COMING SOON

COMING SOON

After two years in the making, and remaking, of over 130 finetuned recipes, Toque & Dagger Publishing are excited to announce the long-awaited men’s cookbook from kitchen maven Sloane Taylor.

Here is a little to introduce you to this hot new cookbook that’s perfect for the King of the Kitchen and the New Guy in the Room.

Hey guys, ready to tie one on? An apron, that is…

Got a hot date? Or a special someone you want to take the next step—into your kitchen? Spoil your sweetheart with a meal to dream about. And make it even more special by preparing it yourself—or together!

Over 130 mouthwatering recipes to try, from soups, salads, and grilling, to main dishes and sides. Dessert is up to you – if you have room!

Cuisines to satisfy any craving, from comfort food to looks-fancy-but-easy-as-pie delights. Raid your own pantry and get fresh (ingredients) at the grocery.

Prep can be done in advance, but why rush? Make the prep part of the fun with your honey! (Matching aprons optional. Clothing is recommended, especially for sautéing!)

Menu suggestions provided or get adventurous and create your own unique meal—and a memory to savor.

Wine and beverage selections make you an instant pairing expert.

Bonus: Tips/tricks that will make everyone think you’re a kitchen genius.

Extra bonus: Sloane’s secret recipe for Super Bowl Chili!

All recipes are indexed so you can find what you need in a snap.

And come on, who doesn’t like sausage? (For breakfast! What were you thinking?)

Lunch, dinner—or breakfast the next morning, Sloane has you covered! Because a steamy date night always starts in the kitchen.

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

To learn more about Taylor go to her website. Stay in touch on Blogger, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available on Amazon.

November is National Caregivers’ Month

November is National Caregivers’ Month

Let’s say thank you!

from Anne Montgomery

Forty-eight million Americans serve as caregivers for friends and family members in need.

I have always considered myself strong and quite capable of taking care of myself, but life has a way of swatting our perceptions away. I came to this conclusion when I was stricken with Covid-19—despite being fully vaccinated— a broken leg that rendered me unable to walk for two months, and an eye infection that affected my vision. (No, I never do anything halfway.)

I admit that I rarely thought of caregivers before, but as I stared up from my bed—broken and sick— at the face of my masked sweetie pie, I was struck by my utter helplessness. In the beginning, I was too sick to consider how much work I’d become. Nor did it register that I wasn’t the only person in Ryan’s care. His prime caretaking responsibility is his 85-year-old mom who is losing her eyesight and suffers from dementia.

So, Ry was now faced with two of us. When the Covid started to ease, I jokingly called Ryan Ethan Frome, the title character in the 1911 novel by American author Edith Wharton. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, poor Ethan, who has a disabled shrew of a wife, falls in love with a pretty young woman. Then, with no way out, they decide to commit suicide together, however the plan goes awry. They both live, but the woman becomes disabled, so Ethan now has two sickly people to care for.

Ryan, as my caregiver, had to do everything when I was sick and broken.

According to the AARP, “Every day, some 48 million Americans help parents, spouses and other loved ones with medical care, meals, bathing, dressing, chores and much more. They do it out of love, not for pay.”

When I was well enough to notice, I realized the enormous pressure Ryan faced. He had to feed his mother, monitor her medications, and tend to grocery shopping and medical appointments, as well as weather her constant confusion and memory issues. Then he had to come to my house and care for all my needs, as well.

As you can imagine, caregivers are suffering. “Family caregivers now encompass more than one in five Americans,” says the research series Caregiving in the US. “The study also reveals that family caregivers are in worse health compared to five years ago.” Caregivers spend a whopping 13 days each month “on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication.”

These constant demands force caregivers to push their own lives and needs aside, often causing burnout. Between 40 to 70% of caregivers are said to suffer from depression, with those attending to patients with cognitive decline being the most likely to be affected. Also, chronic illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and immune system disorders can worsen.

Ryan stepped up and became a caregiver when I needed him. I will always be grateful.

What can caregivers do? First, ask for help, if you’re feeling overwhelmed. There are agencies all over the country that offer services to caregivers that can help lighten the load, so check the Internet and your insurance company to see what’s available. Do the best you can but forgive yourself when days don’t go as planned. And carve out some time out for yourself.

Every Tuesday, Ryan goes to lunch with his long-time buddies. The gathering is his one time of respite during the week when most of his efforts revolve around me and his mom. He always seems more energized when he returns from these get-togethers and happily tells me what’s new with the boys.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, so I’d like to give a big shoutout to those who shoulder the responsibilities for others. Caregiving is an exhausting, often overlooked effort. So, thank you to all the folks who support those of us in need.

And, of course, I’m especially grateful for Ryan who jumped in with both feet when my health failed, never getting angry, and doing his best to cheer me up when I was down.

Thank you, Ry. I love you!

Here is a look at one of my hrillers for your reading pleasure.

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

Available at Amazon and all major vendors.

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

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

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

GOOD MORNING BREAD

from Helen Carpenter

During the editing of one of our books, commas turned into a major topic of discussion. Yes, well, my daughter and I were writers, what did you expect? We liked commas and we also liked to slice commas from our writing, so we have a conflict of interest. For example, in the first two sentences of this paragraph (and this sentence too), we used commas. We could have used a comma in the third sentence before the “and,” though we chose not to. Either way would have been correct.

Another example is the title of this post. A comma would change the entire meaning. By omitting it, we imply (or say) the recipe below is a good (delicious) morning bread. Had we included a comma (Good morning, bread) we would be saying good morning to our bread. That would also fit, since the bread is definitely worthy of salutations.

Like bread, commas have lots of uses. You can splash them around in personal and geographic names, in numbers, before quotations that indicate speech such as “she said,” and in lists. If you’re the user of a certain word processing software, you can make your commas curly or straight and either style gets the job done.

We don’t claim to be experts on commas and we would be happy to hear your take on this very important punctuation. Let’s eat breakfast while we have the discussion. If you’re not hungry, then we’ll say, “Let’s eat, breakfast.”

Breakfast Bread

1½ cups dried mixed fruit (we used one 5-ounce package of mixed cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and filled in the remainder with dried cranberries)
½ cup warm tea, any flavor
1 package regular yeast
½ cup warm water
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup coconut milk
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup nuts of your choice (we used pecans and pistachios)

Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Soak dried fruit in bowl with warm tea. Set aside.

In separate bowl, add yeast to warm water. Set aside in a warm draft free location.

Melt butter.

Mix coconut milk, sugar, honey, salt, and egg. Add melted butter and stir. Next, add yeast and water mixture and stir.

Mix cinnamon and flour. Add to liquid ingredients and mix well.

Drain fruit. Add fruit and nuts to dough. Use your hands to mix, adding additional flour by tablespoons if necessary.

Let dough rise 1 hour. Punch down, divide in half, and shape into two equal loaves. Put loaves in prepared pans and let rise 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 350° F. Bake loaves 30 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes and remove to rack.

Serve warm or cold with butter or topping of your choice.

Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author duo named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. The Carpenters worked from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-if, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years and appreciates every day, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook .

RAIN ON A METAL ROOF

RAIN ON A METAL ROOF
By Linda Lee Greene, Author/Artist

Opening onto the sliding glass doors of the bedroom of my previous house was a three-season room. I called it my solarium because it was a space of windows more than of walls, a lovely and light-filled area facing due south—ideal for potted plants tucked among wicker chairs and wrought-iron pieces in warm weather but scorching hot for human beings and other mammals. The windows were single-paned, drafty, and ill-fitting, and the walls and roof were slabs of Styrofoam clad in aluminum sheets. In winter it was a freezing space suitable only for hanging slabs of beef, if I had been of a mind to use it for such a purpose. In fact, the months of April and October were the only times of year during which it was fit for living beings of any species. All the other months of the year, it was either too cold or too hot to be functional.

Despite its negative aspects, my solarium had a vital redeeming quality: it gained me access to the rain. Actually, the inspiration for much of my writing came from the sound of rain that washed the sides and battered the roof of my metal solarium. As I stretched out on my bed with my laptop astraddle my thighs, the sliding glass doors were open to my solarium, open to the sound of the rain, a sound that carried me back to the rains of my childhood, rains that are the source of my love of rain, and one of the most enduring connections to my past.

The sound of rain on the metal roof of the porch below the window of my room in our West Second Avenue house in Columbus, Ohio often pulled me to a joyful waking when I was a child. If it happened to be a Saturday morning, my family and I would pile into our car and drive eighty-five miles south to the farm of my maternal grandparents for the weekend. Featuring a red barn, whitewashed chicken houses, and raw-wood pigpens, the saltbox farmhouse rose to two-stories within its whitewashed clapboard sides and pitched metal roof.

The farmhouse sat on the south rim of the star-wound crater in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio, which is the bedrock of the world famous “Great Serpent Mound.” The metal-roofed front porch of the farmhouse offered an unfettered view of the crater as well as its backdrop of the Appalachian Mountain foothills, preferably taken in while sitting in the front porch swing.

From the porch one stepped into the parlor of the farmhouse, its focal point a chugging wood-burning stove in winter. Adjacent to this central room were two bedrooms, a kitchen, and at the back, a summer kitchen. A door from the summer kitchen opened to a long path that terminated at a gelid in winter and malodorous in summer outhouse.

Tucked behind the front entrance of the farmhouse was the door to the steep staircase to the upper floor, and at the head of the stairs was a small bedroom that housed a full-sized bed and a mirror-topped chest of drawers. I recall some of my younger cousins being folded cozily into the spacious bottom drawer of that chest in lieu of a bassinette when they were babies. A doorway in this first bedroom opened to the largest room in the house, a sleeping room set up with several beds in dormitory fashion, all of them topped with feather-stuffed mattresses. The enormous collection of feathers had been plucked over the years from the farm’s chickens before they were fried to a crisp in my grandmother’s enormous iron skillet. In that dormitory bedroom, my mother, my aunts, my brother, my baby sisters, our young cousins and I were crooned to sleep to the sound of rain dancing on the metal-capped roof of the farmhouse.

The farm featured in the above essay forms the backdrop of Guardians and Other Angels, multi-award-winning author, Linda Lee Greene’s novel that chronicles the story of two heroic families played out against the bad and the good of the early to mid-twentieth century, years of worldwide economic depression and war, as well as the spawning of the “Greatest Generation.” Firsthand accounts of the times in authentic letters written by members of the families are peppered throughout the book.

 

Available in paperback and eBook on Amazon

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

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

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

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook.

Scary Things or Imagination

by C.D. Hersh

Years ago, a teaser news story from Huffington Post popped up in Catherine’s email about a mysterious “star jelly” found in the RSPB Ham Wall nature reserve in Somerset, England. Being paranormal buffs (which, for us, includes sci-fi), naturally, Catherine looked up the article. There are a lot of theories out there, but not much positive proof about what this substance is. Some people postulate that the jelly is slime mold, a form of cyanobacteria, the remains of regurgitated amphibians, or frog spawn. Personally, all of the above are too ordinary. As paranormal fans, we like the more supernatural of the explanations that says the “star jelly” is related to the sighting of a strange meteor like object seen over the reserve last week—an extraterrestrial substance dropped to earth from the meteor shower.

This isn’t the first time “star jelly” has been found. Records dating back to the 14th century mention finding this gelatinous material after meteor showers. It’s been called star jelly, astral jelly, star rot, star shot and astromyxin. Non-paranormal believers say it’s coincidental that people find star jelly after meteor showers. Curiosity about finding a meteor rock leads them to places they wouldn’t normally go, and they find the substance, which has been there all along. In other words, they want to believe it’s this baffling substance from outer space.

Star jelly has been a part of several fiction stories. Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman, and H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Colour of Space.

C.D. Hersh photoPutting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts, and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

Their paranormal series is titled The Turning Stone Chronicles.

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Follow C.D. Hersh on social media:

Website

Soul Mate Publishing

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Happy Halloween

Origins of Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31 The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes, and eating treats.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

Article from History.com 2021

A Shapeshifter Called Harper

from Carol Browne

You’re expecting to read about a shapeshifter called Harper now, I know, but it’s why this character is called Harper that is the reason for me writing this blog. The name was originally Tyler.

Tyler was the MC in a sci-fi novella entitled The Star Attraction, which I wrote in 2016. In May 2019, I was offered a contract for the book by my publisher. Said publisher closed down a few months later and that was that. Following this, I found myself dealing with a multitude of life problems, not to mention my other books and the demise of my third publisher. Hence, it was only in July 2022 that I found time to submit this book elsewhere (no verdict as yet!). Meanwhile, I am writing a sequel.

This week I saw a promo post on Facebook for a new release and, lo and behold, the male protagonist is a shapeshifter called Tyler. What are the odds? I might have been the first person to use this name in this way, but the other author got published so Tyler is damned and has morphed into Harper (which seems apt).

In this same week, a fellow author was distraught when she found that her latest manuscript, which she was about to send to her agent, has the same theme as another recently published book. I won’t reveal the theme, but it is such a novel, specific and original concept that it beggars belief that someone else came up with the very same idea. I hope she and her agent can find a way around this dilemma.

Last year I had an idea for a crime thriller, and I believed that the crime and the reason behind it was so outlandish and original that the chance of anyone else coming up with the idea was remote. More fool me. Yet another of those promo posts on Facebook was to show me the error of my ways as a concept I had deemed so unusual and unique was there for all to see in someone else’s stylish new book trailer. Meanwhile, as I toyed with the idea of an epic fantasy involving women with magic powers, I found that my story had already been given its marching orders by The Wheel of Time.

When there’s nothing new under the sun, it’s a challenge trying to create original concepts, and even more difficult to avoid accusations of plagiarism even though you had no idea that your ideas duplicated someone else’s. In the same way, it’s not possible to be aware of every book that has been, is being, or will be published. The fact that there’s no copyright on titles is a small crumb of comfort!

So, what is going on? Is it the Collective Unconscious that causes so many people to have the same ideas at the same time? How often does this happen to other authors and what do they do about it? Would any author reading this blog have changed Tyler to Harper or kept the original name? I’d love to know.

For now, my shapeshifter is called Harper. I lay claim to this in writing in the hope that there aren’t any other shapeshifters called Harper out there already! If there are and anyone has any objection to mine, speak now or forever hold your peace!

Once upon a time a little girl wrote a poem about a flower.
Impressed, her teacher pinned it to the wall and, in doing so, showed the child which path to follow.
Over the years poems and stories flowed from her pen like magic from a wizard’s wand.
She is much older now, a little wiser too, and she lives in rural Cambridgeshire, where there are many trees to hug.
But inside her still is that little girl who loved Nature and discovered the magic of words.
She hopes to live happily ever after.

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

Fantasy author Carol Browne is a published author who is currently seeking an agent.

from Emma Lane

One of the nicest things about root veggies is that they are almost always around ready for serving to your family. Stored in the bottom of the pantry or in a cool, dry place in the cellar, potatoes are a staple for meals. Carrots, onions, and both types of potatoes can be prepared fairly simply for easy cooking. Satisfying and healthy, these root vegetables can be presented many different delicious ways.

BREAKFAST

Fried Sweet Potatoes

3 medium sized sweet potatoes

½ cup butter

Brown sugar to sprinkle

Wash, peel, and slice potatoes in ¼ inch thick rounds. Melt butter in skillet, place potato rounds in and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Brown sugar forms a syrup to pour over potatoes after cooking.

I suggest serving summer sausage patties, hot biscuits, raspberry jam, and orange juice.

Wash, peel, and slice potatoes in ¼ inch thick rounds. Melt butter in skillet, place potato rounds in and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Brown sugar forms a syrup to pour over potatoes after cooking.

I suggest serving summer sausage patties Hot biscuits, raspberry jam, and orange juice.

LUNCH

Mashed White Potato Patties

2½ cups leftover mashed potatoes

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 cups shredded mild cheese

1½ cups finely chopped green onion

Dash pepper

1 egg, beaten

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix potatoes, cheese, flour, green onions, and a dash of pepper to taste together in a medium sized bowl. Form into thin 3 ½ inch patties.

Brush with beaten egg then cover with breadcrumbs, Turn gently with specula and cover with breadcrumbs other side.

Sauté in heated oil until browned and completely warmed through. Flip gently to brown both sides. Serve warm.

Great with scrambled eggs and bacon.

SUPPER (OR DINNER)
Carrot Casserole

1½ to 2 cups cooked and mashed carrots

1 small, sweet onion chopped

⅔ cup sharp grated cheese

½ tsp. yellow mustard

⅔ cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp. sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Ritz crackers, crushed

Preheat oven 350° F.

Combine mash carrots in a mixing bowl with all ingredients except crackers. Pour into casserole dish and top with crushed crackers.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Suggested serving with browned pork chops topped with onion rings, mushroom soup and baked. Fruit cups as salad.

Here’s a peek at my Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces you to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infect this small-town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through a whirlwind of events, good and bad, over the next three novels.

A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY, and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to lose the most sleep, a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes, or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small-town community. Together, the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission.

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Read more cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon .
Janis Lane is the penname for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.