Thursday, September 14, 2017

End of Summer Fun


Hello everyone and welcome. It has certainly been hot summer here in SoCal as well as other places. I love barbecues and family get-togethers, especially the ones we host. For me this is a special time and I really cherish the moments I spend with family and friends. It’s fun to catch up with them and see what new is going on.

I chose to feature my mural picture because it is a place where I’d like to have a get-together. I could just imagine my small barbecue grilling up veggie burgers and dogs for everyone. I’d like to thank the artist, Ed Altomare for recreating this beauty for us.

As it is getting closer to fall, I wanted to share with you a summer dish that everyone loves - my potluck rice dish. It is easy and fun to make, since I get to use my food processor.


Here are the ingredients:

1 cups dry short grain brown rice
1 small white onion diced
12 Shishito peppers
1 Jalapeño chili finely chopped (Add more for taste)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1-pound ripe tomatoes diced
Sea salt to taste
Grapeseed oil


Cook the rice to instruction. I recommend short grain brown rice because it really creates a unique dish. The alternative is to use your favorite rice.

While the rice is cooking, start cutting up the peppers and onion. I would recommend using a dicer when chopping them. I have an attachment that I connect to my mixer. Dice up the peppers and onion. Put these and the garlic into 2 Tbsp. of grapeseed oil and sauté for about five minutes. I prefer to use this oil since it has a high burn factor and doesn’t change properties when heated.

While the peppers and onion are cooking, dice up the tomatoes and set them aside.

When the rice is done, mix in vegetables and tomatoes. Add in the spices and tomato paste and stir well.

As a side note: for variation, you can add carrot slivers. Just add them to the pan when you are cooking the peppers/onions. They cook down nicely and add a nice flavor to the dish.

This dish goes great with homemade refried beans. Or you can have veggie burgers and corn on the cob. Don’t forget your favorite beverage.

I’d like to hear from you about your favorite summer dishes.

Enjoy!


Until Next Time, 


Lynn 
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Copyright 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

My Review for Suzie Carr's 'Beneath Everything'


Good afternoon, everyone and welcome. It’s so good to see you. Recently I finished Suzie Carr’s latest book, ‘Beneath Everything’ and today I’m sharing my review. For those of you who don’t know Suzie or would like to learn more about her, feel free to check out my interview I had with her. Suzie’s work is phenomenal and you will see why.



The main characters of this story are Sarah and Jolene and the supporting characters are Frenchy and Maureen. Frenchy is Sarah’s best friend, married to Jolene’s uncle, and Maureen is Jolene’s mother.  They tell the story of how the four women search for what is important to them.

This book starts out with a bang for Sarah and this grabbed my attention immediately. I really felt the shame of the humiliation she was feeling at that moment.  The scene is brilliantly put together and the way Sarah handled it was priceless. You are going to want to read this.

Sarah is confident, but comes off as a workaholic.  She works in marketing for an advertising business and appears to like her demanding job. On the inside, she is lonesome and desperate for affection.  The number one person in her life who she looked up to was her father.

Staying on schedule is important for her and she doesn’t like to be inconvenienced. She is an introvert and would be the type of person who would exchange a text conversation instead of make a phone call.  At 35, she is insecure about her looks, but at the same time is all worn out. It was hard watching her suffer from her fears. The author provided a deep insight into her thinking.

She had to surrender to the moment at hand, dropping her negativity and drinking up all drops of insight her situation might present. She would seek strength over weakness, freeing herself from any vain attempt at controlling what couldn’t be controlled.


The other main player, Jolene is very laid back, but attached to her mother, Maureen. She is newly single.  Her blood ties are very strong and family comes first.  She enjoys the simple life and has a positive outlook on life. It’s no wonder that she has a beautiful, but somewhat dangerous career. There is no way you’d find this woman sitting behind a desk all day.  

Jolene lives in the moment without regrets.   She doesn’t dwell on what she doesn’t have; the glass is half full for her at all times. She has great faith and believes it is all going to work out for the best. 

She has a caring heart, but… You can find out more about this in the book. 

She lived to help people explore their deepest desires and open their eyes to the beauty of life beyond the terrestrial landscape that littered most people’s lives with ridiculously long and monotonous to-do lists. She found ways to create meaning and joy for others through her actions. 
Now let’s bring in the supporting characters. Frenchy is smooth talking and not afraid to take risks.  I found her to be clever.  She's the type of person who wants to see everyone happy.  I really liked this character and her role drew me further into the plot.  Her participation is a real page turner and she made me laugh hard at times.  

Maureen is soft-spoken, and has a good heart. However, she can be a bit possessive and has problems letting things go. She is a great supporting character and the author executed her very well. 

This story goes into depth regarding the relations of these women and it is beautiful watching them grow. Suzie’s stories have wisdom and knowledge in them.  She tells them in a gentle tone and offers her own insights. She really knows how to draw you in and keep your attention. I found that some scenes brought on feelings of peace and wonder. In all Suzie’s stories, she gives you insight into the character’s soul, which creates a connection. 

‘Beneath Everything’ is a story where you want to carve out about five hours to read. I say this because once you pick it up, you’re not going to want to put it down. It is very well written and easy to follow. The romance scenes add a really nice touch to the plot and I just love how they flowed. I am recommending this book for everyone who enjoys a nice heart-to-heart story.


Here is an excerpt to get you started on this amazing journey. 

“Right,” Jolene said, nodding her head. She scanned the lot. “Let me in your car,” she said. “We should exchange information in case you want to sue me.”

Sarah shook her head. “Absolutely not. You’re covered in them.”

“I’ll brush them off.” She glided around to the passenger side, and bent forward. “I won’t let any of them near you. I promise.”

Sarah weighed her options. Put the car in drive and gun it out of the parking lot, risking her friendship with Frenchy or let Jolene in and risk cicadas hoteling in her hair, the same hair she paid eighty dollars to have whipped up into an informal upsweep a few hours before in her home.

“I’m not leaving. I’ll keep standing here until you let me in.”

 In the seconds between her shallow breaths, Sarah battled her stupid fear, flinging it aside and putting Frenchy above it. She unlocked her passenger door and Jolene slid in while swiping cicadas off her sleeves. They flicked and buzzed.

Sarah squeezed her eyes shut and grabbed her head as if about to crash land from thirty-thousand feet.

“Don’t worry. I’m gathering them up.” Jolene’s arm bumped Sarah’s head. “Oops, sorry. Hang on. Let me get this little one here above you, and we’ll be all set.” She shifted even closer. “Damn. Hang on. Geez, she’s a quick one.”

Sarah’s whimpers filled the car.

“I got her. She’s the last. I have them all here in my satchel. If you open your eyes I promise to zipper them in until we get outside.”

With her eyes still closed, Sarah asked, “Are you sure?”

“It’s just you and me,” she whispered.




Five Stars
Until Next Time, 

Lynn 
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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Meet Author Anne Hagan.


Good afternoon Friends and welcome. Today I am featuring author Anne Hagan, creator of the ‘Loving Blue in Red States’ series. I have included a nice excerpt for your enjoyment at the bottom of the blog. Anne Hagan is brilliant in her writing and will catch your attention on the first page. Her writing motto is – Family, Friends, Love, Murder and Mayhem. Come on over and meet this creative artist. You can’t help but fall in love with her. 
Also, do be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the interview Anne is doing in conjunction with author E.A. Kafkalas. E.A. Kafkalas is the author of ‘Frankie and Petra’ and ‘The Second Heart’. Anne’s books in the giveaway are ‘Relic’ and ‘Broken Heart’. 
30 Authors. 43 Autographed Books. 3 Lucky Winners! #EpicLesficWin
Introducing author Anne Hagan.
     Tell us about yourself.
– I’m over 50…nearly 51, the mother of one, a son, a postal worker and a 22-year military veteran of the Army and the Ohio Army National Guard. I’ve been married to an amazing woman who is my polar opposite in many ways for nearly 7 years. We’ve been together for almost 11 years. We’re different but our differences are our strengths. We complement each other well.

How many books do you plan to write for ‘Loving Blue in Red States’?
– The ‘Loving Blue in Red States’ series is a short story series. There are currently five 9,000 to 11,000-word stories. Four are new and complete romance stories and one focuses on a young but already established couple trying to find their place in the world. There are lots more red states. I plan to continue the series with at least five new stories coming in the late Spring of 2018.


How did you feel when the first book in the series was first released?
– ‘Loving Blue in Red States’ is a great series but it wasn’t my first series. The Morelville Mysteries series is a lesfic mystery/romance series that currently stands at nine books. It was my first series. I spun a cozy mystery series off that, ‘The Morelville Cozies’ that will number three books and counting sometime in September. I also have a couple of full length lesfic romances.

Which genres do you like to write in?
– I love writing mysteries featuring strong women. Romance is a little – okay, a lot – tougher for me to write but I do enjoy it. Writing a romance is such a different art form from writing a mystery; even a romantic one. I plan on continuing with my Loving Blue series…and maybe someday turning some of the shorts into full length stories as my vehicle to keep writing romance.

What is one thing you like about the town you live in?
- I live in a tiny village, population about 450, out in the middle of nowhere. Farms are all around outside the village. My wife grew up on a small family farm a few miles out of the village. Her grandparents lived in the house that used to be right next door to us here in ‘town’. Everyone knows everyone here and just about everything about them. That would make some people uncomfortable but, here, in this little burg, it draws everyone closer. Neighbors help each other. Neighbors pull together for the good of the community. We have our detractors, being a lesbian couple in a very conservative, ‘red’ area, but most people here take a live and let live attitude with us and with just about everyone they encounter.
Can you elaborate on your visit to Golden Crown Literary Society?
– I went to the Chicago GCLS Convention (Con) in July. It was my first time going to a GCLS Con, so I was a con virgin. Being among so many luminaries of lesfic for several days was an amazing experience. I met so many authors whose books I’ve read for years. I admit to fangirling a little bit. I also met some fans of my books and maybe even made a few new ones. I learned a ton in master’s classes for authors and at panels focused on different genres and issues surrounding lesfic.

It’s definitely a con that’s worth going to if you’re an author. I do have some heartburn though with the costs for pure readers to attend the con. Ticket prices, whether for one day or for the run of the con, are steep compared to cons in other industries and even other literary cons. A literary con needs to be as much about the reader – if not more so – than about the care and feeding of the authors. The readers should be the focus. The GCLS Board is considering ideas to become more reader focused and I’ve certainly voiced my opinion. Over the long run, for the continued life of lesfic, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of changes.
One thing that was very clear at the con was the fact that lesfic doesn’t have the appeal to younger generations of readers that it has had for women who are over 35 or 40 years of age. Younger women can see themselves as lesbians everywhere; television, movies, online in forums, on user sites and in videos and video games. They don’t have to turn to literature to find other women who love women or to see themselves reflected.

Describe a perfect day.
– I can’t even begin to speculate. Ask me again in five years when life has settled a bit and maybe we have the 2nd home on Douglas Lake in Tennessee, right outside of the Smokies that we’re dreaming of! Right now, no matter what we plan, our plans always change, at least a little bit.

What was the last live music performance you went to?
– There were two notable ones in 2015. My wife is a huge Reba McEntire fan. We saw her at the Ohio State Fair in the Summer of 2015. She’s a phenomenal performer. Also, I’d always wanted to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. We saw them the day after Christmas in 2015. They were everything I hoped for and more. Since late 2015, life has been more than a little crazy. Concerts haven’t been high on the ‘must do’ list.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
– I really would like more time to write! We spend so much time with family, especially my spouse’s family. I love them all to death, don’t get me wrong, but writing often takes a back seat to whatever the latest thing my nieces, nephew and my great nephews are doing. We’re constantly on the run for all things family related. The things we get into though do make great fodder for stories.
Did you do any writing in school?
– I did a little in high school but I didn’t really feel the writing bug until I took a creative writing class in college.
Where is the most exotic place you’ve visited? How was it?
– I’m not much of a world traveler. I’ve been all over the U.S. and into Canada. It’s not that I don’t want to travel the world, I just haven’t had the opportunity. There have been other priorities. I’ve been to Hawaii. I found that to have exotic elements but it was very laid back. We’re doing a Bahama’s vacation in 2018…24 of us. That will probably be as ‘exotic’ as it gets for me for a while.
What is the most daring thing you’ve written about? Can you share?
– I guess it would be writing lesfic at all. When I started writing Relic, my first book, Sheriff Melissa ‘Mel’ Crane wasn’t going to have a foil or even a mention of her sexual preference. It was just going to be a mystery, period. The story didn’t work. Making it lesfic and bringing Special Agent Dana Rossi into Mel’s world changed everything.

Can you share with us your passion for your Hagan’s House of Horrors?
– My wife and I both acted in Haunted Houses in the past. My time in one was in my distant past. Her experiences doing that are a lot more current. Anyway, it’s always been her dream to own and operate one. I enjoy it but it’s really her dream. For me, it’s a lot of work supporting her, advertising, dealing with vendors, doing the accounting and taxes and doing all the other things that come with being the chief administrator. She’s the creative brains behind the haunt. It’s all about the business behind the scenes for me.
We ran into a snag in 2016 with some fire codes that changed significantly. We’re sitting out 2017 and trying to decide how or if we want to move forward. We have a couple of options but one involves a large expenditure of cash and the other a huge investment of time (and a little cash) to get back to code for what is really a seasonal business with a very short season.
Me: I love haunted houses and everything having to do with Halloween. I’m looking for some great haunts for my Halloween entry in late October 2017. 
Besides writing, how do you participate with the LGBTQ community?
– We moved from suburban Columbus, Ohio to a small village in a rural area more than an hour out of Columbus in October of 2013. Since that time, we’ve participated less in LGBT focused activities in that area and more in supporting the needs of our new local community, as a whole. There is a tiny LGBT support network out here but we’ve found acceptance within the community we live in by being active participants in the things that matter more to people here than political activism. Things like hanging (and taking down) Christmas lights, throwing spaghetti dinner benefits for those in need, collecting clothing and food for families that could use them and so forth. It’s activism in our own way…one heart and one mind at a time.
Me: Anne took this picture of her nieces and nephews participating with a raffle to raise money for the village Christmas lights last year. They got $650 worth of donations and they sold over $1,100 worth of tickets. The village population is about 450 total people. Way to go!

What is next for you?
– That’s another tough question. I’ve got lots of ideas for books and plans into 2018 and beyond. Ideally, I’d love to quit working a day job and focus only on writing but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Instead, I see me spending at least a couple of more years working with the U.S. Postal Service and writing when and where I can around family events and obligations. I’ve been talking with a couple of other authors about leaving the indie life and starting a publishing company. We may very well do that but it’s going to take a few years to build a foundation and to gain author clients and momentum. We’ll see where we are in 2020 or so.

#####

Now for the giveaway Anne is cohosting with author E.A. Kafkalas. There are over 30 authors (43 books), including Anne Hagan’s ‘Relic’ and ‘Broken Women’, and E.A. Kafkalas’ ‘Frankie and Petra’ and ‘The Second Heart.’

Included in the lot is S.W. Andersen’s ‘Switchback.’ I am currently reading this one, so stay tuned for my upcoming review. Enter for your chance to win this collection and see how great Lesfic literature is.
The Grand Prize winner will receive 24 signed books, chosen at random from the collected works, the 2nd & 3rd prize winners will get 12 & 7 signed books respectively.
Winners will be chosen randomly. 
These two authors are 2017 GCLS winners.
Karen D. Badger – 1140 Rue Royale
Ana B Good – The Big Sugarbush
Also, I’d like to mention author Lori L. Lake, who was a GLCS winner last year. She has three books in the giveaway that you are going to love.  ‘Eight Dates,’ ‘A Very Public Eye,’ and ‘Jump the Gun’. Lori has written professionally for many years and her work is well known. When she’s not writing, she coaching other writers. At the same time, she serves as the head of the Governance Committee for the Board at the Oregon Writer’s Colony.


#####
Thank you so much, Anne, for your time and enthusiasm. Anne’s books are available on Amazon and I am recommending ‘Loving Blue in Red States – Sweetwater Texas’, which I have included an excerpt below. You’re going to love this one. Be sure to check out Anne’s links so you can keep up with her and reach out.  

Website: https://www.AnneHaganAuthor.com (you can read her blog and sign up for her email list from the pop up or from the sidebar on the site)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorAnneHagan @AuthorAnneHagan


As promised I have included a nice excerpt for ‘Loving Blue in the Red States – Sweetwater Texas.’ Enjoy.

“Whatever you say,” Cass said. “I didn’t come back here to argue with you.” 
“Why did you come back here?” 
Cass held up the release form, face out. “This. I need just a little bit more information before I become someone’s guinea pig.” 
Emmie did her best to control her temper as she addressed the brash woman. “It’s not a requirement. You’re free to skip participating and just go on your way whenever I’m… well, whenever I’m doing the things I need to do with the class for my research.” 
“Not very confident in yourself, are you, Emmie?” She said her name with added emphasis. 
Emmie threw her hands up. “I thought you didn’t want to argue? Look, if that’s all, I really do need to get going. I have a little bit of a drive to get home and I have work to do yet this evening.” 
“Abilene?” Cass asked, as Emmie gathered her things.
“Other direction. Other side of Sweetwater, here, out a little ways.” 
“Really?” Cass tilted her head and cocked an eyebrow.
Emmie glanced at her and then glanced quickly away. Rather than answer, she made a show of winding up the power cord for her laptop and stowing it in her bag. 
“My nephew is a Junior on the team this year.”
“That’s nice for him. They’re looking pretty good,” she conceded as her tone went from sarcastic to monotone. 
“You didn’t even ask who he is,” Cass pointed out.
“I’m sorry. Who, pray tell, is your nephew?” Emmie asked as she picked up the laptop bag and started for the door.
“Wow, you’re something, you know? You’d catch more flies with just a little more honey, honey.” 
The strawberry blond whirled to face the other woman. “Don’t call me honey!”
“Whoa! Sorry!” Cass held up her hands in mock surrender. She still had the release form in her left hand.
“Just give me that. I’ll dispose of it on the way out.”
“I’ll walk out with you. Wouldn’t do to have you walking out alone tonight.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“And I’m absolutely sure that you can but there’s more safety in numbers and, besides, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to participate; only that I want more information.”
Emmie sighed and started walking. Cass followed.
“What’s the topic of your thesis?”
Emmie slowed and waited for the other woman to come alongside her. “How economic failure influences adult education.” 
“Ouch,” Cass said.
“Is that a problem?” 
“Not for me. I’m not an ‘economic failure’.”
“I never said you were. It’s just that programs like this appeal to people trying to better themselves, get out of the cotton fields, off the ranch…” 
“What’s wrong with working on a ranch?” 
Emmie groaned. It was coming out all wrong. “Nothing. I grew up on a ranch. It’s practically the only life I’ve known.” 
“Obviously not; not if you’re in a Master’s program. You’ve probably been a student most of your life… never had a real job.” 
“Now who’s making assumptions?” Emmie flung back at Cass. She reached the door going out, pushed it open hard, then strode ahead toward her car. She wanted to put as much distance between herself and the insufferable Cassandra Prater as she could, as quickly as she could.

Click on the link below for your copy of ‘Loving Blue in Red States’

Check out Anne's Amazon Author Page to purchase her other books, including ‘Relic’ and ‘Broken Heart.’

Until Next Time, 

Lynn 
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Copyright 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017 North American Eclipse

On 21-Aug-17, North America got to experience a rare but amazing spectacle - the solar eclipse. For centuries people have been awed by this awesome sight that only astronomers understood. In ancient times, people had no warning and I can only imagine what effect it had on them.


Here is a picture that a friend took during the eclipse. I hope they were not looking through the lens of their camera as the picture was shot. SoCal was not in the path of the sun/moon.

I can't remember ever witnessing one of these. The only total eclipse I've seen was the total lunar eclipse back in 2015. The sky got really dark and the moon looked opaque. We were able to see the entire thing. I remember it being a very enlightening experience.


This time I took precautions. I brought all my cats inside. Thankfully all my felines took to the bed and slept the entire time. I didn't have to worry about them getting spooked. I was very careful not to look up at the sun when I was outside, since I didn't have the special viewing glasses.


A friend of mine told me she had seen two total eclipses, the one of Normandy back in 1999 and the one of last year on Réunion Island, a French region located in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, where she lives. What an amazing experience.


I kept checking all morning, but didn’t notice any dimming. Still I wanted to see this beautiful event. One of my friends told me the BBC airing it live on the internet. So, I went to their website and was able to watch the eclipse with my naked eye on my computer screen while two friendly gentlemen commentated.  The location of the eclipse at that time was in Oregon.


I captured the next two pictures as screenshots from the BBC website. This one below was taken about eight minutes before the eclipse. I watched as the sun disappeared behind the moon. The entire screen was black for a moment.



Then they showed this shot of the total solar eclipse. I find the glow from the sun to be eerie. This is something I can stare at for a long time and still never stop wondering about it. This picture reminds me of a movie that came out many years ago, The Ring. They had used a similar photo for their movie promos. 



Nonetheless, I'm not disappointed that I didn't get to witness it live. It would have been nice to have been able to see the darkened sky. I was awed by this incredible experience and am really grateful that I got to see what I did. I thank BBC for airing these magnificent sights.

I spoke with some people regarding the eclipse and got some different answers. Two people said that they did see the shadows of the crescent sun cast on the ground as you can see in the next two pictures. Others described the experience as very special. In fact, one person said that they felt a connection to the it. Another admitted that they glanced up at the sun, but only for an instant. I'm not sure I would have done that since I value my eyesight. My mom is in Detroit and she said it was almost like dusk at the time of the eclipse.  She took the picture below.  


All in all, August 21, 2017 was a special day for me. I allowed myself to just be and enjoy the few minutes I had during this time. I would love to talk with you about your experience with this year's total solar eclipse. Feel free to send me any pictures you may have. I have always been interested in this phenomenon and would like to see/ hear it from your view.


Until Next Time, 

Lynn 
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