Friday Free-For-All – Holiday Wrap-up – Video Game

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday celebration! I enjoyed spending time with my family. We started our holiday celebration at the Dallas Zoo lights, then extended it to a trip to the Gaylord Texan for the Cirque Celebration show. Wow! That was totally amazing. This is all of us (except for the son-in-law).

And now we are marching toward a brand new year. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions and haven’t in a very long time. Instead, I choose a word that will resonate throughout the year. For 2022, my word was “Believe.” We’ll see what 2023 brings. I think I know because it keeps popping up everywhere but waiting to make sure.

I’ve enjoyed my blogging and social media break. I know I’ve missed some of your wonderful blogs, but this is a gift I have to give myself now and then to avoid burnout.

2022 has been an interesting year. I released two novels through Wild Rose Press, and they have been well-received with a good amount of 4 and 5-star review ratings.

PURCHASE LINK

I am SO grateful to the readers and reviewers. Often, writers say they write for themselves, but at the end of the day, we are lying if we don’t acknowledge that we want others to read and enjoy our work.

I have finished the first draft of “A Beggar’s Bargain.” My goal was to finish it by the end of 2022. I don’t know what I want to do with it yet, but I don’t think I’ll be submitting it to Wild Rose Press. The story is about hard times, forced circumstances, rebuilding, and surviving in 1947. I originally thought this would be a standalone novel, but now I have an idea for a second story in the same setting.

I’m still working on the logline for “A Beggar’s Bargain,” but this is what I have so far: Desperate to save the ancestral farm, Layken Martin bargains for a wife he’s never met and a future unimagined.

This story is so different from anything I’ve written so far, and creating it was fun. The biggest challenge was staying true to the time period and the setting of rural Missouri.

A title for this new series that keeps coming around to me is The Bargainer’s Series. We’ll see if that sticks.

On a very different subject, the video game adapted from Ghostly Interference is now live on Chapter Interactive Games.

As you can see, they changed the title. But they also changed the entire storyline. If you’ve read Ghostly Interference, you know that Jag Peters is a computer geek, and Rena Jett works as a waitress in a diner. In the game, they have Rena as a singer auditioning for a position in a rock band where Jag is the lead guitar player. Uh, not even close to my story. But oh well, it’s out there, and who knows. It may lead to book sales, but I really kinda doubt it. This is totally new and uncharted territory for me.

I wrapped up my Book Marketing Series at Story Empire. If you missed my wrap-up, you can find it here. I’ll be heading in a totally new direction for posts in 2023, exploring different ways to include metaphysical things in writing. I’m looking forward to this as it encompasses two of my life’s passions. If you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet, you are missing out on a wonderful resource for writers! You can subscribe here.

On another different and interesting note, I received a report from YouTube that I don’t recall ever seeing before. They called it 2022 In A Snapshot. I had a total of 629 views, 620 watch time minutes, 26 total likes, and 7 new subscribers. The top viewed videos were: Picasso or Picture Jasper‌

Saddled Hearts Book Trailer

Hundred Miles of River – Rick Sikes

I will be selecting my Top Ten Best Reads for 2022 soon. Choosing just ten will be difficult and the most challenging by far, as I’ve read 95 books, and SO many of them were fabulous. However, I’ll give it my best shot. That will be coming in the first week of January. If you missed my Top Ten for 2021, here it is:

I’m toying with the idea of changing up my Monday Motivation posts. But don’t know yet what I want to do differently. I am waiting for the Universe to nudge me in the right direction. There will be no post this Monday, January 2nd, as I am still in holiday mode.

I look forward to promoting other authors and their books throughout the year ahead. That’s always a joy! So, if you have a new book releasing, I’m always happy to open my blog up to you for promotion.

As we close out 2022, let us reflect on the miracles that have happened for each of us. It’s so easy to focus on what went wrong when a slight shift in what we lend our energy to can create a whole new perspective—one that will lift us and bring a bit of peace.

Here’s wishing you a healthy, prosperous New Year ahead!!

Find The Moon – Book Blitz @LoneStarLit @PRPpress

 

FIND THE MOON
By Beth Fehlbaum

Young Adult / Social Issues / Family Issues
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Pages: 298 pages
Expected Publication Date: January 10, 2023

For as long as she can remember, Kylie Briscoe’s been searching for the moon even though she has no idea why it soothes her. Placed in an impossible situation by her mother, Kylie cries for help. It brings rescuers and a new life, but it feels more like a death sentence when she is separated from her three-year-old sister Aliza, the only person Kylie’s ever really loved.

Now she’s in tiny Patience, Texas, with her eccentric potty-mouthed grandmother, ever-patient stargazing grandfather, an uncle who reminds her a lot of a cop who terrified her during a drug bust, a herd of Norwegian Dwarf goats, their “guard donkeys,” and three canine roommates occupying Kylie’s former nursery.
When the authorities make a mistake that could cost her everything, Kylie must decide whether to tell the truth-all of it-in order to save herself and her sister.

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY FROM:

AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY!
Pre-order a copy of Find the Moon and enter the author’s giveaway! Three lucky winners will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, signed set of THE PATIENCE TRILOGY, and signed copy of BIG FAT DISASTER. Ends 12/30/2022. Visit Beth’s website for more information and to enter!

Beth Fehlbaum is the author of the young adult novels Find the Moon, Big Fat Disaster (on the Spirit of Texas-High School Reading List, 2014-2015), Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience (A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers), and Truth in Patience. With Dr. Matt E. Jaremko, Beth co-wrote the creative nonfiction book, Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. She is a high school English teacher. 

Authenticity, calling out hypocrisy, and finding one’s voice are frequent themes in Beth’s work, and they are absolutely essential themes in her life, as well. Beth has a B.A. in English, minor in secondary education, and an M.Ed. in reading. Beth is in-demand as an author-panelist, having presented/appeared at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, the American Library Association’s annual conference, YALSA, N.C.T.E./ALAN, and numerous YA book festivals. She’s a member of The Author’s Guild, SCBWI, Romance Writers of America, and the Texas Federation of Teachers.  She loves doing school visits and meeting teens, teachers, and librarians! 
Beth lives in the woods of East Texas in a house on a slice of family acreage. The home was built by her family over one very hot humid summer, a task she wishes never to repeat again. This sanctuary-of-sorts is lined by pine trees, and the woods are inhabited by raccoons, possums, and feral cats. All of these creatures appear to consider Beth their cat-food-providing goddess. There is no place she would rather be.

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This book hooked me from the first word to the last. The opening sentence, “This year will monumentally suck.” truly sets the tone for the story. It is told in first person through a teenager’s point of view, and the author did a fabulous job of making it so realistic I felt as though I was reading a true story.

Kylie Briscoe is only a teenager but has a huge responsibility. She does her best to take care of her little sister, Aliza, and protect her from their mother’s haphazard and dangerous lifestyle. With a mother who neglects to provide even the most basic needs for her children and who is immersed deeply in drug addiction, Kylie never knows what she will find at home after school each day.

On the day the book opens, she finds Aliza in the trailer home alone. At four, she shouldn’t be left alone, but it happens a lot. They find one can of Spaghettios, Aliza’s favorite, and Kylie feeds them. Then the mom shows up on the back of a motorcycle with a guy who is determined to collect what Kylie’s mother owes him for drugs. But it’s too much, and when her mother points to Kylie and says, “her first,” is when Kylie grabs Aliza and bolts.

What happens after that is heart-wrenching as Kylie has to deal with being separated from the one person in the world she loves, Aliza. Kylie is sent to Texas to live with grandparents she doesn’t know, while Aliza is sent to live with the man who is her legal father. The emotional turmoil both children face is powerful and difficult on every level. The wisdom and patience of the grandparents is exactly what it takes. The theme about the moon is scattered throughout the story and is the grandfather’s passion, which he had instilled in Kylie when she was but a toddler. And while Kylie doesn’t remember those days when she lived with them, the connection to the moon is strong. It’s where she finds comfort.

Having worked in Child Protective Services for a number of years, I related to this story on a deeply personal level. The author keeps it authentic, from the believable storyline and realistic dialogue to the failings of the organizations created to protect children and the aftermath issues abused and neglected children face. There is bad language in the story, so if that offends you, it may be a deal breaker. If you are sensitive to rape and child abuse situations, this book may be hard to read. But if you’re looking for a story that will linger with you long after you reach the end, this IS the book for you. I rooted for Kylie, Aliza, the grandparents, and Aliza’s father all the way. Healing will come slowly, but with patience and love, it will come. That is the hope the reader is left with. I give this book four stars and can highly recommend it!

My Christmas Wish For You

As we start the week leading up to Christmas, I will be offline for the most part, preparing for Christmas with my family, taking time to reflect on the year behind me, and having a vision for the year ahead.

So, I want to leave you with this Christmas wish from my heart to you. This says it all!

Merry Christmas!

Also, if you have any interest in taking a look at my book marketing research findings, I am at STORY EMPIRE today!

Not A Friday Free-For-All!

I hadn’t planned to do a post today because I am going to be away from the house most of the day. With the grandkids out of school, my days have gotten filled.

BUT…

Something over at N.N. Light’s Book Heaven happened that I absolutely had to share!

This kind of recognition is the fuel that keeps me going. But to have this book make a finalist list means more than the world to me. It came out in January of this year, and of the three books in The White Rune Series, this one got the least attention and reviews. I suppose it was the middle child syndrome. However, when I received a low-rated review for it from InD’Tale Magazine, my spirits sank. Perhaps I hadn’t done the story justice. Every doubt a writer can have crept in. So, you can understand why this accolade has me doing a happy dance.

When Vann Noble first showed up in Ghostly Interference, I knew I needed to tell his story. I wrote Jagged Feathers to give this soldier some happiness in his life. He’d been through so much and was completely alone, except for his faithful canine, Champion. I also wanted to pull from my first-hand experience with someone losing a limb, as my late husband was an amputee. I knew, up close and personal, the challenges Vann would face, especially in daring to have an intimate relationship with a woman. But Nakina Bird had her flaws too. And together, they worked through the obstacles.

Now you can see why I am celebrating! This was a story that came straight from my heart.

For those of you who have picked up Jagged Feathers, and especially to those who have read and reviewed it, THANK YOU!!! If you haven’t picked it up yet, and it interests you, just click on the book title to purchase.

Remember my Story Empire post on book awards? This is exactly why you should consider entering!

I wish everyone a wonderful weekend of writing, reading, or whatever activities you participate in! Stay positive through this hectic time of year!

Sorrowful Soul – Soul Poetry Series Book 3 @harmony_kent #poetry #newrelease

I am so honored to host my friend and fellow Story Empire colleague, Harmony Kent, here today with her new book of poetry for the soul! I have read this beautiful book, and she touches on every aspect of grief with raw honesty. But I’ll let her tell you more.

Hi, Jan.

Thanks so much for hosting me today.

It’s always wonderful to visit with you.

Here’s a little bit I’d love to share about my latest book of poetry, Sorrowful Soul.  Full of freestyle poems, which provide company and compassion through the devastating journey of grief and loss and onward, this heartfelt collection shows us we do not travel this lonely road alone.

Since Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s excellent book on the stages of grief, we now have an established set of seven stages to the grieving process. Although these stages are non-linear and can be revisited at any time, it’s helpful to have a rough idea of what we might expect during this difficult period of transition. The first stage is commonly known as Numbness or Shock and Disbelief.

Here’s an extract from the opening lines to a poem about shock …

From Part 1: Shock & Disbelief

(Extract From Aftermath)

After the earthquake subsides

Craters and unexpected bumps

Leave once familiar terrain

Strange and filled with danger

At any moment my feet may stumble

And bring me to my knees

This devastating upheaval

Struck without warning

Made rubble of all I had created

With such love and care

And now I don’t know what to do

How to walk or talk or carry on

How did this happen?

Other losses and unexpected changes, besides the death of a loved one, can catapult us onto this journey of shock, denial, resistance, etc., and on toward eventual acceptance. What are your experiences of this process? Chat with me in the comments. I hope you enjoyed this poetic excerpt and would love to know what you think. Thanks for reading 😊

About the Book:

If we’re lucky, we meet twilight at the front door and old age creeps in on the night breeze.

Even if we make it to our twilight years, the more we age, the more loss we must endure as part of the cycle of life. Many of these poems lament death, but they also relate to broken relationships, severed friendships, and the loss of youth. This book of grief poetry is as much about saying goodbye and working through loss as it is about death and love split asunder.

This heartfelt collection provides company and compassion through the devastating journey of loss and shows us we do not travel this lonely road alone. Within these pages we share shock, numbness and denial, catapult into anger, bargaining, depression, loneliness, and guilt, and—eventually—make the seismic shift into testing the possibility of a new normal and finding acceptance.

Universal Sales Link: https://mybook.to/SorrowfulSoul

About the author:

Harmony Kent spent 13 years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, where she faced her demons and overcame devastating low self-esteem, and found freedom. After a life-changing injury, Harmony returned to the world at the tender age of 40, and her life as a writer began.

Harmony is an award-winning multi-genre author, and her publications include:

The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved

The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015

Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015

Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)

Slices of Soul (Soul Poetry Series: Book 1)

Life and Soul (Soul Poetry Series: Book 2)

Sorrowful Soul (Soul Poetry Series: Book 3)

Interludes (Erotic Short Stories)

Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)

Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)

Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)

Polish Your Prose (How to Self-Edit)

Creative Solutions (Creative Writing Inspiration)

Backstage (Erotic Romance and Thriller)

FALLOUT (Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree

The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony is always on the lookout for talent and excellence and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes.

Harmony’s Website

twitter: @harmony_kent

Goodreads: Harmony Kent

BookBub: Harmony Kent

Story Empire (co-authored blog): Harmony Kent

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page: author.to/HarmonysBooks

You can read my 5-Star Review HERE

#MondayMotivation – #Meditation – #TarotReading #DragonOracleCard

As the holidays get closer, the frantic pace of life around us seems to increase. I hope this post today will serve as a reminder to take the time to stay focused, grounded, and centered through it all. A good sense of humor also helps.

I found this meditation and affirmation to be uplifting. I hope you will, too.

The tarot cards gave me a bit of a challenge today because they all see so opposite. Hopefully, I found the right message in them.

How odd for the King of Pentacles to show up at a time when we are all stretched to the limit trying to purchase gifts for loved ones, not to mention the added food expense. So, this gave me pause. However, the past position makes a little more sense to me.

The King of Pentacles indicates that you are confident and successful at attracting and managing wealth. Not only do you identify opportunities for growth and success, but you also draw upon your self-discipline and control to manage your wealth and invest it wisely for the long term. The arrival of the King of Pentacles indicates that you can translate your vision into something tangible, practical, and often very lucrative. This card often indicates the final fulfillment of a creative task. (That I can relate to) Through diligence, responsibility, and attention to detail, you can finally say that you have completed your task or attained your goal. You can now enjoy all that you have accomplished and the successes you have created. A methodical, planned, and well-thought-out approach will lead you to success.

The Seven of Cups has shown up for us several times, and it is all about making choices. There is so much available to us, and what we decide will determine our next step. But be careful! You can be prone to illusion and unrealistic ideals. An opportunity with promises of more money, more fame, or more power may sound appealing, but as you look deeper into what is on offer, you may realize it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. Your ego may pull you in a specific direction, but it’s important you check in with your Higher Self first. Evaluate your options and dig below the surface to discover what’s involved with each choice.

Finally, The Hermit advises us to take a break from everyday life and draw our energy inward. You realize that your most profound sense of truth and knowledge is within yourself and not in the distractions of the outside world. You leave behind the mundane to set off on a journey of self-discovery, led only by your inner wisdom and guiding light. When you allow yourself to tune in to your inner guiding light, you will hear the answers you need and grow wise beyond your years. Find your light, shine it on your soul and create your unique path. You will see what lies ahead of you – not miles upon miles, but enough to know where to step next. From there, take one step at a time. This card may appear when you are at a pivotal point in your life and considering a new direction. It also represents the desire to turn away from a consumerist or materialistic society to focus on your inner world.

MY TAKEAWAY:

Winding down to the end of 2022, I hope we can all look back and see that we’ve had some measure of success, either financially or by completing creative projects using the tried and true ways that work for each of us. Learning what works comes from trial and error, choosing different avenues, and always striving for the path that enhances our best selves. Also, at the end of the year, it’s a good idea to set aside some time for honest introspection led by our inner guiding light. Never lose sight of what’s most important this time of year when we are bombarded with consumerism.

Look what a gorgeous little dragon we have to accompany our message today!

Crystal-Yellow Dragon - Opens you to higher learning and wisdom. Expand your crown chakra for illumination. Walk the higher spiritual path.

That’s it for today! Make it a great week!

Friday Free For All!

Happy Friday, y’all!! this will most likely be my last Friday post for a while. The grandkids get out of school next Thursday, and my days will be filled with taking care of them.

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was worth sharing.

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty fed up with others trying to force their opinions on me. We are all individuals, and each has the right to see and feel however we do about any given subject. That’s not to say we can’t change our minds, but if you are like me, I want it to be my choice, not because someone forced me.

Just a little something to keep in mind.

The holiday season is here. I still have a few gifts to buy and to create, but I’m getting there. It may sound sad, but since I live alone and no one comes to my apartment, I no longer decorate for the holidays. However, I certainly do enjoy seeing them everywhere I go. This is the tree I get to enjoy daily at my youngest daughter’s house.

The same daughter had to undergo a tenuous surgery this week, and she is down for the count. I spent all day Monday with her at the hospital. The surgery lasted for a little over three hours. She is home and recovering, but it’s going to be a long road. She needs Mama’s help a lot right now, although she is much like me and fiercely independent. I don’t wait for her to ask. I do what I see that needs doing and anything to make things easier for her.

Folks, stay aware and alert this holiday season, as scammers are everywhere trying to take your money! I ordered some items through an ad I saw, and when they arrived, they were defective. I contacted the company (thank goodness there was a phone number listed) and asked how I could return them for a refund. They refused to accept a return. Instead, they offered me 70% of my money back, and I keep the items. What?? Yep. I had no choice. It was either accept the 70% or lose it all. My sister got taken with a scam, too. So, just be vigilant and keep an eye on your money. It’s a crazy world out there.

On a good note, I got to experience laying on a Red Light therapy table today. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t until recently, but I’m interested. Here’s what it looks like.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Red light therapy (RLT) is a treatment that uses low-wavelength red light to reportedly improve your skin’s appearance, such as reducing wrinkles, scars, redness, and acne. It’s also touted to treat other medical conditions. NASA originally began experimenting with red light therapy on plant growth in space and then to help heal wounds in astronauts. Red light therapy is thought to work by acting on the “power plant” in your body’s cells called mitochondria. With more energy, other cells can do their work more efficiently, such as repairing skin, boosting new cell growth, and enhancing skin rejuvenation. More specifically, certain cells absorb light wavelengths and are stimulated to work.

So, we’ll see. It is said to also reduce inflammation in the body and even improve eyesight in some cases.

I’m always open to trying new holistic ways of staying healthy and feeling good. I’ll let you know how it goes.

On a different note, Goodreads tells me I am two books away from reaching my reading goal of 95 books for 2022. One thing I do know for sure—it is going to be extremely difficult to pick a top ten list for this year. I have read SO many great books that still linger with me long after I close them. But I will give it a good try. So that will be coming up in the next few weeks.

If you missed my Christmas Story at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Blog, I’d love for you to visit and read it. I wrote it in 2016 and revived it to share at Sally’s place. HANDS

If you aren’t following Sally’s blog, I highly recommend you do so while you are visiting. She is a generous supporter of all authors.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy of my newest book, Saddled Hearts, OR if you’re looking for a gift, here’s the link to take a look: https://linktr.ee/Rijanjks

That’s it from me for today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

This won’t be my last opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas, but I’m going to wish it anyway. It’s been an interesting year with lots of adventures. And it isn’t over yet!

Stolen Obsession #BookBlitz @LoneStarLit @ewephoric #Mystery #LSBBT

 
 
 
STOLEN OBSESSION
Annalisse Series, Book 1
Updated for 2022!
by
MARLENE M. BELL
 
Genre: Romantic Mystery
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018, Revised 2022
Number of Pages: 284

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 
 
 
 
PEOPLE DIE, BUT LEGENDS LIVE ON.
Manhattan antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury dreams of a quiet life on the family farm among the sheep she loves, when her best friend is murdered. The police assume robbery is the motive because her friend’s expensive bracelet is missing. But the 500-year-old artifact is rumored to carry an ancient curse, one that unleashes evil upon any who dare wear the jewelry created for the Persian royal family—and Annalisse believes her friend is the latest victim.
Weeks later, Annalisse sees a necklace matching the stolen bracelet at a gallery opening. Convinced the necklace is part of the deadly collection, Annalisse begs the gallery’s owner to destroy the piece, but her pleas are ignored— despite the unnatural death that occurs during the opening. With two victims linked to the jewelry, Annalisse is certain she must act.
Desperate to keep the gallery owner safe, Annalisse reluctantly enlists the owner’s son to help—even though she’s afraid he’ll break her heart. Wealthy and devastatingly handsome, with a string of bereft women in his wake, Greek playboy Alec Zavos dismisses Annalisse’s concerns—until his parents are ripped from the Zavos family yacht during their ocean voyage near Crete.
Annalisse and Alec race across two oceans to save his mother, feared dead or kidnapped. As time lapses, the killer switches mode and closes in on the man who’s meant for Annalisse with the lifestyle she wants most.
But when it’s her turn as the hunted, will she choose to save Alec and his mother, or sacrifice everything to save herself?
 

Hold on for a heart-thumping adventure through exotic lands in this fast moving, romantic suspense mystery by Marlene M Bell.

 
CLICK TO ORDER ON:
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WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER FOR STOLEN OBSESSION:


 

 
 
 

Marlene M. Bell is an eclectic mystery writer, artist, photographer, and she raises sheep in beautiful East Texas with her husband, Gregg, three cats and a flock of horned Dorset sheep.

The Annalisse series — mysteries with a touch of romance — has received numerous honors including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery (Spent Identity) and FAPA (Florida Author’s President’s Gold Award) for two other installments, Stolen Obsession and Scattered Legacy. She also penned the first of her children’s picture books, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! based on true events from the Bell’s ranch. The simple text and illustrations are a touching tribute of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb.

WebsiteFacebook Twitter
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————————————-
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

ONE GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
Tapestry overnighter bag, sterling necklace (handmade in Greece), autographed copy of updated 2022 Stolen Obsession, $50 Amazon Gift Card
 
ONE RUNNER-UP:
Autographed copy of updated 2022 Stolen Obsession

(US only; ends midnight, CST, 12/16/22.)

 
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Wishes Under A Highland Star #NewRelease @m_morganauthor

It gives me great pleasure to host a fellow Wild Rose Press author here today with a brand new release! Mary Morgan is not only a talented writer but is also very supportive of others. So, without further adieu, I turn my blog over to Mary!

Hello, Jan! I’m delighted to be on your lovely blog today to celebrate my new book, Wishes Under a Highland Star. Since I love a good party, I’m going to take you and your readers to a special feast. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

A Midwinter Feast

Come journey with me as I whisk you away to 13th-century Scotland for a Midwinter feast. You arrive at Castle Taloch, a mystical realm within the Highlands of Scotland. These people are part-Fae, and their Scottish bloodline is steeped in ancient Celtic mythology. Though they respect the new religion that has swept across their land, the Fae continue to honor the old ways. Midwinter is a celebration of light and warmth here within the castle. The doors have been left open for all to enter in peace. Once you step inside, you are drawn to the holly boughs with ivy, bay, crimson-berried yew branches, and fragrant bunches of rosemary twigs.

The torches cast a welcoming light as you proceed onward. As you enter the Great Hall, you observe the boisterous laughter and gaiety. A bard is recanting a tale between the aging Holly King (representing the darkness of the old year), and the young Oak King (symbolizing the light of the New Year). Some of the older lasses have chosen to weave a sprig of holly onto their gowns, and they nod at you in passing.

Candles illuminate the hall in a soft glow as you make your way toward the feasting tables. The elder Fae men and women are seated at a longer table near the hearth. Ale and mead are flowing, along with the tempting dishes you survey as you take your place. The aroma of food teases your senses as your gaze drifts across the table. Should you choose the wild boar stuffed with onions and cabbages on a large trencher? Yet there’s the salmon with dill springs set on another. Perchance you would prefer the spiced apples and damson tarts?

The minstrels begin to play a lively tune, and a few of the couples rise from the benches to join in the merriment…

Sneak preview of a Midwinter feast from Wishes Under a Highland Star

“Aine’s musical voice could tame even the wildest beast,” observed Glenna.

Alex coughed into his hand to squelch the laughter. Recovering, he said, “Or any hardened warrior?”

This time, Glenna laughed. She touched his arm. “Even the fiercest beast can find comfort in a luring song.”

One of the women waved in their direction, and Glenna responded with her own. “Enjoy the feast, Holly King,” she teased, making her way across the hall.

Alex watched the woman depart and then resumed his study of Aine. Pushing away from the wall, he made leisurely strides around the tables toward her. Her attentive audience were doing their best to encourage another song. But when she caught his gaze, Aine rose slowly from her chair.

He dipped a slight bow. “I enjoyed your song.”

“I am pleased, Holly King.” After placing her lap harp on the chair, Aine rested her hand in the crook of his arm.

Sorely tempted to guide his leannán out of the hall to spend some time alone with her, he refrained and led Aine to a table where others were engaged in a lively discussion about the morning battle and games of strength.

After settling into her chair, Aine leaned near him. “Ye look magnificent in the dark blue tunic.”

Slipping his hand under the table, Alex grasped her fingers. “More clothing from your uncle. And ye are a vision of beauty, my Aine.”

Her gaze roamed his features. “I so wanted to please ye tonight.”

Alex squeezed her fingers. “Why tonight?”

She covered his hand with her free one. “Because I wanted ye to see the woman and not the lass who likes to fashion blades.”

Tilting his head to the side, he commented, “Have I not mentioned, I love both? Ye are soft—yet forged with steel.”

Joy bubbled in her laugh and shone in her eyes. She gestured outward. “Did ye taste the bread filled with nuts and honey?”

Alex dropped his hand. “Nae. I have recently arrived.”

Quickly tearing a portion of the bread apart, she placed the piece on his trencher. Pointing to the salmon, she nudged him. “The sauce is mixed with rosemary and onions. Rowena even used wild garlic in the turnips.”

“Did ye assist in making these tempting fares?” he asked, picking up a blade and spearing a slice of boar.

She snorted, then quickly recovered. “I confess, the kitchens will not be my strength, unless ye ask me to chop vegetables.”

“I did enjoy the one bite of bread this morn. And ye did make a tasty porridge the other day,” he reminded, taking a bite of the meat.

Two rosy stains appeared on her cheeks. “Aye, a first.”

Alex choked on the piece of boar, recalling the pleasurable morning in the gatehouse.

Aine swiftly poured him a cup of mead. “Here,” she urged, shoving the cup into his hand.

Grateful for the liquid, Alex proceeded to drain the contents.


PLUM TARTS aka…DAMSON TARTS

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into small pieces

1 egg yolk

2 pounds firm, ripe plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine the flour, almonds, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer tart to flat plate.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

**Damsons are a small purple-black fruit similar to the plum

During this time of year, I usually find plums at farmer’s markets or order online.

Blurb:

As chieftain for his clan, Alex MacFhearguis struggles with the burden of an unwanted responsibility. With the midwinter feast approaching, he flees his castle to find comfort and solitude within the forest. Yet on his quest, Alex stumbles into a world filled with magic, mysteries, and a woman with beguiling eyes who could capture his heart.

When half-Fae Aine Fraser makes a powerful wish, her simple request unlocks the magic she possesses and brings forth a Highlander into her world. Though the man has lost all his memories, she finds her attraction growing for this brooding warrior with each passing day. Unable to deny her feelings, Aine risks everything when she confesses her greatest secret.

Can a beauty who wished for a champion tame the beast of Leòmhann Castle?

I just want to add that I had the privilege of reading an ARC of this book and you can find my 5-Star review HERE!

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/31DeYa

About the Author

Multi award-winning paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic and Norse mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of fantasy, then travel back in time within the pages of her books.

Connect with Mary here ~

Website/Blog:  https://www.marymorganauthor.com/

Amazon Author:  http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Morgan/e/B00KPE3NWI/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryMorganAuthor/

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/m_morganauthor

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8271002.Mary_Morgan

Pinterest:  www.pinterest.com/marymorgan50/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marymorgan2/

#MondayMotivation – #Meditation – #TarotReading – #DragonOracleCard

Good morning, everyone. The holidays are getting nearer, and if you are like me, your list of things to get done is growing instead of shrinking. So, I want to take this opportunity to slow it all down for a few minutes, get re-centered and relax a little. I hope you’ll join me.

Here is a short meditation to bring us all back to our center.

I say this all the time, but I continue to be astounded by the way the process of pulling these cards works. Take a look

A lot of tarot readers view the page cards as representing young people. I think, in some instances, that can be true, but to me, they represent a youthful vigor and thirst for life that we often see embodied in youth.

The Page of Swords is full of energy, passion, and enthusiasm. When this card shows up in a Tarot reading, you are bursting with new ideas and plans for the future. You may be excited about starting a new project, pursuing a new approach, or learning something new. This card often emerges when you are exploring a new way of thinking – a new idea, a new perspective, new knowledge, or a new technique. You have a curious mind and a thirst for knowledge. As you explore this fresh way of thinking, you are asking lots of questions and gathering as much information as possible. As the Swords relate to communication, the Page of Swords suggests that you are exploring a different way of expressing yourself with others and communicating your ideas and opinions. You may be drawn to public speaking, writing a book or a blog, starting a podcast, or being more vocal on social media. If you are looking for a sign to move ahead with a new project, the Page of Swords says, ‘Go for it!’ There will always be challenges with whatever way you choose, and not everyone will be thrilled with your choices, but when it comes down to it, you need to follow your passions and go where your true energy lies.

With the Page of Wands, you are inclined to give anything and everything a go. You embrace the opportunity to start out on a new journey or project and see where it takes you. You do not necessarily have a solid plan in place, nor do you really know where you are headed, but you are excited about the possibilities. You have a gift for dreaming up new creative ideas unfettered by the burdens of everyday life. Nothing will get in the way of your dreams! And while the appearance of the Page of Wands indicates that you are experiencing creative restlessness, notice that the Page is standing still and his staff is firmly planted on the ground – he is not going anywhere just yet. You still need to take your creative spark and ground it down into reality so that it is ready to be implemented in the physical realm. You may need to map out your strategy, or you may need to test your ideas or create a few experiments before committing. It could be helpful to run your thoughts through a filter so that you only act on those most aligned with your broader goals. Wands signify our spiritual selves and the Page may indicate a thirst for exploration and knowledge.

The King of Pentacles is straight out as he appears. He represents material wealth, financial abundance, and worldly success. This King is a faithful provider; he uses his ambition and confidence to create wealth for himself and others and generates his self-worth from what he has accumulated and can share with others. He is also a fatherly figure who provides others with advice, guidance, and wisdom, especially in financial and work-related matters.

When the King of Pentacles appears in a Tarot reading, you are confident and successful at attracting and managing wealth. Not only do you identify opportunities for growth and success, but you also draw upon your self-discipline and control to manage your wealth and invest it wisely for the long term.

The arrival of the King of Pentacles indicates that you can translate your vision into something tangible, practical, and often very lucrative. You are the ultimate business owner. You do not merely come up with ideas and hope for the best – you work hard to map out your plan of attack, gather your resources, and manifest your goals, often with tremendous success. 

MY TAKEAWAY:

There has been a tremendous surge of energy the past couple of days, and while driving home yesterday, I had a new story idea appear that will turn the book I am currently working on into a series. 🙂 Don’t you just love it when that kind of inspiration comes? I do. So, with the two Pages and their vibrant energy, I expect that this week will be full of surprises while the King steadfastly sits on his throne, confident, secure, and wise, telling us to take a breath and get ready to make a plan, work hard, and expect to reach our goals.

What do you think? Do these cards speak to you in any way?

And look what the little dragon adds. I LOVE this!

Lilac Fire Dragon - Transmutes through the power of divine love. Open up to transcendent love and enlightenment. Purity of heart brings peace, hope and joy!