Monday, July 24, 2017

BIAGGI'S - A CUT ABOVE

Throughout the year Studs works with disabled swimmers. He's happy to volunteer his time every Tuesday. The athletes are wonderful and so are the other coaches. Everyone’s hard work shines in June at the Special Olympics in Normal, Illinois. Studs and most of coaches are there to support the athletes and make sure their swimmers are ready and pumped for their events on Friday and Saturday.

Studs and I started a tradition eight years ago. We celebrate the wins and mourn the losses with a well deserved dinner at a classic Italian restaurant on Veteran’s Parkway in Bloomington, Illinois. The food is amazing and the waitstaff is always great. Reservations aren’t required, but recommended.




This year was the ultimate in dining and service. Allow me to introduce you to Colleen, bartender, and server extraordinaire. This young woman is knowledgeable about the complete menu, personable, concocts fabulous adult beverages, and makes it a point to not be intrusive. She has the gift of timing that few servers ever acquire.

On Colleen's recommendation we shared a Caesar Salad and then a beautiful bottle of Placido Chianti to accompany the Spaghetti with Wild Boar Ragu Studs chose and my Short Rib Ravioli. Talk about perfection!



Colleen introduced us to Kyle her co-bartender whose blending techniques are awesome. Kyle is also a server when necessary. He's talented and handsome and intelligent. What more can anyone want from a bartender? Oh and did I fail to mention that his smile is a knockout?

Biaggi's is a casual dress restaurant even though the tables are set with crisp linens. They offer superb fresh food and have a flair for creating an intimate atmosphere with subdued lighting and plenty of space between tables. It is a beautiful experience and one we will enjoy many times. It's a must, their menu's too tempting!



They have twenty restaurants around the country. To find the one closest to you click HERE. I guarantee you'll love the food at any of them. Unfortunately, you won't have Colleen or Kyle, and that's a real shame.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

COOKIES WITH A TWIST

and we're not talking Oreos.

from Anne Montgomery

When Ruth Graves Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in 1938 – hence forth named Toll House Cookies for the inn she owned in Whitman, Massachusetts – the confection became an instant American classic. So, perhaps, no one should be messing with these gooey, nutty hunks of near perfection. Ah, but I couldn’t help myself. As I’ve gotten older my taste buds seem to dance less at the prospect of excessive sweetness and more for. . . something else. I began tinkering with Ruth’s invention – I hope she doesn’t mind – and came up with these jam-packed babies that I call. . .

Twisted Chocolate Chip Cookies
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips*
1 cup nuts



Frequent chocolate chip cookie bakers will note that here is where the recipe goes off the rails.

1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup coconut, I prefer the type without added sugar, but either variety works.

Preheat oven to 375ºF

Mix sugars, butter, vanilla, and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt (dough will be stiff).

Stir in chocolate, dried fruit, coconut, and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown round the edges (centers will be soft).

*Note: Chocolate chips retain their shape because they contain less cocoa butter than high-end chocolate, so purists may want to chop their own chocolate to get more of the good stuff.

Enjoy!

Here's a peek into my latest novel while you nibble your delicious cookies.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

Amazon Buy Link

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Monday, July 17, 2017

BACK and BETTER THAN EVER

by Elliott Baker

In 2007 I began to write a story that had been in my head for years. A friend turned me on to NANOWRIMO a magical concept and creativity catalyst that I’ll write about in a later blog. In 2008, I attended my first New York conference armed with my one hundred and forty thousand word completed novel, (Insert laugh track here.) confident that the world would soon be at my feet and throwing money at me.

In 2013 (Yep, five years.) after numerous (Def. Too many to count) edits, and submissions to agents, someone suggested I submit to those publishers that accepted direct submissions. Many do not. So, I sent The Sun God’s Heir to four publishers and received back two contracts, both from smaller, but reputable publishers. I accepted with joy the one from Musa Publishing.

Now, people will line up and throw money at me. Nope, not yet. It took eight months of waiting, and then a couple months of edits before my masterpiece was ready to release. Now? Nope. SGH was released in late July, 2014 and Musa went out of business seven months later. First let me again thank the folks at Musa. They acted honorably with me and whatever regrets I might have came as much from my own ignorance as from their difficulties.

The Sun God’s Heir was back on the street. Still no folks lining up to throw money. I’ll admit the night I received the email from Musa to let me know they were closing in a week, was a dark and stormy night. Seven years.

A year has passed and I have completely re-edited RETURN, Book One, written REBIRTH, Book Two, and REDEMPTION, Book Three, in the trilogy and plan to release all three this year under the series name The Sun Gods Heir. The lesson learned: Do not rush to battle. The amount I’ve learned in this last year staggers me. More than in the first seven. Whether folks will line up and throw money is unknowable, but to all of the writers and creatives out there, I salute you. Work is work.

Here's a glimpse at RETURN.


For three thousand years a hatred burns.


In ancient Egypt two brothers are disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When Pharaoh dies, the physician takes the knowledge given and goes to Greece to begin a new mystery school. The general makes a deal with the priests and becomes pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

 Seventeenth century France has two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue a brutal incarnation begun long ago.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Get your free copy of RETURN on Amazon.


And a brief intro to REBIRTH.

Set against the wave tossed years of white slavery and Barbary pirates, this is the epic story of René Gilbert and a journey that defies time as he draws on a larger awareness earned in previous lifetimes.

The plague’s dark fingers curl around Bordeaux. René must return home to save those he loves. But first he has to escape a Moroccan sultan’s clutches. In Bordeaux, an enemy waits, filled with a hatred three thousand years old. Only René can defeat this dark power, and only if he reclaims his own ancient past. In this arena, death is but the least of failure’s penalties.

Read more of REBIRTH on Amazon.




Award winning international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, The Sun God’s Heir. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott's Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

BERRY US BLUE

by HL Carpenter

We have a confession to make. Sometimes…sometimes here in Carpenter Country we are not actually sitting at our computers all day working diligently on our next book. That's right. Sometimes we…we go OUTSIDE! Into the SUNSHINE!

One of those special occasions took place in early May when we headed out to the u-pick field. Because we are serious blueberry pickers, we brought home enough berries to enjoy a few bowls fresh-from-the-field, to put a couple of handfuls on top of cereal, and to make biscuits, bread, buckles, cheesecake, coffee cake, crumbles, cobblers, donuts, muffins, pies, pancakes, scones, and ICE CREAM!

Are you screaming yet for blueberry ice cream? Us too. In fact, we're going to take a break and sample a bowl. Here's the recipe in case you want a break from your own busy day. You will need an ice cream maker (ours makes about 1½ quarts)and a blender or food processor for this recipe.



HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM
1½ cups fresh blueberries, washed, and dried (slightly less than a pint of fresh, or you can use frozen berries if you drain them well)
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, your choice - coconut milk is a delicious substitute)
½ cup sugar (more or less to suit your own sweet tooth -- or teeth)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Place rinsed blueberries in the blender or food processor and process for a minute or less.

Add the whipping cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to the pureed blueberries in the blender.

Process 10-20 seconds, just until mixed - not too long, or you’ll have whipped cream.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes.

If you like soft, milkshake-type ice cream, pass out the spoons and dig in. For firmer ice cream, scoop the ice cream into a container and freeze two hours.

Okay, break's over – back to work!


We invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.


Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?




EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

"I know what you’re thinking, Em," Arnie said.

"Do you?" She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

"Sure." He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool."

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she'd been thinking about Jo?

"I’ll tell you how," he said. "Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her."

"I am not thinking about – Murdered?" The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. "By Todd?"

"Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed."

"Arnie." Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. "The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning."

"Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used."

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, "Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics."

"They’re wrong."

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

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, July 10, 2017

SASS AND BRASS, BUT ALWAYS A LADY

I'm delighted to introduce you to Vonnie Hughes author of DANGEROUS HOMECOMING that is a unique Historical Romance that definitely isn't sweet.

Here is a short blurb:
Both of them are scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.


Vonnie is here with her sassy heroine. The blog is all yours, Vonnie!

Hello, Juliana. Tell us a little about yourself.
Good day. I’m Juliana Carlotta Ervedosa Colebrook. As you can tell, my Mama was Portuguese and my father was an Englishman. You will find me in the book DANGEROUS HOMECOMING. Of course the English would never get their tongues around ‘Ervedosa’ so I only use my full name when signing documents.

Do you consider yourself to be unconventional?
No. In no way do I consider myself unconventional; at least I didn’t while I lived and worked in Portugal, but since coming to England I have discovered that I am unconventional because I am loosely classed as a ‘lady’ yet I work for a living. I am a nurse with experience in tending very sick soldiers. Then again, I am a murderess twice over and one must suppose that could be called ‘unconventional.’ They were murders of necessity, I must hasten to add. I did not set out to murder anyone, but in each case I had no choice. Life is not easy for women in the nineteenth century.

Do you embrace your uniqueness?
I don’t think I embrace my uniqueness. I never thought about being unique when I was in Portugal, but once I arrived in England I did my best to fit in. The English can be very cold to those who do not fit in. And I did not want to upset my relatives whom I had not met for many, many years. So, yes, it was a struggle to fit in. In Portugal, since I was raised in a convent that specialized in training young women to nurse the sick or teach the children of the wealthy folk their basic reading and Latin, I was not at all unusual.

Who is your role model?
My role model? Well, I’m not sure. I cannot think of any woman I admire—stop! Of course I have a role model. My role model is the Marchioness of Trewbridge. What an amazing woman. Unlike most women of her class she is industrious, holds her family together with kindness and talks a great deal of sense. Yes, I’d like to be like the Marchioness.

If you could do anything without concern for the consequences, what would it be?
Marry Colly Hetherington of course. But my background would bring him down, so I must drop that daydream.

Is your ideal man unconventional?
Not really. Colly is what he is. I cannot think of other men when I think about Colly. Other men cease to exist. He is kind and so very honourable. Screamingly so. Ah, what a man.

Any juicy details to share?
Hah! Read the book.

How about showing us a piece of your story?
Umm, here goes.

She clasped her penknife tightly in her free hand and hid it beneath her skirts. The dead eyes swivelled from Kit’s hemp binding, now lying on the floor, to Juliana’s face where she hovered protectively in front of Kit.

‘What a clever young lady,’ the revolting animal purred. At the menace in his voice, Juliana felt as though a snake had slithered up her spine. She stood up and held out her ungloved left hand to show him how she had untied the ropes. Dead-Eyes was too wary to come any closer, and she knew he couldn’t see in the dimness that the knots had been sliced through.

The pale eyebrows rose. ‘Perhaps those dexterous fingers can be put to better use. Come here.’ He crooked a long, thin forefinger and the muscles at the bottom of Juliana’s stomach jolted. Hold yourself together, Juliana. Your plan relies on your being as close to him as possible.

Slowly she sidled towards the creature and for the first time she saw signs of life in the cold eyes.

‘I always interview our new young ladies before they are thrust on our clients,’ he purred thickly. ‘I like to … warm them up, so to speak.’

Bile rose in her throat. She had never seen an iceberg but she had heard about them, and she had the distinct impression that a huge chunk of iceberg had just washed into the room. ‘Warm them up?’ She didn’t think so. Please, please, please God, don’t let him have touched Tilly.

Clutching the penknife in the palm of her right hand, she shuffled closer to him, measuring the distance carefully and also his height. Yes, he was tall. So was she. Flexing her body she moved closer, as if in a trance. His arm shot out and grabbed her.

‘No!’ Kit yelled behind her.

‘Stay back, Kit,’ she warned.

‘That’s right, my dear. You understand. You want to be tutored by Benny Ames, don’t you?’ He tugged her flush against his body.

Struggling not to recoil, she saw he was sweating. His tongue slid greedily over his yellowed teeth and he clasped her left hand like a lover. She kept her right hand hidden in her skirts. Ames’s breathing deepened as he tried to rub her left hand over his erection. Even as she struck, he was so lost in a haze of sexual pleasure he had no idea what had happened.

‘Hurry, Kit. Run!’ she yelled.

This time she was prepared for the blood. It spurted out of his throat in a great arc, dousing the holland covers beside them. Juliana ducked backwards holding the slippery knife handle. The knife blade was buried in Ames’s neck. He clutched his throat, his eyes wide with stupefaction.

Juliana’s stomach lurched and she dropped the handle. As Ames made the most fearsome gurgling sounds she edged around his flailing body and raced to the door. She hurtled down the stairs and cannoned into Kit. ‘Hurry, Kit. Hurry. Get out of here.’ She shoved the front door open and pushed him outside.

Kit slanted a glance back over his shoulder as his little legs sped along. ‘Where are we going?’

‘To the Rosemary Lane Inn. Hurry!’

‘But I don’t know where it is!’ He kept on running all the same, tugging Juliana along by the hand.

Juliana cast a quick glance behind them. The blue door with number 32 painted on it still stood innocently ajar and she could hear no sounds of pursuit.

‘Run towards the traffic noise,’ she gasped.

A few people glanced at them as they rushed by, but nobody seemed interested in a scruffy boy and a bloodstained, dishevelled young woman running helter skelter up the alleyways. No doubt it was a common sight in these parts.

As they stumbled from the dank alleyway into a wider street she saw a sign stuck on a building façade that said ‘Chamber Street’. The steady throbbing of her sore, bruised feet echoed the drumming in her head. Swaying, she knew she was nearly done for.

Kit glanced back and tugged her hand. ‘Come on, miss,’ he encouraged her, then he raised their clasped hands and stared at the red stains on Juliana’s fingers. ‘Thank you,’ was all he said.

Breathless, she gulped and said nothing, fighting her queasy stomach. Soon it would happen – the reaction. Last time she had shaken as if with the ague for several hours. And when she had finally found herself safe, she had huddled into a ball and cried and cried and cried. She had cried for her mother and for herself, and for all the other women who had been held in the power of men who did not deserve them.

But now was not the time for self-indulgence. She must protect Kit. She lifted her chin and plodded on.

Footsteps pounded behind them. Twisting around, she shoved Kit out of the way.

‘Juliana!’

Colly. On a wave of relief so strong it dizzied her, she ran straight
into his arms.

BUY LINKS
Amazon
Smashwords



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.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

IT’S ALL GREEK

by Sharon Ledwith

Practically everyone has heard of the idiom ‘It’s all Greek to me’ or ‘It’s all Greek’, meaning that something is not understandable. Another translation is "Graecum est; non legitur" ("it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read"). I believe William Shakespeare used this line or something close to it in his play Julius Caesar. Regardless of the origin, when people don’t understand people, words, cultures or even other species, there’s a breakdown in communication. And that’s not good. Wars can start, marriages break down, and relationships fail.

In the first book of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series, Lost and Found, the main character, Meagan Walsh has the psychic ability to talk to animals. Imagine possessing the ‘power’ to be a diplomat between animals and humans? To bridge that gap, and find common ground. In the first book of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, my main characters are given a ‘Babel’ necklace. The main purpose of this necklace is to break any language barriers while on a mission in the past so that my characters will be able to understand and talk to everyone they meet. Boy, I could have used one of those Babels in French class!

One thing we can all understand is food! It’s universal and we all need food to survive. So I thought I’d share this awesome recipe my hubby made for me recently. It’s called Greek Shepherd’s Pie, and trust me, your taste buds don’t need a translator for this dish! Opa!

BBC Good Food
GREEK SHEPHERD'S PIE
Feta Potato Topping
5 cups (1.25 L) cubed peeled potatoes
¼ cup (60 ml) butter
¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. (1 ml) salt
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground pepper
1¼ cups (310 ml) shredded feta cheese

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender; drain.

Add butter, sour cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mash until mixture is smooth. Stir in feta cheese.

Cover and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Meat Filling
1½ cups (375 ml) chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
2 lb (1 kg) lean ground beef
1 can (14 oz/396 g) diced tomatoes
¼ cup (60 ml) dry red wine or canned beef broth
1 tbsp. (15 ml) mint, crumbled
1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) oregano, crumbled
¾ tsp. (4 ml) salt
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) allspice
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika

Preheat oven to 400° F (205° C)

Use a large skillet or Dutch oven set over medium-heat. Saute onions and garlic in oil for 2 minutes.

Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Stir in the next 9 ingredients (tomatoes through nutmeg).

Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Transfer mixture to a greased shallow 3 quart (3 L) baking dish. Spoon feta potato topping over meat mixture and spread decoratively. Sprinkle with paprika.

May be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Bake, uncovered, at for 40-45 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbly.

And there you have it! A feast fit for any family who loves to try culturally-flavored recipes, and dares to venture the road less traveled. Want more adventure and excitement in your reading life? How about a trip to Fairy Falls? Just remember to pack lightly.

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. 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. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

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 decides 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, July 03, 2017

Remembering the 4th of July

by Emma Lane

Photo by Michael Elliott
I’m sitting on the stone wall in the middle of the village when the first group appear heralding the start of the parade. It’s an ancient convertible filled with local politicians; the major, councilmen, the Board of Education president--our elected governing bodies all waving and wearing wide smiles. We beam and wave back. It’s a federal holiday after all and most of the town is present.

Next comes a troop of boy scouts carrying flags. Their parents clap loudly and we all join in. Behind them little go carts spin around in circles, the drivers wearing funny hats. They are a local parade favorite.

We can hear the high school band in the distance. The kids are in shorts because it’s a very warm day. For some reason tears come to my eyes as they pass, playing their horns and banging on their drums. Wave after wave of local groups march past the crowd, each with an appointed member carrying the American flag on this our nation’s birthday.

Fire trucks honk their horns while the police come into view dressed in their best uniforms. That spiffy band, members wearing Scottish clothes, plays a heart wringing tune on bag pipes.

More scout troops, this time it’s the girls. An entire group of children riding bicycles all the way down to determined toddlers on tricycles get enthusiastic applause from the spectators. The colorful balloons tied to their handle bars bob in the warm breeze.

Wow, we all say as a troop of mounted police prance by. We know that’s the end of the parade. Who wants to march after the horses? We sigh. Another of our nation’s birthdays celebrated in style. We are Americans and we love parades, especially those that remind us of what it means to belong to this wonderful, democratic nation.

We are off to a picnic where my baked beans make a hit. A hot game of horseshoes is in progress. Sleepy ladies nod in the shade. Some of our family peal off to play baseball. Others play Frisbee, including the dog. Red, white and blue flags wave everywhere. The children are excited. They anticipate indulgent parents who allow late bedtimes. Firework displays will be enjoyed and perhaps a bonfire.

How do you celebrate our nation’s birthday? Do you have a favorite recipe for the picnic? Do you go boating and watch the fireworks over the water? Do you get tears of gratitude when our beloved veterans march by?

Have a beautiful and safe holiday,

Emma Lane
“I never saw a printed word I did not like.”

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. 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 her 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.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

My Canada…more than Maple Syrup and Mounties

by Sharon Ledwith

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!

Hope you’re kick-starting your holiday by planning to attend one of the many events July 1st has to offer around the area where you live. Most of the day, we usually hang out with family and friends on our dock until dusk—eat, drink, and be merry—then go watch the fireworks display in town. Note to self—bring the bug spray.

So what about you? Don’t know how you’re going to celebrate Canada’s 146th Birthday? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Sit down, grab a cup of whatever you please (hey, it’s a holiday after all), and check out the list of activities to choose from below:

• Go to the beach. Use the holiday to bake in the sun (don’t forget the SPF), enjoy the warm weather and cool water.

• Go to the park, fly a kite or walk your dog. Most Canucks spend this holiday outdoors so you’ll be able to take advantage of the summer heat and maybe make a new friend.

• Have your family and friends over for an old fashioned barbecue. Sip on your favorite brand of beer and appreciate what it means to be Canadian.

• Go to your town’s local parade. Show your pride by dressing up in all red and white—the Canada flag or maple leaf temporary tattoos are a favorite among celebrants!

• Go to a carnival. Eat fried dough, snack on cotton candy, drink beer, go on all your favorite rides (you may want to bring a puke bag) and play all the games.

• Look up local concerts in your area. Many cities and towns hold festivals where bands will play music at outdoor venues.

• Go for a ride in a hot air balloon. This fun activity lets you admire our beautiful country from thousands of feet in the air.

• Go to your local brewery. Canadians love beer, so there is no better way to celebrate our birthday than to take a tour of your favorite brewery. Many of these tours are free and come with samples. Lake of Bays Brewing Company and Muskoka Brewery are my top picks!

• Go camping. Take a couple days off work, and enjoy everything that the Canadian wilderness has to offer. Tons of provincial parks to choose from!

• There is nothing more Canadian than hockey. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. Take an exhibit tour and honor your favorite players.

• Go to a citizenship ceremony. There is nothing more patriotic than watching new citizens take an oath to love, honor, and respect our country.

• Go to your local fireworks show. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the colorful explosions light up the sky. Plus saying ‘ohhh—ahhh’ is always fun.

• Go fishing. Canada is famous for their awesome bass (and pickerel) fishing and this is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate Canada.

• Go white water rafting (still want to do this one). Canada’s rivers offer a variety of different difficulty levels so whether you’re a rafting pro or a rookie in search of an adventure, rafting is always a fun activity.

However you celebrate, stay safe and enjoy the day!

~Sharon



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.