There are so many reasons to love Spring. Seeing the sun after months of gloom, turning off the heat and opening the windows before it’s time to run the AC, and picking flowers.
Especially the flowers.
There’s something particularly beautiful about Spring blooms. Unlike Summer flowers that seem to last for weeks, Spring flowers appear in a flash of color and fragrance and disappear with no warning.
When I was a child, my grandmother taught me how to save these flowers so we could enjoy them all year long. My grandmother also canned seasonal produce and made jam and jellies, so it wasn’t too surprising that she’d find another way to save the beauty of her present so she could savor it later.
Pressed flowers have been found around for centuries. According to a Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/29/AR2006062901769.html?noredirect=on)
article, archaeologists discovered pressed laurels and garlands in the 3,000-year-old coffin of Tutankhamun’s mother. In 16th century Japan, artisans developed Oshibana, the art of pressing flowers to make a complete picture.
A few centuries later, Victorian England picked up this art form. Victorian women and men of all ages filled scrapbooks with different types of pressed flowers and herbs, often adding bits of ribbon and other trimmings.
In the early 1990s, there was a resurgence in the art of pressed flowers after Nobuo Sugino traveled the world to collect these Victorian pressed flower collections. In 1997, Mr. Sugino publication “The International Pressed Flower Book” encouraged people of all ages to try this simple-yet-lovely hobby.
The great thing about pressed flowers is that, because it’s so easy and inexpensive, it’s a perfect activity for kids. Here are some basic directions for pressed flowers novices.
Step 1: Pick the flowers when they’re at their freshest and completely dry.
Step 2: Press flower between two sheets of wax paper, then place within the pages of a large book (I use an old Encyclopedia Britannica). Leave 1/8-inch of pages between flowers being pressed. When the book is full, close it and weigh it down for four weeks.
Step 3: After four weeks, check the flowers to make sure they’re dry. Some herbs and flowers may take longer, depending on their thickness and how much moisture they had on them.
Step 4: Glue the flowers into a scrapbook in whatever design you like!
There are more advanced ways of doing this, some that include expensive equipment, dyes, and chemicals. But for a quick and fun way to preserve Spring’s beauty, try pressing a few of your favorite flowers between an old book. Next winter, when you’re wondering if you’ll ever see the sun again, you can pull out your scrapbook and remember that the flowers will always return.
Every Deep Desire
He's taking back his honor, his freedom, and the woman he loves.
Rafe Montfort was a decorated Green Beret, the best of the best, until a disastrous mission and an unforgivable betrayal destroyed his life. Now, this deadly soldier has returned to the sultry Georgia swamps to reunite with his brothers, and take back all he lost. But Juliet must never know the truth behind what he's done...or the dangerous secret that threatens to take him from her forever.
It took Juliet Capel eight long years to put her life back together after her husband was taken from her. Now Rafe is back, determined to protect her at any cost, and it's not just her heart that's in danger. The swamps hold a secret long buried and far deadlier than either of them could have imagined...
Sharon is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes of novels of suspense, adventure, and love. A wife, mother of twins, and caretaker of Donut the one-eyed dog, she’s addicted to snapping photos and eating Oreos. She writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.
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My favorite springtime song is ‘Here comes the sun’ by The Beatles. It reminds me of the warmer rain and freshly grown grass with a side of pew-pew birds―pew-pew birds are a type of bird that I have yet to identify in my area that sound like Star Wars ray guns when they chirp.
Springtime brings along little buds. Springtime is for renewal, rebirth after a long winter. I live in an area where winter lasts nearly six months so when spring starts showing up, I get tingly as if ants were crawling up my legs. I have to clean! Yeah, I’m one of those people. The thing is, I feel lighter after every bit of cleaning. Just today, I took care of the linen closet to rid it of double-sized blankets since my new bed will be queen sized.
Thing is, I didn’t wait for spring to start. In the dead of winter, I dove right in. Every closet, every drawer, and every cupboard was raided, rid of useless things, and put back in order. I gave away a ton of clothes, shredded old bills. This year, I’m one of the many that discovered the KonMari method by Marie Kondo, Thank you, Netflix. With Marie’s help, I let go of what didn’t spark joy for me and trust me, there was a lot. I spent a huge amount of time learning to fold my clothes as she does. But that was a failure. I still haven’t taken that habit. As long as I know what the piece of clothing is, I don’t really care if it’s folded in two or three. The good thing is I only kept what I wear and what I feel comfortable in.
But I found a lot of things while digging through my stuff, some unwanted. Old pictures, high school letters I used to pass to friends in class. A lot of those things were more painful than bringing good memories. Add that to a slight depressive bout last fall, I decided it was time to clean up some more but differently.
So, I went the extra mile. I’ve started a new therapy to clean my mind up. Having a clean home is one thing but carrying around old trash isn’t all that good. I had tried therapy last year and it hadn’t worked out well. Instead of proper help and ideas to reflect on, I got lessons on anxiety and panic. That’s not what I needed. My new therapist is amazing. She’s the one moving around cobwebs and old full drawers but I’m the one that has to grab the Lysol and wipe. And scrub. And wipe again. It’s when someone else―a professional―tells you that you realize how much crap you carry around, especially the old stuff. Let me tell you that since early March, I’ve been wiping and scrubbing so much, my soul is raw but it’s the best thing to do for myself, just as much as cleaning my apartment.
I can hear some of you from here; “I don’t want to do that, it doesn’t help, I don’t know that person.” Yep, I know. I fought this for years. Fifteen years to be exact. What was the use of going into a stranger’s office to air out dirty laundry and crying my eyeballs out when I could do it in the comfort of my own home? Well, it turns out it helps a lot. Someone who has an objective view of you and your life is much more helpful than the people that you already know. And it helps that they have useful advice to get through your personal crap.
Marie Kondo helped with my home and now I’m helping myself. What are you doing this spring?
Pawns: Every Family Has Its Secrets
When Lena Bennett loses her father, she has to take over the family business. But with the business comes secrets. Deadly secrets.
What can she do when she's backed into a corner with no one to turn to?
About CM Peters
CM Peters would like to be ageless but hasn’t found the fountain of youth just yet. She works in the communications field but her true passion is writing. She hails from Québec and has been back at writing regularly after a long break since college. An eclectic writer, CM is equally at home penning short erotica, quality fanfiction, and elaborate sci-fi and fantasy novels. Whatever genre she is working in, CM always centers her stories around complex, relatable characters. At the moment, she's hard at work on a new novel while preparing another for publication. She’s been published in erotica and romance anthologies, a collaborative book with Gallery Books, and co-edited a few anthologies, one coming in 2019. If she's not furiously typing, you'll surely find her with her eyes staring at the chocolate-brown beam in her living room to organize her next outline before putting it down on paper.
Review ~ Giveaway ~ Excerpt
A chance encounter between a penniless young woman in search of her missing brother and a hobo burdened with a big secret takes both on a journey to Chicago's glamorous yet crime-ridden 1920s, where prostitution, bootlegging, and corruption rule. Separated by fate and reunited by chance, WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS is an unforgettable tale of courage and perseverance, a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.
When feisty and headstrong Samantha Bruno loses her mother in a freak accident, she decides to search for her brother, Angelo, who didn't return from a business trip to Chicago seven months earlier. It is the year 1924, the height of prohibition, and the city of Cincinnati is in the midst of a deep recession. Narrowly escaping a band of thugs, Sam meets Paul, a mysterious hobo with a big secret. Together they embark on a harrowing journey to Chicago, where Al Capone is building an empire.
Just when it seems their friendship is blossoming into something more, a raid tears Sam and Paul apart. Sam is sold into a brothel while Paul is arrested. Trapped without money and desperate to escape her new profession, Sam realizes she is on her own. Not only to free herself and search for her brother among Chicago's three million residents, but also to do the impossible--find Paul.
During his hearing, Paul learns that his father, a wealthy Chicago inventor, is on his deathbed. The judge, an old family friend, gives Paul an ultimatum. See your father or go to jail. Reluctantly, Paul returns home, where he finds that his decision to run away seven years earlier was based on a terrible mistake.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Sam and Paul, with rich historical detail, complex characters, and stunning prose, award-winning author Annette Oppenlander once again delivers a touching novel that lets us imagine what it was like to live and love during the roaring 1920s.
I'm a huge fan of historical fiction - the more I feel transported to the past, the better. I want to see, smell, taste, experience all there is from that time period. I was excited to read Where The Night Never Ends as the roaring 20s is not a place in time I've delved into.
I enjoyed the story - the plot was solid and kept me tapping the Kindle screen as fast as my eyes could finish a page. Without giving too much away, Where The Night Never Ends was gritty without being dark, and had plot twists that surprised and kept me interested in finding out what happened to Sam and Paul.
At the same time, I didn't feel transported back in time which was disappointing because the actual plot was so good. Maybe I didn't feel connected to the characters (though I did like them a lot by the end). Maybe because this was my first historical fiction based in this time period (I kept wondering if the terminology was accurate, resisting the urge to research the Prohibition Era). There were also a few editing errors - not a lot, but they threw me out of the story each time I noticed them. It could also be that I read Where The Night Never Ends at the end of a very stressful week - no matter what I read would not serve to take me away from my worries.
For those concerned with the violence of that era, the book doesn't really touch on it. There is tragedy, but the violence is not in-your-face. There are scenes in brothels, but nothing gratuitous. Depending on how you like your reads, this could be either a plus or minus.
If you choose to read Where The Night Never Ends, which I suggest you do if you A) enjoy historical fiction and/or B) are fascinated with the 1920s Prohibition Era in Chicago, I promise it won't be wasted time. You may even love it!
- Carissa W.
I was given a free copy of Where The Night Never Ends in exchange for an honest review.
I awoke in the early morning, my bones chilled as if they could fracture. I stomped back and forth in the abandoned lot until an inkling of warmth returned to my feet and hands. Remembering the sack from yesterday, I pinched my nose and took a drink from the whiskey. I shook myself as the liquid edged a fiery trail down my throat and gathered heat in my middle.
I’d made up my mind to leave.
What about Papa’s favorite cooking pot made from cast-iron? And his knife used for cutting ingredients, Mamma’s quilt that carried her scent? Should I return and check? Visit my girlfriend, Helen, who lived on the same block? We’d gone to school together, but Helen worked in a canning factory six days a week because her father worked there too.
No, I couldn’t risk it. Talbott had no doubt taken over my apartment and everything in it. Or he was lying in wait. There was no telling what he’d do if he caught me.
Straightening my achy knees, I stumbled onto the street and turned south. Frost covered the muddy trail and puddles. I filled my lungs because the air was almost bearable this morning, not yet soiled with manure from the daily herding of pigs to slaughter and the neglected dirty skin of men out of work.
I’d go search for my brother. He was bound to be in Chicago and he had to be alive. I was sure of it. Why else had there been that mysterious Chicago Tribune newspaper in the mailbox? It had only happened once—it couldn’t be a coincidence. But for some reason Angelo had chosen not to return, not even write. Something big had to have happened, something that had scared Angelo into abandoning mighty George Remus, abandoning Mamma and me. If there was any chance he was still there, I had to find him.
Only when the rail yard came into view did I realize I knew nothing about traveling on trains. In my cluttered brain, I’d figured to catch a free train north. How else was I going to get there without money? Buses required tickets. Walking took weeks and provisions I didn’t have.
Hundreds of cargo wagons stretched in every direction, seemingly parked helter-skelter along miles of rails. Where they went was anybody’s guess. There was a chill in the air, a frigid wind whistling along the tracks. It carried none of the filthy odor I knew from my neighborhood, but something unfamiliar and hostile. I tucked my coat around me, the shotgun a comfortable weight beneath my armpit. I’d fashioned a loop into the lining, the butt of the gun resting in the inner seam of my coat.
Angelo’s blue eyes, so much like my own, appeared in my vision. I angrily wiped a sleeve across my face and climbed over the first rails.
I’d heard of hobos, men crisscrossing the country in search of jobs. Surely one of them knew how to find Chicago. I’d simply ask directions.
“Look what we gots here,” a voice snickered.
“Is the girly lost?” another chimed in.
“She needs a fella to help her out,” a third voice said as the man attached to it stepped into my way. “Where to, doll?” His grin exposed a graveyard of foul teeth. There was no telling how old the man was, his face hidden behind a jungle of beard and month’s worth of grime.
I stopped abruptly, hugging the sack with my remaining supplies to my chest. Unless I threw everything down and had space and time to wrestle out my shotgun, I didn’t stand a chance.
About the Author
Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past.
The setting for CATS OF WAR, my latest space opera romance book, is a swamp. More specifically, an important factory that’s situated in a swamp on a colonized continent on an unprepossessing world. It’s one of the 500 terraformed planets in the galaxy, all members of the Central Galactic Concordance. Plants are flowering, animals are breeding, and the insects are just starting to get annoying. It’s spring in the swamp.
And why, you may ask, is the factory in a swamp? On this particular part of the planet, the mountains have rare metals that are needed for making faster-than-light stardrives. The rivers and spring runoff from the mountains pick up the metals, which concentrate in the swamp area. It’s much cheaper to filter them out of the water than dig them out of the inhospitable mountains.
However, as you might imagine, it’s not so easy to attract employees to work in a swamp. Therefore, the company partnered with the galactic government’s Criminal Restitution Indenture and Obligation (CRIO) system. For lesser crimes that involve theft and property destruction, convicts must pay back the monetary damage, or be sentenced to the CRIO system to work off their obligation.
In theory, this is a win-win situation for the government, the company, and society. Reality is more complicated.
The hero of CATS OF WAR, Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti, is the military liaison for indenturees who are veterans. He had no more choice in his assignment than did the heroine, indenturee Ferra Barray, who is doing restitution time for property damage.
But it’s spring for them, too. Kedron has finally been given a new post, and he’s counting the days until he leaves. His reputation was tarnished by a scandal, despite the fact that he’d been the whistleblower, not one of the brazen thieves. Ferra only has to keep her head down and keep her secrets safe for another month, then figure out what to do with her life.
Ordinarily, they’d have no reason to interact, but they are brought together by the unlikely arrival of two mysterious creatures who need their help—or might be the help that both Kedron and Ferra need when trouble comes to call.
Here’s a little excerpt from CATS OF WAR:
While Kedron wouldn’t miss the Argint d’Apa facility, he would miss the swamp. He’d disliked it at first, the same way most staffers still did, but it had grown on him. He’d spent time studying its ecology and gone with the biodiversity scientists on a few sample-collection expeditions. Living so close to untamed nature made it easier to understand how everything, from the majestic giant trees to annoying clouds of gnats, had a place. Maybe he did, too, even if he couldn’t see it.
He put away his uniform and decided to walk laps on the campus’s wide perimeter walkway, rather than spend another evening alone in the gym. Regulations restricted it to military personnel, and he’d never seen the CPS representative use it.
As much as possible, he kept his interactions with her in virtual space. As a mid-level telepath, she could read thoughts, and as a low-level sifter, she could affect brain chemicals, detect lies, and sense the use of active minder talents. Military personnel caught with minder talents earned an immediate, permanent transfer to the CPS’s Minder Corps.
Kedron’s minder talent wasn’t much, just an ability to use seemingly unrelated information to find things of interest, but he’d rather direct traffic for a city of half a billion or be an indenturee than work for the Minder Corps. Too many private family stories warned of how badly the Minder Corps treated its personnel. He’d learned to hide his talent well enough to beat the CPS Testing Center for mandatory age twelve and seventeen tests, and random ones since, but some sifters were better than the testing equipment. Fortunately, minder talents in the patterner class were hard for even high-level sifters to detect.
He pulled on pants and a specially treated long-sleeved top to ward off biting insects. Last, he stepped into one of his few indulgences—custom-tailored, waterproof, adaptive boots. Even with myriad modern transportation options, Ground Div gunnin, from the lowest ranker to High Command commodores, spent a lot of time walking, running, and marching. Good boots made all the difference.
He looked out the north-facing window of his quarters to check the weather and the path. Non-essential indenturees were on lockdown, and half the staff was busy, so he wasn’t surprised to see it deserted. The tall perimeter fence’s horizontal power lines beyond the road-glass pathway glowed faintly as reminders of their presence. The overhead and glass path lights blinked on and off erratically, then stayed off. Twilight and mold sometimes messed with the sensors.
Shadowed movement caught his eye. Someone carrying a shallow, rectangular crate stepped off the path toward the exterior powered fence. The figure knelt right in front of the fence and set the crate down. After furtive looks left and right, the hunched figure slid something under the fence.
Instead of zapping the person into insensibility or setting off the alarm, the visible bottom three fence lines between the two posts raised like a curtain, leaving a torso-height gap. The figure quickly extended a pole to push the crate outside the fence as far as possible, until it butted up against the big rock outcropping. He or she retracted the pole and picked up the device from the dirt. The fence line sank and straightened to its usual position.
The lights flickered on briefly. The figure pulled on a hood and hunched forward, but he’d already recognized the face. Ferra Barray.
She stepped onto the path and headed west. The lights came on and stayed bright. He watched until she vanished.
Protocol said to report anything unusual to the security chief, but Kedron had repeatedly been told, politely but sternly, to stick to his own star lane.
He wished he could come up with a more probable theory than suspecting that Barray was dealing contraband. A non-indenturee confederate would likely pick up the goods. Chems, pilfered equipment or tech, and stolen raw metals were all likely candidates.
He wouldn’t have tagged her for a thief. She’d been convicted of crashing a friend’s air-racing yacht into a Central Galactic Concordance government launch hangar that housed military orbiters. When she couldn’t pay the court-ordered restitution, the CGC arbiter remanded her to the CRIO system. The record implied she’d been chemmed to the gills.
That didn’t sync with her comment earlier that day about avoiding drugs of any sort, but everyone did stupid things now and again.
He wanted Barray to be the person he thought she was, but his experience with the theft ring situation taught him not to be swayed by what he wished to be true, and to look at the actual facts. He needed to know what was in the crate.
Read the rest in CATS OF WAR:
Apple Books ~ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cats-of-war/id1455752671?mt=11
B&N ~ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130863996?ean=2940161479490
Kobo ~ https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/cats-of-war
Google Play ~ https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Carol_Van_Natta_Cats_of_War?id=8lSMDwAAQBAJ
Cats of War
A tarnished military Subcaptain, a repair technician hiding from her past, and two genetically engineered cats join must forces to save an important factory.
Military Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the galactic government’s Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring during his previous assignment. He's more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he's told her, because technically, he's her warden.
Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She's lucked into a tech repair job. If she keeps her head down, she'll soon be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local shark behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she's running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.
Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn't know what she'll do if she can't convince Tauceti to rescue the cats and keep them until she's free to come for them.
But when trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them.
Find out what happens in this exciting standalone novella from Carol Van Natta's award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
NOTE TO READERS: Cats of War debuted in the limited edition Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology. It has been edited for clarity, but is substantially unchanged from the original. If you already have the anthology, you don't need to buy this story again (unless you like your books standalone). For fans of the Central Galactic Concordance series, the events in Cats of War take place after Jumper’s Hope, but are not part of the ongoing big damn story arc.
Carol Van Natta is a USA TODAY bestselling and award-winning science fiction and fantasy author. Series include the Central Galactic Concordance space opera series that starts with Overload Flux and Minder Rising, and the Ice Age Shifters paranormal romance series that starts with Shifter Mate Magic and Shift of Destiny. She shares her Fort Collins, CO home with a resident mad scientist and just the right number of mad cats.
Chat with her on Facebook at https://facebook.com/CarolVanNattaAuthor, or visit her on the web at http://author.carolvannatta.com. Be the first to find out about new releases by signing up for her newsletter at http://bit.ly/CVN-news.
What a year for a new year. We need it like we needed life I guess...
What a day for new day. And our star shines like a miracle and our world is almost beautiful again. What a day for new day.
From What a Year for a New Year by Dan Wilson
Yes, I’m aware that the song lyrics might appear tardy. Yes, I’m aware it’s no longer January. Has anyone informed Mother Nature? Honestly, all the ups and downs, weather-wise and otherwise, have had me in a bit of a funk. Luckily, I get to say something wonderful.
What an awesome sentence. It comes loaded with hope for new life and brighter days, a return to feeling less sullen, cold, and overwhelmed. Whatever the weather, it gives me the urge to throw open the windows in the house. My grandmother always said you’ve got to “blow the stink off.” This is always the time of year I understand that the most.
Personally, I’m a fan of new beginnings. I take them whenever I can. New days, Mondays, holidays. All of them are a chance for a reboot when you need one. You just have to accept the gift of a fresh start.
We’ve already been offered several this year. We celebrated the kickoff to the Gregorian Calendar on January 1 and the Julian Calendar fourteen days later before observing the Lunar New Year, Imbolc, and multiple other cultural New Year’s celebrations in February. Recently, we passed Caesar’s dreaded Ides of March—nothing like a Shakespearean drama to forever mark the start of the Roman new year. Today, however, our new beginning comes with the added bonus of balance. Today, we are sitting perfectly even between day and night before we tip the scales in a headlong rush toward summer. I think it’s a rather romantic view of the seasons.
And as far as romance goes… I’m using this as a springboard to jump back into a project that has had to simmer for a few weeks while personal issues took precedence. My recent book of short stories The Arts of Love is all about steamy scenes between artists, actors, and musicians. Nearly everyone who has read the compilation has mentioned that they loved the interaction between washed-up drummer Justin Barrett and shy-girl Gina. I’ve been outlining a novel starring the two and am ready to jump back into their lives.
If you’re in Central Illinois on April 13, I’ll be doing a reading from the book and having a Q&A with a few other romance authors. Stop in and tell me you follow Love Romance Reads. I’d love to chat with you. Until then, I wish all of you renewed hope and happy new beginnings.
The Arts of Love
You know what they say about those creative types...
Playful, rebellious, sensitive and passionate, nobody loves like an artist. These sixteen stories set the stage for racy encounters with bad boy rock stars, sensual actors, and artists seeking their muse. Inside this collection you'll find:
* A drummer aching to satisfy the one woman who doesn't recognize that he's a rock star
* A writer unaware that his fans and former assistant find him undeniably attractive
* An eccentric college professor enticing her protégé with informal lessons on dance, drawing, and desire
* A stage manager struggling to remain professional with the show's sexy director
Whether you're looking for a playwright provoking her friend's uptight cop neighbor to help with blocking, two choir men battling for the affection of the girl-next-door, or a struggling writer finding an unusual muse in the Japanese countryside, this collection will have you ready for romance.
Harley Easton is a Renaissance woman dabbling in everything life offers. She's worked at a theme park, found expert witnesses, guest lectured at a national museum, and worked with medical students. Putting experience and insanity to good use, She's found her favorite job, writing. Now she specializes in erotic, romantic, and speculative fiction. Who knows what kind of trouble she'll get into next.
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