Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WARM UP THESE COLD NIGHTS

from Chris Pavesic

This is a wonderfully creamy soup to serve on a cold fall or winter day.

Cream of Celery Soup
¼ cup butter
1 small yellow onion (about 1 cup) finely chopped
2 cups celery, very finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
⅓ cup flour
1½ cup chicken broth
1½ cup whole milk
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
⅛ tsp. freshly ground pepper


Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for another minute. Flour may brown a little but that is okay.

Whisk the mixture as broth and milk are slowly added to prevent clumps from forming. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer.

Reduce heat to medium, add the salt, sugar, and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Enjoy!

While you enjoy your meal, why not listen to a good book? Starter Zone, the first book of my new YA/LitRPG series, The Revelation Chronicles, is now available on Audible!

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When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail. Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.
Available Now At:

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Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Monday, January 15, 2018

To Arrange or Not to Arrange?

by Eris Field


Photo by Chris Sharp
Marriage is usually thought of as being brought about in one of two ways: love-based marriages and arranged marriages. Love-based marriages are easy to define. They are marriages arranged by the two people to be married--two people who are wildly, deliciously in love. Arranged marriages have greater variety. Traditionally, arranged marriages have been thought of as marriages orchestrated by others—parents, family members, matchmakers, or religious leaders. However, there is an atypical form of arranged marriage, dearly loved by novelists—the marriage of convenience—that is the marriage is arranged by the two people to be married but it is not based on love, definitely not on love or there would be no story. Finally there is the maverick form, On-line Dating, the method used by 40 million Americans to meet suitable partners for the purpose of matrimony. Overall, love-based marriages are more common in the Western World and arranged marriages more common in traditional societies.

In love-based marriages, it is the mutual attraction of the two people for each other that leads to marriage. Their goal is immediate, blissful happiness. Their motto is Love Conquers All. Issues such as expectations of their extended families, whose work with take precedence, how money will be managed, religious practices, where they will live, and previously acquired debts may or may not be discussed by the two of them prior to the marriage.

In contrast, in arranged marriages, the goal is not immediate happiness for the two people being married but long-term well-being and lack of problems for them and, equally important, for the members of both families that are being united by the marriage. It is accepted that, if the selection process is carefully carried out by people who know the couple well and have their best interests in mind, the bride and groom will be well-matched and will come to love each other. The motto in arranged marriages is Love Comes After Marriage. To increase the odds of a trouble-free marriage, it is common for the person arranging the marriage to present the following information about the prospective partner:

1) Reputation of the individual and of all the members of the family,
2) Vocation/career of the individual and how long employed,
3) Wealth of the individual and the family,
4) Physical appearance including grooming,
5) Values such as traditional beliefs or liberal beliefs,
6) Religion, and
7) Medical history of the entire family (possibly to rule out potential mates with a family history of genetically transmitted disorders).

In arranged marriages, it is generally accepted that the couple will have the final say in accepting or rejecting the proposed candidate.

There is a different type of arranged marriage, the forced marriage, in which the couple does not have the final say. Most frequently it is a young girl who is forced to marry against her will. If she refuses, she may face physical punishment, banishment, or death (honor violence). Forced marriages are more common in the Middle East, North Africa, South East Asia, and India; however, they do exist in other countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. among their immigrant populations. The reasons for forced marriages include:

1) To strengthen family or tribal ties,
2) To increase family wealth,
3) Parents’ cultural or religious beliefs,
4) To control behavior of young women (reduce chance of sexual activity),
5) Settle disputes between families/tribes,
6) Make retribution for an injury or insult,
7) Resolve tribal feuds, blood feuds.
8) To help someone gain entry to the U.S. i.e. to get a ‘green card.’

The United Nations views forced marriages as a form of human rights abuse and the practice has been outlawed by many countries.

In comparing the outcomes of love-based marriages and arranged marriages, it appears at first glance that the divorce rate is lower among arranged marriages. However, it should be kept in mind that the acceptance of divorce is lower in the parts of the world where arranged marriages are highest. There have been studies showing that couples who met through on-line dating were happy, loving, and committed. If there is any conclusion to be drawn in considering love-based marriages versus arranged marriages, it seems that the chance of a successful marriage may be increased by knowing more about the person before the marriage takes place.

In my book Lattices of Love Emine Wheeler, a 26-year-old Turkish-American professor of psychiatric nursing, has vowed to marry for love, like her American father. When Emine meets Marc van Etten, a reticent Dutch psychiatrist, at a conference in Amsterdam, she recognizes him as the man she has been waiting for and knows that she can’t live behind the lattices of old harem rules any longer.

Marc, who believes that his colleagues blame him for his wife's suicide, restricts his life to work and caring for the troubled four-year-old girl he calls his daughter. But, when Emine runs into difficulties, he offers his assistance. Emine, ignoring the age-old harem rule that forbids talking or spending time with a man who is not a family member, accepts his help.

Later, when Emine must choose between accepting the family-approved proposal of a man she does not love or damaging her family's honor, Marc offers a solution—marriage. It will save her family’s honor and provide a mother for his daughter.

Believing that her fierce love for Marc will be enough, Emine agrees, only to discover that it is not. When Marc erroneously accuses her of betraying him, she flees. Realizing belatedly that he loves Emine beyond everything in his life, Marc must find a way to win her back.

Here’s a little from Lattices of Love for you.

Emine Wheeler, a 26-year-old Turkish-American professor of psychiatric nursing, has vowed to marry for love, like her American father. When she meets Marc van Etten, a reticent Dutch psychiatrist, at a conference in Amsterdam, she recognizes him as the man she has been waiting for and knows that she can’t live behind the lattices of old harem rules any longer.

Marc, who believes that his colleagues blame him for his wife's suicide, restricts his life to work and caring for the troubled four-year-old girl he calls his daughter. But, when Emine runs into difficulties, he offers his assistance. Emine, ignoring the age-old harem rule that forbids talking or spending time with a man who is not a family member, accepts his help.

Later, when Emine must choose between accepting the family-approved proposal of a man she does not love or damaging her family's honor, Marc offers a solution—marriage. It will save her family’s honor and provide a mother for his daughter.

Believing that her fierce love for Marc will be enough, Emine agrees, only to discover that it is not. When Marc erroneously accuses her of betraying him, she flees. Realizing belatedly that he loves Emine beyond everything in his life, Marc must find a way to win her back.

Amazon Buy Link

Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont—Jericho, Vermont to be precise—close by the home of Wilson Bentley (aka Snowflake Bentley), the first person in the world to photograph snowflakes. She learned from her Vermont neighbors that pursuit of one’s dream is a worthwhile life goal.

As a seventeen-year-old student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern who she later married. He told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, about the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and about forced population exchanges. After they married and moved to Buffalo, Eris worked as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

After taking time off to raise five children and amassing rejection letters for her short stories, Eris earned her master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo. Later, she taught psychiatric nursing at the University and wrote a textbook for psychiatric nurse practitioners—an endeavor requiring a great deal of hard labor.

Eris now writes novels, usually international, contemporary romances. Her interest in history and her experience in psychiatry often play a part in her stories. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Western New York Romance Writers. In addition to writing, her interests include Honor Killings, eradicating female genital mutilation, supporting the Crossroads Springs Orphanage in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS, and learning more about the old cities of the world.

Learn more about Eris Field on her website. Stay connected on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

FIND PLEASURE from the PAST

by Sharon Ledwith

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 my new series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. I wanted to give this teen psychic mystery series a nostalgic feeling coupled with a sense of adventure and…wait for it…the supernatural. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expected the unexpected.

One of the mainstays of cottage and camping life is soup on those rainy, damp days. Soup not only warms you through, but fills you up. So I thought I’d share a favorite family recipe with you, that will hopefully bring out those good-old-days feelings inside you again. This hearty, easy one dish meal cooks itself while you’re out and about. Prep time is approximately 30 minutes, with a cook time of 10 hours, this soup serves around 8-10 of your hungriest minions.

Best Beef-Barley Soup Ever
2 lbs beef round steak or 2 lbs beef chuck, diced
2 cups chopped carrots
1 stalk celery, diced
½ green pepper, diced (we prefer to use a red pepper)
1 large onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can of tomatoes, cut up (we prefer stewed tomatoes)
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup frozen green beans
⅔ cup barely
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tbsp. beef bouillon granules or 2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tsp. salt
¾ tsp. dried basil
5 cups water

Brown beef in a skillet over medium heat.

Lay carrot, celery, green pepper, onion, corn, and green beans in crock pot.

Place meat on top.

Combine tomatoes, barley, parsley, bouillon, salt, and basil in a bowl. Pour over meat.

Add water.

DO NOT STIR.

Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours.

The secret to this soup is in the layering. Serve with salad and bread, and your favorite wine or beverage.

So while the soup is cooking, I’ll let you in on another secret from Lost and Found, Book #1 of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking...

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS
Amazon Kindle - Amazon Paperback - Barnes & Noble - Mirror World Publishing ebook - Mirror World Publishing Paperback



Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Monday, January 08, 2018

HEART SURGERY ROMANCE

or Sara Daniel Finds her Niche

Write what you know, they say. But what happens when you’re a romance author and congenital heart defects and their repair surgeries are what you know?

You end up accidentally creating your own heart surgery romance niche.

To be clear, the books I’ve written that involved heart surgery aren’t a series and don’t have much in common at first glance.

Captivating the CEO is an all-in serious look at a woman facing her own mortality, daily health struggles and—yes—open heart surgery. A Model Hero is a story of derailed dreams and post-surgery body image struggles. At the other end of the spectrum, Once Upon a Marriage is a romantic comedy based on an obscure fairy tale, where the heroine’s uncle receives a heart transplant…from a pig!

I’m not a heart expert, but when I write about heart defects and heart surgery it comes from a place of deep emotion, personal turmoil and love. No matter how many times I reread Willow’s surgery updates in Captivating the CEO, I cry because it is real and raw for me.

I don’t expect congenital heart defect romances or heart surgery romances will ever become a trending or sought-after genre, and that’s just fine with me. I only want to read the stories that come from a place of authenticity and love.

~Sara

He's all about the future. She might not have one...

When live-for-the-moment massage therapist Willow Jeffries bursts into Colin Vanderhayden's office, she makes it her mission to loosen up the future-focused CEO, knowing each moment of the present is too precious to waste. Despite her immediate attraction, the only future she can offer is one full of heartache.

The last thing Colin needs is a flighty woman messing up his carefully-constructed plans, but her heavenly massages and addictive personality prove hard to resist. But he has no idea how sick she is.

No longer able to ignore her life-threatening medical condition, Willow slips away to spare Colin a miserable future with her. Is Colin willing to sacrifice his well-laid future plans to get Willow back?

BUY LINKS
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - iTunes - Kobo

AUDIO VERSION - Narrated by Nina Price
Amazon - Audible - iTunes




Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

BREAKING FAST

from HL Carpenter

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.

While you're devouring your delicious breakfast, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our allegorical short story.

Who killed Fyne Literature? The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.

Ivy League walked into my office as I cracked the spine on an old murder book. I identified her immediately, courtesy of my mythical detecting skills. Well, those and her cute little uptilted nose, which I recognized from news reports about a recent gruesome killing.

She said, "I want you to find out who's behind the demise of Fyne Literature."

"I thought the cops already closed the book on his demise." I slapped shut the hardcover in my hand to punctuate my sentence.

She jumped.

I said, "Word is, your lover was done in by an explosion of serial killer potboilers."

"He was - he is - the love of my life, not my lover." She perched on the edge of the chair opposite my bargain-priced government surplus desk, and looked at the painting on the wall behind me. "You're no angel."

Apparently I wasn't the only one possessed of mythical detecting skills. The picture depicts a kneeling, white-winged warrior, weary yet steadfast as another day rises—or sets, depending on your point of view—on a ravaged city. You only need to glance at him once to know he did not weep, to know he would not, even in the midst of destruction and defeat; to know he understands war, in the way true warriors do. He knows the creed as well, the one limned by the glowing-eyed cat at his side: Show no weakness.

A grateful and talented character created the picture after I pulled her from the shadowy world where illusions take corporeal form and people merely think they can see. I can tell you horror stories, like the one depicted in that drawing, with entire civilizations reduced to smoldering ruins.

I'll spare you, and myself as well. I meet my shadow every time I plunge into the murk of those battles, and the reality is too gruesome for me to revisit, at least in the daylight hours when I have a choice.

Ed the glowing-eyed cat would say the same, if you understood his language. I'm not the angel in the painting, though my features vaguely resemble his, but Ed's real, as real as I am.

I said, "Fortunately you need a detective, not an angel."

"Yes," Ivy said. "And you meet both criteria."

I've always been a sucker for a woman who can properly pluralize ancient Greek.

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Contact us to get a coupon code for a FREE download of the complete audio version of The Demise of Fyne Literature. Limited time offer good only until available codes are gone.

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Amazon Buy Link eBook and Audio

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, January 01, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR


To Everyone All Around the World

from Studs, Sloane, and all the Taylors

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

SANGRIA WITH & WITHOUT A KICK

from Vonnie Hughes

This is a lovely beverage to serve over the holidays. The color is festive and the taste refreshing.

SANGRIA
Photo by Helena Yankovska on Unsplash.com
2 cups boiling water
4 green tea bags
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups red grapefruit juice, preferably fresh
1 cup orange juice
1 orange, sliced into thin rounds
1 lime, sliced into thin rounds
1 medium apple, cored and cut into chunks or/and wedges
2 peaches cut into wedges
3 cups carbonated water

Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and steep for 10 minutes. Discard tea bags and then stir in sugar.

In a large pitcher combine tea, cinnamon sticks, juices, and fruit. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.

Cheers!

Just before serving, stir in carbonated water. Serve in large glasses filled with ice.

THE ADULT VERSION
1 – 750ml bottle of your favourite red wine
150ml (5oz.) brandy
1 cup orange juice
½ grapefruit, sliced into thin rounds
1 orange, sliced into thin rounds
1 lime, sliced into thin rounds
1 medium apple, cored and cut into chunks or/and wedges
2 peaches cut into wedges
6 cinnamon sticks

In a large pitcher combine wine, brandy, juice, fruit, and cinnamon sticks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.

Serve in large glasses filled with ice.

Now sit back and enjoy your drink while you scan my latest romantic suspense.

Who can you trust if you can’t trust your own mother? Through the clammy fog, Celie Francis hears the chilling message. “I know who you are, Celie. I know where you live.” And in the terrifying aftermath she reconnects with her dysfunctional family in ways she had never imagined.

BLURB:
Abused and abandoned as a child, Célie Francis knows better than to trust anyone. But after she witnesses a murder, she's placed in the Unit "New Zealand's witness protection program" where she's expected to trust strangers with her life.

It's psychologist Brand Turner's job to ease witnesses into their new identities, not to protect them, but Célie stirs feelings in him that are far from professional. When it appears someone is leaking critical information that could endanger Célie, Brand will do anything to protect her. But first he has to convince her to trust him.

Adrift in a frightening world, Célie would like to believe the handsome psychologist is everything he seems, but as witnesses are murdered and danger swirls around them, Célie must decide "can she trust Brand with her life? 

Please click a vendor's name to read more from Lethal Refuge: 
The Wild Rose Press - Amazon

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 on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

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