Juggling Personal and Professional Obligations #WritersLife #moving #familyfirst

I know I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. It’s a comfortable place where I can relax and focus on what I need to do without having to dress up and drive to an office. Only when we’re moving, it becomes difficult to concentrate on my writing and the business side of publishing books. See, we sold our farm last week and so started the paperwork to buy the new house we hope to move to the middle of April. We had not planned to move so soon, though. After we put the farm on the market, I pushed through finishing writing The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) by the first week in March so that I can stay on track to release it in May. I will send it off on Tuesday to my editor to help me polish it.

Then my focus almost entirely will shift to sorting and discarding, donating, or packing. In addition to our upcoming move from a farm into a neighborhood near my father-in-law’s retirement community, we also have to clear out his assisted living apartment. He’s needing more care now, so will move into skilled care. Thus his other apartment needs to be vacated for another resident. So two moves over the next one month. And all the decisions and disruptions that comes with making such moves.

I’m grateful to have my book nearly done so I’ll keep on track, but I also rather long for the escape of slipping into the story world for a few hours. Ignoring all of those decisions for a little while.

IMG_2173Another task that has taken priority is putting together the raffle baskets and my author basket for the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon on June 3. I’ll hand them over to the ladies in charge of the baskets so they don’t get damaged or worse lost during this transition. Which means gathering the goodies to put in them. I’m waiting for a few more things to fill them out and then can check off that task from my to-do list.

Easter Sunday falls between when we expect to close on the new house and when we close on selling our farm, so I’m not sure if we’ll gather for the holiday, or if we do which house it will be in. Another decision looming!

I may or may not have time during the month of April to write my weekly Monday post, but I will try. I enjoy touching base with my readers. Tasty Tuesday posts will continue as those are provided by some of my authors friends for your enjoyment. Starting in May, I’ll be sharing some historical recipes adapted to modern tastes, cooking techniques, and healthy eating options. More on that to come later.

For now, it’s only one more week until Haunted Melody releases on March 28. Have you ordered your copy yet? Links are below for your convenience.

Now I’m off to figure out what to do with all the stuff in my china hutch. Talk to you later!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Remnants.)

Amazon USA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

iTunes: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Tasty Tuesday: Regency Ratafia #cocktail #recipe from #romance #author Alicia Rasley #beverage #research

We’re in for an historic treat today on Tasty Tuesday! Romance author Alicia Rasley is sharing the recipe for a Regency-era cocktail that sounds quite potent indeed. Introducing Ratafia, the Regency lady’s indulgence. Indeed! Welcome, Alicia!


Thanks, Betty, for inviting me to participate in your blog! Remind me next time not to read your posts when I am hungry. Now I’m famished. Just as well I decided to write about drink rather than food.

Those of us who read and write Regency-set historical novels (set in the early 19th Century Britain) are often presented with food riddles. What is jugged hare? And how about scotch collops? Not to mention spotted dick!

We also notice that the Regency era offered a variety of different drink options, from the innocuous (tea and coffee) to the potent (Napoleon brandy and “blue ruin” gin).  You never read about people drinking water, probably because it wasn’t safe. Boiling and fermenting would do a lot of decontamination… so you can see how the Regency characters could talk themselves into thinking of brandy as an aid to good health.

A photo by Roberta Sorge. unsplash.com/photos/kp9UVn-PUacOne drink that seemed particularly popular with the ladies was “ratafia” (pronounced rah-tuh-fee-uh, all syllables equally accented). In Regency novels, ladies of quality sip this drink all day long, while the gentlemen are downing brandy and whisky. I once assumed ratafia was some kind of mild cordial, sweet and only slightly alcoholic, as befitted a pious lady of a good family.

Then a friend of mine, another Regency novelist, embarked on an experiment. Lynn Kerstan decided to make ratafia as Christmas gift for her writer friends. When the little bottle arrived in the mail, I promptly took a swig. That’s when I realized that the proper Regency ladies were quite deceptive when they pretended this was some innocent sweet cordial.

It was probably 90 proof. Seriously.

When I pointed this out, Lynn sent me the recipe she’d used:

Regency Ratafia

1 quart of brandy

½ bottle champagne

1/2 cup of gin

¼ cup of sugar

2 oranges

2 cups of cherries, pitted and squashed

2 cups of blackberries

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

1 teaspoon powdered rosemary

Three cloves (bruised)

¼ cup crushed almonds

Mix in a gallon glass jar. Cap jar and shake. Store in dark cupboard for three weeks, removing once a week to shake jar. After three weeks, strain liquid through a cheesecloth, pressing down on solids to release their liquid. Distribute and store in several pint jars or tightly corked wine bottles.

Notice that the recipe starts with brandy, and then adds champagne and gin! The orange and cherry provides the cordial-ish taste, while the herbs and spices add a depth of flavor.  And the sugar, well, that doesn’t just make it sweeter. I think the purpose of storing this concoction for weeks and stirring it occasionally is to ferment it even further.  (I found another recipe that primly suggested an addition to stop fermentation—vodka. Yep, that’ll take care of that intoxication problem.)

With the brandy base, Lynn’s version was most similar to those created in the Regency. I’ve found less potent variations, some which are basically a long-refrigerated sangria (red wine, fruit, sugar, and three weeks in the fridge). Italian ratafia starts with Montepulciano red wine and adds only cherries as the fruit. A French variation uses a variety of berries, including gooseberries. The Catalan version has unripe (green) walnuts soaked in the liquor before the fruit is added. I even found one that deepened the flavor with peach and cherry pits (which are poisonous if opened).  Each of these adds both a spice like cinnamon and a savory herb (usually rosemary).

Ever after, I imagined those Regency ladies primly sipping their ratafia at the afternoon al fresco musicales, and then as an after-supper liqueur, and finally as a nightcap, then stumbling off to bed in a stupor, and waking up with a hangover. Ratafia is not for sissies!

Here’s a less potent variation that we can enjoy this summer without too much guilt. I devised it myself after testing a few recipes. (The extreme measures I take for research!) I decided to follow Lynn’s example and stir it once a week. I didn’t have any cheesecloth, so I just strained it through a wire mesh colander.

Alicia’s Less Potent but Still Classy Ratafia

Into a large capped glass jar, like the kind you use for sun tea, mix:

1 bottle of dry but fruity red wine (Italian and Spanish wines are best, I think)

1 pound of mixed and then crushed berries—your choice, but make half cherries for deepest flavor, and you can leave in the pits in for that dangerous thrill

½ pound of peach slices

2 oranges peeled and sectioned (I once tried tossing in the peels too, but that was a bit bitter. Next time I might just try the zest of the oranges)

I/4 cup of white sugar

A vanilla bean, sliced, or a half-teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground rosemary

¼ teaspoon of ginger and anise

A few crushed almonds

Close the jar and shake to distribute. Then put it away in a dark cupboard or the refrigerator (my choice) for three weeks. Once a week, shake the jar to re-distribute.

After three weeks, strain it through cheesecloth or a fine mesh. Then pour it into bottles or smaller jars.

Now try it out.  I’m a wimp and add water at this point, but if you’re made of stronger stuff, you can drink it straight. Keep it tightly capped and refrigerated. It goes great with barbecued meats on a summer night.

And don’t forget to wear your lacy gloves and sip primly from tiny cordial glasses!

Tryst at Brighton-coverIt’s a decade after Napoleon’s defeat, but the war still haunts even the victors. Linked by family and by grief, divided by social class, Russian émigré Natasha and ship’s doctor Matthew have lived for years in mutual distrust. But when she’s suspected of killing a man from her past, she reaches out to Sir Matthew for help. It takes both his medical training and her intuition to solve the mystery of the murder at the Brighton Inn—and the secret of her own troubled past.

 

 

 

 

alicia by dmac croppedAlicia Rasley lives in Regency England… well, only in her imagination. She is the RITA-award winning author of eight Regency romances, along with a best-selling family saga and a contemporary mystery novel. She lives in the Midwest until she can invent a time-travel machine! She teaches writing at a state university and in workshops around the country and online. Sign up for the email newsletter and get a free novella!

If you’re interested in writing as well as reading stories, sign up for my writing newsletter and get a free plotting article!


So now I need to mix up a batch of this to try. Should be quite an experiment. Anyone else interested in trying it?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Between the Lines: Fay Fuller, 1st Woman to Climb Mt. Rainier #research #women #history

 

Fay Peak-Visit Rainier
Image courtesy  VisitRainier.com

Have you heard of Fay Peak in the Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state? I had not, until I started researching the girls in my award-winning Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure. Edwina Fay Fuller embodies all three of those qualities: brave, daring, and adventurous.

 

Fay Fuller lived during a time in American history when women tended to be relegated to certain pigeon holes for appropriate behavior and activities. Only, Fay didn’t adhere to the restrictions. In fact, she decided to buck the system by not only riding her horse astride, but also by wearing men’s clothing for her most daring and adventurous escapade. See, Fay was 17 years old when she first climbed partway up Mt. Rainier. Three years later, she reached the summit. The first woman ever.

She climbed despite swelling she suffered from a charcoal mixture she wore on her face to attempt to prevent sunburn. She endured the pain on her face and on her wrist where the skin literally peeled off as a result of the failed mix. When they camped overnight in a steam cave on their way back down, she became sick from the smell of sulfur combined with the extreme cold and her exhaustion. Yet she had achieved her goal and would always carry that sweet feeling of accomplishment inside.

Fay inspires me through her commitment, determination, and sheer grit. When offered a hand by one of the men in the climbing party, she declined, preferring to reach the summit under her own power. The following day, though, the perilous nature of the trail made it necessary for her to permit a rope be tied to her waist in case of a slip or fall. A concession she reluctantly agreed to.

Her can-do spirit and belief in her own abilities humble me. She stood on her own two feet, literally and figuratively, and worked through obstacles to achieve her dream. If I ever get out to Washington state, I would love to climb up Fay Peak. I’d feel as though I’d followed in her footsteps, if only to a lower peak. I have no delusions of possessing the strength to climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier. Believe me!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Youth Award Winning Book
Literary Classics International Book Awards – Youth Award Winning Book

During the 1800s, daring and courageous girls across America left their unique mark on history.

Milly Cooper galloped 9 miles through hostile Indian Territory to summon help when Fort Cooper was under attack.

Belle Boyd risked her life spying for the Rebels during the Civil War.

Kate Shelly, when she was 15, crawled across a nearly washed-out railroad bridge during a ferocious thunderstorm to warn the next train.

Lucille Mulhall, age 14, outperformed cowboys to become the World’s First Famous Cowgirl.

These are just a few of the inspiring true stories inside Hometown Heroines—American Girls who faced danger and adversity and made a difference in their world.

 

B&N: http://bit.ly/2em4lh9

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2eNm5Ap

Amazon ebook: http://amzn.to/1nY0qXH

iBooks: http://apple.co/2em5Iw5

Google: http://bit.ly/2fFEQ6w

Tasty Tuesday: Cou-Cou #sidedish #recipe from #romance #author Sandra Masters

Tasty Tuesday has arrived along with a savory side dish recipe from Barbados by author Sandra Masters. Take it away, Sandra!


This recipe is mentioned by Thorn Wick, bastard son of the Duke of Althorn, where he and his mother lived on the island of Barbados. THORN, SON OF A DUKE, by SANDRA MASTERS is a 15,000-word prequel to Book Four, THE DUKE’S MAGNIFICENT BASTARD.

cou-cou-dishThorn’s mother used to make this dish for him when he arrived home from working on the Scotsman Plantation owned by Sir Donegal. Unfortunately, Thorn’s mother dies under mysterious circumstances and it’s not until he comes back after three years in England, on a mission for his father, that he discovers she was murdered with poison! He is faced with seeking justice for his mother.

Cou cou, served with flying fish is the national dish of Barbados. Somewhat similar to polenta or grits, Cou-cou is made with corn meal and okra.

Cou-Cou

Ingredients

8oz corn meal

3oz okras

1 medium onion (chopped)

3 tbsp butter

water

salt to taste

Directions

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal with sufficient water to cover the meal. Set aside.
Cut the tops and bottoms off the okras and slice into rings. Place the sliced okras in a saucepan with water, chopped onion and salt. Bring to a medium boil for a few minutes until the okras soften.

Strain the okras into a bowl, setting aside the liquid.

Add about a quarter of the okra liquid back into the saucepan and add the soaked meal.

You’ll need a whisk or wooden stick to stir the cou cou as it cooks. In Barbados we use a flat wooden spoon known as a ‘cou cou stick’. Stir constantly to avoid lumping.

Add more of the okra liquid gradually. You can tell you’re nearly finished when the cou cou starts to bubble gently at the surface. At this point add in the cooked okra slices and continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.

thorn-cover-ok-use-thisAt the age of seventeen, Thorn Wick made a promise to his dying mother that sends him sailing from Barbados to England to meet the man who sired him, the aristocratic Duke of Althorn, who never knew of his son’s existence.

Alicia Montgomery, ward of the Duke, develops a deep affection for the Anglo Indian who protects her from advances by other men. She wants him to acknowledge his feelings for her, but he insists on ignoring the chemistry between them.

Despite the intrigue, revelations, and revenge, will their passion and love for each other conquer all?

 

sandra-masters-author-picFall in love with Romance all over again with author Sandra Masters

From a humble beginning in Newark, New Jersey, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, N.J. at the age of fourteen, Sandra Masters retired from a fantastic career for a play broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, and settled in the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park with her husband, Ron, and two dogs, Silky and Sophie. She traded in the Board Rooms for the Ballrooms of the Regency Era and never looked back.

She wrote her first book at the age of thirteen and since then she’s always traveled with pen and notebook for her writing experiences. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. She deemed it a pleasure to leave the corporate world behind decades later.

Nothing she expected, but everything she desired. Her business card lists her occupation as Living The Dream.

Get to know her and her stories at www.authorsandramasters.com


Sounds good to me! Did you find that recipe as tempting as I do? Thanks again, Sandra, for sharing your amazing recipe with us!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Between the Lines: My Fantasy #Bookstore in Undying Love #excerpt #research #daydreams #secretfantasy

my-books-2017Daydreams and fantasies fuel my creative side. One of my dearest fantasies has been to have my own bookstore one day. A dream I once thought possible, but as I get older, the idea has lost some of its allure. I’ve grown accustomed to being at home working on my books, rather than out among a lot of people on a daily basis. Still, I sometimes ponder what my bookstore would look like, how I’d decorate it, what books and other merchandise I’d include in it, and so forth. Of course, my own books would be on the local authors shelf. <grin> I doubt I’ll open one, though.

bw-clear-owlAs a result, I established my fantasy bookstore in Undying Love. The name of the store, Golden Owl Books and Brews, hints at how I would run such a store. Owls are one of my favorite birds of prey. Not only that, they symbolize knowledge, wisdom. More importantly for the purpose of my story, in the Celtic tradition owls symbolize guardians of the underworld and a protection of the dead. You can find out more about the symbolism of owls here. Given that Undying Love includes a ghostly lady who teaches Meredith a lesson about love and trust, the owl seemed a perfect fit. Thus, the sign hanging out front of the store features a Great Horned Owl.

Here’s an excerpt from Undying Love, describing the store in more detail. The bookstore actually is featured in every story of the Secrets of Roseville series. Meredith and Paulette, estranged sisters who are rebuilding their friendship, have many questions so they’ve journeyed into the small town of Roseville, Tennessee, to find some answers:

They crossed the square, heading for Golden Owl Books and Brews. The bookstore had occupied the 1860s-era brick building as long as Meredith could remember. The three sisters who ran the thriving business had diversified over the years, adding in a variety of attractions and merchandise to keep the townsfolk flocking through the doors. Flyers on the windows announced open mic nights featuring local artists to share their talents. A yellow kiosk in one corner enabled people to buy and download books from a variety of publishers.

“What are you looking for again?” Meredith asked. “I thought we had enough books at home.”

“A book on the county history, one published fairly recently, might provide some new clues.” Paulette tucked her clutch purse under her arm. “Grandma’s are so old they’re practically worthless.”

“I’m sure they have some useful history in them,” Meredith said, pushing open the door. A bell jangled above her head. “But a newer one may be worth the investment. New facts may have come to light, with any luck.”

“Hmmm, it smells wonderful in here.” Paulette paused inside the door and scanned the crowded bookshop.

“It’s the bakery. All the cinnamon and cloves and apples.” Meredith drew in a deep breath, savoring the aromas of fresh bread and spices. “What a brilliant idea these ladies had to include fresh cinnamon rolls.”

“I’ll be in the local history section.” Paulette pointed to the sign indicating the area and strode toward the back of the store.

Meredith considered her next move as she surveyed the bookstore. She wanted to discover what kinds of books existed that could shed light on the census and how to interpret them. But first, she needed to stand there and merely experience the atmosphere. She inhaled, cataloging the mingling scents, detecting paper and ink as backdrop to hot coffee and cinnamon. In one corner, a small stage waited for the next open mic participant. The sisters opened the Golden Owl two nights a week to let people read from their writing or perform a musical number. Those evenings only, they also featured a wine-and-cheese party as extra incentive for the locals to attend. The bell over the front door rang every few moments, announcing customers coming and going.

Tables sat scattered throughout the shop, laden with books or calendars and other related products. Handmade jewelry crafted by local artisans hung on tall stands dotting the floor space. An open balcony featuring tables and comfortable chairs ran around the upstairs walls, leaving an airy feel in the center. A rack of greeting cards, advertised as designed by locals, hugged the wall under the stairs, a postage stamp kiosk beside it. Beyond, a small table and chair waited for the correspondent to fill out the card, put a stamp on it, and then slip it into the mailbox outside the front door of the shop.

Oh, how I’d love to run such an inviting little shop in a quaint town in an historic building! Not that I foresee it happening, mind you. But it’s tempting.

For the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon, featuring author Brenda Novak as keynote speaker, I’m putting together a Golden Owls Books and Brews gift basket for the fundraising raffle. I’ll include items such as notecards and jewelry by local artisans who live near the small town I used as a model for the fictional town of Roseville. I’ll also include some other goodies and books for the winner of the raffle. Also, I’ll be hosting a table, and looking forward to chatting with you over lunch, followed by a public book signing in the hotel lobby. If you’re interested in this June 3 reader event in Huntsville, Alabama, you can find out more and register to attend at the Heart of Dixie website.

I suppose my love of bookstores is why I return to the store and its owners, the three Golden sisters, in the series. In fact, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, book 3, is the first book featuring the Golden sisters and their love stories. I am planning to release the story of Tara Golden and Grant Markel in May, just in time to have copies on hand at the Heart of Dixie luncheon and signing. I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter in order to stay informed regarding its cover and release date.

What would you want to see in a bookstore? Or not see, for that matter? Do you have a dream, a fantasy you hold close even though it may never come to pass?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Undying Love is available now! Book 2, Haunted Melody, is up for pre-order and will release on March 28. Happy reading!

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2fSnDL6

Tasty Tuesday: Crepes #recipe from #romance #author SherrieLea Morgan #breakfast #dessert

It’s Tasty Tuesday once again! Author SherrieLea Morgan has brought us a special treat. How to make and enjoy crepes, those thin pancake-like delicacies that offer up such joy to taste buds everywhere. Take it away, Sherrie!


With the season change coming upon us, I’m reminded of an article I once read, advising that our taste buds change every five to seven years with a transitional period of about six months. It’s at those times, we are encouraged to try new flavors and foods. Food we once detested could be a mandatory item in our next favorite meal. When my daughter completed her training to become a Pastry Chef, she oftentimes would bring home various desserts asking for our opinion. Which, I’m sure you can agree, was one of the horrible duties I took on, in support of her education. I am her mother and I planned to support her 100% of the time.

crepesSo, when she brought home crepes, I did my duty and ate a serving. Mind you, up to this point in my life, I never cared for crepes. Thin, flat, hardly “there” pastry. Why would I? She included an orange and wine reduction syrup and plated it up. For those of you who love crepes, I’m sure you can appreciate my trip to taste bud heaven that day. Since then, she has shown me how to make them. They weren’t as difficult as I thought they’d be. Now, crepes are among our possible morning meals (along with waffles, bacon/eggs, etc.). The best part is your filling doesn’t have to be anything fancy (like a wine reduction). You can use jelly, jams, sauces, peanut butter, and even eat them plain with pancake syrup and powdered sugar. Like writing…it’s all up to your imagination!

Give it a try, I think you’ll enjoy!

CREPES

Bread Flour                                                     4 oz.

Cake Flour (All-purpose works too)         4 oz.

Sugar                                                               1 oz.

Salt                                                                  .25 oz.

Eggs                                                                 6 oz. or two LARGE

Milk                                                                 16 oz.

Oil                                                                   2.5 oz.

Mixing: Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add eggs and enough water to make a paste like batter until all lumps are gone. Gradually add remaining milk and oil. Cover and let set 2 hours.

Frying: Rub pan/skillet with oil. Place over moderate heat until pan is very hot. Remove pan and pour in about 3–4 Tablespoons of mixture, tipping pan to cover the bottom with a thin layer of mixture. Return to heat for about 1–1½ minutes until bottom is lightly brown. Carefully run thin spatula around edge to loosen, lift and flip and brown. Then serve with your favorite or a new flavored filling!

WARNING: First and second crepes never turn out. Don’t give up. Go for the third and remaining crepes!

GHOSTDRUMS

Can a contingent of ghosts, a Marine Veteran, and a beautiful landlord overcome a murderer before it’s too late?

perf5.000x8.000.inddMarine Veteran, Marcus Lincoln, returns home after almost being blown to bits. His physical injuries are nothing compared to his mental state. He now sees the ghost of his best friend. In need of R & R he rents rooms from a landowner in small town Georgia. However, the landlord looks nothing like he imagined. Victoria Silvershade is a spirit seeker. She wants to start a foundation that will allow her to help spirits who have not crossed over. And it just so happens, she has her own troupe of ghosts residing in her home. To bring in money, she rents out part of her house to Marcus, but fails to tell him his new landlord is a woman. When her foundation sponsors begin to turn up dead, Victoria, Marcus, and their combined ghost family try to find the killer. But will they succeed before they become deceased themselves?

Amazon    Wild Rose Press

View More: http://laurenlopezportrait.pass.us/mamaminisession2014Sherrie Lea Morgan is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter Georgia Romance Writers. She lives north of Atlanta, GA with her twin sister, two dogs, and two cats. When not working her current manuscripts, she enjoys spending time with her sister, daughter, and son. Although her children refuse to join her paranormal movie thrills, they are supportive in her obsession of all things scary. Sherrie writes paranormal romance with a twist of mystery. She says: “One of my goals while writing my stories is to encourage readers to see ghosts differently. I love to add in other elements into my stories, as well.” Please feel free to visit her at her website: http://www.sherrieleamorgan.com.


Yum! I may have to talk my hubby into trying these soon. My mom once got on a crepes kick and we enjoyed all kinds of fun fillings – apple or cherry pie filling, for example – on various weekend mornings. Thanks for the reminder, SherrieLea!

So what do you think? Want to try making this delicious variation on a pancake? And read her intriguing story? I know I do!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Between the Lines: Musicals and Memories in Haunted Melody #PNR #romance #music #research

I have to confess that I am addicted to musicals. There, I said it. When I first heard about the newest one, La La Land, I turned to my husband and told him I wanted to see it on the big screen, not as a pay-per-view movie on our home TV. I really longed to see the movie in the larger than life cinematic experience. As soon as it came out and we could align our schedules, we went to enjoy two hours of escape from reality.

The movie brought joy to my heart by its combination of story, singing, dancing, and the sweeping musical score. The story centers on an actress struggling to be discovered, to reach the level of recognition she dreams of attaining. Like Emma Stone said in a recent Time interview, the story reminds us of “the hope and importance of creativity, of still dreaming even when it feels like hope is gone.”

I understand what she means. I’m creative with my stories and enjoy singing, playing my guitar (when I have time), and crocheting. When I contemplate my career as an author and the state of publishing and readership, sometimes all I have is hope. Hope that people will read and enjoy my stories, and then share with their friends and family to help me build my fan base. Hope that my writing will continue to bring a few hours of escape from reality for my readers. Hope that I’ll be a best-selling author one day in the not-too-distant future; that’s my dream. I have no control over achieving my dream because I can’t make people buy my books. All I can do is write the best story I can and put it out there for others to read and judge its merits. That’s where my focus must be. Writing the best story in my ability. But what would happen if I didn’t have hope?

Paulette O’Connell, in my upcoming release Haunted Melody, has forgotten about her love of singing. How she used to sing in the school choir and then in a small band for a while, pursuing her own dreams. Until she accidentally summons the ghost of her grandfather to the Twin Oaks Plantation. More importantly, it’s only after she meets Zak Markel that she slowly rediscovers her inner joy and begins to sing again. She remembers how important music had been in her life and determines to let it take a part in her present and future life. Indeed, singing plays a key role in sending her grandfather’s ghost back where he came from. Singing restores hope as a result of new love for Paulette, both Zak and her baby.

Musicals are one of my go-to movies. I really love the idea of breaking into song when strong emotions are in play. Song and story make a powerful combination, evoking so many memories and feelings all while being entertained.

What about you? Do you enjoy musicals? Why or why not?

Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Haunted Melody is now available for pre-order and will release on March 28, 2017. Here’s more about the story…

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

Amazon USA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

iTunes: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Tasty Tuesday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas from #romance #author Amy Lillard #dinner #recipe #TexMex

Tasty Tuesday comes with a deliciously spicy recipe for chicken enchiladas from romance author Amy Lillard. Throw in the heat from her Texas couple fighting their attraction to each other, and you’ve got a winner. I’ll let Amy tell you more about the meal and the story. Take it away, Amy!


Enchiladas SuizasOne of the most fun things about writing is creating a situation, dreaming up characters, and then turning them loose and watching what happens next. Most often this results in a couple of characters who are completely unexpected and adorably lovable, but also fill the story with rich humor and wisdom that might not have otherwise made its way onto the page. Grandma Esther Langston is one of these characters.

I’ve known that Esther would be a part of the Cattle Creek stories from the very, very beginning. Even in those early stages when I hadn’t even figured out everyone’s name, she was there. What I hadn’t planned on was her spunk, her candid remarks, and the comic relief that she brings to the series. She’s worked hard to reach her golden years and feels it’s her God-given right to say what’s on her mind. She loves her family fiercely and would do anything to protect her grandsons and her great-granddaughter. And like most Texas/southern women, she shows this love in the kitchen. One of her family’s favorite meals is chicken enchiladas. They are the favorite for celebrations, birthdays, and pick-me-ups. After all, nothing says I love you like gooey, cheesy Tex-Mex. The best part of all? They are very easy and extremely tasty. But don’t take my word for it, try them for yourself!

Grandma Esther’s Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

8 oz pkg Monterey Jack Cheese

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup sour cream

1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped

Mix well and roll up into flour tortillas. Makes 10-12. Place seam side down in a sprayed casserole dish. Cover with sauce (recipe below) and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with extra cheese and cilantro if desired.

Sauce:

1 can chicken broth

¼ cup flour

¼ cup butter

1 cup sour cream

1 can chopped green chilies.

Melt butter in sauce pan. Stir in flour until smooth. Add chicken broth and cook until thickened. Stir in sour cream and chilies.

healing-a-heart-coverAs cowboys, the Langston brothers of Cattle Creek, Texas, know it’s easy to mend a fence. Mending a broken heart, however, takes time…
 
Rancher Jake Langston prides himself on being the sensible type. But five years after the loss of his wife left him to raise their daughter alone, he indulges in a one-night stand with a sexy stranger. He thought he’d never see the woman again. Four months later, though, she’s standing in his drive with a big surprise.

Bryn Talbot wants nothing from the hunky cowboy who got her pregnant, but her Southern nature demands she at least tell him about it. When Jake’s family persuades her to stay for a while, she’s soon won over by their charms—and by Jake. But with the losses the two of them have suffered in the past, neither is sure if they’re ready to take the leap to forever…

Want more? Read an excerpt here.

amy-in-green-shirt-1Amy loves nothing more than a good book. Except for her family…and maybe homemade tacos…and nail polish. But reading and writing are definitely way up on the list.

Born and bred in Mississippi, Amy is a transplanted Southern Belle who now lives in Oklahoma with her deputy husband, their genius son, two spoiled cats, and one very lazy beagle. Oh, and don’t forget the stray kitty that has taken up residence on her front porch. ^..^

When she’s not creating happy endings, she’s chauffeuring her teen prodigy to guitar lessons and practice for whatever sport he’s into this week She has a variety of hobbies, but her favorite is whatever gets her out of housework.

Amy is an award winning author with more than thirty novels and novellas in print. She is a member of RWA, ACFW, NINC, and the Author’s Guild. She loves to hear from readers. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Get to know more about her and her books at her website.


What did I tell you? Both the enchiladas and the book sound tempting! I think I’d substitute parsley for the cilantro, since I’m not fond of it, but other than that slight modification, I’m in! Thanks so much for sharing both with us, Amy!

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite Tex-Mex food? Will you try this one?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Between the Lines: Getting to Know George Starkey, #American #Alchemist in #Haunted #Melody #paranormal #romance #history #alchemy

I do a lot of research for my stories, whether historical or contemporary, to ensure I’ve got my facts right. Much of what I find never finds its way onto the story’s pages, but it plays in my mind as background information that resonates with my characters. In Haunted Melody (Secrets of Roseville Book 2), Zak Markel is following the steps within an ancient alchemist’s journal but doesn’t understand what he should be doing. What’s not on the page is the name of the real-life alchemist that the fictional alchemist is based upon. So I’d like to introduce you to George Starkey, a 17th-century American alchemist educated at Harvard University.

George Starkey was born in Bermuda, where he exhibited strong curiosity about how nature works, in particular insects. He eventually moved to America, where he graduated from Harvard College in 1646. While at Harvard, he seriously practiced alchemy, working with John Alcock and John Winthrop, Jr., who would later become the first governor of Connecticut. Winthrop had a keen interest in alchemy and represents the elite alchemical circle within which Starkey moved. However, after struggling for several years to obtain the furnaces and the other apparatus necessary to conduct his experiments, Starkey moved to London in 1650 where he had access to better equipment.

While in London, Starkey became involved with the Hartlib group, otherwise known as the Office of Address, led by Samuel Hartlib. This group emphasized “intellectual communication” and used the practical science of Francis Bacon and the didactic agenda of the Czech reformer Jan Amos Comenius to merge “productive natural philosophy” (useful science) with “pansophia, the Comenian ideal of universal learning.” This group was central to Starkey’s reputation and influence in England.

Starkey contributed many influential medical works while in England, but more interesting is the fact that he lived two lives. Writing under the pseudonym of Eirenaeus Philalethes, “A Peaceful Lover of Truth,” Starkey took on the role of an adept, that is, one who is capable of transmuting base metals into gold or silver. As Starkey, he became the student of Philalethes and told fabulous tales of his alter ego living in New England. Starkey refused to reveal the true name of Philalethes, claiming he’d been sworn to secrecy to protect the life of his friend. So cleverly did he lead this dual life, even after he died in London from the plague in 1665, people reported seeing Philalethes in other countries. That’s some serious effort he took to make sure people did not know of his pen name!

His most popular work under his pseudonym was the Introitus apertus ad occlusum regis palatium (An open entrance to the closed palace of the king). Indeed, Starkey, as Philalethes, was “likely” the “most widely read American scientist before Benjamin Franklin.” However, the early 18th century tensions that led to a newly defined separation between “alchemy” and “chemistry” as well as between alchemists and other “scientists” put a division between Starkey and his contemporary friend and alchemy student, Robert Boyle (1627–91). Starkey/Philalethes slipped into the “shadows beyond the fringe of scientific respectability” despite being “the last great philosophical alchemist” of his time, while Boyle became the “vanguard of the ‘New Chemistry.’”

Here’s what I find most fascinating about him. He kept laboratory notebooks and wrote frequent correspondence, both often using Latin and symbols, which have been translated into English, and have proven key to decoding the allegorical and secretive language he employed across a variety of his writings. The notebooks and letters also provide “an unprecedented glimpse” into the “mind and labors” of Starkey, who was acclaimed for his alchemical efforts as well as his potentially money-making inventions. His laboratory notebooks reflect the scholastic training he received as a student at Harvard, despite his railing against wasting time learning classical argumentation skills. His notebooks also show a blending of the two distinct “intellectual traditions” of “the experimentalism of the ‘New Philosophy’ and the formal Scholasticism of ‘the Schools.’” Thus, Starkey merged two unique yet complementary aspects into one combined entity, much like he and Philalethes. Starkey, as himself and his alter ego, also routinely spoke in his correspondence and treatises in allegory and riddles, for reasons I shared in an earlier post here.

By the way, if you’re curious to know more about George Starkey, here are a few references to get you started. Also, there’s a biography of him here and an interesting analysis of his influences and interactions here.

  • Newman, William R. Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ Press. 1994.
  • Newman, William R. and Lawrence M. Principe. Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry. Chicago: The Univ of Chicago Press. 2002.
  • Woodward, Walter W. Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676. Chapel Hill, NC: Univ of NC Press. 2010.

For Zak, it takes quite some time for him to find a book at the Golden Owl Books and Brews store that helps him figure out how to solve the puzzle that is the alchemist’s journal. The book I’m alluding to is none other than Geheniccal Fire along with several articles by Newman. You’ll notice that none of this is spelled out in my story, for two reasons. First, I figure most readers probably won’t care about George Starkey; they’re likely more interested in Zak and Paulette. Second, I didn’t want to distract my readers from the actual story by including too much of the historical references and allusions.

I don’t know about you, but I was not aware that America had any alchemists. I had thought they were all in Europe, so that was a cool surprise to me. Thus I wanted to share with my readers but only in an entertaining way. At least, that was my intent. Did I succeed? Only you, my readers, can answer that question after you read the story! See below for how you can pre-order your copy.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

haunted_melody_600x900Haunted Melody is now available for pre-order and will release on March 28, 2017. Here’s more about the story…

Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Remnants.)

Amazon USA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

iTunes: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Tasty Tuesday: Cucumber Sandwiches by #contemporary #romance #author Lesia Flynn #sandwich #recipe

Tasty Tuesday time! Fun and fresh cucumber sandwiches by the fun-loving and humorous romance author Lesia Flynn! You’ll love this lady’s recipe almost as much as her light-hearted romances. Help me welcome my dear friend, Lesia!


Thank you, Betty, for inviting me to post on today’s Tasty Tuesday Blog. I am thrilled to be here and meet all of you!

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I can’t help but think of romance and proposals. Happily-ever-afters usually come with weddings to plan and prepare, too. Book world is no different. I’ve planned so many weddings in real life, it goes without saying that I love to plan book weddings, even if they never make the printed page. . . there’s no manual labor, after all.

In my latest book, Remembering Skyline, Skyline Mountain Book 3, Ben has lost his mind, thanks to Dicker, the local pain in everyone’s arse. Of course, in the end, Ben finds his heart and the love of his life. But whoa! Is it a fast-paced ride to get there!

cucumber-sandwiches-depositphotos-english-cream-cheese-and-cucumber-sandwichesI loved writing these characters because they are crazy, zany fun!  And who doesn’t love a Scottish tale? While it is tempting to offer you the recipe for Ben’s not-so-favorite drink (Glenlivit, straight from the bottle…or was it Cassidy’s hangover remedy?), instead I give you one of my go-to recipes for any event, whether a wedding, a shower, or even a ladies luncheon. Cucumber Sandwiches are always a hit and easy-peasy to make. I have no idea where I gathered this recipe from or when I started making this particular yum, but it’s a mainstay in my household for any kind of celebration.

Cucumber Sandwich Spread

Ingredients

2-3 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded

1 medium sweet onion (or less as the onion can overpower the flavor of the cucumbers)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (Neufchatel)

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon of salt

A dash of cayenne pepper

Preparation

Peel, seed, and chop cucumbers and onions finely (I use the food processor).  Drain the mixture well, squeezing out the liquid through cheese cloth or a fine colander. You won’t need the liquid. Combine the cucumber and onion mixture with the remaining ingredients.

Spread over bread for sandwiches or use as a dip for crackers, chips or vegetables.  You can also add thin slices of cucumber on top of the spread for additional Yum! Use heart shaped cookie cutters to make finger sandwiches even more spectacular fun!

Enjoy!

Lagniappe

A dash of cayenne can be a great thing. It often adds that unexpected little zing without burning down the house. Try a small hint of it to add that little something extra. I even add it to my hot cocoa mix for the warmth it yields to the chocolate yum!

Are you a wedding planner, too? Do you have occasions on the horizon to make these yum-ilicious sandwiches?

remembering-skyline-cover-ben-and-cassidy-3Remembering Skyline, Skyline Mountain Book 3

Benjamin Murray has everything a man could want on Skyline Mountain . . . land, business, and all the adventure his heart desires. But, after an unfortunate accident leaves him with no memory of his previous life, Ben mistakenly assumes he’s Scottish. Off he goes, swaggering his sexy Highland self about town, on an adventure to discover his identity.

Cassidy Spencer has had enough and Benjamin Murray is at the top of her list. All she wants this post-Christmas season is a winter getaway to revise her happily-ever-after-plan, one without Ben and his stubborn disinterest in anything beyond business. But before she can hightail it out of town, life takes an unexpected turn. Now Cassidy can’t get away from Ben or his randy affections, and he doesn’t even remember his own name.

lesia-flynn-bioLesia Flynn first fell for romance when her mother gave her a paperback novel. One book later and she was hooked on love. It wasn’t until she had children that she realized she wanted to write stories of love, romance, and happily ever afters.

Lesia was born and raised in Louisiana. She studied Graphic Design at Louisiana Tech University. She currently lives in Alabama with her husband, children, and a rescue cat who believes his mission in life is to keep Lesia safe and out of harm’s way. She loves libraries, gardening, travel, art of all kinds, and playing some really bad guitar for her neighbor’s cows.

Lesia is an active member of the Heart of Dixie Chapter of Romance Writers of America. She writes fun, contemporary romance.

Connect with Lesia Flynn at www.LesiaFlynn.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and @LesiaFlynn.


See, what did I tell you? If you’ve haven’t read any of Lesia’s stories, take a moment and pop over here  and pick one up. You won’t regret it! And don’t her cucumber sandwiches sound divine?

Thanks for visiting with us today, and I hope you have a tasty day ahead!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.