Archive | March 2014

Readers’ Choice Award – March Titles

Now that you’ve had a chance to look over the blurbs and book covers on the “25 Words or Less” feature, what books have intrigued you?

TFLRCA January 2014

Please vote for your favorite and the book selected will be featured as a “Reader’s Choice” next month. You may vote for up to three titles, but you can only vote once. Book titles will appear in random order. Voting is now open and will run for one week. You will be able to see the results after you’ve voted.

If you’d like to review the covers and blurbs, please click HERE.

Note: Comments are closed on this post.

A Time for Renewal by Kathleen Gallagher

From Christina: I love spring. I especially love getting outside to dig around a bit and plant my favorite herbs.  We have a small flower garden, too, but nothing like the beautiful landscape Kathleen’s husband created. I was thrilled when she offered to share it with readers. I’m sure you’ll find it lovely, too. 

A TIME FOR RENEWAL

by Kathleen Gallagher

 

I know most of us are looking forward to sunshine, flowers, the smell of fresh cut grass and long walks in the park.  Spring is finally here, and it’s the time for new beginnings.

One of the things I look forward to is spending time outdoors in our backyard. My husband transformed the space into an enchanted garden.  There are winding paths, a Japanese tree, rose bushes, vibrant flowers, sea grass, and beautifully sculptured miniature trees, along with a few blue spruce trees. It reminds me of a place where the forest meets a magical garden.

Garden 1

There is an area to barbeque, various seating areas filled with wicker furniture, to relax and read a book. Tucked in a secluded area sits a hammock if we want to take a nap. A larger table and a smaller round table allow our family to enjoy time together on the weekend. Vines of Ivy lace our fence, adding greenery to the background. The birds love their houses, and they dip in and out of the tiny wooden cottages throughout the day. In the corner there’s an enclosed area where we keep the hot tub. It’s a perfect place to light a candle and unwind, while sipping a beverage.

Garden 2

Each year we add something new to our cozy hideaway. I never know what design my husband will come up with. He surprises me every time.

It’s getting closer to the big design project. I can’t wait to spend a cozy afternoon, basking in the sun with the light scent of spring flowers lingering in the air.

About Kathleen: Kathleen lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two dogs. She’s a registered nurse who works in an emergency room. Writing has been her passion since she was a young girl. Contemporary and paranormal romance are her favorites.  She has three adult children and three lovable grandsons. Her favorite romantic getaway is Cape May, New Jersey. You might find Kathleen on the beach down The Jersey Shore, wearing a straw hat, sipping on an iced tea, dreaming up her next romance novel. 

Welcome, Spring by Janice Seagraves

From Christina: Today is a day I’ve long awaited. Spring is here! Spring is always a lovely time of year, and it’s perhaps at its loveliest in the central valley of California. Author Janice Seagraves is fortunate to be near the beauty…and we’re fortunate that she’s here to share it with us.  Here are a few thoughts and many photos from Janice. Thank you for sharing!

Welcome, Spring

by Janice Seagraves

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I live in the middle of the Central Valley of California. The bread basket of the world. The best part is all the fresh produce, and the blooms. I bought a new camera during cyber-Sunday, so I’d be ready for the almond blooms. You see, my home is in the middle of an almond orchard. The blooms are truly spectacular. Each year they are more beautiful than the last. And I was ready.

 

 

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Bees pollinate the almond blooms, so we have almonds and honey.

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My favorite part of spring is the beautiful open faces of the blooms.

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Happy spring, everyone.

About the author:

 Janice Seagraves grew up with a deep love of science fiction and adventure stories. Always the consummate artist, she traded in her paint brush for a laptop to write breathless life-affirming novels that celebrate enduring love. She lives in California with her husband of many years and their grown daughter. When not writing, you can find her in the yard either gardening or snapping a photo or two.

Debut Author: Devika Fernando

From Christina: Today I’d like to welcome a debut author whose first novel was recently released. Devika shares her story of the step-by-step process of becoming a self-published author.

STEP BY STEP

My dear friend Christina has asked me to share a little about my journey towards becoming a self-published author. I thought long and hard about how to condense everything that comes to mind into something that makes sense, and here’s what I have come up with.

Left FootTHE FIRST STEP

In the broader sense, I have always been a writer. Almost as soon as I could spell and knew enough words, I put them together to write stories. Actually, my parents swear that when I was a tiny toddler, I didn’t use my crayons to draw stick figures and flowers and clouds, but to scribble illegible writing in rather neat lines. During my schooldays, I used to write poems and the occasional short story. When others said they wanted to become doctors and teachers and lawyers, I firmly insisted that I’d become a writer. To publish my own book one day has featured in my dreams for years and years.

Without boring you with more ramblings, what I mean to convey by this is: I believe that people who are writers just know. It’s inside their blood. Whether they have wanted to write since childhood or it just hits them in their late 40s, ultimately they have this strong bond with the writing side of their personality. If writing doesn’t come naturally to you and you don’t really WANT to write, it’s not your vocation. If it does and you do, then don’t repress it, because writing can be a wonderful way to deal with your life and can have a cathartic effect, whether as a hobby or a profession.

Right FootTHE SECOND STEP

Some years ago, it became clearer and clearer to me that more than a ‘real’ job, I would be successful with freelance work. While struggling first in Sri Lanka and then in Germany and then again in Sri Lanka to get a grip on life, I searched the internet far and wide for work-from-home opportunities and learned three things:

  • There are a million offers;
  • Almost all of them are fake, especially if they claim record income;
  • It’s best to really do your own thing.

Luck came my way when I found an agency that was looking for web content writers. I made a pittance with them for a year or so, but I stuck to it because I loved writing, because I learnt a wealth of useful things that I had never even known about – especially SEO and writing techniques – and because I now had a plan: to start my own writing business. In 2011, I quit my writing job for them and started on my own. It took some time and lots of effort, but ever since, writing articles for German customers has been my job. While I’m very glad about how well things go, I realized one thing: Writing like this – for others, without being given credit, without much flexibility and with internet marketing directing your steps – had somehow robbed me of my creativity. Gone were time and muse for writing poems or thinking up stories.

The lesson I learnt is that writing and writing are not the same. What I mean is that professional writing like articles for online shops are a totally different matter. I still love what I do and I’ll never give up on it, but I also need an outlet for the creative writer in me. Which is why I finally told myself to make my dream come true and focus on becoming an author of fiction.

Left FootTHE THIRD STEP

I didn’t just plunge ahead and risk drowning or being carried away by the currents. Instead, I read and read and read some more. I absorbed lots of writing tips, I followed other writers and I familiarized myself with all the important guidelines on story writing. All those ideas I had and the drive to just write-write-write got channeled productively by the new knowledge and experiences. Which is why I always reply with two things when somebody asks me for advice on how to become a successful writer:

  • Read as much as you can and write as much as you can.
  • Never stop learning and improving.

When I decided to self-publish, it seemed kind of terrifying. Again, there were lessons to be learnt and shadows to be jumped over.

I believe it’s important that on the one hand, you don’t lose your joy for writing and your own style as well as the focus on what you like – and that on the other hand, you are not afraid to ask for advice, to learn and to follow certain rules.

Right FootTHE FOURTH STEP

I don’t want to forget mentioning one part of my journey to becoming an author: crawling out of my shell. I am what you could call a loner, although I make friends easily and am blessed with some truly wonderful friends and a very supportive husband. Especially when it comes to my writing, I prefer to keep it to myself, to do things my way, and to view every single word as a piece of me. However, I soon realized that this wouldn’t lead me anywhere.

I need criticism. I need to share my work and discuss it with like-minded people. I need to interact with other authors and with potential readers. And once I had gotten over cringing when receiving feedback, sleepless nights wondering what others might think and the urge to let the perfectionist in me have the last say and change everything a hundred times, it actually proved to be fun. I’ve met some amazing people along the way.

So here’s what I think: Even if you don’t choose to self-publish, networking is going to play an important role. Get yourself and your work out there. So what if you earn a negative review or the only ones who buy your book at first are your friends and family? If it’s good enough for you and you have faith in yourself and you are open to what the writing world has to offer, carry on.

I went through phases full of doubt and sometimes I’m too busy to properly focus on my creative writing, but I have never and will never give up. Ultimately, that is probably the one thing I like most about myself, that I’m a fighter. In my eyes, almost every writer is. We fight against prejudice and unfair payments and social norms, and above all we fight with our own insecurities holding us back. But it’s a fight that can be won.

DevikaAbout Devika Fernando

 Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a German web content writer and as a translator. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing.

Her first romance novel, When I See Your Face, is now available at Amazon.com. For more information, visit Devika at her website:

DEVIKA FERNANDO

SHOWCASE: Author Tea Cooper

I first became acquainted with Australian author Tea Cooper through one of the various Facebook groups to which I belong. I enjoyed Tea’s posts and quickly realized I’d found a fellow history-lover. I invited her to share a few thoughts about love and romance in February, and her Valentine’s post was thoroughly enjoyed by Time for Love’s readers.

 

Valentine’s Day Musings by Tea Cooper

I wanted to know more about Tea, her appreciation for the past, and about her books.

Today, I’m delighted to have Tea as my “Showcase” author for March.

 

From Tea:

Why do I write romance?

 I can’t help it … an over active imagination and the Greek Gods smiling at me!

I received a great review the other day for one of my books – any author’s life blood! The best part of the review though wasn’t the stars or the delightful comments about my plot and my story but the sentence that read:

You have such wonderful ideas for your books, wherever do you get them?”

 It got me thinking. I know I’m a visual learner – too many years trying to work out how children learn – then I realized I’m also a “visual writer.” I backtracked to see if it is true and where I got my inspiration.

 Inspiration means literally, to breathe in and be filled with spirit of the Gods, the muses of ancient Greece. I like to think the gods smile on me.

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It was certainly true of my little Greek novel A WINNING STREAK. It harks back to a trip to Pompeii more years ago than I am prepared to admit!

 

 

 

 

 

Then I took a closer look at my other books:

 

IMG_0520TREE CHANGE is about a woman who has to choose between her career (she’s a sculptor) and the love of her life, who is an environmentalist. The actual starting point for Cassia and Jake’s story was a sculpture I saw.

 

 

As I’ve become more aware of the way I write, (I’d like to say the way I capture my muse but it sounds dreadfully pretentious!) it became easier to spot the starting point of a story.

My family saga FROM THE OCEAN TO THE OUTBACK, which will be published at the end of the year, began with this necklace.

Republis of You

 

 

JAZZ BABY, the first of my 1920s stories to be published in October, began with a trip to a wine bar in Sydney right in the middle of the back streets where the Razor Gangs ruled between the two world wars.

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The well-known meme I came across while I was sitting in a café in the local town called The Queen of Tarts combined to set PASSIONFRUIT & POETRY in motion.

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(PS That’s my daughter!)

 

And MATILDA’S FREEDOM and LILY’S LEAP (releasing July 2014) belong to Wollombi, the village where I live, my historical muse, the local museum and the surrounding countryside … there’s a very old winding road built in 1826 that runs through Wollombi and nastiest bend is called Ramsey’s Leap  – rumor has it that a convict leapt over the side in an attempt to escape. As I stood gazing over the culvert I couldn’t help wondering what if ….

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What a strange collection of snippets! If I haven’t bored you to death my Pinterest Boards tell more of the stories behind my stories. Drop by if you have some time to kill.

Tea’s Pinterest Boards

Where does your inspiration come from?

Do the ancient Gods smile on you?

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Many thanks to Tea for sharing her thoughts and inspirations! You can find here at her website: Tea Cooper Author. You can also follow her on Twitter @TeaCooper1

About Tea: Téa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, in the Hunter Valley. When she isn’t writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who provide her with a never-ending source of inspiration. The settings for her stories range from the glittering beachside city of Sydney to small country towns and the harsh outback. 

  WANT A CHANCE TO WIN?

There is a Giveaway currently running on Goodreads for a print copy of TREE CHANGE and THE PROTEA BOYS. You can find details on Tea’s page at Goodreads.

Tea Cooper Author – Goodreads

Irish Beef Stew by Tricia Andersen

From Christina: Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Usually I fix the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal…but this year, I wanted to be a little different. Fortunately, author Tricia Andersen stepped in to offer her recipe for Irish Beef Stew. This is what we’ll be having on the 17th! I wanted to share it here a few days ahead of the holiday so that you’ll have time to do a bit of grocery shopping too if you’d like to serve this for your family and friends.

 

Irish Beef Stew Recipe

Since both my husband and I are both part Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in our house.  I get a little crazy and try to make a special dinner for my family.  A couple of years ago I found this Irish Beef Stew Recipe on AllRecipes.com.  I hope it’s a hit with your family like it is with mine!

Quick note from Christina: The recipe calls for stout beer. Since no one in our family imbibes, I’m planning to substitute beef broth with maybe a pinch of ginger and/or Worcestershire sauce.  Below the recipe I’ve included an “alcohol substitution” link.  

Beef StewIngredients

Original recipe makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 white onion, cut into large chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups beef broth

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Irish stout beer (e.g. Guinness®)

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss beef cubes with flour to coat, then fry in the hot oil until browned. Place the carrots, potatoes, onion and garlic in a large slow cooker. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Mix together the beef broth and tomato paste and pour into the slow cooker along with the beer.

Cover and cook on High for 6 hours or Low for 8 hours. During the last hour before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and then stir into the broth. Simmer on the High setting for a few minutes to thicken.

 Alcohol Substitutes for Cooking

 

Broccoli Fritters by Ann B Harrison

From Christina: While spring is almost upon us here in this hemisphere, our friends “down under” are looking forward to the cooler days of autumn. Either way — spring, fall, or any other time of the year — good food is always appreciated. Today, Australian author Ann B Harrison drops by to share one of her favorite recipes.

Broccoli Fritters

by Ann B Harrison

One of my favourite meals to make is fritters. When I came across a healthy version I knew I had to make them for lunch. Just so happens I was invited over to spend the day with a fellow writer working out our game plans for the next new releases and I thought, ‘what a great easy meal to take along with a salad.’

Seems I made the right move, because my host was thrilled with them. They are very “more-ish” so I suggest you double the mixture.

Broccoli Fritters

Quick Note from Christina:  Ann’s recipe uses metric measurements.  American cooks, please note that the amount of flour would be about 1 cup with an additional 1/3 cup reserved. The amount of cheese would be about 1/2 cups.

See link below for basic measurement conversions. 

Ingredients (makes 8 fritters)

1 medium sized broccoli

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 eggs

1 small bunch of parsley, chopped

150 grams of gluten free flour or buckwheat flour (put an extra 50 grams aside in case mixture is too wet)

80 grams of feta cheese

1/2 cup of pine nuts

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

Dash of olive/coconut oil

Method

1. Chop up the broccoli finely and steam for 5 minutes.

2. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the flour, garlic, salt and pepper and parsley.

3. Chop up the feta cheese into small cubes and place into the mixture.

4. Place the pine nuts in a fry pan on a low heat and gently roast for 4-7 minutes or until pine nuts are slightly golden. Once cooked add them to the mixture.

5. Before adding the broccoli into the mixture make sure it is finely sliced. I found that I needed to add an extra 50 grams of flour to the mixture as it was too wet.

6. Heat a large frying pan over moderate heat and add a dash of oil.

7. Scoop 1 large tablespoon of mixture into the frying pan, then flatten it slightly with a spatula. The mixture should make around 8 fritters. Cook the fritters for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden.

8. Place fritters onto a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

9. Drizzle with lemon juice before serving. Enjoy!

Converting Grams to Cups

About Ann:

Ann swears she was born with a book in her hands and has never put it down. A lifelong love of reader has finally culminated in achieving her dream of writing…and publication. She lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley with her own handsome hero of many years. Ann has always loved the ups and downs of life in small communities and she shares this with readers in her rural romances. When not writing Ann enjoys reading, gardening, walking her very large dog Hugo and fighting with her computer.