Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spring Fever

Posted by Lee McKenzie and Janice Carter

Too much rain and flooding in southern Ontario and colder-than-average temperatures on Vancouver Island have delayed gardening season this year. With springtime finally strutting her stuff, Lee and Janice are anxious to get outdoors and get their hands dirty.

I live on Canada’s beautiful west coast where it seldom snows and things stay green all year, so I always feel a little guilty when I complain about the weather. But the cool temperatures and grey skies we’ve had this spring have caused a lot of grumbling among the island’s avid gardeners. Recently, our (im)patience has finally been rewarded with blue skies and warm weather.

Strawberries were one of the first things I planted. Handy Man built this raised bed for me, and this will be the first year we’ve had them in our garden. We’ve also planted rhubarb, so I foresee some yummy pies and fruit crisps later this summer.

Lee’s raised strawberry bed
Janice, I know you’ve had some “interesting” weather as well. What’s happening in your part of the country?

“Interesting” is an understatement, Lee. According to the weather pundits, southern Ontario had more rain in April than the entire year before. Well, that may be arguable, but we Canadians do like to tell our weather stories, don’t we? The unusual rainfall sated the rivers, creeks and streams flowing into the Great Lakes which fed into Lake Ontario. Our cottage on Garden Island is situated at the junction of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and this narrowing caused a lot of flooding. Normally we arrive on the island in early May to plant our veggie gardens but this year, we were unable to reach the island due to this.

Flooding on Garden Island
Those barrels in the photo are holding down the remnants of docks that haven`t (yet) floated away. Fortunately some repair had enabled us to access portions of the dock and we finally got started on our gardens.

Omigosh, Janice! The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” has never been truer. We should never underestimate the power of Mother Nature, should we? So glad to hear your gardens are high and dry again, but I hope there wasn’t too much property damage.

On my side of the country, we’ve been lucky enough to hold onto some of last year’s crops, like this flowering kale.

Last summer’s kale flowering in Lee’s garden
It’s hardy enough to withstand cool west coast winter weather, even a little snow from time to time, and I get to harvest it year round. It flowers in the springtime, and bees—those friendly pollinators—love it! It will soon be replaced with new starts, and I have to say I’ll be a little sad to see the end of all those sunny yellow flowers. We also grow bush beans, beets, potatoes (red and fingerling), tomatoes, onions, peppers, and a variety of lettuces and herbs. I also scatter tomato plants throughout flower beds that get lots of sunshine.

What do you plant in your veggie garden, Janice?

We plant the usual kitchen garden veggies too, and I keep my herbs in pots on the cottage deck for easy access. The main garden is in the meadow in the center of the island. As you can see, it`s still a work in progress.

Janice’s garden on Garden Island
Every year we try something new. One of our recent discoveries was tomatillos, which flourished to the point of taking over the whole garden. But roasted, they made great salsa verde and sauce for Las Carnitas, Mexican-style pulled pork. Another year we had poblano peppers. We also like eggplants, though they can be finicky. But full disclosure here, Lee. I`m not the gardener in the family—my husband is and he`s always finding new and exotic plants like haskap berries that produce a blueberry-type fruit. In spite of the late start, I`ve no doubt we`ll have some kind of garden this year.

My sister-in-law, though, not so much. Her garden was a tad too close to the shoreline and I doubt she`ll be able to resurrect it.

A “lakeside” garden
On a final note, we`re still enjoying the daffodils in the meadow—all planted by same Type A husband!

Daffodils in the meadow...a sure sign of spring!
Say, I don`t suppose you`d send along a recipe for that strawberry-rhubarb crumble.

I’m happy to share! Scroll down for the recipe for my favorite fruit crisp.

I love your meadow garden, Janice, and especially the daffodils that appear to be growing wild. Sad to see your sister-in-law’s garden, though. That would definitely bring on a bout of spring fever.

My garden is a little more structured than yours, Janice. I love to collect vintage garden ornaments to tuck in odd corners and amongst the plants. The latest addition is this quirky concrete gnome. It might not be easy to see, but he’s feeding a little bird he’s holding in one hand.

Happiness is a vintage garden gnome
And the focal point of our garden is the folly that Handy Man built about eight years ago. We wanted a shady area to sit and entertain, so he designed this based on a photo I had seen in a magazine.

Lee's folly
Janice, I would love to invite you for tea, along with our fellow Heartwarming authors and our wonderful readers. Since that's not possible, I'll share my fruit crisp recipe with all of you.
Lavender-Flavored Fruit Crisp

3 cups blueberries
1 cup cranberries
1/2 to 1 teaspoon food-grade lavender
3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or chopped cashews, thinly sliced almonds, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the blueberries, cranberries, lavender and sugar, and pour the mixture into a lightly buttered 8-inch-square ovenproof pan.

To make the topping, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar and nuts. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the oatmeal-flour mixture.

Sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the fruit.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until filling is bubbly. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Lee’s note: Blueberries and cranberries are chockablock with antioxidants, but any combination of fruit—strawberries and rhubarb or raspberries, blackberries and peaches—is delicious.
Happy reading, everyone! And happy gardening!

Until next time,
Janice and Lee

Janice Carter
For Love of a Dog
Harlequin Heartwarming, September 2017

Lee McKenzie
His Best Friend's Wife
Harlequin Heartwarming, January 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

What Do You Do After The End?

Patricia Johns & Patricia Bradley

Patricia Bradley here. I am about two days away from sending a completed manuscript to my editor and dreaming of what I plan to do once it's off. Just now, the other Patricia emailed me, and I asked her what she usually did when she finished a book. 

And then the lightbulb went off. This sounds like a blog post! So we brainstormed, and here are the results. 

Patricia Bradley on how she celebrates finishing a book:

After I hit send, I take a deep breath. Then, I do a Snoopy dance.

And then reality hits as I look at the lonnnnng to-do list of things I've put off while finishing the book. But there is such a sense of satisfaction of having completed something. 

Some days when the words are flowing I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming that I actually get paid to do something I love. Other days, when writing is like pulling teeth, I wonder if I've totally lost my mind. But in the end, I remember that I'm living my dream. And once the book is done, I start thinking about the next one. 

Patricia Johns on how she celebrates finishing a book:

After I type "The End," I have a brief sense of satisfaction, followed by feelings of panic. And while you might not think that panic is in order, IT IS! Here are the reasons:

1. The rough draft needs work. Lots of work. I can already feel it's imperfections waving at me, and I'm anxious to get polishing, even though I don't have the creative energy for that yet.

2. I have the urge to start another book, even though the editing on this one isn't finished yet, so I have a feeling of being left "workless," which is not a comfortable feeling.

3. When you rouse yourself from your manuscript, you are faced with real life, and there's a bit of adjustment time there. I feel a mixture of loneliness for human contact and social anxiety. I'll do something weird, I  just know it! I'll be too friendly in the grocery store or something. As an author, you control all the characters. In real life, that's frowned upon. 

But still, typing "The End" is very satisfying, and I do keep my surge of panic under control. It's all part of the process, and I LOVE this job!

So, that's what it's like for the two Patricia's. If you're a writer, what do you do when you finish a book?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sit Down Saturday with T.R. McClure

Did you ever want something really, really badly, and then after you got it thought...now what? It's a little bit like a dog chasing his tail. Once he has the tip in his mouth, he slows down and looks confused.

The same thing happens to Wendy Valentine in An Allegheny Homecoming. You remember her from Wanted: The Perfect Mom. She's the reporter stuck in her small-town news station reporting the weather. The weather! She been looking for a big story to catapult her into the big time ever since.

Enter Josh Hunter. He's Sue Campbell Hunter's son. Sue owns The Cookie Jar and hasn't been the friendliest person to be around for the last year or so. She considers her son a hero. But Josh doesn't. Despite years of helping fellow soldiers as a medic, he is unable to rid himself of the guilt brought about by an accident. A crime that nobody knows about. Traveling the world as a soldier, he avoids his home town. Unable to return, unable to face the truth about what he did.

But he has a story and Wendy Valentine is hot on his heels. How far will she go to achieve her dream? What happens when she "catches" her big story?

Josh left home as soon as he graduated high school. He came home once in the last eight years and couldn't escape the feeling everyone in town knew what he had done. So he leaves again, until family troubles force his return.

Do we ever escape the events of the first twenty or so years of our lives? A half century can pass and yet we can't seem to forget incidents, good or bad, that happened then. Is it possible to let those memories go? Some people can compartmentalize. They put their negative memories on a shelf, walk away, and lock the door. Maybe they pull them out once in a while for a teaching moment. I guess that's the bottom line. What have we learned? After all, life is supposed to be about growth, at any age.

In the end, Josh returns home and is forced to confront his past. Is he forgiven? How else can he move forward when he's always looking back?

Return to Bear Meadows with Josh Hunter and Wendy Valentine.
As always, enjoy the read!

Friday, May 19, 2017

CHOICES by Sophia Sasson

I’ve been making a lot of choices lately; everything from whether to make a career change to what color towels I want in my newly renovated master bathroom. My sister is getting married and I have the great pleasure of being her matron of honor. Should the bridesmaids dresses be red or maroon? Flowers or candles? Veil or no veil? I have a really bad case of decision fatigue.

So much so that my when contractor installed these blue glass knobs on my bathroom cabinet and asked whether I liked them, I couldn’t answer. Maybe you guys can help me out. Do they look out of place on the gray cabinet? Do they detract from the blue sink or is it just the right pop of color?

My decision fatigue is due to exhaustion but it got me thinking about how people make life changing decisions in the most emotionally charged, life altering situations. The worst that can happen with my blue knobs is I hate it and change it in the future. But what if during this time, I meet the love of my life and can’t decide whether that’s the right choice. Unlike my knobs, I can’t just let it go. Can I?

That’s the choice the heroes and heroines of our romance novels make all the time. And perhaps because I was writing The Sergeant's Temptation during an incredibly volatile time in my own life, the book focuses on impossible choices.

So here they are; Luke Williams (for loyal fans, it’s the same Luke Williams from Mending the Doctor’s Heart) and Alessa Parrino. Lieutenant Luke Williams is the anti-military Army man who needs the Army to complete a secret mission. Alessa is the Army sergeant who can kick any man to the floor but can’t kick out the demons of her past. The Army is her life, the only thing that’s ever mattered to her. Recovering from a prior scandal, she can’t afford even the hint of a blemish on her reputation. As most of you know, romance between a commander and his soldier is grounds for court martial. So is the temptation worth everything they’d have to give up?

This is not exactly like a blue knob choice. If either of their feelings get known, their careers are over. Is love really worth giving up the only life they've known? What if it doesn't work out? And is it truly love? While they are deployed to Pakistan, it’s hard to know how much of it is real and how much is just the raw power of the highly charged circumstances they’re in.

It was a really fun book to write and I hope you enjoy reading it when it comes out in August. I'll give you more details in my July post but if you can't wait,   I love hearing from readers so email me at Sophia at SophiaSasson.com, feel free to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

But right now, what I really want to know is what you think of my blue knobs and whether you are facing a blue knob choice yourself? A decision that you just can’t make! Thank you for sharing.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Books Under the Bed

Liz Flaherty

The Growing Season was my first completed manuscript. It had more points of view in it than you could shake a stick at and enough characters to populate a small town. It was followed by Sycamore Summer and The Boarding House, and there may have been one or two others in there. There were more Chapter Ones than I can even begin to remember, stories with beginnings and endings, but no middles to hold them up. These are my under-the-bed manuscripts, largely gone because they were saved on discs that became corrupt. There may be paper copies somewhere, but I doubt it.

And that’s okay. The things I gleaned from them—teenagers as people instead of caricatures, settings as characters unto themselves, the entire backstory for One More Summer, a pastor named Deac Rivers—will live on as long as my published books can be found. The parts that shouldn’t live on―head-hopping extraordinaire, omniscient POV, telling instead of showing, every stereotype known to publishing—well, they don’t live on. Sometimes corrupted files are a good thing.

I know some writers’ first stories end up as their first books and although I’m happy for those talented authors, I’m glad I’m not one of them. In the first place, because I think maybe (I’m whispering here) I don’t have the kind of talent that was going to shine right out of the gate, and in the second place because those first unpublished and mostly forgotten stories gave birth to my writing voice.

My next Heartwarming, The Happiness Pact (new title), will be a December release. I’m so excited, and I think maybe there’s a scene idea in it that may have come from the 1990s. I’m not sure about that, though—let me check under the bed.

Helen DePrima

I’ll lay good money that most writers have “a book under the bed”, or a manuscript on a closet shelf, an early project that somehow never saw the light of day. I recently found a short story I wrote more than forty years ago, before moving from Colorado to New Hampshire. Now it read as a pretty amateurish effort, but there’s a seed of something that might become a novel, the kind of romance I’ve learned to write.

The first book in which I wrote The End was a mystery set in the world of Thoroughbred racing, a milieu I grew up with in Louisville. I was damn proud of it and sent off queries in all high hopes to agents. Lots of agents. Some responded with form letters: Thanks for your submission but it’s not quite right for us. One sent a mimeographed rejection not much bigger than the slip in a fortune cookie – who the heck uses mimeograph these days? A few offered specific comments – love your voice and your characters, but the plot is weak. One agent at a high-end writers’ conference looked over her half-glasses and said, “Dick Francis – who cares?” In front of 200 attendees.

Deep sigh, under the bed it went. Now I may resurrect those characters and that locale, but with a better understanding of what might comprise a stronger plot. I hope.

The other end of the spectrum is the book that remains unwritten, the idea that buzzes like a pesky mosquito in a darkened bedroom, impossible to ignore. The Maine coast (a character in its own right) a young widow, a surly lobsterman with a murky past . . . Let the action begin, one of these days.

Don't miss Helen's latest Heartwarming, Luke's Ride, which thankfully never went under her bed!

The time has come for him to cowboy up… 

He's spent fifteen years at the rodeo, protecting riders when they hit the dirt. But what exactly is a bullfighter after a bull takes him down in the arena and lands him in a wheelchair? That's what Luke Cameron's still struggling to figure out. And if Katie Garrison, in the middle of a controversial divorce, can help him find a new kind of life…well…he's not one to turn her down! But she's still a married woman and her husband isn't going to let her go without a fight. Besides, Luke may never walk again. What kind of life can he give a woman like Katie?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Power of Family by Syndi Powell


Romeo and Juliet. Fiddler on the Roof. Pride and Prejudice. Anne of Green Gables. Even Frozen. What do these all have in common? They're about families. Whether it's two families in conflict or an orphan searching for a family of her own, these stories come down to the search for one's self through the framework of familial ties.

Why are we drawn to stories that explore families? Perhaps some of it is because there's so much material in our own families that we can relate. Maybe some of it is the need to belong, and within the pages of a book we do belong to that family. Possibly it's because we want to escape our own family drama and live out someone else's.

Whatever the reason, readers (and writers) love family stories. Even if the family is not a part of the main plot, they are still present. Sometimes, they are a part of the main character's motivation or conflict. They can influence the hero's behavior and his choices. Our characters don't exist in a bubble, so often we explore the family dynamic to mine information of who our character is, but especially why he is the way he is.

And family doesn't necessarily mean blood relatives. At times, it's the family the hero and heroine creates. In my upcoming Hope Center books, my three heroines create a support system to help them cope with their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. They become as close as sisters, celebrating in the good times and holding hands in the difficult ones. And outside of these three women, they have other families: ones they were born in as well as those they marry into. This web of family ties becomes a community that these women can rely on when things get tough. And they always get tough.

The power of family has always drawn me into stories. I may have grown up in a good family, but there was definitely plenty of drama and has provided me with plenty of story ideas (with the names changed, of course). As I look for my next story ideas, I think I'll explore my family and create a new fictional one. Because family ties make great stories.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Behind the Scenes of Sanctuary Cove with Kate James

It's my pleasure to take you behind the scenes of my March release, Sanctuary Cove.

Sanctuary Cove is the story of New York based communications executive Emma Meadows, who never imagined that sticking to her principles against an act of corruption would cost her her job and her relationship. Heartbroken, she retreats to her lakefront cabin in the Adirondack Mountains. Aiding an injured animal at the side of a rain-drenched road, she meets local veterinarian Joshua Whitmore. Gradually, Josh’s charm and persistence overcome her defenses. But when Emma’s past abruptly intrudes—putting reputations and even lives at stake—it threatens everything she and Josh have begun to build together.

The Characters

Emma Meadows

Emma is an intelligent, capable business executive . . . until she loses her job as vice president with a major communications and media relations firm. She has unwavering standards of ethics and integrity, and loves animals. She was betrayed by her former fiancé and is reluctant to trust again. She’s 32 years old. She is relatively tall at five feet eight inches, and she’s slender. She has long blonde hair and blue eyes. A celebrity lookalike for Emma is Sienna Miller.

Joshua Whitmore

Josh comes from a family of healthcare professionals, but he decided to choose a different path. He’s a veterinarian, passionate about his job and the animals that come under his care. He is 35 years old, six-feet, three-inches tall, with a lean, athletic build. He has dark brown, collar-length hair, and his eyes are brown with gold flecks. Josh is good natured and easy going. Family is important to Josh, and he is close to his parents and siblings. He is principled, and loyal to his friends and family. And, of course, he loves animals. A celebrity lookalike for Josh is Josh Holloway

Emma’s Dog Max

Max is Emma’s dog. He’s a five-year-old Alaskan malamute, weighing approximately 100 pounds. He has silver-gray and white fur, and brown eyes. Max is gentle, loving and loyal.

Max had been accepting of city life, but he is truly in his element in Sanctuary Cove.

Rescue Dog Theo

Theo is a dog-wolf mix, with gray fur and brown eyes. He's slightly larger than Max. Emma finds him after someone had hit him with a car and left him, injured, at the side of a road. It’s because of Theo that Emma and Josh first meet.

Theo had belonged to someone before the accident but despite Josh’s best efforts, he’s unable to locate Theo’s family. Emma adopts Theo, as soon as he’s well enough. Theo develops a strong bond with Emma and Max, and is protective of them.

Josh’s Dog Winston

Winston is Josh’s yellow Labrador retriever. He has yellow fur—naturally—and sweet brown eyes. He weighs roughly 70 pounds. He’s as lovable and loving as a dog can be.
Winston quickly develops a strong bond with Max and Theo. He is by far the smallest of the three dogs, and the other two are respectful of Winston’s smaller size.

Emma’s Cottage 

Emma's cottage is situated on a large, secluded property, on a knoll overlooking a small, private lake. The location looks like this . . .

The windows you see in the next picture belong to the two-and-a-half-story great room.

Emma loves the seclusion of her property. This is the rock in the clearing where she likes to sit and think.

This is the view she has from the rock. The lake is just on the other side of the cottage. The windows facing the garden belong to her kitchen. She loves the 180-degree view she has while she’s cooking.

And this is a picture of one of Emma’s gardens edging the forest. She enjoys working in her gardens, and has put a lot of time and effort into them to ensure she has flowers blooming from spring to fall.
This is the stone path skirting the kitchen.
The next picture is of Emma’s bedroom, with the windows to the right overlooking her lake. The view from her bedroom is spectacular!
. . . and this is her bathroom . . .
This is Emma’s main-floor guest bedroom that she converts into her office. The wallpaper on the top half of the walls has little birds on it; when she first saw it in the store, she couldn’t resist buying it.
And this is her great room, overlooking the lake, the gardens and the forest. The couch faces the fireplace. She loves to sit by the fire during the winter months.
This is Emma’s kitchen, overlooking her driveway and forest. She enjoys being able to look out the windows while she’s preparing meals, and the wood-burning fireplaces makes the room toasty warm in winter.
Josh and Emma, along with their dogs Max, Theo and Winston, would love to have you visit Sanctuary Cove and spend some time with them. I hope you’ll enjoy the trip!

What's Coming Next

In addition to Sanctuary Cove, I will have two more releases this year. Home to Stay, the fourth book in the San Diego K-9 Unit series, releases on July 1st and is available for preorder now. A Priceless Find, a sequel to the award-winning A Child’s Christmas, will be released on October 1st and is also available for preorder.

I’m grateful to everyone who has purchased one of my books. Readers make it possible for me to do what I love! You can connect with me by e-mail (readers@kate-james.com), through my website, my Facebook page, Twitter (@katejamesbooks) or regular mail at PO Box 446, Schomberg, ON, L0G 1T0, Canada.

I would love to hear from you. I would also appreciate it if you’d leave a comment below, to let me know what makes a story enjoyable for you.

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sit-down Saturday with Laurie Tomlinson

It's time for another Sit-down Saturday! Today, we're celebrating Laurie Tomlinson's debut novel, With No Reservations. 

Laurie, where did you get the idea for your story?

It started with my heroine, Sloane. I got the idea to write a food blogger because I love reading food blogs. Then, the what-if questions started coming, and I figured out what was going to happen to her :) Of course, then my hero arrived on the scene and took over the story. I definitely didn't intend for that to happen!

What did you like best about writing this book?

Learning so much from my characters (and other people) as I researched their experiences. This was only the second book I ever wrote, so I learned a lot about writing throughout the process and from my wonderful editors at Harlequin Heartwarming!

Can you share an excerpt?

He’d arranged a bouquet of colored pens in a chunky ceramic mug printed with the Simone logo. Paper clips, Post-it notes and bigger notepads were lined neatly in one corner, arranged by color. A flutter of picture-perfect giddiness set loose in Sloane’s stomach. Bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes occupied the other corner.

“It’s not much, but—”

“It’s perfect.”

Their eyes held for less than a second, charged with a rushing revelation for Sloane.

Cooper had been paying attention. And, despite all the weirdness, he got her.

What’s next for you?

I'm developing a new series for Harlequin Heartwarming that I hope to be able to share more details about soon! 

There can be more than comfort in food… 

What could well-known and wealthy Graham Cooper Jr. have in common with a blogger like Sloane Bradley, a woman with secrets she's kept firmly out of the public eye? That is, besides a love of food. Sloane still can't believe Cooper's the chef at the restaurant she's been assigned to promote. But she's boiling to prove to him that her "little blog" can put his place on the map. She can also fall head over heels for the guy, who has secrets of his own, it turns out…except for one thing. She can't get past the post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps her walled up in her home studio.

About Laurie: Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. Her novella That’s When I Knew was featured in the Love at First Laugh collection, and her debut novel, With No Reservations, is now available from Harlequin Heartwarming. You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Instagram.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Getting to Know THE MAN SHE KNEW by Loree Lough & Cerella Sechrist

"Getting to Know THE MAN SHE KNEW" by Loree Lough and Cerella Sechrist | "We Talk to Ourselves…a Lot!"

Well gosh and guess what…it’s Loree’s birthday and Mothers’ Day! To celebrate, we’re going to offer a cool prize package as our gift to you, and everyone who comments below will automatically be entered in the drawing (to take place on May 20th).

On June 30th, we’ll have yet another reason to celebrate: Loree’s 115th published book, THE MAN SHE KNEW, will be released. She’s pretty excited about this one, because she wrote it while battling Multiple Myeloma (incurable bone/marrow cancer). “I’m grateful to my editors,” she says, “for being so patient and understanding with the constantly shifting deadline, thanks to twice-weekly chemo treatments, followed by a stem cell transplant, followed by follow-up chemo. (I can barely follow that, can you?)”

Plenty of people have asked why in the world Loree wanted to write about an ex-con, of all things. Loree explains: “For some-odd reason, I kept hearing stories about how difficult it is for the newly released—men and women—to return to normal lives. From reuniting with family to finding a job, they meet obstacles of every variety. Now, I’m no Pollyanna…I realize some of these people are hardened criminals that will return to their old ways and probably end up right back in prison. But some of them want to leave that life behind, and do everything in their power to start fresh and stay on the right path. So I wrote a story featuring a guy like that, who made a stupid mistake—and paid for it—and wanted little more of life when he left prison bars behind than to prove himself a changed man.”

But how tough is it, folks wonder, for the friends and families of these individuals? Loree says, “It’s a challenge, to be sure. They want the best for their loved one, and in most cases, will move heaven and earth to help with the readjustment. In the case of Ian Sylvestry, hero in THE MAN SHE KNEW, he was blessed to have a caring father and a loving aunt waiting on the outside.”

What about reunions with ‘old loves’? “That,” Loree insists, “is probably one of the highest hurdles ex-cons must leap. Maleah Turner, heroine in THE MAN SHE KNEW, hasn’t forgotten the man Ian had been before his run-in with the law. His crime shocked her, and rocked her world. In an attempt to ‘get over it,’ Maleah threw herself into her studies, earning numerous degrees that provided a solid reputation and a great career. It wasn’t until a surprise reunion of sorts that she realized she hadn’t left him in her past, after all…”

You’re probably wondering about this prize package, aren’t you! Well, here’s the list of things you might win by commenting, below:

1 - $20 Amazon e-gift card
1 – signed copy of THE MAN SHE KNEW
1 – beautiful silver necklace

Comment below for a chance to win!

Here’s hoping all the moms out there enjoyed a restful and relaxing Mothers’ Day!

And now, the traditional Cerella-Loree recipe that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your house!

Loree’s “Everybody’s Favorite” Angel Food Cake

  • 2 cups egg whites (approx.. 16 large eggs)
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract


1. Preheat the oven to 325̊.

2. Beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in 2 1/2 cups of the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until smooth and glossy, about 4 minutes.

3. Transfer the egg whites to a large, wide bowl. Using a fine sieve, gradually sift the flour over the egg whites, gently folding in the flour with a spatula. Fold in the vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape the cake batter into a 10-inch angel food cake pan. Using a table knife, slice through the cake batter several times to release any air bubbles. Tap the cake pan once or twice on a flat surface.
Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350̊ and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Invert the pan onto the neck of a wine bottle and allow to cool completely.
To loosen the cake, run a thin-bladed knife around the side and tube of the pan. Unmold the cake and transfer to a platter.

Cut the cake into wedges and serve with berries and whipped cream


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Surprises and Confessions by LeAnne Bristow

Who doesn’t? I love surprises. I love them so much I can’t wait. One holiday season, when I was very young, my mother left me home with my older brother. I searched every room in the house until I found where the presents were hidden. My mother got home from work to find me curled up in bed with the doll that was supposed to be my Christmas gift.

Yes. I love surprises. Except….I have a confession to make. I’m one of those people who turn to the last page of the book to see how it ends. Not right away. I have to get interested in the book in order to care about how it ends. But as soon as the author has me hooked, I flip to the last few pages.

I know. I know. Some of you are reading this with eyes wide open, jaw dropped to the floor, muttering curse words at me. How could I? I’ll let you in on another secret. When I get interested in a movie, I look it up on Wikipedia and read the plot. (At home. Using my phone in a movie theater is just rude.) Yes. I’m weird. My friends say I should be committed.  But, come on. You already know how the book is going to end. It’s romance. There MUST be a happily-ever-after for our characters or they wouldn’t have their own book. Would you really read it if there was even the slightest possibility that they would end up alone and miserable? I didn’t think so.

Doesn’t it ruin the book or movie for me? Nope. I’m also one of those rare people that can reread the same book, or watch the same movie, dozens of times and I react the same way every time. In some cases, the emotional response comes earlier the second time because now I KNOW what’s coming. Case in point, the movie PS I Love You. The first time I saw this tear jerker, I started crying at Gerry’s funeral. Now, the tears start falling before his suspenders break.
 Before I started writing, I didn’t do this. Okay, I did, but not as much as I do now. Years of taking classes on craft and learning to analyze stories has ruined me. In every book and movie, I’m looking for the “mirror moment”, the black moment and the climax.  At least, that’s my excuse now. I’m sure some fancy psychologist could have a field day trying to explain my need to look up how it ends. There was probably some childhood trauma I’m not aware of. Or something.
 To me, there’s something intrinsically satisfying about knowing what comes next. It’s like the author has let me in on their secret. Everybody else will just have to wait and see.
 After reading this, can you guess when I write the ending of my stories? Bet you can’t guess.