Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Making Marmalade by Priscilla Brown



In this contemporary romance, Callum is an innovative cook, 
while Olivia's specialities are baked beans on toast and home-delivery pizza.  
Neither has ever made marmalade.

 In The King's Breakfast, a poem in When we were very young by A.A. Milne,
 the Queen is persuading the King to try marmalade instead of butter - "Marmalade is nicer."

For several years I have complimented my friend on her home-made lemon marmalade; my only contribution to this had been helping her pick fruit from the tree in her garden.  But moving to an apartment meant marmalade making with her own lemons could be no more. Together we picked the lemons, reminiscing about previous occasions. Then she surprised me by saying she didn't have the time to make it before her relocation in a few days' time, and presented me with not only all these lemons, but with an enormous saucepan, what seemed a lot of sugar, six jam jars and a recipe that had been in her family for a couple of generations. She explained that this was not the only possible recipe, but it had always worked for her so I should not have any trouble. Hmm. She had more confidence than I had in my cooking abilities.
To begin the great marmalade undertaking, I learnt I had to cut the fruit up, tie the pips and pith in a scrap of muslin thoughtfully supplied by my friend, luckily as the only muslin in my house is a smart dress, and place everything in water to soak overnight.Relax, this job was easy! My overnight relaxation included a dream of sailing on a sea of marmalade in a lemon-shaped boat which hit a large pip and sank. Next morning, my concoction had to simmer for about one and a half hours, after which I took out the bag of pips and added the sugar. Boil rapidly, the recipe instructed. No trouble about that, the brew was rising at an alarming rate. According to the recipe, setting would take between three and fifteen minutes.

Optimistic, I tested after five by dropping a teaspoonful onto a saucer. The marmalade was liquid...after ten, fifteen minutes, it still didn't look like anything with the potential to be eventually spreadable. The instructions advised using a clean saucer for each test, and at twenty-five minutes I had to start using those from the best tea service. If it boiled too long, the recipe admonished, it would never set. Had it boiled too long, or not long enough? What to do with a pan of unset marmalade? At thirty minutes I was giving up hope, when at last the sticky mess on a saucer formed a skin. I touched it and watched it wrinkle - yay, my effort had metamorphosed into marmalade!

Who knew all this would take so long! In such an amount of time, I could have written a couple of chapters...or perhaps not. After this culinary experience, I returned with some relief to my novel-in-progress, where I needed to rescue two characters from  a 'sticky' situation which had nothing to do with marmalade.

Best wishes, Priscilla



Monday, August 30, 2021

Cowboys by Eden Monroe



Find Gold Digger Among Us and Eden Monroe's other books, here: 


Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

 A cowboy saying

 * * *

If ever there was a romantic symbol of freedom, it’s the cowboy and his undisputed mastery over untamed, wide-open spaces.

 As for the job description of a cowboy, that actually originated in Mexico, when, in the early 1500’s, Spaniards imported horses and built ranches to raise livestock in the Americas. Those early cowboys were known as vacqueros from the Spanish word vaca, meaning cow. They were herdsmen, overseeing enormous herds of cattle and in the process of tending them became expert horsemen, as well as outstanding ropers, skills that are still in demand today by cowboys working cattle from the back of a horse or competing in rodeos.

 As time passed the size of cattle herds on the North American continent grew exponentially, spreading across the American west and ultimately the Canadian west. At the centre of that bovine tidal wave were the cowboys who handled them. Also called cowhands, cowpokes, cowpunchers or buckaroos, theirs was an often lonely and always demanding lifestyle, time spent on the open range and in cow camps, or on ranches, with plenty of hard work and long hours for little pay. They distinguished themselves by their fierce devotion to the work they loved, living by the unspoken cowboy code, or the code of the west, that included living each day with courage, taking pride in what they did, being tough but fair, and knowing where to draw the line.

As the legend of the cowboy grew, so did the lure for this romanticized lifestyle that saw men come from many walks of life and a variety of ethnic backgrounds to embrace it. African American cowboys also made their mark, such as Bill Pickett (cowboy, rodeo, Wild West show performer and actor) from Texas who is credited with inventing bulldogging, or steer wrestling as it’s also called. Unmarried Jewish men primarily flocked to the west (1849-1899) in such numbers to become cowboys that this period in western history is referred to as the third golden age of Jewish history. High-profile western lawman Wyatt Earp married a Jewish woman, Josephine Marcus, and they’re buried side by side in the Jewish Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Today cowboys, while popularized in American and Canadian western culture, are found in many parts of the world, including on the continents of Africa and Australia. It’s not only the distinctive broad-brimmed hat, boots and chaps that define the cowboy, the measure of the man has always been what’s in his heart.

Cowgirls are also part of the legend, including such notables as sharp shooter Annie Oakley (1860-1926) whose real name was Phoebe Ann Moses (some historians say Mosey) Butler. These women take a back seat to no one, strong, resilient and daring as they continue to carve their own special niche in history.

 Often glamorized and always respected, every cowboy, either real or fictional, has a story to tell. Enter Dade Tanner, cowboy and cattle rancher. Rugged, dark and sexy, he sits tall in the saddle as he rides herd over an edge of your seat romantic suspense in Gold Digger Among Us, where anything can … and does … happen:

 Gold Digger Among Us - Excerpt

Finding an empty spot on one of the logs, Dade settled into it and was totally taken by surprise when the bold brunette who’d earlier grabbed at his sleeve, plunked herself happily in his lap. He’d suffered worse fates. She was pretty and making it very clear what she wanted from him as he got an impromptu lap dance to the tune that was playing on Maynard’s truck stereo.

“Hey, Sarah,” she yelled to the woman who’d been sitting beside her on the log, “I got me a cowboy….”

Faithful to the tradition of what it means to be a cowboy, Dade was born to that way of life, and he’s cowboy to the core:

He leaned one shoulder nonchalantly against the doorjamb with thumbs hooked through his belt loops - the dust from the back corral still evident on his chaps. The sun glinted brilliantly against silver conchos on their flared outer flaps above his scuffed cowboy boots. He shifted his position slightly, a spur jingling against the doorsill.

‘You’re right, it is hot out there,’ he agreed at length, but with more warmth. ‘Maybe I’ll see you at the dance tonight.’

He studied her for a moment longer before leaving, his eyes unreadable from beneath the brim of his Stetson.”

Dade Tanner is as cowboy tough as they come, and just as purposeful when he climbs down off his horse. Kerrah knows. She’s the woman he loves:

 Dade’s bedroom was in darkness as he laid her on a hand-worked quilt. Shafts of moonlight captured him in a flawless silhouette as he stood by the bed, slowly taking off his shirt. Cowboy of the year the polished silver buckle read as the worn leather belt glided past the last notch and hung open. Weather-browned hands unhurriedly released the metal button atop the faded denims.”

 Independent and determined, Dade too lives by the unspoken cowboy code. He finishes what he starts and as anyone who knows him will say, he’ll always do what needs to be done and remain true to himself. Yes, Dade Tanner is a cowboy with a story to tell, one you won’t soon forget. 

For more on Eden Monroe and her Emerald Valley Ranch series visit her BWL Publishing Author page


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Clawed and Friends, a feline soap opera


All my books at these links:

 I know I’m getting older, as I’ve definitely run out of energy this summer. The present excuse is that it’s too darn hot and humid. The garden I planted is now flush with veggies, raining tomatoes and continuously sprouting a tasty green called “Perpetual Spinach,” #1 on my list recommendations for the home gardener.  No, filled with gloom as I am, I think I’ll just talk about the “kids”—not actual children anymore, as ours have long ago flown the nest and have children of their own—but the three cats that we now live with. 

My days are a long feline saga. There’s an old saying to the effect that “If you want to write novels, get a couple of cats,” and IMHO it’s true.  No longer do I have teenagers, but I have these cats, and the trials and tribulations of our multi-cat household never ends.

Currently, we have three cats domiciled with us.  I would never presume to call myself an “owner” of "pets" as the cats I’ve met generally end up calling most of the shots.  These three are the first I’ve kept in—the bird/small mammal neighborhood body count is too high to be acceptable to me any longer. Plus, eventually, with outdoor cats, predators--animal or human--disappears our beloved furry family member.  Therefore, our kitties, Kimi, Tony (Anthony) and Willy (Yum) all share the same space. Tony (aka “Ant-knee”) is a young tough from Long Island. I could blame the daily uproar on his theoretically removed testosterone-producing parts, but that would be the easy way out for this Cat Mother.

Kimi is now an elder cat. Long-haired, she requires daily brushing and combing. Nevertheless, she still gets constipated as a result of her own personal grooming regime and needs frequent doses of Laxatone©. She arrived here starving, with open wounds and a PTSD which never subsided. Since then she has mostly lived, by preference, wherever other cats/people are not.  She has just had a bout of pneumonia and I’m pushing several pills a day into her. Fortunately, she and I have a relationship of affection based upon my respecting her intricate web of boundaries, so these pills—so far—are no problem.

Tony arrived as a cute kitten, but looks can be deceiving. 

Tony has proved to have not only a high intelligence but a boundless appetite for domination—first of this household, perhaps later, the world! Like the “Little Girl with the Little Curl” in the Christopher Robin poems, “when she’s good she’s very, very good, but when she is bad—she is horrid!” Describes our inventive Tony to a T. 

Willy is also 'Clawed,' because he has a major bad habit of scratching furniture, to the point where we have mostly given up arguing about it. We reason we'll all be dead soon enough and will no longer care. This flaw is worth putting up with, because he is a giant cuddle-bug who kisses and hugs his people. 

With others of his kind,  Willy-yum is a go-along, get-along kind of guy—until he draws the line and bites which is his method for drawing the line with Tony. Willy and Tony are friends for face-licking, as well as tussle and chase games, even though Willy is older and somewhat lame. No, the problem is not between the boys, or with their newly formed posse, but between the boys and Kimi.

Willy, sensitive soul that he is, understood right away that Kimi did not want to be friends with anyone. He did not take this personally.  He and Kimi politely left one another alone, about the best that we can all hope for.

 Tony, however, takes Kimi's crippling fear as a personal affront, one that he rediscovers anew every day. Kimi, as he sees it, should play and wrestle with him like Willy-yum does. In his world view, this is the natural order of things, perfectly obvious to his bright yet inflexible mind. When he bounces up to her, she hisses and retreats under a chair, this, 100% of the time. That, he presumes, is an invitation to get under the chair with her. When (unsurprisingly) she screams and scratches, and all hell breaks loose. 

So since she's been ill, she is recuperating behind closed doors. I move her between rooms in the heat, transferring cat boxes, food, water and beds each time, with Tony trying to either trip me or jump Kimi all the way. His nose knows that his Cruel Cat Mom has been feeding the Stupid One "better" food. And yes, I am. Sick cats get appetite tempters like baby food and kitty cans. 

If I try to share kitty cans out, however, Tony gobbles his and everybody else's too, so all special food has to be dished out behind closed doors.  In an attempt to be "fair," I've dirtied many, many kitty dishes. I feel like a Mom dealing with a nearly toxic sibling rivalry.

I soon gave up the sharing of canned chow. This summer's supply chain lapses are making purchasing the "right" flavor/texture kitty food chancy. Things will get easier when Kimi recovers and we can just return to my occasional running interference when the familiar routine of his bullying and her fear gets out of hand. Like people, these two kitties have difficulties with changing their visceral reaction to one another, reactions which  lead to "antisocial" behaviour from both parties.  

The official Chinese line on pets is that they are "useless bourgeois luxuries."* They may not be "useless" in terms of the emotional support and comfort we two-legs receive from our fur friends, but they are luxuries our 1st World living conditions allow us to enjoy. Spaying, neutering, maintenance and vet care (because "where there's stock, there's trouble"**) are fixed costs.

Moreover, you need time to devote to their proper care as well as a generous share of patience and understanding for their non-human needs and ways. They may have once been thought of as "dumb animals," but we know better today. Between you and these complex, sensitive critters a relationship will grow. Just as relationships between two-legged beings require time, thought and uncomfortable doses of learning about yourself, so too can our dealings with our mammalian kin test and enlighten us.  

~~Juliet Waldron

*The Economist, July 2021

**"All Creatures Great and Small", James Herriot 


                                    So sweet, now that he's asleep...

All my books at these links:

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Playing with a Full Deck -- Gypsy Magic 101 by Connie Vines #BWLAuthor # MFRWAuthor

My current release: Gumbo Ya Ya: an anthology for women who like romance Cajun Style, the final story in the novel, features a Gypsy heroine is named Enza.  Enza is also a Fortune Teller.

While I have no firsthand experience with such a gift, I have interviewed ‘fortune-tellers and astrologers’ with a reputation for the read-deal.

So, for fun, I thought I’d share what I learned.

While most prefer the Tarot Deck of Cards, a simple deck of cards will also suffice.

The Prediction Spread:

Use this spread when you want to ask a specific question as to whether something will come to pass and its outcome.

The querent shuffles the cards, concentrating on the question about his/her future. The querent then pulls 15 cards at random.

The reader takes these 15 cards and lays them out, face down, in the sequence indicated:

The Prediction Spread

Present Environment: Cards: 1, 2, 3: Ace of Cups, Eight of Wands, XXI The World.

Elements of Question: 4, 5, 6: Three of Wands, Nine of Swords (Reversed), Ace of Pentacles

Obstacles to be Surmounted: King of Cups, Seven of Pentacles, Queen of Swords (me).
What will come to the querent unbidden: Three of Swords, Eight of Pentacles, Knight of Swords

What the querent can expect to achieve: XIX The Sun, Queen of Cups, Ten of Pentacles

Cups - represent human emotions; spring; days.
Pentacles- represent money matters, psychic powers, and creative talents; winter; years.
Swords - represent conflicts and idealism; summer; months.
Wands - represent earthly matters and things; fall; weeks.

My Reading
The results of my reading:

Fulfillment, haste/speed/suddenest. Success through outer influences. (my current environment).

Enterprising nature, practical knowledge.  Separation through incompatibility (R) and Wealth, success, joy. (elements of my question.)

A professional person (male) will interact with me and a woman (also). resulting in character growth. And since I often get in my own way, I'm assuming I'm the obstacle.   (obstacles to surmount.)

Sorrow. Ability to use one's hands well. Strength skill and bravery (Knight of Swords.)
(to come unbidden.)

Success desires are achieved. Compassion, fairness.  Gains in family matters.
(what querent can expect to achieve.)

I'm happy to see there is only one reversed card. My question was simple and uncomplicated so the result was easy to read.

Result: my question will come true suddenly because of my enterprising nature and practical knowledge and character growth (isn't there ALWAYS painful character growth?). 

Separation through incompatibility? (I haven't a clue).

An interesting way to spend part of my evening, anyway.

Will my question come true?  

Only time will tell.

Or, perhaps...the answer can be found in the palm of my hand.

Pinterest photo no source noted

hope you enjoyed my post.

Happy Reading,


Book Movie! I love book movies!!

My book trailer: Gumbo Ya Ya!

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Friday, August 27, 2021

New Release – ANGEL BRAVE – Azura Chronicles Book 3 – by Vijaya Schartz

Order ANGEL BRAVE now, to be delivered September 1, 2021 HERE 
Visit my page at BWL Publishing HERE
Keoke Mahoe, Zephyrian spy for the Resistance, slips through Azura’s impenetrable defenses to deliver a perilous message to their leader. But Lady Valoria fiercely protects her planet. Any intruder, especially one who kills animals for food, is promptly terminated.

Besides, what Keoke suggests is unthinkable... and punishable by death. Yet, Valoria enjoys his audacity, his noble heart, his ability to cheat death, and his smile… to the chagrin of Eris the Amazon, her best friend, bodyguard, and would-be lover.

But in the farthest confines of the galaxy, an old enemy is rising again. And this time, even Azura's Avenging Angels may not be able to stop the onslaught of darkness upon all civilized life.

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Angel Brave is the last book in the Azura Chronicles series, but don’t worry, my winged Avenging Angels will continue their fight against evil. As for Azura, it will probably make cameo appearances in my future novels. Yes, the Azura universe will go on…

In the meantime, you can read the Byzantium Space Station series set in the same universe, with a few angel characters from Azura.

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Next year, get ready for a spinoff sci-fi romance series named “Blue Phantom.” But this will be the topic of next month’s post…

Until then, keep reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Procrastination is a dirty word—Tricia McGill

Find links to this and all my other books here on my BWL author page

Never have I had so much time on my hands, and never have I wasted so much time by literally wasting time. I am now feeling ashamed that I have admitted that. In the past when people asked me if I ever got bored my immediate response was, “Never. There is always so much to do”. I guess you could say that I have a good excuse. Here in my home state as well as most of the other Australian states we are currently in lockdown for the—I’ve lost count—time. This brings on a state of lethargy unknown to me previously. I can go to the shops—if I have a valid reason for doing so. I can attend my doctor’s surgery, and walk with one friend for daily exercise, as long as it is within 5 kilometres of my home, but to add to our misery we are under curfew. I have not been out after dark for many moons, but now that I have been advised (read that as warned) not to do so for fear of incurring a massive fine, I have this sudden urge to do just that.

Deep down I know that there is another valid reason for this depressed state of lethargy. Last week I had the unenviable task of taking my beautiful foxie boy to the vet clinic for the last time. This morning I received a beautiful letter of sympathy from the clinic’s amazing staff about my gorgeous boy and their knowledge that he will be sorely missed. There are varying degrees of sorrow, and only other pet lovers will know just what I am going through right now. I was hoping he would go while sleeping out in the sunshine on a day like today, as Tiger the dog did in my latest book, but that was not to be. My remaining pet, my Shih Tzu girl is still looking for him, especially around meal times when he was prone to sneak up on her and pinch whatever food she had left. Being an adopted dog I have the knowledge that the last ten years of his life spent with me were the best by far.

The world is in such turmoil right now that I guess it is immoral of me to spare so much of my sorrow on one small dog, but as I say, there are degrees and my heart aches for all those now in dire circumstances, either through war or this vile disease sweeping the globe. It is time to do as my mother advised and pull my socks up and get on with it.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Beguiling Begonias by A.M. Westerling

Begonias, both tuberous and fibrous, are one of our favourite flowering plants for the garden. If you’ve followed my earlier gardening posts, you’ll know I frequently say, “The secret to a successful garden is to find the plants that like the space you have.” We love begonias because begonias love us!


Our yard is a mixture of shade and sun and begonias thrive wherever we plant them. I’ve put them in the ground, in containers and hanging pots, making sure I use planter box mix for the containers and hanging pots. I fertilize immediately with root fertilizer then afterwards every two weeks with 20 20 20. I also dead head regularly to promote more blooms.


Begonias are originally from central and south America so in our northern climate, they’re annuals. However, they flower all summer long. The blooms on the tuberous begonias have a deep, vibrant colour, including red, orange, yellow, pink and white with large, lobed leaves. These come in two forms, either upright or trailing and can reach 3 feet or more in outdoor containers. We have a display of tuberous begonias on our patio, picture below.


Fibrous, or wax, begonias have waxy leaves in either pale green or dark green. They grow in mounds of 6 inches to twelve inches and have single or double flowers in red, pink or white. I'm really pleased the way this pot of fibrous begonias turned out this year. It's a sunny spot and as you can see, they're quite happy there. (Below) 

Another sunny spot is beside our bird bath. Fibrous begonias always do well in the front left spot. This was last year, and below that is this year's display. 


A few planting tips: Begonias prefer a location that’s partially shady or filtered sunlight. Don’t plant them too close together so they have good air circulation to prevent powdery mildew. Keep the soil moist but don’t overwater as this might lead to fungal diseases and stem rot. (I know whereof I speak, I overwater from time to time and next thing you know, one of the stems keels over at soil level. *smacks forehead*). Don’t get water on the leaves to avoid leaf spot (yes, I’ve done this too.) Also, don’t panic if you forget to water them, they don’t mind dry soil. I’ve never had a problem with pests but apparently they are susceptible to mites, thrips, whitefly and mealy bugs.


A warning to pet owners, they are toxic to pets, particularly the tubers. They are not toxic to humans although they may cause an allergic reaction. Begonias are deer resistant.


Begonias have a number of medicinal purposes. The entire plant can be used and it has a sweet, acrid flavour. You can make an infusion by soaking the flowers in hot water to eliminate headaches and rid the body of toxins. The crushed leaves and flowers can also be rubbed directly on the skin to heal sores or burns and to relieve pain. Apparently, begonias can be used to treat bronchitis, candidiasis, colds, digestive disorders, dysentery, liver problems, swelling, scrofula and menstrual disorders.


I visited the following websites for this post:  www/gardendesign.com and www.herbpathy.com



You can find my Viking romance A Heart Enslaved and all my other books on the BWL Publishing website HERE


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