Spotlight on The Secret Spice Café Trilogy

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Patricia V Davis. Today, Patricia shares excellent advice for women of all ages and the three novels in The Secret Spice Café Trilogy.

Here’s my contribution to Joanne’s Power of Ten Series. I wrote this blog post over ten years ago, for one particular younger woman friend, and I had originally titled it, “From an Older Woman to a Younger One.” For some reason, it hit a nerve with many women, went viral, was translated into several languages, and eventually landed me a book deal for my non-fiction book, The Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman needs to Know. I hope it resonates with you too. Though its particular audience was for one hetero woman, I hope everyone can pull something from it, no matter who you are. Without further ado, here are some of the things I learned after half a century of living that I passed on to a younger woman friend in the hope that it would save her some precious time:

1. You are at least ten times prettier than you think you are.

That holds true no matter how pretty you already think you are! Don’t believe me? Ask your mother/auntie/grannie if she thought she was pretty when she was twenty. She’ll say no. Then find a photo of her at that age. See what I mean?

2. The only thing you should be faking is confidence.

If you don’t have it yet, pretend you do. In every new situation, pretend you’re not nervous; pretend you’re not scared. After a few times doing this, the pretend part disappears.

3. Want to try something new like painting, skiing or running your own business? Go to the library and borrow ten different books on the subject. Skim through them all, find the ones that have the most vital information and study them. Then see number two.

4. No matter how old you get, remember what it was like to be a nine-year-old girl.

Remember the feeling of freedom. If you’ve already forgotten, do a cartwheel. You can so still do one. Savor that feeling. Wake up with it every day. You’ll stay young until the day you die.

5. In the same vein, cut or potted flowers are never a waste of money, because every time we glance at them, they remind us how much beauty there can be in the world.

6. Speaking of money, starting right this moment, whether you’re twenty or sixty, you can change your finances around.

Don’t leave someone else completely in charge, whether it’s your husband, partner, parents or banker. Become financially savvy. Financial independence gives you the freedom to walk away from many bad situations. How do you know you’re in bad situation? See number seven.

7. If your stomach hurts and you haven’t got a virus, you’re in a bad situation.

Before you know what it is, your stomach always does. Give yourself some time to ponder what it might be that’s making your stomach hurt. Chances are you already do know, you just don’t want to face it, for some reason. You can ignore advice from your friends, even your own brain, but you can’t ignore your stomach, because the stomach never lies. Oh, and by the way — drowning your stomach in alcohol won’t make it stop telling you the truth, either.

8. When meeting someone new and he or she seems to be behaving badly, show compassion first.

If after you display your sincere compassion, they are still acting badly, walk away. If they follow you, call the police.

9. Wear sunscreen on your face, neck and hands every day, winter and summer.

I don’t care how dark your skin naturally is. Wear it. You’ll remember me when you look in the mirror at age fifty. Always keep in mind that your body is directly connected to your spirit. Look after your body. Exercise, floss and brush your teeth. Put nothing in your body that can permanently harm your spirit, including the wrong man.

10. And if you are in bed with a man and he’s the right man, meaning your stomach doesn’t hurt, he’s smiling at you, he knows your name, he’s not drunk, and neither are you — for godssakes — enjoy yourself. He is not at all thinking about how fat your thighs look.

Blurbs

Book One: Cooking For Ghosts

Do hearts broken long ago forever leave a tangible trace?

A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past.

Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They decide on impulse to open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets.

The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, but once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef’s mystic recipes, and not the Queen Mary herself. Yet the spirits they encounter help them discover that there’s always a chance to live, as long as one is alive.

An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection, and read by Ann Marie Gideon, COOKING FOR GHOSTS is an unforgettable tale of love, redemption, and divine female power.

Book Two: Spells and Oregano

A mother desperate to save her twin sons, a war veteran in torment, a beautiful young psychic with a terrible secret, a powerful magician with a shattered soul, and a Queen steeped in history and glory. These extraordinary beings cross paths and set off a remarkable chain of events in Spells and Oregano: Book II in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy.

Overcome by despair after a trauma when she was sixteen, Sarita Taylor has spent the past ten years isolated and lonely aboard her beloved RMS Queen Mary. Fearful of outsiders, she dedicates her time to managing The Secret Spice Café, now an award-winning restaurant. Until Luca Miceli, a man with a dark past, steps on board.

Patricia V. Davis deftly spins past and present, mystery and magic, into a potent story of passionate longing and family tragedy all at once. Spells and Oregano is a compelling tale of atonement, devotion, and undying love, set aboard one of the world’s most magnificent, haunted ships.

Don’t miss Cooking for Ghosts: Book I in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy. The Secret Spice Trilogy is an Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection.

Book Three: Demons: Well Seasoned

Dare to Believe in Your Power…

A long-lost grandmother. A stay-at-home mom. A comic book fan. A five-year-old girl with a star-shaped birthmark. And nine more.

The cast is bigger, the stakes are higher. When Sarita’s grandmother, a Vodou priestess, foresees a terrible evil, Cynthia, Jane, Angela, and Rohini reunite on a heart-rending mission to save all that’s precious to them, including the iconic ship, the RMS Queen Mary. They cannot do it alone–the priestess tells them there must be thirteen on the night of the thirteenth moon. in this life-or-death pursuit. Yet, can she be trusted?

Spiced with history and the supernatural, Demons, Well-Seasoned takes us from 1930s Glasgow, to New Orleans and Harlem in the 1950s, to present day southern California, and back again, on a metaphysical voyage that is both exhilarating and poignant. But before you embark upon this final sail with the denizens of The Secret Spice, be warned: expect to lose sleep, and keep tissues at hand. These valiant characters might just stay with you long after their story comes to a close.

Don’t miss Cooking for Ghosts, and Spells & Oregano, Books I and II in The Secret Spice Café Trilogy. The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy is an Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection.

Excerpt from Cooking for Ghosts

Unconcerned with what her business partners were up to, Rohini was giggling with excitement. Hugging herself, she whirled in circles, then flung her arms up over her head and collapsed back in dizzy elation onto the enormous bed in the glorious stateroom. Everything was glorious. She was here. This was her room. The Secret Spice was, in part, her restaurant.

Hers.

And when she’d first seen the Queen from the back seat of Cynthia’s preposterous little car, she knew she was headed to exactly where she should be. She couldn’t stop smiling, until, abruptly, a lump formed in her throat and her eyes misted with tears.

“I made it, Zahir,” she whispered. “I made it.”

She sobered as she thought of him, of all he’d done for her, and all that she might still need to do on her own.

But that wasn’t for today. Today was for celebration and thankfulness. Getting up from the bed, she opened her case, pulled out all the little plastic sacks of spices and herbs she’d packed, and sighed with relief. Not a one had opened or torn. Even so, she could smell their pungent bouquet right through the protective wrappings. Rauvolfia, Serpentina, Jaiphal, Javitri, Khus Khus, Ashwagandha and more — why did cinnamon always smell the strongest? There were dozens of varieties that she’d stuffed inside shirt sleeves and trouser legs and white cotton gym socks, just like a drug dealer might hide a stash. The TSA had missed them completely. They’d even affixed a sticker to the top of her bag: “Checked by Homeland Security.”

Author Bio and Links

PATRICIA V. DAVIS’s debut novel series, THE SECRET SPICE CAFE, is comprised of three books: COOKING FOR GHOSTS (2016) SPELLS AND OREGANO (2017) and DEMONS, WELL-SEASONED. (2019) The audio books will be released in 2020 by Tantor Media, and narrated by Ann Marie Gideon. Patricia lives with her husband, who is both a poker player and a rice farmer, so she divides her time between southern Nevada and northern California. Say hello to Patricia at her author website: http://www.TheSecretSpice.com

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Giveaway

Patricia V. Davis will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Find out more here.

Follow Patricia on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.



10 Quotes to Live By from the Novel Blackhorse Road

I’m happy to welcome author Merida Johns. Today, Merida shares ten inspirational quotes from her new release, Blackhorse Road.

Values, beliefs, and life philosophy form the backbone of Blackhorse Road characters. Book reviewer, Gayle Scroggs, PhD, PCC, suggests that “The exceptional self-awareness that the characters show is what stands out in Blackhorse Road.” Here are ten quotes that give a hint about the characters in Blackhorse Road.

1. Lucinda—Chapter 1: What defines a person are not one’s financial or physical attributes or beliefs. Instead, it’s the choices that one makes in surmounting life’s challenges.

2. Luci—Chapter 1: “Conformity may make life seem more comfortable. But blind obedience, in time, frustrates and disappoints us. It is conformity that robs us of our hope and deprives us of improving ourselves and creating a better and fairer world.”

3. Sam—Chapter 2: “You have three options when you hit a brick wall and can’t get what you want. You can be complacent and accept the situation and endure it. You can live in a fantasy world and pretend everything is fine. Or you can persist and find a way around the wall.”

4. Sam—Chapter 6: “Given the relevant facts and the chance to think things through, most people are smart, creative, and resourceful enough to make the right decisions.”

5. Luci—Chapter 14: Wallowing in self-pity is a waste of energy. Pessimism robs people of their freedom. It closes your mind to possibilities and opportunities. It makes you a victim of your own behavior.

6. Chris—Chapter 15: “. . . You know, there’s that old saying, ‘Better safe than sorry,’ but I like saying ‘Safe but sorry.’ I think my version is better. I don’t want to end my life, Luci, dwelling on all the should-haves or could-haves that I didn’t do because I was afraid.”

7. Barry—Chapter 15: “If you are going to get what you want in life, you have to have a contingency plan in your back pocket.”

8. Geneviève—Chapter 16: If you want to change people’s behavior, it’s best to give them a plausible option.

9. Geneviève—Chapter 17: “Live in the present, and you won’t be anxious or worried.”

10. Chris—Chapter 21: “You cannot contract out responsibility for exercising your conscience to religion, government, or other authority. To mindlessly follow authority thwarts one’s autonomy. After all is said and done, you are accountable for your choices. Those who believe that following the rules will excuse them from moral responsibility are living in fantasy land.”

Blurb

Under another hand, Blackhorse Road could all too easily have been a singular romance. Johns provides more as she follows Luci down the rabbit hole and out the other side of life experience, bringing readers into a world where . . . transgression changes everything and challenges carefully-constructed foundations of belief and values. As Luci lets go of her lifesavers and navigates obstacles to happiness, her story becomes a vivid portrait of hope and self-examination which ultimately moves into unexpected territory. Novel readers seeking a tale that closely considers deception and forgiveness, love gained and lost, and family ties will welcome the multifaceted Blackhorse Road’s ability to come full circle in a satisfyingly unexpected way. – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and her love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself.

Excerpt

Uncertain what to make of Luci’s stillness, Barry brought his head close to hers and asked, “What are you thinking?”

Luci held back, still gazing ahead. She turned and drilled into Barry’s blue eyes. “I guess, using an Irish term, I could say, ‘What a bunch of malarkey!’” She drew back her lips in a saucy grin and weighed his reaction.

Luci’s response was unarming but charming. Barry laughed. “No one has ever told me in such a nice way that I’m full of bullshit.”

“Well, I guess there’s that!” Luci chuckled, then turned thoughtful. “Putting the ‘BS’ aside, I’d say the story is about choices, not a lovestruck fairy tale. It’s about risks and consequences and being true to your values. It’s about living who you are and not how someone else expects you to live.”

Author Bio and Links

Merida Johns takes her experience as an educator, consultant, and businesswoman and writes about the human experience. In 2018 Merida took an unlikely off-ramp from writing textbooks and motivational books to authoring women’s fiction. Her stories are learning lessons where awareness and curiosity transport readers to the most unexpected places within themselves. Merida hails from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, grew up in Southern California and has lived from coast-to-coast in the United States. Besides writing, she enjoys fabric arts, including weaving and knitting. She makes her home in the serene Midwest countryside that gives her the inspiration and space for storytelling.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Giveaway

Merida Johns will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Merida on the rest of her Rafflecopter tour here.


Spotlight on BloodBond

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Sydney Winward. Today, Sydney shares her new release, Bloodbond.

Blurb

Zachariah Degore spent ten years locked under ground as a feral vampire. Now he has to redefine what it means to be healthy and whole. With his human life behind him, he starts anew in the vampire city of Ichor Knell with the vampire shah as his kin. He must prove he is worthy of his place in this new world.

Laurel Covaci is vampire elite, she would never court a feral vampire. After two hundred years she has yet to find a mate who meets with her satisfaction. She hides the pain of past hurt and abandonment behind a cold façade. Zach is confident that Laurel is the vampire for him, but can he break through her icy walls and convince her he’s the mate she’s been waiting for?

Excerpt

“You obviously won’t bring up what is ailing you,” Oriel said, “therefore, I will. What is it?”

Her scowl deepened as she glared at a patch of red flowers that didn’t deserve her anger. “Zachariah is receiving mounds of handkerchiefs, and I fear it will interfere with his learning.”

He grinned slyly as he turned to face her. She didn’t like that look, as if he knew something she didn’t.
“I believe you are experiencing feelings of jealousy. Laurel, you are in love with Zachariah Degore.”

Shock hit her like a sleigh slamming into her at breakneck speed. Never in her life had she expected to hear the words “Laurel”, “Zachariah”, and “love” in the same sentence. Still, she shook her head stubbornly, but in her shock, she tripped on her bad foot, wincing as pain shot up her leg. She lowered herself onto a stone garden bench and took her slipper off, massaging the place where it hurt most while Oriel hovered worriedly.

“I am not in love with Zachariah,” she insisted. “We are only friends and I am simply worried about his studies.”

“Then why is your heart beating like a hummingbird’s wings?” he teased.

This time, she directed her scowl at her brother. “Curse you, Oriel. Mind your own business.”

“Your business is my business. I never liked Luca, but I like Zachariah plenty. I approve of a union between the two of you.” He sat beside her, draping an arm across her shoulders. “Zachariah is Dracula’s kin. He won’t be on the market for long.”

“I know,” she grumbled miserably, though she admitted to nothing. She was afraid to tell even herself that she felt more for Zachariah than just friendship.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Applebooks | Kobo

About the Author

Sydney Winward was born with an artistic brain and a love of discovery for new talents. From drawing to sewing to music, she has loved to explore every opportunity that comes her way. At a young age, Sydney discovered her love of writing, and she hasn’t been able to stop writing since. Her active imagination and artistic mind take her away to different worlds and time periods, making every new story a fantastic adventure. When she is not writing (or fawning over animals in the neighborhood) she spends time with her husband and children at home in Utah.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page | Instagram


Top 10 Things to See in Scotland

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Jean M. Grant. Today, Jean shares her must-sees for travelers to Scotland and her upcoming release, A Hundred Lies, Book 3 in The Hundred Trilogy. On sale for 99 cents!

Here’s Jean!

I visited the land of my daydreams, Scotland, over a decade ago. It stirred the muse within to write about medieval Scotland. From that inspiration sprung my trilogy. Here is my list of must-sees for the history and nature buff.


Scotland—be prepared for rain, be prepared for beauty of nature and people.

10. The abbeys—Abbeys are poetic and serene and back in the middle ages served as monasteries to different Christian orders. We walked among ancient gray and rose stone ruins at Dryburgh and Melrose Abbeys.

9. The isles—It is hard to not visit an isle while in Scotland. There are many: Lewis and Harris, Shetlands, or my beloved Uist. We visited Isle of Skye on a dreary day and could not even see the Black Cuillin mountains in the torrential rain.

8. Lochs—Like isles, lochs, many glacial, are a must-see and hard to miss whether it is the deep blue Loch Ness, expansive Loch Lomond, or the inspiring Loch Awe.

7. Crags & Glens—High and low crags abound…the Trossachs, Cairngorms, or the five sisters of Kintail are impressive mountains. With crags, come glens (valleys). Glencoe is not one to skip.

6. Standing Stones—Standing stones are one of the few places we couldn’t visit on our trip as most are on the isles. Note to self for next time!

5. Scottish Folk & Pubs—Scots are pleasant people and we had a great time chatting with the locals. And yup, there are plenty of the other kind of locals: sheep!

4. The Lowlands—The lowlands often get overlooked, but they are green and lush with undulating hills.

3. The Highlands—Rich in clan history and natural beauty and oh so many hikes, the Highlands are the epitome of Scotland. Tramp (hike) through glens, up stony crags, visit Culloden Battlefield, and just get lost on the winding one-lane roads.

2. Highland Games— Up for putting the stone, caber tossing, tug-o-war, music, and dancing…oh yes, and lots of kilts? Get thee to a Highland Game. We visited one in Pitlochry.

1. Castles—Castles, last but not least! I visited over a dozen on my trip. My favorites: Eilean Donan (seat to Clan MacCoinneach in my books), Kilchurn (we kayaked to it), Threave (we took a rowboat across a river to it), and Borthwick (we stayed overnight in this 14th century tower house that is haunted).

Blurb

1322, Scotland

Rosalie Threston’s fortune-telling lies have caught up with her. Uprooted yet again, she’s on the run from a ruthless English noblewoman. She flees to Scotland and seeks refuge in the arms of a laird’s son who happens to be a real Seer.

A bloody past and inevitable future plague Domhnall Montgomerie. He avoids physical contact with others to ease the painful visions. When an accidental touch reveals only delight, he wonders if Rose is the key to silencing the Sight.

Mystical awakening unravels with each kiss. But can Domhnall embrace his gift in time to save her life, even it means exposing her lies?

Buy/Book Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookbub | Goodreads

Bio

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.


Social Media Links

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10 Inspirational Quotations

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Sadira Stone. Today, Sadira shares ten inspirational quotations and her new release, Gelato Surprise.

Here’s Sadira!

Thanks so much, Joanne, for welcoming me back to your blog. Since I’ve already chatted with your readers about my reinvention from high school teacher to romance novelist, today I’d like to share ten of my favorite inspirational quotations. ‘Cause goodness knows we all need inspiration to keep us moving forward during the Quarantimes!

1. “Honey, ever’body’s got somethin’ to teach you, even if it’s how not to be.” This golden nugget came from an older Southern lady I worked with when stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia. My job: to help folks process their claims after a reassignment move had mashed up their household goods. Lots of negativity heaped on me by pissed-off customers who often took out their ire on me. This reminder served me well then, and every year since.

2. “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we might as well dance.” I couldn’t hunt down a reliable attribution for this one, but it’s my Northern Star. There’s so much I can’t change about my circumstances, but I can still enjoy my time, look for new opportunities, and write schmexy romance books.

3. “The grubby chores will still be there when you’re done whining, so you might as well do them now.” ~Mom

Her work ethic and practicality have served me well.

4. “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Don’t you feel exhilarated after going somewhere new, meeting someone new, trying something new? I sure do.

5. “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” ~Walt Whitman

My favorite poet and proto-hippie refused to be squashed into a box of others’ expectations.

6. “Don’t fence me in.” ~Gene Autry

We women, especially, face societal pressures to make our lives smaller. Phooey to that!

7. “Insight, curiosity, to wonder, to mull and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, talent makes no difference, whether you’ve got it or not. ~William Faulkner

As a writer, I sure hope he’s right.

8. “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” ~Marie Curie

She should know!

9. “Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” ~Freda Kahlo

Again, we women must resist others’ urgings to settle for less than we deserve.

10. “The best work anyone ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing them. Always.” ~Arthur Miller

True! My best work comes when I spill my heart’s blood on the page.

Blurb

She came to the beach to find herself—and found him.

Forty-two-year-old divorcée Danielle Peters ends up alone on her family’s annual beach vacation. Maybe time to herself is exactly what she needs. That and gelato from her favorite ice cream shop. But when the owner’s intoxicating young nephew offers more than sweet treats, she’s tempted to indulge in a hot summer fling before returning home.

Thirty-one-year-old Matteo Verducci craved a fresh start to mend his broken heart, and he’s found almost perfection in Ocean View, where he scoops gelato by day and crafts furniture by night. But when a sexy older woman stops to sample his wares—Mamma mia! He only has two weeks to convince her their passion is more than a delicious surprise.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play Books

Author Bio

Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books.

Where to find Sadira…

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon Author Page | Pinterest | Instagram | Author Newsletter


Charlotte O’Shay’s 10 Life Lessons

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Charlotte O’Shay. Today, Charlotte shares ten life lessons and her upcoming release, Always, Almond Fudge.

Here’s Charlotte!

Hello Joanne,

It’s such a pleasure to visit your blog again.

I’m certainly old enough to know better. Finally I do—kind of. In spite of my patient parents, it took me forever to learn these lessons. Anyway, here goes.

1. Every day is a gift. Unwrap it. We make plans and we have schedules, calendars and appointments and of course, some of these are commitments we cannot neglect. But take a moment to appreciate the energy and promise of the new day. Be open to it unfolding in a way you might not have anticipated or planned.

2. Say yes. Of course you’re scared, but there is no growth without fear. Have courage. Be open to learning, doing something new. This gets harder as you get older, but more necessary.

3. Say no. Your time is precious. Don’t let people waste it. You don’t need to say yes to every invitation, join every committee or raise your hand to do something because you think you should. Take on what you truly can and want to do, and do it with joy.

4. Surround yourself with the people who make you happy. There are toxic people out there. As you get older you can see them coming from a mile away. Life is too short to engage with vitriolic people whether on line or in person. Corollary: Tell the people you love, that you love and appreciate them.

5. Surround yourself with the things that make you happy. I’m not talking about expensive objects. This is for all the yard sale lovers out there. I’m talking about a pine cone found while walking, sea glass from the beach, a pretty plate from a tag sale or a wonderful piece of music. I’m also not talking about hoarding. If you find something new, give away something you no longer need. If a color soothes you, paint it on a wall.

6. Trust your gut. We’ve all been there. A tough, even dangerous situation. Or you’ve met a new, potentially important person. Maybe it’s a big decision you must make about a job. There’s that niggling feeling like an itch you can’t get to in the middle of your back. Don’t ignore it. You may not know why you feel the way you do, but learn to scratch the itch by trusting your gut.

7. Struggling with a big decision, dilemma? (see 6. above) Walk. Running is okay and so is biking. But there is nothing quite like walking to ruminate. Extra points if you can walk on a beach.

8. Don’t complain, make a change. I vent. You vent. And we all have the friend who vents—constantly. But when does it cease being a vent and more just a state of being? After you hash out your issue with a few trusted people, take action. Don’t complain about something endlessly. Can you change the situation? Do you need legal, medical, educational, psychiatric help? Reach out for it. Educate yourself. Take action.

9. Listen (patiently, not waiting to barrel in with your side of the issue). Sometimes spoken words aren’t necessary. Write a thoughtful, appreciative letter. Hug it out.

10. Sleep on it. This works for problems in writing and all manner of life issues. Let your subconscious mind lead you to a solution. Meditation helps too.

Blurb

On a lengthy car ride to their annual seaside vacation, a mother recounts the true story of a sweet family tradition.

It’s the summer of 1941 in the seaside town of Langford, Rhode Island, and seventeen-year-old Meredith Franklin works as a server at Seymore’s Ice Cream Shoppe.

When aspiring baseball player Anthony Fanelli strolls into the ice cream shop, his teasing banter leads to romantic sparks and dreams of forever love.

Their whirlwind courtship comes to an abrupt halt on December 7, 1941, when America enters World War Two, forcing the couple to put their future on hold.

Decades later, a treasure trove of letters details the wartime romance of Merry and Anthony and the sacrifices of a generation.

Bio

Author Charlotte O’Shay was born in New York City into a big family and then married into another big family.

Negotiating skills honed at the dinner table led her to a career in the law.

But after four beautiful children joined the crowded family tree, Charlotte traded her legal career to write about happily ever afters in the City of Dreams.

Charlotte loves to challenge her heroines and heroes with a crisis and watch them figure out who they are while they fall in love.

Where to find Charlotte…

Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub | Pinterest | Instagram


Top 10 Ways to Embed Carrots Into a Recipe

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Julie Howard. Today, Julie shares tips on embedding carrots into recipes and her novel, Crime and Paradise.

Here’s Julie!

Okay, this is a strange topic. But Joanne has this “top ten” list theme on her blog, and this came immediately to mind.

I love carrots. I love my children. But when my kids were little, they didn’t like carrots. As any good mother would do, I tricked them at every opportunity into eating plenty of these vitamin-laden vegetables. Over the years, I became an expert into sneaking carrots into recipes.

My children are now grown, but I still sneak carrots into a variety of dishes where they wouldn’t normally belong. Now I deal with a husband who hates cooked carrots, so I’m still up to my old tricks.

1. Chili – I dice them up and toss them in. They get soft during the hour or so the chili is on the stove or crockpot. With all the other strong flavors in chili – from garlic to red peppers – the carrots add a delicious hint of sweetness.

2. Enchiladas – Chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce is my favorite, but I love adding a hefty variety of vegetables to the mix. My enchiladas are 2/3rds veggies to 1/3 chicken, and of course I never forget the carrots.

3. Zucchini or pumpkin bread. It’s easy to add a little extra veggie to these breads, and grated carrots keep them moist.

4. Lasagna – Same as enchiladas. I dice them up, give them a quick saute, and sprinkle some in. I love adding a few extra veggies to lasagna, even zucchini or spinach. I’m careful not to overdo it though as too many veggies can make your lasagna watery.

5. Potato latkes – I don’t make these too often, but when I do, I grate some carrots in. They add a nice color to the savory pancakes and a bit of sweetness. I’m not sure why more people don’t do this.

6. Smoothies – You need to cook the carrots first so they are soft and will blend well into the rest of your ingredients. I’ll make a fruit smoothie and add in a carrot for extra vitamins, and you’d never know it was there.

7. Salads – I’ll grate a raw carrot and add to a salad. Those tiny orange tendrils add a beautiful color to a green salad without overwhelming the flavor.

8. Stuffing – This isn’t weird at all! I’ll microwave a carrot until it’s soft, dice it up and add it. Stuffing can be so bland so it’s just begging for some variety – like some carrots!

9. Jello salad – I’m not the first in my family to trick kids to eat carrots. My mother added shredded carrots to Jello salads all the time. This is a tried-and-true way to get kids to eat their vegetables.

10. Carrot cake – I’m going end this on a sweet note. I love carrot cake, a dessert that is unabashedly carrot-based. I learned quickly not to call it “carrot” cake when my kids were little. Anyone want some cake?

Voila! And eat your veggies.

Blurb

Meredith has been uprooted to the middle of nowhere with two kids and an abusive husband. After she fantasizes about ways to kill him, he ends up dead. Despite all the evidence pointing to her, Meredith finds an unlikely supporter and friend in the county sheriff. Together, they uncover some ugly truths about her husband and this small, isolated town.

Can Meredith make this place a new home for her family, or will the real secret behind her husband’s death send her away for good?

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About the Author

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime and Spirited Quest series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. Now she edits an online anthology, Potato Soup Journal, and spends many delightful hours writing her books.

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Wild Rose Pass ~ 10 Facts About My Protagonist Ben

I’m happy to welcome back Karen Hulene Bartell. Today, Karen shares 10 interesting facts about the male protagonist of her new release, Wild Rose Pass.

Here’s Karen!

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here today!

Wild Rose Pass has two protagonists—Cadence and Ben. In many—okay, ten—ways, Ben is my favorite, and here’s why.

Ben Williams is based on a real person—a friend’s great-great-grandfather, José Maria Bill, who was captured as a small child. The Comanches killed his parents and brother and, at first, treated Ben as a slave.

They beat him so often, a Comanche and his wife took pity. The couple had three daughters but no son, so they traded him mula ensillada—for a mule and a saddle—and raised him as their own.

When old enough, he left the Comanches for two reasons: politics and a woman. According to the terms of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, Apaches and Comanches had to return all captured Mexicans from the States. But he wasn’t sure if he were Mexican or American. His Comanche father said he was born near the west Texas-Mexico border, but Ben was captured at such an early age, he couldn’t remember which side.

Politics aside, what compelled Ben to leave was a woman. Marriage in the Comanche campamiento was straightforward. If a young man saw a woman he wanted to marry, he simply asked her father for her. Unlike the widespread practice in 1880s Texas Anglo communities—where a man asked a woman’s father for her hand in marriage—when a Comanche asked for a man’s daughter, the father simply handed her over.

One day, Ben and his best friend noticed a pretty girl. The friend said he’d ask for her. Teasing him, Ben told him no, he’d ask for her. Though meant as a joke, the prank fanned into a feud. Even after his friend married the girl, he was suspicious and jealous.

Ben decided to leave the camp before the resentment turned to bloodshed. Though the tribe’s capitán offered him his choice of young women to change his mind, Ben realized his friend would never let go the bitterness.

Wounded and resentful about losing not only his friend, but his adoptive family and clan, as well, Ben left the Comanche community. Since he didn’t know which side of the Rio Grande he’d been captured on, he decided against being repatriated to Mexico. Instead, an American Anglo family took him in and taught him to read and write.

How did he become an officer of the buffalo soldiers at Fort Davis when he wasn’t a West Point graduate?

When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted and was assigned to the USCT, the Colored Troops—regiments made up of black men—but some Native Americans, as well. He rose through the ranks, and during combat, received the title of brevet lieutenant. Then after the war ended, his commanding officer recommended he apply for an officer’s commission to the buffalo soldiers.

That’s where he met the commander’s daughter, Cadence, a free-spirited nonconformist, who yearned to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. Though expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West, she found the daring new lieutenant exhilarating.

Orphaned and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearned to belong. Cadence embodied everything he craved, but he was neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Could two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier? From these ten facts, what do you think? The first chapter of Wild Rose Pass is on me!

Suggested tags

• Travel back to the Frontier with two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs!

• Lose yourself in time, where 1880s East confronts the West Frontier, and two opposites are drawn together by conflicting needs!

• Based on a true story, WILD ROSE PASS is a romantic journey into yesteryear. Share the challenges with Cadence and Ben in a ride through the past! https://bit.ly/2T1V3JM

Blurb

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Excerpt

Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”

Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

Buy Links

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About the Author

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen

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10 Lessons I Have Learned From Life

I’m happy to welcome author Erin Pemberton. Today, Erin shares ten life lessons and her new release, The Prophecy.

1. Life is hard, don’t make it harder by making stupid decisions. As a teenager, I thought I knew best and I thought I could get away with playing around with no real consequences. I was wrong. Being a teenager is hard, going to college right after high school is not easy either. Being a single parent while finishing high school and then going on to college is even harder. You have your whole life ahead of you, make wise choices.

2. It’s okay to say no. I am one of those types of people who like to help out others despite what I have on my plate. Through many stressed out days and lots of hard lessons, I learned that it’s okay to say no when you already have a lot going on. In fact, when you do, your work will reflect it in the fact that you’re able to give more attention to the things you’re already taking on. They’ll be of better quality and you’ll be happier with the results.

3. Marriage takes two. Through two failed marriages, I realized in my third one, that it really does take two. You have to be willing to put your spouse’s needs ahead of yourself and make them a priority. By both of you doing this, everyone’s needs are met. Even when you have kids, your spouse needs to come first. Because when the kids are all gone, you’ll still have each other. Better to enjoy life with your spouse than to resent life with them.

4. It’s okay to let your kids fail. This is something that I struggle with daily. It’s unnatural for us to let our kids fail. However, how will they learn to live life if you’re constantly taking over for them? Last fall, my son was failing three out of five classes in high school. After trying to put him on a homework schedule, emailing teachers daily, and more screaming matches with my son than I care to admit, I finally looked at him and said, “I have two jobs, a husband, and five kids. I cannot and will not fight with you on this anymore. If you fail these classes, you’ll have to take them again. If you pass, that’s one more step toward your goal of going to Shawnee State. I’ll help when you need it or ask, but otherwise, I’m tapping out. Fail or pass, it’s on you.” By the skin of his teeth, he passed and he’s done so much better this year with keeping up to date on all his assignments. It was a tough lesson for us both.

5. It’s okay to ask for help or to let others lead for a change. As a preschool supervisor, I struggle with feeling like I need to accomplish everything our program needs in order to make it a great program. However, I’m finding that by creating teams and letting others take on leadership roles, it works out so much better for everyone. Not only do we end up with so many more ideas than I could ever dream up, but by sharing the role, I find my stress level goes down considerable and my team members value me more.

6. Take time for you. Whether it’s sitting down and reading a good book, doing yoga, or taking a mini vacation with my spouse, finding me time is critical being able to do as much as I do on any given day. I can recharge, I give myself permission to think of something other than work, and I’m ready to hit it again when I do come back.

7. Hobbies are for you. Something I struggle with as an author is asking other people to read my books. It’s not because I don’t want others to read them, I just don’t like asking what they thought of the book. I find that when I start valuing other’s opinions of my work more than I value my own opinion, my hobby or writing changes. I have a tendency to focus more on what other’s think and how I can make the world happy versus just writing because it’s something that I enjoy doing. When you find a hobby, don’t let anyone tell you how to do it. Make it yours.

8. Don’t let anyone stop you. If there is something that you want to accomplish in life, by all means, get it done! We can come up with a world of excuses, but the truth of the matter is, you’re the only person holding you back. Stop it and get it done!

9. Light will always defeat dark. As I mention in several of my books because they usually have a dark/ light battle going on, the light will always defeat the dark even if you have to search the darkness to find it. Hang on because around every dark corner, there is always light waiting for you.

10. Life without God, is not much of a life. God is the light in my world, my marriages, my parenting, and my work has all failed when I turned from him. By keeping him the center of my life, not only am I happier but I find myself blessed even when things are tough.

Blurb

In a land plagued by war, King Dorvin and Queen Shiara are expecting their first child. They are excited until the good fairies tell of a prophecy; that their daughter is the key to winning the war against the Shadow tribes. To protect her, mages of the kingdom create a tower to keep her and her guardian hidden until her eighteenth birthday. When Ella turns 18 she leaves the tower, only to find that her parents are dead and the Shadow tribes now control the kingdom. Trained as a warrior, and aided by the good fairies, Ella must now bring her subjects together and prepare for the final war.

Excerpt

“If you don’t tell me your name, you’ll find out the hard way,” Ella responded calmly even though butterflies were carrying out their own battle in her stomach. The magic was showing her just how far she could throw him with its use. She was beginning to think of it as a whole separate entity within her mind.

Just as she pulled her arm back in preparation of launching him through the night sky, he shouted “Erek! I’m called Erek.”

Ella, bemused, smiled serenely at him as she placed him none too gently back on the ground. “That wasn’t so hard, now was it?”

Erek mumbled something under his breath but made no attempt to say anything else.

“What are we going to do with him?” Ella asked, turning to look at Tia.

Tia, ignoring Ella’s question, took a step closer to Erek, grabbed the rope that bound him, and pulled him toward her. “What do you mean we’re trespassing on your land? This land belongs to Dorvin, king of Fablina,” she hissed, apparently taking care to spit in his face as she talked.

The ugly smirk appeared on his otherwise handsome face, a mirthless laugh consuming him. “My tribe killed and replaced your king seventeen years ago. This land belongs to the Shadow tribes, and you are as good as dead.”

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Author Bio and Links

I’m just a small town girl, living in Ohio and making up worlds for my characters to live in. A preschool teacher by day, I live with my amazing husband while dreaming of walking hand in hand with him on the beach just searching for seashells. Together, we have five incredible kids, who are starting to make their way in this world as they take on college, high school, and elementary school. I love Christmas, the beach, seashells, painting, reading anything fantasy related, and in my very little spare time, creating new worlds for others to enjoy.

Website | Goodreads

Giveaway

Erin Pemberton will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Enter here.

Follow Erin on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


10 Interesting Facts About Jennifer Wilck

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Jennifer Wilck. Today, Jennifer shares ten interesting facts about herself and her latest release, Waiting for a Miracle.

Here’s Jennifer!

1. I’m an only child. I loved all of the opportunities I was given growing up, due to the fact my parents only had me—horseback riding lessons, ballet, any college I wanted (within reason)—but I always wanted a sibling. I thought The Brady Bunch was the perfect family. It wasn’t until I had two daughters that I realized there’s no such thing as a perfect family, and it’s the imperfection that makes each family unique. I love how my girls get along, and I also love how they disagree and are each their own person. As a writer, I often include a child in my stories, but my heroes and heroines will definitely have children of their own—either naturally or through adoption. In Waiting for a Miracle, my heroine is unable to have children of her own, but wants to foster them. The hero is a single dad and is happy to support her dream.

2. My stories usually start out with a snippet of a conversation that I hear in my head. Sometimes those snippets are in the hero’s POV and other times they are in the heroine’s POV. It’s my job to figure it out and then build a story around that conversation. In my book, Addicted to Love, I “heard” the black moment first. Start at the end and work backwards? No problem!

3. In my other life, I wrote for technology magazines. As an English major, I tried to turn the techie mumbo-jumbo into something regular people could understand. However, in the real world, I’m not technology proficient. My husband used to laugh because I could explain why something worked, but couldn’t actually do it! I have several friends who work for major technology companies, so when I needed my characters to have particular jobs, I was able to interview them.

4. Most of the children in my stories are based in some way on my own girls (please don’t tell them that). And some of the character quirks are theirs. For example, Claire, the six-year-old girl in A Heart of Little Faith, loved the game Trouble. My oldest daughter and I used to play that game for hours!

5. My favorite characters to write are the meddlesome but loveable mothers or grandmothers. In Addicted to Love, my heroine, Hannah, lives with her grandmother, and she is one of my most favorite characters of all time (soon to be displaced by the grandmother in my current WIP, though).

6. I love writing both Jewish and non-Jewish contemporary romance. I think it’s important to represent all types of people in romance, and as a Jewish author, I can bring a unique perspective to my writing. There are always cultural elements that I include in my Jewish romances, and the stories revolve around more than just Hanukkah. Some of my biggest fans of my Jewish romance are a group of Catholic ladies who absolutely love the Jewish elements.

7. One of the best aspects of being a writer is that it has forced introverted me to be more extroverted. I have to toot my own horn a lot more than makes me comfortable, but I’m getting better at it. I’ve made contacts at local book stores and libraries, and despite my shyness, I love talking to readers about books—either mine or others I’ve read.

8. I love trying new foods. I was encouraged as a young child to eat a variety of adult food, rather than typical kiddie fare, and I think that has made me more adventurous as an adult. As long as it’s not alive, isn’t an organ, and isn’t any form of insect, I’m willing to give it a try. I include lots of food in my books, as well. There’s a great food scene—chocolate—in Five Minutes to Love, that was so tempting while I was writing it that even now, thinking about it makes me hungry.

9. In general, I prefer it to be quiet when I write. Music does inspire me, but if I write while listening to it, I’ll get distracted. The need for silence also means I stagger the times when I write based on who is going to be in my house when. Although, now that my girls are in college, my house is much quieter ad I’m able to write when the inspiration hits, as opposed to when they are out of the house.

10. My favorite trope to read and to write is Beauty and the Beast. I love damaged heroes and strong heroines (not necessarily beautiful ones), and I love adding a psychological component to my conflicts. I hope a reader gets a wide range of emotional responses when they read my writing, just as I want to get the same benefit when I read other authors.

Blurb

Benjamin Cohen, widowed father of six-year-old Jessie, is doing his best to hold it together through order and routine. The last thing he needs is his matchmaker mother to set him up with her next door neighbor, no matter how attractive she is.

Rachel Schaecter’s dream of becoming a foster mother is right within her grasp, until her meddlesome neighbor tries to set her up with her handsome son. What’s worse? He’s the father of her favorite kindergarten student! She can’t afford to let anything come between her and her dream, no matter how gorgeous he may be.

Can these two determined people trust in the miracle of Hanukkah to let love and light into their lives?

Excerpt

Six-year-old bodies were good at many things— bouncing, hugging, and racing. Rachel was thankful they were also good at hiding her surprise. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine her favorite student, and her student’s father, would be at her neighbor’s house the same night she was invited to celebrate Hanukkah.

She met the hard gaze of Jessie’s father across the room. Eyes narrowed as if he suspected her reasons for being here. His broad shoulders were stiff. His jean-clad muscular legs were spread apart in a solid stance. Square hands fisted at his sides, and one of them held a menorah. Did he plan to throw it or club someone with it?

Giving Jessie a last pat, she rose. With an arm around Jessie, she extended her other hand to her father. “Happy Hanukkah.”

“Ms. Schaecter.”


“Mr. Cohen.”


“Oh, please,” Harriet said, “Such formality between you two. Rachel, this is my son Benny. I mean Benjamin.”

Benny. Rachel filed the information away for later, along with his flushed skin at the nickname. Interesting.

“And Benjamin, this is my neighbor, Rachel. We’re not at a school event. You can call each other by your first names.” Harriet pointed at Jessie, who gripped Rachel’s hand so hard, Rachel’s fingers lost their circulation. “Except for you,” Harriet added. “You have to call her Ms. Schaecter.”

Jessie giggled. “Yes, Grandma.”

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Bio

Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.

She writes contemporary romance, many of which feature Jewish characters in non-religious settings (#ownvoices). She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Where to find Jennifer

Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram | BookBub