Sunday 31 December 2023

Update in My Author Life…


Ah, a new year, and new plans. So much hope, and so much faith in new beginnings. A clean slate, a fresh start. As I went through my business plan and goals for 2023, I was pleased to find that I managed to complete them all, save for nabbing a foreign rights agent. But, I realized that goal was totally out of my control, with the exception of sending out queries. Among my other lofty goals were creating a writing resource PDF I called, Tips, Tools & Tricks for the Tenacious Writer and putting it up on my website as a free download, connecting with the local libraries to see if they’d purchase and carry my books, and finish writing the third installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls called Sticks and Stones. Done. Done. Done. Well, the libraries never got back to me, so I assume it’s a flat no. Sigh.

I guess authors nowadays have to try many possible avenues to get their books out there. Shows. Events. Ads. Giveaways. Bribes. Begging. Sorry, got carried away. LOL! Actually, I was lucky enough to attend a couple of events in the fall of 2023. One at our town’s bookstore, River Bookshop, who hosted a Local Author Book Fair, and another with my publisher, Mirror World Publishing at a Local Author Christmas Book Show. I love events that only allow authors and publishers, as opposed to anything-goes craft shows, because you get actual readers wandering the aisles instead of people looking aimlessly around at the different tables. Plus, we get to network with other authors, and learn what book promotion strategies work for them, and what doesn’t. A win-win in my eyes.

I also bought a program that helps authors create ads instantly. If you’ve never heard of BookGraphix, I
urge you to check it out if you like doing your own ads to share on your social media accounts. The program allows authors to place their book or books (up to three) in images that are appropriate for your audience, create content, and download them to your computer. They also have holiday inspired ads as well, and you can do trailers, cover reveals, and other creative stuff. For the last three and a half years, I’ve been steadily running Facebook ads for ten days, and rolling over a new ad when one finishes. This strategy has garnered me a reach of over a million people for many campaigns that I’ve run, and about two to five thousand clicks on the links I provide. I use my Amazon Author link with all my books, and my website books page for those links. It’s certainly been an investment for sure. The trick is to get those link clickers to buy one of my books instead of click and go. It’s a patience game for sure!

As for my plans for 2024, I’ll be revising and editing Sticks and Stones so it’s ready for publication either late this fall or in 2025. Yup. That’s how the publishing game works! Slow, but sure. I’m going to continue to query foreign rights agents seasonally until I attract the best one for me (fingers crossed), as well as run my ten day Facebook ads to extend my reach and hopefully connect with readers throughout the world. It’s also my intention to start gathering research and plotting the story for the next installment of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series, which will be in Treena Mui’s point-of-view. Should be a blast!

On a personal note, my hubby and I got e-bikes from Santa for Christmas in 2022, and have been riding our butts off all spring, summer and fall, in an effort to put a lot of mileage on them. Best. Presents. Ever. Plus, it’s great exercise and gets us outside in nature. For more current news, please check my blog, as I periodically give updates to what’s going on in my author life. So how about you? Do you have any big or small plans, goals, desires you want to make manifest in 2024? Dream big, life is short. Would love to read your comments. Cheers and Happy New Year! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate you!

Sunday 24 December 2023

Author in the Kitchen: A Festive Cake Fit for a King and a Romantic Comedy Read by Catherine Castle...

Two years ago in late December, I discovered almond paste and went down a cake rabbit hole. My family celebrates Christmas on New Year’s Day most years, but that year we were celebrating after January 6, which is Epiphany. Epiphany is the traditional date the Wise Men visited the Christ Child, and to celebrate the event a special cake, with a plastic baby or bean hidden in the cake, is served. The Epiphany cake, often referred to as a King cake or the Three Kings cake, has many forms, flavors, and even many trinkets hidden in it. It is also a tradition in many countries, especially those with a Catholic background. 

I’d never heard of a King cake, except in reference to Louisiana Mardi Gras celebrations. After some research, I decided to come up with my own version of an Epiphany King cake using almond paste. It took several tries to create something that showed off the frangipane I’d made with almond paste. On my first attempt, using a yellow cake recipe, the frangipane melted into the cake batter and didn’t give me the definition I wanted.   

So I began experimenting. I decided I’d make a chocolate spice cake with a frangipane layer. That worked. I’m calling it Epiphany Frangipane Chocolate Spice Cake. If you don’t want to make it an Epiphany cake, complete with trinkets, just call it Frangipane Chocolate Spice Cake. Here’s a tip I learned the hard way - be sure to make the frangipane first! 

Also, you may want to consider adding the following: 

·       1 bean, or 1 plastic small baby figurine, or several small trinkets. Be sure to tell your guests these items are hidden in the cake!

·       Chopped maraschino cherries or chopped candied fruit for decorating the cake. You can add the chopped candied fruits to the baking pan before you add the batter, scattering them evenly around the pan, or you can reserve them and scatter them over the top of the baked cake adhering them to the cake with a bit of confectioner sugar glaze. 

Frangipane Chocolate Spice Cake 
2½ cups sifted cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, divided
4 eggs, room temperature 

Preheat oven to 350° F.  

Combine flour with spices and cocoa in a large bowl. 

In another bowl, cream shortening until fluffy. Add 1 cup sugar and mix again, then add 1 cup flour and spices. Mix and beat until combined, adding vanilla and ¾ cup buttermilk, ¼ cup at a time, as needed to make batter mixable. 

Add remaining flour, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Keep batter scraped down from sides and bottom on bowl while beating. 

Add eggs and remaining buttermilk. Beat 2 more minutes on medium. 

In a lightly buttered, easy-release Bundt pan, gently pour 2 cups of batter into cake pan, smoothing out until batter is level if necessary. 

Almond Cream Frangipane
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
¾ cup almond flour
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract 

Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Combine ingredients on medium, then on high until fully combined. Refrigerate frangipane until cake batter is ready. 

Drop frangipane by teaspoonfuls onto batter, taking care to center in in batter. Or alternately you could pipe frangipane onto batter. 

Gently cover frangipane with 1½ cups batter, leveling out if necessary. 

Add another layer of frangipane in same manner as before. 

Cover with 1½ cups cake batter. 

Put upper rack in the lower third of oven. Bake cake for 60-65 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted in cake comes out clean. You need a long skewer, not just a toothpick to test for doneness. 

Cool pan upright for 5-10 minutes. Invert onto a wire cooling rack, Cool cake completely on wire rack. 

Note: You will have extra batter and frangipane with this recipe. To use remaining mixes, make cupcakes. 

Spoon ⅛ cup batter into a cupcake line. Top with 1 teaspoon frangipane, centering it in batter.

Cover frangipane with another scant ⅛ cup batter. Bake at 375° F for 35 minutes or until

toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean. 

I hope you’ll enjoy my cake. While it’s baking check out my romantic comedy with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama. There’s cake in this book, too. Wedding cake. 

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 17 December 2023

My Author Life’s Year-End Assessment…

When the year starts to wind down, I usually do an evaluation of what I’ve accomplished, and what I’m still working on. Augh. Some of my goals for 2023 came to fruition, others fell flat, and still others were not in my control to begin with. Augh, again. I did manage to finish the third installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series, entitled Sticks and Stones, but fell short of my deadline for spring. Instead, I completed my manuscript just before our Canadian Thanksgiving in early October. How fitting, since the novel ends during our Thanksgiving. Divine timing, it seems, is everything. My goal was to get the novel ready for my publisher’s 2024 publication roster. Um, no. Fell a little short. But I got into the 2025 for sure, unless something unforeseen happens and a space opens up. Such is the complexity of the publishing industry. Sigh.

That said, I feel very blessed to have a publisher like Mirror World Publishing, who literally has their authors’ backs, and are so supportive and understanding. Another goal I did manage to get launched was compiling a writing resource ebook called Tips, Tools & Tricks for the Tenacious Writer, and offering it for free on my website as a downloadable PDF. It was actually ten years in the making, as I took helpful articles from my blog to share my publishing journey with wannabe writers or authors who might just glean some useful material from it. I managed to get the freebie up last March, so a win-win for me! *Pats back vigorously*

A smaller goal was to try to get my books into the local libraries of the Southern Ontario region I live in. Talk about red tape and politics. Triple augh! I contacted the right people in the right positions, explained that I wanted my books to share shelf space with the numerous books they had on hand, and of course told them I was a local author. I was informed that their budgets would only allow so many books to be purchased (most likely famous authors or bestsellers), but that I could drop off my books at the closest libraries in my location. So I did. I chose the first books in my two young adult series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and Lost and Found from Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. I wrote a cover letter and packaged my book babies up, and sent them on their way. I also mentioned in the letter that if they decided against purchasing my books, then please accept these titles as a donation. Sigh. Never even got a thank you or a charitable slip for tax purposes. *Shakes fist vehemently*

My HUGE goal (this one is NOT in my control) was to acquire a literary agent to handle foreign and subsidiary rights for both my young adult series. Yeah, I know it’s a pipe dream, but I truly believe in myself as a writer, and do want to bring more light into the world through my books. I began this endeavor in November 2022, crafting a query tailored to my goals, and researched prospective literary agents. Shoot me now. I really hate Query Tracker because the format is geared to one manuscript. So, I got creative, cut and pasted my query and sent it along. I did hit pay dirt in July with a UK agent who requested my PDFs! My elation was short-lived, as she explained that her heart had to be all in, and she didn’t feel she was the right fit for representation. Hey, I wouldn’t have expected anything else. That said, I know that the query letter I wrote did its job, and captured the eye of an agent. At least now I know there’s a chance of landing the perfect agent for me. *Crossing fingers and toes*

Of course, I had many other mini goals throughout 2023, as I continued to chip away and plod through my author life. How about you? If you’re an author, did you reach many of your goals? If you’re a reader, did you realize what an author’s life entails? Would love to read your comments. Wishing you, and your loved ones, a safe and happy holiday season. Cheers!

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Book Tour: YA Graphic Novel DELUGE by Mike Dubisch and Carolyn Watson-Dubisch...


Sapphyria's Book Promotions presents the 1-Week Virtual Book Tour for Deluge by Mike Dubisch and Carolyn Watson-Dubisch - YA Graphic Novel (December 11-15, 2023)

About Deluge:

About the Book:

12 year old Laura was just a normal girl from Seattle when her mother decided to move to a mysterious town in the midwest. The moment they arrive in their new home hundreds of frogs rain from the sky. Her quirky new neighbor has a house full of knick knacks and odd tiny creatures beckoning from the shadows, and there's a terrible curse on the town that makes every summer storm a life threatening event. Welcome to the town of Deluge.

Book Details:

Genres: YA Graphic Novel

Page Count: 50

Add to Goodreads:

Purchase from Amazon:

Follow the Book Tour:

Meet the Authors:

Mike and Carolyn Dubisch began collaborating artistically at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. They married soon after graduating and began working together. Their first major project was designing rides on the Turn of the Century Carousel that was displayed in Grand Central Station in New York, The L.A. Auto Show in California, Also in Washington D.C., and New Orleans. Their comic book adaptation of the Japanese fable Urishima Taro, initially created for a fundraiser for the tsunami victims in Japan, was licensed by FOX in 2013.

Mike Dubisch is well known for his fantasy art and comics, including art for Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons and Aliens vs Predator. Carolyn Watson-Dubisch is a multiple award winning author and illustrator of 18 children’s books, working with multiple publishers and authors. Her work has appeared in Highlights for Children Magazine, Hopscotch Magazine and she designed and illustrated a regular feature in Whimsy Magazine for 5 years. Their most ambitious project, the all-ages graphic novel series “The People That Melt in The Rain”, is the product of over 10 years of development.

Social Media Links:






Sunday 10 December 2023

A Holiday Recipe and Read: Craisin-Walnut Dressing and A Regency Christmas Collection by Emma Lane...

This year seems to have zipped by much too fast. Our family is already hinting for me to cook their favorite dishes for Christmas dinner. One wants a ham with gravy from drippings. Another is pleading for green bean casserole, while another wants fresh asparagus spears and dinner rolls. Me, I have a sweet tooth and am looking forward to a home baked apple pie, of course ala mode, for dessert. 😊 One thing the entire family is looking forward to is my special dressing. Here’s the recipe for you.


1 bag seasoned breadcrumbs, or mixed breadcrumbs
1½ cup chicken stock, just enough to moisten breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. butter1 onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
⅓ cup dried craisons, dried cranberries or raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Salt & pepper to taste 

Preheat oven 350° F. 

Soak craisins, or raisins, in warm water to soften for fifteen minutes. 

Melt butter in a frying pan. Sauté celery and onion until opaque, about 7 minutes.

Drain craisins. Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl, then season with salt and pepper.  Pour chicken stock to moisten ingredients and mix lightly.

Grease an oven safe pan them scoop in mixture.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes.

Merry Christmas,


Here's a peek at my Christmas collection. I hope you enjoy it.

Winter storms swirling snow and unexpected guests on the eve of Christmas, the pungent fragrance of fresh pine boughs, springs of mistletoe hung with red ribbons, and a stolen kiss underneath the kissing ball comprise scenes of Christmas in the country. Ice skating anyone? Have a cup of wassail and toast your toes in front of a warm fire while you enjoy four short stories of sweet Regency Christmas romances. 

Amazon 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 3 December 2023

Book Tour: It Hurts Every Time by L.P. Mills...

Mirror World Publishing and Sapphyria's Book Promotions present the 1-week virtual book tour for

It Hurts Every Time by L.P. Mills

About It Hurts Every Time:

“Death is not the end, sir,

No, sir, not the end of the line,

Just remember what I say to you;

It hurts, baby,

It hurts every time.”

Pluto Garcia is a lieutenant in the Community Militia of Morrisette, a post-communist city-state where a miracle drug has advanced enough to allow the dying a second chance at life by launching them into the nearest available universe in which they are still alive.

In his latest incarnation, Pluto is tasked with investigating the death of Krishna Klein, a brilliant but troubled philanthropist who has been found with a bullet in his head following a week-long bender. With the aid of his assigned partner, Esther Dupont, Pluto uncovers a techno-fascistic plot to plunge the flawed Utopia of Morrissette into authoritarian control once and for all.

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Release Date:

LP Mills is an author, game designer, journalist, and beard owner. He currently lives in front of a computer screen in Nottingham, UK, where he feverishly tells stories in an attempt to ignore his day-to-day responsibilities. His dog, Jack Daniels, has yet to compliment him on his writing.

Find L.P. Online:


Author Website:

Publisher Website: