Savory Farmhouse Cheese Soup – From Guest Author Linda Lee Greene (A Chance At The Moon)

We have a new guest author on the blog today, and guess what? She’s brought a bowl of cheese soup for National Soup Month and shared a little about her book, A Chance At The Moon.

Thank you, Linda!

By Linda Lee Greene

Winter, and especially the high-holiday season that is winter’s centerpiece, brings with it for me an air of nostalgia, a wistfulness for the Thanksgiving Days of old, the days when at the end of a long country lane, the white square farmhouse of my maternal grandparents came into view, and within its walls my large family would soon gather around an immense table groaning with a homegrown Thanksgiving meal. With the elapsing of time, the torch has passed to my aunts and uncles, and then to the members of my generation. The work of keeping the traditions of our family alive and well continues to be handed down.

This past Thanksgiving my immediate family gathered at the home of my daughter, Elizabeth, the person who often as not, has hosted our celebration for several years. I am so grateful for the young people of my family, and for the time and space to hunker into the winter of my life, to gather my provisions, as well as to relax into my unbound hours and make the most of them.

Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and several other side dishes, sweetened at meal’s end with pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and a wide selection of additional heavenly desserts was our traditional fare. Last year, we broadened our menu with some new dishes. My contribution was a lovely ‘Farmhouse Cheese Soup’ laid at table as an appetizer. The recipe comes from Stacey Pirtle of ‘Southern Discourse,’ where it is described as “…oogey, gooey, goodness…a zesty comfort food even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.”

Savory Farmhouse Cheese Soup

Savory Farmhouse Cheese Soup


1 stick (½ cup) butter
⅓ cup onion, diced
⅓ cup carrots, diced
⅓ cup celery, diced
1 tsp. garlic, minced
32 oz. chicken broth (I prefer the low-sodium brands)
½ cup roasted red peppers, diced
1 cup of Chardonnay, optional
6 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
6 cups of half-and-half
2 tsp. paprika
1½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper
Bacon bits
French bread, small chunks

Melt butter in a large stockpot or automatic cooker over medium-low heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are translucent.

Add broth and peppers. Simmer about 5 minutes. Pour in Chardonnay and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add cheddar cheese, 1 cup at a time, and stir well after each cup until cheese is melted. Blend in half-and-half a little at a time, stirring continuously.

Stir in paprika, thyme, salt, and white pepper. Cook on very low heat for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes.

Sprinkle bacon bits on top of each savory bowl. Sprinkle on bread. Shredded chicken is a nice add-in. Enjoy!

While your soup is simmering how about a peek at my latest crime thriller?

Was it chance or destiny’s hand behind a man and a woman’s curious encounter at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas? The cards fold, their hearts open, and a match strikes, flames that sizzle their hearts and souls. Can they have the moon and the stars, too? Or is she too dangerous? Is he? Can their love withstand betrayal? Can it endure murder?

While the cards at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas fail to distract them from their troubled pasts, on the side, the actress and the gambler play a game of ‘will they won’t they’ romance. Meanwhile, an otherworldly hand also has a big stake in the game. Unexpected secrets unfold brimming with dangerous consequences, and finally, a strange brand of salvation.

Amid the seductions of Las Vegas, Nevada and an idyllic coffee plantation on Hawai’i’s Big Island, a sextet of opposites converge within a shared fate: a glamorous movie-star courting distractions from her troubled past; her shell-shocked bodyguards clutching handholds out of their hardscrabble lives; a dropout Hawaiian nuclear physicist gambling his way back home; a Navajo rancher seeking cleansing for harming Mother Earth; and from its lofty perch, the Hawaiian’s guardian spirit conjured as his pet raven, conducting this symphony of soul odysseys.



The Cast of Characters


Actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms escapes the shadow of her mother’s gruesome murder and the relentless demands of Hollywood and loses herself in the cards at Las Vegas casinos. But like hounds on the scent, the scandal tracks her. And true to her history, it shows up in the person of dashing Hawaiian gambler, Koa Kalua’i. Neither of them are strangers at taking risks and too often losing. Will they win in their chance at the moon this time?

In Hawaiian cosmology, Aumakuas are guardian spirits whom many believe to manifest in physical form. Koa Kalua’i knows the tenet to be true, because Raven has not only been his winged-pet since the earliest days of his childhood on his family’s coffee plantation on Hawaii’s Big Island, but also his Aumakua. They make a remarkable pair, dedicated to righting wrongs.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, and orphaned as little kids, twin brothers Nicholas and Tobias Plato grew up tough but tenderhearted, qualities they put to use as actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms’ bodyguards. Who knew that Nicholas would play such a pivotal role in Olivia’s life: her most trusted friend and guardian, and in the end, her savior?

Navajo rancher and computer geek, Sam Whitehorse uncovers a secret, terrorist stockpile of materiel burrowed in the side of one his people’s sacred mountains in Nevada. It is a threat that he and Las Vegas gambler, Koa Kalua’i must expose and eliminate, but potential government involvement in the matter complicates such an offensive. And why does actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms insert herself into the whole affair?

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Linda Lee Greene

Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.

Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger, it was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a strong hold.

She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.

Visit Linda at her online art gallery and join her on Facebook. Linda loves to hear from readers so feel free to email her.

Thank you for reading!

Gina

Join Me For Romance In Bonham, TX – Feb. 1st, 2020

We can hang out. In a library! Talk about books. Meet great romance authors. Plus a few more surprises.

See you there!

Gina

P.S. I have a new short story for my newsletter community. You can signup by clicking on the image below.

Writing Advice From The Pros: What To Keep & What To Let Go – Guest Post By Sharon Ledwith

Wow, that decade zoomed by! I honestly don’t know where those ten years went, but what I do know for sure (quoting Oprah) is that a lot has happened to me personally and professionally since 2010. I’ve lost some people (and pets) by death, and by choice (toxic relationships), worked with two publishing companies and one literary agency, had my hopes dashed only to realize that it was for my highest best anyway, and transitioned from living in cottage country to surviving in the suburbs of sultry, southern Ontario. I’ve had a total of five books published (Woohoo), done book readings without breaking out in a sweat or fainting, and though self-doubt creeps in from time to time, I’ve learned what self-love really means in this crazy, on demand world we are presently living in. Rather than go on and on, I thought I’d share my decade experiences by breaking it down for you in three categories:


What have I accomplished in the last 10 years? So much! I started my blogging journey May 4th, 2011 before I even had a publishing deal—which BTW—I received in August of that same year with a new publishing company called Musa Publishing. This is where I earned my author chops, so to speak. What was expected of an author—which was pretty much everything from promoting to marketing to creating a social media presence to writing my next book, and what a publisher did for their authors. I went from zero experience on the internet to feeling quite comfortable navigating through cyber-space. I received a grant to help build a website to house my first book: The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis and the ones that followed, and celebrated the best book launch ever on May 19th, 2012 surrounded by friends and family who knew how hard I’d worked trying to get published for over fifteen years. I wrote the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, and received another contract with Musa Publishing. Then…everything changed.

We moved from our house on the lake to a house in the suburbs in the summer of 2014. What I couldn’t have foreseen was Musa Publishing would close their doors in February 2015, leaving over 300 authors stranded, without contracts or support. Thankfully, I had attended a book expo in November 2014, and there I met my future publisher, Mirror World Publishing. In the last five years, we’ve worked together to bring two young adult book series out into the world, The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series, and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mystery series. And since then, I haven’t looked back.


Now that the fruits of my labors are realized, I know I need to continue on my path to write, promote, market, engage, and connect with people who are looking to escape into my fictional worlds. So, it is my hope to write books that will entertain, educate, and inspire both young and young-at-heart readers for generations to come.

 A few Mirror World Publishing Authors


What are the lessons I learned in those years?Being an author isn’t for the faint of heart. I’m so not kidding. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that no one is going to care more about your book than YOU do. Period. So do the tough stuff. Get your hands dirty. Experiment. Beg for book reviews. Share helpful content. Be kind to others going through the same thing. Always add value. Go the extra mile. Think of all these acts as your karma bank account, and it will compound by leaps and bounds.


Make a business plan. Remember, writing is a business. So treat it this way. I began writing my ‘Master Business and Life Plan’ on March 9, 2011, when I was researching how to start up a blog. This plan has evolved and grown throughout the last nine years, and will continue to do so. I’ll admit, not everything gets crossed off the plan, but it does give me an overview on where to adjust for the future, and where I’d like to be at the end of the year.


Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. At the beginning of this decade, the thought of standing up in front of an audience to read an excerpt or visit a school to share my writing journey with students made my teeth itch and want to hide among the shadows. But, I authored up. I faced my fears, and pushed myself enough to get over whatever it was that made me feel this way. Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem be damned. I learned to love who I’d become, what I’d accomplished, and where I’m heading these past ten years. And from where I stand, the future looks so bright, I’m gonna need shades!

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series (so far…)

What do I need to let go of, drop or release that doesn’t serve me? This is a BIG one: Stop comparing myself to other successful authors. By all means, I should learn from them because success leaves clues, but my journey is not the same as their journey or experiences, so there’s really no comparison. I must drop this, put on a pair of blinders, and focus on MY path.


This is a HARD one: Approval from others. Since we were children, all we wanted was attention —first from our parents, then friends, later co-workers and bosses, and loved ones. We’re hard-wired for this. The truth is that the only person whose approval really matters is our own. That’s it. We need to have our own backs. Trust ourselves enough to stand in our truth. This will definitely be a work in progress for me.


This is an HONEST one: Releasing expectations. When I was a girl, I had a plaque hanging on my bedroom wall that said, ‘Blessed are those who do not expect, for they won’t be disappointed.’ Now that’s some sage advice! So, going back in time, as I love to do when writing my books, I realize having expectations gets in the way of what the Universe has planned for me. Adopting the mindset, ‘Everything happens for me, not to me’ has helped tremendously, and I know that by releasing expectations, I make room for more positive energy to come into my life.

Released in 2017 and 2019: Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls (so far…)

As this decade closes out, I encourage you to ask these three questions, and see how far you’ve come. You just might realize that ‘you’ve come a long way, baby’! Please share your findings if you feel obliged. Would love to read your comments. Cheers, and thank you for reading. Happy New Year, and wishing you and your loved ones, health, happiness, wealth, and all the best in the next ten years ahead!

That was amazing! Thank you, Sharon. I always enjoy when you share your wisdom with us.

School Bites By Jade Lee – Recommended Book Review

Blurb


Middle school teacher Toni Freedman deals with a dangerous population: the pre-adolescents from Crimson City’s newly created Wolftown.

When the school becomes a battleground, the only one keeping his cool is the sexy principal John Wang. Together John and Toni battle wolf-haters, ED students, and a sexual chemistry with an added kick.

Review

I’m reaching back into my old book journals so great stories like School Bites, which I originally read in the Shards of Crimson anthology, don’t get lost.

School Bites is an urban fantasy short story that fit into the Crimson City series (Crimson City #7b), which I think fantasy fans should check out for the variety of good stories that were told through it.

This is a very sexy book with a romance between Toni and John that centers around Toni adjusting to a new life which includes a relationship with her boss. All signs point to workplace drama right there, but frankly, Toni and John have a lot more to worry about. I admire that Toni made what I thought was an admirable step when she had an opportunity to maintain status quo for herself, but chooses to be there for her students. I admire teachers who stick up for their students.

Likable characters always sway me and this is solid storytelling by Jade Lee.

I haven’t read the other title in Sexy Bites, MY SEXY KICK-ASS MAGIC SHOES. If you have, please tell me what you thought of it.

Thank you for reading,

Gina

Easy Vegan Chocolate Mousse From Guest Author Carol Browne

Psychological thriller author Carol Browne visits the blog today to share a lusciously fast recipe to slow down your holiday rush and an excerpt from her latest release for the sheer fun of it.

Thanks, Carol!

This is an exciting dessert rich with flavor and low in calories. It’s perfect for guests or just a treat for yourself. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Image by Chris Tweten from Pixabay

Chocolate Mousse
1 ripe avocado
1 large ripe banana
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. cold water

Put ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.

Spoon mixture into 4 small dishes or glasses.

Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

You can add your sprinkles of choice on top, e.g. coconut or chopped nuts or whatever teases your taste buds.

How about a little from my latest psychological fiction while you’re waiting for your mousse to chill?

Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

EXCERPT
Thursday, 26th March, 2015.

My house is filled with people who don’t exist.

They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.

Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.

I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.

Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.

Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.

At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.

I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.

If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.

“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.

I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.

I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt… keep stirring… is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.

And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.

I have no idea how this happens.

Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.


Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Great excerpt, Carol!

Thanks for reading,

Gina