An Authentic Sicilian Dish from Author Gina Briganti

from Gina Briganti

If you’re reading a fantasy romance about an Italian woman (Elena Zucchero in Deep in the Dreaming), written by a woman who is half Sicilian (Gina Briganti), then you deserve to taste delicious, authentic Sicilian food.

This sugo (gravy, sauce) is a modified version of the one I grew up smelling on Sunday mornings when my dad made baked pasta. The sauce was simmering for a good two hours before I woke up in my bedroom three rooms away from the kitchen. You know my dad was a genius in the kitchen because it took that level of cooking to get teenagers out of their rooms before noon on the weekends.

Waking up to this smell after visiting our neighborhood Italian grocery store the day before to buy fresh focaccia meant quickly making myself presentable and rushing to the kitchen to ladle sugo on a slice of bread and eating it over the stove.

It was a big pot of sauce.

Elena makes her sugo just like I do, and it’s close to how my dad made his, and his mother made it before him, and her mother before her. It may go back further than that, but those are the stories I heard.

I hope you enjoy every minute it takes to make this dish because you and everyone in smelling distance of your home will be by later to say hello, bring a gift, return the blender they borrowed, etc.

One look at the directions and you’ll know why we make it on Sunday.

Image by AURELIE LUYLIER from Pixabay

SAUCE
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 6 oz. cans organic tomato paste
45 oz. can organic tomato sauce
⅓ cup nutritional yeast or Pecorino Romano if you can eat dairy products
2 tbsp. Italian herb blend
2 tsp. red chili flakes
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large yellow onion
1 carrot, cut in half (to balance the acid from the tomatoes. This is in place of the sugar my family uses.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat (3 on my electric stove) until garlic is cooked. This is when your house starts to smell amazing. Add tomato paste to garlic and cook until the tomato starts to caramelize.

Add tomato sauce, nutritional yeast, herbs, mushrooms, water, chile flakes, whole onion, and carrots to the pot. Simmer, covered, for a minimum of two hours to infuse those flavors together. I leave the onion in until it starts to fall apart and the carrot in until it is cooked through. When we were growing up we would try to time it so we could get some of the cooked onion on our bread along with the sugo.

Stir occasionally.

The sugo is ready when the onion falls apart.

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

ROASTED EGGPLANT
1 Eggplant
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

While your sugo is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash eggplant and slice into ½ inch slices. Brush each slice with evoo.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for fifteen minutes. Test to see if it’s cooked through by piercing with a fork. If the fork won’t go through, turn the eggplant over and cook for another ten minutes.

Repeat the process until its fork tender. Eat a couple of slices when no one’s looking. I call this the cook’s fee. Guard the eggplant until it’s time to assemble the pasta because some paisan (Italian friend) is going to try to steal some, too.

Cool eggplant. Cut each round into quarters.

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay 

PASTA
Cook pasta al dente (leave some bite in it) in boiling water for about seven minutes. It will cook more as the pasta bakes.

Pour pasta into a colander and then rinse with cold water to remove the starch.

BAKED PASTA
Mix pasta with finished sugo (which means you’ve removed the onion and the carrots and the sauce smells like heaven) and eggplant and then spoon into a casserole that you have a lid for.

Bake covered at 350° F for 45 minutes.

Mangia! (eat!)

Now for a little about Elena’s fantasy romance.

Deep in the Dreaming - High Resolution[1316]

A parallel world. A trapped soul. To save her friends, they’ll battle addiction, magic, and eternity…

Elena Zucchero has lived and lost in reality. Now she fills her heart through her work as a hypnotherapist by helping her patients improve their lives. But when a nightmare plagues her sleep, she learns her friends have gone missing in an addictive alternate plane. And the only way to save them may require feeding the demons of her handsome new client…

Draper Montgomery painfully resists the call of the Dreaming. But despite his dangerous cravings, he senses his enchanting therapist has a wound he can help heal. And to satisfy his heart’s desire, he may just have to risk the very foundation of his mind…

As Elena and Draper discover a deeper soul connection, the therapist struggles to keep her distance in the hunt for her friends. If the people she loves even want to be saved…

Will the perilous hunt to rescue her friends lose them their lives and their souls?

Deep in the Dreaming is the fourth standalone book in the captivating Natural Gifts paranormal romance series. If you like mysterious worlds, conflicted characters, and love that conquers all, then you’ll adore Gina Briganti’s enthralling tale.

Buy Deep in the Dreaming to slip into another world today!
AMAZON BUY LINK

Watch the YouTube video here.


Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Visit her website and blog for book trailers, newsletter sign up, and whatever else she thinks up.

Stay connected on Facebook, Gina’s Amazon Author Page, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Thank you for reading!
Gina

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The Importance of Trees

The Importance of Trees

from Carol Browne

I’m a tree hugger and always have been. There’s something in my nature that draws me to them like old friends. How gratifying it is for me to see so many other people waking up to how important and precious trees are.

Photo by Studio Dekorasyon on Unsplash

Every oxygen-breathing organism on Earth benefits from the work done by these forest denizens. Their fallen leaves not only nourish the ground they stand in but also feed a network of fungi, plants and small critters essential to the circle of life. The trees hold the land in their roots, preventing soil erosion and landslides. They suck up water and protect the land from flooding. They provide shade, shelter and homes to countless animals, birds and insects. They give us fruit, nuts and medicine; wood for building and fuel. In the rainforests they even create their own weather.

Trees are amazing. And now we need them more than ever. Their ability to capture carbon from the air, to use and store it, while releasing life-affirming oxygen, is vital in the battle against climate change.

We must plant more trees. Anyone with a garden can do that. If you can’t, donate to an organization that will plant trees on your behalf and support campaigns to protect ancient woodland.

We have lost our connection with Nature, that fellowship experienced so profoundly by our ancestors. For far too long we have looked down upon primitive cultures that talked about nature spirits and the wisdom of trees. We dismissed the Druids for worshipping trees. It was all superstition. But we were wrong. The trees have been our allies all the time, even when we turned our backs on them. They remained the guardians of the planet and quietly went about the business of preserving its ecosystem. Now it is imperative we embrace them again as our friends and rediscover that lost connection, before it is too late.

There is a close relationship between trees and writers; don’t they provide us with the paper on which we write our stories? They can even give us the ink to write them with. Ink made from oak galls was favoured by scribes during the Middle Ages and Renaissance because of its permanence and resistance to water and it still enjoys a niche market today among artists.

It is fitting, then, that my fantasy novel The Exile of Elindel opens with the main character, Elgiva, asking an oak tree for advice. As an elf she is fortunate in being able to understand the language of trees and she knows that ancient oaks are steeped in wisdom. It is this encounter at the beginning of Chapter One that determines everything that follows.

Without the tree there would be no story.

Here’s a brief intro for you.

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

EXCERPT
The night was waning when Elgiva woke, wondering where she was. The dark ceiling of Joskin’s cave hung above her, and everything had a reddish glow, cast by the embers of the fire. She slid from under the fur coverlet, her skin tightening at the loss of its warmth, and searched for her leather sandals.

Something had woken her, something that waited outside the cave. A runnel of dread ran down her spine.

She had an inexplicable sense of impending danger, but it was too insistent to ignore. An unnamed instinct stopped her from alerting her companions. She must face this menace alone.

She left the cave as quietly as she could. Her heart pounded in her throat as she peered between the rowan trees and searched the night. Whatever had awakened her, it beckoned. She held her breath and listened, but her ears detected nothing, save for a silence as dark and empty as an abandoned crypt.

It would soon be daybreak, but the sun had yet to rise, and the dark beyond the cave swarmed with potential horrors. She stepped out from among the rowans, relying on her acute senses to make out her surroundings. An unnatural calm gripped the night and as her sandals whispered against the cold grass, they sounded abnormally loud. She feared they would betray her presence.

After a while, she came to a stop and searched the trees. Thin strands of mist curled along the ground, cold and clammy, like an exhalation of sickness.

She hugged her shoulders, knotted her fingers in the cascade of her hair, and shivered in her ragged robe. All around her, the silence seemed to be drawing into focus.

“Who is it?” Her throat was too dry for her purpose. She swallowed and licked her lips. “Who’s there? I know you’re there. I can . . . I can feel you!”

Feel you.

A flash of silver sliced through the dark, and Elgiva gasped in fear. Her arms came up to shield her face as the beam struck a rock several yards ahead. It exploded with a whoosh and sent up thousands of splinters of light, which fell to the ground and sizzled in the mist.

A shape now stood upon the rock, its form concealed in a black, hooded cloak.

Elgiva clutched the amulet to her breast. Her hands were white with terror. “In the name of Faine, who are you? What sort of trick is this?”

A soft, sly voice spoke back to her. “Why should you fear magic?”

“What do you want?” she pleaded, her voice a croak of fear.

“To see for myself.”

“To see what?”

The dark shape sniggered, but made no answer. Instead, it swept its cloak aside, and a cloud of sparks flew out and covered the ground with beads of light.

Elgiva stepped back unsteadily, resolved to flee.

“Stay!” commanded the creature.

It raised a skeletal hand, and the forefinger swung towards Elgiva and pinned her against the darkness, holding her like a rivet of bone. No elf, no wilthkin, ever owned such a hand. Her legs threatened to buckle beneath her. This had to be a nightmare; she was still asleep in the cave. But no, it was all too real.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she cried. “I have . . . I have an amulet!”

The creature laughed derisively. “I am Death, and I have come for you.”

It began to radiate a sickly green light, enveloping itself in a caul of brilliance that pulsated with force. The light grew in size until the trees behind it were bathed in its angry glare. It reached for Elgiva, like a foul stench creeping along a breeze, and she was helpless. The creature’s power throbbed in the darkness.

Within the taut coils of her fear, her instincts screamed at her to run, but her limbs had turned to stone.

Siriol, Siriol, help me . . . help . . .

With a shriek of glee, the creature increased the throb of its power. Elgiva’s mind was suddenly invaded by an inexplicable force. She became divorced from herself and watched from a great distance, waiting for the horror to unfold.


Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Her non-fiction book is available at Dilliebooks.

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

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Time Management for Writers – How Parkinson’s Law Can Help.

How a Task Swells to Fill the Time Allotted

from Chris Pavesic

Parkinson’s Law originated with Cyril Parkinson in a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955 and was reprinted in Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress by John Murray (1958). The law states that work will expand and swell in importance so as to fill the time available for its completion. Alternatively, some define Parkinson’s law in regard to time as the amount of time that one has to perform as task is the amount of time it will take to complete a task. This theory posits that the more time you give yourself to do something, the more complex and daunting it will seem.

The perceived amount of work swells to fit the time allotted.

According to this law, if you give yourself a month to work on any project, that project will take a month to complete. You will not be working on this project for the entire time, of course. During that month you will be doing other things. You will procrastinate. You will work on it a few hours here and there. The project, though, will remain in your consciousness. It will cause you stress. It will take mental energy. At the end of the month when you complete the project, it will seem like you worked on this for 30 days, when in fact if you count up the actual hours worked, you may find you worked for less than a day. This theory is interesting to me as a writer. It reminds me of a passage I read in Ariel Gore’s text on writing, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead:

Deadlines matter. Obviously, you don’t want to get into the habit of delivering mediocre work—that’s not going to do you any good in the long run—but you’ll notice that if you force yourself to meet your deadlines, you’ll learn to produce better and better writing in whatever amount of time you have. You’ll master the sprint as well as the marathon. Meet your deadlines. Meet them every time.

The key line for me in Gore’s quotation is “you’ll learn to produce better and better writing in whatever amount of time you have.” She is, in fact, talking about Parkinson’s Law for writers. If you can focus, you can get a writing project done in a shorter amount of time. If you work to develop this habit, the quality of your writing will improve in the shorter time frames for the projects. So what lessons can writers learn from Parkinson’s Law? Set tight deadlines for each project. Set time limits and time deadlines for everything you want to complete that day. Once you get into that habit, it will be easier to estimate the amount of time it actually will take you to complete a task.

If you give yourself forever to do something, it is going to take forever to do it.

4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphotoChris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

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Blackberries – a Treasure in the Hedgerows

from Carol Browne

In the USA, it’s Fall; in the UK, Autumn. Whatever you call it, it’s that time of year for mists and mellow fruitfulness and it’s the fruit that takes centre stage. We harvest an abundance of russet-coloured apples and use them for apple-bobbing and cider. Their colours echo the colours of the leaves. But Autumn has one other iconic fruit and that is the blackberry. It is dark and rich and guarded by thorny brambles, a treasure in the hedgerows that we must take care to harvest. For centuries this fruit has been picked and enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is an ancient source of nutrients and is extremely beneficial to health; the berries’ dark purple colour created by the antioxidants they contain.

Blackberries are an image important to the childhood memories of one of my main characters in The Exile of Elindel. It is strange to think of people picking blackberries for so many centuries. The continuity of this seasonal practice has continued regardless of what else has happened in the world. I myself live in the countryside where the opposite side of my road is entirely hedgerow and as I write this, it is one huge blackberry factory! Strangers have suddenly descended upon us to fill their buckets and baskets with fruit. We won’t see them at any other time of the year. I just hope they leave some for the birds who need them far more than these humans!

I’m sure elves love blackberries too.

Image by Emma Larocque from Pixabay

BLACKBERRY BRAMBLE SORBET
900 grams (4.5 cups) blackberries
1 whole lemon, with peel, chopped, remove seeds
1 lemon, juiced
425 grams (2 cups) castor sugar (superfine sugar in the USA)

Purée blackberries in a food processor. Add lemon bits, juice, and sugar.

Blend until well incorporated. Set in fridge and chill for 2 hours.

Place in an ice cream maker and churn until set.

No ice cream maker? No problem. Freeze the bramble in a metal pan. Scrape and stir the mixture every half hour for a 2 – 3 hours to create a fine ice.

Here is a little from my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

Godwin’s adventures in Elvendom left him a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. Who—or what—is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

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

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Cover Reveal – Reality Check by Carol Browne

Reality check-4REALITY CHECK is a quirky, surreal, dark, humorous novella that resists being put into a specific genre. My publisher and I had to pick one for Amazon, however, so we settled for Fiction: Psychological. Readers can decide for themselves when the book is released by Dilliebooks on 2nd September, 2019. If the cover makes you feel off balance, perhaps the contents will do the same. But thought-provoking and unsettling though it is, I hope everyone who reads it will be thoroughly entertained.

Blurb
Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people … people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

Carol Browne:
Amazon author page US: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0034P87QC
Amazon author page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0034P87QC

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Psychometry 101 with Author Sharon Ledwith

Psychometry 101
by Sharon Ledwith

The second installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries, features Hart Stewart—a teenage psychometrist who has no problem reading the energy imprints from an object like a ring or watch, but struggles with the most basic reading skills. In world-renowned, late psychic Sylvia Browne’s book, Phenomenon, she explains—“Psychometry is the ability to sense and interpret the living energy that’s been absorbed by inanimate objects. Perceptions of that energy can come in the form of visions, smells, sounds, emotions and even specific empathic physical sensations like pain, heat and cold.”

So how does this psychic ability actually work? By handling objects, the psychic receives impressions through clairvoyance, telepathy, retrocognition (knowledge of a past event that could not be learned or inferred by normal means), and precognition (future sight). The act of reading an object in this manner is called ‘psychometrizing’. The term ‘psychometry’ comes from the Greek words psyche, ‘soul’, and metron, ‘measure’. It was coined in 1840 by Joseph R. Buchanan, an American professor of physiology who saw psychometry as a means to measure the ‘soul’ of objects.

Supposedly the best ‘psychically’ conductive materials are metals. So jewelry would be great picks for a psychometry reading. If an object has been owned by more than one person, such as an antique, a percipient may pick up information about different people. Psychics who specialize in psychometry when working with law enforcement, for example, can hold an article of a missing child’s clothing or piece of jewelry and, by reading the child’s energy contained in that clothing or jewelry, receive images or smells or sounds from where the child is, sense whether the child is feeling frightened or is with someone who makes them feel secure, and/or perceive any injuries the child might have. Cue The Twilight Zone music.

Believe it or not, you’ve used psychometry at one time or another. Think about when you’ve shopped for a purse or article of clothing—you pick up the desired item, and depending on whatever feeling it gives you, there might be something about it that makes you put it back and keep looking. An odd feeling. A weird thought. A shiver. That’s psychometry. Or you’ll be house-hunting or apartment-hunting and walk into a place that’s perfect and ideal in every way, with the one exception that for some reason you can’t wait to get out of there. That’s psychometry too.

You may think of psychometrists as modern day time travelers. With one touch of an object in an antique shop or museum, they can be whisked away into another time period. Oh, think of the things we could learn about history and historical events. And think of the cold case crimes that could be solved. So the next time you pick up an object, remember that it always has something to say. Even if you don’t like it.

Ready to receive a little foresight into Blackflies and Blueberries, the second installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mystery series? Here’s a glimpse…

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

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

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

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


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

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

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The Second Son – a Regency Romance from Author Vonnie Hughes

Regency historical romance at its finest is what you get with this compelling novel by Vonnie Hughes. This book sweeps you back to Britain into the early 1800s where life for the wealthy was filled with elegance and grand parties. But there is more to the era of great achievement both politically and in the fine arts. The rich attended soirees while the poor scrounged in any way possible for food. Hughes touches on the reality of the era and its costs to the people. Definitely a book to read.

What happens when a man achieves his secret wish at the expense of a brother he despises? How does he then live his life?

John Trewbridge is destined to spend his life in the British army. If he had been thinking clearly, he’d never have enlisted with the 71st regiment. But Serena ripped the heart out of him when she said that he was only a second son and therefore of no account. She was echoing the words of John’s older brother, Spencer, who has spent years crowing about his future plans for the marquessate he will inherit. Yet it is John who loves the Trewbridge estate and everything that goes with it. When he is sent home from Corunna, injured, he discovers that Serena is about to marry Spencer.

On a raw winter’s day John meets Marguerite Ninian. Crippled from birth she hides from the world and John, despairing and disillusioned, lashes out at her, telling her that instead of feeling sorry for herself and should pity the injured soldiers who had limbs amputated. Not an auspicious beginning.

But over time her humour and intelligence help John to understand that second is just a word, not a value judgment or a statement of mind. Cautiously John and Marguerite move toward a tentative friendship until Spencer implodes and smashes the Trewbridge family apart.

BLURB
Spencer’s arm was trapped beneath the phaeton. The pain must be excruciating. John tugged off his glove and held tight to Spencer’s free hand. “No, Spence. I envied you Trewbridge, not the title. Oh, and sometimes I envied your famous way with the ladies. But I didn’t want to be you.” He noticed he was talking in the past tense and reined himself in. How callous could he be?

“No. I’m too dull to enjoy racing around, trying to keep ahead of my conscience.” Spencer ignored the last comment. “Dull,” he rasped. “I told her that would singe your whiskers.”

“For a time it did,” John murmured. “But I’ve found someone who needs me and doesn’t think I’m dull. And I have an estate that will not give me sleepless nights like the responsibility of Trewbridge would.”

There was a long silence and John felt the world shrink down to just the two of them, in the dark, with the sounds of rescue far away. Then Spencer’s cracked voice whispered, “But you will have it all now, while I dance with demons.”

“I don’t think so. We’ll get you out of here. More men are coming. We will lift this damned phaeton off you and—”

“No!” Spencer’s voice rose again. “I do not want to be saved.” He gave a slight huff that might have been a laugh. “Never did.”

Buy Links


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

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

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

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

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It’s Indie Ebooks Day!

Profile PhotoIndie Ebooks Day
Ebooks may never completely eliminate paper books, but they have revolutionized the publishing industry. Authors today can format an ebook affordably or even learn to do it themselves, and once they’ve published, they can sell that ebook an infinite number of times, to anyone in the world. Indie Ebooks Day is a celebration of the vibrant indie author community that has grown out of these changes.
Indie Ebooks Day hopes to inspire the next part of the publishing revolution. The stigma surrounding indie publishing has largely dissipated, but indie authors still don’t receive the same level of recognition as traditionally published authors. We have to fight for every book sale, every review, every newsletter subscriber.
Alone, these struggles are enormous, and often seem insurmountable. But there are tens of thousands of indie authors around the world. If we band together, commit to buying and promoting each other’s books, we can achieve great things.
Together we can amplify each other’s voices, make ourselves visible to new audiences, and even force the mainstream to acknowledge us. We can ensure each other’s success, and events like Indie Ebooks Day are the first step.

How can you participate in Indie Ebooks Day?

Indie Ebooks Day is a Twitter event happening on July 27th, 2019. To celebrate, we’re asking readers to buy an indie ebook and share a photo of themselves enjoying their new book on their favourite e-reading device, using the hashtag #IndieEbooksDay in their Twitter post. We’ve got an exciting line-up of featured indie authors to share throughout the day, so if you don’t know any indie authors right now, all you need to do is watch the @IndieEbooksDay Twitter account.
This year Indie Ebooks Day is only on Twitter, where the indie author community is most vibrant. We hope to expand to Instagram in 2020.

What comes after Indie Ebooks Day?

Indie Ebooks Day is only the first of many community initiatives. Celebrating indie authors is great, but we want that publishing revolution—and we need help to make it happen. If you’re an indie author and you want to become part of this grassroots movement, join us on Twitter at 4PM EST for #IndieCommunityChat, where we’ll tackle tough publishing conversations and work to shape a more inclusive, more successful indie author community.

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Writing a Good Villain by Author Chris Pavesic

by Chris Pavesic

I like to read writing advice from other authors. Many times, I find really great ideas that help improve my own abilities. For example, in On Writing, Stephen King (2001) recommends listening to music to help a writer block out the world and focus on the work at hand. I have multiple dedicated writing playlists for just this purpose.

Certain advice, though, does not resonate with me. For example—certain writers suggest modeling villains after people in your own life that you dislike. I would find that difficult advice to implement in my writing.

First—there is the time factor. Writing a novel generally takes time. Even if a writer aims for a thousand words a day of good, solid prose, the writing stretches into months. Imagine this time actively thinking about people you do not like. This would not be an enjoyable activity in my perspective.

As a writer, I want to like my villains. Not everything that they do—many of their activities to me would be morally objectionable. But I need to understand them—to know why they are doing certain activities so that I can put this down on the page. I need to sympathize with their motivations and to realize that, in most instances, the villains do not see themselves as evil. These characters need the same depth as the heroes or, in my opinion, they will never be more than a caricature.

In Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett (1991, p. 185) has the villain of the story, Lilith, make the following comparison:

“She wondered whether there was such a thing as the opposite of a fairy godmother. Most things had their opposite, after all. If so, she wouldn’t be a bad fairy godmother, because that’s just a good fairy godmother seen from a different viewpoint.”

Later in the story, readers learn that Lilith firmly believes she is the good fairy godmother and is not the villain. It’s a matter of perspective, and in her viewpoint, those working against her are evil. She’s trying to improve people’s lives, and those working against her are trying to impede progress.

This is not the only type of villain in literature, but it is the type that I tend to find the most interesting. It is why I can sympathize with Khan in Star Trek (both in Into Darkness and in Space Seed) and Loki in The Avengers while at the same time being morally appalled by many of their actions.

There are obvious exceptions to this—Sauron in The Lord of the Rings trilogy does not generate sympathy for many readers, (although Tolkien does give him a fascinating history in The Silmarillion that explains his fall into darkness) but the Nazguls always had a touch of sympathy to their story for me because they were tricked by Sauron into becoming the Ring Wraiths. The detail and care that Tolkien invests into the story keeps these characters from being caricatures.

Allow me to introduce you to my villains. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I did writing them.

4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphotoChris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

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Disturbed in a Positive Way – by Author Alicia Joseph

DISTURBED in a Positive Way
by Alicia Joseph

Not long ago I saw the band Disturbed play at a venue near me, and I won’t soon forget the experience. The concert was powerful, and it was emotional. I’ve never been to a rock concert where so many people cried, or were trying not to cry.

Disturbed is a heavy metal/nu metal band, and they’ve written songs centered around suicide. One of the videos to these songs depicts a woman who hangs herself. The video is graphic and it comes with a PSA from the lead singer, David Draiman, pleading with people who are thinking about taking their own lives to seek help and to know there is another way. The National Suicide Helpline is displayed in the video, just as it was displayed on the big screen during the concert.

Draiman spoke eloquently and deeply to the audience. This is a man, and band, who create a deep connection with their fans. They refer to the crowd as their family, their blood.

In the middle of the set, the band moved from the main stage to a smaller stage in the center of the floor to be more intimate with the crowd. Draiman called for the house lights to come up and he asked for anyone who has dealt with substance addiction or depression, or knows someone who has, to raise their hands. With the lights on, I could see clearly throughout the venue, and more people than not had their hands raised. Draiman then asked for everyone to look around and see that they aren’t alone.

Powerful moment right there.

This is when the band sang their inspiring songs about defeating one’s thoughts of suicide. The house lights stayed on, making the moment all the more sober. A mother and son sitting beside me embraced while they cried. Tears gushed from the woman’s eyes and down her face. Through cries they battled through the songs. A man beside the woman caressed her shoulders.

A few minutes later, she passed by me. I was sure the moment was too much for her. She needed a break. When she came back, I thought of giving her a quick hug, but I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me, and maybe that would have been unwanted by her.

While the songs played, I looked around. The woman and son weren’t the only ones crying. There were many tearful eyes about me. So many strong-looking men stood with their arms crossed over their chest and stoic expressions on their faces and tears in their eyes. It was all so much I almost cried myself but held it back. The pain being suffered around me was palpable.

Before the show, at the meet and greet, a fan had given the band a letter. The lead singer called this fan to the stage and asked for his permission to read the letter aloud. The shocked young man stepped onto the stage and nodded Draiman his consent. The letter explain that this man had attempted four times to take his own life and was going to do it again until he heard the song “The Light” by Disturbed. The man stayed on stage as the band played the song marking one of the most powerful and emotional moments I’ve ever witnessed at a concert.

Disturbed, like other rock bands I’ve recently seen play, were very inclusive in their message. Draiman preached tolerance of all people, of all races and religions, and he even included gays and transsexuals, which I appreciated very much. Everyone around me cheered this message. I didn’t hear any jeers or sneers.

The band ended the show with the lead singer telling everyone to take care of themselves and to take care of each other.

I went to bed that night feeling so empowered and appreciating my life. If you ever get the chance to see this band play live, please do. It’s an experience like no other.

This post is to let people who need help know it’s there for you, not promote my books. But if you are interested please read on.

“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

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Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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