Sunday 25 September 2022

Guest Post: Can Baseball Survive a Changing World? by Author Anne Montgomery...

Major League Baseball is no longer America’s Pastime. What does that mean for the future of the game?

The folks who run Major League Baseball are scared. Really scared.

First, kids aren’t playing the game anymore. Gone are the days when children would organize a neighborhood game, pretending to be their favorite players, policing the rules themselves, without parents scrutinizing everything from their playing time to their batting and fielding stats and coaches who often care more about winning than nurturing young people. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you noticed a child walking down the street lovingly clutching a baseball glove. See what I mean?

Don’t get me wrong. Some kids do play baseball. A lot. They participate in travel leagues, sometimes year-round, a practice that often guts youth and high school teams and leads to baseball burnout because the “season” never ends. Children, some even at the pre-teen level, are being convinced they are Major League prospects. While there are certainly a handful of such children, for the most part, Mom and Dad, your kid is not one of them, no matter how much money you throw at their training.

I was an amateur baseball umpire for almost 25 years, and I’ve seen participation at youth levels drop precipitously over the years.

Speaking of money, kids in poorer communities can’t afford the baseball gloves and bats and shoes necessary to play, not to mention the fees needed to pay for uniforms, field facilities, and umpires. And often in the inner city there are no baseball fields on which to play.

The other problem is the changing dynamics of childhood. Before digital electronics, kids couldn’t wait to change into their play clothes after school and head outside. I know some of you remember those days fondly, but many of today’s kids simply wouldn’t understand why anyone would want to leave the house. After all, with their unfettered access to social media, video games, and streaming services to distract them, there’s almost no reason to ever venture off the couch.

Another one of baseball’s big problems is the game itself. Unlike football, basketball, and ice hockey that have a lot of action, baseball is slower and much more cerebral. At least it was before scoring became the most important aspect of the game. The preponderance of and importance placed on home runs is killing all those beautiful fielding plays that made baseball brilliant.

As a former TV sportscaster and an amateur umpire of almost 25 years, I don’t think there’s anything more exciting than a runner going for a triple. Though a triple play is damn close. And yet for years baseball executives tinkered with the ball to increase scoring. Yes, I know they swear the balls were never juiced, but I don’t believe them. Home runs have soared to ridiculous numbers, which leaves all those fielders standing around doing nothing. That gets pretty boring after a while. By the way, if you’re not sure homers are an issue note that in 2014 4,186 pitches resulted in home runs. In 2019, that number exploded to an all-time record 6,776.

So now, baseball’s bosses are trying something new, albeit at the Minor League level. They are once again changing the ball. Rawlings has “loosened the tension of the first wool winding,” according to a memo from the commissioner’s office. That will slightly reduce the weight of the ball and make it less bouncy, the hope being a reduction in home runs.

But that won’t help solve baseball’s biggest problem: Time. Unlike other sports there is no clock on the diamond. An average MLB game lasts almost three hours and ten minutes. By comparison, an NBA contest averages just two hours and 15 minutes. As our attention spans dwindle, our ability to stay engaged is declining, a situation that is doubly difficult for young people who Major League Baseball needs to survive.

Baseball has already lost its status as America’s Pastime, having been supplanted by football. And, as in all sports, fewer kids are coming out to play. That does not bode well for the future of the games, especially baseball.

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.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Book Tour: Uncommon by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred...

Mirror World Publishing and Sapphyria's Book Promotions present the 1-Week Book Tour for 

by Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred

About Uncommon:

Rygal Saline has always stood in his sister’s shadow. As heir to the Clan Chief, Rhea has been trained in the art of leadership and warfare. Rygal is just, well, Rygal.

After several years away at a College in Ismera, Rygal returns to Jaram for his father’s funeral only to find a letter from his sister. She’s gone, she’s sorry, and she expects him to take her place as the next clan chief. Never envisioning a place for himself within the clan, let alone taking on the responsibilities of leadership, Rygal finds himself alone and out of his depth.

Desperate for companionship and for someone he can turn to for help, he writes a letter to every eligible maiden on the continent, hoping to find a wife. The letters travel far and wide. Most are rejected until an accident of fate sends Rygal’s letters into the hands of two women for whom they were never intended, setting in motion a plot that threatens to bring Clan Jaram to the brink of war.

Exclusive Excerpt:

Emily was a scullery maid. She knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt because her head was in a pot, her hands were raw and chafed, and she sat on the worn stone floor of the scullery, her legs splayed out to either side of the aforementioned pot, bracing it so she could reach the very bottom and scrub it until it shined. Or at least until it gleamed dully; the pots were getting old, like everything else in Hyatt House.

Nothing less would do. Not for Lady Dorothea Hyatt and not for Cook, who would swat Emily’s bottom with her long handled spoon if she so much as thought of doing less than was expected of her. Speaking of the cook…Emily ducked her head out of the oversized stock pot and listened for a moment. The kitchen beyond the partially open scullery door where the light was coming from was uncharacteristically silent. Maybe she fell asleep again.

Emily gave a sniff and could just make out a whiff of blueberry scones, fresh from the oven. Her stomach growled plaintively. She listened a moment longer, but didn’t hear any sounds of Cook pattering about, or even the woman’s snores, which were quite distinctive.

Curious and more than a little hungry, Emily got to her feet, leaving the scrubbing brush on the floor of the scullery. She wiped her hands on the front of her already filthy apron, and then darted to the faded wooden door for a look. Peeking her head slowly around the door, she found the kitchen devoid of people. There was no Cook in sight and no other staff either; not that that was odd, there were hardly enough of them left to bump into each other anymore.

Absently smoothing her unruly nest of curly red hair in a futile attempt to make herself look like she could possibly belong in a room where food was prepared, Emily strode purposefully into the old, but well-appointed kitchen. Her feet were chilled by the cool tiles of the kitchen floor through the holes in her worn stockings, while her nose led her to where the scones rested on the countertop.

She took a deep sniff, filling her belly with the warm fragrant fumes in case they were all she got, then after looking both ways she confirmed she was indeed alone before she reached out and snatched the smallest, most misshapen looking scone; the reject, the one nobody would miss. Emily was about to shove that scone between her meagre breasts to hide it and then scurry back to the scullery to devour it in secret, when the faintest hint of a conversation drew her attention beyond the world of misshapen scones and dirty dishes.

“No, there will be no discussion,” Dorothea’s voice rose to the point it could be heard clearly from the parlour, two rooms away. “Your services are simply no longer required.”

There are so few of us left now as it is. Emily worried her bottom lip, wondering which of the maids would be leaving this time. A list of possible victims floated through her mind. Old Victor? She considered the gruff old groundskeeper, who was surly to everyone but had always been kind to her in his own way. He’d let her pick flowers out of the gardens a time or two to decorate her little attic bedroom and he let her visit the stables sometimes to spend time with the horses.

Becca? Oh, I hope it isn’t Becca. Until recently, Becca had been the house’s chambermaid, responsible for cleaning rooms and turning down beds and such. But ever since Darla had been dismissed Becca had been doing double duty, serving at meals, taking care of the elderly Lady Anastasia, and handling tea service on top of her regular duties. From where Emily stood, Becca was indispensable, but there was no accounting for the thought process of a woman like Dorothea.

Emily was just about running out of potential subjects as the washing-woman already only came by on Sundays, when the person in question spoke and her thick, mannish voice gave her away as nothing else could have. “I’ll take my leave then,” Cook said, “but mark me, you won’t find anyone near as good willing to work for the pennies you provide. Perhaps you’re doing me a favour in the long run. I can make more coin elsewhere.”

Emily could just imagine the expression on Dorothea’s lined face. Her pursed lips and pinched brows over icy blue eyes. The wrinkles on her forehead pulled tight and straining against the clips that held her greying black hair in an immaculate bun without a single strand out of her control, despite the white strip that always made Emily think of a skunk and reminded her to always be wary of Dorothea’s temper.

“Perhaps,” Dorothea responded and it was not in agreement.

In her preoccupation, Emily had gotten right up to the pale blue kitchen door so she could better hear what was going on. Now, heavy footfalls warned her that somebody, probably Cook, was headed her way, and if she didn’t snap to she would be crushed by the door swinging inwards on its hinges.

Emily jumped backwards like a cat startled by a foreign object. She narrowly missed being struck by the door, but she hadn’t moved fast or far enough to avoid being spotted by Cook and she still held the incriminating scone tightly in her grimy fist.

Visit the Tour Hosts:

Book Details:

Publisher: ‎ Mirror World Publishing; 1st edition
Publication Date: ‎ September 17, 2022
Print Length: ‎ 339 pages

Order Links:

Mirror World Publishing ebook: 

Mirror World Publishing paperback: 

Meet the Authors:

Justine Alley Dowsett (right) is the author of more than ten novels and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred (left), range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally roleplaying with her friends.

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she'd rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a nurse and a mom of two living in Windsor, Ontario.






Publisher Website:


Sunday 18 September 2022

Start the Season with this Healthy Recipe and Venture into a Fantastical Young Adult Read this Fall...

I discovered this healthy recipe from an online diet and exercise program I purchased last year and loved it! It packs a different punch to your taste buds while providing a healthier choice to add to your personal menu. Who said a burrito needed to be unhealthy? This easy recipe provides anti-inflammatory properties from apple cider vinegar, immune boosting benefits from garlic, and healthy, inflammation-cooling fats from olive oil. Instead of heading to your local fast-food Mex-Tex joint, try making your own burrito at home.

Chipotle Chicken Wrap

1 garlic clove
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Juice from ½ lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ tsp. paprika
4-6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 cup romaine lettuce or spinach, chopped
1 tbsp. shredded carrots
½ cup quinoa, cooked, optional
Sliced avocado, optional


½ tomato, diced
¼ onion, diced
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Squeeze of lemon juice
Note: you can use your favorite brand of salsa if you choose 

Make your chipotle sauce first by blending blend together garlic, olive oil, chili powder, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper until smooth (ideally in a blender). Use this sauce to marinate your chicken in a zip lock bag for a minimum of 30 minutes. 

Mix together all of your salsa ingredients in a bowl. 

Cook the chicken in a sauté pan until thoroughly cooked through, about 10 minutes. 

Serve on a bed of lettuce with chicken and salsa on top. Add cooked quinoa and/or avocado if desired. 

While you’re waiting for your healthy wrap to digest why not put your feet up and relax on the couch with a good book? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, either series will transport you to another time and place, taking you away from whatever troubles you. 

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures… 

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time. 

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past. 

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries… 

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with its freakish power. There’s no hope for a normal life, and no one who understands. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Until mysterious things start to happen.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected. 

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, Book #3


The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:


The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:


Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:


Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:


Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:


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

Sunday 11 September 2022

Guest Post: Are Friends Electric? Farewell, Fridge-Freezer... by Author Carol Browne

Humans tend to become emotionally attached to inanimate objects. People love their cars, for example. I don’t have a car, but I do have a fridge-freezer. Or rather, I did. It died on me this week, announcing its demise by tripping out all the lights and the other household appliances and sending me into a panic that had me phoning my landlord for help. He sent round an electrician who restored equilibrium to the fuse box and read the fridge-freezer its last rites. 

I joked with the electrician: “How dare it break down after twenty-eight years of constant service!” He agreed that they don’t make white goods like that anymore. But when he’d gone, I felt a bit sad. I remembered the day I bought that fridge-freezer brand new. I had escaped from a bad marriage and found a place to rent and was filling it with what I needed to start my new life. Things were not destined to go smoothly, however, and there were to be many house moves and relationships ahead. Throughout all those house moves my longest-lasting relationship has been with my fridge-freezer! 

I sat at the kitchen table and reminisced. All the things I had been through over those twenty-eight years! And that fridge-freezer had stood without complaint in whatever kitchen it found itself in (and for a few years, in a draughty back porch). It moved between houses and bungalows, from the town to the countryside, bumping about in removal vans and trucks. Along the way it lost its pristine-white sheen and gathered fridge magnets like barnacles. Its edges became a little rusty, the shelves cracked and the little light no longer worked when the door was opened. But it steadfastly did its duty, a silent witness to the dramas around it and the passing of time. And sometimes when I woke in the night, its gurgling and purring sounds drifted from the kitchen to my room and reassured me, though I don’t know why. It was just a machine but somehow it had become a friend. 

I remembered as a child the time before we even had a fridge and how difficult it was for my mother to keep food fresh. The day the first fridge arrived was everyone’s birthday come at once! It had an icebox and that meant ice cream! Nowadays, we take such devices for granted. What a shock it is when they stop working for us. 

Yes, I had taken that fridge-freezer for granted. It never let me down until this week and I am lost without it until a replacement is delivered. We have been through a lot together and I know I will never see its like again. It will be a wrench to see it loaded onto yet another truck, because this time it won’t be going to another kitchen in another home. This time it will make its final journey when the city council hauls it away to put it out of its misery. 

Yes, it’s an inanimate object, insensate and soulless and just a hulk made of plastic and metal, but I know that when they take it away, I will be thinking, “Goodbye, old friend. Thanks for everything. It’s been a blast.”

Once upon a time a little girl wrote a poem about a flower.
Impressed, her teacher pinned it to the wall and, in doing so, showed the child which path to follow.

Over the years poems and stories flowed from her pen like magic from a wizard’s wand.

She is much older now, a little wiser too, and she lives in rural Cambridgeshire, where there are many trees to hug.

But inside her still is that little girl who loved Nature and discovered the magic of words.

She hopes to live happily ever after.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter

Fantasy author Carol Browne is a published author who is currently seeking an agent.

Sunday 4 September 2022

Enjoy a Breakfast Sandwich at the Cottage or Campground this Summer by Author Helen Carpenter...

Camping and cottaging season ain't over yet! I've invited fellow author and friend Helen Carpenter to share her delicious breakfast sandwich recipe with us in my virtual kitchen today. She also insists this tasty delight can be enjoyed any season of the year. So, handing over my fry pan and spatula, go ahead, and take it away, Helen...

Cheese sandwiches for breakfast anyone? Oh yes—and this simple-to-make chewy and crunchy cheese melt combo is the sandwich of choice. Chewy mozzarella, crunchy fresh green peppers and onions, spicy pepperoni, and Italian seasonings deliciously stacked on buttery English muffin rounds make breaking your night's fast a pleasure.

Melted Cheese Sandwich
6 English muffins, store-bought or hand-baked
1 tbsp. butter, softened
12 slices (1-oz each) mozzarella cheese
1 sweet onion
1 large green pepper
6 oz. sliced pepperoni
Garlic salt
Italian seasoning

Split each muffin and lightly butter the outer side. Place one-half of each muffin buttered side down in frying pan.

Top each muffin half with 1 slice of mozzarella, 1 sweet onion ring, 1 green pepper ring, and 1 ounce of pepperoni. Season to taste with garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Add another layer of mozzarella. Place remaining half of muffin on top, buttered-side up.

Fry sandwiches in covered skillet, turning once, until cheese melts and sandwich is heated through. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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.