Spotlight on Catherine Castle

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Catherine Castle. Today, Catherine shares her writing journey and latest releases, Bidding on the Bouquet and Trying Out for Love.

Here’s Catherine!

Books have always been in my blood. One of my earliest memories is of reading a Little Golden Book—the story of Cinderella. Somewhere in the archives of my parents’ photographs there is a picture of me, holding the book upside down, as I pretend to read the story. When I actually learned to read, a trip to the library yielded not one book to come home with me, but an armload that was nearly bigger than myself.

The transition from reading to writing was a natural one—a hobby (or dare I say skill?) that was encouraged by my mother who praised everything I wrote. Some of my early endeavors included horror short stories entitled Witch Mountain and Bloody Buttons, a sci-fi story about aliens (I can’t remember the name of this particular piece), which I illustrated myself. And I can’t forget the loads of awful poetry I penned as a heartsick teen. I’ve since improved greatly on the poetry scale.

My first romance, written as a teenage girl, was about me and the television star crush of my life—Johnny Crawford, of The Rifleman television series fame. Naturally, it had a HEA, and a floorplan of the mansion where we lived HEA in Hollywood, California. I like to think my romance novels have greatly improved as well.

Then I met the real true love of my life. Somewhere along the way from our high school sweetheart stage to married couple, we discovered we made not on a great couple, but great writing partners and we began to write plays for our church. Along the way to book publication I spent 10 years as a freelance writer for our weekly hometown newspaper, writing everything from news articles to fashion features. I also freelanced for a Christian publisher writing curriculum and articles for children’s Sunday School papers.

Today, my husband and I are still co-authoring, but I’m a solo author as well, penning sweet and inspirational romances. My debut novel, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award, as well as placing in several other contests. This year’s releases are A Groom for Mama, a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing, and my December release, Bidding on the Bouquet, from Forget Me Not Romances, an inspirational contemporary romance.

Most recently, Bidding on the Bouquet has been included in the boxed set Trying Out For Love, from Forget Me Not Romances, along with books from five other authors. The sweet romances, with an inspirational element, found in this set were inspired by a bridezilla news article one of the authors read and passed on to a writing loop we all belong to. The story of the bridezilla, who made her bridesmaids bid at an auction for the “privilege” of being in her wedding, struck a creative chord in a number of the authors who read the article, who then took up the challenge to write a book using this story starter. And we all had some very interesting twists on the original story.



Trying Out For Love Blurb

Six women bid on weddings, either as bridesmaids, wedding planners, or photographers. What ensues is a delightful romp through unexpected romance for all involved. Would you audition for love?

Includes:

The Wedding Barter – Alice K. Arenz
Bidding on the Bouquet – Catherine Castle
The Matchmaking Wedding Planner – Bonnie Engstrom
Mercy Me – Pamela Ferguson
The Bridesmaid Got Waylaid – Kassy Paris
Exposing Love – Christina Rich


Here’s a peek at my book Bidding on the Bouquet found as a single novel and in the boxed set Trying Out For Love.

Giving her coworker’s shoulder a friendly bump, Marietta replied, “You’re a true friend. Speaking of money, you’ll never guess what came in the mail today.”

“A lottery win check?”

“I wish. I don’t have the money to buy a ticket, and you can’t win if you don’t play.”

“I give up. What came?”

“An invitation to bid on a bridesmaid spot in Chrissy Vandermere’s wedding.”

Tinsy stopped mid-dip in the spaghetti. The pasta rolled over the edge of the plate into the steam table container. “The Chrissy Vandermere?”

“You know her?”

“Know of her. Her father owns half the buildings on Broadway.” Tinsy scooped the pasta onto the plate and passed it to Marietta. “Where have you been, girl? Hiding in a cave somewhere? Chrissy’s upcoming wedding is all over the news.”

“I don’t watch the news. I’m too busy studying. Besides, the awful stuff going on keeps me awake if I get those images in my head.”

“How do you know Chrissy?” Tinsy glanced out at the motley group of people eating dinner. “You two certainly don’t travel in the same social circles.”

“From school, I think. If the Chrissy I know is the same Chrissy who sent the invitation, I guess she remembered me from a study class we had together.”

“She comes from classy folks. Rich socialites. That’s a pretty big deal to get an invite.”

“You sound like those slick magazines that fawn over the rich and famous.” Marietta handed the last person in line his plate, then studied the woman beside her. Tinsy was a practical, down-to-earth, solid woman. God-fearing even. “I’d have never expected fan-girling from you.”

Tinsy shrugged. “We all got our dreams. You want a high-powered marketing job. Me, I like those fancy clothes the rich wear. I can’t afford more than a knock-off from the Double Discount Barn, but I’d sure like to dress in expensive outfits. Don’t hurt to dream.” She stared Marietta directly in the eyes. “So, what you gonna do with the invite?”

“I threw it in the trash.”

“What!” Tinsy squealed. “Why’d you do that?”

“I don’t have money to bid on a bridesmaid spot. Even if I did, and I won, I’d have to buy a dress, spend time doing stupid bridesmaid things when I should be studying, and probably be forced to cater to Chrissy’s every whim. She was a bit of a diva in school. Considering she thinks women are going to bid to be in her wedding, I doubt that’s changed much. It’s stupid.”

“It’s a chance of a lifetime,” Tinsy insisted. “How often do you think you’ll get the chance to hobnob with the likes of the Vandermeres?”

“If this is my Chrissy, I’ve hobnobbed with her already. I didn’t find it thrilling.”


From January 9 through February 19 the authors of the boxed set Trying Out For Love are each giving away one free ecopy of their novels that are included in the set. Additionally, one ecopy of the boxed set Trying Out For Love will also be offered as a giveaway on Catherine Castle’s blog during that time frame. To be entered to win, click on the Rafflecopter box in the Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series featuring any of the six authors and follow the instructions. Winners will be announced February 20.

About the Author

Catherine Castle is a multi-award-winning author who loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she quilts and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place is in her garden. She’s a passionate gardener who won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Her latest release, Bidding on the Bouquet, from Forget Me Not Romances, is an inspirational contemporary romance, and is included in the boxed set Trying Out For Love. Her books are available on Amazon.

Where to find Catherine…

Website | Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Stitches Thru Time

Buy Links

Bidding on the Bouquet | Trying Out for Love | A Groom for Mama | The Nun and the Narc


Are You in Your Book?

I’m happy to welcome back author Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine explains how she has inserted herself in her latest release, Bidding on the Bouquet.

Here’s Catherine!

Curious readers often want to know if a writer is in their book. I never thought I inserted myself into my books until recently. However, as I write more stories, I discover more of myself in each book. Here are 10 places I found myself, or my life and family experiences, in my latest book Bidding on the Bouquet, an inspirational contemporary romance from Forget Me Not Romances.

1. Flowers usually make an appearance in my books. Considering I’m a gardener, that’s probably not an unusual thing. Bidding on the Bouquet is no exception. Not only does the story revolve around a very special bridal bouquet, but there is some courting done with flowers.

2. I also have some interesting floriography references I think readers will love. Floriography is the language of flowers. Victorian couples often sent each other secret message based on the language of flowers. In Bidding on the Bouquet there is one scene using floriography that readers have already commented that they love. I won’t spoil your read by telling you which one it is.

3. Tinsy, one of the secondary characters in the book, quotes a family proverb that is often used in our home. “Work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on God.”

4. Food frequently appears in my books. My daughter hates a particular vegetable, and it got a role at the dinner table in this book.

5. I love roasted Brussel sprouts. They also ended up on a dinner plate.

6. My hero and heroine shared a steak meal the first time they ate together. Steak was also the first meal my husband bought me when we were dating.

7. The name of the steak house in Bidding on the Bouquet is the name of the steak house where my husband took me on our first date the summer between our junior and senior years in high school. Back then the guys had to wear a suit coat and tie for senior pictures. He thought he’d take a date out so as to not waste the effort of dressing up.

8. Pies are a motif in Bidding on the Bouquet. I hadn’t thought much about them recently, except we get a free slice every week at O’Charley’s restaurant. But as I was writing this book a lemon meringue pie appeared, and I remembered I used to make that particular pie—from scratch—for my husband when we were first married. It was his favorite back then.

9. Second-hand clothes have a role in Bidding on the Bouquet. My heroine wears them a lot. As a teen, I often shopped at Goodwill or other thrift stores. Some of my favorite outfits back then came from Goodwill.

10. Something my nephew did at Thanksgiving also appears in Bidding on the Bouquet. He called Cerri on his cell to ask a question. My phone’s not that smart, so I would have never thought about doing that. I’d have googled it instead. A few days later the hero unexpectedly (on my part) asked his Cerri assistant to tell him the meaning of a word. The hero did not like what the internet guru told him.

Well, that’s my Power of Ten for today. Thanks for dropping by. If you’re a writer, I’d like to know if you’ve ever appeared in your books. If you’re a reader, do you like to know if a writer has inserted themselves into a story?

Blurb

The chance to catch a bridal bouquet containing a solid gold rose makes underprivileged, down-on-her-luck grad student Marietta Wilson pawn everything she owns to come up with a bid to win a bridesmaid spot in the most prestigious wedding of the season.

When he discovers his sister is auctioning off bridesmaid spots in her wedding party, wealthy, elitist Chip Vandermere is appalled. Not only is it in poor taste, but no self-respecting lady would stoop so low as to bid. Convinced Marietta is a gold digger, Chip sets out to thwart her plans.

A social climber and a social misfit. Can a bridal bouquet unite them?

Buy Links

Bidding on the Bouquet | Groom for Mama | The Nun and the Narc (Amazon) | The Nun and the Narc (Barnes & Noble)

Bio

Catherine Castle is a multi-award-winning author who loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she quilts and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place is in her garden. She’s a passionate gardener who won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Her latest release, Bidding on the Bouquet, from Forget Me Not Romances, is an inspirational contemporary romance. Her books are available on Amazon.

Where to find Catherine…

Website | Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Google+


10 Bridal Attire Superstitions

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine discusses ten bridal attire superstitions and shares her new release, A Groom for Mama.

Here’s Catherine!

In my romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, the minute Mama finds a suitable man for her daughter’s groom, she begins urging the heroine, Allison, to start looking for her wedding dress. So, I thought it would be fun to discuss 10 superstitions about bridal attire. Maybe I can come up with some you’ve never heard before.

Did you know…?

1. White wasn’t always the preferred color for a bride’s dress. The white wedding dress didn’t come into vogue until Queen Victoria wore white. Until then many women were married in their Sunday best. But to avoid problems in their marriages they had to be careful which colors they chose to wear. Here’s a handy rhyme they used to make sure they got the color scheme right.

Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead. Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow. Married in Green, ashamed to be seen. Married in Pink, your spirit will sink. (Some sources disagree with pink, stating ‘Married in Pink, of you he will think.) Married in blue, you’ll always be true. Married in Grey, you will go far away. Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.

Additionally, brown was not a favorite choice, because “Married in brown, you’ll never live in town.” A statement that meant to say their husbands would never rise in business or acquire riches that would enable the family to move on up. Purple was also out because it was considered a mourning color, favored by widows from their second year of bereavement on.

2. A bride should never make her own dress. This wedding superstition states that for every stitch of the wedding dress the bride sews herself, she’ll shed one tear during her marriage. Considering the amount of fabric that goes into a wedding dress, I’d think this could be a considerable amount of weeping. Best to let someone else shed those tears on your account.

3. The material the dress is made from is also important to the marriage’s success. Satin brings bad luck, and velvet threatens the wearer with poverty. A dress constructed with a silk, unpatterned fabric is best. If you use a patterned material, avoid birds or vines. Don’t ask why, because I could find the answer to why you avoid birds or vine patterns.

4. Finding a spider inside your wedding gown before you walk down the aisle is good luck. According to English legend, this creepy arachnid is actually a “best of luck omen.” Personally, this would freak me out.

5. Wearing pearls with your wedding attire can be a good thing or a bad thing. This wedding superstition goes both ways. For those with a glass half-empty view, pearls represent future tears. Wearing them will bring many tears and heartache in the marriage. For the glass half-full kind of gal, the luckier version of this states that the pearls take the place of the bride’s real tears, thus she’ll have a happy, tear-free wedding and life.

6. Just as pearls on your neck or ears can bring bad luck, so can an engagement or wedding ring made with pearls. The tears the pearls represent bring bad luck.

7. Once your man gives you that engagement ring, don’t let your girlfriends, or anyone else, try it on. If you do there’s a chance your wedding will never happen because the person who tried it on will steal all your happiness and luck—as well as the heart of your husband. I remember my mother telling me this superstition when my sister asked if she could try on my engagement ring.

8. If you’re thinking about going veil-less consider this: your wedding veil offers you protection from evil spirits, according the ancient Roman tradition. Hiding the bride’s face keeps evil spirits away. And if you wear flowers in your hair without a veil, you’ll be sorry you married.

9. Never try on your complete wedding outfit before the big day. To do so tempts fate. If you just have to see how you look in the whole ensemble, leave some piece off. Consider leaving a stitch open in the dress, or slip on just one earring, or one shoe. That might keep the fickle fates away, since the wedding outfit won’t be complete.

10. No wedding attire is complete without the bouquet, but take care in the flowers you choose. Brides are destined for happiness if the first flower they see on their wedding day is white. But if you see a red flower first you will have unhappiness and heavy care in your married life. You might want to consider the meaning of the flowers you choose, too. Flowers have a language of their own which has been used throughout history to express emotions from the giver. Roses represent love, that’s why they are a favorite of brides. A bouquet of yellow carnations could symbolize rejection or disdain. White carnations stand for pure innocence and love, and would make a lovely addition to a bouquet of red roses. So choose wisely when fashioning your bouquet and create the language of love you want for your special day.

I know I said I was going to give you 10 Bridal Attire superstitions, but I just can’t leave without talking about the one wedding attire superstition we all know and have probably followed to the letter in our marriages and the marriages of our daughters:

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.”

Something old represents the couple’s desire to hold onto important memories, something new represents the new union, something borrowed should be from a woman who has had a long and happy marriage, so her luck will transfer to your marriage, and something blue represents fertility in the marriage. And if you can find a sixpence for your shoe, stick it in that sole. You’ll have good fortune if you do.

Blurb

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

buynow

About the Author

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Both books are available on Amazon.

Where to find Catherine…

Website | Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Stitches Through Time | SMP Authors


How to Salvage a Manuscript

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Catherine Castle. Today, Catherine is sharing tips on how to salvage a manuscript and her novel, The Nun and the Narc.

Here’s Catherine!

salvagemanuscriptDuring a recent forage through an old Writer’s Encyclopedia for blog ideas, I came across an entry entitled “How to Salvage a Manuscript.” Great topic for a writer’s tip blog, I thought. Here’s what the book recommended, and I quote.

“A manuscript that has been returned to an author wrinkled or crumpled may be salvaged from the time and expense of retyping by ironing the pages.”

Not exactly what I had in mind when I thought about salvaging a manuscript. My mind was running more along the lines of fixing the story, not limp pages. I did get a good laugh, though, because eons ago, when you sent in paper submissions, I had some work come back looking worse for the wear. Funny thing is, I would have never thought about ironing the pages.

The article goes on to state that you should not use a steam iron on the pages, and you should iron the back side of the paper to keep the ink from smearing. Apparently, ironing will also take out paper clips crinkles. Who knew?

Upon further reflection, I recalled seeing an episode from Downton Abbey where one of the housemaids ironed Lord Grantham’s London Times so the pages would be crisp for the master of the house. Heaven forbid that they should give the lord of the manor limp newsprint! I thought the action odd, but my husband seemed to feel ironing the paper made perfect sense. Must be a male thing.

Anyway, I digress from the original theme of this post—salvaging a manuscript, sans the iron. When you think there’s no hope left for the story you’re working on consider trying the following.

1. Set your manuscript aside for a few weeks. Then pick it back up and read it start to finish. This uninterrupted read will help show you where you have holes, repetitiveness, and weak places.

2.Take a hard look at your characters. Are they well-rounded and three-dimensional or are the flat, stock characters? If it’s the latter, rewrite them.

3. Check to make sure your plot is strong, not clichéd, and will carry the story throughout the book.

4. Do you have a sagging middle? Writers often know the beginning, the black moment, and the ending of their stories. The middle, where we’re tempted to just say “stuff happens”, can often be a gray area, especially for pantsers. Make sure your story stays strong in the middle so readers don’t lose interest.

5. Do a Hero’s Journey outline to be sure you’ve hit all the necessary story points. If you don’t know the Hero’s Journey, you can use another plotting device like the Snowflake Method, or Save the Cat. Failing stories can often be fixed by insuring you’ve included the right plot points.

6. Is the story told from the right POV? Make sure each scene is told from the perspective of the character who has the most at risk. Doing so will give the book necessary tension to carry the reader through to the next chapter.

7. If everything above fails to help, give the book to a beta reader and let them tear it apart. Fresh eyes see things you don’t.

Do you have a favorite way to salvage your manuscripts? I’d love to hear it.

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850 (2)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.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Bio

catherinecastleAward-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing and gardening all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award.

Where to find Catherine…

Website/Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Group Blogs

Stitches Thru Time | SMP Authors Blog Site

At the Quilt Show

Quilts at the Grand Show - June 6, 2015

Quilts on the Grand Show – June 6, 2015

It was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas that seemingly came out of nowhere. But thinking back, I do recall hearing about the “Quilts on the Grand Show” for several weeks before the actual event. The advertisements appeared in local papers, and several establishments—including the library branches—proudly displayed the work of these talented artisans.

When I found myself with several free hours on that Saturday afternoon in early June, I headed up to Fergus, a short thirty-minute drive away. Having never quilted, I didn’t anticipate spending too much at the show and planned on visiting other shops in the area.

Continue reading on Catherine Castle’s blog.

10 Gardening Tips from Catherine Castle

I’m thrilled to welcome award-winning author and award-winning gardener Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine shares her favorite gardening tips.

Here’s Catherine!

I’m a gardener and a writer. In fact, I can actually claim the title of award-winning gardener, thanks to the Shaker Farms Garden Club who awarded my garden the title of 2009 Best Hillside Garden. I also have a gardening blog on my website called A Writer’s Garden—Through the Garden Gates with… where I highlight the gardens of other authors. Today, I’d like to share my favorite, and often used, garden tips. I hope you’ll find them helpful. Please join me sometime at A Writer’s Garden.

catherinegarden

1. When a tall sprig of poison ivy springs ups in the middle of your prized plants, don’t risk catching the itchy stuff by pulling it up. Instead, insert a paper towel tube, wrapped in plastic storage wrap or tape, over the pesky weed and spray weed killer inside the tube onto the poison ivy. When the plant is dead, grasp the weed with the tube, remove the tube and plant, and toss them in the trash.

2. To help prevent the spread of fungus in the garden, experts recommend you dip your pruners into rubbing alcohol after each cut. Carrying a dish of alcohol wouldn’t be easy in my garden. Instead I drop a container of large alcohol wipes in my garden bucket and wipe off the pruner blades after trimming an infected plant.

3. Can’t find large container of alcohol wipes? Make your own by soaking paper towels in rubbing alcohol. Drop a few sections of toweling into a gallon ziplock bag, or an empty disinfecting wipes container, and soak the toweling with rubbing alcohol, and walah! Instant disinfecting wipes for your garden.

4. If full size shovels and rakes are too awkward to use in your raised beds, become a kid again. Purchase sturdy, metal and wooden, child-sized garden tools to use in your raised beds.

5. A gardener can never have too many buckets, but who wants to pay for them? Instead, ask friends to save their cat litter buckets. These plastic containers are perfect for storing dirt, leftover peat, or other garden materials. Best of all, they’re free!

6. Are bad knees making you unsteady in the garden? Use a walking stick, made from the handle of an old broom, to give you extra support and stability in the garden. Saw off the broom bristles and put a rubber cap on the cut end of the handles. You’ll be able to hike over any garden wall, hill, or uneven surface with confidence.

7. If you don’t want to spray weed killer in your veggie beds, use white vinegar instead. Simply, spray vinegar on the weeds. It might take several sprays to kill the weeds, but you won’t poison your vegetable garden. Be careful when spraying because the vinegar will do in your veggies as well as the weeds.

8. To prevent transplant shock when starting your plants from seed, plant the seeds inside potting soil filled eggs shells. The shell will deteriorate in the soil and add nutrients for your seedling.

9. Make organic insecticide by combining two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid or castile soap, a few drops of vegetable oil and a gallon of water. Spray this mixture onto plants in the early morning or late evening, when the sun is off of them. The insects are killed by direct contact with the soap.

10. To make sure your Christmas cactus blooms at the proper time without the hassle of putting a box over it every night, reduce the amount of water you give the plant starting in October. It will bloom in time for a colorful Christmas display.

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850 (2)

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.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Bio

catherinecastleAward-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing and gardening all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award.

Where to find Catherine…

Website/Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Group Blogs

Stitches Thru Time | SMP Authors Blog Site

Shattered First Acts Make Sweeter Second Acts

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Catherine Castle talking about an unexpected second act and her debut novel, The Nun and the Narc.

Here’s Catherine!

catherinecastleWe all go through a series of second acts in our lives. We transition from teenager to adult, from single to married, from wife or husband to parent. Most of us go from job to job. Change can be scary, even if you want it, and shattered first acts can be devastating, if you let them be.

My first act was shattered at 19 when I was turned down for musical theatre at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. The only thing I ever wanted was to sing professionally. With no music theory background, the college took me in on probation based on the quality of my voice. I thought I was on my way when I made that cut. But at the end of the year I was told, “Sorry. You have a beautifully sweet voice, but sweet will never make it as a singer.” That news hit me so hard I didn’t sing in public for over a year, which, for a singer, was like a year without food or water.

At a loss for a career, it never occurred to me to try something I had been doing all my life—writing. I had been so focused on singing that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me. Writing was a creative outlet not a job choice. Instead, I went to business college. After graduation I married my high school sweetheart, who helped soothe my shattered soul, and, after that first year of no singing, I gathered the courage to sing again in public. I had let people who didn’t believe in me shatter my dream, but others appreciated the gift God had given me. In spite of not following a singing career, I knew I had an obligation to use my gift however I could.

Fast forward 21 years later and I’m very happily employed as a domestic engineer, a fancy title in that era for mothers and housewives who didn’t have paying careers. Still writing for myself, I began to wonder if I could make money on my hobby. The local weekly newspapers featured articles by by-lined contributors who I learned were non-staff members submitting articles for publication. In the simplistic, mostly uninformed mind of someone who had never taken a journalism course in her life, I thought, I know how to write. I could do that. So, I began to look for ideas to write about. The opportunity came when our church built a new facility. I gathered up my courage, called the paper, and asked if I could submit an article about the groundbreaking.

The editor said, “Sure, but I can’t pay you or give you a byline.”

No pay and no byline almost stopped me. I was older and wiser, however. I had once let others stop me from pursuing a dream, and I was not about to give this one up. I’d give away as many articles as I needed to in order to get the job as contributor. So, I said, “No problem.”

I studied the paper’s lead writer, modeling my piece after hers, and I was thrilled when they printed it just like I’d written it—not a single correction. Then I promptly tried to think of something else to write about. My efforts netted me nothing until the church had its first service in the new building. Once again, I gathered my courage and asked if I could do another piece. I bargained for a byline, offering this piece free, too, and the editor accepted the terms. Seeing my name at the top of the article hooked me. I wanted to see that again and again.

Shortly afterwards, I invited the editor to a writer’s meeting to talk to members about writing for the newspaper. I wanted to know how to become a stringer, and I was too scared to come right out and ask her to hire me. When she finished her talk, I asked two questions. What kind of topics was she looking for as newspaper articles? (Remember I sucked at coming up with ideas back then.) And how did one become a stringer?

She looked at me and said, “Come into the office tomorrow and we can talk about signing a stringer contract for you.”

I worked part time for the Community Press for 10 years. When I left their employ to focus on fiction writing, the second act of my writing career, I had over 600 articles and hundreds of photos to my credit. I had branched out into other markets writing for children, seniors, learned how to reslant and reuse my interviews and notes, and bargained for rights. Other regional editors from Community Press papers would call me to string for them, and I gladly accepted every job.

It’s funny how things work out. Had I made it into musical theatre, I might not have married my high school sweetheart. I’d have been in New York chasing another dream. I wouldn’t have my wonderful husband, beautiful daughter, or even my best friends. One shattered dream turned into a lifetime of happiness and a different career, albeit much later than I ever dreamed possible.

If you’re looking for your second act in life, here’s a piece of advice: Your dream is closer to you than you probably realize. Had I realized at age 19 the writing path waited for me I might not have taken 21 years to discover journalism and another 23 to become a published author. I could have a lot more books out there had I discovered that second act dream sooner.

I once interviewed a woman who got her GED at age 80. So, don’t let others, taking chances, or being afraid discourage you. Follow your dreams whenever they become known to you. It’s never too late.

I didn’t realize it until I was writing this blog post, but The Nun and the Narc is about second acts, too. Sister Margaret Mary and the hero Jed are faced with their own second acts in a fast-paced action adventure.

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Blurb from The Nun and the Narc

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.

Where to find Catherine…

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Joanne here!

Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey, Catherine. Last month, I read The Nun and the Narc in two sittings. Simply delightful!