Chocolate Fairytales – Guest Post By Author Anne Montgomery (A Light In The Desert)



Sometimes, life throws you a rose. Or, in my case, a brownie.

Let me explain.

Recently I received an e-mail.

Hello, Anne!

I was looking at our records and noticed that you have been a Fairytale Brownies customer since 1995. Thank you for loving our brownies!

Our co-founders, Eileen Spitalny and David Kravetz, will be giving special VIP tours of the Fairytale Brownies bakery before our annual Open House next Tuesday and we would love for you to be a part of it. Are you available for a 2:30 p.m. tour? We would love for you and a guest to join them. Please let me know if you can make it. Spaces for the tour are reserved.

Thanks!


How cool is that!

Of course, I jumped right on the opportunity to see the fairies bake the brownies I’ve been sending friends for years. I’ve spread those chocolaty delights worldwide. So, I called my youngest son – who has dabbled with the idea of becoming a pastry chef – and made the date.

Upon entering the massive kitchen in Phoenix, a fabulous aroma makes visitors swoon.

It might be all that butter and those big bricks of chocolate shipped in from Belgium.

It might be giant racks of brownies, with lovely names like Toffee Crunch, Chocolate Chip Blondie, Espresso Nib, Mint Chocolate, and Raspberry Swirl.

Whatever it is, my son and I agreed it was magical.

As we toured the facility, I was on the lookout for the brownie fairies, but they were often shy and elusive. We caught this one hiding behind a massive pile of sugar.

Others were tasked with sorting scads of swirly, cream cheese brownies.


Then there was the freezer. A good 50 yards of frozen treats, packed high to the rafters on both sides. Though I’m a desert dweller and quite averse to the cold, I contemplated remaining in that fridge, setting up a tent and one of those high-altitude sleeping bags, a warm cap over my head, a matching scarf perhaps, and some mittens. In the advent of a zombie apocalypse it might be the perfect place to stay.

Unless, of course, zombies like brownies.

Gosh. Maybe I’ll have to share.

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

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

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

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

The Kingmaker Chronicles Trilogy By Amanda Bouchet – Recommended Book Review

I have another favorite fantasy series! The world-building, magical concepts, and story started in A Promise Of Fire hooked me early and kept me there. The main character, Cat, hasn’t had an easy life, which means she is particularly unprepared for meeting Griffin, a man with a mission. A man who knows too much about her hidden abilities. There’s a good dose of romance, which I enjoyed. Griffin is one of the good guys, determined to make the world a better place. He’s a likeable character. Another highlight for me was the role played in the story by various Greek gods. All of that was good, but it was the monster battles that glued me to the page. Bouchet writes great magic battle scenes.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Promise Of Fire gets a solid 5/5 stars.

I love when a series continues from where the last book left off the way this one did. Cat is rapidly maturing into the leader she needs to be and has lost the touches of what seemed like annoying personality traits in book 1; her home environment left a whole lot to be desired and her reasons for leaving would turn anyone’s hair white. To expect her to be an adjusted young woman after that is asking too much. Her character growth arc was awesome to watch.

Book two offered more imaginative monsters, battles, and well-crafted action scenes. I loved the relationships between all the characters and the twisty surprises. There was also some satisfaction that a couple of my premonitions proved to be true, which is interesting because if that happens too often a book might be called predictable. It definitely was not, and I was excited to read the final book in the series.

Breath Of Fire gets five/five glowing stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was anticipating reading the boss battle that was inevitable from the first book, which was always a concern because the boss is the heroine’s mother. The way that battle went down was wonderfully unpredictable. The outcome, better than my expectations.

Sharing a little bitty spoiler about a certain portion of the book that made me know for sure that Cat and Griffin get a happy ever after is tempting, but I just can’t do it. The point is, Bouchet didn’t tell me they will be happy together forever, I believe they will. Their bond has been thoroughly tested.

My emotional investment was 100% tripled, which is so hard to achieve. I’m kind of a tough critic. I read a lot of books that never get reviewed here because I only want to highlight the best books I read. Like this entire series.

If you’re into action, romance, Greek gods, and fantasy, I highly recommend this series.

And more good news, I hear there will be a spin-off novella featuring the Beta-team. I cannot wait. Thinking about it steals my breath.

Heart On Fire gets five/five glowing stars.

The Kingmaker Chronicles series gets 5/5 glowing stars. Hurry up and release that novella, Mrs. Bouchet! I mean, pretty please?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CHECK OUT AMANDA BOUCHET HERE

Have you read any of this trilogy? All of it? I’d love to chat about it.

As always, thanks for reading with me!

Gina

I’ve got more weekend reading to offer you. It’s Owl Vs. Animal Charmers, a short story featuring Lucy and Stan from Desert Sunrise. Get it delivered to your inbox by joining my newsletter here.

Midwestern-Style Veggie Soup From Author Chris Pavesic

Chris Pavesic writes fantastic fantasy and she’s an amazing cook. That’s why I invited her back today to share a recipe that helps us eat more vegetables and exciting books to binge on.

Take it away, Chris!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. red potatoes, cubed in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 large carrots, sliced thin
  • 3 celery stalks with leaves, sliced thin
  • 2 medium zucchini, 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cups vegetable stock

Materials:

  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large Soup pot/Dutch oven
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in the soup pot/Dutch oven except the parsley.  Bring to boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer about 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add parsley during the last 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves before serving. 

And now for binge-worthy books!

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There Is Always A Way To Love

I’ve put my Natural Gifts characters through a lot, and they can tell you that love always finds a way. Be kind to each other. Take care of one another. We’re going to get through this.

Escape into a book for a few hours. It’s the weekend!

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If you’re in the mood for an animal charmers short story, you can get it here when you sign up for my newsletters.

Thanks for reading,

Gina

Authors Who Sell Books Do This – Guest Post By Sharon Ledwith – Writing Advice From The Pros

Guest Post By Sharon Ledwith

Spying is a catchy way of saying “do your research and stay tuned in.” Regardless of what you call it, it’s a mandatory part of being successful. It’s also a great way to build connections. There’s an old saying that to be successful you have to stop obsessing about the competition. I agree with that to a certain degree, but to be unaware of what other authors in your genre are doing is never a smart idea.

Regardless of what you write you need to be dialed into the competitive landscape. Knowing what others in your target market are doing, writing about, and promoting can be key to your success as well. Not that I would ever encourage copying, but being in tune with your genre and market can be a fantastic idea generator, not to mention it gives you the ability to stay ahead of certain trends that haven’t even surfaced at the consumer level yet.

First rule of spying: study your target market, the books as well as other authors in the industry. It helps you to also differentiate yourself from them in products, services, and pricing. Again, you don’t want to copy, you just want to be aware. Another lesser known reason for doing this is that if you’re struggling with your social media (like me)—both from the aspect of what platform to be on to what to say to drive more engagement—keeping these authors on your radar will greatly increase your marketing ideas. Living in a vacuum never made anyone successful.

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you want to know who else is writing on your topic or in your genre. Google search is a great place to start. The results will not just turn up names and book titles but also show you the best ways to interact with your reader.

Google is packed with names of authors who write about your topic or genre. As you begin to compile your list, I want you to do one thing: ignore big brands because it’s likely that they can do anything they want and still be successful. If you’re a middle grade writer, names like Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull come to mind. These authors are big, powerful brands. You want the smaller names—the people you may not immediately recognize. Why? Because they have to try harder. If tomorrow Riordan or Mull decided to put out a book on poetry, while their fans might be surprised, they would likely still buy it. But if a lesser-known author did that they’d look like they have writer-ADD. Not good.

So start putting your list together, as you do sign up for their mailing lists, and follow them on Twitter and any other social media site they use. That’s what I do. Aside from the obvious reasons why you want to do this, I’m a big fan of supporting other authors in my market. Share their Facebook updates, retweet their great Twitter posts, and like their Instagram images.

One of the hidden gems of this research is it will also show you what social media sites to be on. If you’ve been struggling to figure out where your market resides, this strategy should really clear that up for you. Why? Because if you’re plucking names off of the first page of Google you know one thing: whatever they are doing to show up in search, they’re doing it right. Google has made so many changes to their search algorithms that you simply can’t “trick” the system anymore to get onto page one. Look at their updates. What are they sharing and why? How often do they blog? Are they on LinkedIn instead of Facebook? Is there much going on for them on Pinterest or Instagram? Really spend some time with this. Not only will it help you tune into your market but it will cut your learning curve by half, if not more.

Successful authors leave clues. Are you following their bread crumbs?

Here’s a glimpse into one of the books from Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, my teen psychic mystery series.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

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Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program To Take Charge Of Your Emotions Today By Julia Ross, M.A. – Recommended Book Reviews

I was introduced to Ross’s work when I was working toward my nutrition degree and was assigned the task of finding a popular book about approaches to diet and write a paper about it. I chose The Diet Cure, Ross’s first book. Years later my dear friend, a talented NLP practitioner and Theta healer named Jillian O’Hara, recommended The Mood Cure based on her own experiences with it.. I remembered how impressive The Diet Cure was and added The Mood Cure to my TBR tower.

There are six pages of notes written in my book journal from while I was reading this book. I’ve added notes to handouts I give to clients directly quoting Ross’s work. This book is worth reading if you or someone you care for is trying to balance their moods, even if I didn’t agree with every point Ross made. For example, I thought a deeper analysis of liver function was needed before implementing amino acid therapy and I don’t depend on animal-sourced protein the way she does. Protein is definitely a key, but I believe that it can be plant-based if you eat complete proteins or combine them, like beans and rice. I’ve seen too much animal protein create new problems.

Everyone in a position of helping others with nutrition should read this book.

This review is of the ebook edition, published in 2002.

Highlights of the book are:

Evaluation of symptoms including a deeper dive into remedies.

A timeline for when you should see improvement from the remedy.

Specifics about supplementing with amino acids.

How low-calorie diets and skipped meals can quickly reduce vital serotonin-making supplies.

Informative charts. I saw the same charts in the paperback version and they were much easier to read there than in the ebook version.

Non-meat sources of tryptophan.

Which nutrients you need to take in for consistent neurotransmitter function.

Information about light therapy.

Chapter 13 is an exceptional approach to chronic pain and can improve daily life with simple changes.

Ross backs her information with research.

Amazing bibliography, including my introduction to 7 Weeks to Sobriety by Joan Matthews-Larson, which is easily the best book I’ve read on nutritional approaches to alcohol and substance dependency.

Recipes!

Is this book a substitute for a qualified nutrition professional? Simply put, no. We all need a trained professional to guide us through the entirety of making changes in a way that will lead to lasting results.

Reading this book will empower any reader in understanding how moods can be balanced, and that is golden.

Be sure to check out the great resources on Julia Ross’ website.

Thanks for reading,

Gina

Why I Write Regencies – By Guest Author Vonnie Hughes

WHY I WRITE REGENCIES

by Vonnie Hughes

If you check the ‘historical background’ page of my website you’ll get a glimpse of my fascination with the Regency period.

It was such a short time in Britain’s history, but has given rise to many things such as the development of canals as trade with their partners hotted up after the imprisonment of Napoleon, freeing up trade routes, and resulting in large numbers of goods that needed to be transported all over England. The Royal Astronomical Society was founded, along with the early prototype of the bicycle, the development of the railway system, and the Act of Union with Ireland in 1801 etc. All this is from the British point of view. In the USA Whitney came up with the principle of manufacturing interchangeable parts as pertaining to firearms. The statue of the Venus de Milo was discovered in Greece (1820) and so it goes on.

And this is one of the prime reasons I enjoy writing Regencies. In spite of many Regencies persuading you that it was all about Almacks and dukes, the Regency era was actually a time on the cusp of great changes, not just in Britain but all over the world. Minds were opening up, no longer relying on the dogma of the past.

In 1814 The Times adopted steam printing. By this method it could print 1,100 sheets every hour, not 200 as before—a fivefold increase in production capability and demand. This development brought about the rise of the wildly popular fashionable novels.

I appreciate how the Regency era is also noted for its achievements in the fine arts and architecture (Nash springs to mind), and remember the striped wallpaper still known as ‘Regency?’ Those years encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic changes that shaped and altered the societal structure of Britain. Remember that in London alone, the population increased from just under one million in 1801 to 1.25 million by 1820.

One of the reasons that the arts flourished during this era was because of the patronage of ‘Prinny,’ the fact and at times ridiculous Prince of Wales. We might laugh at him, but it’s thanks to him that the development of British architecture flourished, even if his schemes often left the common people paying for his overblown designs.

The Regency era opened up the market for many authors including Sir Walter Scott, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley (who incorporated the general mistrust of science during the earlier part of the Regency era), John Keats, and William Blake. Then there were the playwrights and artists…the list goes on and on to confirm how minds began to open to new possibilities during that time.

And that, friends, is why I love to set some of my books during the Regencies. There are so many possibilities! Oh yes, there was a lot more to the Regency period than those autocratic dukes and the patronesses at Almacks.

Here’s a brief look at my Regency novella. I hope you enjoy it.

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie, in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father for her actions, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie even though she knows that nothing will ever come of her dreams.

Injured and shackled in a stranger’s attic, Theo unexpectedly discovers the woman of his dreams. But how can he pursue those dreams when her bizarre family’s complex relationships threaten the very foundation of his existence? Somehow Theo must find a way through this maze to claim his lady.


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Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.