Monthly Archives: March 2017

My Greatest Weakness–Procrastination @MFRWauthor

Last week the topic for the challenge as to describe my greatest strength. This week prompt is to talk about my greatest weakness, and as with naming my strength, coming up with my less desirable trait was hard. But I think figured it out as I’m typing this article late Thursday night to go live in the morning. Despite determination to succeed being my strength, I have a tendency to put things off until the last moment. I’m a procrastinator.

Believe it or not, this weakness is getting worse as I age. I never put things off when I was in college. I studied for tests days before the exams. I did my papers as soon as they were assigned. Now, I don’t even think about a project until it’s down to the wire. I’m better with my stories, but the day job or something like this blog challenge–not so much. I wait until the last possible moment. Part of the problem I know is I’m juggling so much: day job, housework, family relationships, and just time for me.

Even with writing, I’m able to concentrate better if I have a deadline. If I know I have to get something done in a limited time, I’m able to buckle down and ignore most of the distractions. But even then, I get angry with myself for putting things off; however, I still do it.

So what is your one weakness?
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Authors in Bloom 6th Annual Blog Hop–Sharing 2 Recipes and GIVEAWAY Kindle Fire/Nook

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

 

 Welcome to the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop!

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GRAND PRIZE

This year’s grand prize is an Ereader of the winner’s choice (Kindle Fire or Nook) along with a $25 gift card for the ebook retailer of choice. Grand Prize winners will be Winners will be posted on both the first (Dianne Venetta) and last (BloominThyme’s) websites.

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***To win the grand prize, you must visit each and every author on the hop. *** 

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MY PRIZE

I’m also giving away a $5 Amazon Gift Card

(Open to USA residents 18 years or older. Click HERE for giveaway rules.)

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Prize winners will be announced on April 7th.

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****YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO BE ENTERED IN BOTH PRIZES***

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Besides gardening, I enjoy cooking. This year I’m going to share two recipes that I hope you all enjoy…

This first recipe is a combination of about three that I found on Allreipes.com.  As with most recipes from there, I read several before picking one, and usually I read the comments to see what others did to change the original. One of my favorite soups is Corn Chowder. But I’ve never made it, until I decided to make it for a soup sale the social committee was sponsoring at work.  So, I searched for a recipe, or rather several, that sounded good, and picked and chose what I liked from them, then combined those things and added a few things of my own into a brand new recipe. This is what I came up with.

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Corn Chowder with Bacon and Ham 

INGREDIENTS:

6 slices of bacon, chopped

1 onion, chopped

¾ cup water

2 potatoes, chopped

2 stocks of celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 (14.75 oz) cans cream style corn

2 (15.25 oz) can whole kernel corn with liquid of 1 can

1 cup ham cubes

½ teaspoon salt

ground black pepper to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons ham flavored soup base

2 tablespoons flour

1 can evaporated milk

½ cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon parsley

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fry chopped bacon until crisp in a Dutch oven or stockpot. Remove bacon from drippings and set aside.
  2. Add chopped onion to bacon drippings and sauté until tender. Add water, potatoes, celery, and carrots. Cover and simmer until tender, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Stir in canned corn (both cream style and whole kernel), salt, pepper, soup base, and ham cubes. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  4. Reduce heat until no longer boiling and let simmer just under a boil for five minutes.
  5. Whisk flour into half-and-half. Stir both evaporated milk and half-and-half mixture into soup, let simmer just under a boil for five minutes, or until soup thickens.
  6. Stir in parsley and bacon crumbles to serve.

Oh, and it was a best seller at the soup sale.

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This next recipe was passed down to me from my mom, and it in turn had been passed down to her. This is my family’s favorite cheesecake, and a tradition for Christmas, Easter, and even other special occasions. Once, I made this for a baby shower and decorated it with edible flowers. It has the look and texture of a soufflé and a mild creamy flavor. It is delicious with either canned or fresh fruit, and homemade whipped cream. Definitely a desert for angels…

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Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Mix together:

20-25 Graham crackers crushed or 1 box of Graham cracker crumbs

¼ to ½ pound of salted butter softened

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Press onto the bottom and sides of 9 inch spring form pan, set aside.

Cream together:

2 large packages of cream cheese (8 ounce each)—I’ve used ⅓ less fat cream cheese with success, but fat free does not work.

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

Separate 4 eggs, beat yolks into cream mixture one at a time.

Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup Half-and-Half.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold (do not over mix) into mixture.

Pour into crust, back 60-70 minutes. With oven door open, leave cake in oven 1 half hour after baking to cool.

Remove spring form pan while cake is still warm to touch.

Top with canned pie filling or fresh fruit and garnish with whipped topping or whipped cream

 

Whipped Cream:

Freeze bowl and beaters for at least 2 hours before beginning.

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, then add 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. Beat on medium speed until stiff. When cream begins to thicken, reduce speed and watch that cream does not turn to butter. When topping begins to appear shinny, stop beating. The toping is ready and it is thick enough to be piped through a pastry bag (if desired) and held overnight.

(Photos only used for presentation. Although, my corn chowder did look a lot like the one pictured, I couldn’t find a cheesecake picture that looked like my mom’s cheesecake.)

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All of my Kensington Publishing / Lyrical Press books are on sale across all vendors for a very limited time!!

Find book information and buy links at  THE COLTON GAMBLERS 

Gambling On A Secret, Gambling On A Heart, Gambling On A Dream, Sara Walter Ellwood, contemporary western romance, romantic suspense, cowboy romance, Texas romance, small town romance, Colton Gamblers, Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing, Native American romance

Gambling On A Secret—FREE

Gambling On A Heart— $0.99

Gambling On A Dream— $0.99

 

 

Find book information and buy links at SINGING TO THE HEART

Heartstrings—$0.99

Heartsong—$0.99

Heartland—$0.99

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Categories: Blog Hop, Colton Gambers, Singing to the Heart | Tags: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

SALE!! Most of my books are $0.99 or Free for a limited time!

Due to a great overlap, most of my Kensington books on sale, but for a very short limited time!!

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Heartstrings, Singing to the Heart, Sara Walter Ellwood, Contemporary Western Romance, Cowboys, Texas Romance, Native American Romance, Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing

 Book 1 of the SINGING TO THE HEART series

Only $0.99 at all vendors.

amazon b&nitunes     Kobo  

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Heartstrings, Sara Walter Ellwood, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, Texas romance, small town romance, Country Music star hero, Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing, Heartsong, Heartland, Colton Gamblers, Singing to the Heart

 Book 2 of the SINGING TO THE HEART series

Only $0.99 at all vendors.

 amazon b&nitunes     Kobo   

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Heartland, Heartsong, Heartstrings, Singing to the Heart, Sara Walter Ellwood, Cowboys, Texas Romance, Contemporary Western Romance

 Book 3 of the SINGING TO THE HEART series

Only $0.99 at all vendors.

  amazon b&nitunes     Kobo  

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Gambling On A Secret, Sara Walter Ellwood, contemporary western romance, romantic suspense, cowboy romance, Texas romance, small town romance

 Book 1 of the COLTON GAMBLERS series

Free at all vendors

 amazon b&n itunes     Kobo   

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contemporary western romance, texas romance, cowboy romance, romantic suspense,

 Book 2 of the COLTON GAMBLERS series

$0.99 at all vendors

 amazon b&n itunes     Kobo     

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Gambling On A Dream, Sara Walter Ellwood, contemporary western romance, romantic suspense, cowboy romance, Texas romance, small town romance, Colton Gamblers, Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing, Native American romance

 Book 3 of the COLTON GAMBERS series

$0.99 at all vendors

 amazon b&n itunes     Kobo     

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A Hunter's Angel, The Hunter's Dagger Series, A Hunter's Demon, A Hunter's Blade, Cera duBois, Sara Walter Ellwood

Book 1 of THE HUNTER’S DAGGER series

$0.99 on Amazon

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Categories: A Hunter's Angel, Colton Gambers, Gambling On A Dream, Gambling On A Heart, Gambling On a Secret, Heartland, Heartsong, Heartstrings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Greatest Strength–Determination to Never Give Up #MFRWauthor

Have you ever thought about your greatest strength? What makes you…well…you? This is also a very hard question to answer. After a lot of introspection, I think my greatest strength is my determination to not fail.

If any of you have followed me for any time at all, you know I’m dyslexic. My learning disability was discovered when I was in third grade after a reading teacher noticed I tried to sound out words backwards and my eyes wandered all over the page. I spent the rest of my elementary grades in special education classes to learn to read.

In junior high, I was delegated into the lower tract and spent two miserable years with bullies who called me names and picked on me. For the most part, all of my friends were in the highest tract. Now when I look back, I think this was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was my need to prove these people I was nothing like them and my new found love for history (a subject I’d never had before seventh grade) that made me determined to succeed.

During the second half of seventh grade, a new spirit awakened in me. I studied in a way I never had and my hard work–and believe me it was hard–paid off. By the end of eighth grade, I had As in every subject with several of them being 100%. I was determined to prove to, not only my classmates that I would make it, but to myself that I’d get to where I want to be. I elected the college prep curriculum for high school and by the time I graduated, I was in the top quarter of my class.

I went to college and made the Dean’s List all but two or three of the nine semesters of my years at Penn State. But then life happened and with it a major setback. I couldn’t find a full time teaching job and my dreams were crushed. Not for long though, I changed gears and went back to school where I ended up graduating at the top of my class, simply because I wouldn’t accept anything less.

This spirit of never giving up and of unadulterated determination has severed me well during my writing career. I’ve nearly given up more than once, but this need to persevere despite the odds or how difficult it is has forced me to continue. My calling on this inner strength has helped me swim out of the deepest pools of despair and disappointment. I won’t deny it gets harder and harder, but I refuse to ever say “what if I hadn’t given up” because I will give it my all. I will tackle every obstacle with the determination that helped a girl who couldn’t read in the fourth grade, a teenager who hated to read until she discovered Civil War romance in ninth grade, to become a writer of published books. And hopefully this same stubbornness will help me become a best-selling author.
Check out other authors in the Challenge here:

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Plotting….A Pantser’s Guide to Writing #MFRWauthor

As a reader, if a story doesn’t have well executed character goals, motivations, and both inner and external conflicts, then most likely you aren’t ever going to finish that story. All writers use the GMC formula in some way to craft a story. Finding these GMCs is a important part of plotting. Some writers use elaborate methods to plot a story, to the point of practically writing it before they write the first draft. But today I’m going to explain my process, something I call a pantser’s guide to plotting.

 

 

An oxymoron for sure. Since the definition of a pantser (a nickname for “writing by the seat of the pants”) is someone who DOES NOT plot. Anyone who knows me knows I define myself as a tried and true pantser. Most of the time I never know what my next scene will be. I don’t do mind maps; I don’t have bulletin boards with index cards of every action; I don’t like Scrivener, and I don’t have an outline. I like to let the story unfold before me as I fill the blank page with words. However, I always know how the story will end.  I know what has to change in my characters’ lives to bring them to the end, but I don’t always know how they get to that happy ending.  What I do know is something changes in their lives to bring them to this point. I know their character arcs, and what they had to overcome to have that HEA. The hows and whys of them getting to the end comes to me as I write.

Okay, now you’re scratching your heads. Trust me I’ve done that more than once myself.  I may not plot a story, but I do learn about my characters. How I do this is by making sure I have a clear understanding of what makes them tick. Once I decide on an idea for a story, I soon figure out who the key players will be—the hero/heroine and antagonist/s. I figure out what their back-stories are. What led these characters to find themselves in this story idea? Then I think about where I want them to be at the end of the story.  How do I want them to be different from the characters I’ve created from their pasts? I don’t do character interviews, but I write down everything that I can think of about the characters—descriptions, personalities, jobs, relationships, what would bring fear to them, what would bring them joy. I figure out what their goals are, what motivates them, and what would bring them conflict and how they might respond to that conflict. I even decide on the quirks in their personalities, and more importantly, why are these quirks important. I do this for every major character. I still have no idea how their stories will enfold, but I do know that I, indeed, have a story.

The only thing left is to figure out how the characters best want to tell it and let them do the talking.

Of course, I do occasionally take this process a step further and jot down a simple two page synopsis of what the story might be. I still don’t consider this true plotting, since I simply figure out what the turning points are and write them. How the characters get to each turning point is totally a mystery until I start writing. But as an established author, my last two novels were sold on proposal, and I just submitted a third proposal, for which I’m waiting to hear back. For Heartsong, I had a blurb, synopsis and first four chapters. For Heartland, I sold it on a blurb and a very skimpy synopsis.

My process has changed somewhat, but for the most part, I am, and forever shall be, a pantser.
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My Seven Guilty Pleasures… #MFRWauthor

We all have ’em. The things we do that make us happy. Little things that put a smile on our face as we’re doing them.
Here are the seven things that I love that always make me happy when I do them:
1. Taking long, hot, sudsy baths.
2. Sitting on the deck in the summer in the warm sun, just enjoying the outdoors–with or without a glass of wine.
3. Speaking of wine….Enjoying a glass of my favorite–Moscato.
4. Eating chocolate… Anything chocolate.
5. Shopping! I love to shop, especially with my teenage daughter, who actually likes shopping with me.
6. Spending lazy afternoons reading a book or listening to one.
7. Binge watching Netflix or On Demand.
There you have the seven things I consider my guilty pleasures.  Name one of yours.

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IVY MORRIS MYSTERIES – HOEDOWN SHOWDOWN by Misty Simon, new release!!

Misty Simon

Ivy Morris Mysteries – Hoedown Showdown

By

Misty Simon

With the Tasty Tomato Tournament just days away, the small town of Martha’s Point is all abuzz. This is the first year without a sure winner, and the competition is fierce to gain the judges’ approval, even before the tournament starts.

But when Ivy finds one of those judges dead in a shed across the street, things go from bad to worse. All she wanted was seven glorious, kid-free days of messing around with her husband. Instead, she’s going to be tracking down a killer, staying out of the way of a pickle-obsessed farmer, and dodging the new cop who seems out for her blood.

Rating: Spicy

Excerpt

“Myrt,” I said patiently, as if talking to a small child. “First of all, this wasn’t the tomato crusher. It was Judge McIntyre.”

I didn’t even get to the next part since she started wailing. “Oh, my stars! I’m never going to win the Tasty Tomato Tournament now! It’s the fiftieth anniversary, and I wanted at least one chance before I die! And now I will never win this! I’ll be a dead woman long before I can ever show my face again in the tournament! And this was supposed to be my year!”

Not only was that a lot of exclamation points, but she also dragged the last word out until it sounded like a cat dying. I tried to calm her down by settling my hand on her shoulder. She shook me off while dropping her cane at her feet. With a ton of creaks and cracks, she knelt down beside him and started babbling about how sorry she was.

“I don’t think you should touch him.” I said this while definitely keeping my distance. I did not want to touch him more than I already had. To be honest, it had been some time since I was involved in anything more than feeding and playing with my kids or running my store and being a wife. Occasionally I would help Ben with a case or two in his work as a private investigator, but it was more paperwork than anything else. I did not want to even know what had happened to the judge, much less who had done it. Ben was not going to be pleased. At all.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. McIntyre,” Myrt said with her face close to his, her hand patting his chest. There was a crinkling noise, but she was still talking. “So very sorry. When Irma died last year in her sleep after winning her forty-ninth straight tournament, I thought I finally had a chance, and now I hit you, and I’m so very, very sorry, and I can’t believe I mistook you for a burglar.” She twisted her hands together like she was wringing out a dishtowel. And she was going to draw blood if she continued biting her lip in between babbling some more.

I had few choices right now. I have to admit here that I had no desire whatsoever to call the police. I didn’t want to be involved in things. I had plans this week. This was not going to keep me from swinging from the freaking chandelier if I could.

Of course, I could go across the street and call from the house, or have Ben call and then remove myself from the situation altogether. But that would be completely unfair to Mrs. Crandall.

I couldn’t help myself. I let out a scream that would have brought down an opera house, something between frustration and fright because, at that moment, something furry ran against my leg before shooting into the bushes.

In the end, the decision of what to do was taken out of my hands because the police came tearing up in the one marked car in town, screeching to a halt at the curb. A man in uniform was out of the car before I could blink again. And I’m glad I didn’t blink because I would have missed the way he jumped from the car and then did a forward roll across the front lawn as if he was in some crazy-assed shootout.

 

You can find me on the web at:

Website: http://www.mistysimon.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/misty.simon.18Misty Simon

Twitter: @MistySimon

Buy Link: http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4892-hoedown-showdown.html

Author bio: Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and three insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at misty@mistysimon.com

Categories: Lassoing the Words of Romance | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Things that Make Me Crazy When I Read… #MFRWauthor

Today’s blog challenge topic is to write about the words that make you go “ick.” Since I don’t like to write about these words–most of them are vulgar or just plain awful–I’m not about to spell them out on my blog….. Yes, I’m a prude. And proud of it! Well, at least you should be able to use your imagination to figure out what those words are with that confession.

Anyway, I’m going to change the prompt a little and talk about the things that pull me out of a story I’m reading and make me go “WTF?!?” There isn’t much I won’t tolerate, story-wise. I don’t mind if people die or animals are killed–IF it’s absolutely needed to drive the plot or is essential for character growth. But these things listed below will pull me out of a story quicker than anything, and unfortunately I usually can’t get back into it.

**I hate when a historical novel is too politically correct, meaning the author colors the characters’ actions/words with today’s standards. A great series of books that has never fallen victim to this is the Outlander series. Jamie Fraser is an amazing hero, but he acts and talks like a 18th Century man. And although Claire (the time-traveling WWII nurse heroine) probably gets away with more than most women would if they were married to anyone other than Jamie, he still views a man’s role in a marriage in what we’d consider archaic by today’s standards.

**Another thing that destroys a story for me is when details get messed up. I have nearly a photogenic memory when it comes to reading. My comprehension is my strongest skill. I don’t forget much. Someone told me once it’s because I actually read every letter and word due to my dyslexia which helps my brain to form a better picture of the story. Anyway when an author screws up their details, it yanks me out. For example, one time I read a book by a best selling author published by one of the big houses when the heroine changed clothes while walking along a road… No, I don’t mean she stripped and changed. I mean she started out her walk wearing a pantsuit and when her friend picked her up a  page later, she was wearing a skirt. It was so jarring because the author seemed to make her wearing pants matter by mentioning how much she despised that the dust would ruin them. Then only to have her get in the truck and fussing with her skirt because it’s short length made her uncomfortable. I was like “uh??” and reread the passage. That scene bothered me so much, I couldn’t forget the flub. I don’t think I ever finished that book.

**Head hopping! This irritates me to no end. I don’t mean a point of view change after a section of a scene. I mean paragraph one is in the hero’s POV and the next is in the heroine’s POV, then jumps back to the hero’s. Every beginning author is clobbered about this and are taught not to do it. But some authors seem to get away with it… Well, I’m not buying their books. even though most of them some of the oldest and biggest sellers.

**Stupid, lazy, poorly written characters and/or a paper-thin plots–I actually think these two things go hand-in-hand in most cases. I will admit, I don’t read many self-published books by newbie authors. I’ve been burnt too many times with buying a book or downloading a freebie because the blurb sounded good and the reviews may even be good, but the story wasn’t up to snuff. But I’ve read a few stories by established authors published by New York houses that have this distinction as well.

**The last thing that will make me stop reading is if the heroine is weak and mousy and/or the “hero” is a jerk. If he can’t say or think anything nice about the heroine and treats her badly–he isn’t a hero in my way of thinking. Being a jerk doesn’t make him an Alpha male, it makes him an asshole not worth the time of day of any woman. But usually the heroine is too enthralled by him, because she has no backbone, to see she should run the other way, not be daydreaming about how handsome he is and if only he’d look at her. I usually just want to shake the girl and tell her to go find someone else because he sure as hell ain’t worth it.

So, you tell me, what makes you toss a book across the room or hit the delete key on your Kindle?

Check out other authors in the Challenge here:

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Categories: Insights | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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