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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There’s a Hole in My Bucket


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 48 – 5 Things on My Bucket List.

First, I have a couple things to say before we dive in.  I am so grateful to my friend Cathy Brockman, for sharing this blog hop. At a time when I was at my lowest low, thinking I may not survive the breast cancer, this blog hop kept calling to me to get back to writing. Yes, I’m well aware that I can be overly dramatic. My father called me on that one back when I was like six. Anyway, it may sound silly but this blog hop, even though I missed several months for a while, kept calling me back. I have met ( online ) a great group of authors associated with this blog and read their blogs.  I don’t always leave comments, but I read them.

The Bucket List is something that became all too real to me during that time. Focus on what’s important and let the rest go. I had to keep reminding myself of the four agreements, specifically do your best every day.  Some days my best was get to radiation, eat something, and sleep.  That was it.  Cancer treatment is different for each individual and for me,   fatigue was a constant.

It is still a long road to recovery, but I’m getting there!

Now, on to 5 Things On My Bucket List.

  1. Publish 20 of my books. I have a huge file of partially completed and completed stories that I have been clinging to, reluctant to release my babies. Then what did I write them for? Why do I write in the first place?  To entertain others. How is anyone going to enjoy them when they are squirreled away in a locked file?
  2. Decorate my home the way I want!  I spent many years, trying to pease my mother, trying to win the approval of my mother in law.  I spent so long trying to fit in with everyone else,  I didn’t put things on my wall that I like. Currently,  we have very little on the walls. I can’t really use the excuse of we just painted because we painted over 5 years ago. I need to minimize the clutter in my home and organize, and put up minimum decorations in this house, in order to sell.  But when we move, Katy Bar the Door! I’ve got some great ideas saved on Pinterest.
  3. Travel!!! Nova Scotia, Western Caribbean, Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Venice, Rome, Australia – not sure I want to go to the outback and experience the wildlife like black mambas – crikey! There are places in the US that I haven’t been to yet, and I want to go. The Badlands, Grand Canyon, and many others!
  4. Be the Keynote Speaker at an Author Event. Someday. I have done public speaking before,  that’s not the challenge.  The challenge is to do it for other writers. It will be so much more fun than speaking of scientific type stuff.
  5. MY OWN OFFICE!!!!  Let me clarify, my own home office. If you’ve read last week’s post about the office you will understand. And here is where we have the hole in the bucket.

 

There are many more items on my revised bucket list, but I know you have better things to do than stay here reading.  In fact,  why don’t you share something off of your bucket list in the comments.  Come on, do it!  Just one item, you can do that right?

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.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

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.

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.

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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!

 

Memories in the Corners of My Mind #MFRW


This is week 21 -A Childhood Memory

 

I don’t know if any of the others participating in this blog hop have this problem, but with every prompt comes a flood of questions. It takes me a good while to go through the questions and decide if they are valid or not. This is a process that started with me way back, . . . yeah back to my childhood days just shortly after the stone age.

How far back? What topic? I mean, a scary memory? fun memory? life lesson learned? funny memory? sentimental? How can I narrow it down? Should it tie in with last weeks post about movies?  Does it tie in with writing somehow? What does this have to do with writing? What if . . . . and then I have to tell my brain to SHUT UP! This pattern emerges somewhere before kindergarten.

I learned fairly quickly to keep them to myself as I often got in trouble for asking too many questions. That is a whole other post and that’s not the memory I decided to share. That will go under the category of my mother, learning to deal with ADD, and a creative mind. Maybe I should do that.

Anyway, the memory I decided on is one I will never forget.

I grew up in a small town south of the St. Louis metropolitan area. It’s a rural area just outside of a small town. In the midwest , e get hot summers, sudden thunderstorms and are always ALWAYS aware of the possibility of tornadoes.

The morning started out as any summer morning. It was my job to go out and pick strawberries. My parents had June bearers, which means they put on fruit for about three weeks heavily then are done for the season. School had just let out the week prior and it was my parent’s method to make sure I knew that I wasn’t going to be a slacker. Chores had to be done before my fun started. Most of the time, picking strawberries was an easy task as I love strawberries and I would wash about a pint for myself and eat them. Cost of labor, right? Plus it was a nutritious breakfast. Trust me, I wasn’t thinking about nutrition at that age, I was thinking strawerries – yummmm!

While picking the berries, about three forths of the way down the row – the row was about twenty feet long and three feet wide – I reached for a big juicy berry when movement caught my eye inches from the berry. A snake! Not some little five inch snake, NOOOOOOO! It was a full grown three to four footer. I know now that it was a king snake, not harmful but tell that to my ten-year-old self. OH heck no! He could have the rest of the berries. I grabbed my buckets that I had filled and ran to the house. I set the berries on the counter and realized there was one more bucket out there. Out there where the snake was. I had to go get it. It was going to rain and I needed to get them. Berries don’t keep well once they are picked.

Anyone watching would have thought that the entire garden was infested with cobras. It may as well have been. I knew from experience of where we lived, snakes could move fast. We had a few blue racers around the yard, we had the occasional copperhead show up, and black snakes were common. It could have been anywhere.

Two steps, then looking all around. A couple more steps, watching the vines and foliage around the beans, the cucumbers, the tomato plants. There weren’t any vegetables on them, but there was foliage where a clever snake could hide. I could see the bucket ahead about ten feet away. The closer I got, the slower I moved. My heart was in my throat, pounding out a tattoo of terror. I was bending, reaching for the bucket when I saw it less than three feet away, slithering from the strawberries towards the neighbor’s yard through the fence.

AAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!

I grabbed that bucket and ran like my clothes were on fire.

Three gallon-sized buckets of berries sat on the counter. I wouldn’t eat any. Dad wouldn’t know that I didn’t finish. I would offer to mow the lawn, wash the car, clean the garage, anything that didn’t involve the garden area or snakes.

I finished my other chores then hopped on my biketo meett up with my neighborhood friends and do the all important stuff of summer vacation. (Which roughly translated to riding our bikes till exhaustion, stealing grapes from Mr. Winslade’s vines that poked through the fence, swiping apples from Mr. Eaves tree that hung over his fence, more bike riding, finding a shady place to stop and talk about what else we would do over the summer, more bike riding until our parents were home, and what we’d do the next day.)

I couldn’t tell you what time of day it was other than at noon Mike’s mom would call him for lunch. That was our cue that it was lunch time. I’d cycle back home, grab a tuna sandwich or peanut butter, drink a gallon of tea then vacuum mom’s big rug in the front room, wash the dishes then run back out the door. When Brooke’s dad pulled into the driveway it was time to head home. My dad would be pulling into the drive shortly after his. That meant it was time to clean up and start on dinner. I offered to cook dinner in order to get more allowance. I liked to cook and every kid needed money to get pop and candy at the local gas station.

Dad asked about the strawberries. I said yes, I had picked them. “Was that all of them?”

“Was that all of them?”

“Ummmmmm.”  I’m a terrible liar.

“Well,  I picked all the way down to the telephone pole.”

“Why didn’t you finish?” He showed no emotion, no anger, just a simple question.

“Dad! There was a snake. I could have been bitten. He was huge!” My heart began to race.

“Well, I’m sure he’s long gone so go out there and finish up.” As a parent, I can appreciate this now but at the time, I would have sworn my father was sending me to my death sentence.

“But, I started cooking dinner. Mom will be home at six.”

“You’ve got time. Just go finish up. It shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes.”

I knew there was no reasoning with him. I knew he was right, I had seen the snake leaving. But what if he came back? What if he was waiting for me? What if he wantto curlurl around me and constrict me then eat me whole like Kaa?

I grabbed an empty bucket and walked, head down, towards the strawberry patch. My steps weren’t cautious like before, what did it matter if the snake shot out like an arrow and latched onto my leg. If I were going to die,  then it was going to get me one way or the other.  I knew exactly where I had left off.  The telephone poll was about a foot behind the place I stopped. Plus for anyone who has ever picked berries, it’s easy to see there are red berries here but not there.

I knelt down, picking the berries as quicly as I could. I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, seeing a few green bottoms when I dropped them into the bucket. I knew dad would have something to say about that, reminding me that they needed to ripen. I stood, one foot on either side of the patch, so that I could move quicker down the row. There was only about four feet of row remaining and if I managed to get to the end of the row without being bit by a snake, or the imagined tangle of multiple of snakes that I knew were just waiting to strike. My heart pounded as I filled the bucket.

The end was in sight. There was only about ten inches of row left. I could do this. I might survive after all and not end up with the epitaph on my tombstone: Done in by strawberries and the snake that resideth therein.

A particularly large berry, at least four inches wide, red and luscious. My mouth watered remembering that I hadn’t eaten any that morning. Maybe dad would like some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I reached for it. Confident that I was about to cross the finish line unharmed and return to the house victorious.

Then the brown stick that was laying at the end of the row curled up and moved.  I had been bent over, knees slightly bent, one foot on either side of the row  as I worked my way towards the end. I shot up arrow straight, eyes wide, shaking like a leaf. This was not a king snake nor a black snake. It was a copperhead. Copperhead’s are poisonous.  I didn’t dare move. Any movement might make it strike.

I was frozen. Well, aside from the shaking bit. My jaw clenched tightly as I  stared at the snake. I couldn’t let it out of my sight. I couldn’t turn and run. I couldn’t move.

“Stay still, don’t move.” Dad’s voice behind me was both comforting and disconcerting as I detected a note of seriousness in his voice that wasn’t usually there. Slowly, he walked down the path between the strawberries and beans. One step at a time, stalking his prey. When he was just about even with me, he raised the hoe overhead and held it there for a minute before bringing it down with every bit of strength he had. In one move he had chopped it’s head off, picked up the tail end and tossed it behind the neighbor’s garage, then picked up the head with the hoe and flung it in the same direction.

“How about we have some ice cream with our shortcake tonight?” He nodded towards me as he used his hoe to cut a few weeds from the beans. ” Don’t forget that last berry, that’s a beaut!”

I let out a deep breath as I plucked that last berry, grabbed my bucket and walked as quickly as I could towards the house.

My father’s two joys were gardening and fishing. I am grateful that he  taught me about gardening even though I didn’t listen half as much as I should have. I’ve had to learn some of his wisdom through my own trial and error. I am glad that I was his “fishing buddy” for many years. He didn’t often talk, but occasionally. . . occasionally  he would offer pearls.

We had our differences at times, but my dad was always my hero. I miss him terribly.

That night after dinner we enjoyed our strawberry shortcake, and dad made sure I got the biggest berry. When I sat down on the sofa reading a book, I overheard him telling mom that he was proud of me.  That I finished the job even though he could tell I was scared. He had followed me out, going to his garage/ work shop. He watched me out the window for a few minutes and he knew the minute I saw that snake.

My wild imagination often got me in trouble as a kid. Asking a million questions also got me into trouble.  My father was far more patient than my mother. His method of dealing with my questions was to answer them to the best of his ability until he could find something else to distract me.

At some point in our lives, all we have left of our parents are our memories. We sift the bad and keep the good, choosing to hold onto the moments that shape our lives.

Father’s Day is coming up soon, if your father is still with you do something to honor him. Take time to visit him. Share a memory that means a lot to you with him.

Ironically, this wasn’t the memory that I was originally going to share, but it’s the one that came up. Perhaps another time I’ll have the opprtunity to share about the tornado.

Until then, go check out what the other’s are sharing on this blog hop!

 

Leave a comment below  then visit the other authors. Write on my friends, write on!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie