Winter Blogfest: Maggie King

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of MURDER BY THE GLASS: COCKTAIL MYSTERIES, an anthology of cocktail-themed mysteries. US only.

Turkey Chili: A New Year’s Day Tradition

Black-eyed peas are a favorite New Year’s Day tradition for millions who believe eating the legume will lead to prosperity in the coming year. I haven’t heard that chili has the same mystical power to bring good luck, but, as I have yet to develop a taste for black-eyed peas, I’ll call chili my good luck charm.

Chili was a New Year’s Day tradition in my childhood home—a huge pot of it. I hated the stuff, hated the aroma of it as it simmered on the stove and lingered in the air for hours.

But I’m all grown up now and chili is one of my favorite dishes. The sweet, pungent aroma that fills my house each year on January 1 gives me great pleasure. Yes, chili remains a New Year’s Day tradition for my familybut with my own recipe: turkey chili with black beans.

This recipe is perfect for cold winter evenings, although I fix it year round. Feel free to vary the ingredients according to your taste and what you have on hand. I prefer turkey, but have used ground beef and bison. The multi-colored peppers create a pretty dish, but you can certainly use one color. In lieu of tarragon vinegar(who has that on hand?), I add a pinch of dried tarragon to ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar.

The recipe is courtesy of the Gourmet Gazelle Cookbook by Ellen Brown. It never disappoints.

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced

1 ½ pounds turkey breast, coarsely ground

2 tbsp. flour

3 tbsp. chili powder

2 tbsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. powdered cocoa

1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ cup tarragon vinegar

2 tbsp. strong brewed coffee

1 28 oz. cans plum tomatoes, crushed

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups cooked black beans

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or deep skillet. Add onion, garlic, and bell peppers; sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the ground turkey and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly and breaking up any lumps with the spoon.  

Stir in the flour, chili powder, cumin, and cocoa. Stir frequently over low heat for 3 minutes to cook the spices. Add remaining ingredients except black beans and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Simmer chili, stirring occasionally, for 40-45 minutes until thick and the turkey is tender (If using slow cooker, cook on low for 4 hours). Add black beans and cook for 5 additional minutes.

***

Do you celebrate New Year’s with a special dish? Tell us about it in the comments.

May 2022 be a happy and prosperous year for you—whatever you eat on Day 1!

 

He who laughs last, laughs longest.

Unless he’s dead.

When romance author Hazel Rose is dropped by her publisher, she sees herself
heading down a path strewn with has-been authors. While disappointed, Hazel won’t give up without a fight—she signs up for a mystery-writing class, thinking that crime fiction will jumpstart her career.

But what’s a mystery-writing class without a mystery? So when Randy Zimmerman, an obnoxious classmate given to laughing at others’ expense, is murdered, Hazel tackles the case. Solving a real-life murder will surely lend authenticity to her creative writing.

She recruits her book group pals to help with the investigation. Trouble is, there are more suspects than they bargained for—even Hazel herself, who endured Randy’s thumbs-way-down review of her writing, had a motive.

A second body drives the stakes higher, and Hazel doubles her efforts to find who’s behind the murders, unearthing secrets that a killer would go to any lengths to keep hidden.

Will Hazel succeed? Or will this be “The End” for her?

Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in various anthologies, including the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, Murder by the Glass, and Death by Cupcake.

She is a member of James River Writers, International Thriller Writers, Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a founding member of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia, where she manages the chapter’s Instagram account.

Maggie graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Business Administration, and has worked as a software developer and a retail sales manager. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and two indulged cats. When Maggie isn’t writing she enjoys reading, walking, cooking, traveling, movies, British TV shows, and the theatre.

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Winter Blogfest: Diane Bator

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of All That Shines .

31 Holidays Hath December by Diane Bator

Some years the holiday season can become overwhelming and drag people down more than uplift them. In the spirit of keeping things fun and adventurous, if you decide not to celebrate in the usual fashion this year, here is a list of worthy celebrations that occur in December whichmay spark your playful side. Seriously! Everything from Eat a Red Apple Day on December 1 to Cabernet Franc Day and National Cookie Day on December 4. My favorite has to be December 5th’s National Comfort Food Day, which encompasses so many great foods we all love to noshand Microwave Oven Day December 6. Finally! A day to worship that appliance many of us could not do without.

For the readers and writers in the crowd, December 10 heralds Dewey Decimal System Day. If you don’t know what that is, you’re much younger than me! December 12 is Gingerbread House and Poinsettia Day. Then comes another one of my favorites:  Hot Cocoa Day and Popcorn String Day on December 13. Oh, and be sure not to miss Chocolate-covered Anything Day on December 16!

The week before Christmas, we have Go Caroling Day and National Sangria Day on December 20. Those two sound like a fun pairing. December 21 is Don’t Make Your Bed Day and National Flashlight Day. I sense a blanket fort celebration along with fast food for National Hamburger Day. On, December 22, we have National Mathematics Day. No comment.

December 23 brings the Night of the Radishes. That one sounds like a horror movie and scares me a little but leads into December 24, otherwise known as Christmas Eve or National Eggnog Day. Christians all around the world celebrate Christmas on December 25, but it is also National Pumpkin Pie Day somewhere and the start of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

While to some regions, December 26 is Boxing Day, it is also National Candy Cane Day. Another favorite for me is December 27, or Make Cut-out Snowflakes Day, which is paired with Wine Blessing Day. Another holiday I can get behind!

December 28, aka National Chocolate Candy Day, and 29 bring a couple of days I’m not as fond of:  Eat Vegetarian Day and National Get on the Scales Day. Um…not during the holidays, please! Bacon Day and National Bicarbonate of Soda Day share December 30 while December 31 wraps up the year with National Champagne Day, New Year’s Eve, and Hogmanay Day.

Hogmanay Day? I had to look that one up just because the word is so much fun. Hogmanay, “Moon of the Hag,” is celebrated in Scotland as the last day of the year. Celebrations continue into the New Year with gift-giving and visiting with friends and neighbors.

Find out more about fun monthly celebrations at:  https://web-holidays.com/holiday-calendar/

Happy Holidays!

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All That Shines (March 2021)
Sage Miller is knee deep in fashion designers—whether she wants them in her new vintage boutique or not.
One winds up dead.
Another isn’t what he seems.
A third is treasure hunting.
Sage is stuck in the middle trying to solve a murder before the grand opening of Vintage Sage, which involves a fashion show she’d rather not be part of.

Diane Bator is the author of several mystery novels, a coach-in-training, and a budding playwright. She’s a member of many mystery and writing groups. When she’s not writing, she works in a professional theatre that will one day be subject to immortality in a mystery series.

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Winter Blogfest: Dan Rice

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

Celebrating Chinese New Year

        During the holidays, Allison Lee, the protagonist in Dragons Walk Among Us, and her friends are held hostage in a remote warehouse. So naturally, Christmas, New Year’s, and any other holiday aren’t on their minds. All they want is to escape the darn warehouse. But how might Allison Lee celebrate the winter season if the opportunity arises? I imagine she’d celebrate the holidays much like my sons do, who are biracial like her.

            Like many young children, my boys love the holidays. Christmas is a favorite because they love receiving toys, but we tend to keep the presents beneath the tree sparse. You see, in my wife’s homeland, Christmas isn’t traditionally celebrated. This has been told to the lads many times, which inevitably raises questions about Santa Claus. Doesn’t Santa bring toys to children the world over? Yes, we reply, but only to children who believe.

            Given the supply chain issues around the world, some people are concerned about procuring proper holiday food. This isn’t an issue in my household. We don’t yearn for ham or turkey or stuffing or pumpkin pie. We’ll eat those things, but that’s not what makes our mouths water. That is reserved for savory Southeast Asian food full of spice. Since it’s not unusual for us to entertain international guests around the holidays, who find most American cuisine bland, this is a good thing.

            On top of all the western holidays my boys celebrate, they have the good fortune to celebrate Chinese New Year. Next year, Chinese New Year falls on February 1, 2022 since it is determined by the lunar calendar. 2022 will be the year of the Tiger, so our house will be decorated with red tiger figurines. We’ll dress up in red, enjoy a feast of traditional Southeast Asian fare, and the boys will receive hongbao, red envelopes containing cash. You may have noticed that red is a theme around Chinese New Year. The new year is a day to wish for year-round good fortune, and red is a very lucky color.

            As you can imagine, my boys love celebrating as many holidays as possible. Although I do grow tired of the consumerism around the holidays at times, they are an excellent opportunity to spend time with family and celebrate traditions both ancient and new.

Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl’s abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.

While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison’s life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she’ll never see again. Despair sets in until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.

Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He is currently writing its sequel.

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Winter Blogfest: S.M. McCoy

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win Blood Crescent Book one is available immediate for those that sign up for the Newsletter. Book two Blood Rebirth and Blood Crescent will be given to runners ups, and grand prize winner will be given the whole series, including the recently released Blood Queen, book three. Available in PDF/MOBI/and EPUB. .

Going PROS with your New Year’s Resolutions

With a new year approaching, we prepare our many doubts and insecurities to come out from their not so hidden dark places in our mind to flog us for what we haven’t accomplished, or wayward goals left dusty in the wake of 2021. Is it that our goals are so out of reach? Is it that I am incapable of following through on my New Year’s resolutions?

To that I answer a resounding, no!

Stand up my fellow writers, grab the author next to you, and help pick them up from the dirt they’ve found themselves in, along with yourself. It’s common to let the doubt monsters reign free this time of year, recounting everything we “haven’t” done, but this year will be different. You are going to take a moment to count what you HAVE done, and then re-evaluate how you frame your goals for next year.

Is my goal out of reach? It’s more likely that you created a goal that takes time to reach, and the fact that it might not be condensed into a single year makes the goal daunting, and more difficult to maintain your momentum.

Follow the PROS!

PLAN, REFRAME, ORGANIZE, SPECIFICS

Yup, I just made that up, but it works.

What is your goal? PLAN for it. I want to finish my book.

REFRAME: It’s okay if it takes me longer than one year to do that, I’ll take one step at a time.

ORGANIZE: Create a spreadsheet, and then tell EVERYONE your goal so that you feel obligated not to be  a liar to yourself or others, you’d be surprised how motivating that is to not want to let others down. We think so little of ourselves sometimes that it takes that extra outside force to get us going. That’s okay.

SPECIFICS: Goals are hard to reach if your goal is too broad. Narrow it down to steps. I want to finish my book becomes I need to write 70,000 words, then edit those words before December 2022, by creating 30 minutes once a day at 9pm after the kids are asleep, or 5am before the kids wake up to work on my goals. No kids? Adjust that insert to whatever may distract you.

You’d be amazed how much you can get done in a focused 30 minutes a day. Create that habit.

Be graceful with yourself, but also remind yourself why you’re doing it! This should be something you enjoy, not a chore.

Trust me when I say you’ll definitely finish your goal sooner than you thought possible, and all it took was consistency, and allowing yourself to breath. Goals are hard to accomplish when there is too much pressure, and when you aren’t specific enough about how to accomplish your goal.

Take this time to write down your goal on a sticky note, and get as specific as possible. Need multiple sticky notes? Do it!

Broad to specific goals. Give yourself the time to accomplish that goal. Stick to your plan.

I will write 70,000 words to finish my story. How? Everyday at 9pm, after the kids go to bed, I will spend at least 30 minutes sitting at my keyboard ready and prepare to write.

Remind yourself, it’s okay if all I wrote was 30 words. Do not go back and edit until you’ve reached your goal marker. THEN, create a new goal.

Before you know it, you’ve finished your goal and making new ones.

Happy Holidays! Share your specific goals for 2022!

If you like fresh new takes on vampire lore, auras, witches, and heart felt journeys of self discovery then you’ll enjoy the completed Divine Series.
This isn’t your typical vampire paranormal fantasy. The BookLife Prize said, “The writing is descriptive and enjoyable… echoes of the Twilight series and Harry Potter, (though) the characters and scenario are wholly original…the author provides enough mystery and suspense to keep readers turning pages.”
A slow burn romance wrapped in a darkly enjoyable dive into the supernatural realms. A missing mother. A dangerous predator. A mysterious magical legacy. Can Chrystal uncover the secrets of the council before the bloodline runs dry?
Another reviewer said: “This book frustrated me on so many levels, mainly because I was making my own scenarios and started liking some of the characters, only to realize nothing is as it seems, or at least how I thought it would be. That’s mostly why I liked it so much!”— Lilly’s Book World
If you hate insta-love but enjoy world building and the gray zone of who’s good and evil then the Divine Series is for you.t

Stevie Marie is the author of young adult paranormal fantasy and the Divine Series. Born within the apex of another universe, where magic flows like leaky faucets, and forged from the fires of the Underrealm she dug her way to Earth and reluctantly participates in human society, secretly returning to her home world to relay the stories of her monsters, and the troubled love of her characters. When she isn’t writing she’s crafting clothing in her sewing room, cuddling her tiny humans, or pretending to adult by managing a different kind of book called accounting in the rainy city of Seattle, Washington.

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Winter Blogfest: Amy Craig

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of A WINTER ROSE .

Why Do We Love Holiday Romances?

 

Holiday romances, and romances in general, are fantasies within our reach. Indulge!

As we bustle around town squeezing cheer into our daily obligations, we indulge in holiday romances, and why not? Those chipper stories teach us the healing magic of all-night labor, spontaneous windfalls, and cathartic tears. Why shouldn’t a shirtless, ripped lumberjack show up on your snowy porch with a Santa hat and nowhere else to go? What else could you possibly need? A priceless antique in your batty aunt’s shed? A cookie recipe so good the newspaper puts it on the front page? Holiday romances have it!

If Santa hasn’t fallen on your car windshield, and a celebrity chef hasn’t taken up residence in your kitchen, should you abandon the holidays? Hell no! If the local tree lot sold out of the discount garlands and precious tree tops disguised as Charlie Brown trees, should you burn your holiday card collection, bunker down and Scrooge up? Of course not! Spike the eggnog!

Let’s be honest. The holidays are a bit crazy. Instead of soaking up the magic, you’re probably generating it. One night, serve dinner on paper plates, download a holiday romance, and indulge in a bit of carefree relaxation.

Not convinced? I have a friend who uses paper plates for every meal. The landfill impact horrifies me, but I would pay real money to avoid washing dishes. I can’t be her every night, but I can indulge for an evening. You can be an innkeeper, underpaid assistant with a sexy boss, mid-fifties window, or reincarnated snow angel. The silliness level doesn’t matter.

In a holiday romance, conflict gets resolved, compassion and kindness prevail, and someone cleans up after the party. With all the real life negativity and sad news in the world (not to mention lasagna pans), holiday romances give you a heartwarming ending and a smile. Also, plenty of authors have added spice to their jingle bells, so if you prefer your hot cocoa with a kick, poke around the internet.

The next time you’re contemplating beautiful decor, whimsical charm, and cozy details, shelve the nostalgia and reach for a book. Holiday romances remind us of a simpler time in our lives, and they instill hope for the future, but they’re also downright kooky. If your family is anything like mine, you need a slight reprieve, and you deserve it!

In A WINTER ROSE, Eliza’s mother makes Norwegian Spiced Butter Cookies after the holidays. The quick, refrigerator cookies pack a buttery, spicy punch and complement almost any warm beverage.

Recipe Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp ground cardamom
3⁄4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1⁄4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Recipe Directions
Combine flour, 5 spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom), and salt in a bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in flour mixture.

Divide dough in half, roll into logs, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350°.

Slice 1/4″ cookies off logs and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush cookies with egg white (optional). Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Remove cookies to racks to cool. Store at room temperature or freeze.

Four Variations:
(1) Roll out chilled dough and use greased cookie cutters;
(2) Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar before serving,
(3) Use cookies for ice cream sandwiches;
(4) In lieu of ground cardamom, substitute allspice or increase cinnamon and nutmeg.

Widow Eliza struggles to raise her young daughter and run her Washington state flower farm. Julien, a charming amputee with a knack for business, stops his road trip to help her out of a tight situation. A Southern native, he has no intention of sticking around a sleepy farm town. Eliza’s grit and dedication warm Julien’s wounded heart, but can they look beyond a business partnership and see the beauty of second chances?

Amy Craig lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with her family and a small menagerie of pets. She writes contemporary romances featuring intelligent heroines. She can’t always vouch for the men. In her spare time, she plays tennis and expands her husband’s honey-do list. Before pursuing writing, she worked as an engineer, project manager, and incompetent waitress.

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Winter Blogfest: Marilyn Baron

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the audiobook for The Romanov Legacy. .

Fascinated by Snow

Round and round, like a dance of snow

In a dazzling drift, as its guardians, go

Floating the women faded for ages,

Sculpted in stone, on the poet’s pages.”

~Robert Browning, Women and Roses

Melody Segal discovered the dazzling antique diamond-and-emerald-encrusted necklace nestled in a weathered, powder-blue velvet jewelry box not long after her grandmother’s murder. The treasure flashed bolts of light within the confines of Nana’s eerie bank vault. Wafts of scents, sounds, and sights drifted into Melody’s consciousness, conjuring enchanting visions of winter white, the icy feel of snowflakes, the jinglejangle of sleigh bells, the woodsy smell of Siberian pines.

Why had she never seen this gleaming heirloom before? Or known about it? The attorney handling Nana’s estate had presented her with the key to the safe deposit box where the jewels had been stored for who knows how long. Not long enough to lose their luster.

The box yielded not only the necklace but an unfamiliar diary. She flipped through the book, written in Russian, and pulled out a translated copy in Nana’s hand. But Nana didn’t know Russian. In fact, she hated all things Russian. She once joked that the closest she ever got to Russia was St. Petersburg when she went to visit her best friend Bessie at her beach condo in

Florida.

What other secrets had her grandmother been hiding?

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Growing up in Miami, Florida, I didn’t see much snow. But I was always fascinated by the idea of it and winter was one of my favorite times of year. As an author, I know it is important to communicate the five senses in our stories. That presented a major problem for me, since I was born without a sense of smell (inherited from my grandmother). To compensate, I have a very well-developed sense of hearing and a sixth sense.  

So when I went to write the first few paragraphs of my historical fiction novel, The Romanov Legacy, I had to dig deep for the right words. I relied on places I’d visited where the novel was set, including Downingtown, Pennsylvania, Zurich, Switzerland, and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Since I lived most of my early life in sunny Florida, I was happy to end up in Atlanta, Georgia, where we do have snow and the occasional ice storm. But even though my family celebrated Hanukkah, I do have fond memories of my parents taking my brother and sisters and I around the neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights during the holiday season.

I hope I communicated the sense of wonder of winter in my opening words.

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

Marilyn Baron

Melody, a young single mother, discovers she’s descended from the last Tsar, Nicholas II. She becomes the best hope of a secret global society, Guardians of the Romanov Legacy, dedicated to restoring a Romanov to the throne of a New Russia. A diary and an heirloom necklace inherited from her murdered grandmother hold the key to her identity and to the location of the Tsar’s lost shipment of gold.

She must accept the sacrifices her birth demands and trust the machinations of the estranged father of her child. To refuse means turning her back on her heritage, her daughter’s legacy, and the long line of her family’s women who were keepers of the secret. Will her longing for true love have world-changing consequences?

Marilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres from women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and Paranormal/Fantasy Romance. She was also The Finalist in the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA) in the Romance Category for her novel, Stumble Stones, and
The Finalist for the 2018 GAYA Awards in the Romance category for her novel, The Alibi. Her latest novel, The Romanov Legacy, released June 14, 2021, is her 27th work of fiction. Her new novel, The Case of the Missing Botticelli, a cozy mystery, will be released January 24, 2022. A public relations consultant in Atlanta, Marilyn is past chair of Roswell Reads and serves on the Atlanta Authors Series Committee. To find out more about what Marilyn writes, visit her website at: www.marilynbaron.com/

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Winter Blogfest: Laura M. Baird

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10- Amazon gift card to US/CA .

Finding Joy in the Little Things

Born in Virginia but having moved to Florida when I was three, I didn’t know what true seasons were. There was little changing of the foliage and there certainly wasn’t any snow, and I was okay with that. Simply because I didn’t know life any differently.

As Christmas approached and I’d see wintry landscapes and a white Christmas on TV shows, it always seemed special. And I think part of me always felt like, even though I hadn’t experienced a snowy holiday, I was missing out. Like Christmas wasn’t Christmas without snow. (The thoughts of a young girl.) So when my parents told us we were taking our first road trip from Florida back to Virginia and Ohio to visit family, I was thrilled!

First, just the prospect of riding and eating in the car, seeing new sights, and even staying in a motel was so different and exciting. (This was in the late 70s, early 80s) Second, the fact that we’d get to see snow and play in it was even more exciting. Bundling up in coats and hats and gloves just wasn’t done in Florida the way it was in Ohio.

Upon our arrival, the scene was bare, but we had high hopes. Spending time with family we seldom saw was fun. Going to a giant mall all decked out in holiday décor was splendid. Riding on an escalator for the first time was… intimidating. My aunt had to coax me onto it, and still, to this day it takes me a split-second to take that first step when the timing is just right.

A few days into our visit, the snow finally came, and boy were we ready for it! What seemed like a good deal to us was but a skiff, a dusting to Ohio natives. We made the most of it anyway. We went out tree hunting then returned to build our first snowman – albeit, a very teeny, tiny snowman. Didn’t matter to us Florida kids. (In the picture, I’m with my brothers. I have a younger sister but don’t remember why she wasn’t in the picture. Mom was the one taking the photo.)

My memories of the two or three trips north will always bring a smile to my face. Being treated to KFC on the road. Staying in a Howard Johnson and of course jumping on the hotel beds. Seeing Grandpa (who served in WWII) and being introduced to music from the 40s, such a Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Andrews Sisters, and more. Grandpa and mom teaching me the Charleston which I later performed in a grade school show. Mom even made my flapper dress. (Off on another tangent…)

My message is to take the time to enjoy the simple things that bring us joy. Make those unforgettable memories with your family. And may the Christmas spirit of love be with you all year long.

~

In my featured book, Forever Feral, my story revolves around found-family and the joyful memories they make. And for Leah, who grew up in Southern Arizona, snow for Christmas was the ultimate treat!

When invited to spend Christmas in Arizona with their friends they now consider family, Irena and Roberto don’t hesitate. The Arctic fox shifter and mountain lion shifter are right at home among the others—hawk shifters Mason and Brennon, wolf shifter Max, and their mates, Charity, Mikki, and Caterina. Not to mention the precocious and delightful Leah, Charity’s niece.

The holiday brings welcomed surprises such as proposals, babies, and snow in the desert. Brought together under dire circumstances and bonded by kinship, these shifters and their mates discover a love that will forever be feral and ever-lasting.

Laura’s living life in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying family and the chance to make her author career soar. A veteran and semi-retired dental hygienist, a wife, mother, and grandmother, as well as an experienced mover, having traversed the country from the East Coast to the West, she sprinkles her experiences into her writing. She also writes about adventures she may not otherwise experience herself. Her goal is to provide laughter and swoon-worthy moments, as well as captivating stories in which the reader can lose themselves.

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Winter Blogfest: Teresa Inge

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a Murder by the Glass book .

Holiday Traditions, Fish, Mysteries & More!

Each year, I decorate my house just before the Thanksgiving Holiday. My husband and I put up the tree, place stockings on the mantle, fill the house with holiday decorations, and add outdoor lights to top it all off!

I do this so when my family visits on Thanksgiving Day we can take our annual holiday family photo and it is all festive.

On Black Friday, I finish my holiday gift shopping, wrap the gifts that evening and place them under the tree. That way, I do not feel as much stress during the holiday season and can focus on family gatherings and dinner with friends and co-workers.

Three days before Christmas, I begin soaking Salty Herring Fish so it’s not too salty for Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve, I cook a large pot of Oyster Soup and homemade hot chocolate. Of course, there is always wine, cheese and other tasty treats for family and friends to enjoy.

I get up extra early on Christmas day to start frying the fish and cook a country ham. It is a tradition that I’ve done for longer than I can remember. Family members come over throughout the day to eat fish and ham with us each year. Its’ a wonderful tradition!

Even with all the busy cooking, decorating, and other traditions during the season, I still find time to write mysteries and catch up on all things writing. I write blogs, announce book releasesand promotion, register for writer’s conference, update my website, and think about the new year ahead.

Happy Holidays!

The 17 stories in Murder by the Glass are Cocktail Mysteries that range from light-bodied puzzles to edgier tales with bitter consequences. No matter what your taste, these stories pair well with any beverage, each blending a baffling mystery, a glass and a murder.

Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. Love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and novellas. She is president of Sisters in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in To Fetch a Thief, To Fetch a Scoundrel, To Fetch a Villain, To Fetch a Killer, Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Coastal Crimes: Mysteries by the Sea, and Murder by the Glass.

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Winter Blogfest: Mariah Lynne

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of SHADOWS ACROSS TIME.

A Bird in the Hand

Sam was the best dog anyone could ever want.  He was playful, got into harmless but often comical mischief, and was loyal beyond belief. We adopted him from the local shelter when he was just over a year old. The shelter rescued him after his former owners left him abandoned and tied to a fence on their farm. Big, he weighed ninety-six pounds and was part German shepherd, which gave him his smarts, and part Golden Lab, which gave him his charm.

At the time of this adventure, we lived up North on a beautiful crystal clear lake surrounded by homes with long grassy yards that sloped into that large lake. It was perfect for a dog like Sam who needed the extra open space to run. In the summer, Sam loved to jump into the lake while I fed the ducks bread. He would try to gulp down the wet soggy bread as fast as he could to prevent the ducks from getting any. No ducks were harmed in this process, but it always amazed me he didn’t fall over on his side when all that heavy wet bread finally settled in his stomach.

I’m sure that’s how he acquired his love for birds. During the winter months, Sam would stay on his runner in the snow near our back door and watch the frozen lake for skaters, other dogs, and the species of birds that did not head south. One day about a week before Christmas, it had just snowed a beautiful clean white snow. Our large kitchen window faced the lake and had just been cleaned. It was so clean, one had to look twice to make sure a window was there at all. A small bird, which must have spotted me inside, flew and circled around near the window. I guess he wanted a break from the cold because he flew full speed ahead and slammed himself head first into thatwindow. Eyes closed, he appeared to be unconscious as he felland landed flat on the ground near Sam. Sam who was outside on his runner witnessed the entire incident. His ears stoodstraight up as he walked over to the small bird and began to slurp his head, well really his entire body. Sam’s tongue was bigger than the little guy. He kept slurping which lifted the bird off the ground each time until the bird opened his eyes. When he saw my big Sam, his eyes opened extra wide. He chirped before he flew out of there and away from Sam as fast as he could. Sam was so sweet he just wagged his tail happy he could save that bird. That was just like my Sam. In my holiday contemporary romance, “Paws for Christmas,” the dog in the book also named Sam is based on my real life Sam. I hope everyone has a happy healthy holiday season!

It’s the Holidays and Jessica Munroe seems destined for misery. Nonetheless she is trying to make the best of it. Her fiancé Jake, an emergency room doctor, dumped her for his nurse and just two weeks prior, she had to put her dog, her best friend, Mazy to sleep.

The pain of losing both the man she loved and her best friend has taken her to a new low. Jessica, determined not to stay down, is now hard at work trying to push through the holiday season by doubling up on Christmas lights and decorations she’s putting up outside her residence.
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As Jessica works, a big brown scruffy dog appears in her yard and refuses to leave when she tries to shoo him away. He’s filthy, looks hungry, and seems like he needs help. A dog lover, Jessica takes him to her vet who discovers a metal bone shaped tag buried in his matted fur. The tag reveals his name, Sam, and a phone number to call if he is lost or injured.

Sam’s owner Trey Musgrove is in the hospital the victim of a head-on collision. Now Jessica’s life is about to change forever thanks to Sam, this big brown scruffy lovable dog.

Side effects of reading PAWS FOR CHRISTMAS are a happy heart, an uplifted spirit, new confidence in the future, and a smile on your face!

Mariah Lynne is a Florida Gulf Coast resident who loves where she lives. The Southwest Florida Gulf Coast is a featured backdrop for all of her stories while her heroines are fearless, strong-willed, independent women whose memorable tales are sure to entertain. Mariah’s books include PAWS for CHRISTMAS (2020- 5 stars), THE DUCHESS’ NECKLACE (2017- 5 five stars from The Paranormal Authors Guild)), SHADOWS ACROSS TIME (2014), and THE LOVE GYPSY (2012) also available as an audio book. CLAWS FOR JUSTICE (2021) is a one hour mystery e-book. Her first book SEABLISS will be re-released as an e-book this December.

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Winter Blogfest: AT Lander

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a free digital copy of The Forest God’s Favor, book 1 in the Of Gods and Men series. 

Happy Holidays, or As the Romans Would Say, “io Saturnalia!”

Imagine waking up to the sound of that cry, the rush of excitement in your heart. Today is the first day of Saturn’s sacred festival, a week of feasting and revelry for the harvest god.

You put on a colorful, casual robe, regardless of your social status, as everyone is equal for these seven days. There are gifts for everyone in your household, clay figurines for the adults and little toys for the children. Dice are rolled and wine is poured, every goblet raised to Saturn.

Then you hear it, the parade passing by your house. Perhaps you join the cheering crowd or maybe you hang back to watch from your window, but you can see the great statue of Saturn paraded through the streets to a great square. There’s tables there and yet more wine, a feast where the rich and poor sit side by side.

You eat a hearty meal there, your cup never empty and your heart full as friends stop by to exchange gifts. It goes on and on, until the stars shine overheadand the streets of Rome are lined with expensive wax candles. Perhaps it’s time for bed?

Or perhaps not. Dark eyes catch yours across the square, a smile that goes straight through you. You blush—is it the wine, or something else? No, it’s not the wine that makes you walk towards this handsome stranger, lean in to taste the honey on his lips.

——

If that tickles your fancy, go back a few more centuries and spend your holiday in Ancient Greece with “The Forest God’s Favor”. Step out of the cold winter and into a tale of love, magic, and sensuality—guaranteed to warm your heart (and other parts) this December!

Can the love of a man heal the heart of a god?

Fertility god Anthos, a shy and gentle three-hundred-year-old virgin, has grown up in the shadow of his brutal older brother Dryas and spent his life hiding from mortals, no matter how much his nature draws him to them.

Cleon, a humble farmer who always has room in his heart and his bed, knows that Lord Dryas is angry. The crops aren’t growing, and his family is going to starve if he doesn’t give the god a worthy sacrifice—his own body. But when he reaches the shrine, he finds a very different god, the sweet, untouched Anthos.

Eager to satisfy Anthos’ curiosity, Cleon shows him what sex is…and what a relationship between them could be, with their instant attraction blooming into love. But when Dryas returns with a vengeance and Cleon’s life hangs in the balance, Anthos is forced to make a choice.

Will he bow once more before his brother’s rage, or take a stand for the only man who has ever had faith in him?

AT Lander has loved stories, both the reading and the telling, since she was a child. Born in upstate New York to an English professor and a former librarian, she now lives in the queerest part of Massachusetts. She never leaves home without a knitting project or a pencil, and she’s never met a cat she doesn’t like.

She has worked as an history museum guide, a professional storyteller, and an actress, sharing tales of what was, what could have been, and what can only be imagined. World mythology is her driving passion, as what better way to understand a people than through the tales they tell?

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