Grace After the Storm by Sandy Sinnett – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandy Sinnett will be awarding a $25 GC to Total Wine to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_GraceAfterTheStormBrad’s brother recently found the love of his life, and now he too longs to find his one. No one seems to compare to his first love from years ago, though – the woman he left behind for money and a career. To remind him of her love, though, on what would have been their wedding anniversary, Brad writes her a letter. Never mailed. Never read…until this year, after the storm ends.

Hannah’s estate is in foreclosure – unable to keep her family’s estate after her parents’ death. Sparks begin to fly however after the estate is purchased and the new owner arrives. Not only was Brad the love of her life, but he’s also the man who walked out on her eight years ago. At first sight, Hannah’s grandmother believes their love still exists, and even as her health fades she works to help Hannah see the good in Brad.

Hannah must deal with painful memories from her past as she is forced to work with Brad and save her estate, but will her stubborn pride cause her to lose him again?

She begins to see Brad in a new light, and the love she felt for him long ago is reborn. When Hannah’s ‘little sister’ Clare discovers Brad’s secret, though, a storm of events will begin that may destroy their only chance for love, and may risk Hannah’s life in the process. Brad and Hannah will face both tragedy and loss as they rekindle their love, remembering that grace always follows the storm.

Enjoy an excerpt:

After suffering a devastating loss, Laci and Mitch take a trip back to the Pacific Northwest to find healing and renewal. It’s only a matter of time before their paths cross with Hannah Blake – owner and innkeeper of FoxHead Estates. Over the last several years, Hannah has lost most everything she once held dear, one by one. The love of her life walked away from her eight years ago, and although she hated to admit it, her soul still cried out for him even today. All that remained of him were painful memories, and a little wooden box containing a single letter he left her – never opened. Never read. Her parents died six years ago, and Hannah took in her 89 year- old ailing grandmother. Lois is the only family she has left, but Hannah knows it is only a matter of time before she would lose her too. Now, her family’s estate was in foreclosure; her world was crashing down and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Or was there?

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_GraceAfterTheStormSandy recently moved back to her hometown of Mt. Vernon, IL and lives there with her two youngest kids. She currently works in Marketing for a local Children’s Home and is busy working on another book.

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10 Things Most People Don’t Know About LD Towers – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. LD Towers will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click to win the other stops on the tour.

10 Things Most People Don’t Know About LD Towers

I thought that I would do 10 things most people don’t know about me, since this is my first tour, there is a lot that most people don’t know! Is that the easy way out? It could be!

1. I don’t eat anything with scales or that comes from the ocean. It started out from a restriction diet in university to control migraines, but evolved from there. I’m a SCUBA diver, and I’ve been diving in places that are mostly fished out. Now it’s my bit to help the ecology.

2. From Oct 2014 to Oct 2015, I lived in five different countries- Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Belize. One of those was only for 6 weeks, but I didn’t know it at the time. I’m hoping 2016 will involve less moving.

3. I’m also a photographer and I have a Facebook page called ‘Blackbird’s Photography’. I also tweet my pics from time to time. I don’t really do people though. Mostly it’s all buildings and landscapes. There is the odd snap in there that I’m rather proud of.

4. I have a condition called Plantar fascial fibromatosis, or Ledderhose disease. It’s like fibrous tumour-like growths in the feet. My friends think it’s somewhat ironic that I lived in Germany, I write about Germans and I have something called Ledderhose disease. (only the iconic leather pants are lederhose.)

5. I’ve had Siamese cats in my life since I was six years old. My first one came from Santa and lived for 19 years. My parents are looking after another meeze of mine in his twilight years as my moving was getting too hard on him. His name is Shen and he just turned 21. I’m rather proud of that. Shen lived in Canada, France and Germany. Now I have the famous Niblet as my interspecies life mate! :)

6. Blue is my favourite colour. If I could, I would paint the world in blue.

7. Someone once asked me which of my ‘Teufel’ characters was me. I’ve always said that if I was a man, I would want to be like Hagen Kohl and if I had pots of money, I would probably be like Galiena. There is a lot of me in Galiena. While I was never assaulted by my grandfather, I had an occasionally acrimonious relationship with him. I think it was easy to make Meinrad von Steinberg a bad guy. Amusingly enough, now he’s one of my favourite characters, even though he’s thoroughly evil.

8. I’m a wine racist. Red wine all the way. I can’t stand white wine. I have a caveat. I like bubbly. As they said in the 30’s, ‘When we have bubbles, we have no troubles.’ I didn’t like rosé until I had a date with a Frenchman in a restaurant by the Louvre in Paris. We sat on the terrace all afternoon on a beautiful summer’s day and drank rosé by the glass in that amazing setting. To this day, I’m a fan. The Frenchman was fine, too, until he told me he was married at the end of it. Why do they do that? *shakes fists at the heavens*

9. I like Trekking. I did 275 kms/170 miles of the Camino de Santiago in 2014. I’m not a small woman, in fact, I’m a BIG woman. Don’t let size stop you from doing something like that. If I can do it, anyone can and it’s a life changing experience. I want to do the whole Spanish part of the Camino soon. After that, I want to walk the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome and then write about it. I think every young person should have to do the Camino after high school before they apply for university or further life. A plucky and thrifty person can do it for 10-15 Euros (about the same in USD at the moment) a day. I averaged 20. It’s not an expensive trip. I learned so much about myself doing it. If anyone needs Camino advice, drop me a line.

10. I’m an Apple. I went mac in 2008 and have never looked back. I had two toshiba laptops that didn’t survive a year and I was looking for a machine that would survive me. A friend said… go Mac… I had been a PC since 1988, so it was a BIG change. Now you couldn’t pay me to go back! Now if only they cost less…

So there is a little bit about me! :)

MediaKit_BookCover_NewAustrianOrder1938. Germany is moving faster than Standartenführer Hagen Kohl thought possible. Sent down to Vienna to investigate a potential threat to Hitler’s plans for Austria, Hagen is drawn in to an aristocratic world he’s never encountered before. Without Hauptsturmführer Eugen Friesler at his side, Hagen is in more danger than he could have imagined as he hunts for a shadowy organization called the New Austrian Order. Back in Germany, Galiena von Steinberg returns to Riesa and the von Steinberg Gesellschaft, but taking over the reins of her Grandfather’s empire comes with many challenges. Can she protect her family holdings while keeping true to the new sense of self she has worked so hard to find?

MediaKit_BookCover_TeufelAgainst the politically charged background of Nazi Germany’s police state, Standartenführer Doctor Hagen Kohl is trying to carve out a profession for himself in the SS. A middle class intellectual with a doctorate in Literature, Hagen is a an investigator who hunts criminals within the party apparatus itself. Hagen justifies everything by his personal code and patriotism, unable to see the flaws of the regime he serves. When he is ordered to investigate members of the army, he discovers patriotism is entirely a matter of perspective. His eyes are further opened by exposure to Galiena von Steinberg; an aristocrat whose own experiences bring him into the entanglements and intrigues at the highest levels of Third Reich society.

Enjoy an excerpt from New Austrian Order:

The parade ground was large, and all about there were people. The SS men, in their black uniforms, and the camp guards in their grey seemed drab on the sunny square. There were so many, trailing behind Himmler like a flock of crows. Galiena hated that analogy, but it seemed so appropriate. Here and there she saw people she assumed to be prisoners, in their black and white horizontal striped suits, and grotesquely shaved heads. They almost reminded her of larvae, their scalps so pale in the light. One man turned and stared at her, the bright splash of colour that she was, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes. Then his face dropped back to his toiling in the black earth of the flowerbeds near the Administration building. The place was so dour. So grey. In her scarlet, echoed only in the swastika flag on the flag pole, she must look like a drop of blood on a piece of slate.

Himmler moved to intercept her, his eyes shining with something she couldn’t define. In this place he was a thousand feet tall, and his knowledge of his power emanated from him in waves. The men trailing after him followed his every movement and gesture. When he smiled, so did they, when he laughed, they echoed, and the moment he stopped, there was silence behind him. Galiena had never seen this Himmler. This was the Reichsführer-SS, and his power was consuming. His eyes met hers, as he clicked his heels and bowed his head before her. When the peak of his hat came up again, he was smiling; warmly and broadly. More the man of her acquaintance, but the look in his eyes seemed to mock her. This Himmler was a predator and he was in his lair with all his sycophants around to admire his magnificence.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_RiesaSeriesLD Towers travels the world like a rootless vagabond! A military historian, she searches out places of conflict to find a deeper insight to the things she writes about. Presently enjoying the warm weather and azure seas of Central America, she has lived all over Western Europe, including 5.5 years in the incomparable Berlin.

Primarily working in Historical and Military Fiction, LD sometimes sneaks in the odd Dystopian or Modern Thriller piece. Also look for a series of novellas about the despicable yet intriguing Meinrad von Steinberg from the Riesa Series, coming in fall 2015.

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The Making of Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter by Allison Spector – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Allison Spector will be awarding a signed copy of book with original plot outline notes (loose sheets of paper) inside and additional notes at end or in margins of story (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Making of Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter (as spoken in the voice of an elderly British narrator)*
*You’re totally imagining it, aren’t you?

Once upon a time, there was a peculiar little girl with knee-length hair and a thousand-yard stare. She fancied herself as magical elf in a forest of pine, reeds, and windmill giants. Her heroes were Gavroche and Peter Pan. Her imagination was a joyous bonfire, kindled by books, and songs, and fairy tales.

The peculiar little girl lived in a little cottage inside her head. And although she was eager to visit the world outside, not everyone knew how to talk to the whimsical little creature that didn’t care a lick for gendered characterizations, or societal expectations. But her brain was deft and sharp, and she cut a fair and proper swath of the world to wrap herself in. It was a lovely swath and it was hers.

Girded in her cloak of “what if’s” and “let’s try this!,” she wandered across reality, growing flowers and toadstools wherever she stepped. She made strange friends along the way. Some stayed forever in her head. Some stayed forever in her heart.

And she and her friends in her wondrous world thrived by circumventing normal routes and routines. Everything always seemed to fall into place for the peculiar girl because even when it didn’t—even when life was loud, and rough, and perilous—she kept on walking.

Far, far past the precipice the peculiar little girl would wander. Far past the edge of the cliff. And because no one told her she would fall (she wouldn’t have listened anyhow), she kept on walking until her feet caught air and dug into the very clouds.

Winds would blow and strange, cruel hands would reach from below and paw at her ankles. But she hardly even noticed. It was of little consequence. All that mattered were castles to explore, and worlds to conquer, great dreams and ambitions and wonder to pursue.

One day, when the girl had grown into something resembling a woman (although in her head she was still a magical elf) she arrived in a magical land called Bellingham, Washington. The girl built castles of stone, and sand and she frolicked amongst the evergreens. She marveled at how many kindred souls played the amidst the waterfalls and evergreens. She had found her people. She had found her home. She floated with her peculiar little family and times were beautiful and good. A never-ending river of contentment.

But the peculiar girl wasn’t content. She had an urge to overturn each log, and chase every star that twinkled in the heavens. She plotted and planned and dreamed and stared off at distant smoke from imagined dragons. So carefully, tepidly, she let her fingers break their grip from the tendril’d vines, and pines, and stringband elves and carried her family over the majestic mountains, and the green magical placed, and landed with an unceremonious thud in the Middle of the Continent.

Now the Middle of the Continent wasn’t a bad place, per se. It was a very sensible land, full of sensible people. They balanced their checkbooks, and straightened their ties, and paid their taxes, and raised upstanding children, and went to church every Sunday. And for them the world was a place of predictability and order.

The peculiar girl had a peculiar notion that she might add a few purple lines to the lands of sensible greens and browns. She would add a few polka-dots to the plains and evergreens to the fields. And she would paint golden sun rays around the sleepy eyes of the children.

At first, the peculiar girl she was welcomed the good people of the Middle of the Continent. The marveled at her arms full of brushes and her head full of clouds. They tilted their heads skyward as she built scaffolding from which she would launch balloons in the air. They smiled as she sang songs of juggler and clowns. But soon the sensible people in the sensible shoes began to tire of her whimsy. She made them dizzy as she danced in the sky. She made them nervous as she tunneled below with her novelty spoon. And walls were built at the speed at which she could sprint around. So she patiently sat at the door waiting on go through.

The peculiar girl could feel the flowers in her hair wilting. And though she felt joy that her friends in the Middle of the Continent were calm and content, she felt gray clouds eke raindrops into her skin. So she and her peculiar little family hunkered down and huddled together with their rays of sun buried in her hearts, starring off into the distance horizon—towards the magical land from whence they had come.

Alone in her room, in her comfy chair the peculiar girl summoned all the best memories of her happy times in Bellingham. She recalled the buskers and bohemians and banana slugs (yes, even the slugs) and her heart weighed heavy with sadness. So she sat in her chair and she wrote and she wrote until the words spilled out like tears. Her silly, whimsical, peculiar words reminded her of who she was—and the passion that drove her forward.

Before she knew it, her story had grown and bloomed with flowers and folly and tizzies galore.

And lovely people liked her book, and printed her book.

And she was happy…

Layout 1Trouble’s brewing in the Evergreen Jungle. When controversial author Rex Jupiter plans a visit to a Bellingham bookstore, news of his arrival attracts the attention of the mysterious Paladin, who plans on leading a mob of rioting housewives against him. But the Paladin has competition. Sleuth-extraordinaire Marian Krause has her own bone to pick with Jupiter as she scrambles to solve the death of a woman who has stolen her identity. Rex may think he has the situation under control, but when the wrath of the local Druids is incurred, pitchforks and torches may be the least of his concerns.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Marian’s lungs shuddered against the fumes of the organic, locally sourced, native-friendly tobacco as it passed from the long-stemmed cigarette holder through her lips and into her body. It was a dirty, messy habit. And it was hers. The smoke floated in the air, letting forth a wave of guilty pleasure. She carefully measured out her puffs, since theauthorityoneverything.com told her that for every cigarette she smoked she would lose 5.5 minutes of her life.

Thus, she made sure that she only sacrificed 1.375 minutes at a time. She found the pleasure-to-life-lost ratio to be acceptable as everyone knew that all detectives smoked. And they did so in darkened rooms, with shades drawn, and only the light of a low-watt desk-lamp to illuminate the wisp of airborne tobacco trailing off like a faded dream.

Also, it made her feel badass. So, there.

Of course, there were disadvantages to sitting in a darkened room, the greatest of which was that it made her extremely susceptible to her husband’s Tokens of Affection, which usually fell into three categories:

(A) Crimes Scenes: composed of stolen police tape, ketchup, and teddy bears

(B) Fan Fiction: of a most Adult variety, written about Marian, and cleverly slipped in between her meticulously organized case files and resumes

(C) Brazen Thievery: which meant that her Second-Most Favorite Fedora would be missing, and she could only retrieve it following an Elaborate Series of Clues

The very thought of his categorical attentions made her want to climb down from her attic office and pay him a Conjugal Visit that instant. She would bring the Special Trench Coat and the magnifying glass and…

She slapped herself on the cheek. Love would have to wait.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_LetsStalkRexJupiterAllison Spector was born and raised in the hedonistic playground of the Jersey Shore, but finds herself oddly allergic to spray tan. She is a proud graduate of Goucher College, and started her environmentally-focused career in Washington DC in 2005. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2008, and fell in love with its beauty and people. Allison is currently on a Midwestern Adventure and is determined to live as much life as possible—to accomplish her dreams one at a time—and to nurture her loving family, and blaze a trail of wit, whimsy, and eccentricity wherever she goes.

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Book available on Amazon.

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Winter Blogfest: Holiday Cookies For Furry Friends by Devon McKay

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of one of the author’s books.

Holiday Cookies For Furry Friends

With the fast approach of the holidays, I’m ready to dive in and start baking. I can spend hours in my kitchen whipping up sugar cookies and gingerbread men then decorating the delicious desserts with red and green sugar crystals. Yes, I’m one of those kind of gals.

However, my baked goods aren’t just limited to humans. My favorite treats to make is for my dogs. After all, they are my best friends. And nothing makes me happier than giving my girls a reward that makes their tail’s wag and has them barking for more.

I wanted to share two of my recipes with those of you who also enjoy spoiling your dogs. Hopefully your furry friends will enjoy the goodies as much as mine do.

Bone Appetit!

Yum Yum Bacon Biscuits

What dog doesn’t love bacon? I discovered this delicious recipe from Allrecipes and my dogs just love them. These biscuits, made with whole wheat Flour, 2 % milk, eggs, chicken bouillon and bacon, are sure to please your four legged friend.

Ingredients
5 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
10 Tablespoon Vegetable oil or bacon fat
½ cup water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
2. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in milk, water, salt, and bacon fat until well blended. Gradually stir in flour to make a stiff dough. Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into 2 inch balls or cut out into cute shapes – I use a bone shaped cookie cutter. Place on prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on racks. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Barking Bananas Pup Cakes

This recipe I came up with through a variation of others I found on the internet and through trial and error discovered a treat that all three of my furry friends go absolutely bananas for. I bake them in two sizes, Mini Pinscher small or Chocolate and Black Lab large. Made with fresh bananas, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, fresh eggs, oil, 2 % milk, and honey these biscuits will surely have your pups barking for more.

Ingredients
6 cups Oatmeal
2 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
4 Eggs
½ cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup honey
1 cup milk
4 Bananas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line muffin tins with muffin liners, or spray with cooking spray.
3. In large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and stir well with a large spoon until blended.
4. Fill muffin tins about ½ full with batter.
5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle is removed clean.

These treats are made with only the most refined and natural of ingredients, therefore without refrigeration they will keep in an airtight container for seven days. If refrigerated they will keep for up to three weeks and if stored in a freezer they will keep for six months.

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not a vet, nor a dog nutritionist. I hope that every recipe I share only makes every furry tummy happy. However, keep in mind that every dog is an individual. What might be good for most might not be good for one. Always tailor each recipe to your own dog’s needs and tastes. If you have any questions on your dog’s diet, please consult a professional.

StakingaClaim_w8762_medFor most people, seeing Alaska is a dream come true. For Miami Beach resident, Samantha Held, it is merely a job assignment. Creating an advertisement for vacationing in the state gets her one step closer to achieving her career goal—partnership in Kolinsky’s Advertisement Agency.

Blake Langford is not willing to accept any exploitation of his beloved state, no matter how desirable the striking, southern blonde bombshell with fiery green eyes is, and he’s determined to sabotage Sam’s goal in every way. Falling in love with the enemy, however, was never part of the plan.

About the Author: Living in Alaska for 27 years, Devon McKay has plenty of stories to tell about the state. She was chased by a mother moose defending her young, stalked by a bear, endured temperatures of forty below and was even trapped in an avalanche! And loved every minute of it!

After writing her first novel, Cowboy on the Run, she embarked on a new adventure and now lives on a ranch in Ohio where she calls home. Although the farm life is slightly more laid back than the dangers of Alaska, Devon enjoys the slower pace of the country lifestyle which gives her plenty of time to indulge in her passion of writing.

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Winter Blogest: ‘Tis the Season by Peggy Chambers

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win the choice of a paperback copy of Secrets of Sandhill Island (US only).

‘TIS THE SEASON

The winds blow moist sweet air outside my closed windows. Leaves carpet my browning grass as I wrap my jacket a little closer. Autumn can be many things – cool and blustery or sunny and warm. But it is always the beginning of the holiday season.

Christmas%20wineFrom Halloween until New Years, the gift of friends and family warm us through a cold season. The parties, food, warm sweaters, and blazing fires keep us comfortable and happy. At least most of us.

There are always those that don’t have the blessings of get-to-gathers or even warm clothing. We take for granted that thirteen guests will grace our tables. I have a huge turkey in the freezer awaiting carving time. I’ve made and re-made the menu to be sure we have all we need. I have tons to do. Luckily.

Last year my son and his wife helped the Catholic soup kitchen on Christmas with the preparations of a Christmas meal. They are both good cooks and unlike a lot of young people they cook at home from scratch most meals. They were in for a big surprise. The woman that ran the kitchen had many years’ experience with commercial kitchens and told them everything they were doing wrong. They carried bags of potatoes before peeling them, cooked pounds of carrots, and carved countless turkeys. Then they served the immense population of homeless and under privileged. It was eye-opening.

I think I’d like to do that sometime. I am not sure my aging back could handle the rigors, but I think my spirit would be enriched from the hard work. It would make my little get-to-gather of thirteen of my favorite people look like a tiny snack. I can at least donate to the many places that provide Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets of food and presents. It will help me remember how many people do not have what I have.

A good friend of mine is the activity director at an assisted living center in town. She is planning a Christmas reading asking people from the writing club to read aloud their original Christmas stories to the patrons that live there. I have prepared something special and if time allows I want to read Clement Mark Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas since I don’t have little ones to read to anymore. I am sure I will enjoy it more than they will.

Consider this a challenge. What can, or what will you do for your fellow man this season? The tiniest thing is always welcomed.

SecretsofSandhillIsland_w8259On a tiny island in a ramshackle beach house, Meg, an heiress, is hiding from her family’s dubious past. Her true love, Evan, died thirty years ago in a storm at sea, she thought. Did her father really have her lover killed and if so does everyone on the island know about it but Meg?
Alex must try to befriend Meg’s son Jon if he is ever to win Meg over. And with his past problems with women, he wonders why he even tries. After all, he is just a starving artist and has little to offer her.
Now that Alex has warmed her heart again, Meg realizes she has friends and a life outside her vegetable garden. But, who is blackmailing her?

About the Author:Peggy Chambers calls Enid, Oklahoma home. She is an award winning, three-time published author, always working on another. Retired now, she can spend all her time making up stories. She has two children, five grandchildren and lives with her husband and dog. She attended Phillips University, the University of Central Oklahoma and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of the Enid Writers’ Club, Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc., and the Oklahoma Women Bloggers. There is always another story weaving itself around in her brain trying to come out.

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Winter Blogfest: Hanukkah—The Festival of Lights by Marilyn Baron

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of the author’s historical romantic thriller, Under the Moon Gate.

Hanukkah—The Festival of Lights
By Marilyn Baron
What do I remember most about Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights? During this time of the year, our family used to drive around Miami, where I was born, and look at the beautiful display of Christmas lights.

The Hanukkah tradition is to light the menorah, a 9-candle ceremonial lamp with space for eight candles, representing one for each night of the holiday, and one candle to light the rest. Hanukkah is a festive holiday. Families sing songs, play a game called dreidel, a spinning top and exchange gifts. The holiday lasts eight days.
When I had younger children, we would give them one gift each night. Now that they’re grown and out of the house, we typically give them one big gift. In the old days, I remember my grandparents lining up the grandchildren and handing out a dollar each. Now the money comes in the form of chocolate coins—Hanukkah Gelt—you can buy at the grocery store.

The thing I love most about Hanukkah is eating the traditional potato pancakes or latkes. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy potato latkes. My sister Elaine makes great latkes. They require a lot of effort, but when done right, they are crispy and delicious. My mother made great latkes when we were growing up. Today, I just buy them out of a box in the grocery freezer section. They’re not nearly as good. It is traditional to top the latkes with a little sour cream and some applesauce. I prefer applesauce and I also like mine sprinkled with sugar.

Here is my sister’s recipe. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Potato Latkes
Ingredients:
1 onion
4-5 Idaho potatoes
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup matzoh meal
Salt: 1 teaspoon, then sprinkle more on as they fry
Pepper, freshly ground, several twists
Cheesecloth

Directions:
Mix the salt, pepper and baking powder together with the matzoh meal.
Peel the potatoes and drop them right away into a large bowl of icy water.
Chop onion: Use a food processor. Decide how fine to chop.
Do not drain liquid from the onion.
In a large bowl, crack the eggs and beat (not too much).
Heat large skillets: Cast iron or any good pan. Use more than one to speed up the cooking. Start low, and when almost ready with the completed mixture, raise the heat. During frying, constantly monitor the heat level, starting on medium high, then adding the mixture, and then turning down to about medium. Then back up to medium high with the next batch, and so on.
Cut the potatoes lengthwise, and in a food processor, using the shred attachment, shred a few at a time. Then, take out the shredded potatoes into a big bowl, put the chop attachment on and put the shredded potatoes back into the processor, then give just a few pulses (5-10), until a nice chopped consistency (not too big, but not too finely chopped, either).
Then put the potatoes into a cheesecloth (in the sink), and squeeze as much liquid starch as you can! Then put the squeezed potatoes right into the eggs, and mix around with your hands to absorb the potato mixture.
Then repeat this process until all the potatoes are in the egg mixture.
Add the onions and dry mixture to the egg and potato mixture, and mix: Use your hands.
Add oil to the fry pan(s) and wait until the oil is hot (but not burning). Add mixture by tablespoons, not too thick. Fry in hot oil. Turn when golden. Keep adding oil to pan before each new batch. The more oil, the better it tastes. The first batch never tastes as good as the rest.
Enjoy.

Landlocked_w10128_750Romance, A Decades-old Mystery and a Serial Killer on the Loose…

Amelia Rushing is an inexperienced South Florida realtor with weather issues, and a loser in love. Her grandmother asks her to sell some property on an isolated North Carolina mountaintop, and upon investigation, Amelia finds the tract is landlocked. Determined to make her first sale and right the injustice to her grandmother, Amelia travels to the town of Confrontation and enlists the help of local real estate attorney, Alec Brady, who thwarts her at every turn.

Sparks fly when Amelia announces her plans to move into her grandmother’s cabin until she can sell the property. It is Alec’s current home, and he’s not giving it up. When Amelia discovers that thirty years ago a prominent landscape artist disappeared in the town of Confrontation, she is anxious to solve the decades-old mystery, but there’s a serial killer on the loose, one nobody wants to turn in, despite the number of people missing. What is the community hiding, and does Alec know where the bodies are buried?

About the Author: Marilyn Baron is a public relations consultant in Atlanta. She’s a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) and the recipient of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award. Marilyn writes humorous women’s coming-of-middle-age fiction, historical romantic thrillers, suspense, paranormal and fantasy. She has won or finaled in writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Paranormal/Fantasy Romance and Novel With Strong Romantic Elements. She’s a member of the 2016 Roswell Reads steering committee. Visit her Web site at www.marilynbaron.com to find out more about her other books and stories and upcoming releases. Landlocked is her 10th book with The Wild Rose Press. A native of Miami, Florida, Marilyn now lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her husband. Marilyn graduated from The University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, with a B.S. in Journalism [Public Relations sequence] and a minor in Creative Writing. She met her husband at UF and both of her daughters graduated from UF. Go Gators!

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Sunset at Rosalie by Ann L. McLaughlin – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ann will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_SunsetAtRosalie SUNSET AT ROSALIE tells the story of a young girl, Carlin McNair, and her family on a failing cotton plantation in Mississippi during the early 1900s. The coming of the boll weevil and the sharp decline of cotton prices cause drastic changes in the life of the plantation and in the lives of the family members. Carlin adores her Uncle Will. But like the plantation, Will is doomed and his story is an important part of Carlin’s growing up. McLaughlin describes this part of Southern culture in vivid detail, which brings Carlin’s young life close and makes that almost extinct plantation life come alive once again.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Carlin pushed back her brown braids and squinted down the long drive, hoping to see Papa and Uncle Will riding up to Rosalie. The ball of sun had turned the sky yellow-white beyond the pine trees, and she lifted one hand to shade her eyes from its slanting light. They were late. The dark, live oak trees that lined the road made a shadowy tunnel between the plantation’s cotton fields stretching out green and white on either side. But there was no sign of Papa on Graylie, his tall mare, nor of her uncle, whom her father had gone to meet at the train station.

Soon Uncle Will would dismount right there, Carlin thought, and sucked in her breath as she stared at the black hitching post at the end of the red brick walk. He would glance up at the white house for a moment with its columns and wide front gallery, and she would jump up from her seat on the top step and rush down. “Carlie!” he would shout and stoop, opening his arms wide to enfold her.

Of all Uncle Will’s returns, from Paris or from New Orleans, this was the most exciting because next Saturday he and Carlin’s Aunt Emily would be married. Carlin could see the slanting letters on the ivory wedding invitations, with Uncle Will and Aunt Emily’s names at the top, the name of the church, the date, August 28, 1909, and Warrington County, Mississippi, at the bottom. The whole plantation was getting ready.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SunsetAtRosalieAnn L. McLaughlin is the author of eight highly acclaimed novels including Lightning in July and Amy and George. She teaches at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland and lives in Chevy Chase.

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Peace, Love, and a Dead Hippie Chick by N.R. Leigh

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Peace, Love and a Dead Hippie Chick Character Interview by N.R. Leigh

I first wrote my debut novel Peace, Love and a Dead Hippie Chick as a screenplay in 2009 titled Run Away Girls. Dabbling in Indie film production at the time, I was trying to get a feel for the behind the scenes process in an effort to hone my screen writing. After I finished the script, I optioned it to several producers—all who encouraged me to adapt it into a novel—to further develop the cast of colorful characters. Here are some character interview questions from author Marcel Proust, which I used to get inside the three Hippie Chicks’ heads…

KARA

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Kara: Living unencumbered by others ideals and judgments, with a family that I love.

What is your current state of mind?
Kara: Scared, in defensive mode, and constantly on the move.

What is your greatest fear?
Kara: Being a slave to others’ wants and desires. Being forced to do something I refuse.

What is your greatest regret?
Kara: Letting him get into the car on New Year’s Eve.

AMY

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Amy: Graduating high school a half year early so I could take over Angel Wings Cleaning Service for Mama until her back heals up.

What’s your most treasured possession?
Amy: My Bible.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Amy: At this point I’d take any, but if I had to choose, it would be the ability to talk to God.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Amy: I haven’t had a true love yet, but I’m hoping it will be Jimmy!

NATASHA

What is your greatest extravagance?
Natasha: Walking away from the privilege I was born into. I could have anything that money could buy, but all I wanted was what it couldn’t: my escape.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Natasha: I guess others would say my beauty.

What do you most value in your friends?
Natasha: The ability to let loose and explore.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Natasha: There are too many to list…

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Natasha: Prudence.

Ultimately, I’m happy I took the producers’ advice and got to know the Hippie Chicks deeper than the screenplay would allow. I plan to option the novel again in the near future. There’s plenty of talk and criticism in Hollywood about the lack of leading roles for women. I could see AnnaSophia Robb as Amy, Dakota Johnson as Kara, and Odeya Rush as Natasha. Not to mention the three supporting male characters Jimmy, Rock-n-Roll, and Ian who would be a dream to cast; and the multiple villains who would not.

MediaKit_BookCover_PeaceLoveAndADeadHippieChickPeace, Love, and a Dead Hippie Chick follows the intertwining journeys of three young women in the mid-1990s who go on the road and off the grid, and leave their worlds behind. Each woman falls into a dangerous subculture of sex, drugs, and rock and roll in an attempt to attain her own sense of peace, love, and freedom.

KARA, a middle-class Midwestern girl, flees her painful past after a tragic accident claims a loved one, only to learn—after a violent attack—that there’s no safety among friends or strangers. Survival rests in her hands alone as she escapes into the wilderness of New Mexico.

NATASHA, born into privilege, rebels against her family’s expectations as she follows the Grateful Dead concert tour circuit, selling contraband and exploring her sexual freedom.

AMY, an impoverished Southern belle, becomes love-struck when an exotic drifter passes through town, deciding to leave home and follow him.

This intricately interwoven coming-of-age tale delves into the connection between strangers and the premise that the grand orchestration of life goes well beyond chance.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Grae

Friday, April 13, 2012
Eighteen Years Later

I’ve heard it said that Volkswagen buses choose their owners and not the other way around. Some believe they’re engineered and built with a secret mojo that allows this to be true. Ask anyone who’s ever owned one, and they’ll tell you it’s so. I wonder whom this one chose. During my entire life, it’s been sitting like a convict on death row, imprisoned in the rear corner of our jungle property next to our dog Parker’s grave—over eighteen years now, grass growing over its wheel wells and tropical foliage climbing onto the windshield, awaiting execution by vegetation. I hadn’t paid much attention to it until this morning. My parents had never spoken of it.

***

Daylight broke through the fronds of the areca palms as I stepped onto the sod—the lawn was wet with morning dew—and began to dribble my soccer ball along the length of it. I drilled the ball, sending it sailing across the yard and directly onto the van’s back door, popping it open. Cursing my crooked instep kick, I pushed through the tangled waist–‐‑deep flora in an attempt to close the hatch but climbed inside out of curiosity. The license plate reads New Mexico, Land of Enchantment. Although born in Arizona, I’ve never technically set foot in the United States. We moved here when I was an infant.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_PeaceLoveAndADeadHippieChickN.R. Leigh began her writing career in 2007 as a featured columnist for the guerrilla newspaper The Uncommon Sense. She since has written books as an expert on personal health and wellness under the pseudonym Nicci Leigh.

She was inspired to write her debut novel, Peace, Love, and a Dead Hippie Chick, by a conversation with a friend, who described a newspaper article regarding the events that surrounded a group of hippies’ visit to her small town and the havoc they caused. This crazy, fascinating account, coupled with N.R.’s experiences traveling the United States in her early 20s, gave birth to her story.

N.R. has a background in education and teaches aesthetics, yoga, Reiki, and related holistic modalities. Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, she currently lives in a rural coastal community in southwest Florida with her family and their Australian Kelpie, Sydney, who believes she’s a Tasmainian Devil.

N.R is inspired by funny people and those who create positive change and peace. Her friends and family describe her as driven, strong, silly, and independent. Something most people don’t know about her is that, at age eighteen, she aided police in the capture of a team of bank robbers.

N.R. is working on her first fiction series, Imagine Yasmin.

Please visit her website to connect.

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Shaping OUTBACK PROMISE by Maggie Bolitho – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maggie will be awarding an eCopy of Outback Promise to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Shaping Outback Promise

Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward. – various attributions

My novel, Outback Promise started as a tiny grain of sand, carried back home after three months in the outback in 2005. During that trip I wrote a daily journal, over 100,000 words in total, about the places I saw and the people I met. The outback made me feel as insignificant as dust. At the same time I felt connected to that ancient land in a deep, primal way. Stories swirled around me, like distant mirages, out of focus and just as elusive.

When I returned to Sydney, I sat down and tried to shape my impressions into a novel. The result was the sort of book that someone with little training and writing experience produces.

A writer friend read it and said, “This is quite lovely and it’s perfect for your family and friends.”

She gave me a long list of ways to improve it. Ouch. I had a lot to learn. For the next eight years I gathered skills and knowledge. Every so often, I’d open Outback Promise and work on it. Then I’d shelve it and work on something else, all the while letting the story incubate in the dark spongy part of my brain.

During this time, I went through several life changes. I made one international move, one move from the mainland to an island, and endured the gutting and renovating of a new home. I learned to write in a cramped attic space and in the dust and chaos of a building site.

I learned a lot of other things too:

  1. The only way to finish a novel is to sit down and do it. Set aside the distractions and avoidance behavior and get to work. You can’t polish what isn’t on the page.
  2. Develop a thick skin. My friend’s reaction to my first draft may seem harsh but the market is even harsher.
  3. Writers need other writers. They need to associate with people who will encourage them as well as speak frankly when work misses the mark. Finding productive critique partners may take a while but the benefits are huge. Look for someone who understands what you are trying to do, works at your pace and to your standards.
  4. Never stop studying, going to courses and workshops, or reading books on craft. You don’t know it all and there is so much to learn, it takes a lot of time to absorb.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Write in haste and edit at leisure. Don’t be afraid to write fearlessly. Likewise, edit with courage.
  6. When it comes to submission the golden rule is: don’t submit too early. Those agents and publishers who see your rough work to may not be interested in a second submission. Avoid burning bridges.

If you are self-pubbing this rule applies even more. Don’t burn off tomorrow’s readers by rushing to deliver poorly-edited novels today.

I’m grateful that I learned to take my time with Outback Promise. I’m proud of its final, polished form. Given my lack of training and experience at the outset, I shouldn’t have expected a faster result. Experience was my teacher and there was no crash course in what I needed to learn.

MediaKit_BookCover_OutbackPromiseSix years ago, the Balfours lost their son Cadel to a hit-and-run driver.

A few months ago, Ros discovered Grady’s affair.

With their marriage fast disintegrating, they decide to take a three-month camping trip into the heart of Australia to try and mend deep wounds and rekindle the fire that once fused them close. This trip will decide the fate of their relationship: do they have enough strength and enough love left to accept what life has put them both through?

But trust and forgiveness don’t come easily, and Ros and Grady have to navigate not only the wilderness of the Outback and the challenges of other travellers, but also the chasm of grief and bitterness they have sunk into over the last six years. Their only hope for survival lies in facing the secrets they have both tried to keep buried …

Enjoy an excerpt:

The day my son died, he ate a Vegemite and banana sandwich for lunch.

His small voice, almost forgotten now, jarred me awake that morning. ‘How do bees get to school?’

Forty pounds of energy scrambled onto the bed.

‘Who’s asking me these questions so very early?’ I surfaced from a dream fog.

‘Mummy! It’s sunny!’ Cadel wedged himself between his father and me. His breath smelled like apple juice.

‘Okay, so how do bees get to school?’

‘On the school buzz.’

His infectious giggle filled the room. I peered out at the bright blue sky and abandoned all hope of sleeping in. We said we’d take him hiking with his new backpack if the weather was good.

Grady rolled over and grunted. His wavy dark hair hung in his eyes as he tried to look stern. ‘Lady Rosalyn, do you know this little person?’

‘No, Sir Grady, I do not.’

‘Should we make him walk the plank?’

‘It’s me, Daddy.’

‘What? When?’ Grady shook his head. ‘Me? Me who?’

‘It’s me! Cadel!’

‘I don’t remember giving permission for you to come aboard. Are you sure you’re not a pirate? I’d better give you the pirate test.’ He lifted Cadel’s pyjama top and blew a raspberry on his soft stomach.

Cadel shrieked and flailed his small arms.

I slid out of bed and left the two of them, wrestling and twisting the sheets into knots.

About the Author: Maggie Bolitho grew up in Victoria BC Canada, where she spent her childhood flying under the radar, constructing alternate universes, and wishing to be somewhere over the rainbow. Shortly after her 17th birthday she set out to see the world. Eventually, she moved on to Australia.

While living Down Under and exploring the outback, Maggie started writing fiction. Her adult short stories have been published in various anthologies in Australia, the US, and Canada. She has written for Quills Canadian Poetry magazine, her YA novel LOCKDOWN was published in 2014, and in 2015 she published OUTBACK PROMISE.

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The Near Miss by Fran Cusworth



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Fran will be awarding an eCopy of The Near Miss to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Grace, hardworking and tired, wants another baby. But she’s dealing with debt, a manic 4-year-old and a jobless husband determined to make his inventions into reality. Can they both get their way, or will competing dreams tear their marriage apart?

Eddy analyses risk for a living, but his insecurities have brought his own life to a halt. He won’t let go of the flighty, unfaithful Romy, but will he ever risk believing in himself?

Melody is trying to raise her son Skip in the city while holding true to her hippie lifestyle. But will past mistakes and judgement from other parents force her to leave her beliefs behind?

This is a story about real life aspirations, and whether you can chase your dreams at the same time as raising children and paying the bills. It’s about friendship, and how the people you meet in a moment can change your life forever.

Enjoy an excerpt:


Grace stood at the door of the waiting room and watched these three strangers, man, woman and child, and breathed a fresher air than the air she had left behind in the ward, where blue face masks and plastic tubing absorbed all the oxygen. Around them here, families gathered in little clumps, some staring at her with surly envy. They wanted in. Children wailed and coughed and grizzled. Grace went over to the man and woman.

‘She’s going to be okay,’ she told them. ‘She’s strained a ligament and bruised her foot.

But it’s relatively minor.’

‘Lucky,’ said the woman. She had extraordinary blue eyes.

‘Lucky you were there,’ said Grace steadily. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Melody. We just moved here last week. From up north.’

‘Where up north?’

‘A commune. Tuntable Falls. Have you heard of Nimbin?’

‘Of course,’ said Grace. Drop-out ’sixties scene, up in the rainforest mountains.

Explained the dreds. ‘I didn’t think there was anyone up there under sixty.’

‘Plenty,’ said Melody. ‘Their kids.’

‘You grew up there?’

‘No, here. Donvale. Most boring suburb in the world. Probably why I fled to Nimbin as soon as I could.’

Grace nodded. ‘Well, I for one am glad you came back! Hey, do you think you could both come for dinner one Saturday night? My husband Tom and I, and Lotte, we live just near the ice-cream shop. We would like to say thank you.’

The man beamed and looked absolutely delighted. ‘Can I bring my girlfriend?’

‘Of course.’ She looked at Melody. ‘Do you want to bring someone? Besides your son?’

‘Uh. Maybe.’

‘Is your car alright?’ It was the polite thing to ask, although Grace could not have cared less about the car. I do hope my child’s body didn’t dent your fender?

Eddy blushed. ‘It’s fine. We drove here in it, remember? From the scene of the crime.’

‘Oh, yes. Sorry.’

‘So to speak. Wasn’t really a crime.’ The man spoke hastily, as if sensing Grace’s burning guilt, and the two women turned as one to study him for a moment.

‘I’m so sorry,’ he said, his hand on his heart.

‘It wasn’t your fault,’ Grace said gloomily. It would have been nice to blame something other than her daughter’s lunacy, but in this case it was not possible. ‘She’s always been a runner. I’m just lucky you both have quick reflexes.’ She tore a corner from a magazine and wrote. ‘So here’s my address. I’ll see you.’

At her feet, the boy, who must have been Lotte’s age, shrieked and pointed. A tiny tin train peeled away from his feet and skittered across the floor merrily, over the linoleum, under seats and between feet, carving a straight line through the lives it passed. The hippy looked accusingly at the man.

‘You fixed it.’

He looked sheepishly proud, and crouched by the squealing, delighted child.

‘Yeah.’

About the Author: Fran is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She worked as a newspaper journalist for twenty years, and recently had a midlife career crisis and retrained as a nurse. She won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism in 2013. She is married with two children and she once lived in a commune, like Melody, and at another time she desperately wanted a second child, like Grace. Like Tom, she has pursued a few foolish dreams, and like Eddy, her courage has at times failed her. This is her fourth novel.

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