolled up. Cocooned in thick cotton sheets and flannel blankets, the pine-scented breeze wafted over us, as lake water kissed the rocks just a few feet away, and I knew a tranquil peace I had never found anywhere else. 

The end of camp brought tears all around. Friends soon to be separated and, for me, the return to the world where neither swimming nor my nascent attempts at guitar playing mattered. 

Then, one summer, I returned home from camp and my aunt's jaw dropped upon seeing me. "Who the hell are you!" she said, looking me up and down. "Damn! She's got cheekbones." 

It wasn't that I lost weight. The pounds just somehow rearranged, perhaps because I had less access to the candy bars I used to sneak daily.  Or maybe it was the rigors of that eight-day canoe trip. Or maybe it was magic wrought by the forest and the lake and the music and the fire. Whatever caused my transformation, no one ever called me fat again.

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

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, 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 archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

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 10 July 2022

This Summer, Romance Meets Outdoor Dining by Cookbook Author Sloane Taylor...

Spring is an amazing time of year and my favorite because that’s when the Earth comes alive. All sorts of beautiful things happen. Trees are budding, tender plants push through the ground, and romance is in the air and warm weather is just a few weeks away.

I am a romantic through and through. Always have been and with any luck I always will be. Romance is much more than a quick trip to tangle the sheets. It is about being with someone you love and doing little things to show them how much they mean to you. In my case I cook because I love it.  

When summer arrives and the gardens are ablaze in color, I want to move the romance outside. So why not share a summer night with your someone special? What better way than with a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine, and music. You don’t need much to set the mood and turn your patio, balcony, or kitchen into a lover’s nook. Make your night be special with great food because it is the doorway to infinite possibilities. 

A printed flat sheet is perfect for a festive tablecloth or set out placemats for the plates and serving dishes. Use plenty of candles in different sizes and a variety of holders scattered around the table to enhance the mood, but definitely avoid scented candles. Stemmed wine glasses sparkle in candlelight and add a festive feel to your dinner. Use your regular dishes or, for fun, mix it up with a number of different plates that don’t match but
complement each other for the different courses. Experiment and have fun.

Now that you have the perfect location and setting for you and that right person, may I suggest you spoil yourself with an intimate dinner meant for lovers. A dish fit for a king or queen that takes a little time but is well worth it. Prep more chops then freeze them to finish cooking for another meal.

Stuffed Pork Chops

2 loin chops, boneless
Stuffing, recipe below
1 tbsp. (15ml) olive oil
½ cup (120ml) chicken stock
4 toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).

Slice a deep pocket in each chop. Pack in stuffing. Use toothpicks to hold pocket closed as much as possible by inserting down through both layers of meat at one end then up as close as possible. You’ll use 2 toothpicks per chop.

Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet until it shimmers over medium-high heat. Add chops and brown on each side 2 – 3 minutes.

Pour stock into an ovenproof dish. Lay chops in dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 35 minutes.



This recipe makes more than you’ll use for the pork chops but it freezes well to use with other meals.

1 package bread stuffing cubes, plain or seasoned
½ lb. (250g) breakfast sausage in a tube or bulk
8 tbsp. (1 stick) (114g) butter
1 celery rib, chopped½ med. onion, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried sage
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried thyme
2 cups (450ml) chicken stock, maybe a little more 

Empty bread cubes into a large bowl.

Fry sausage in a medium-sized frying pan, breaking meat into small chunks, until no longer pink. Add sausage and its juice to bread cubes. 

Melt butter in same skillet. Add celery and onion when the foam subsides. Sauté 3 – 4 minutes until translucent, be careful not to let it brown. Add vegetables with all their juices to the bread cubes. Mix well. 

Pour egg onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well. 

Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy. 

To Bake as a Side Dish

Spoon mixture into an ungreased baking dish. Do not pack it in. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate stuffing until you are ready to bake it, but no longer than two days. 

To Freeze

Spoon the mixture into freezer bags, label, and pop in freezer no longer than 3 months. I use several sandwich bags that serve 2. 

No matter which route you take, remove stuffing from the refrigerator/freezer early in the day to allow it to come close to room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top is brown.

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

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

To learn more about Taylor go to her website Stay in touch on BloggerTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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

Sunday 3 July 2022

Each One, Teach One…


In book two of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries, I wrote about Hart Stewart—a teenage psychometrist who has no problem ‘reading’ the absorbed energy from an object like a ring or watch, but struggles with the most basic reading skills. He finds a ring that pulls him into the past to witness a woman’s murder that has gone unsolved for over a year. That woman was Diana MacGregor’s mother, and when she discovers that Hart is in possession of the ring and he shares the intimate details of her mother’s murder through his psychic ability, Diana strikes a deal with him. She’ll teach Hart how to read and write if he helps find her mother’s killer.

I’ve had the privilege of being a tutor with the Literacy Council in the northern tourist town where I used to live. It was quite a humbling experience. I was truly amazed how many people fell through the cracks of our society without basic math, reading, and writing skills. I honestly don’t know how they survived, but they found ways to cope, to blend, and to adapt. One of my students had such a backward life, living in the bush with six siblings and parents who did their best with the life tools that they had acquired. He never knew anything different than to buck the system. On welfare, with no skills except as a delivery driver, he managed through life memorizing road signs and maps to keep his job. During one session, I asked him how he had been able to get his driver’s license? He confessed at the time he wrote the test (late 1970s), someone could sit with him and read the test to him. Wow. The times have sure changed! On social assistance for most of his life, he came to the Literacy Council with dreams of getting his A-Z license so that he could drive trucks. A lofty, but attainable goal in his eyes.

So what are some of the causes of illiteracy?

Problems are almost always a result of difficulties in the early school years, prior to grade four. Some reasons for falling through the cracks are:

1. The high mobility of our society (family moving around) and the fact that school curricula are not standardized from school board to school board.

2. Child immaturity (not interested in learning) compounded by lack of parental involvement with early education.

3. Intellectual limitations.

4. Teachers are overburdened by large classrooms and integrated special needs, as well as lack of time, opportunity and resources.

5. Generational illiteracy—illiterate or non-English speaking parents at home—no books, no role model, reading has no importance.

6. Undiagnosed visual or hearing impairment, or learning disability.

7. Trauma—lengthy illness, death of a close loved one, parent’s divorce, etc.

In some cases, the bleak future (dead-end, low-paying jobs, frequent unemployment, utter dependence on others) causes anger, frustration and hopelessness, which in turn often leads to violence and crime. Today, in the jail system, studies are revealing the reading level of the average inmate to be at grade two. I’m not sure if my student ever did achieve his goals as a truck driver, but hopefully I gave him some basic skills that would serve him for the rest of his life. Each one, teach one starts in the home by doing something as simple as reading to your child at bedtime. And if you ever get a chance to volunteer at your local literacy council, take a chance and change a life! You’ll be glad you made a difference.

Here's a snippet of my novel, Blackflies and Blueberries, the second installment of Mysterious Tales from Falls teen psychic mystery series…

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:


Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links: