Secret Recipes and Family Favorites


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 49 – A Favorite Recipe.

Being a lifelong foodie, my recent dietary changes have eliminated a lot of my favorites. It’s hard to choose just one, so I will give you a few categories.

Sherri’s Secret Salad – a lady at our church  (Sherri) prides herself on this salad. Everyone loves it, including me.  She has sworn the recipe to secrecy so that you will buy the bottled dressing from her. The funny thing is,  I wasn’t aware of that when I first tasted her salad and copied it. I can generally figure out a recipe by taste most of the time. I figured it out pretty closely, but alas it has sugar in the dressing so I have to figure out something else.

Salad base:

  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • red onion, sliced very thin
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced in halve
  • iceburg lettuce, chopped ( I prefer to use buttercrunch myself)
  • cucumber, peeled, chopped
  • carrot shreds
  • shredded cheddar

The dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing bottled
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP additional Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine dressing ingredients, whisk together and pour over salad. Toss gently and serve. Guess it’s not a secret anymore,  but I can’t guarantee that is exactly the recipe she follows.

Yeast rolls – I make homemade yeast rolls every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and occasionally other times in the year. I can’t have any,  but I still make them for the family. White bread more than other bread sends my blood sugar soaring, so I have to bypass. There is just something satisfying about kneading bread.  I follow the Betty Crocker recipe in an old tattered book that I received as a wedding present 32 years ago! I’m sure you can find it online, look up dinner rolls.

Rosemary and garlic potatoes – again, one of my favorites but I can’t do potatoes anymore because it affects my blood sugar. (Another thing I can thank cancer for!)

Super simple –

  • red potatoes  – scrub them, cutting out eyes and any bad spots.
  • yellow onion – cut into coarse chunks and separate.
  • rinse in cold water.
  • Put into large bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil.
  • Add 1 tsp salt or sea salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp minced garlic
  • one stem of rosemary leaves, rake leaves off of stem from tip to base. Fresh is best,  the dried is like eating twigs.

Roast in oven at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Lasagna – I’ve often had requests for my lasagna. I don’t have some guarded family secret.  I use ingredients from Aldi – the secret is in the seasoning.

Find the Betty Crocker recipe online – when you make your meat sauce, add a little more garlic,  some additional Italian seasoning,  and fresh basil. If there’s any secret,  that is it. Basil is amazing.

Tonight, in fact, I am making lasagna. However, since pasta is on my no-no list, I am making zucchini lasagna. This is tricky to an old-fashioned pasta fiend such as me.

Instead of lasagna noodles, buy 3 to 4 zucchini. You can peel or leave the skin on – your choice.  I peeled mine so it wasn’t such a shock to the family. Cut the stem end and bottom end off. Slice lengthwise into thin strips, so you have long skinny lasagna “noodles”. Have your pan of boiling water at a full boil before dropping them in, and you only want to parboil them, then drain on a paper towel. Otherwise, they end up mushy and the only thing worse than mushy is gooey.

Everything else is the same in the recipe, except I omit the pinch of sugar I normally add to my marinara. Add a little parsley to cut down on indigestion if needed.

I’ve only tried this with the lasagna once before, so let’s hope that it works!

My all-time favorite dessert – brownies, just aren’t’ the same without sugar. I’m still searching for a palatable sugar-free alternative. I’ve tried a dozen or so paleo, sugar-free, carb free, and otherwise craptastic recipes. Most have ended up in the trash.

So, since you, my wonderful readers aren’t restricted to a no sugar diet, I will share the full recipe that I have always used. This recipe has won baking contests!

Best Brownies

(I usually double this)

Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup butter (real butter not margarine)

Frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons softened butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm. 

 

As this is a blog hop, there are many other authors who are participating.  You can check them out HERE: when I scheduled this,  the list wasn’t up yet so hopefully you will be able to go there and get the fresh list.

What’s your favorite recipe?

Remember to leave a comment to be entered into the prize drawing for the week!

 

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

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Wanted: One Home Office


Once again, it’s time for the Marketing for Romance Writers yearlong blog hop. For  week 47, the writing prompt is:

My Writing Space

Oh boy! Talk about a sore subject with me, this would be it. For any of you who have followed my blog for some time,  you may recall a couple of my posts about an office. Here are a couple: Personal Space, Space Revisions, and The Countdown Has Begun. In the last one, I shared my color scheme for my office area.

The best-laid plans. . . alas, I still don’t have an office.

I spent hours cleaning out the area in the basement that would become my office.

This is the space in the basement that I cleared out. The first photo is from the file cabinet to the outer wall, the second one is from the point just behind the child’s rocker. 

 

 

 

I moved everything off of the bookshelf,  had the entire area cleared out, floors mopped, spider webs vacuumed. Then my husband filled the area with items from auctions for resale. What was supposed to be a small area from the deep freeze to the table against the wall ended up filling the entire area.

As you can see from my rough sketch plan, the area where the table is behind a wall of backed storage shelves was supposed to be for sorting, cleaning, repairing, and tagging items for resale and repurposing. I was not a happy camper. Still not, in regards to my office. By the way,  that’s 1200 square feet of space in the basement. You’d think a small area for an office wouldn’t be such a deal.

I don’t understand why every single time that I ask for or prepare an area for me to have my own space to work it becomes a battle. I still have my color scheme and decor picked out for the office space, but it won’t be in this house.

This is my color scheme. Beachy/coastal with Bermuda blue, dark blue accents, tan/beige (sand) walls with black accents and flooring that resembles the weathered wood of a pier.

We plan to move closer to where my husband is employed and one of the few demands that I am going to make is my own office.  I don’t care if it’s the smallest room in the house I WILL have an office.

Currently,  my writing area consists of one end of our kitchen table and my papers and notebooks are stacked on a small side table that is against the wall.   It is a mess! I need to go through my stack and refile things,  discard other things, sort the  tax info from my notes and all of that other filing stuff that needs to happen.

I do have an office for my job as an MLO. It doesn’t have any internet connection and is strictly for meeting with clients and closings.

It has purple sparkly walls! Not a purple fan myself, but I’m making the best of it. Apparently, the business that was there before me was a massage therapist.

The purple drapes over the door have been replaced with white sheer curtains, and soon to be thicker white drapes as the weather is cooler and it gets cold by that door!  My desk sits by the two outlets, along with a two drawer file cabinet. I’ve added a bit of decor as well as the obligatory licenses and documents that have to be displayed. I did take some photos with my desk in place, but the images didn’t turn out very well.

So, when I am desperate for no distractions,  I can take my laptop or notebooks to my office for some peace and quiet. Most of the time though, I write from our kitchen table.

One of these days I am going to knock your socks off and share images from a bonafide home office suitable for an author.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s that the hubs still thinks this is a glorified ego trip and expensive hobby – his words. Maybe that’s the underlying issue of why I can’t seem to get my own office space. I don’t know,  but it’s going to change. There aren’t many demands that I ever make but I’m about to make two –  my own office space and a main floor laundry area. Unless my office is in the basement, then the basement laundry area is acceptable. If that is how it turns out,  the office will be finished before we move in. PERIOD.

I’ve waited patiently. I’ve been not as patient.  It’s to the point that we’re about to rumble and I always win – partly because I don’t play fair. I fight to win and I will fight for my own office.

There better be offerings for appeasement left near my writing area now that I’ve been reminded of how long it has been since I worked so hard to clear out that area only to have it snatched away from me. Not a happy camper here. Not at all.

I’m sure the other authors in this blog hop aren’t as sensitive about their offices. They probably have offices! Go check their offices out and share some design tips since I have more time to plan my decor.  Look out Pinterest, here I come!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Bragging Rights! #MFRW


Once again, it’s time for the Marketing for Romance Writers yearlong blog hop. For  week 46, the writing prompt is:

Let Me Brag For A Minute

 

 

Wow! Who would have thought that for me, a talker, this would be so difficult? I may have to go have another cup of coffee to think. Or maybe two.


Upon reading the prompt my immediate thought is  – I have nothing to brag about – period.  But that’s not true! Each of us has a story to tell, each of us has accomplishments.  I am more comfortable bragging about my friends and fellow authors than I am tooting my own horn, which is probably one reason my sales aren’t better!

But, this week’s prompt. . .  is it too late to back out?????  Yeah??  OK, FINE!  Let’s get this over with.

Ellie’s Top 5 Bragging Rights:

  1. Way back in my younger days. . . . *jump into the way back machine* . . . I earned a scholarship to attend Southeast Missouri State University. It covered everything except the housing, which at that time wasn’t nearly as expensive as now, that my daughter is attending there.  I went on to complete my degree even though I lost my scholarship.  I had to maintain a 3.5 gpa, and after the first year, my gpa was 3.47.  Nevertheless,  I won a scholarship!
  2. Have been married to the same man for 32 years!  It hasn’t been smooth sailing. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, good times bad times, better and worse, sickness and health, . . . it was touchy for a while there but we made it through together. In this day and age, 20 years is a victory. 30 years is rare! I count this as a victory! We’re not perfect, we’re just two people who decide at the end of the day that the surplus column is greater than the deficit!
  3. I have published 3 books.  I know,  in the grand scheme of things that isn’t many but the fact that I have completed – and published 3 tells me that there is hope for the other 18 files on my computer. Several are completed but need editing. Some need revision, some need just a tweak here or there, . . . yes, I tend to be one of those who is hesitant to cut the cord because I worry that the world at large will not appreciate my babies.
  4. I am an excellent cook! Do you think I got this extra insulation by being a lousy cook? Seriously! It would probably be better for my and my family’s waistlines if I were one of those women who can’t even boil water. I can cook just about anything. I’ve mastered Italian foods – lasagna, mostaccioli, pasta marinara, pasta con Pesce,  fettuccini alfredo, and numerous other dishes including Capresi salad. I’ve mastered a few variations of Chinese foods – egg drop soup is so incredibly simple, I don’t know how anyone could get it wrong. Fried rice – it’s like jambalaya only Chinese. A couple favorites are General Tso’s chicken, chicken and vegetable, beef broccoli, and orange chicken. I’ve mastered some cajun cuisine – jambalaya, of course, red beans and rice, shrimp et tu fe, and gumbo. I’ve mastered good ol’ American homestyle – chicken and dumplings – have been requested at many family gatherings,  beef stew,  roast chicken dinner, pot roast. My family’s favorites are Tex Mex – enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, burritos, and tamales along with refried beans, and pico de gallo.   Then, of course, is my pie making abilities. The only pie I haven’t tackled is pecan pie because my husband makes it and it’s always excellent. Unfortunately,  I can no longer have sugar so my baking has dwindled down to experimenting with sugar-free recipes. On an up note,  I made a carrot cake for a recent gathering that was sugar-free and had 5 requests for the recipe! The only thing I haven’t mastered, and I feel that it’s because I get impatient is fried chicken! LOL
  5. My first book Red Wine & Roses was nominated for several awards. I was nominated for best cover, best contemporary romance, debut author, and debut romance author. I didn’t win,  but it was cool to be nominated. I was in the  top five for the final round of nominations, so I think that was pretty cool.
  6. BONUS:  I am claiming bragging rights for beating breast cancer!  I’m still here, still kicking, still writing, and getting stronger every day! I thank God every day that I wake up and have a renewed sense of what’s important in my life. I’m sorry that it took something like this to get my full attention,  but it has and I am learning to make myself a priority, which I haven’t done for a long time.

What bragging rights do you have?  What thing are you most proud of? Several things? Let’s hear what yours are!

 

Have a great one and write on my friends,  write on.

Top Secret Briefing!


Once again, it’s time for the Marketing for Romance Writers yearlong blog hop. For  week 45, the writing prompt is:

An Unforgettable Day in My Life

 

 

Hmmm, well the obvious most recent unforgettable day was April 20th, but I don’t want to talk about that.

Then, there are of course the highlight reel moments – births of children, the wedding, graduation from high school, college, first day on the job . . .

Hey, that might work.

OK, so it wasn’t exactly the first day on the job. After college, I got a job at the county courthouse for nine months before I got the call for THE JOB I wanted. It was THE JOB that I hoped for in acquiring my degree.

Back then it was called Defense Mapping Aerospace Center. It is currently named Geospatial Information Systems or something to that effect. I worked in a top secret environment, had a high-level security clearance, and worked inside the SCIF – secure compartmentalized information field. The government is really big on acronyms.

You thought I was just a regular goober with a blog, didn’t you?  SNORTS

By now you should know there is nothing regular about me. Anyway, when I pursued a degree in cartography – which is mapping and charting not photography, they had to know I wasn’t right. I have always had a passion for earth sciences and particularly rocks. My sisters are both nurses – I can’t stand needles. I studied rocks, they don’t bleed.

In my junior year of high school, my oldest brother came home to visit. I have never really known much about my oldest brother as he’s not lived near me for most of my life. He went away to college when I was in the fourth grade. Anyway, he came home and asked the big question: So what are your plans for after high school?

I quickly responded because I had it all mapped out. “I’m going to be a psychiatrist and an author.”

“OH, so you’re going to write psychology books? Like textbooks?”

“No, like Agatha Christie or Stephen King.”

He laughed at me.

I didn’t think it was funny.

Then he proceeded to tell me why my idea was wrong, why I couldn’t do it, and why it was a very bad idea – in his opinion.

I was angry. So very angry. I hated him with a passion that only a creative author can have. My father actually sat down with me and went over the reality of the psychology thing,  and that summer I worked with him as his assistant/gopher/ clean-up crew on job sites, and he just happened to be working at a mental institution. I have to admit,  a couple of the patients totally freaked me out. He encouraged me to pursue a career in cartography because they made really good money. TRUTH – when I retired in 1997, I was making $26.00 an hour.  Excellent wages at the time.

So back to the day that was unforgettable.  *Do the timey wimey wibbly wobbly stuff to catch up*

I was working in the Scientific Data department also known as Points.  I can’t tell you exactly what we did because it was classified. I can tell you though, that during Desert Storm our division had an integral part in the war. I had transferred out of a section within points division to the digital transfer section, which I thought was much cooler than deriving points from the stereoplotters. Keep in mind that this was before everyone and their brother had a cell phone.

Some bigwigs from Washington DC were coming to St. Louis to have tours of the digital transfers that we were doing, then attending a bomb damage assessment video presentation afterward. That morning our supervisor told us who the VIPs were going to be – Jim Baker, and Dick Cheney then secretary of state and secretary of defense. Yes, the same Dick Cheney that would be vice president!

The first thing I did was run to the bathroom to puke. Seriously,  I was about to hyperventilate.  I kept a toothbrush and toothpaste in my desk, so I  used them.

I had about a half hour to prepare, and I was shaking in my boots.  Being a professional environment, we wore business attire, which for the 90’s meant power suits, heels, make up – the whole shebang! I was wearing my lucky blue power suit.

I remember the small party of about twenty-five individuals,  mostly secret service men and military mps. There were only three times in the entire tour that I spoke directly to either Mr. Baker or Mr. Cheney, and to be honest, at the time I didn’t realize that it was either that had asked the questions.  The voices came out of the mob of people.

It wasn’t until afterward, in the bda briefing that a coworker pulled me aside and asked me how I managed to be so cool in front of them. I replied that I just figured it was one of the military men that inquired. Just then I recognized the voice of the person starting the briefing. It was Mr. Cheney.

I. About. Wet. Myself! SEriously!

I had to excuse myself to use the restroom,  then tried to slip quietly into the back to view the presentation. At the end, he mentioned his appreciation for the informative tour from the digital transfer section, naming me. Everyone turned looking at me.

It was a super embarrassing moment but at the same time a very proud moment.  Not everyone can say they got to brief a future ( it was future at the time) vice president.

So, let’s just keep this between you and me though because of the classified information, K?

Have a great one and write on my friends,  write on.

Meet my Furbaby, Ginger #MFRW


Week 43 – Meet my Pet, MFRW blog Hop.

My furbaby, Ginger is a golden chow. That is a golden retriever mixed with a chow. Her mother was a golden, and the father was a red chow. When she came to us,  she was a fluffy fat bellied fuzzball with a broken tail.

After weeks of deworming, and TLC for her poor little tail, she quickly adapted to being the third puppy in our home. I don’t know what order she was in her own litter,  but for a while, she asserted her dominance over our youngest daughter.  I began watching to see what was going on, and our youngest would lay on the floor and put Ginger on her tummy and pet her. Well, to a dog that is a sign of submission. It didn’t take but a few weeks for both of them  – my daughter and the puppy, to get the order of dominance.

Ginger still pushed it a few times, and Hannah was afraid of her when she would growl, or bark to assert herself.  To Hannah’s defense,  she was just a kid at the time and Ginger seemed like a big dog to her. Now that Hannah towers over me, Ginger only comes to her knees.

She is the most lovable, happy, easy going dog I’ve ever had in my life. That’s saying something because when I was growing up we had a St. Bernard, a gentle giant. He was like an overgrown puppy with a sweet disposition.

Recently, we had to take Ginger to the vet because she was acting disoriented, drunk, was staggering and falling down. Two days of testing and xrays led the vet to determine that she has a brain tumor. Ginger is 13 years old, her muzzle is grey, and has recently dropped weight from her usual 50ish pounds down to barely 40 pounds.

She is a prima donna when it rains,  prancing around with an “I don’t like to get my paws wet” tiptoe around the wet grass.  She loves peanut butter, she loves her mom – me! In the time we have left with her,  we are spoiling her silly with peanut butter and honey sandwiches – by the instruction of the vet because as an old dog, she is showing some signs of low blood sugar at times. Dogs get diabetes too!

Her coat isn’t as full as it once was, but then again my hair has thinned this past year as well.

We will continue to spoil her during the remainder of her time with us. Love my baby!! She helps me with my stress management.

What about you? What kind of pet do you have? You can read what the other authors have to say:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write on my friends, write on!

First Love #MFRW


Welcome to week 42 of the 52-week MFRW blog hop – My First Love. Wow – do you realize there are only ten -TEN weeks left in the year??? Holy moly where did the time go?

My first love . . . hmmm. Does that mean the first man I fell in love with?  That would be my husband of 32 years, and we dated for 6 years before that.

Does it mean my first love as in God and Jesus? That should be all of our first loves, but I don’t really think that is what it is referring to in this blog hop. Although, if you are writing Christian romance for Steeple Hill, then I guess that would be a suitable topic.

OR does it mean my first love in reading? Sometimes I get confused as to what the intent was for these prompts, like the week about the open door, yeah I totally missed that one!

I need to think over a cup of joe while I sort this out in my head. In the meantime,  you can listen to this:

Alright, coffee consumed and I think I will share about my first love – my hubby. After all, our view about romance and how romance works is filtered through our own perceptions. I will be breaking a rule by sharing this because the hubs doesn’t like for me to talk about him, or us, on the blog.

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I was fifteen years old when I was crushing on this gorgeous hunk. Muscles, oh my! Ripped abs, bulging biceps, but not too bulky. His voice – a deep rich baritone, think Lou Rawls!

His sexy grin sent shivers down my spine before he ever cast a look in my direction. He was the Captain of his football team, I was a band geek. I never thought in a million years he would even look my way and was speechless when he asked me out. Please understand, for me to be speechless is a feat!

He had a full head of thick luscious hair, and back in the 80’s, his hair brushed his shoulders. Our first 3 dates were Friday night – school dance, Saturday night – my school dance, and Sunday – a bowling outing with our youth group from church.

2014-09-24 11.22.33

I was a goner from the first kiss. Man, can he kiss! The kind of toe-curling, knee popping, my insides turn to mush kiss.

This is one of my favorite photos of the hubs, taken long before we were married. He had been working on his car – a 64 Chevy Impala SS, you can see he’s inside the engine compartment and had been laying on the ground beneath the car.  He wasn’t too thrilled with my photography, but I just love this shot!

But, you know . . . true love is more than the physical relationship. We connected. We talked. We shared common interests while maintaining individual interests. He still loves sports, I don’t. I still love the creative crafty stuff, he is meh.

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We’ve had our share of ups and downs, highs and lows. This year has been a lot of lows, but through it all, he’s been my rock. I don’t know that I could have made it through all this cancer stuff if he hadn’t been my biggest supporter, encourager, hand holder, chauffeur, and above all, my best friend.  He was willing to shave his head with me for support!

He puts up with all of my quirks. I’ve put on a lot of weight since we first began dating and he’s rarely complained. If anything, he encourages me to be healthy and regularly tells me I can do it!

True love goes so far beyond the physical attraction, it’s difficult to put into words for the younger crowd. When you find someone who loves you and wants to be with you even though they know your flaws, your hang-ups, and every one of your bad habits. . . . that is true love and worth hanging onto.

This is the kind of love that inspires me to write love stories,  to write romance. This is what inspires me to face the next day when I’m tired of being a pincushion, tired of Dr’s offices, and tired of facing yet another change caused by cancer.

We aren’t wealthy financially by any means, but when I count my blessings,  I feel I am the richest woman alive to have found my Mister Right!

Sure, he has flaws. He’s human after all but they are easily overlooked when looking at the big picture. The big picture for me is a life full of happy memories,  two beautiful children, a loving home, and my best friend to grow old with!

I’m curious to see what the other authors have done with this prompt, so let’s go check them out.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

 

Sparks of Genius #MFRW


Welcome to week 41 of the 52-week MFRW blog hop – My Blogging Inspiration.



Wow, what a loaded question. Where do I get my inspirations? The short answer, everywhere.

The more complicated answer: I have tried to work themes around different days, for example I’ve set aside Fridays for this blog hop. I tend towards Motivational Mondays, have posted Teasers on Tuesdays, Woman Wednesday where I have hosted many female authors, Thinking Thursday and Fun Fridays. Ironically when I tried to channel my ideas into specific ideas, my  creative juices came to a screeching halt.

Then there are the time issues,  like when I was undergoing treatment, the days I am still sruggling to function, the myriad of appointments, and other life demands.  I have  good intentions to blog daily,  but lately I’ve been doing good to post twice a week. By the way,  I sat at the computer for well over an hour with several stops and starts, erase, delete, type over for last week’s prompt.  My mind just wasn’t  in it. I couldn’t think of a single book quote to save my life and it wasn’t until it was time to log off and start on dinner that my friend Cathy suggested I google it. DOH!

Anyway, back to my inspirations. . . everything.  A post on Facebook,  something on the news, something  I saw while driving,  or most often that ‘spark of genius’ that pops into my head. LOL

I wish I could say that it was some deep thinking, brilliant thought process,  but most often it’s just what pops in at the moment.  Yes, on occasion my thoughts run deep but I don’t often share those, because I like to keep it light and fresh and those deep thoughts can be intense.

I enjoy blogging. probably more than I like writing books because they are short pithy posts, and I get them out of my system quickly.  Books take a loooooooonngg time and my ADD fights me every time. That and the perfectionist in me thinks  it has to be absolutely perfect before I release it to the world.  Meanwhile, I have twelve books completed and sitting in the files waiting for final edits. I am working on the next one, I’ve done final edits geting it in shape to send to my beta readers.

I may start sharing snippets again from that one, now that I have been in a good groove with my writing. Plus, looking forward to NANO next month to work on a new novella that ties into the universe of Faere Warrior.

One of the reasons I like to interview other authors is because I get inspired with their enthusiasm. Then I can write for a while longer. Selfish I know.

Comment below and let me know which of the topics you enjoy hearing about! Here are some other authors in the blog hop – be sure to check them out as well!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

 

It Was the Best of Times #MFRW


Welcome to week 38 of the 52-week MFRW blog hop – The Best of Each Season.

From a romance author’s perspective, there are a few things that can be a plus to each season.

IF we go into the way back machine, back to when I got married, not quite as far back as the stone age. . . it was the thing to be a June bride.

I can see why brides choose each season and weddings aren’t just on Saturdays anymore. For the same reasons,  I can see why an author would choose a certain season to convey a mood or feeling throughout their book.

WINTER:

A chill in the air, frost on the window, those wonderful fur muffs, snow,  horse drawn sleighs or carriages, and blazing fires in a fireplace are all perks to even the harshest winter days.  I read a romance book that was essentially the couple being stuck in a cabin together for a few days after an avalanche.

SPRING:

Fresh flowers,  bright green grass, lilacs, budding trees, warming temperatures –  I have been to beautiful weddings that took place in a botanical garden, surrounded by blossoms.  There is nothing quite like the smell just after a rain, with new grass and a light breeze.

SUMMER:

Less clothes! Swimming, beaches, swimwear – the perfect setting for a tropical romance, or stranded on an island together. Notice they are never on a northern island with Inuits?  Because that isn’t sexy! Stranded on a tropical island with shreds of what were your clothes, stripped down to bra and panties and maybe the shreds of a skirt, seeking shelter together in your make shift hut made out of banana leaves. . . I can picture this one now.

FALL:

Oh, the gorgeous colors of fall. My god daughter was married in September, with beautiful fall colors.

In my book Roxy Sings the Blues,  things come to a climax during the fall. I used to love hiking and plan to get back to it as I drop more weight. Roxy has an accident on a hiking trail that changes everything. If you close your eyes, you can almost smell the crisp crackling falling leaves after a  cold rain. This is the perfect time for mulled cider, that pumpkin spice cappuccino, and fresh apple pie! Food, after all,  is an aphrodisiac.

What appeals to you about each season?

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

 

Keys to the Kingdom #MFRW


 

Today is the 52-week MFRW blog challenge, Week 37- Five Ways to Win My Heart

Hmmm, at first  I thought –  what would it take to win my heart, but then I remembered a few weeks back, the ‘open/shut door’ fiasco. I think I’ll address both!

Hello, everyone! Glad you could stop by!  I know I’ve missed the last couple of prompts, but I have good reasons. No, really I do!  Doctors appointments and making final revisions on Roxy!

Five Ways to Win My Heart

  1. Bring me coffee – My husband follows a very strict Christian regime with the coffee, following Biblical instruction – He Brews.  Not only does he brew the coffee,  but on the weekends he brings me my first cup, made just like I like it! He scores some serious man points here!
  2. HE Gets Me – Understand me, get my jokes, my sense of humor, sarcasm, understand my point of view. It’s not even necessary to agree with me, just  GET me.  My husband gets me.  He laughs at my corny jokes,  he gets my quirky humor, and sometimes off-color humor as well.  He gets it when I am upset, although often he wants to fix it even though I just need him to listen and understand why I am upset.  More man points!
  3. Pens – Every year for Christmas Santa’s helper AKA Hubster sneaks a few pens or a lot of pens into my stocking or in a box beneath the tree. This past year, he gave me a giant box of gel pens to use for my adult coloring books. My favorite uni-ball pens find their way into my stocking.  He brings home novelty pens from salesmen at work. It’s amazing how many interesting pens salesmen use in the IT world! My name is Ellie, and I have a pen habit. Supplying my habit is a fast track to winning my heart! Exponential man points!
  4. Notice my weight loss – OK, this one is tricky. Living with a person that you see day in and day out,  it’s often difficult to notice subtle changes. A quick way to a fight comes from comments that I need to START losing weight. I go from zero to ballistic in .03 seconds. Seriously, I have been denying myself so many things, have given up many other things, have changed my diet drastically, have been exercising a little more each week, I know I still have a long way to go, but DANG IT –  lie if you have to, acknowledge something.  My skin looks clearer and not ashen, my shirts fit better, my shorts have been baggy –  but those are things that I tend to be the only one to notice.  Some day, he will notice.  It will probably be after someone else comments,  but eventually . . . I hope.  No points in a long, long time.
  5. Enjoy being with me – It doesn’t matter what we do or if we are doing nothing. Someone who wants to spend time with me earns instant points. In our cyber age,  it’s rare to still have freinds that will spend real life time with you.  Face to face time, where you can actually engage in a relationship.  It’s one thing to be freinds it’s another to want to spend time with an individual.  The fact that the hubster chooses to spend his time with me completely wins my heart!

How a Romance Author Wins My Heart

  1. Beleivable characters –  I need a heroine that I can relate to. I need to connect to her, put myself in her shoes.  The hero has to be  relatable as well.  I don’t get into those billionaire books.  The likelihood of some uber rich guy coming into my middle class American world is  beyond my suspension of disbelief.
  2. Nasty villain – Give me an antagonist I can hate, which also causes me to root for the heroine that much more.  He doesn’t have to be nasty in the sense of vile or perverse,  but nasty as in mean and ruthless. The kind of person that makes you hope they get their come-uppance.
  3. Action – Action draws the reader forward, narrative can bog down the story. I want a story that will  keep me turning the pages. I’ve read enough romance books to know the formulaic approach, and if the author can surprise me, I will read them again!
  4. Cliffhanger –  there needs to be at least one low point that leaves you hanging,  makes you wonder if the heroine will make it or ever achieve their happily ever after.  This is romance of course,  so  we know the author isn’t going to kill the Main character, but when an author makes you wonder if they are bucking the system, it’s very gratifying.
  5. The Denoument – when all the ends are tidied up at the end and you are not left wondering,  but what happened to that guy that was in the hospital on life support? What happened to her dog? On page 145 her dog was lost after the tornado,  then on page 187 she searches the animal shelter,  then   she gets the happily ever after  with the hero, but the dog is forgotten. Did she give up on the dog? Did someone adopt the dog?  I know,  it seems like a petty thing,  but things like this,  the author used a certain trope or character to fill space, and tell the story from point D to E, and by the conclusion at K, there is never another mention of it. This is one of those things where I would say tell me not show me.  Because if the author is trying to show that she was heartbroken, then distracted by the guy, then that makes her seem a crappy pet owner and it maight be best if she never have another pet. Do you get what I am saying? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the pet. I’ve seen it with a neighbor,  a coworker, where it is just assumed that since they don’t matter to the final outcomoe of the story,  they aren’t mentioned again.
What about you? What does it take to win your heart in person or in a book? Share your thoughts below.

Here  are the links for other authors in this blog hop sharing  their five points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

There are more but I don’t have the links done yet. I will eventually, when I get to it.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

The Doors! #MFRW


Happy Friday!

 

Today is the 52-week MFRW blog challenge, Week 34 – Open Doors or Closed Doors? 

I have a small confession to make. I often think in song.  It’s true! Just about any topic, and my mind goes to song lyrics. Maybe it’s all those musicals my Mom used to watch on TV. Maybe it’s the musicals we went to the Muny to see. (ST. Louis Municipal Theater, Forest Park) Maybe it’s the eighteen years of piano lessons, ten years in band counting college, or maybe it’s just an annoying quirk that I have. It drives the  hubs bat sh** crazy.

See what I mean? 

I’m sure you can make the leap of why my mind went automatically to The Doors given the prompt.  I mean come on, that was an open door! *snorts*

But what if that wasn’t what the MFRW challenge

had in mind? Hmmmm.

 

 

It’s a horrible thing, this ADD brain of mine. Look- Squirrel!  Back to the topic – doors. How can any writer worth their salt not think of JRR Tolkien in reference to doors?

I put the  thought on the back burner while I attempted to upload my new  book to Createspace. I say attempted because my laptop is not cooperating with Adobe flash player, and it won’t let me review the insides. It simmered back there for a few hours.

*ding* It’s soup!

What if . . .  yeah, I could go with that.  Since this blog challenge is  related to romance writing,  maybe I should share about doors in that field.

In 2015, I had made myself a resolution that I would submit my manuscripts to publishers through July and if none were accepted,  I would attempt the self-publishing route.

I have regularly submitted articles to magazines and online magazines. It’s similar but different to novels. I sent Kiss of the Dragon off to 3 publishers and got two rejections and one – if you rewrite the entire thing and change the characters then we will review it again. That kind of changes the entire story, don’t you think?  I shelved it.

I sent Faere Warrior: Passion’s Price off to 2 publishers. One rejection, one – if you add the backstory in and set this as maybe the second or third book in a series, and make the overall story the realm war,  then we would be interested in the series. I was on cloud 9!!!

I worked on it diligently, had the foundation story down, made the suggested tweaks to it, then had a falling away with an individual who unbeknownst to me was part owner of this small publishing house. Offer retracted. Sigh. Project shelved.

I sent 3 other stories off to publishers, some were unsolicited to houses that it was a long shot; nothing.  I submitted to a specific call for romance shorts, nothing.  I submitted to a call for a BDSM short, made the first round, then was cut in the second round.

I nearly quit. I thought I’ll just write for myself and file them away and maybe some day when I am dead my kids will find my manuscripts and read them and think they might be worth publishing.

 

 

I was ready to throw in the towel on getting any books published.  I had been successful in article writing for the newspaper, maybe that was all I was cut out for.  My dreams ‘done fell through’.

In my morning sprint group, the wonderful ladies encouraged me to keep writing and suggested that I consider self-publishing. I have to be honest,  I had a tainted view of this.  I thought self-publishing was Vanity Press.  Most of the people I knew that published books were through vanity press and they were a joke. Not to make light of their accomplishments!

Several church friends published their books, most of which was their life story. They sold a few at a table at church when they were first published then ended up with boxes of books in their garage or basement.  I didn’t want to be that person.

Then I started seeing more and more fiction writing in the Indy market. I finally bit on a friend’s novel about zombies and I loved it.  It was hysterical! They convinced me to consider it. So, back to the time line – I told myself if I didn’t get a contract by July, I would pursue the Indy market.

I finished my first book Red Wine & Roses.  OK, it wasn’t the first story I finished, but those were rejected and I was told to revise them, rewrite them or add X amount more to them. I made a post on Facebook that I had finished it! An individual whom I had worked with on the group blog got in touch with me for Eclectic Bard Books.  AN OPEN DOOR!

I jumped through that door so fast it made my head spin. It was a whirlwind of deadlines, demands, and then nothing. We came to a mutual point of not renewing the contract and they were gracious enough to release the rights to my story. I am truly grateful for that and the opportunity.  I learned a lot, but small house publishers . . . CLOSED DOOR! Locked, bolted, NOPE!

I learned a lot through that experience.  Some good, some bad,  all of it memorable.

I have edited some truly crap writing. I have also had the privilege of editing some great writing. In both cases,  the author was confident enough in their work, even if I thought it sucked, (hello –  there, their, they’re; to two too; affect, effect; was/were; numerous cases of  that doesn’t mean what you think it means;  and sex scenes that read like a clinical post rape exam – shudders)

Yet, they were determined to get their baby out there. What was I so afraid of?

Life has a way of impressing upon you what is really important.  I had been making excuses for not finishing my work, and not focusing on one project. I was a story polygamist. Either I wanted to do this or I didn’t, which is it?

My second book, a nonfiction humor collection of posts that started on my blog was my first shot at going Indy. Quotidiandose: 30 Days of Sass: I got the formatting wrong, got the margins wrong, but I learned. Soon I was able to get Red Wine back out there under my name.

I continue to learn. This year,  life smacked me around pretty hard but it drove home the point of either do it or shut up. I am going for it! There is still an open door, I’m going to use it.

There are a few other areas of my life that I have made huge revelations in as far as excuses. Some are harder to change than others but not impossible.

I feel like I am getting a second chance in life, I don’t want to waste it.  I’ve had some real issues with what our church teaches about personal goals and striving for your own desires. It’s sad that it has taken me this long to get it,  but I believe  God gives us the desires of our heart.  I believe that His word is true.  But I also believe that He expects us to work our little or big, fannies off. I don’t think there is anything wrong with personal aspirations –  it is what drives us to become better.

Maybe I’m wrong and y’all should pray for me in this. But tell me this,  Kurt Warner achieved his goal of becoming a professional football player. How is that OK, yet being an author isn’t? This lack of self-esteem that was established in my young years has somehow made me think that my goals aren’t as important as anyone else’s. That is wrong thinking.  I’m shutting that door right now. By doing so,  I am opening multiple doors of opportunity.

We are often our own worst enemy.  I know I am. I’m the one that put everyone else’s needs above my own. I’m the one who sidelined myself in life.  I’m the one who shelved my own dreams. NO MORE!

This isn’t a dress rehearsal,  this is real life. We are responsible for what we do with it.  I’m not happy with what I’ve done with mine up to this point,  so this second chance is a breath of fresh air. It has driven home the point to let things go. Shake it off.

I don’t want my eulogy to be, oh she was nice.  I want it to be bolder.  I want people to know that I gave my all, pursued my dreams,  living life with gusto and no apologies. I’m through apologizing for being me!

This wasn’t the direction that I  intended to go, but this is what came out. Doors are apparently a touchy subject with me.   Maybe I should have stopped with The Doors. NAH!

Let’s be real. Let’s be authentic with each other.

Life sucks at times, it’s up to us to make lemonade with the lemons we are given.

What doors are you keeping shut? Which ones have you opened? What doors are standing open waiting for you to go through?

There are a lot of other author’s in this blog hop that may have a more sound post. You may want to check them out at:

 

 Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:
  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

There are more but I don’t have the links done yet. I will eventually when I get to it. I’ve been working on Roxy and this week, I FINISHED IT! Roxy Sings the BLues in is the hands of the editor!

Here is the preorder link for ebooks:

As soon as my laptop cooperates or I figure out how to bypass flash player, the print copy will be available!

Write on my friends, write on!