Sunday 27 November 2022

Let's Get Popping for the Holidays with Sweet Romance Author Catherine Castle...

 The holidays are coming and lots of people are planning parties. I thought it would be fun to share my recipe for popcorn balls. Most popcorn balls are made using corn syrup, but in our family we adjusted the recipe since we weren’t keen on how the corn syrup stuck to our dental fillings, especially after a corn-syrup-based popcorn ball pulled out a loose filling.

Additionally, this popcorn recipe brings back memories. The day our daughter was born I had made popcorn balls to take to a Christmas party. Instead of making the party, we ended up in the delivery room. Hubby missed most of the party, but he had the popcorn balls in the car. So, when after her birth, instead of passing out cigars (which he wouldn’t have done since he doesn’t smoke), he passed out popcorn balls to the hospital staff.

This is a simple and fast recipe and was a staple at our house for a long time at Christmas. It’s good other times, too, and will make a sweet treat for any time you need to reward yourself.

Catherine’s Popcorn Balls

¼ cup margarine
4 cups mini marshmallows
5 cups popped popcorn. Don’t use pre-bagged, pre-seasoned popcorn for this. Pop the whole kernel corn instead.

Pop the corn as directed on the package. Set aside each popped batch in a large bowl until you have 5 cups of cooled popped corn.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows. Stir until melted.

Pour over the popcorn and stir well to mix.

Working quickly, with lightly greased hands and helpers if you can get them, form the popcorn and marshmallow mix into balls. Let balls cool completely.

Serve right away or store by wrapping each ball in a square of plastic wrap.

Serves: Who knows? It often depends on how much you, or your helpers, can resist eating as you
roll them into balls.

While you’re waiting for the popcorn balls to cool, check out Catherine’s romantic comedy with a touch of drama. There’s no popcorn in the book, but there are plenty of laughs.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes, she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom for Mama.

Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer, she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems.

In addition to writing, she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting, and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter, FB, or her blog.

Sunday 20 November 2022

An Author’s Continuing Conundrum: Marketing and Promotion…

So what’s the solution to an author’s marketing and promotion problems these days? You know. The endless advertising and selling to get readers to buy your book. No need to overthink. It’s simple. In a word: consistency. Authors need to build trust with their readers through being consistent with their publishing content. Posting on social media, blogging, guest spots, podcasts, YouTube, e-newsletters, and writing a book are just some of the tasks required for being present as an author. Not showing up makes the author and brand forgettable. Show up for your readers. Then you show up for yourself too.

How do you do build trust with your readers? Author friend Colleen M. Story suggests to begin with two ways:

1.      Consistency in QUALITY

2.      Consistency in PUBLISHING

You can apply these two ways to anything you do related to your writing career. Start by scheduling your production of at least three major pieces of content mentioned below:

Social Media: Post several times a week. Watch what your target audience (or other authors in your same genre) is posting too, so you can start to be a part of the conversation. Listen and learn what your readers want, then create the content that will grab their attention.

Blog: Write and publish a blog post at least once a week. It should fit within your niche and serve your readers. Then post links to your blog posts on all your social media platforms.

Run Ads on Facebook or Amazon: Either use the strategy for an Amazon 3 day Free promotion or post a Facebook ad for ten days, rolling it over with a new ad to take its place when the campaign ends. With Amazon, the tactic is to build the promotion by lowering the ranking until it begins to drive the promotion. Facebook allows you to target your audience, so when you get readers visiting your website or Amazon Author page (the less clicks the better) they become familiar with you and your books. If you have a series, you can combine your book covers together and put them on one ad. This can get pricey, but I think it’s worth it in the long run. Make sure to post ads on all your social media platforms to reach your targeted readers.

Email Newsletter: Send it out to your subscribers either seasonally or monthly. Include information that’s helpful to them, along with links to your blog posts and any news you want to share. FYI—So far, I have resisted creating an email newsletter. My reason? In my opinion, I believe my target audience (Young Adult) would probably pass on signing up for a newsletter, and opt for feeding their need about their favorite author’s news via social media. What works for one author doesn’t work for another.

Large Piece: Publish a larger piece of content—a short story, novel, or nonfiction book—once a year, or once every 18 months. That’s a no-brainer for a writer!

This schedule won’t propel your readership overnight, but if you stick with it and don’t give up, you will see results. Pick at least three of these, and start showing up. Consistency of action in service to your readers is truly the key to building an audience for your work. It’s not easy, but that means if you do it, you’ll be one of the few authors who stand out in your readers’ minds.

Are you consistent with your content? Do you use any of the strategies mentioned above? If not, are you willing to give it a try? I’d love for you to share your comments. Cheers, and thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate 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.

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.

You can check out all my books on my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE 

Sunday 13 November 2022

Getting to the Root of the Matter for Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper by Cozy Mystery Author Janis Lane...

One of the nicest things about root veggies is that they are almost always around ready for serving to your family. Stored in the bottom of the pantry or in a cool, dry place in the cellar, potatoes are a staple for meals. Carrots, onions, and both types of potatoes can be prepared fairly simply for easy cooking. Satisfying and healthy, these root vegetables can be presented many different delicious ways.

Fried Sweet Potatoes
3 medium sized sweet potatoes 
½ cup butter
Brown sugar to sprinkle 

Wash, peel, and slice potatoes in ¼ inch thick rounds. Melt butter in skillet, place potato rounds in and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Brown sugar forms a syrup to pour over potatoes after cooking.
I suggest serving summer sausage patties, hot biscuits, raspberry jam, and orange juice. 
Wash, peel, and slice potatoes in ¼ inch thick rounds. Melt butter in skillet, place potato rounds in and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Brown sugar forms a syrup to pour over potatoes after cooking.
I suggest serving summer sausage patties Hot biscuits, raspberry jam, and orange juice.  

Mashed White Potato Patties 
2½ cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded mild cheese
1½ cups finely chopped green onion
Dash pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 
Mix potatoes, cheese, flour, green onions, and a dash of pepper to taste together in a medium sized bowl. Form into thin 3 ½ inch patties.
Brush with beaten egg then cover with breadcrumbs, Turn gently with specula and cover with breadcrumbs other side.
Sauté in heated oil until browned and completely warmed through. Flip gently to brown both sides. Serve warm. 
Great with scrambled eggs and bacon.
Carrot Casserole

1½ to 2 cups cooked and mashed carrots
1 small, sweet onion chopped                               
⅔ cup sharp grated cheese                                     
½ tsp. yellow mustard
⅔ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sugar                                 
Salt and pepper to taste
Ritz crackers, crushed
Preheat oven 350° F.
Combine mash carrots in a mixing bowl with all ingredients except crackers. Pour into casserole dish and top with crushed crackers.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes. 
Suggested serving with browned pork chops topped with onion rings, mushroom soup and baked.  Fruit cups as salad.  

Here's a peek at my Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces you to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infect this small town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through a whirlwind of events, good and bad, over the next three novels.

A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY, and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to lose the most sleep, a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes, or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small-town community. Together, the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission.

Amazon Buy Links Kindle - Paperback

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon
Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, 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 6 November 2022

Meet the Unforgettable and Mystical Jenna Ashby by Author Leigh Goff...

For the release of the Koush Hollow audiobook, Jenna Ashby provides insight into her character and life in a mystical town where magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

Tell us about your name?

It’s Jenna Ashby. Rayna, my mother, calls me Jennifer, which I despise. My middle name, Crossland, comes from Rayna’s maiden name, however, I have so many strange dreams about where I come from that it makes me wonder if Crossland is what it's really supposed to be.

Tell us about your childhood.

My parents divorced when I was a little kid. I moved with my dad from the bayous of Koush Hollow on the outskirts of New Orleans to Atlanta. My dad died in a terrible accident last year. I was fifteen and had to move back to live with Rayna in her creaky, old house. She’s career-driven, ambitious, and she pretty much has my whole life planned out for me. Don’t worry, though. Her plan is so not going to happen. I mean, she wants me to head her vapid social club one day, the Diamonds & Pearls. How could I even consider that? I’m an eco-warrior at heart and have no intention of hanging out with those materialistic, society women whose priorities are seriously mixed up. I’m also done attending balls and wearing pearls. Needless to say, life with Rayna is going to be a challenge—mostly for her.

Do you have any distinguishing physical features?

Besides my cool short, blonde spikes of hair, I have these interesting red marks on my hands. They’re crescent moon-shaped and Dad always told me they mark me as special, but Rayna hates them. She thinks they make me less than perfect. I don’t care. I’d rather be unique than perfect. What's strange is that since I’ve returned to Koush Hollow, they’ve been acting up. I think it has something to do with being near the bayou, but I’m not sure why.

What is your greatest regret?

Not spending more time with my dad before he died. I’ve really struggled to deal with him being gone, too. Rayna is desperate for me to forget about him and focus on being Pearl perfect, but I’m not perfect. I’m a freaking mess. I’ve made bad choices. I keep making mistakes because of other traumatic events that keep sending me whirling. I regret some of my mistakes, but that’s what being sixteen is all about. No one’s perfect. We all have regrets.

Who is the most important person in your life?

From the beginning, my dad was and still is the most important, but since I’ve arrived in Koush Hollow, I’ve met someone who makes me question what’s going on in the world around me. His name is Hayden and he’s more like me than any of the wretched Diamonds or Pearls. He irritates me most of the time, but he’s smart and cares about Lake Pontchartrain and the bayous around us, which aren’t as healthy as they used to be. He blames Rayna and the nuclear power plant where she works, but she’s a former marine biologist. There’s no way she would do anything to hurt the environment, right?

Who are your friends?

I had the coolest best friends back in Atlanta who liked to cosplay. In Koush Hollow, I hang out with Pearls, Lauren and Abigail. They’re on Rayna’s approved list, but disregarding that horrible fact, they are starting to grow on me. They want me to become a Pearl, too, so I can meet the mysterious Marais sisters and have access to their secret beauty treatments. What they don’t know is that I’ve already met them. Lauren keeps hinting in a strangely weird way at the price I’ll have to pay to be a Pearl. She knows money isn’t an issue for Rayna, so it must be something else they want. We’ll see what happens.

What is your favorite food?

The one thing I love about being back in New Orleans is the food! It’s all freaking amazing. A perfect day would begin with sugar-dusted beignets for breakfast, a mouthwatering Muffuletta for lunch, shrimp and creamy grits for dinner, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips to snack on while I binge on my Netflix faves.

Speaking of Voodoo, word around Koush Hollow is that the Marais sisters are Voodoo priestesses. True or False?

What I can tell you is that they’ve got all kinds of mystical stuff going on at their place on the bayou. I’ve seen them painted as skeletons, dancing, chanting, and tossing dead fish into a bonfire. There’s Mama Ismay, she’s the oldest, although they all look so young, it’s hard to tell. Lisette is super sexy, Destine is into some strange, but healthy food choices, and they all look at me like I remind them of someone…  

 Here's a peek at Leigh Goff's latest release.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother. As the 16-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow: How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing? As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.





Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

 Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky. 

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.