Sunday 7 July 2024

A Recipe and a Read: Classic Beef Stroganoff and a Family Saga Series Starter by Author Stella May...

Beef Stroganoff was invented in Russia in the early 1800’s. Count Stroganoff was a dignitary in the court of Alexander III. Count Stroganoff’s chef, who was likely French, created the dish and named it after Stroganoff. The earliest known recorded recipe was in Elena Molokhovets’s A Gift to Young Housewives, published in 1871. There have been many versions of the recipe over the centuries, but this is the closest to the original one. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do.

BEEF STROGANOFF

1 lb. top sirloin steak cut into thin strips
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sour cream
½ tsp of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste4 green onions, chopped include a good portion of green

Place a large deep pan over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons oil. Once oil is very hot, add beef strips in a single layer. Cook until just browned and no longer red. Sear beef in two batches so you don't overcrowd the pan. Remove beef to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add butter, onion, and mushrooms. Sauté 6 – 8 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and veggies are soft and lightly browned.

Add 1 minced garlic clove and sauté 1 minute until fragrant. Add flour and sauté another minute, stirring constantly.

Carefully stir in beef broth, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in whipping cream and simmer another 1 – 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Blend two or three tablespoons of the sauce into the sour cream to warm it so it doesn’t curdle.   add it to the pan while stirring constantly.

Stir in Dijon mustard, season with salt and pepper. Continue simmering until sauce is creamy.

Add beef along with any accumulated juices back into the pan. Bring just to a simmer and cook until beef is heated through.

Garnish with green onions and serve over any noodles.

Bon appetite!

Here is a peek at my new series, the Rostoff Family Saga. New Dawn is book one soon to be followed by New Hope, New Life, and New Horizon

Love wasn’t part of their agreement. Neither was being caught in a brutal web of lies.

International playboy and owner of a jewelry empire that spreads across three continents, Dmitry Rostoff holds a memory close to this heart that not even his best friend Vlad Albrecht knows. When Dmitry learns the Russian ballerina, he had a passionate affair with died in childbirth, bitterness and hate overrule all other emotions.

Taking the baby out of Russia is an impossible snarl of red tape, but Dmitry gets his way, even if he leaves a trail of chaos in his wake.

Natasha Sokolova planned to turn over the baby to Dmitry then walk away. Instead, she is on a plane to San Francisco with the baby and a cold, emotionless man who makes her heart pound with scorching attraction.

The family matriarch and evil to her core Elizabeth Rostoff plots to gain control of the baby, no matter what it costs or who it hurts, and will do anything to make that happen. She blackmails Marie Dubois, the manager of their elite Paris store, to seduce Dmitry. But Marie reneges on the deal when former Special Forces officer Vlad Albrecht storms into her life.

Once in America, Natasha finds herself entangled in a sticky web of lies created by the brutally calculating family matriarch. A web that forces Natasha to make a heartbreaking deal with the devil to protect the children—and man—she’s come to love.

AMAZON BUY LINK and OTHER SUPPLIERS

 

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of 'Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors. 

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business. 

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Sunday 30 June 2024

What Makes Fairy Falls So Magical…

When I created the mythical town of Fairy Falls twenty years ago, I drew from all of my childhood and adult experiences from vacationing and living in cottage country Canada. When you think of a small, northern tourist town, what emotional cord does it strike? Vacationing with the family when you were young? Visiting your grandparents at their cottage? Camping in the backwoods with your friends? Whatever vision you conjure, I’m sure you have plenty of happy memories of that special place. That’s the basis of building the town of Fairy Falls. I wanted to give my teen psychic mystery book series a nostalgic feeling coupled with a sense of adventure and…wait for it…the supernatural. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expected the unexpected.

Fairy Falls has always been a magical place, but for some reason it seems to be a haven for those with psychic abilities. In Lost and Found, the animals at the Fairy Falls Animal Shelter need a champion to save their shelter, and find one in rebellious Meagan Walsh, who’s a bona fide telepathic animal communicator. There are others with different psychic powers who have been (or will be) drawn to Fairy Falls, not to hide, but feel that they have been forced here by circumstances beyond their control. Or could it be a matter of serendipity that has brought them to this small, tourist town?

Fairy Falls is like any small town with a mayor, deputy mayor, and a selection of town counsellors. Presently, Mike MacGregor is at the helm as this town’s mayor. Unfortunately, Mayor MacGregor and his family are mourning the loss of his wife and their mother, Joy, who sat on as one of the counsellors for Fairy Falls. She was viciously attacked and murdered, and her killer is still at large. Enter stray Hart Stewart, who possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching objects associated with them. When he finds Joy’s ring, and witnesses her unsolved murder through it, he’s pulled into the lives of the MacGregor family to help unravel the truth. These characters are featured in the second installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries.

Now, with two books in this series under my proverbial belt, the third installment, Sticks and Stones, is sitting with my publisher, Mirror World Publishing, awaiting editing orders, and exhumation for publication in 2025. This story revolves around 14-year-old Thane Berg, who is forced to live with his estranged, gay father in Fairy Falls, while his mother is on a year-long business trip. Here, he suddenly discovers that he can bend spoons when angered, then bend them back when calm. He finds out that the latent psychic ability he possesses is called psychokinesis, and it’s getting stronger and more out of control each day. To make matters worse, Thane must also start over in a new school—Fairy Falls High School—and leave his familiar life behind.

So what makes Fairy Falls so magical? It’s close proximity to nature? Maybe. A pristine area that’s
pushed back on corporation takeovers and big box stores? Could be. Or is it something more? Something unexpected? Wink. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I actually reveal the reason why those with psychic abilities are inexplicably drawn to Fairy Falls in Sticks and Stones, by delving into the Druid roots of the town. In one scene, Thane meets the resident Druid, who explains this energetic pull beautifully, “Fairy Falls seems to be a draw for sensitive souls. This town’s essence and energy amplifies a person’s psychic abilities for some reason. Some say it’s the connection to the Druid origins of the town, while others whisper that there’s a strange, pulling energy here that calls people like you home. I believe it’s a little of both.”

Intrigued? I hope so! Nancy MacGregor, who was featured in Blackflies and Blueberries, makes a cameo in Sticks and Stones, and shares her take on why Fairy Falls is so magical, with Thane, “…I’m telling you that there’s a rumour about a circle of standing stones imbued with mystical and healing properties erected somewhere deep in the forest of Fairy Falls. Nature protects them. Few have seen them.” Hmm. The plot thickens…

Is there a place you’ve visited that feels like home to you? That you know you belong there, and can’t understand why? Perhaps, if you get a chance to visit the pages of my Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls novels, you’ll feel a connection like no other. Thanks for stopping by my virtual cottage on the lake, and if you’re a Canadian, have a safe and happy Canada Day! Cheers!

Sunday 23 June 2024

A Recipe and a Read: Strawberry Sour Cream Muffins and a Romantic Suspense compliments of Author Vonnie Hughes...

It’s my pleasure to share a muffin recipe that will become a breakfast favorite with your family. Use room temperature ingredients for best results as they blend into the batter easily and produce amazing muffins and makes your life easier!

If you prefer not to use butter, then an equal amount of vegetable oil or applesauce works. You can also swap out sour cream for plain unsweetened Greek yogurt. Fresh strawberries are perfect in this recipe, but frozen berries can also be used. Thaw and drain the strawberries before adding them to the muffin mix. If your frozen strawberries are whole, dice them first.


Strawberry Sour Cream Muffins

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 ¼ cups fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
2 lg. eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract¾ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375° F. 

Wash berries and remove stems. Dice the strawberries into bitesize pieces. 

Insert paper liners into a muffin pan or mist the pan with baking spray. 

Combine flour through salt in a medium size bowl. Fold in strawberries and set it aside.

In a different bowl, cream butter and sugar together using a hand or stand mixer. Once the mixture is light and fluffy, beat in eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. 

Thoroughly fold in the flour mixture to create a batter. 

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups to the top. 

Bake muffins 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 

Cool for 5 minutes in the baking pan. Then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Store your strawberry muffins in an airtight container. They will stay fresh at room temperature for 3 days and can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Here is a little from my romantic suspense set in New Zealand where a young woman who witnesses the aftermath of a crime is sent to a supposedly safe house.


Inching along the wall, Célie reached the window. She held on to the door jamb, a little island of security in a sea of fear. Then she stretched across and peered out. A featureless face stared back at her.

She screamed and jumped back, bashing her elbow on the laundry tub. 

Peaches lumbered to his feet, shaky and confused. 

The face was still there. No eyes. No mouth. No nose. 

Peaches staggered over to the door and snuffled. 

Mesmerized, Célie kept staring at that distorted face as she backed into a corner. 

Then the face moved, and a hand spread across the glass. The forefinger and thumb rubbed together. 

Flashes of memory seared her mind. 

She gasped, remembering that fearful morning when she’d discovered poor Occy’s disemboweled body. Stunned, struggling not to vomit, she’d been hovering over what was left of Occy when she sensed she was being watched. For a few precious seconds she had stared back at the creepy figure silhouetted in the early morning gloom watching her—just watching her. 

Then he’d rubbed his thumb and forefinger together covetously, as if he were contemplating the best way to eat her alive. 

And she’d bolted. 

And done her best to bury those memories. 

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Sunday 16 June 2024

Cover Reveal: Nine Levels by Elana Gomel...

Mirror World Publishing and Sapphyria's Book Promotions present the cover reveal for 
Nine Levels by Elana Gomel.

About Nine Levels:

Waking up on the beach in Greece after a midnight party, Cleo, a British-Greek tourist, sees a stranger sitting next to her. The stranger has a giant spider on his forearm.

So begins an incredible odyssey through the nine levels of the mysterious mountain populated by an odd assortment of monsters, demons, and avatars of dead gods. Still grieving the unsolved disappearance of her twin sister Cora, Cleo is thrust into the world whose rules she does not understand and whose inhabitants confound everything she thought she knew about Greek mythology. Confronted by Woven Women, masked huntresses, sentient graffiti, and Mother of Monsters, Cleo has to make sense of it all. And meanwhile, a mysterious Call reverberates in her brain: You have to go up. You have to find your sister.

A story of self-discovery, courage, and breathtaking adventure, Nine Levels is a highly imaginative, innovative, and engrossing retelling of familiar legends with a twist you won’t see coming.


Release Date: July 17, 2024

Meet the Author:


Born in Ukraine and currently residing in California, Elana Gomel is an academic, an award-winning writer, and a professional nomad. She is well-known for her work on speculative fiction and narrative theory, represented by her academic books, which Beyond the Golden Rule, Bloodscripts, and The Palgrave Handbook of Global Fantasy. Twelve years ago she published her first fantasy novel and has never looked back. She is the author of more than a hundred short stories, two collections, several novellas, and seven novels. She writes dark fantasy, dark SF, fairy tales, and hard-to classify dreamlike stories, some of them connected to her roots in the former USSR. Her stories won several awards, and “Mine Seven” was featured in the Best of Horror 13 edited by Ellen Datlow. Her latest fiction publications are the dark fairy tale Nightwood (Silver Award in the Bookfest 2023 competition) and Girl of Light, an alternative history of the USSR with monsters. Many of her stories and novels have mythological and folkloric overtones, inspired by her travels and her academic research. Having lived in several countries including Israel, Italy, the UK, and Hong Kong, she now resides in the magical – and sinister – redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband.

Amazon Author Profile: https://amzn.to/3z5FHeU

Sunday 9 June 2024

Author in the Kitchen: A Tasty No-Bake Fun Father's Day Recipe and YA Time Travel Adventure Read...


Looking for a great family snack or gift for the upcoming Father's Day that’s easy to make and soooo addictively wicked you’ll need to lock those ranch-dressed, salty bites under lock and key if you want to make them last until the big day with Dad? Then look no further. I've got you covered with my mouth-watering Pretzel Crack recipe. Seriously. Dad will be hooked with his first nibble.

And guess what? No baking is required. It's the perfect gift your kids can create to give to their fathers on their special day. Plus this recipe makes loads for movie watching later on in the week or if you're attending a barbecue with friends or family throughout the summer. It's a win-win gift all around!


PRETZEL CRACK

32 ounce bag of pretzels
16 ounce bottle of Orville Redenbacher’s Buttery Flavor popcorn oil
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (dry)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoon dill weed
1 deep foil tray (from dollar store)

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Stir in popcorn oil.
Add pretzels and coat evenly, then spoon into a deep foil pan.
Air dry pretzels in foil tray, stirring every 15 minutes or so until dry. This can take anywhere from 2 - 4 hours.

Store your freshly made pretzel crack in freezer bags. Voila. Done. Ready for consumption.

Warning: If you find that you or a family member eats a whole bag in one sitting, it’s time for an intervention. Do what you must. Be firm. Then, since the bag is empty, go ahead and make some more. You know you want it.

While waiting for the pretzel crack to dry, might I suggest you enjoy a trip into the past with The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis?

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

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

BUY LINKS
Amazon - Kobo


Sharon Ledwith
is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the award-winning teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, reading, researching, or revising, she enjoys anything arcane, ancient mysteries, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her spoiled hubby and two shiny red e-bikes.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.

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

Sunday 2 June 2024

Guest Post: Thanks, Dad! by Sweet Romance Author Catherine Castle...

Father’s Day is this month. With this holiday comes a rash of blogs about fathers and how they affected their children’s lives. I thought I’d add mine to the mix, but with a writer’s slant.

When I was growing up and working on a school assignment, I often wanted to use a word I didn’t know how to spell. You have to realize that this was way before the advent of computers where misspelled words are often automatically corrected by computer software programs. My available resources were a beat up dictionary and my parents, who didn’t have more than an eighth grade education. I’d usually ask my dad how to spell a word since Mom claimed she never knew. Every time I asked, Dad’s answer was always, “Go look it up in the dictionary.”

“How can I look it up, if I don’t know how to spell it?” I whined.

“Figure it out,” Dad said.

At the time, I thought Dad didn’t know how to spell and he was ashamed to tell me. So, I’d get the dictionary, look up the word using phonetics, and eventually I’d find the correct spelling.

Years later, when my own daughter would ask me how to spell a word, my answer to her was more often than not, “Go look it up.” And it was not because I couldn’t spell.

You see, after years of searching the dictionary for illusive words, somewhere along the way I became a great speller. Thanks to my father.

Today it doesn’t matter whether my father could spell or not. Today I see there was wisdom in my dad’s avoidance of handing me an answer. Instead of relying on someone to give me an answer, Dad taught me to go figure it out on my own. What a great lesson that was for a future writer.

Thanks, Dad.

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicably attracted to him, he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them by making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion, and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.


Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

Sunday 26 May 2024

Author in the Kitchen: Pulled Pork Feast by Author Helen Carpenter...

Anticipation. That's the title of a great song, the jingle for an ancient advertisement, and a marketing tool for authors. Oh, and anticipation makes good food better too. What more could you ask of a word?

You already know the classic song (thanks, Carly Simon!), and if you're of a…ummm…certain age, you probably remember the ketchup commercial too. (Sorry if the jingle is now an earwig! Confess—you're humming, aren't you?)

As far as making good food better—our barbecue pulled pork recipe is DEFINITELY worth waiting for! Put all the ingredients together, then grab a good book to read while you're anticipating the meal to come.

PULLED PORK
½ cup ketchup
1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, divided
1 cup water
1 onion, chopped (or a similar amount of frozen chopped onions)
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
3 ½ pound pork roast (a shoulder cut works well)
Hamburger buns

Mix ketchup, ½ cup barbecue sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir in the onions and garlic.

Set pork roast in the crock pot and pour sauce mixture over it, coating the meat well. The liquid should almost cover the meat. Add more if necessary. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

Remove the pork roast from the crock-pot, let cool, and shred with a fork. Set aside.

Empty the liquid from the crock-pot. Put the pulled pork back into the crock-pot, add the remaining barbecue sauce, and mix well.

Cook on low for two more hours; then reduce setting to warm until ready to serve.

Serve on buns.

Tips and Tricks
Crock pots are ideal for tenderizing less expensive cuts of meat. The longer the cooking time, the more tender the meat becomes.

Feel free to add more sauce to the first cooking; meat cooked in liquid is moister.

For an added crunch, serve chips of your choice as a side dish.

If you want to serve the pulled pork for lunch, set up the crock pot to cook overnight.

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 19 May 2024

I’m Celebrating Victoria Day by Getting Grilled in My Author Life…


Recently, I was cornered, er asked to have a chit-chat with Mirror World Publishing’s promotional specialist, Rhiannon Lotze. Though this interview appeared on their blog at the end of February 2024, I thought it would be appropriate to share this Q&A with my readers on the Victoria Day holiday here in Canada. So, if you’re opening the cottage, setting up your trailer at the campground, or in your backyard garden getting your hands dirty, take a break, grab a chair and your favourite beverage, then relax to find out what the next chapter of my author life looks like in the near future. Cheers, and enjoy the grilling…

Most authors are also avid readers. Would you also consider yourself to be an avid reader? What was the first book you remember that you couldn’t put down?

Actually, no. I’m a slow reader, so it takes a lot of time for me to read, say a 300-page book. So, I select my books wisely – sometimes buying them ahead of time for research purposes – or what other readers have recommended. The first book I couldn’t put down? Hmm. Hard question! I’d have to say the time travel romance, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, where I paced myself every night, and absorbed the story in my own time. Pun intended.

What would you say were your first early experiences that showed you the power of language and writing? 

In high school, a girlfriend of mine had a way with words. Even when she wrote a letter or poem, she chose her words carefully, and from the heart. I wished I could write like that; to easily articulate stories or poems like she did. It took quite a few years for me to jump into the writing pool and try my hand at writing a book, but I got up the courage in my mid-thirties, and took that leap of faith.

Finding time to write can be a struggle for plenty of authors. How do you maximize your writing time? What would you consider “maximization” when it comes to your particular style of writing?

I’ve been retired for over twenty years, so I plan my days where I’m either writing or editing or creating a blog post or ad blurb. I find scheduling my writing time in a day planner helps tremendously. When I first started writing (mid 90s), I used to drop my son off at school, then go home and hone my craft on the days I was off from working at our graphic trade business.

To be honest, I do have a problem with ‘maximization’, as I attend to checking emails, sharing author friends’ posts, and promoting my books first, before I sit down and actually write in the day. Guess I’d better revisit my priorities! LOL! I’m a very intuitive plotter with a touch of the methodical thrown into the mix. So, even if I plot out a book, my muse eventually hijacks the story, and takes me in another direction. Gotta love when that happens!

Do you normally think of the plot first or the characters first? Can you describe your process for developing the stories you write?

I think of both, actually. Presently, I’m writing two young adult book series with Mirror World Publishing. The Last Timekeepers time travel adventures include the same cast of main characters, though the POV switches with each book. My other series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, are stand-alone books with a different psychic teen solving a mystery in the small tourist town of Fairy Falls. Though, each character from my teen psychic mysteries makes a cameo in the next book, the story focuses on the new character and the challenges she or he face possessing a psychic ability. It’s quite exciting and fun to keep those characters moving forward.

 I’m a very organized person, so I planned each book out for both book series, and created a master list. It’s quite fluid, so if something changes, or I get a better idea for a title or premise of each book, I can easily add or change it in the documents. When I’m ready to sit down and plot out the next book in the queue, I pull out my character tracking sheets, a pad of lined paper, and get to work developing the story. There’s a lot of research involved in both series, so I make sure I’ve got most of the information needed before I start. If it sounds like a lot of work, it is, but the end results are so rewarding! 

What are three things you must have in your writing space to stay focused?

Single Malt Scotch. LOL! Kidding. Definitely a bottle of water (or sometimes a tea or coffee depending on the time of day). My office door must be shut (I like quiet when I write). And a few healthy snacks in my desk drawer like almonds or walnuts, and a bar of dark chocolate. Face it. When you’re hungry, your mind is not focused on your story. Wink. 

How often do you take risks in your writing? Have you ever tried something risky that turned out really well or really poorly?

I don’t take too many risks, but I’ve changed directions in where I want to take both my series. I’ve always included characters with diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures, as well as feature characters with different gender identities. This is our world now, and I love the cornucopia of expressions offered by each and every one of my characters who can shine their own light in a sometimes harsh and dark world. Risk comes with rewards, so even sitting at my keyboard and writing something completely out of my comfort zone is a risk I’m willing to take. Whether it ends really well or really poorly, I’m more concerned with getting the message out of my bones, and onto the screen or paper. It’s so cathartic.

If there’s one thing you could change in the publishing industry, what would it be?

The ridiculous amount of book marketing authors must do. LOL! No seriously. It’s crazy!

You enjoy writing about topics that revolve around things like mysteries and legends and the arcane, just to name a few. What topic or theme would you like to explore in your magnum opus?

I’m working up to that with the two book series I have on the go. Once they’re finished, I want to develop a trilogy based on how humanity is growing and evolving, and what’s next for us. I’ve actually written ideas and book titles for this magnum opus, and hope I live long enough to breathe life into this unique creative endeavor. Fingers crossed!

Writing is a craft that is typically learned and honed over many years of practice. If you could pick one famous author (dead or alive) to mentor you, who would it be?

Wow, tough question! You know, I would love to be mentored by Rick Riordan, who’s created this whole mythical universe of characters and their stories, and has an enterprise based on his book series that’s geared for middle grade and young adult readers. Love the humour and wit he injects in all of his books. Plus, he has an ‘in’ with the Disney Corporation. Sign me up!

How would you define success as a writer?

That I basically learned the craft of writing a novel from the ground up. It took fifteen years of practice, patience, and perseverance to actually get my first book published. Truthfully, many people would have given up. Writing is not only an investment in yourself, it’s an investment in your readers. It’s a process that you have to LOVE, no matter what. So, just showing up for myself as a writer, getting the work done, and believing in my ultimate goal of reaching readers throughout the world is success to me. The gravy part of this journey is creating long term relationships with those readers, and getting paid for just being me.

Do you have anything else to add?

First, I want to thank you for interrogating, er I mean interviewing me, Rhiannon. Your questions are all thought-provoking and insightful. I just have an update in my writing world. Shortly, I’ll be submitting the third installment of Mysterious Tales of Fairy Falls titled, Stick and Stones, for publication in 2025. It’s about fourteen-year-old Thane Berg, who’s been forced to live with his estranged father in Fairy Falls, and how he deals with his unique gift of psychokinesis (the ability to move objects and bend metals). Then, it’s on to book four of my time travel saga, The Last Timekeepers and the Reluctant Scribe, which will feature Treena Mui’s POV. There’s gonna be a lot of research for this tale, with tons of twists, entanglements, and of course my brand of humour. Stay tuned, and happy reading, everyone!

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Submission Alert: Mirror World Publishing is Accepting Submissions for Against All Odds Anthology...

Submissions for Against All Odds, the third volume of Mirror World Publishing's
 Far, Far Away series is now open! 


Contest opened May 1st, 2024 and Mirror World Publishing will be accepting 
submissions until the end of May. 

This post has everything you need to know about what Mirror World Publishing is looking for
and how to submit your work!

What Mirror World Publishing is 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 love against the odds. This includes love in dangerous places and times, love between diverse or marginalized populations, love in unlikely or unusual circumstances.

Mirror World Publishing is looking for original, unpublished works and as always they prefer stories with engaging openings, character-driven stories, and quality world-building.

There is a fee of $25 CAD to enter, but all money raised will go toward prizes for the winning entries as well as production of the book, Against All Odds: Far, Far Away Vol. 3,  to be released next summer.

Winning entries will receive: 

A contract for publication in Against All Odds + a minimum prize of $75 CAD + 1 Author Copy of the finished paperback, and option to order more copies at wholesale cost

As always, submissions and inquiries are to be sent to submissions[at]mirrorworldpublishing.com. Or by filling out this entry form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScAyVtxZIlrfOwO_Wf5iiMMfwTHM-GrcViij_3N7nHzJSk9lw/viewform?usp=sf_link

If you’re not a writer, or don’t plan to enter but still want to support the creation of Against All Odds, please consider donating through this link: https://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/product/against-all-odds-anthology-contest-entry/112

Or purchasing an ebook or paperback copy of Far, Far Away (vol. 1) or From Here to There (vol.2) in our store and we’ll put aside all profit form these titles in the month of May to go toward the contest and production of Against All Odds (Vol. 3)!

Connect with Mirror World Publishing:

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/mirrorworldpublishing

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/mirrorworldpub

BLOG: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.wordpress.com

PUBLISHER WEBSITE: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-d6tf8fpn4_mjraKjM-hUQ

STORE: https://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/product/against-all-odds-anthology-contest-entry/112

Links for Volumes 1 & 2:

Sunday 12 May 2024

Author in the Kitchen: Sweet Treat from the Deep South and a Sultry Southern Read by YA Paranormal Author Leigh Goff...

Here is a dessert I confiscated and made my own. This New Orleans treat is perfect on a special night for two as well as holiday gatherings and everything in between.

Here are a few tips to make preparing this dessert easier:

Soak the raisins in bourbon before you start this recipe. You can even soak them a day or two ahead.

The bread you use should be a little dry. If the bread you are using is fresh, after you cube it, spread it out on a sheet pan and put it in a 200° F oven for 10 minutes.

Go easy on the bourbon sauce. It is strong! But so delicious.

Bread Pudding
1 cup raisins
¼ cup bourbon whiskey
1 loaf French bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 qt. milk
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ – ½ tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter, melted

Combine raisins and bourbon in a small bowl. Cover and soak for 1 to 2 hours or until the raisins have absorbed most of the bourbon.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Pour milk into a large bowl. Add bread and press into milk with your hands or a large spoon until all the milk is absorbed.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, allspice, and cinnamon. Pour over bread mixture. Add bourbon-soaked raisins, with or without the remaining soaking liquid. Stir gently to combine.

Pour melted butter onto bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour in bread mixture then egg mixture.

Bake 35 – 45 minutes, until liquid has set. The pudding is done when the edges are just brown and pulling away from the pan edge.

Bourbon Sauce
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey, amount according to taste

Make the bourbon sauce while the bread pudding is cooking.

Melt butter in a saucepan on low heat. Whisk in sugar and egg. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove pan from heat.

Do not allow mixture to simmer! Or the sauce will curdle. By the way, if your sauce curdles, just take it off the heat and blend it smooth in a blender.

Whisk in bourbon. Whisk again before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth.

Serve with whiskey sauce on the side. This dessert is best eaten the day it is made.

Please allow me to share a sneak peek of my Southern Gothic book while you enjoy your pudding.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.


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 sixteen-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.

Available in AudiobookE-book, and Paperback


Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

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

Sunday 5 May 2024

Author in the Garden by Cozy Mystery Writer and Garden Guru Emma Lane...

Years ago, when we bought an old house, we promptly began the task of remuddling. Yes, not remolding, but muddling. We were careful to check out similar homes in the area, so we didn’t change it too much. But I had deck on my mind and no house like ours was showing anything similar to a deck. We had a lot of things to do before frivolous building could begin, but I was impatient. In my mind it was already there. 


So, I picked out my first privacy plant. It was an ordinary lavender lilac, a puny thing I dug up from my better half’s childhood home. Only in my imagination was it a visible noise barrier from the busy highway out front. 

Oh, I petted it and gave it water during that first hot summer. By the next year I had mostly forgotten about it. Too many other plants to tend and this one was surviving without me. Long story short, by the time the deck was finally number one on the task list, my lilac was blooming and looked like this. 


I’m pleased I had the foresight to plan ahead. In the summer, we enjoy total privacy while lounging in gentle summer breezes directly off the kitchen. Originally, we thought to put a roof over it, but once we sat staring up through the foliage of an ancient maple, we allowed nature to coax us to leave it be.  

Lilacs bloom in the early spring. I leave it to either your own experiences or your imagination how heavenly the fragrance is from these old-fashioned shrubs. Hardy and trouble free, they delight year after year. I highly recommend you plant one.

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.