Book #Reviews! @JoanHallWrites @harmony_kent @WendyWrites1 @judypost

I have had a month of fabulous reading and want to share the cream of the crop!

Blurb:

Bounty hunters come to Muddy River to capture its amiable bartender, Derek Fang, Raven Black, a demon and the town’s enforcer, warns them off because the vampire hasn’t committed any crime. But a succubus who was Derek’s lover centuries ago has finally found him and wants him back–enough to pay big money to whoever brings him to her–alive.

MY REVIEW:

This is book 5 in the Muddy River Mystery series and although I haven’t read the other books in the series, I was not at all lost reading this segment of the story. Muddy River is a town inhabited solely by supernatural characters. Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Demons make up the population. In this segment of the story, Derek, a Vampire is hunted by a succubus who wants him back as her plaything and will stop at nothing to get him. I love how the town comes together to protect one of their own. I won’t give away the plot but will say the story is a page-turner and a quick read. If you love paranormal activity, believable characters, and plenty of action, you will love this story! Great world-building!

Blurb:

When celebrated international purse designer, Katherine Watson, hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day’s headline to read: ‘Murder at the Gala Premiere.’ But after a dead body is found during the event, that’s exactly what happened. Working to solve the murder, Katherine matches wits with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner, Hobbs. Although Holmes and Watson disagree often, they discover an undeniable attraction building between them. But they’ll have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer’s next knock off.

MY REVIEW:

This story is a well-written whodunit mystery that also includes some fascinating history about purses. When Katherine, a world-famous purse designer, comes back to her hometown of Bayside to establish a purse museum in their old victorian family home, things could not go more awry. Her best friend, the mayor of the small town, is murdered at the museum’s opening gala. The list of suspects is long and Katherine doesn’t trust the police to find the real murderer. So, she begins her own investigation which leads her into danger more than once. Policeman, Jason and his K-9 Hobbs become an integral part of the story along with many other characters. I loved Katherine’s eccentric mother, Moonjava. She embodied the sixties hippy image and although she came across as being flighty, when it counted the most, she stepped up to the plate. Katherine’s grandmother was another unforgettable character. So who murdered Brenda? Her husband, Russ? A pushy reporter? Someone on the City Council? A crime novelist? The list grows as Katherine digs deeper into discovering the identity of the killer. If you love a cozy mystery with bits of humor thrown in, you will enjoy this story. The author did a great job of keeping the identity of the murderer hidden until the end of the book.

Blurb:

Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees with the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.

MY REVIEW:

I thoroughly enjoyed this short story and wanted it to continue. It all starts with a beautiful one-hundred-year-old Victorian home in a small town in northern New Mexico. I fell in love with the town, the people, and the house in this introduction to the Madeira Legends series. This close-knit community has everything you’d expect to find in a small town, from friendly neighbors, to children who play on the streets until after dark, to mystery and intrigue. And the house is the center of attention.
Ruth Hazleton and her husband Lee move to Madeira after Lee lands the job as Chief of Police. I really related to Ruth’s character. She is friendly, outgoing, and caring. She is the lady that bakes cookies for the neighborhood children, organizes Easter egg hunts, and decorates for every holiday. Set in the sixties, the author weaves historical events throughout this short story, from the Kennedy assassinations to the first Apollo landing on the moon and the break-up of The Beatles. She makes the story believable along with the characters and the mystery surrounding the old house. Could the house truly be cursed? I cannot wait to find out! I enjoyed that the author put the first chapter from the first novel in the series at the end of this short story. It whets my appetite for more. I highly recommend this if you love a good mystery set in a believable small town with unforgettable characters.

Blurb:

It’s so remote out here. Anything could happen …

A missed phone call in the night is all it takes.

When Carole’s 18-year-old son goes missing, she breaks into Jayden’s laptop to try to understand his life.

All too soon, Carole discovers just how little she knew her boy.

And when one lead after another dead-ends, the distraught mother has to face the unthinkable.

Sucked into a sticky web of deceit and lies, nothing is as it seems.

When your life turns inside out and upside down, who would you trust?

MY REVIEW:

Talk about a nail-biter! This story begins with some backstory that is essential to what happens as the main story begins. Carole lost her husband, Harvey, to cancer. That left only her and their son, Jayden. As the story begins, Carole is texting with eighteen-year-old Jayden about when he’ll be home. Even though he’s of age, she still worries. After all, he is her entire world. She makes the mistake of taking sleeping pills with wine before going to bed that night. She missed the calls and frantic text from her son. And, he never made it home. Guilt-ridden and terrified, she searches everywhere for him and comes up empty-handed. Finally, she involves law enforcement. The author not only shows this mother’s terror, but she also places you right inside it with her. I sat with Carole as she scrolls through page after page of social media looking for any clues as to where Jayden might be. As she continues her frantic search, she is mortified to realize she knows little of her son’s life. She’s been so locked into her years of grief that she’s shut him out. I won’t go into details, but over a period of five days, Carole moves from one horrific moment and event to the next. The only thing keeping her going is her favorite Macchiato coffee and knowing in her heart that her son is still alive somewhere. I was on the edge of my seat through this entire story and devoured it as fast as possible just to find out what happened. Talk about a shock! If you love a psychological roller-coaster and don’t have a weak heart, I highly recommend this story! While the numerous scenes of Carole sitting at her table and making yet another coffee became repetitious, it was not enough to deter me from finding out the ending to this tale. It depicts a parent’s worst nightmare in a visual and emotive way.

I only post 4 and 5 star reviews. I highly recommend any or ALL of these books!

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Excerpt from a previous books 2021 – #BiographicalFiction – Flowers and Stone by Jan Sikes

I am so thrilled to be a featured guest on Sally Cronin’s wonderful blog today with my first book, “Flowers and Stone!” Many heartfelt thanks to Sally!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

We put a great deal of effort into promoting our new, recent and upcoming books but often our previous releases get sidelined.

In this latest series I am offering authors in theCafe and Bookstorea chance to promote an earlier book (not your most recent) by sharing an excerpt from the book of 500 words. At the end of the post you can find out how to participate.

Today Jan Sikes shares and excerpt from the first book in an biographical fiction series Flowers and Stone

About the book

The epic love story begins here!

A hot Texas summer, dim-lit honky-tonk bars, a young naïve fledgling go-go dancer and a wild rebel Texas musician set the stage for this story.

1970 in Abilene, Texas finds young Darlina Flowers trying to figure out how to fit into the world she is most attracted to – the nightlife, live music and…

View original post 1,509 more words

#TuesdayRunes – Isa

Welcome to another segment of our journey through the Elder Futhark script runes!

Set of Wooden Runes made by Jan Sikes

Today’s Runic Symbol is Isa (ee-sah).

The Isa Rune handmade by Jan Sikes

The word, Isa, translates to ice. The keywords associated with the rune are: obstacles, standstill, stagnation, delay and coldness.

This is the exact opposite of our Tarot Reading yesterday, but remember this is not a reading. It’s simply a study of each rune from start to finish.

Isa is the third rune in the Hagal’s Aett, and the third in a row to carry a predominantly negative meaning.

As a representation of frozen water, Isa signifies a lack of movement, which is likely frustrating. There may be physical circumstances blocking our progress, a loss of energy, or mental blocks that you cannot see past in order to move forward.

It can also indicate a delay, and it is best to accept this as a reality in your current situation, instead of pushing against it. Know that the sun will eventually return to melt the block of ice and allow water to flow freely again.

In the meantime, take advantage of this still, static energy to practice focusing on the present moment. Meditation is highly useful now as it can help dissipate frustration and take your focus off of things you can’t control.

The main thing to remember when this rune shows up is that you don’t give up on your ambition or assume that a delay won’t work out. If there’s anything you can do to prepare for making progress once it becomes possible, put your energy there.

So, as always, there is a positive spin on what could be perceived as negative.

In the context of relationships, Isa can point to emotional coldness between people. Affection may be lacking and communication may have come to a standstill. I passionate romance may be cooling off.

One other aspect of this rune to note: The transparency of ice can also signify clarity. Evaluating your circumstances from a cool, emotionally detached viewpoint may prove helpful, which is another positive aspect of Isa.

The birthdays associated with Isa are November 28th – December 13th.

Monday #Motivation #Meditation #TarotReading

Good morning. It’s another Monday and the beginning of a brand new week. The thought expressed in this image struck me as profound and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Created in Canva by Jan Sikes

For our Monday Meditation, I’ve chosen something a little different. This meditation is a few minutes longer than what I’ve been posting, but still under 15 minutes. It is filled with affirmations guaranteed to uplift you!

And now for our Tarot Reading to set the tone for the week ahead.

Tarot Reading 4-26-21 by Jan Sikes

The Six of Swords is indicative of some sort of a transition. But the thing to note here is that the woman and child in the boat are receiving assistance with the passage. It can indicate leaving behind what is familiar and moving toward the unknown. But again, not alone. The Chariot is often looked at as the card of travel, but it is multi-dimensional in that it shows great willpower, determination and strength. It can be taken as a sign of encouragement, and in this reading following the Six of Swords, shows strength to leave behind the familiar and move toward the unknown with confidence and strength. But, without any doubt, it is an action card. It is not a time to be passive, but to move forward with purpose. The Knight of Cups is a beautiful outcome card indicating love and compassion pouring through you. It can also indicate the opening of creative expression, as well as possible new relationships coming into your life. So, in conclusion, the cards are telling us to leave behind the familiar with strength and confidence and look forward to new relationships or creativity. I don’t know about you, but I love this and am excited to see what’s ahead over the next few days!

Make it a great week and thank you for joining in!

Twelve Years Ago Today

One of my favorite pictures taken at the Horseshoe Casino in April, 2006. It was the first time Rick had seen Willie Nelson in over thirty years, and what a reunion that was!

I woke up this morning with my heart in a vice. How, after twelve years, can the pain still be so severe? Exactly twelve years ago today, I brought Rick home from the hospital after signing the hospice papers to end his life. They put him into a drug-induced coma – or so we thought.

With our living room converted into a makeshift hospital room, the only difference from the many prior weeks was that after all the healthcare folks and friends left, I was alone totally responsible for his care. No problem. I’d been doing that for a long time.

But that night was different. He was restless. I understood he’d left a plethora of things undone and I also understood that he knew he was home. He kept trying to get off the bed to go tend to whatever was nagging at him. Thank goodness he was so weak, he couldn’t really accomplish getting up, but I spent that entire night trying to soothe him.

I’m sure the hospice people gave me instructions, but all I remember was I was to put a certain number of morphine pills under his tongue every four hours. And despite doing that, still he wasn’t completely under.

West Texas sunrise

Finally, as the sun started to rise, weary, I called the hospice number and asked for some help. Little did I know I could have called them hours earlier.

They came an hour or so later and gave him stronger drugs that put him completely under. But even all these years later, I can recall every agonizing minute spent that night. Never had I felt so helpless. Besides dealing with the reality that he was leaving, I had to manage the guilt of letting him suffer so long before asking for help.

Well, truth be told, I still deal with a lot of guilt. If only I had known then what I know now about oils and gemstones, I could have made his crossing easier.

Beneficial oils and gemstones Jan Sikes 4-25-21

But one thing I know for sure – you can never go back in life. You have this moment. And for me, it is imperative that I do the best I can with my current knowledge to live the best life possible in the now.

If you are still lucky enough to have your loved one with you, lean over and hug them, kiss them and tell them how much you love them. Don’t put it off.

I will be reliving those days that followed as this week unfolds, but most of it became a blur. Friends and family gathered. Someone forced food down me. I slept only snippets at a time. I’m not going to relive every part of the memory with you, but I will share a couple of significant events that all ended around 4 am on May 1st.

Never forgotten. Ever missed.

This is a story of inspiration, endurance and most of all undying love. When Luke and Darlina face life-altering situations that would destroy a lesser man and woman, they draw on each other’s strength and determination to face them.

Tina Lost In A Crowd – #NewRelease #ChildrensBook @mhurdle112 #BookTour Day 5

I am super excited to share this new children’s book from Miriam Hurdle on my blog today!

Hi Jan, I’m delighted to be on the beautiful blog of a fellow musician. Thank you so much for your generosity to host my Book Release Tour and allow me to share my process from pen to publication with your readers.

The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd, Part 5

Finding an Illustrator

I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). On one blog post, it featured an illustrator and her work. I liked the style of her artworks, so I contacted her and got an idea of how much she would charge for the number of pages in my book and how long it would take to complete the job.

Some blogging friends recommended some websites with illustration services, and I checked them out. The illustrators charged by hours. They didn’t have a portfolio with sample artworks, so I couldn’t tell if I liked their style.

After much search and consideration, my decision was to search for an illustrator on fiverr.com. I could see the services they provide and their sample work. Some would provide limited, and some unlimited revisions.

I do watercolor painting and wish to illustrate my book, but I don’t do portrait painting. There are thousands of gigs out there, and it would take forever to scroll through all the pages to find one. I narrowed it down to watercolor, and children’s illustration, and got 660 services. It took me six months to find one I liked. I paid for one sample page and when I ordered the rest, it became part of my entire book.

After I accepted the sample page, I sent the story summary and the description of each page to her. She then sent me a few sketches at a time. I gave her my feedback and suggestions. She revised them and sent them to me. Sometimes I respected her creativity and approved them. But if they didn’t correspond with the story, I asked for further revisions until they were done to my satisfaction. It was a pleasant experience working with Victoria Skakandi.

Blurb

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children about the situations to help them develop problem-solving skills.

Purchase Links

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091M586M7

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w?ean=2940162309741

MY REVIEW:

This children’s story portrays a real-life situation and a lesson. It is a book that parents and children alike will enjoy reading and you never know, it could save a child’s life. Tina is making plans with her mother for summer activities, as school will soon be out. When her mother informs Tina they will be going to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, she asks to bring her best friend along. Not long after arriving at the huge stadium, the girls need to go to the restroom. On the way, they get disoriented and can’t find the restrooms or their parents. What happens next is such a great lesson for parents and children. I won’t spoil the story by giving it away, but I will say that I highly recommend the book for anyone with young children, or for grandparents to share with children. The illustrations are outstanding and the book is well-written.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Contact Miriam at –

Website/Blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhurdle112

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miriam-Hurdle-Author-100123351515424

A Huge #Giveaway! And it’s #FREE to enter! @Booksweeps

I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in a huge giveaway through BookSweeps!

I’ve teamed up with 30+fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Steamy & Erotic Romances to 2 lucky winners!

Oh, and did I mention the Grand Prize winner gets a BRAND NEW eReader? 😁You can win my novel GHOSTLY INTERFERENCE, plus books from authors like Sharon Hamilton and Krista Wolf. Enter the giveaway by clicking here 👉bit.ly/SteamyRom-Apr21

There is no catch. It costs NOTHING to enter! All you have to do to throw your name in the hat is follow a handful of authors on BookBub. Not hard at all!

And one of the prizes is a new eReader!

Essential Details:

Contest Title: Steamy & Erotic Romance BookBub Follower PromoContest

Dates: April 12 –28, 2021

Contest Link: https://www.booksweeps.com/giveaway/april-2021/steamy-erotic-romance/

So, please follow me on BookBub and share this everywhere!! Thank you!

#Tuesday Runes – Nauthiz

Welcome to another segment of the study of The Elder Futhark Runes!

Today’s Runic Symbol is Nauthiz (Now-theez).

The keywords associated with this rune are: Need, necessity, scarcity, absence, restriction and have patience.

Nauthiz signifies hardship in the form of one’s needs not being met. This could indicate poverty, hunger, unemployment, lack of good health or lack of emotional support.

The rune stave represents the “need-fire” ritual fire lit from two large beams of wood that ancient Northern Europeans would light in times of extreme hardship or disaster, such as a famine or outbreak of fatal disease.

When this rune shows up in a reading, it can indicate that you may be experiencing a hardship that limits your ability to move forward or live comfortably, or a strong desire that appears impossible to fulfill. It could be that the possibilities are restricted due to your lack of resources and you are likely chafing at the constraints and/or becoming disheartened

The advice of this rune is to treat the situation as a period of learning. and an opportunity to strengthen your resilience. No one enjoys a hardship while it’s happening but when we look back on the experiences that made us who we are, generally at least a few of them were unpleasant.

Never allow bitterness, worry or despair to get the best of you, but rather use your gifts and talents to find ways to get your needs met. Remember that needs and limitations are necessary for growth, as we would never learn or accomplish anything significant if we always had everything we needed or wanted all the time.

Nauthiz may also be a warning not to get too greedy or obsessed with an unhealthy desire, which can lead to destructive behaviors and negative consequences. If you have been focusing too heavily on the material world, this is a sign to go within and tend to your spiritual development.

This rune can serve as a protection symbol. It can also help you maintain equanimity in difficult circumstances or activate magical workings focused on attraction or increase.

Again, this rune can be viewed in a positive light in that it can serve as a warning and offer protection.

The birthdates associated with this rune are November 13th to November 28th.

Monday #Motivation #Meditation #TarotReading

Welcome to another start to a new work week. It is my hope that you find some inspiration to lift you as you begin. I loved these words of wisdom from Sue Vincent. They struck a chord with me.

The Eyes of others may see beyond the insecurities that keep us blind to ourselves. A quote from Sue Vincent. Meme created by Jan Sikes

Our meditation this week is all about the practice of gratitude. Enjoy!

And now for our message from the Tarot cards for the upcoming week.

Tarot Card reading by Jan Sikes for week of April 19, 2021.
Tarot Card Reading by Jan Sikes 4-19-21

The King of Swords is a powerfully energetic card, as are the three cards which follow him. The suit of Swords represents the intellect. Being the highest card in the suit, the King is a symbol of intellectual power and authority and has the courage and acumen to achieve all that he desires. He indicates the opportunity for clarity and an objective point of view. He can also represent a person of authority that you might call on for expert advice.

The Wands are representative of our spirituality, intuition and creativity. The Ace is always some new beginning, new idea, new inspiration or new project. Just look at the force with which the hand is protruding through the cloud to bring an enlightened vision or idea. The Eight of Wands is all about movement. There is no standing still! It is a dynamic high-energy card pushing you forward with the idea the Ace brings. You can expect to be very busy. 🙂 Determine what you want to manifest and then align all of your resources and energy to focus on that singular goal. Remove all distractions and devote yourself to the task with total concentration, determination and will. This experience can be highly productive, allowing you to accomplish a lot in a short time.

There you go! Make this week productive, positive and filled with clarity!

See you next week!

Words Have Power

Hello, authors! Do you ever find yourself writing a scene where your characters are having a steaming cup of coffee and suddenly have a craving for one yourself? Or, what if your characters are sharing a luscious ice cream sundae? Doesn’t that make you want one?

Why is that?

Because Words Have Power!

It is our job as writers to use those words in the best way possible not only to communicate an idea, but emotions and scenes.

The use of gestures and body language predates spoken language. Many researchers believe this form of communicating began at least four million years ago. When we speak today, we still use gestures and body language to supplement our communication. Often, we unconsciously use body language for at least 55% of all communication. I have always said, if you tied my hands, I wouldn’t be able to speak. 🙂

So what does all of that have to do with writing? Simple. By implementing the use of body language along with strong words in writing our stories (especially dialogue) we can tell our readers tons of information about the person speaking. For instance, if someone crosses their arms across their chest, it shows an act of defiance, or taking a defensive stance. Clenched fists, can portray anger. Picking at an imaginary thread on clothing shows restlessness or anxiety. You get the idea.

But I want to talk more about the words themselves. The language we use today still has words that were formulated sixty-five thousand years ago to describe the feelings and emotions that were emerging from the middle brain’s polarity thinking. If we consciously change our language, we can change the course of an entire story or life.

High-energy words accompany high-energy thoughts and vice-versa. So, in choosing words through which to tell our stories, we can set a tone from the get-go. If we are writing a scene where one of the characters is vile, we would want to use power words to get that point across. Maybe he has a permanent sneer on his face or a long scar running down one cheek. Words like deadly, poison, deceiving, death, dark or toxic might convey his demeanor. Of course, to show someone happy, and light-hearted would require opposite words.

And that leads me into the next transition. Words have power so why not choose power words when we are writing?

Power words are are persuasive, descriptive words that trigger a positive or negative emotional response. They can make us feel scared, encouraged, aroused, angry, greedy, safe, or curious. Make sense?

Here are a few examples:

Notice that all of these words are action verbs. Verbs determine when something happens, in the past, present or in the future. They set the tense of your story.

So, the next time you sit down at the keyboard, pay attention to the words you are typing. Are they weak words like felt, thought, saw, walked, etc? Or, are you using power words that pack a punch and get to the heart of the emotion?

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about using power words in your writing?