Spotlight on The Hitman’s Mistake

I’m happy to welcome back Soul Mate author Sally Brandle. Today, Sally shares her debut novel, The Hitman’s Mistake. It’s free on Amazon Kindle!

Blurb

After Miranda Whitley stops crooked cops from assassinating a prominent Seattle judge, she’s next on the hit list, and her survival depends on the buff FBI Agent she’s had one awkward encounter with. But can she find him in time?

The last person Grant Morley expects to discover on his annual supply run to a Montana mountain hermit is alluring Miranda Whitley, nearly dead from a bullet wound in her side. An accidental witness or the cold-blooded accomplice to would-be assassins?

Miranda must convince Grant of her innocence, evade the killers intent on preventing her testimony, and fight her unwanted attraction for the agent…an attraction which seems to be mutual. Fortunately, love thrives in Emma Springs. If you love sizzling chemistry, Montana’s mountain landscape, and fast-paced action, then you’ll love Sally Brandle’s galloping thriller, The Hitman’s Mistake.

Excerpt

Setting: Our heroine’s pruning indoor plants in the lobby of Seattle’s Justice Building after hours.

***

Squeaks from her mom’s old pruning shears echoed in the large, vacant room. She pulled another uneven limb of the Chinese Elm closer to her face and squinted. While she clipped, a peppery fragrance released from the wood.

A twig grazed her cheek, making her flinch. She brushed the neckline of her purple T-shirt with the back of her hand.

The place threw off the vibes of an abandoned morgue. Chill. She released the limb, let out a long breath, and grabbed a lop-sided branch from overhead. Tonight, even a rude prosecutor’s voice rupturing the tranquility would be welcome.

Not happening this late, but Ike would be descending in the elevator any minute. Hopefully in a better mood than when she’d watered the jade plant in his judge’s chambers earlier. He’d been tense, without the fatherly banter he doled out when she visited him and his wife, Shirley.

Soft taps came from a few feet behind her. She tilted her head.

Footsteps? From the stairwell? Miranda released her grip, and the tree limb sprang free. She swung her head and watched the branch skim the fly of the trousers on the man now towering over her right shoulder.

Not Ike. She froze.

“What in the hell? Oh, didn’t see you there—” he sidestepped, and her cup scrunched in protest under his big boot. The lid popped off and the double shot of Kona glugged into a mocha-scented pool.

He jumped to avoid the puddle. “Damn energy conservation put you in the shadows. Sorry, I nailed your coffee.” His swinging backpack missed her nose by inches.

She twisted her body and scooted her butt until her shoulder jammed against a carved pot.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“It’s okay,” she mumbled, keeping her head lowered to avoid further contact with the bag-wielding klutz wearing black trousers. Must’ve been him she’d glimpsed a few minutes ago, while the elevator doors had closed on the floor below Ike’s.

“I’ve never been attacked by a branch. Must say, you deployed it well,” the deep voice announced. He stopped directly in front of her.

His hiking boots made her size-nine high-tops appear dainty.

Not the shoes of a snobby lawyer or a lost, post-trial pimp trying to find his way out of the building. Still, the flailing branch served him right for sneaking up on her. “I didn’t hear you.”

“And I shouldn’t text and walk,” he said in a lighter, almost sexy tone. “I’m Grant.” He dropped his pack and stuck out his hand.

An FBI tag printed ‘GRANT MORLEY’ hung from the bag.

She peered from under her cap’s brim and gulped.

Him.

Agent of Interest. Her heart took off at a gallop.

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Bio

Multi-award winning author Sally Brandle weaves slow-burning romance into edgy suspense stories. Sally left a career as an industrial baking instructor to bring to life stories of women who learn to trust their inner gifts. Her rescue Aussie is her companion during long spells of writing, bouts of tormenting weeds in her garden, or afternoons spent riding on the wind with her twenty-eight year old Quarter Horse. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.sallybrandle.com for a free segment of her latest book, The Hitman’s Mistake.

Where to find Sally…

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Spotlight on Cakewalk to Murder

I’m happy to welcome husband and wife team M K Scott. Today, they share their latest release, Cakewalk to Murder.

Blurb

Bake-off fever is in full-swing and Donna can’t help but have visions of becoming the next great baking star, but the competition is stiff, and someone is willing to kill to win.

When one of the contestants is found dead, a twist of fate puts Donna at the center of the competition. That’s the perfect position to unravel the mystery, but only if she doesn’t get caught in the crosshairs.

Excerpt

The judges strolled to the next baker standing proudly by a five-layer cake dusted with cocoa and decorated with live violets.

“This is the one,” Donna declared and scooted up in her wing chair to be even closer to the television.

Her college-age helper, Tennyson, stroked his scruffy beard in a fair imitation of her husband, Mark, when he was in his contemplation mode. Ten dropped his hand and shook his head. “I don’t know. What about Alastair? He used all those egg whites to make his cake lighter.”

“Please.” She lengthened the word, then gave a derisive snort. “That’s so old fashioned. My great grandmother did that. Judges wanted something new, cutting edge, while still bringing indescribable joy to their taste buds.”

“You think putting flowers on a cake will do it?”

A door sounded in the distant before Donna could reply. Currently, there were no guests in the inn, and she had locked all the doors guaranteeing she could have peace while watching The British Bake-Off Show. Unfortunately, she couldn’t lock out Tennyson who had taken an interest in the program.

Jasper, her aging puggle, gave a welcome bark. It meant Mark was back from his Chamber of Commerce meeting, which he agreed to attend so Donna could watch the show in real time. If she had recorded it, Janice would ruin it by calling her up, telling who the winner was, and would make all manner of comments as if she had actually seen the show. No, thank you.

The judges talked amongst themselves as the tension built. Often, she imagined herself on the show and what she would make to tempt the finicky judges. The contestants must be nervous. Strangely enough, Donna was, too. A throw pillow found its way into her hands, and she squeezed the pillow as the judges mentioned the third and second place finishers. They might have called them winners, but almost everyone conceded there was only one winner.

“And the winner is…” The lead judge paused for a moment. “Alastair! With his lighter than air angel food cake. It reminded me of my dear old Granny and her ability to make every moment special.”

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Author Bio and Links

M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries and The Talking Dog Detective Agency. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands-on approach. Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Overall, both are fun series to create and read.

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Giveaway

MK Scott will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow them on the rest of their tour here.


You Might Be a Garden Junkie…

I’m happy to welcome award-winning Soul Mate author Catherine Castle. Today, Catherine shares a gardening quiz and her novel, The Nun & the Narc.

Here’s Catherine!

At my house, the spring garden is in full bloom. The snowball bush, shown here, is so laden with blooms that you can hardly see the bush. All the beds have been cleaned and mulched. Now I can see every weed that has popped up in the last 2 months since spring cleaning. And it’s driving me nuts.

I’ve come to the conclusion, over the years, that I’m a garden junkie. If you are a gardener, are you a junkie too? Take this quick quiz to find out your junkie status.

You might be a garden junkie if…

1. A picture of a garden … any garden … makes you gasp in ecstasy.

2. You love the smell of newly laid mulch.

3. You subscribe to every garden magazine you find.

4. You carefully replant every earthworm you accidentally dig up.

5. Horse sh**t isn’t a curse word to you, but a source of free fertilizer.

6. You plan your vacations around spring cleaning, summer blooms, fall blooms, and winter cleanup.

7. You know the exact number and species of every tree, bush, and flower in your garden, and most of the weeds too.

8. You always buy more plants than you can plant in one day.

9. You know the garden center employees by name.

10. You have more pictures of your garden in your smart phone than family members.

If you answered yes to number 1 you are definitely a beginning gardener. Don’t despair, just keep on digging and you’ll eventually reach junkie status. If you answered yes to numbers 1-5, you are well on your way to joining the elite. If you said yes to 1-9 then you are an avid gardener.

And if you said yes to all 10 statements, you, my friend, are a garden junkie.

If you’re a Garden Junkie and If you’d like to get your garden fix, join me and some other lovely writer gardeners on my blog at A Writer’s Garden every Thursday. Each week you’ll see lovely pictures of gardens and meet some new garden junkies and authors. And welcome to the Garden junkie club!

Blurb

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Margaret Mary O’Connor is not a typical nun. Dressed in jeans and a bandanna, she has no qualms about climbing up on roofs or meddling in other people’s affairs. It is not surprising that Mother Superior doubts her commitment to the convent and often admonishes the younger woman: “Stubbornness, curiosity and bluntness don’t become a nun.”

While Margaret is haunted by Mother Superior’s words, she does not hesitate to get involved when a motherless boy in Mexico is tempted by a life of crime. That meddling lands her smack in the middle of DEA office Jed Barringer’s undercover operation. When Margaret and Jed are captured by drug dealers, there is an instant attraction, but before they can even think of love, they must escape the clutches of the cartel and deal with Margaret’s impending vows.

From start to finish, I enjoyed this well-paced novel brimming with conflict and emotional intensity.

Bio

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books, The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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10 Interesting Facts About My Protagonist Sarah Collins

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Debbie De Louise. Today, Debbie shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist in her new release, Sea Scope.

Here’s Debbie!

Here are some interesting facts about the protagonist of my new psychological mystery, Sea Scope:

1. She’s 30 and is a children’s book illustrator.

2. She likes cats and has a female red tabby named Rosy.

3. When she was 10, she and her younger brother, Glen, found a body by a lighthouse in South Carolina where they lived.

4. She and her brother grew up in Sea Scope, the inn that her parents and aunt ran in Cape Bretton, South Carolina.

5. Sarah wants children, but she and her husband, Derek, haven’t had any luck conceiving, and it’s caused a rift between them.

6. Sarah’s aunt Julie is a portrait painter.

7. Sarah’s father, Martin Brewster, committed suicide the year after she and her family moved away from Sea Scope.

8. Sarah’s brother, Glen, was killed in a motorcycle accident in California where he lived and worked as a psychologist.

9. Sarah’s mother, Jennifer Brewster, is an alcoholic.

10. Sarah had a childhood crush on Russell Donovan whose father dated her aunt and who still lives in South Carolina. She got her first kiss from Russ.

Blurb

Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she accepts an invitation to return to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

She hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father’s suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope.

Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what’s going on in her childhood home. As the past and present collide, she must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?

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Author Bio

Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. Her novels include the four books of the Cobble Cove mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks. Debbie has also written a standalone mystery, Reason to Die, a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, and a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow. Her psychological mystery, Sea Scope will be published May, 2019. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.

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Spotlight on Grace Topping

I’m happy to welcome author Grace Topping. Today, Grace shares her writing journey and debut novel, Staging is Murder.

Several years ago, I attended Malice Domestic, a conference for fans of traditional mysteries. I had always enjoyed reading mysteries, so I thought it would be fun. I got to hear authors of books I loved and some authors new to me talk about their characters, their writing careers, and what inspired them.

What surprised me the most was that these authors were ordinary people like me. Sitting in the audience, I began to wonder that if they could write a mystery, perhaps so could I. After all, I was the writer of exciting computer user manuals, so how much harder could it be to throw in a little murder. I had often come across people in my career who would be the perfect model for a murder victim.

It was a lot harder than I thought. Writing lean, boring documents gives you excellent skills in writing, but it is a lot different than writing a novel. So my first challenge was leaning how to write a mystery. I could have spent months and years spinning my wheels trying to come up with cohesive story, but I wisely decided to take an online course through my community college on how to write a mystery. This was probably the number one best decision of my mystery-writing career. It gave me a good foundation for my first draft and the realization that this was something I could do.

The second best thing I did was deciding not to go it alone and join a professional writing group and learn from other writers. When I learned about Sisters in Crime and their online chapter, the Guppies, I joined and immediately found a group of writers willing to share information, and best of all, cheer me on. If I have any success, it will because of this wonderful group.

So ten years after starting my mystery, I’m celebrating the publication of Staging is Murder. It has been a long journey, but this month I’m finally able to introduce my story and characters to the world. And, I’ll be attending Malice Domestic again—this time as an author.

Blurb

Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, removing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties.

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

Excerpt

“You work for that woman and you’ll end up killing each other. Even your horoscope says so.”

I put down my cappuccino, took the newspaper my friend Nita Martino pushed at me, and read the horoscope for Capricorns: A difficult person will cause you to take rash action.

I laughed and handed the paper back to her. “Last month it predicted a financial windfall and then foreign travel. Neither came true. I don’t think I’ll be knocking off my first client—at least not until she pays me.”

Nita read our horoscopes the mornings we met at Vocaro’s for coffee. Chinese fortune cookies would have been more accurate.

Nita shook the paper. “I’ve warned you, and now your horoscope is warning you. Why won’t you listen?”

“Because if I’m going to build a reputation as a home stager, I need the reference Victoria Denton can give me. She may be difficult, but she knows everyone in town.”

“I’ll give you a reference. You helped lots of friends stage their homes, including my mother-in-law. Talk about turning ugly ducklings into swans. They’d still be waiting for buyers if you hadn’t helped them.”

“That was for friends. Now it’s business. Turning Victoria’s mansion into a showplace will speak volumes, especially since it’s such a large undertaking. If it would help, I’d stage a house for Hannibal Lecter.”

“Believe me, Hannibal would be easier to work with.”

Wanting to change the subject, I rummaged around in my large Land’s End canvas bag, pulled out a small box, and proudly handed it to her. “Look at this—my new business cards.”

Nita read the card I handed her. “‘Staging for You, Laura Bishop, Professional Home Stager.’ This is so exciting. Now you can do something you enjoy—and get paid for it.”

“The sooner the better. My budget is so slim it’s squealing.” I didn’t mention the crushing debt I incurred because of my mother’s illness and funeral expenses. I needed to make a success of my business or it was back to the well-paying IT field that bored me to death but would pay the bills. The staging business would also help me move on from the life I’d left behind.

“Laura, I’ve told you before I can help—”

“Thank you, but no. With two kids in college, you can’t risk your savings on me.”

Nita frowned and ducked behind her newspaper. “Uh-oh, there’s trouble.”

Monica Heller stood at the counter, tapping her foot as she waited for her order. Her linen sheath and sleek, golden, chin-length hair screamed money and sophistication, neither of which Nita nor I possessed in abundance.

“As always, she looks stunning.” I sighed, hoping I didn’t sound envious.

“If we were from wealthy families, do you think we’d look that good?”

“It’s in her genes.”

“Genes certainly lacking in my gene pool.” Nita took a bite of sticky bun. “Monica may be the best-known designer in town, but Victoria showed real smarts hiring you instead of her.”

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Author Bio and Links

Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series.The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager.

Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

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Happy Release Day!


With Age Comes Second Chances

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have award-winning Soul Mate author Nancy Lee Badger sharing her inspiring journey and latest release, Heaven-Sent Highlander.

Here’s Nancy!

Since Heaven-sent Highlander is the second book in my Warriors in Bronze series, I would like to talk about second acts as it pertains to my life. I am a multi-published and award-winning author, but that profession did not start until I was in my 50’s. About 20 years ago, I started writing. I am a huge reader of romance novels and thought I could do better. At the time, I was an EMT and volunteer firefighter in a small New Hampshire town. Heartache, emergencies, deaths, and other calls would leave me despondent. Reading a romance novel always brought me back to happiness.

I needed to escape my paid daytime job, and landed a spot as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher for the State of New Hampshire. Reading between calls was rewarding, and kept the adrenaline at a healthy level. Changing jobs was good for the ego and pocketbook, but the pace was grueling and I yearned for something different AND to move somewhere warmer. Snow was no longer pretty to me.

So, I ‘retired’, we sold our house, and moved closer to family in Raleigh, North Carolina. About 9 years ago, I sold my first book. What a high! I kept writing while dear hubby kept working full time to pay the bills. He also loves to read and edit my manuscripts. My mother helps in that regard as well. After 26 books, three publishers, and a lot of self-published books, I am enjoying every day as a full-time author.

As I grow older, I am always surprised that ideas for stories pop-up seemingly out of nowhere. I am feeling my age more each day, but I keep going. My eyes have gotten worse, which might be why my hero in Heaven-sent Highlander is blind for a good part of the book. Writing has drawbacks, of course, but if the words are itching to get typed onto a computer, do it. You cannot improve an empty page! I recall Nora Roberts speaking at a Romance Writers of America conference saying something like ‘get your butt in the chair and just write.’

Writing novels, poetry, or even magazine articles can be a lonely profession. Just you and your laptop, most times. The best advice I can give is to seek out others. Writing groups are everywhere, from simple book clubs, to meet-up groups, to organizations like the ones I have been a member of for years. Misery loves company. Other writers will understand all that you are going through and are the first to congratulate you.

Blurb

At an American museum, surrounded by Auguste Rodin’s bronze statues, a Scottish Fae beauty is at a crossroads. Now that Gwendolyn’s friends are engaged, and the demon they fought vanquished, should she return home? After committing a terrible act, she could not explain to her cousin why she had appeared on his doorstep.

Alexander awoke in darkness inside a bronze statue, remembering how the green of Scotland’s Culloden field had turned red with blood that day in 1746. Had he died before awakening nude and sightless in front of strangers in present-day Raleigh, North Carolina? The mystery of how was overshadowed by why. Told that another warrior awoke when a demon threatened to take over the world, had a second demon escaped Hell? When the demon appears and demands Gwen join him, Alex must use all his new skills, weapons, and Heaven-sent powers to keep her and the world safe.

Excerpt

“I placed some clothes in the bathing room. ‘Tis just next door,” Gwendolyn said.

“A bathing room? Inside the house? Show me.” Alex figured he could find it on his own by touch, but he did not know who besides Gwendolyn was near. Keeping his blindness a secret seemed childish, but his pride screamed at him to hold back and see what happened.

“I brought food for ye—”

“I am hungry, yet can it wait? Clothing myself seems prudent, first.”

“Fine. Follow me.”

As she set something down, the lilt in her voice made him smile, and her scent stirred his loins. The urge to grab her, turn her into his chest, and kiss her senseless was strong. The problem? How would he find her?

In the hallway, his hazy vision sensed light and Gwen’s outline ahead of him. His feet closed the space between them. Moments before he could wrap his fingers around her, heavy footsteps grew closer.

“Gwen, what are you and Alex doing? Alex, you are looking well. Clothing might improve your visage. Aye?”

Sam had interrupted his plans. Had he read his thoughts? Gwendolyn had warned him, but why would he care what Gwendolyn and he did?

Alex nodded. “Gwendolyn left some items in the bathing room. I wish to hurry and dress. I smell meat cooking.”

“Oh! I left the chili in your bedchamber!” Gwen’s blurry outline ran past him, and Alex was left alone with Sam.

“Gwen is very attentive, considering we still do not know your intentions.”

What could Sam be hinting at? “I doona know why I am still alive. I swear to you, sir. I assumed I had died on that bloody battlefield. I am thankful to breathe air and feel pain. Truly, as it proves I am alive.”

He sensed Sam staring at him, but he kept his features calm and without fear.

“Well, then we shall commence your training at sun-up. Rest, eat, and find clothing appropriate for combat.”

“Combat?”

You can find all my book Buy Links here.

Author Bio

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island, where school field trips to lofty museums were the norm. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire, where Nancy volunteered as an EMT and firefighter while working full-time. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling show became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved with her husband to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She loves to travel and attend Scottish Highland Games and is never far from her laptop. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

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In Praise of Affirmations

During my cancer journey, I read Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, and developed an interest in affirmations.

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation states an outcome or truth you wish to impress upon your mind. While the affirmation doesn’t actually make things happen, it can raise your vibration so that you are more receptive to the desired outcome.

At first wary, I slowly warmed up to the topic and adopted several of Louise’s suggestions.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.