Emma Lane hands out the bouquets

I welcome to the blog today talented US author Emma Lane. As well as turning out great stories she is also an expert on gardening matters.  So if you want a great display of blooms read on … over to you Emma.

By Emma Lane

Bring the outside in with a Fall bouquet. Not sure how, then let me help you. Here are a few tips to help make it easier.

Native and ornamental grasses: What fun to gather them on one of those perfect Fall days when the skies are vivid blue, a soft breeze tumbles your hair, and tick seed clings to your jeans. Best to do your hunt and gathering just before the leaves are all off the trees. Anything interesting is fair game, but do learn to identify dried ragweed and seeds. Not one to bring into the house; it will still make you sneeze. I’ve used the seed tassels of ornamental grasses and a wild reed which is listed as a nuisance plant. It overtakes our native cattails apparently. Even so I love the tassels which are free for the taking. Spot a batch where your sneakers will stay dry.

Love cattails? Pick when they turn brown, most likely mid to late summer. If you bring a ripe cattail inside to the warmth, it will explode with a predictable mess. Trust me; I’ve had the experience. Grab a handful in summer and dry them in a dark, dry place. Pull them out in the fall for a perfect addition to the dry bouquets.

Chinese lanterns (physalis) are perfect for Fall. They’ll last and last, but eventually lose their color. I’ve been known to spray them lightly with red paint, but the odor of fresh paint is not pleasant. Tend well ahead of time and let dry in the garage.

The purple flowers are grown under a hoop house which protects from the early frosts. They won’t stand up to a real freeze, but are perfect for Fall bouquets. Lisianthus is a favorite of florists because they last so long in the vase. Any late bloom will perk up a Fall bouquet. I’ve used long stems of mums, stray daisies, and geranium. Use your imagination and have fun with Fall bouquets. They’ll keep you cheerful until it’s time to decorate for Christmas.

Don’t worry about which flowers to use. Anything and everything will be perfect because you chose it. The important ingredient in creating your bouquet is to have fun.

Now here’s a little from my latest Regency Romance to enjoy along with your lovely bouquet.

Elisabeth is a lively young lady ripe for adventure. She’s lived the sheltered life of the privileged during the Regency era of the 1800’s and is on the cusp of entering society when she joins her older sister at a house party. On the enormous estate in the spreading mansion of a duke, she mistakes her host for the fat squire down the road. Thus begins an adventure which is against all her training. She knows her mother would not approve. Was that half the intrigue of meeting a stranger in private?

The handsome but incognito Richard Hawlester, Duke of Roderick, weary of toad-eating house guests, engages in a serious flirtation with young Elisabeth Barrows, who is primed for an exciting adventure. Mistaking the fat squire for the duke, she holds her secret relationship with a man known only as Richard, Nobel Rescuer, close to a tender heart while discovering love for the first time.

Elisabeth’s trust seems irrevocably lost when the duke’s actual identity is revealed. Realizing his mistake, Roderick begins an earnest, dangerous, and often hilarious campaign to convince her of his love. Elisabeth ponders whether true love can overcome the loss of trust between two people, even as danger presents in the guise of a vile, undesirable suitor, while a wicked assassin makes an attempt on the life of the duke. Trust broken can never be regained, or can it?

AmazonWild Rose Publishing

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.


Shopping: Is it in Our Genes? Anne Montgomery investigates.

My blog today gives a warm welcome to author Anne Montgomery who discusses the fascinating question –

Shopping: Is it in Our Genes?

by Anne Montgomery

I’ve been a teacher for 15 years and, when meeting new high school students, I often ask them about their interests. Without fail, numerous kids list shopping as their favorite hobby. These students, so far, have been female.

I try not to roll my eyes and then explain that a hobby is generally something where one might engage in creative or artistic pursuits, collect themed objects, or perhaps play a sport. Still, the girls smile and insist that shopping is their hobby.

I read recently that the average woman spends approximately 400 hours each year shopping. Conversely, men quickly get board with those trips to the mall, losing interest after just 26 minutes, while women can shop blissfully for two hours before tedium strikes.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s the women who usually spy the empty cupboards and resupply the milk and toilet paper and dog food and all of the other stuff needed to run a household. So, of course, they spend more time at the store. But, even when we discount those we gotta have it now moments, women are still in shopping mode much more than men.

I wondered why. I put on my history teacher cap and thought about our ancient ancestors: those hunter-gatherers who foraged for food and resources until they started to settle down in permanent communities about 12,000 years ago. The hunters, we suspect, were generally men. The gatherers: women. It’s estimated that 80% of our ancestors’ diet consisted of wild fruits and vegetables. While the men were out looking for something to kill and drag home, women and girls were peering intently at foliage and digging in the ground, looking for groceries. And their rummaging probably wasn’t restricted to foodstuffs. No doubt a pretty rock or feather might have found its way into a woman’s basket, perhaps to use for barter later on when food ran out.

What does this have to do with the modern female shopper? Here I have a completely unscientific hypothesis, though one that makes perfect sense to me. Human beings – and all creatures alive today – had to adapt in order to survive. So, perhaps, buried in our DNA is a “shopping” gene, passed on from our ancient female ancestors. Those women, who had to examine fruits and berries and roots and leaves, were forced to take great care and time to make sure they selected items that didn’t poison their families. They also had to stock up enough goods to make it through the harsh times of the year. So hunting and gathering were probably their main pursuits. Thanks to their abilities to pick the best available provisions, they were able to survive and pass their genes down to us.

So, don’t feel too badly about enjoying that time at the mall, just leave your beau at home. I, in the meantime, will try to stop rolling my eyes at my students.

Here’s a brief introduction to my women’s fiction for your reading pleasure.

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a pregnant teenager who bears an odd facial deformity, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

To read more from A Light in the Desert please click a vendor’s name: Sarah Book PublishingAmazonBarnes & Noble

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

8 things a lady needs to know about travelling (uninvited) on a naval ship in hostile waters.

May Ship for Only a Hero

Today I have brought along Hetty Avebury who is the heroine of  ‘Only a Hero Will Do’.  She wishes  to share some advice  about travelling at sea in the nineteenth century.   Hetty unfortunately found herself  sailing  on a naval frigate,  uninvited and-

Excuse me, Susan. If I am not mistaken, you did say I could  do this blog – after all I am the person who experienced the stressful but educational elements of  the  voyage , and  I don’t want you to say anything indelicate. Perhaps you  can go and arrange for tea and cake. I will look after the visitors. Oh! Where are my guests precisely?

Okay, Hetty, you carry on. Trust me, they are out there listening, just talk – you’re good at that. But don’t give away too much of the plot before I come back.

Good! She has gone.  Good day. Are you there ?  Well I shall  assume you are even though I fear my author has become quite addled brained. I hope she brings back some scones as I have a weakness for scones. In fact I have a few weaknesses.  Gambling is one – luckily I am very good at it. My scheming family do not realise that I am able to gain funds this way. Therefore you might say it is also a strength.
Another weakness is books. I do love books! I can never get enough of the exciting informative kind (if you understand my meaning). The attendant at the library back home always examined my choices, so they were limited to the mundane. However, whilst I was at sea, Dr Withington lent me some books which were very informative.
But I must return our attentions to the purpose of this  blog, where I will share some useful tips about sea travel.

So  here are  eight things a Regency lady needs to know about travelling (uninvited) on a naval ship in hostile waters.

1.  Make sure you know which is the leeward side (the sheltered side) of the ship. It is important to know which way the wind is blowing when you are prone to seasickness. It was a shame about Doctor Withington’s coat-but luckily it was only his second best.

2.  Do not stray from the quarterdeck. The stern end is the civilised end of the ship. Although it is a lot more colourful down the pointed end.

3.  Prepare for your sleep to be interrupted. The ringing of the ship’s bell and the beating of drums occur at regular and unsociable times.

4.  Do not complain of boredom, believe me that is a good sign. If you see a French ship approaching things will get very unpleasant, and you will soon wish to be bored again.

5.  If you have a chance to pack for the journey (which I did not) include warm clothing. Also a supply of lemon juice is useful to bathe freckles, which multiply like a plague of insects across your skin once exposed to the sea air.

6.  Prepare to be stoic. You will witness the misery and sacrifice of war. Even If you are lucky enough to avoid battle, deaths on board from injury and disease occur frequently.

7.  Do remember to knock the weevils from the ships biscuits, and do not try to cut biscuits into delicate pieces; they resist all attempts.

8. If there is a tall, sombre physician around, whose job it is to keep you out of trouble, and looks at you with eyes … Oh, no –  she is coming back with the tea – but alas no scones .

There is much more to tell dear readers, and if you feel like indulging in a romantic adventure and discovering what happened during and after my unscheduled voyage, please take a look at Only a Hero Will Do. (I haven’t even begun to tell you about Doctor Withington and you need to know about him.)

Spring 1810 – Hampshire England.    

Marriage to a cruel dandy is not how Hetty Avebury envisions spending the rest of her life. Determined to avoid the match, she raises funds the only way she knows how – by gambling. When her plans go astray, she finds herself on board a man-of-war under the care of its high handed physician. But Hetty soon realizes that Doctor Withington is not quite the stuffed shirt she had first imagined. 

If it wasn’t bad enough declaring one of the pressed men as a woman, Robert Whitington has been tasked with the tiresome job of returning Miss Hetty Avebury safely back to her dysfunctional family. Ten years earlier, his father had gambled away Robert’s inheritance, home, and any chance of marrying the woman he loved.  So when Robert discovers Hetty gambling, he takes drastic action to cure her of the habit.

Yet with her self-proclaimed betrothed hot on her heels,can Hetty really trust the doctor?

t  Amazon UK   Amazon US

 Learn more about  my books at susanlodge.com

The Alternative CV – Quick fire questions for authors

The Alternative CV  this week welcomes exciting  new author Astrid Arditi. Her fabulous romantic suspense  A Cunning Plan  has just been released.

Hi Astrid,  it’s great to meet you. Make yourself comfortable because we have a few questions.  

ARDITI Astrid & Jeremy 19398 03.05.16 by AJ06 - Copy One quality you have which other people who know you might question?
I’m strong. Most people around me see my insecurities and shyness and think I’m weak, but comes a crisis and I’m surprisingly resilient.

 A fictional character you fantasise over/ fell in love with? (One of your own preferably.)

My heroine’s male counterpart, Ethan Cunning. He comes off as annoying and cocky but he’s a good man at his core, faithful, honest and fiercely protective of the woman he loves.

  One item you would consign to Room 101?
Make up. I use it sometimes but it feels like a massive waste of time.

  One line that sums up your WIP this week?                                                Progressing! It was all locked up in my head till the book launch, waiting in line, but now I finally got to reconnect with my keyboard, which feels fantastic!

 One sentence that sums up your thoughts about social media?
Time consuming, frustrating at times but a great source of support and inspiring stories.

   Kindle, tablet or paperback. Which one do you go to bed with and why?
Kindle. I’m an avid reader so I really appreciate the number of books I can stow away in it. Plus both of our kids sleep in our room these days so using a bedside table lamp is out of the question. 

       One thing lurking on your writing desk that shouldn’t be there?    Everything! I work on my coffee table, which is at the best times littered with toys, cookie  wrappers and half empty water bottles. I’m a mess!
     Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years’ time?
Exactly where I am now but in another city. We’re moving to New York in the summer. My kids are young so I’ll still be a mother to them first and a writer when they spare me the time. Hopefully it will be enough so I can write many more Sloane Harper books 

We hope so as well Astrid. Your writing space sounds a bit like  my own. Thanks for being my guest today.

Now, let’s read a little about your recent release.
BLURBCunning Plan
Determined to put her family back together, Sloane Harper stalks her ex husband and his annoyingly stunning mistress, Kate. But she’s not the only one. Handsome IRS agent Ethan Cunning is surveying them too, but not for the same reasons. He is attempting to nail Kate’s playboy boss.
Ethan and Sloane decide to help each other, which sends Sloane’s wobbly life spinning out of control. She’ll have to face danger, humiliation, and scariest of all, the dating scene, to lure her daughters’ father home.
Losing control was the best thing to happen to Sloane… until it turned lethal.


Astrid Arditi was born from a French father and Swedish mother. She lived in Paris and Rome before moving to London with her husband and daughter back in 2013.
After dabbling in journalism, interning at Glamour magazine, and teaching kindergarten, Arditi returned to her first love: writing.
She now splits her time between raising her kids (a brand new baby boy just joined the family) and making up stories.
A Cunning Plan is Arditi’s first published work.

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cunning-Plan-Astrid-Arditi-ebook/dp/B01D7H7O42/
Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Cunning-Plan-Astrid-Arditi-ebook/dp/B01D7H7O42/
IBooks https://itunes.apple.com/fr/book/a-cunning-plan/id1102554468?mt=11
Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-cunning-plan-astrid-arditi/1123657004?ean=2940152965568
Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/a-cunning-plan-5

I blog at http://www.astridarditi.com
Facebook Astrid Arditi author https://www.facebook.com/Astridarditiauthor
Twitter @astrid_arditi https://twitter.com/astrid_arditi


Legends,Timekeepers and Sharon Ledwith.

My guest today is Sharon Ledwith, the author of an exciting series of young adult books. Today she tells us about how her love of legends influences her stories. 

Welcome Sharon and over to you. 

Time Travel 101

by Sharon Ledwith

Legends. We love them. We can’t get enough of them. In fact we NEED them. Legends connect humanity in ways we can’t fathom. A legend, by definition is a story handed down for generations among a people and popularly believed to have a historical basis, although not verifiable. In book one of my time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Amanda Sault, her four classmates, and two tag-along adults are whisked through an arch they find buried in an overgrown garden, and transported to the mythical continent of Atlantis. They’ve been summoned to become Timekeepers—legendary time travellers sworn to keep history safe from an evil force known only as Belial. Oh, BTW—they’re not just any Timekeepers—they’re the Last Timekeepers. No pressure, right? Well, maybe a smidgen.

The Timekeepers first mission involves going back to 1214 England, actually Nottingham to be precise. There, Amanda and her time traveling cohorts meet an adolescent Robin Hood, although he is known as Robyn Hodekin to the people of Nottingham. So here’s the rub—in The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, what’s myth and what’s made-up? That’s when it’s up to the reader to seek the truth and dispel the lies.

Here’s a little help:

Robin Hood—if he did exist—was known by many names. Robyn Hode, Robert Earl of Huntingdon, Robert Fitz Ooth, and Robert fitz Odo to name a few. The first written references to our hero are brief. The earliest comes in the poem Piers Plowman, written in 1377 by the London cleric William Langland. One of his characters, an idle priest, says in passing, “I know the rhymes of Robin Hood,” but that is all. The oldest surviving substantial account of Robin Hood in his wider setting was printed in 1510, and is called A Geste of Robin Hood, the word Geste probably meaning a tale of heroic exploits. BTW—“Robin Hood in Sherwood stood” was one verse found preserved in a scrap of manuscript from Lincoln Cathedral, and was dated around 1410.

Mortimer’s Hole—The Mortimer and his hole in my story is fictional. The real Mortimer’s Hole is a 98 metre long man-made tunnel that takes you from the foot of castle rock up to the Upper Bailey in the castle grounds. It is named after Roger Mortimer. On the night of 19th October 1330 one of the most dramatic events in the history of the castle took place when the supporters of 15 year old King Edward III entered the castle through a secret passage —now named Mortimer’s Hole. They captured Queen Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who had usurped the young King and were ruling England in his place. Mortimer was taken to London where he was executed. Mortimer’s Hole was probably used as a food chute in medieval times.

Nottingham caves—Totally factual! Beneath the houses, shops and offices of Nottingham lie hundreds of caves. Few people in Nottingham are aware of this labyrinth, which exists underneath the city streets, and fewer still have visited them. Nottingham has more man-made caves than anywhere else in Britain. People have worked and lived in them for over 1,000 years. None of these caves were formed naturally. They were all cut into the sandstone by the city’s inhabitants for use as houses, cellars and place of work. Each cave in unique and created for a specific purpose, some have elaborate carvings, pillars and staircases. Take a virtual tour if you dare: http://nottinghamcavessurvey.org.uk/

Knights Templar— The Knights Templar trace their origin back to shortly after the First Crusade. Around 1119, a French nobleman, Hughes de Payens, collected eight of his knight relatives, and began the Order, their stated mission to protect pilgrims on their journey to visit the Holy Places. Knights of the Order wore white mantles, assigned to the Templars in 1129 at the Council of Troyes and surcoats quartered by a red cross, a symbol of martyrdom, probably added at the start of the Second Crusade in 1147, and were heavily armored knights from the aristocracy with war horses. Knights had to wear their white mantles as all times, even when eating and drinking.

The Rockyard Inn—The name is fictional. Much of the history of the Inn is very poorly recorded. An archaeological dig in 1974 proved conclusively that the location of the original Brewhouse could only be that of the caves of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, the Inn that exists there presently. This established that the Castle Brewhouse existed prior to 1189AD but the first dated reference is to be found is in the records of the City Council for the year 1618. The parochial rights to the area now known as the Brewhouse Yard did not in fact belong to the Castle but passed backwards and forward over time between the Priory of Lenton, The Knights Templar and the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem.

Here’s an excerpt from The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:

Amanda Sault silently studied the words she just scrawled: May 1st, 1214—Games and songs and revelry, act as the cloak of devilry. So that an English legend may give to the poor, we must travel to Nottingham to even the score.

She frowned. She was the Scribe. Amanda knew that meant she was supposed to understand what this riddle meant. But she didn’t have a clue. All she knew was that she, her four annoying classmates, and two offbeat adults were standing in what was left of the lost continent of Atlantis and they were supposed to be the Timekeepers, the legendary time travelers handpicked by destiny to keep Earth’s history safe from evil. But no one had told them how they were supposed to do it.

Their problem: no matter what happened—good or bad—they weren’t supposed to mess with the past. Period. Dot. End of story. Amanda felt hot liquid build in her throat. Her thumb traced the words of the arcane riddle. Their first Timekeeper mission. Amanda knew this wasn’t the end of the story.

This was just the beginning.

To read more of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis or purchase a copy, please click a vendor’s name
Mirror World PublishingAmazon USAmazon CA

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Mirror World Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books.


Cuisine queen, Sloane Taylor has the answers to meal times.

My guest author today is the talented Sloane Taylor who regularly posts delicious meals  on her Wednesday blogspot.   

Are you  one of those people who stare at the fridge blankly wondering  what the heck are we  going to eat tonight ?  Over to you Sloane…

Once in a great while I’m compelled to cook a Sunday afternoon sit-down dinner like the one mom used to make. These aren’t her recipes, but they are close. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Braised Pork Loin
Mashed Potatoes
Homemade Applesauce
Steamed Asparagus
Crisp White Wine

Braised Pork Loin

3 – 4 lb. boneless pork loin
3 tbsp. lard or solid shortening
2 med. onions, peeled and sliced
1 lg. shallot, peeled and sliced
2 med. carrots, scraped and chopped
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
¾ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Melt lard in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Adjust the heat so as not to burn any part of the roast.

Set the meat on a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Sauté onions until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Return the roast to the pot along with any accumulated juices on the plate. Cover tightly and braise in the center of the oven for 1½ hours or until a sharp knife inserts easily.

Set the roast on a cutting board and tent with foil. Skim fat from the braising liquid. Strain the liquid and vegetables through a sieve, pressing down hard with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible before discarding the pulp.

Slice the pork into serving pieces and lay them on a platter. Moisten meat with a little of the sauce. Pour the remainder in a gravy boat and serve on the side.

Mashed Potatoes

1 small russet potato per person
Chicken stock
Sour cream
Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish

Pour one inch chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by one inch. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 – 25 minutes. They are done when a fork inserts easily into a potato.

Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in the milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

Homemade Applesauce

6 lg apples cored, peeled, and coarsely sliced*
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ tbsp. soft butter

Combine all ingredients except butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer 15 – 20 minutes or until apples mash easily with a fork.

Stir in the butter.

Mash with a potato masher. For a smoother texture pour the sauce into a blender or food processor and puree for a minute or so.

Turn into a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe also freezes well.

*Mix it up with a variety of apples to improve the flavor. Use six different types

Steamed Asparagus

Photo by SOMMAI

1 bunch asparagus
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 tbsp. butter
Metal vegetable steamer

Add chicken stock and dry vermouth or wine to a medium size saucepan. Insert vegetable steamer, then add water to just below the bottom holes.

Snap off the ends of the asparagus and trim the spears to fit your saucepan. Add spears and cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, adjusting the heat to a strong simmer. In 4-5 minutes the asparagus should be crisp tender.

Lay asparagus in a serving bowl. Spread the butter over them and serve.

I’m already looking for leftovers!

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor currently has five explicit romance books released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Excerpts from her books can be found on her website, blog, and all popular vendors.

Subscribe to Sloane’s newsletter. Connect with Taylor on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Meet Carol Browne – the wordsmith

Ever wondered why your manuscript still hangs on to those silly mistakes even after you have checked it for the hundredth time?  Today my talented guest is the formidable wordsmith  Carol Browne, who gives us an insight into her proofreading career.

by Carol Browne

In my working life I wear many hats. Those worn by the writer and the proofreader you would assume to be created by the same milliner, but they are mutually exclusive. This is one of many reasons why we all need proofreaders.

No time for false modesty because I know I’m a very good proofreader—in fact, your actual grammar Nazi—and I have a particular talent for spotting typos. You would think, therefore, that when I do my own writing, I would eliminate errors as I go along, like a highly efficient chef who leaves the kitchen clean and tidy while producing a gourmet meal. But no. I make silly errors that are clearly brain glitches, like putting “at” instead of “as.” When you write or type, the hand is often quicker than the eye, but the brain leaves them both at the starting gate and chaos ensues.

When I proofread my writing and then ask my beta-reader for her opinion, I expect she will find errors I have missed. This happens when you are an author because you are too close to your work, too involved with it, to be able to step back and see the flaws. The brain often sees what it expects to see. So when it expects to see “its” but by mistake you have written “it’s”, the brain will continue to see “its” until hell freezes over. This inability to be objective is another reason why you need a proofreader.

Many words and phrases in everyday speech are used incorrectly and a good proofreader will know this. “Bored of”, for example, is a recent colloquialism and not (yet) acceptable in formal English. You can be bored by or with something but never bored of it. Another common mistake is to write “should of” instead of “should have”, which is an example of people writing words as they hear them. So, correcting erroneous usage is another reason why you need a proofreader.

Some people you just can’t help, however. A local business continues to advertise its computers and “assessories” two years after I tactfully pointed out the (common) misspelling. Grammar Nazis are frequently resisted, but resistance is futile if you want your business to look professional.

We all make mistakes, hit the wrong key without realizing it, and have misconceptions about grammar and spelling. (I’ll admit here to my eternal shame that before I became a proofreader, I used “shalln’t” instead of “shan’t”. Unbelievable.)

Using a proofreader doesn’t mean you are inadequate, it means you care about what you’ve written. It means you want your book, CV, assignment, trade ad, blog, etc. to be as flawless as possible, particularly if something important, like a job or qualification, depends on the finished product.

Don’t rely on the spellchecker either. If you’ve typed “there” when you meant “their” or “sort” instead of “sought”, you need a human proofreader to catch those bad boys because a spellchecker will give you ten out of ten for spelling every time.

Experienced proofreaders tend to be knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects. My work covers topics as diverse as photography, education, nursing and psychology. They are good at research and have a sixth sense for knowing if a word is right, wrong, or should be queried. Sometimes you need a proofreader to save you from embarrassment, too. I’m sure the Polish friend who made this particular mistake won’t mind me mentioning it, but putting “bottom” instead of “button” mushrooms did give me an interesting image to giggle at. Meanwhile, my local village shop should have used a proofreader, but instead chose to display a printed sign asking customers to “bare with us” during renovations.

I’m hoping this is an error-free blog but, if not, I blame it on the fact that I wore my writer’s hat during its composition. Meanwhile my proofreading business has undergone a reboot on Facebook. Please drop by and say hello. All Likes gratefully received!

High praise for Carol’s latest book that is a beautiful anthology of poems and short stories.

No one says it better than Amazon reviewer, faeriemoonmama, who describes the book as “atmospheric”:

“The poetry is steeped in a love of nature, magic and mythology. The short stories hold interesting twists. No spoilers! The Boomerang Effect (dabbling with a love spell, Martin Nevis finds himself having second thoughts) A Force to Be Reckoned With (an outcast with thoughts of being “destined for something great” wants to join the police force) and Transformation (once bullied, Patricia attends a school reunion and emerges victorious) were my favorites.

Give this collection a read, you won’t be disappointed.”

Read more on Amazon.

Carol Browne regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honors degree in English Language and Literature. Carol writes speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also a ghost blog writer, proofreader, copy editor, and copywriter. Along with a passion for gardening, Carol is an avid animal lover.

Carol lives in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky.Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Do authors manipulate readers? – Vonnie Hughes explains.

Today  I welcome  from down under Vonnie Hughes who is the author of some great Regency and contemporary novels.  She answers a very intriguing question.

Over to you Vonnie.

Do authors manipulate readers?

by Vonnie Hughes

You bet they do! Authors know what buttons to push.

By ‘what buttons to push’ I mean what buttons do authors use to manipulate (yep, being honest) their readers’ emotions, to get them on side with the characters in their books. For example, perhaps the author creates unlikeable, evil antagonists and emphasizes the sterling qualities of his protagonists.

The most obvious ploy is the ticking clock. It not only lends urgency but it yanks the reader along at a rush, keeping him intrigued.

Then there’s characterization. Of course in this dynamic world, what worked ten years ago may not have the same appeal in 2014. The innocent 1960s virgin, so prevalent in romances of that time, would drive a reader from 2014 to drink. We are much more cynical, well-informed and downright demanding than we were then. Historically though, some classics retain their appeal because they are much more than the sum of their characters’ emotions. To Kill A Mockingbird’s racial tensions are still not outmoded today, and that lazy description of the syrupy south’s inbred attitudes is not far from the truth in some out-of-the-way places. And that is why books like these are classics. They endure not just because of the characters in the books but because of the settings and historical attitudes. And Harper Lee manipulated the readers’ emotions. Think of the way she pushes Scout’s lack of desire to be a ‘lady’ so that the reader is on Scout’s side.

Perhaps today’s writers manipulate the readers in more subtle ways. What of Dick Francis’s heroes who are often of the working class up against a criminal upper class or just up against class bigotry where he is on the outside looking in? Dick Francis does that so well that even if the protagonist is not your usual Everyman, the reader is still very much on his side. That’s right. The modern protagonist need not be a perfect hero as he has been in novels and movies of the past. Some have patchy backgrounds and they’ve made mistakes.

There’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher who thrums a string in every male heart. They all want to be Jack with his freedom and lack of possessions but with an innate sense of responsibility. And of course Jack has been in the military and knows how to handle himself in vicious situations. Every man’s dream. There are a lot of wannabe Jacks out there. And Lee knows how to manipulate those readers.

Tami Hoag’s heroines are believably imperfect. They make mistakes and have hang-ups that readers can empathise with and they frequently have to form alliances with people they don’t trust. There’s that little brush of reality that lends credence to the stories.

So…empathy and sympathy are the buttons. And the harder those buttons are pushed by authors and movie makers, the more a reader/viewer becomes invested in the characters. We need to see how the protagonists get themselves out of a bind, or if the evil antagonists get their come-uppance. And the best books of all are where you know darned well that the author is pushing your buttons, but you just don’t care. The book is so good!


Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Win a paperback copy of Rebellious Cargo.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The frigate was his life. It was her nightmare.

Rebellious Cargo by Susan Lodge

Rebellious Cargo

by Susan Lodge

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Thank you for visiting my blog and  I hope you will take part in the Goodreads Book Giveaway, to win a signed copy of Rebellious Cargo.

Jane Charlesworth has no intention of trusting the Admiralty ever again. Not after the last time.

Sparks fly on the quarter deck as Captain and code-breaker embark on a dangerous voyage.

Please click here if you would like to read a review, or the first pages of Rebellious Cargo.  

Click here  if you would like to read about Jane’s first three days on Captain Marston’s ship, from her  Behind the scenes diary.

And finally, I would be delighted  if you visited my website  susanlodge.com   or my facebook page.








The Alternative CV – Quick fire questions for authors.

Today I am delighted to welcome to ‘The Alternative CV’ UK multi published author, Ailsa Abraham.12899979_603684189783591_1253017068_n

Hi Ailsa.  Make yourself comfortable, help yourself to a  custard cream, kick off your shoes and tell us all …

One quality you have which other people who know you might question?

I am totally consumed by self-doubt. I come across as bold and brave – I am not

A fictional character you fantasise over/ fell in love with? (One of your own preferably.)

Iamo, obviously. The lead male character in my Alchemy series – but I am also very fond of Jack and Rory although they are gay so my hopes with them are zero.

One item you would consign to Room 101?

Phones on public transport, either people yelling down them or using them make the rest of the world disappear. Very rude

One line that sums up your WIP this week?

Still on hold while I recover.

One sentence that sums up your thoughts about social media?

An occasional pain in the backside through which I have made very many real friends and near-family.

Kindle, tablet or paperback. Which one do you go to bed with and why?
Mainly Kindle but if I love a book I buy the paperback to keep for always.

One thing lurking on your writing desk that shouldn’t be there?
Just one? Ahahahah – OK, a collection of adorable much-loved, charming geegaws like a robot pencil sharpener, several waving cats etc etc.

Waving cats !  That’s different. And I agree with you about phones. 

Now readers I need to explain that  the intrepid Ailsa has had her head shaved  for the Macmillan cancer fund raising event – BRAVE THE SHAVE . Here are the after and before pictures. 

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She is still taking contributions, so if you would if you like to support her with this very worthy cause, here are the links. https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Ailsa-Abraham2

Now, lets have a  quick  taster of  Ailsa’s  lastest books.
Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum  are published by Crooked Cat Publishing

515bNcrrwIL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_A world without war?
Professor Sawhele Fielding stumbles across an invention that would change the world; something so monumental, it could spell the end of environmental disaster and conflict. With the help of her father, a shadowy figure in the world of international banking, she begins to set into motion the biggest upheaval the planet has seen.
But in a changed world, dark forces are threatening the fragile peace. Where modern technology is proving useless, old magic from a bygone era might just save the day. Adrian Oliver, expert in ancient religions is skeptical until faced with incontrovertible proof that ancient evil is abroad once again.
How could a Utopian dream of free fuel and peaceful co-existence turn into a nightmare?

51eTP0WPH9L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_England in the near future.
Mainstream religions have been outlawed, and the old gods rule again.
Iamo has been a priest of the Great Mother and is sworn to celibacy, but his love for Riga, a Black Shaman, a magical assassin, caused him to break his vows. After being imprisoned apart from each other for three years, Iamo accepts an offer to earn them both a pardon and the possibility of marriage. If they survive.

Iamo and Riga must discover why demons are breaking through from the other side. Which of the cults are renegades who allow the demons through? Who can they trust?
Combining their powers, they face the ordeal with the help of a band of eclectic pagans, spirit creatures, Riga’s Black Shaman brothers, an undercover Christian granny, and three unusually energetic Goths.
It’s a tough assignment, but the hope of a life together keeps them fighting

  Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

    When Nanny Ab and The Ancient Mariner (not forgetting the faithful hounds) decide to look for a peaceful spot for her to write in the sun, they head for their usual hide-away in Spain. It’s June, they know the place and the only thing Nanny knows she’s forgotten is her hairdryer. So what can possibly go wrong?


More about Ailsa

Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France since 1990 and is married with no children but six grandchildren. Her passion is motorbikes which have taken the place of horses in her life now that ill-health prevents her riding. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn’t have all those, I’d have to work for a living, instead of being an author, which is much more fun.”. Her ambition in life is to keep breathing. She has no intention of stopping writing.

You can catch up with Ailsa at –

Twitter – @ailsaabraham

Facebook – Ailsa Abraham

Amazon Author Page

Thank you for being a lovely guest Ailsa !