Thursday, June 28, 2018

Date Night Dinners, By Sloane Taylor





Book Details:


Publisher: Toque & Dagger

Publication Date: May 29, 2018

ASIN: B07DD5HDVL

Page Count: 136 pages


Genre: Cookbook



Follow the tour to read reviews and recipe teaser lists and to view spotlights.







About Date Night Dinners:



Ready to ignite that old flame? Or perhaps spark a new one? Take your partner by the hand and turn on your stove. A true romantic, award-winning author Sloane Taylor brings her creativity to the kitchen with easy-to-make meals sure to spark the intimacy and quality time you want with your special someone. Cooking together is only the start of the fun!



Create 45 complete dinners for two or flavor your evenings with a new dish. These 80 recipes use everyday foods already on most kitchen shelves. The recipes are easily increased for those fun times friends or family join your table.



Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening, is an ideal gift for engagements, bridal showers, anniversaries, or for anyone who wants to spice things up.











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 every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy. Taylor currently has seven romance novellas released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Her first solo venture into non-fiction is a cookbook with eighty of her favorite recipes DATE NIGHT DINNERSMeals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening. Excerpts from her books can be found on her websiteblog, and all popular vendors. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.



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Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Ghost in the Garden. A Flower Girl Mystery, by H.L. Carpenter



Welcome the 1-week Virtual Book Tour for The Ghost in the Gardens (A Flower Girl Mystery) by HL Carpenter.

About The Ghost in the Gardens:

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn't think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.

All.

The.

Time.

She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she's determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.
The ghost is not in the plan.
But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it's too late.



Follow the Book Tour:




Book Details:

Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal Mystery
Page Count: 152 pages

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/)

Order Links:
Mirror World Publishing:  Ebook  Paperback

Read an Excerpt:

I had the future planned out.

The ghost was not in the plan.

After the first visit, I still didn't really believe in ghosts. But when she came back the second time, I had to change my mind. I hadn't been dreaming and I wasn't crazy. The only other alternative was: I had seen a ghost.

I started researching ghost visitations. What made them stick around in this world? How did they choose who to haunt? Why had no one ever caught a legitimate sighting on video or made a recording?

Mostly what I learned was that people argued a lot about whether ghosts existed. People who believed in ghosts liked other people who believed in ghosts. People who didn't believe in ghosts thought people who did were crazy.

I was not crazy.

Finding out the answers to my questions about ghosts should have been easy. I had my own personal ghost to ask. But every time she visited me, I couldn't say a word. My thoughts got all tangled and my breath stuck in my throat and I got dizzy. Having my own personal ghost was not helpful. The visits were...creepy. Like are-you-here-because-I'm-going-to-die creepy. Maybe the creep factor was why no one had ever documented a ghost.

I shivered, though I hadn't seen the ghost in hours and cheerful sunlight warmed the early June morning. The Water Garden, a magical green fairyland of trickling streams and arched bridges, closed in around me. Shadows shifted. Bushes rustled.

I'd never seen a ghost before, not even when my dad died. Why had one decided to haunt me now?

"Just lucky, I guess," I said. "What do you think, Barkley?"

My long-legged Schnauzer scratched his ear with his hind foot.

"That's what I think too."

I tugged Barkley's ear and picked up one of the quarter-size flat stones scattered beside the path. I tossed the stone into the deep end of the Water Garden pond.

Barkley scrambled to the bank, then yipped and jumped back, almost jerking the leash from my hand. The ruff on his neck rose straight up. He stared at the pond, his lips curled, his teeth bared.

I gripped the red plastic leash more tightly.

The ghost liked water.

Barkley growled.

In the pond, twin black shafts of water shifted into the wavy outline of feminine eyes. Pale lips, reed-thin and white as unearthed slugs, parted. The lips tried to form a word. A gurgle rose from the depths like a deep sigh.

"Daaaaay...daaaay..."

Bubbles roiled the surface of the water.

Barkley growled again. Then he barked, as if to prove the ghost hadn't silenced him.

I tried to speak, to ask the ghost what she wanted. My tongue clung to the roof of my mouth. My lips moved in a quivery jiggle as if I were silently whistling. But I could not force out a sound, much less a whole question.

Maybe if I could think a question, the ghost and I could communicate. Maybe she didn't need actual words to hear me and to answer.

I tipped forward. My glasses slipped down my nose. I wanted to ask her...something...something...important...

What would touching her feel like?

I stretched out my hand.

Meet the Author:


Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter writes family-friendly fiction. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Connect with HL Carpenter:





Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Importance of Voice in Writing Fiction




What is Voice?


You may have heard the term voice in writing. However, there are two types of voice in writing fiction. 

One is the voice of the author: How you write and express yourself, tell their stories. That usually comes natural and develops over time.

Another important voice is that of the characters in your story.  Everyone has a unique way of speaking, and giving a strong voice to your characters helps bring them to life. 

To some, character voice comes easy, yet others may struggle with it. Here are a few things to remember when deciding on a voice for your character.

  1. Where are they from? Most regions have a certain dialect. Listen to someone speak from that area and try to mimic their speech pattern.
  1. How old is your character? It’s pretty obvious that someone that is ten years old will have a different way of speaking than say a fifty-year-old.
  1. When does your story take place? Look up words and phrases used during that period.
  1. What is their world view? Does your character have some background issues that fill him or her with sarcasm? Are they optimistic about everything, overly religious, or just plain grumpy/annoying?
  1. Still having problems? Trying interviewing your character and let them tell you about themselves.

And in all of the above, use in moderation. You don’t want to overdo dialects to the point where the reader gets frustrated trying to read it. 

Point of View in Using Voice.

An important rule is to know when you should use your character’s voice or your author’s voice.

If you are writing in first person, every word should be in the narrating character’s voice, except those that are in the dialog of a different character. 

In limited third person narration, the point of view character will usually carry the voice. 

In omniscient point of view, the author’s voice will narrate the story except during dialog. 

The Character Voice in my Series.

In my middle-grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, writing in first person, the main character, Nikki, is a young girl growing up in the bayous of Louisiana in the fifties. She lives a simple life, doesn’t care much for school, and would rather be fishing with her Cajun French-speaking papa, or looking for clues to some swamp legend. Proper English is not her strong point. Taking all these things into consideration, I found my way into Nikki’s head.

Her friends, on the other hand, needed to have unique voices of their own. We can’t have them all speaking the same way. Patti is always prim and proper, and tries hopelessly to keep Nikki on the right track, while Spikes uses language typical of fifties’ teens. Together they are the legend busters and each contributes their own “voice” to every conversation.

Here is an excerpt from the Mystery on Lost Lagoon, which includes examples of their voices:

The August air was steamier than a pot of boiled crawfish. Tiny bugs danced like fairies on the gumbo-colored bayou. Cypress trees on a nearby swamp island dipped their moss-draped branches into the still water, trying to stay cool. 
I had been sitting in my new tree house for days trying to catch a cool breeze, and pondering on how to turn a plain old fort into an official club house, when I decided what it needed most of all was furniture. My friend Spikes had come over to help me build some. He was pretty good with tools.
“I saw that strange bird again.” Spikes stood beside me with a hammer in his hand.
“What bird?” I asked, busy with trying to arrange some old boards in the shape of a table, just before they collapsed into a heap. “Drats!” I folded my arms in front of me.
 “You have to lay them on the floor, Tomboy,” he said. “We need to nail them together first.”
“So you have to build it upside down?” I wiped the sweat off my brow with the back of my hand.
Spikes’ real name was Spencer Sikes, but I’d never heard nobody call him that ’cept for his grandpa. He was twelve years old, a whole year and a half older than me. I couldn’t imagine being almost a teenager. Me and him argued a lot, but we always stayed friends. He told me once he only liked me ’cause I wasn’t like other girls, and could climb trees and didn’t mind getting dirty. He sometimes called me Tomboy instead of my real name, Nikki.
He grinned, showing his broken front tooth. “Yeah.”
“We need some nails.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of bent nails. “I was over at my grandpa’s yesterday. We took a boat ride out to Flat Lake, and I saw it flying around Pelican Pass, see.”
“Saw what?”

“The bird.” He sounded annoyed. “You know, the one that makes that screeching sound. The same one we saw over in Mossy Swamp.” He sat on the floor and began straightening the nails by laying ’em on their sides and tapping with his hammer.

Friday, April 13, 2018

First Pages in Writing, by Rita Monette






How important are the opening pages of your novel? VERY important. 

First of all, you must keep in mind that busy agents and publishers will usually judge your writing and your book by the first few pages, and oftentimes by page one! 

Also, readers, who might be grabbed by your title, tagline, and your cover blurb, still will judge whether they want to continue to read on by the first chapter, or even the first page. So you’d better work really hard at getting it right.

How do you do that? you might ask. Well here are some well-worn tips to accomplish that.

Prologue or no prologue…that’s a good question.

Although there are quite a few great books on the market that use prologues to introduce their novel, many experts agree, that a good rule of thumb is to leave it off. 

Instead of telling the reader your character’s background and motivations, use your writing skills to weave that information in, letting your reader figure it out. 

I’ve been told most readers don’t bother to read prologues anyway. I know I don’t like them. I usually want to jump right into reading the story. So just jump right in writing it. But where DO we start?

Tension is the key.

Every movie-goer knows that the first scene of a film usually begins with a huge car crash, guns blazing, or a murder... then jumps back to why on earth all this went on. Many books begin this way also. But wild action isn’t always the key. Most times it’s tension.

On page one, feed the reader some intriguing questions they will surely want the answers to. What is your character doing, saying, observing, or thinking that makes the reader want to know what’s going to happen next, or what the character plans to do about the situation at hand?

The Character.

The reader will want to know something about your main character. What is he about? What does he want? Is he relatable or liked enough for them to want to know more and to invest the next few hours of their time in. What is he doing in that first scene that tells us something about his personality, his ambitions, his goals? First impressions count. 

The Setting.

Give the reader an idea of the setting on that first page also. Where is your character? Is the time period important? What is the season? Is it hot, cold? Don’t let the reader have to figure that out as he reads along.
The Hook.

This seems like a lot to cram into a first page, but you want to draw the reader in from the very start. It’s called the “hook.”

Sometimes it takes many re-writes to get those elements in effectively. 

Feedback. 

Get an honest opinion from a person or persons…typically not your mother or spouse. Join a critique group or a group like Critique Circle. 






Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Whirlpools, Wormholes, and Time Travel





WHIRLPOOLS, WORMHOLES, AND TIME TRAVEL

What do wormholes, whirlpools, and time travel have in common? In reality, probably nothing. But in Nikki Landry’s historical, yet fictitious world, legend has it that if you go into Lost Lagoon, you may never return, but just might enter into a land where strange creatures live. 

A FICTITIOUS WHIRLPOOL

When a mad scientist arrives in Nikki Landry’s hometown and hears the legend of the mysterious Lost Lagoon, he decides to build a machine that can traverse a whirlpool—which he calculates just might be a wormhole to a prehistoric time. 

Nikki has been warned to stay off Flat Lake due to the frequent whirlpools and strange disappearances. But snooping around Mr. Beekers’ camp boat gets her and her friends kidnapped and taken to a hidden inlet in a swamp off of the large lake. Soon they learn what’s behind the mystery on Lost Lagoon.

A REAL WHIRLPOOL

In reality, in the South Louisiana bayous, there are many, many salt caverns beneath the ground. There are also oil companies drilling for oil. Those two can spell disaster, especially if those caverns are under a lake. 

One such disaster occurred in November of 1980, when an oil drilling rig and a salt mine created a whirlpool that became large enough to engulf the rig, eleven barges, and a tugboat, sucking water in from the Gulf of Mexico, and changing the landscape—as well as a once shallow fresh water lake—forever. 

While drilling for oil off Lake Peigneur, near New Iberia, Louisiana, a drilling rig owned by Texaco, drilled too far and punctured into an active salt mine. Fishermen on the lake that day saw the whirlpool that began pulling their boat toward it. Luckily they got away before it sucked them into the abyss. Beneath, fifty-five miners, seeing the water rushing in, managed to escape via an elevator. Amazingly, no one lost their life, but it cost Texaco millions of dollars.



AN EXCERPT:


Spikes stuffed the papers into his shirt. “I need to finish reading this.”
The three of us dashed for the door. But a shadow covered the opening, and Mr. Beekers stepped into it, blocking our way out.
He looked at the broken door and then glanced around his home. “What have y’all done to my house?” he scowled.
“We didn’t do it,” I said. “Honest we didn’t.”
“Don’t lie to me. You kids have been nosing around here before. What do you want here?” 
“Just let us go,” Tim said. “We promise not to come back.”
“No, you’re not going anywhere until I see what you’ve taken...or destroyed.” He stepped in and closed the crooked door behind him. “Now all of you sit.”
Spikes found a chair. Tim and I pushed some newspapers to the side and sat on a tiny sofa with springs poking out. 
“Now, which one of you broke my door in?” 
“It was some men,” Tim said. “I think they were detectives or something. They had on suits and ties, and drove an official looking car.”
Mr. Beekers looked around, then ran to the window. “Where did they go?” 
“They’re from Ohio,” I said. “I think they’re coming back. So you better let us go before they get here. Whatever you did, they might get you for kidnapping us too.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” he said. “I’m not letting you go. You brought them here, didn’t you?” His eyes were wild and his mouth turned into a snarl. His whole face turned really evil looking. “I know what they want, and they won’t get it.” He grabbed up some rope and began to tie Spikes to the chair. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Mystery on Lost Lagoon: A Preview


Here's a short preview of Book #4 in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend Series, by Rita Monette:

The Mystery on Lost Lagoon
A Nikki Landry Swamp Legend

Brought to you by Mirror World Publishing

(Available November 17, 2017)

Legend has it… if you go onto Lost Lagoon, you never return.


Nikki Landry and her friends are off on a quest to track down a prehistoric-looking bird that’s been flying around a nearby swamp island. 

However, their plans get sidetracked when they meet a stranger in their small town who apparently has some secrets to hide.

The sleuthing group soon learns of a legend about a hidden lagoon. Is it all connected? Before they can find out, they are kidnapped by a mysterious scientist who is on a mission of his own. 

Is there any truth to the legend that says if you go onto Lost Lagoon, you will never return?  Is the eerie whirlpool that sits waiting to suck you in really a wormhole to another world? Who are the Men in Black...and what do they want with Mr. Beekers?

Join Nikki and her friends, and one neurotic parrot, as they discover the truth behind the Mystery on Lost Lagoon. 

Want more? Here's an excerpt:

“What can you tell me about this man,” one of the men asked Mr. Lopez, while laying a picture on the counter.

Mr. Lopez picked up the picture and squinted at it. “What do you want him for?” 

He wasn’t about to give out any information without knowing what the consequences might be. Folks in a small town might gossip, but they weren’t too trusting of men in black suits and sunglasses asking about their neighbors, even if those neighbors were a bit on the strange side.

“We just have a few questions for him,” one of the men said. “His name is Leroy Baker.”

“Can’t say as I recognize him,” Mr. Lopez answered.

“Well, if you do see him, call us.” The man slid a card toward him.

Mr. Lopez tried to give him the picture back.

“No, you keep that...just in case it jars your memory.” They both walked back out the door. They stood just outside talking and wiping the sweat off their foreheads with white handkerchiefs. 

I walked up to the counter and looked at the picture. Mr. Lopez picked it up and threw it in the wastebasket. 

“But that looks like Mr. Beekers,” I said. “Except his hair is shorter and combed.”

“Don’t look like him at all.” He turned around and went back to straightening stuff on his shelf. 

Spikes and I stood looking out the door at the men walking toward their fancy black car. One of ’em tripped over my bike, which had no doubt slid off the sign. He cursed and kicked it.

“Hey,” I pushed the door open. “That’s my bike.”

It wasn’t the prettiest bike around, especially after me and my friends painted it several different colors trying to cover the rusty parts, but it was mine.

“Well, you shouldn’t leave it laying on the ground,” he growled. “It skinned my shoe.”

I glanced down at his shoes. They were pointy-toed and real shiny, except for the scratch.
“Sorry,” I said. “I had it propped up. It must have fell.”

He made a face, then turned toward his car.

Spikes walked up behind me and whispered, “I wonder who they are.”

“Hey, what do you want with that man?” I asked.

Spikes poked me in the side.

“Why? Do you know him?” one of ’em asked.

“Can’t say as I do or I don’t,” I said. “But in case I do, I’d like to know what you aim to do when you find him.” I took another drink of my Coke. 

“Smart little lady, aren’t you?” the one that kicked my bike said.

“I guess I am. You just don’t look like you’re from around these parts, so I figure it must be important for you to come way out here to find him.”

“Well, I’ll tell you this,” the one that was standing by the driver’s side of the car said, “He’s a criminal, and he’s wanted by the state of Ohio. So if you know something and you don’t tell me, you might get in real trouble for aiding and abetting.” 

I pursed my lips wondering if that meant I’d have to go to jail just for knowing something.

The one standing next to me handed me one of his cards also. Then they both got in the shiny car and drove away. 

I stared at the card. It had gold letters printed on a white background. I read it out loud.
“Jeremiah J. Jenkins, Ph D, Department of Geology, Ohio State University.” 

Spikes took it from my hand. “Well, they ain’t cops.”