I love May! It’s one of my favorite seasons because the rain has stopped, everything is blooming, and it’s not hot enough yet to close the windows and turn on the AC.
The other thing I love about May are the fresh, local strawberries. They’re huge and sweet and delicious and I add them to everything: salads, cereal, yogurt, and ice cream.
My favorite way to eat strawberries, besides being covered in whipped cream, is in Strawberry Pie. The recipe below is a conglomeration of three recipes: one from my grandmother, one from a young woman who used to babysit my twins, and a 1973 Forum Feasts Cookbook.
It takes a little bit more work than the average gelatin-set strawberry pie, but it’s worth it!!
And here’s to the last few weeks of Spring!
1 9” pre-baked pie shell
2 pints fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1 envelope plus 1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
¾ cup warm water
1 cup sugar
¼ cup kirsch
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
Slice each berry into 3-4 lengthwise slices. Blend enough of the berries to make 1 cup of berry puree. Chill remaining berry slices.
In a small bowl, combine gelatin and cold water, stirring to dissolve. Set aside.
In a saucepan, add ¾ cup warm water and berry puree. Stir until mixture boils. Add sugar until dissolved and transfer puree to a medium bowl.
Add gelatin/water mixture to berry puree and stir until dissolved.
Strain berry puree through a fine-meshed strainer to remove seeds.
Partly fill a large bowl with ice and put medium bowl on top. Stir until mixture thickens into a syrup.
Stir in Kirsch, Cointreau, and the remaining chilled berry slices.
Mix well but gently and turn into the prepared pie shell. Chill for at least 4 hours.
Serve with whipped cream.
One Dark Wish
September 24, 2019
Military ~ Romantic Suspense/Thriller
"Sexy Green Berets, dark secrets, and sizzling chemistry."—Cherry Adair, New York Times bestselling author
Her life must be forfeit for his to be redeemed
Historian Sarah Munro is not used to being shot at, but that's just what happens while she's poking around cemeteries on Georgia's Isle of Grace, searching for the key to a centuries-old cipher. Her quest has unwittingly drawn the attention of two deadly enemies intent on destroying each other—and anyone who gets in their way.
Ex–Green Beret Major Nate Walker is on a mission of his own: to restore the honor of his men. To do that, he is required to stop Sarah—or one of his own men will die. Caught in the middle of a deadly rivalry, Nate can't afford to trust the woman standing in his way. But his heart says he can't afford not to...
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.
It was a late afternoon on a Tuesday. Storm clouds were rolling in like taxis during rush hour. Nobody was going out in this weather. My tea was getting cold, so I hit the internet to check the chatter.
A post caught my attention. The dame was smart, a writer. She had the sort of imagination that left readers in the thick of a romance they’d kill to make reality. But it wasn’t the romance that was dying.
“It’s the reviewers,” she lamented. Even online I could sense tears forming in those baby blues. “They’ve disappeared. There were great comments on the first book, but the sequel...” If she’d been in my office, I would have handed her a tissue. Never could stand to see a broad cry. “I've given away a crate of books and I’ve only received two reviews.
What’s going on, Slim?”
“Ya got me, sister. It’s a mystery.”
Hokey Noir prose aside, this really is a mystery. For those of you who aren’t aware, the publishing industry is a machine. The machine churns out books based on specific criteria: the book follows a trend, the book is by an established author, or the book is an anomaly with guaranteed success. Harry Potter was rejected by over a hundred publishers and it became a world-wide multi-generational phenomenon. Rejection by a publishing company doesn’t mean the book’s bad. It means that book doesn’t check the boxes editors need checked to keep their job at the publishing house.
It’s no wonder many authors avoid major publishing houses all together, choosing instead to pour their own funds into editing services and cover art so they can get their work in front of people they really care about, the readers. Once that book is in the hands of readers the waiting begins. And it can kill an author. Take it from the person that spent an entire week at a conference where readers only wanted to reread books by famous authors rather than pick up a title by an indie.
Reviews can be the lifeblood of the indie trade. They are what boost a book up the Amazon sales list so other readers can find it. They are what lets potential readers know that a book is worth the effort. More than ads or giveaways, reviews are what can make or break a book. But there is still a reluctance for readers to leave reviews.
I’m asking you as a reader, why is that?
Works by famous authors will have hundreds of reviews almost the instant they go live on selling platforms. Indie writers can have a book up for months without a review. So why is it that readers aren’t willing to spend a few seconds to review?
You can even see this trend on Love Romance Reads. This is a site dedicated to Romance Readers. It’s where authors and readers are supposed to connect. However, a scroll through the author pages yields few reader comments. What would encourage you to leave a review? Is it knowing that just the words “I liked it,” hold ten times the weight of a star review, which itself is more valuable than gold to indies? What prevents you from leaving one? Is it the worry that you aren’t anonymous?
Help a writer out and let’s solve this mystery together.
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.
There’s a song from a boys band I listened to a lot when I was in college, a tribute to moms everywhere. Once in a while, it’ll play in my head on repeat until I listen to it. For a long time, I thought my mom was perfect. I mean, don’t we all at some point?
Because that too happens at some point, the moment we realize our mother is flawed.
Did you ever ask yourself if you’d do better than your mom if you’d had kids? That your discipline would be different? That you’d raise your children in a different way? That you’d be more open and understanding?
I thought I would. But I didn’t have kids, nor will I have any, but that’s another story.
Through primary and high school, my homemaker mom had to raise my brothers and me on a single salary that wasn’t always stable due to my stepfather’s job―construction workers had it hard in the 80s and early 90s. Let’s face it, we were poor; I only realized that as an adult.
Because she did her best, so we’d never know it. Our lunches were never empty even if they were odd sometimes. We had clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads. We even had pets. My mother was the best to me back then, even if I felt she was too strict with me. Thing is, my friends were a little more...developed than I was, as in they were experiencing with boys and drugs and I just wasn’t there in my life. I felt that my curfew was restrictive but was too respectful to break it.
The summer I turned 13, my mother sent me to live with my father. Like all children, by law, I could choose where I wanted to live by the age of 12 but that choice was taken from me following a sudden decision―or so I thought. I only found out when I was an adult the real reason why and that reason was one of protection; protect me from an upcoming situation she didn’t want me to be a part of or suffer through.
Because that’s what mothers do. They protect you.
After that revelation, we grew closer. I’d call her three or four times a week, we’d spend hours on the phone.
Then the shit hit the fan, pardon the expression. I got sick, enough to be scared for my life. And I felt so alone with my parents living hundreds of miles away. I was mad at them for not helping, but even more at my mother and I can’t even tell you why because I don’t know. I stopped calling, communicating even. I felt hurt that she didn’t protect me. But, how could she? She doesn’t have magic powers.
We made it back to our old ways slowly, only to have it crash back down about a year later when she bluntly asked me if I was dating my female best friend because she and I are super close―as in cuddling on the couch. The way Mom asked me insulted me, not because she wondered if I was gay but because she thought I’d made such an important life change without telling her. I was mad for a long time and didn’t tell her. I still haven’t told her, and it’s been four years. I carried it for a long time but finally let it go. I don’t care anymore because I know she’d accept it and move on if I did come out to her, regardless of my lifestyle choice. How many moms do that? Not all of them, trust me.
See? Moms have flaws. But remember that they were young girls once. Maybe they went through rough patches with their mothers too. They’re not perfect. But I’ll be damned if she wasn’t supportive. Trust me when I say that my mom is the perfect fan.
Jack Whitcomb never expected to return to Hillside House, but a death in the family calls him home.
As soon as he steps foot in the house that never really felt like a home, he is embroiled in a game of cat and mouse with his unstable sister, Olivia.
Years have gone by since they’ve seen each other but Jack senses something is wrong, His sister is evasive and so is the real story behind their parents' death. What secrets is she hiding?
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.
Like Mystery? Love Mom? Look to the Romance Novel’s Hate-Love Relationship with
As Mother’s Day approaches, Romance writers celebrate our actual mothers—biological
or surrogate. We laud them for their wisdom and patience, and thank them for the
endless ways they’ve encouraged or corrected us as we find our way in the world. Our
mothers made us readers and became our first readers when we began to write.
Without my mother I wouldn’t be writing these words, but in romance fiction mothers
play a different role, most often by being absent, and some times, if the writer is lucky
or clever, by being a mystery.
As romance writers, it’s our job to separate our heroines from their mothers as quickly,
and often as brutally, as we can. “First, whack the parents” is an established rule of
writing popular fiction. The heroine may have a dog, a horse, or a friend, but never a
wise and loving mother. To be a heroine, she has to find her way to lasting love by
The writer’s method of separating a heroine from her mother can be cruel or comic.
Contrast Fontine’s separation from Cosette in Les Miserables with Jane Austen’s
separation of Elizabeth from Mrs. Bennet in P & P. Or consider Naledi Smith’s
motherless upbringing in foster care in Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory, which makes
Naledi the perfect spunky, I’ve-got-to-do-it-all-by-myself heroine. As writers, we’ve
done our first job when we get the mother out of the way and set up our independent
heroine to stumble or stride alone along the path to love.
Nevertheless, our heroine can’t actually reach her happy ending unless she comes to
terms with her absent or problematic mother. She must solve the “mystery” of her
mother. She has to know her mother to know herself, and only with that self-
knowledge, that recognition of herself as her mother’s daughter, will she choose wisely
in the matter of love.
The heroine’s need to understand her mother hands the writer a great opportunity to
make of the missing mom a mystery. Who was she? Why did she leave, or die? How is
the heroine like or unlike her? A writer can answer those questions in a single sentence
as Austen does about Mrs. Bennet and Lady Elliot. Or the writer can make the absent
mother haunt the story.
The “mystery” mother, in whatever century she’s from, is pure gold for the romance
writer. Over the past year my sisters and I have been going through thousands of family
photos and slides our mother kept, discovering things we didn’t know as children. One
of the slides shows Mom (in a gorgeous dress worthy of Lady Felicia in the Father Brown
mysteries) with Dad and the then youngest child. We lived in Honolulu at the time, and the three of them had returned to the mainland. “Oh,” said my sisters, “Don’t you
remember? That’s when Mom was thinking of divorcing Dad.” The mystery of mom hit
me squarely. Who was she? The young woman who’d meant to be a journalist and
travel the world covering international news? Or the wife of a rising executive managing
a gracious home and growing family? Why did she want to leave? Why did she decide to
A powerful novel haunted by an absent mother is Joy Kagawa’s Obasan. It’s the story of
a Japanese-Canadian family broken apart by internment during and after WWII, but it’s
really a detective novel in which the heroine must solve the mystery of her mother’s
failure to return to Canada after the war. Clues abound in every chapter. The answer,
when it comes, is stunning, heartbreaking, and liberating all at once.
In a more modest way the dead mother in A Lady’s Guide to Passion and Property, one
of my Husband Hunter books, is the source of the novel’s mystery subplot. Raised by a
loving innkeeper father, Lucy Holbrook accepts the story that her mother died in
childbirth. Her innkeeper father’s insistence that she become a lady puzzles her. It is
only as Lucy is drawn into fashionable society that she begins to suspect a secret in her
past. The secret is concealed in the troubled mind of her childhood companion, simple-
minded old Adam. When Adam’s heartbreaking secret is finally revealed, Lucy’s
understanding of her identity and her mother’s frees her to become the lady she’s
meant to be.
In A Princess in Theory, Cole’s heroine Naledi also meets someone who insists that she
has an identity far from her grad-student, waitressing, foster-child circumstances. She,
too, discovers that there is a mystery surrounding her dead parents that must be solved
before she can find lasting love.
That’s it, the two-part, hate-love relationship of the Romance Novel and mothers. First
whack the mom; second, let her haunt the heroine.
Just for fun see if you know the titles of these stories with absent moms who haunt their children--
1. A mom who played Dusty Springfield songs and died in a car crash.
2. Three dead moms who left orphans in the small English village of Highbury.
3. An English Quaker mom who died leaving her daughter to care for her blind
4. A mom who ran away with her lover leaving her son at the mercy of his aristocratic
mates in an English boys’ school.
5. A mom who died protecting her infant son from a powerful enemy he would one day
Find the answers at www.facebook.com/KateMooreAuthor
A Spy's Guide to Seduction
March 12, 2019
Historical ~ Regency ~ Romantic Comedy
An independent lady is accidentally betrothed to a spy with a mysterious past in this Regency gem from beloved, award-winning author Kate Moore. A volume of tips for the marriage-minded brought them together, but their sweeping adventure will change all the rules of engagement . . .
When her desperate mother sends her The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London, outspoken Emily Radstock rails against the slim book of manners, boldly declaring that she should wed the first “imbecile” she meets and be done with the matter. Too bad Sir Ajax Lynley overhears her outrageous proposal and holds her to it. But he’s no dullard—he’s a wily government agent who needs the cover of a beautiful fiancé to pursue a deadly enemy. To resist his charms, Emily turns to the guide she disdains—and does exactly the opposite. Dress fashionably? She enshrouds herself in black crepe. Be demure? She steps into danger and faces down criminals alongside her “intended” . . . whose thrilling seduction may be anything but a charade.
Praise for Kate Moore’s previous novels
“Moore writes with a lyrical beauty that will leave no heart untouched.” —RT Book Reviews
“Fans will hope for more of Moore’s sinful delights to come.” --Library Journal (starred review)
“Moore skillfully whets readers’ appetites . . .” --Booklist
A native Californian, Kate taught English to generations of high school students, who are now her Facebook friends, while she not-so-secretly penned Romances. In Kate’s stories honorable, edgy loners meet warm, practical women who draw them into a circle of love whether in Regency London or contemporary California. A Golden Heart, Golden Crown, and Book Buyers Best winner and three-time RITA finalist, Kate lives north of San Francisco with her surfer husband, their yellow Lab, a Pack ‘n Play for visiting grand babies, and miles of crowded bookshelves.
Mother's Day was difficult for me for many years. Like most little girls, I always wanted to be a Mom. I just assumed it would be easy. It was anything but. For over 5 years, my husband and I tried, with various degrees of intervention, to have a child. Two miscarriages and no explanations later, I was done.
Mother's Day became something to dread. No Hallmark cards, flowers, or gifts for me. Clueless strangers wishing me a Happy Mother's Day reduced me to tears. I even had my first miscarriage on that weekend in May of 1997. So, I took off a few years and tried to not mourn the loss.
Eventually, we built our family through adoption, bringing home our two children from Russia, our daughter in 2002 and our son in 2004. And Mother's Day became joyful for me. The annual celebration was filled with cute gifts, flowers, and yes, Hallmark Cards. Twice, we celebrated at Disney, which rocked! Once, my son's soccer coach handed out a single carnation to all the Moms. And that was awesome also.
This year, however, will be my first without my Mom. I lost her last summer to Alzheimer's after a long, heartbreaking battle. And even though she'd already lost the essence of what made her my Mom years before, I still had her. Now, I don't. So, this year, I have to endure another of the firsts without her. I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas, not calling her at the strike of midnight on New Year's Eve. April 25th would have been her 81st birthday, and then comes Mother's Day. So once again, the holiday becomes difficult for me. I am a motherless daughter.
My Mom, Joan Ann Stanton, raised me and my two older brothers alone. She sometimes worked three jobs at a time to provide for us. To give us better than she’d had. She made sure we all got a college education. She always told me, “You can be anything you want, do anything you want, as long as you’re willing to work for it.” And I believed her. So, I became a wife and a mother and then a nurse and finally an author. By the time I achieved that last part, Alzheimer’s had robbed her of her memory and identity. I became the stranger who came to sit with her. Brought her lunch.
So, my advice to you is to cherish the moments you have with your mothers. And your children. Life is at best unpredictable. I try to not take anything for granted. Tell them you love them. Send the flowers. Buy the Hallmark card.
Dr. Elizabeth Abbott Fitzgerald has spent the last ten years of her life running; from tragedy, from family, from love. But now her mother’s failing health calls her home to Windsor Falls, North Carolina; to the place where her past awaits. Sam Bishop can’t believe his eyes when the love of his life returns after ten long years. All he wants is to clear his conscience and get back the family he lost when Connor, his best friend and Elizabeth’s husband died tragically. Could it really be true that time heals all wounds?
Kimberley O’Malley is a transplant to Charlotte, North Carolina from the frozen North. She is learning to say y’all but draws the line at sweet tea. Sarcasm is an art form in her world. She writes small town Contemporary romances and hilarious Cozy Mysteries. When not writing, she is a full-time nurse and part-time soccer Mom, but not necessarily in that order. She shares her life with an amazing husband of more than 23 years, two teenagers, and one very sweet Shetland Sheepdog, Molly.
Amazon Author Bio: www.amazon.com/author/kimberleyomalley
Good Reads Profile: http://bit.ly/grKOM
Book Bub profile: http://bit.ly/bookbubKOM
It’s often said that while winning a battle has immediate gains, it’s pointless if you lose the war. Not so for the Battle of Puebla, which occurred on Cinco de Mayo, 1862.
Not only did Mexico win that battle, it gave a struggling democracy pride at a time when France, a superior and better-equipped force, tried to topple the government and take over the country. A year later the foreigners returned, accomplished their purpose, and set up Ferdinand Maximilian as emperor. In 1867 Mexican troops finally prevailed and the country returned to being a republic.
History lesson over? Not quite. According to National Geographic, the Battle of Puebla strengthened the morale of a young Mexican nation and became “the rallying cry of resistance to foreign domination.” We know Cinco de Mayo today, not as a celebration of the French defeat, but for its celebration of Mexican culture.
I grew up in San Juan Capistrano and spent the second half of my life in Sonoma. Both California cities still celebrate their Mexican heritage. The victory at Puebla must have been welcome news to those who remembered the 1846-48 war between Mexico and the United States, a war that was settled by treaty. The Americans weren’t after subjugation. They wanted specific lands—California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Texas—lands that would fulfill their “manifest destiny,” the buzz words of the day.
Fascinated by old family stories, last year I began writing a historical romance series set in California. The Mission Belles series explores how the Mexican aristocracy survived the transfer of California to the Americans and how the hidalgos adapted to suddenly becoming aliens in their own land. A succession of corrupt officials had made the wealthy rancheros tired of their own government. Many secretly supported the Americans, some of whom had married their daughters. Others did not, but the resistance was neither prolonged nor intense.
By 1862—the year the Battle of Puebla took place—order had been established in California after the chaos of the Gold Rush. By then, old Mexican land titles had either been upheld or denounced, and the new state was ripe for settlers coming from the east. The year also saw refugees from Mexico entering California, either escaping the horrors of war, or taking advantage of abundant and well-advertised opportunities in their neighboring country. One was my ancestor, Jesus B. Nieblas, who walked with his family from Sinaloa to Southern California, initially settling in what would one day become Orange County. Did he have special insights about what might be coming to his country in the immediate future, or was he prudently taking his family to a place that promised a better life? We can only guess.
As we enjoy the fiestas, Ballet Folklorico demonstrations, mariachis, and pinatas, let us also remember the lessons of Cinco de Mayo. Battles won can give us hope, determination, and a never-give-up attitude that can sustain and propel us to our final victory.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Shadow of the Fox
In 1846 War Looms in Alta California.
Sorina Braithwaite, rebellious granddaughter of a prominent California ranchero, has her own battle to fight. Desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a man she despises, she threatens to expose an American spy unless he helps her flee.
Lt. Lance Grainger, intrigued by her audacity as much as her beauty, knows if Sorina disappears, her arrogant fiancé will follow, thus distracting him from the insurgency he’s plotting. But there’s a risk. As the son of a man branded a coward, Lance has spent his entire career rebuilding his family’s honor. If he’s thought to be a deserter, his honor will be in shreds.
As the declaration of war nears, Lance and Sorina set out on a journey of danger and intrigue, but both soon discover their hearts may be in the greatest peril of all.
Author of nine novels and eight history books, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who lives part time in Northern California’s wine country and part time in the Nevada desert. Having spent the last three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug with her patient spouse, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of her gran-cats, gran-dog, and gran-fish. Sadly, the gran-lizard went to his final reward.