Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

It's coming up to New Year's Eve, a time to make resolutions, are you going to make one or two? I have long decided not to, I break the darn things anyway.

As someone once said "A New Year resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other" just about sums it up for me.

I was wondering where it all started this new year thing and discovered about 4000 years ago, can that be right? It makes me nervous to even think of four thousand years!

In Christian countries we have a similar thng at Lent, when we give something up, but we can eat it or enjoy it after Easter - think of all those chocolates that come out around that time. But a new year resolution is for keeps isn't it? You give up smoking, or alcohol, or go on a diet and you mean to keep up with it. That's why I prefer to give up something for Lent, I can indulge once more.

Whatever happens I hope you have a wonderful New Year and that all your dreams come true. And at the same time learn from what Albert Einstein said:

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow"

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

2010 Watch Out!

Well, another Christmas is behind us and we'll soon be welcoming in The New Year. My Christmas plans were to stay home and have a peaceful holiday with the hubby. I had an extra long weekend which is always nice. Thought I was going to be editing but my editor informed me that she's not quite ready. I told her I was kind of glad, for selfish reasons.

Lately I've begun to take stock of my life and how I over commit myself. I've always been a high achiever but let's face it, work is really the only place I have to excel because I have to work and I have to pay the bills. It's time to slow down in my personal life though, and enjoy it more. Pace myself.

I've already begun to make some changes. Which, to my surprise I've adjusted to quite quickly. My first decision was to get rid of three of my five email accounts. I mean, who needs five? Add checking them every day to the hours spent networking and promoting on line and there's little time left for anything else.

I'm going to make more changes once 2010 gets here. I'm going to make a list and check it twice, prioritize, which I'm really great at when I'm at work. I'm going to stick with what works and get rid of what isn't. I've already started using my yahoo calendar to help me keep track of events I've signed up for. That will help me to spread myself out and not commit to too much at one time. I'm bad about that.

This sounds like a New Year's Resolution doesn't it? Have you thought about what you'll make?


Before I go I thought I'd share a photo of me and my granddaughter, taken in St. Augustine a couple weeks.

Friday, December 25, 2009

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

BEST WISHES ALWAYS,

MARGARET BLAKE

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

(And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, Happy Friday!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays!



HOLIDAY WREATH JELLO MOLD

1 pkg. lime Jello
1 lg. can crushed pineapple
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. chopped nuts
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
Red cherries

Mix Jello, water and pineapple juice. Make sure Jello dissolves. Set aside 1/2 hour in refrigerator. Mix cream cheese, nuts, pineapple until mushy. Mix in with Jello mixture. Place cherries on bottom of round wreath shaped mold. Pour in Jello mixture, set until firm. This is great with Christmas ham as a side salad, tasty!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Connections

Don’t you just love the way families reconnect over the holidays? No one can hold a grudge, or recall who said what to whom, so they smile, hug and share news while they break bread. It warms my heart every time I witness a reunion, especially one where no one truly expected the parties to ever set aside their differences.

Miracles, it seems, do happen. And isn’t it fabulous?

Around here we have been getting lots of phone calls from distant family and friends. While there are no hatchets to bury or squabbles to set aside, it still feels great to speak with people we don’t hear from more than a few times each year. I love catching up, hearing the latest news and sharing our stories. I suppose that as much as we’d love to think we’re independent, we’re all still connected. It’s the connectedness that lifts my heart and nourishes my soul.

What about you? Are you feeling connected with those in your life, near and far? Do you maybe have someone you’d like to reconnect with? I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do, but I will say that this is the perfect time of year to extend a hand in friendship and love. It seems no one is able to turn away, and fences mend more easily when hearts are light.

The snow…I think that’s part of the magic but that’s only my opinion!

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

His Other Wife


If you are looking for something to read over Christmas might I recommend "His Other Wife" a passionate romance of two people who are complete opposites?

Life is so hectic at the moment I have not had time to prepare a blog - that's my excuse anyway. Chat with you next week, I promise.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Release Day




Today Whiskey Creek Press releases A Private Matter.


The drive-by shooting is considered an unsolvable crime. But in A Private Matter a troubled detective and a beautiful meddler combine forces to bring a killer to justice.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Scent of the Holidays

Like everyone, we have certain holiday traditions. Many of the sounds and scents that provoke holiday smiles, reminiscences and laughter originate in the kitchen. That’s right, we like to cook, bake and eat—and our holiday memories are a testament to the fact!

We’ve had some funny kitchen times…

One afternoon I filled a new lasagna pan in order to accommodate the crowd, never realizing the pan was twice as deep as the one I customarily used so it would need double oven time. The crowd waited, nibbling antipasto and teasing me about my cooking snafu. By the way, the lasagna was super!

Then there was the Christmas Eve that I set the kitchen ablaze. It was just a small blaze, mind you, but it is seared into memory. Oh, and just in case you were wondering…well, let’s just say it’s never a good idea to put the pot holders in the oven after you’ve taken the roasting pan out. I know, I know…and, before you ask, no, I don’t know what I was thinking!

We still laugh about the year early in our marriage when we decided to bake cookies for nearly everyone on the planet. I am not kidding; our cookie list was so long we baked for days. By the time we had delivered all the tins of goodies and gone back home, neither of us could stand to look at a cookie. We had pie for dessert on Christmas that year. The leftover cookies thawed nicely in July, and were well appreciated by then!

Anyhow, you see where some of the most heartwarming holiday magic comes from in our house.

We’re in full baking mode again this year—on a smaller scale but we’re baking. Yesterday was a snowy, cold afternoon so we spent a few hours whipping up a batch of cookies. We laughed, talked about years gone by and smiled by the glow of the tree. Yes, the kitchen is so central in our house that we have a tree in there, too. It’s not a big one but it sure is pretty.

Where do some of your holiday memories come from? Are you kitchen folks, or do you perhaps associate more fun and laughter with a different location? I’d love to hear some of what makes your holiday happy!

Thought you might enjoy the recipe we used yesterday. These are easy to make and taste oh-so yummy! Enjoy!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt1
1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 sticks softened butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg. Then add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder and salt.
Drop rounded spoonfuls of batter onto lightly-greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Bake for ten minutes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Loren Teague




I am sorry to write that Loren, seen here in the picture with me, died on Monday. Loren was 51 and died on her birthday. Loren had been ill for some long time but like the brave lady she was, she made it back from New Zealand to her birthplace Scotland, for a holiday. The photo of us, the last time we were together, was taken in Edinburgh 2008. I will treasure it.

Loren wrote for Whiskey Creek Press - the marvellous Highland Rebel - and also for Robert Hale Limited. She has two books with them and a third which will come out in February. I will give you more details nearer the time.

Loren was the world to me. She practically forced me to start writing again after I had gone through a dry period of six years. Loren was always there for me and not only for me but for many people. She would always want to know how you were? How were you coping with your problems, she never complained about herself. There are people who are touched by something special, and that was Loren.

Loren will be greatly missed by her partner and her son and the hundreds (and that is not an exaggeration) who were blessed by knowing her.

Loren - rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Coming Next Week


Thought you might like to see my cover. It was created by Kendra at Whiskey Creek Press. Release date is 12/15.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Interview


Promoting one self is never done so
I'm shamefully plugging myself this week folks. I've been spreading myself all over the internet, with anyone who'll have me:) LOL


Be sure to check out my new interview over at
KMN Books! You never know, you just might learn something new and exciting about me. It goes up on Monday. Plus, if you leave a comment you might win a download of WICKED DESIRE. One winner randomly chosen on Saturday. Would love to see you there:)

Friday, December 4, 2009

From our backyard...


to you. Isn't it lovely?
I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Winter Warmer

Winter can look so romantic, log fires, dim lighting, a candle or two. A fur rug?
Two people enjoying a romantic tryst, sipping a glass of wine perhaps. Is this the reality? Now and again for you romantics. But the really real reality is wearing too many clothes, dodging showers, trying not to slip on ice coated pavements.

Lowering the tone - on my walks with the rambling group, the one thing I hate is having to go the ladies. I mean all the clothes I am wearing, it gets so difficult. In this, as with everything in life, the guys have it really easy!

I long for spring and summer and autumn, but winter...no thanks. If I had my way I'd be in Florida now, or Australia or New Zealand, I would not be in the cold. However, since I am I will make the best of it. I will go out with the ramblers whatever the weather, I will dim the lights and snuggle down. When I look out of the window I will think how lucky I am to have a home and I will promise that I will not moan about the season.

Broken promises? Yes I know...but I will try.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Great Gifts


Whether it's Black Friday or Cyber Monday, a lot of folks are out shopping. That got me to thinking about presents and how magical they can be.


In the days after my mother's funeral, a friend slipped me a small, wrapped package. Inside was a copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Known as spiritual chiropractic for the artist's soul, this book has exercises that get you writing again no matter how bad a slump your in. I've used this book over and over and it has never failed me. It is one of my most treasured possessions.


So this is my gold standard for present buying. And I never come close. Will a tooth brush sanitizer or tower of sweets change a life? I don't think so. So I try books. One year, I gave Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life to family and friends. Except for one friend, they uniformly hated it. This year I gave that friend a copy of Eckhart Tolle's new book. She found it dense and didn't finish it.


So this year I'm back to looking at those tooth brush sanitizers. I mean with all the flus and super bugs maybe they are just the ticket. Anyway it's always helpful to have a tooth brush around especially after you've eaten the tower of sweets.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Our Thanksgiving

I had four wonderful days off and was able to spend three of them with my daughter and her family. We had a great Thanksgiving holiday! Michelle and I cooked and it was a very nice bonding time for us. Of course, little Alivia had to help so we let her make the fruit salad. My niece was in charge of the pies and she surprised us with home made pumpkin cookies. If you knew my niece, you'd realize that's quite a feat for her. Her cooking, much less baking talents are very limited. I made home made fudge.

The picture of us was taken just as we sat down and prepared to pig out. There's my daughter, her hubby, Alivia, my niece and her boyfriend. I'm the pretty one behind the camera:) We tried to get my dad to fly in for the weekend but he decided to stay in North Carolina with my sister and her hubby.

Like every year someone commented on how long it takes to prepare the meal and then after a half hour of eating and cleaning up it's over. Course, there's the leftovers! Those I left behind because I knew I'd be making a small turkey meal for the hubby and me once he returned home from visiting his family in Boca.

This is the time of year to reflect. And it's Thanksgiving that I miss the family members who've passed, more than ever. When mom was alive the family gathered there for a feast of her famous cornbread stuffing, home made bread, and fried apricot pies. She cooked all our special dishes and there was enough for an army. But it was just being together as a family that I miss the most. Sitting around the tree, because yes it was already up, and talking. The good ole days.

The years go by and change happens but we continue making new memories and new traditions.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Abundant Thankfulness

All Thanksgiving days are special. It has always been a big holiday in our house, a time to celebrate family and friends and to remember the blessings that shower us. All of our Thanksgivings have been memorable, for one reason or another. And, they have all been, thankfully, joyful.

This Thanksgiving season, when I count my blessings I count the three “larks” who share this page with me. They are amazing women, each one talented, kind and fabulous. They have shown time and again the depth of their characters, and it is an honor to be here with them.

This has been a tough year for me, and I’ve been less present here than I would have chosen to be. There have been weeks when I have missed posting. I’ve been so tied up with just getting through what’s been put before me that I’ve also gone weeks without commenting on the funny, insightful, well-thought-out posts Debbie, Margaret and Kathy share. In short, I’ve had to focus on one set of issues, and have had to—regretfully—allow others to slide.

But do you know what? Despite my preoccupation in another direction, none of these incredible women has given me one second of feeling bad for my inattention. Quite the opposite! They have accepted as much as I could offer at any time. They have sent supportive notes and offered prayers. They have held me up at times I thought I might stumble, just by the magic of their patience, caring and kind words. They have been friends, and I will be forever grateful to each of them.

So you can see why I am thankful for Kathy, Margaret and Debbie, can’t you? I am blessed, and know it.

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday weekend. I hope, too, that you are fortunate enough to know the joy that comes from having special people in your life. Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Bless you all, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

There are only a few things I envy folks for but your having Thanksgiving Day is one of them. It is a wonderful celebration where you give thanks and turn your thoughts to those pioneers who helped make your wonderful country what it is. And they were escaping mine, so that is somewhat ironic don't you think?

What I like about Thanksgiving, as well as a reason to get together and share good food and company, but it is the way it has not been commercialised. It's not like Christmas with the BUY BUY BUY urges weeks and weeks before the day arrives. All the broohaha which takes you away from the significance of Christmas. Thanksgiving is thanksgiving and nothing more. That is what is so wonderful.

I would like to be sitting down with you, eating turkey and squash and later pumpkin pie, I'd like to have a glass of Californian Cabernet and toast you all. I can't do that, but with the wonder that is the internet I can say it now - "Here's to you all, enjoy this most wonderful of days."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.

--- Ralph H. Blum

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Favorite Holiday

If you celebrate Thanksgiving I hope you have a wonderful time. I'm so looking forward to spending the day at my daughter's with the rest of the family. We're all bringing a dish this year and I'm making the fruit salad and home made stuffing to stuff the turkey with. We'll have a great time just sitting around and chatting. Taking pictures. Having a couple extra days off from work is always nice, too. Happy Thanksgiving my friends!


After Apple-Picking
By Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

~~~~~~~~

Friday, November 20, 2009

Timeless

It’s almost impossible to believe it’s nearly December, but there’s no disputing the calendar, is there? November is close to shot, and the new month is nearly upon us.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’m ready for December!

One thing I am ready for is the release of Timeless from Whiskey Creek Press. It will be out in a few weeks, and I have to admit I’m pretty excited about it. I had fun writing this book, with its ancient curse, unlikely lovers and “who-knows-how-it-will-end?” final pages. I felt like I was on the lovers’ journey, and enjoyed every moment of the trip—even the dicey ones!

Thought I would share the cover and blurb this afternoon. I hope you enjoy them. And I hope you have a fabulous weekend! Happy Friday!



To break an ancient curse, Maya and Joaquin must find love one last time. But can this hunky cowboy give his heart to a city-slicker who rolls into his small town with tires squealing and a ghost on her tail? Only time will tell…

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Epic Finalist


I was so excited to hear that my historical, romantic suspense "The Substitute Bride" has finalled in the 2010 Eppies.

The Substitute Bride is a novel that has been good to me, it was the No.1 best seller at Whiskey Creek Press, and sold very well. It is good to be able to revisit this book and of course, it has a stunning cover by the artist Jinger Heaston.

Blurb

Elizabeth Mary imagines, when she takes her sister's place as proxy bride to the Lord Hinchcliffe, that it will be easy. However Lord Hinchcliffe is not the man she pictured him to be. Fierce and stern and younger than she thought, he is not a man to be manipulated by a girl like her. Worse still everyone informs Bess that the lord abhors liars above all other miscreants, and she is a liar and a cheat.

Set in the l480's this is a world of lords and masters of chilly castles, and harsh landscapes, yet Bess cannot quite lose her spirit even as danger haunts her dreams.


Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Come Say Hi


I'm over at Sharon Donovan's blog today (sharondonovan.blogspot.com). Hope you come over to to say hi and meet her yummy butler Oliver and oh there will be prizes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh! Oh!

I totally forgot to post...sorry. I've actually been writing lately and have just submitted two stories to publishers. Now I need to buckle down and finish some of the other stuff I've started.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I'm so looking forward to going to my daughter's for a few days. Haven't seen them for a long time it seems. Too long! I'm putting hubby on a train for Boca Raton to spend some time with his son and family. He says he's just going for the fishing...yeah right! Who is he trying to kid?

I hope y'all are having a great week! I'll do better next week:)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Florida



I love Florida, what's not to love. That laid back lifestyle, the sun and the glorious vegetation, and my family is there. Today I am posting a photograph of the view from the back of my son's home, lovely, so typically Floridian. I was inspired to write A Poisoned Legacy because of my frequent trips. While there I discovered a wonderful review of the novel from www.singletitles.com, and a snippet will appear at the end of this blog, so do visit for the whole picture!

www.singletitles.com


"SET IN RURAL FLORIDA, A POISONED LEGACY IS A NAIL BITING SUSPENSE AT ITS MOST COMPELLING."

Monday, November 9, 2009

With Veterans Day approaching I just had to post this touching story that a friend sent me.

John Gebhardt's wife, Mindy, said that this little girl's entire family was executed.. The insurgents intended to execute the little girl also, and shot her in the head...but they failed to kill her. She was cared for in John's hospital and is healing up, but continues to cry and moan. The nurses said John is the only one who seems to calm her down, so John has spent the last four nights holding her while they both slept in that chair. The girl is coming along with her healing.

He is a real Star of the war, and represents what America is trying to do.

This, my friends, is worth sharing. Go for it!! You'll never see things like this in the news. Please keep this going. Nothing will happen if you don't, but the American public needs to see pictures like this and needs to realize that what we're doing over there is making a difference. Even if it is just one little girl at a time.

James Gates U. S. Navy

Friday, November 6, 2009

Young Artists

I’m sitting here in the center court of a medical center waiting for my husband to emerge from the Eye Center. He’s in for his yearly exam and while it bothers me to know he’ll come out from the appointment with a headache, dilated pupils and a prescription for new reading glasses, I’ve got to admit that I’m happy I’m sitting out here and he’s in there. I tolerate a lot of different medical procedure--don’t we all?--but I absolutely cannot stand anyone messing around with my eyes. The whole idea gives me the heebie jeebies!

So, here I sit, waiting and hoping it’s going well for him. This could be one of those wasted hours, the ones we all endure because there’s no way around them. But thanks to some very talented local students, my wait is not at all unpleasant. I’m surrounded by walls of art, courtesy of the City School District Art Show.

I’ve strolled the displays, enjoyed piece after piece and marveled over the insightful use of various media. It’s given me a chance to view the world through eyes much younger than mine, to get a perspective on family life and current events that I might not have had I not been the “designated waiter” on today’s appointment.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (not really; it just seems that way!) I had a painting in a district art show. It was a perspective piece, done with pastels. I remember feeling so pleased with myself that my piece had been chosen for the show. I imagine that’s how these kids feel now, too.

It’s been a long time since I’ve opened my art box, put watercolor to paper or pencil to sketch pad. I love drawing and painting, but life is often so hectic that I put aside strictly pleasurable activities for those must-dos on my list. But sitting here has lit a fire, one that begs to be fanned with an eraser and charcoal. Before this week is out I’m going to open that art box, rummage around for something to help me express myself with color.

Tell me, do you dabble in any artistic way? Is the pastime one you cultivate regularly, or is it like my artistic interest, dusty from neglect?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Going Home

I have missed two posts as I am here in Florida with my family. I did intend to post while I was here but just forgot. You will appreciate when you only get to be with your family once a year, you just want to be with them and everything else goes out of the window.

Well today I set sail for that Atlantic crossing. Forgive me, that is the romantic novelist speaking and wishing for more leisurely days of travel. really I will be hopping on the big bird, first to Atlanta and thence to the UK. It will be cold, I shall miss my family but also the sensual heat and slowness of pace that is life in Florida - oops being romantic again. I have been - as my daughter in law says - dragged all around Tampa Bay watching the kids play their various sports, so what. I loved every single moment.

Next week watch out for some great pics. One thing I will be glad to see at home (apart from my husband of course) is my mouse. No not a real mouse, hate the things, but the one attached to my computer. Using my daughter in law's lap top with just that squidgy thing you have to jiggle with has driven me mad. I know people like them but give me a mouse anytime - just so long as it isn't running around, of course.

Bye for now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A New Contract!

This is going to be a short post and yes, I'm bragging!

The Wild Rose Press has offered me a contract for a previously released book, All the Right Moves! In order to meet their print guidelines I added 20,000 words including a new last chapter.

I've heard nothing but great things about TWRP and I'm thrilled to be joining their family of authors.

All the Right Moves came out a few years ago, but it never went into print.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Larking Around







It's rare we Larks ever get together face to face but Margaret Blake and I did that on Monday. We had a great chat over coffee and talked about everything -- our families, our books and the beautiful Florida weather.

So this is a joint blog from both of us and we are wishing you a Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Upgrade and a Thank You

I just have to share this story with ya'll. You know hubby was gone for a week, visiting family in OK. On the flight back he tried to upgrade to first class but it was already full. His assigned seat was at the very back of the plane. He made himself comfortable, sat back and waited for the plane to take off.

After a while he saw the stewardess walking his way with a younger man following her. They stopped when they came to my hubby and the stewardess explained that the man wanted to give up his first class seat to him, and thanked him for serving our country. You see, hubby was wearing this hat.

There aren't too many folks left in the world that can say they served in WWII. Hubby politely refused, and thanked the younger man. However, the younger man insisted and the stewardess helped hubby re-locate to a first class seat.

Nice story, isn't it?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yummy!

Here in upstate New York, it's practically impossible to ignore the varieties of just-picked apples available. Usually we pick our own apples at a nearby orchard but this year I just went to the orchard and bought a couple of bushels of apples they'd already picked. Not as much fun as usual, but at least we've got apples that will last through the winter. And, the added bonus...I've got loads of apples to use for fall baking!

I don't know about you, but fall is definitely here when the scent of baking apple something-or-other fills the air.

This afternoon I'm going to whip together a batch of apple puffs. No, they're not low-cal but they are truly yummy. And hey, we all need a little yummy now and then, don't we?

Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Apple Puffs

1 1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 t. baking powder
1 cup finely-chopped apples
2/3 cup milk
vegetable oil for frying
confectioner’s sugar


In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, egg, apples and milk. Stir until batter is fairly smooth.

In a deep pot, heat a few inches of vegetable oil until a drop of batter fries upon contact with the oil. Then drop batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until the puffs are lightly browned. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and roll in confectioner’s sugar to coat. Serve warm.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm on vacation! I'm on vacation!


I just spent two wonderful days with my granddaughter. She stayed with me so her parents could have a break and have what they call, mommy/daddy time. Being that I'm on a mini vacation I didn't mind in the least, having her for company. We had so much fun!

First, we played. And then, we played. And then...we played some more! LOL Two days of watching Sponge Bob Square Pants, Little Einstein, Disney movies, looking at pictures, reading books, putting band aids on imaginary boo boos, and wrestling. A new stain on the carpet but all the hugs and kisses and laughter were worth it.

When the kids came up to get her we had a nice dinner together. And now, peace and quiet. Too quiet. The cats, who've spent most of the last two days hiding under beds and in closets have finally all come back out. Jezebel was the only one who would have anything to do with Alivia. The other two kept their distance.

Hubby will be back home tomorrow. He's been gone the past week visiting relatives in OK. Then on Wed I go back to work. The good thing is I only have to work two days this week before I'm on my weekend again.

I hope the cool weather lasts. I actually got to open my windows today and air out the house. I love fall!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Counting Clover



I have a friend who just has to look down at a patch of green near her feet to find a four-leaf clover. It's a hidden talent she has, one that amazes me.

It's not like Lynda has plucked one or two of the elusive bits of green... No, she's found lots more than the average person ever will. I won't venture a guess but I know she's harvested at least a hundred. Could be lots more than that, for all I know.

Lots of times the small things in life captivate me. Lynda's four-leaf clover finding talent is high on my list of amazing abilities.

Why? Let's just say that my gaze is so often on the ground, searching for the elusive little buggers, that I trip more often than I care to admit. It's silly, I know, but I just can't help myself. Someday, somewhere, I'll find a four-leaf clover. I'm determined to do it.

What about you? Any quirky talented friends out there? Or are you, too, on a quest?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Days

I can't think of anyone in the history of the Lark Journals blog who has had more comments than Sharon. Well done Sharon and may I say well deserved too.

I am in a state of flux thinking about my forthcoming trip to Florida. I should leave on Tuesday but I haven't packed. Just can't bring myself to do that until nearer the time. You never know what is going to happen to ruin it. If you think I am looking on the dark side, then I confess I am. I think it comes from my Celtic soul - I say this because I come from a family of Scottish, Irish and Welsh heritage, I guess you can't get more celt than that. But also having had to cancel once I am afraid I will have to do it again. Can I ask you all for finger's crossed please?

Looking on the bright side (does this ability come from my German/Polish Grandfather...I think not!!). Whiskey Creek Press have taken three of my books. Next year is going to be busy with promotion but the downside is because I have three books coming out I think I can rest on my laurels. I confess to have been downright lazy. Well things will have to change but as Scarlet once said. "But I'll think about that tomorrow..." Today I am thinking about my son, my daughter in law and those three super kids who just happen to be my grandkids. You can't blame me for that...and aren't Celts romantic too?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It's a thrill to have my friend, Sharon Donovan, here as a guest logger to discuss her inspiring memoir, Echo of a Raven. She will be donating a portion of the proceeds from book sales to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

With America in the lead at 20.8 million, there are more than 230 million diabetics
in the world and the number is rapidly increasing. More than half of these diabetics
will develop some stage of retinopathy during his or her lifetime. This condition
causes fragile blood vessels to grow and rupture in the back of the eye and can lead
to progressive blindness.

I began hearing the frightening phrase diabetic retinopathy at the age of six when
I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. During a routine visit to Children’s Hospital
when I was twelve, a doctor predicted I would be blind by time I was twenty-five.

His harsh words echoed in my head to the point of obsession, affecting every major
decision I made for years to come. But even though these words haunted my subconscious,I never spoke them aloud. Then they might come true.
The closer I got to twenty-five, the tighter the noose around my neck, sucking the
life out of me like a garrotte.

I worked as a legal secretary at the Court of Common
Pleas where I prepared cases for judges in Family Court. But painting was my passion.
I spent my weekends painting picturesque scenery, the ruins of ancient Rome and reflections on the water. Through my artwork, I escaped to a place of peace and tranquility.

No more heartache. No more pain. But one day while painting a Tuscan landscape, I
had the first bout of blindness. And for the next two decades, my vision came and
went. Now you see it—now you don’t. And after a rocky road, nine years ago, I lost
the battle, losing all hope and my will to live.

But through an organization for the blind and visually impaired, I found the courage
to face a sighted world I was once part of. Some of the curriculum I endured for
eight grueling hours every day for sixteen weeks was mobility training with a white
cane, group therapy to deal with anger issues and the use of a computer with adaptive
software. It was a heart-wrenching journey filled with endless challenge. Part of
the reason I was reluctant to enroll in a program for the blind and visually impaired
was because I thought clients would be uneducated. I was a professional, after all.
What could I possibly have in common with “Those people?”

I was wrong. I met doctors and nurses, teachers and engineers, all with one common
thread. We were all facing vision loss due to circumstances beyond our control. Some
had the extra burden of facing a marital problem because a spouse could not or would
not accept the blindness. We laughed and we cried. We connected in a way words could
never express. I was one of the lucky ones. What didn’t kill me made me stronger.
And after a long and winding road, a new dream resurrected. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.

Echo of a Raven is a must read for diabetics, those facing a vision loss and for intelligent people who want to put an end to this world-wide epidemic.

In my memoir,I give a prolific account of my stay at Pittsburgh Vision told from an insider’s
point of view when institutionalized for sixteen weeks. Echo of a Raven is not for
the weak at heart. But through my darkest hour, I found light at the end of a tunnel.
Only when I reached out and asked for help did doors open. And doors have continued
to open for me.

There is a plethora of opportunity for the blind and visually impaired. In my memoir,
I give the names and addresses and websites for several organizations that have been
invaluable to me. Please help me in my mission to find a cure for diabetes and its
number one complication—blindness. If I can prevent one child from living in fear
of losing his or her vision, Echo of a Raven will be a smashing success.
A portion of all proceeds of Echo of a Raven will be donated to JDRF Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation fight for a cure. I thank you for supporting my charity.
Sharon Donovan
Echo of a Raven
CTR Recommended Read Award for outstanding writing

YGR You Gotta Read rating
Available in paperback and eBook
BUY HERE:
http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/echo-of-a-raven/7275809
Visit my website:
http://www.sharonadonovan.com/

My blog
http://sharondonovan.blogspot.com

or contact me at:
sharonad@comcast.net


Blurb/excerpt

As the blind man sweeps the streets with his white cane, I look away. As the blind man jingles his cup of coins on corner sidewalks, I look away. As the blind man sells his mops and brooms, I look away.

“You’ll be blind by time you’re twenty-five,” a doctor at Children’s Hospital predicted. “Your blood sugars are way too high.”

I began hearing the frightening phrase diabetic retinopathy at the age of six when I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. This condition causes fragile blood vessels to grow and rupture in the back of the eye and can lead to progressive blindness. And at the age of twelve, when a doctor at a routine visit made this prediction, his cruel words changed the entire course of my life, affecting every major decision I made for years to come.

His words haunted me. They consumed me. They devoured me. Wherever I went or whatever I did, these words echoed in my head. The only time I found refuge was through my artwork. Painting became my sanctuary, a place where I could escape to another place and time. Peace and tranquility. No more pain. But one day when painting a picturesque Tuscan landscape, the initial bout of blindness struck with no warning.

Several buses pulled up, hissing and spewing as slush and mud splashed in all directions. People jumped back to avoid the mud-stained snow. It was a 71 and it was going downtown.
As I stood shivering, waiting for people to file out, a blind woman approached the bus stop, sweeping the snow covered pavement with her white cane. Her flat, monotone voice cut through my thoughts. “Does this bus go downtown?”

“Yes,” I answered her. I wanted to turn my head as I’d done so many times in the past, but my heart went out to her. It was so slippery out and she was so vulnerable. What if she got on the wrong bus—or got stranded somewhere? That could be me some day. Fear welled up in my throat as I watched her maneuver her way on to the bus. She cleared each step with her cane and stepped aboard.

A man in the front of the bus stood up. “Here, miss. Take my seat.” He tapped her arm. “Behind you.”

She wordlessly took his seat without uttering so much as a thank you. I sat in the seat directly across from her, not wanting to watch her--but unable to take my eyes off her. She wore dark glasses and a blank expression, so isolated in a world of utter chaos. She pulled a book out of her bag and began feeling it. Braille, I sucked in my breath. A foreboding premonition hurled through me and I thought I might be sick. I couldn’t take this. Visions of my future flashed in front of me, filling me with an uneasiness that had me completely undone.

How could she have the patience to read Braille, feeling all those bumps. After reading small print on legal documents all day, I would never have the tolerance to learn Braille. No way. How could a sighted person adapt to an unsighted world? Would that be me some day? Or was I just hitting the panic button. Then to my horror, the words screeched in my head. “You’ll be blind by time you’re twenty-five.”

Precisely one week later, I was down in my garage, putting the finishing touches on my painting. The rich fertile vineyards of the Tuscan landscape shrouded an inland harbor of mirror still waters. Age-old olive trees framed the hillside. Sitting back to admire my work, I smiled in eager anticipation. Just a few more strokes of the brush for fine detailing, and my masterpiece would be complete.

But suddenly, a huge splattering of black paint covered my beautiful painting. Confused, I wondered how paint had managed to get all over my masterpiece. I blinked several times, but it was still there.

Slowly but surely, my brain received the message. It wasn’t black paint covering my canvas at all; it was blood covering my retina. My worst nightmare had just come true. I’d had a massive retinal hemorrhage.

Dumbfounded, my paintbrush slipped from my fingers and rolled across the floor. I felt like I was drowning, losing consciousness. I sunk into a chair, clasping my hand over my mouth. Heart-wrenching pain stabbed at my gut. Nausea threatened. Then the tears spilled. “Nooo! Not yet. It’s too soon.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

HAPPY FALL

I thought this was appropriate for the time of year. My cousin sent it to me from Maine. Fall is my favorite time of year!


Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff-- including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.


Happy Fall!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The View

It would be wrong of me to see these beautiful colors and not share them with you, so today, part of the view from our back deck. Isn't it lovely?

This past week I've taken every opportunity to head outdoors. It's been raining quite a bit but I haven't let that deter me. I've gone on long strolls, through the meadow and into the forest. I've seen a fox, startled a partridge and been startled by a skunk. Fortunately none of these encounters left either participant worse for the wear!

I don't know about you, but I do some of my best thinking while I'm walking. I'm mulling over the final chapters of a new book, considering (then mostly discarding!) ways to tie up all the story's loose ends. This walking therapy revives me, and makes my time at the computer much more productive.

Too, all the walking is doing great things for my legs. That's important, because soon these gorgeous leaves will give way to snow and you know what that means, don't you? That's right--I'll be doing my mental book writing bundled up and walking behind a snowblower! I wonder what story I'll be working on come winter? Hmm...

I hope you've had a wonderful week. And I hope your weekend is a good one, filled with peaceful moments and beautiful colors. Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Burbs

Good Morning, it is a bright, sunny perfect autumn day. I hope you too have a wonderful day and that you will enjoy reading these blurbs.

Blurbs –


Fortune’s Folly

She had left him and made him look like a fool in his own society now back in his life, Helena was mature and sophisticated. For Helena this was the man she had once loved and then divorced…still he held an irresistible attraction for her, yet could she do anything about it when there was Diane?



Eden's Child

Maddy has lost her memory, the more she finds out about herself the more she loathes herself. Her husband Nevis, handsome and wealthy, lets her know in no uncertain terms that he hates her…she cannot blame him, yet she cannot stem the feelings she has for him. How could she have been so despicable to this man when all she longs for is to be in his arms?
Confused by who and what she is, sometimes she thinks it would be better if she never remembered the past.


Beloved Deceiver
“I have something to ask you, will you marry me?” His first thought was. “You’ve got to be joking,” and he thought she was. Only Flora was serious. She was practically being forced by her father to marry a man she detested. Thus begins a daring deception…the only trouble is Flora is a woman in love and Marsden Collingwood can have his pick of women who are more beautiful than her!”


Spanish Lies
Ginny has a terrible secret buried inside her; it has the potential to ruin her life. She loves her son, and is still attracted to the man who broke her heart, if she goes to Spain she knows she will be putting all she holds dear n harms way…yet she feels she has to take the chance.
He was a man of fierce passion and she was a woman who has a terrible secret!

Excerpts and reviews available at www.margaretblake.co.uk
Books available from www.whiskeycreekpress.com and Amazon.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Interview with Cate Masters


Here at the Lark Journals we are thrilled to have Cate Masters as our guest blogger.

Cate Masters’ novels, novellas and short fiction appear at The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press, Wild Child Publishing/ Freya’s Bower and Shadowfire Press. Her flash and short stories are published with The Battered Suitcase , A Long Story Short, Dark Sky Magazine, Cezanne’s Carrot, The Harrow, Flesh from Ashes, Quality Women’s Fiction, Phase, and The Writer’s online edition. In 2005, Pennwriters awarded her second place in its annual Short Story contest for her literary story, All is Calm, All is Bright. Her freelance articles have appeared in The Sentinel, Carlisle. The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Benji the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com and http://catemasters.blogspot.com, or follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Masters/89969413736?ref=ts or Twitter: www.twitter.com/catemasters.


Her contemporary romance, Going with Gravity, is now available from The Wild Rose Press: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/going-with-gravity-p-3539.html?zenid=9a21831541a26a30f60bab5323b0f23e

She’d love for you to check out the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9C0LCXFZww
Reviews have described Going with Gravity as: “so compelling I did not want to put it down. The sexual encounters were sizzling and the ending was unexpected. There were moments of poignant emotional conflict.”

And “What happens is what storybook romances are made of and what everyone hopes for in their lives. But, you will have to read this romantic and heartwarming novel to learn just when and why Allison realizes she might have met the right man, and why Wes made sure to meet her on that fateful flight. “

And praised the hero: “Wes, the hero, is so darned sexy, I wanted to take him home. I’m not talking about his finesse with the spicy part of loving; it’s his class, style and solidness of character. Wes struck a chord with me that makes him a keeper. There’s the part where Allison meets him again under somber circumstances. The way Ms. Masters describes the whole scene allowed me to visualize it. It’s hard to find the exact words to describe how it made me feel but it is no surprise to me that Allison could connect with a guy like Wes so readily. He’s written in such an approachable way, I fully believe that love at first sight can happen.”



Here’s the story blurb:

Publicist Allison Morris plans her own life – what’s left of it – around the life of her boss Michelle McCarter, the ex-wife of a famous rock star. When Michelle needs emergency public relations patchwork in Hawaii pronto, Allison arranges a flight to the dream destination. At the airport, she meets Wes Hamilton, a six-foot-three sun-bleached blond whose blue eyes and dazzling smile rekindle her fizzled-out sizzle. A world-renowned surfer, Wes captivates her with his charm and wit, though his easy fame and on-the-edge lifestyle are the polar opposite of her own. When their jet loses its fuselage in mid-air, she takes advantage of what she thinks are her last minutes alive with Wes. The plane lands safely. Wes takes care of her when her carefully constructed life begins to unravel. When Michelle accuses Allison of using Wes to gain fame for herself, Allison’s world falls apart in an explosive confrontation. Wes is waiting with open arms when she has nowhere else to go, but can Allison learn to stop planning and go with gravity?



And here’s the excerpt:


Allison pulled her portfolio from her laptop case and set it on her lap, afraid to open it. As soon as the articles had arrived on her fax machine, she’d shoved them into her bag, then hopped in the shower. Delay tactics only worked for so long. The moment of truth had arrived. She opened it and thumbed through. Eleven pages. Eleven. And these were only the newspaper articles from the past two days. TV and online news sites surely covered more. And then there’d be the inevitable blogger. Uncontrollable, overly opinionated and accountable to no one, they were the worst.

Michelle had arrived on Oahu with a bang, and then had the audacity to blame Allison for not doing her job to quell the media. She held up one photo of a topless Michelle prancing in the surf, laughing. Rumors and innuendo could be stopped with logic and tact, but to downplay this photo, she’d need a good explanation. When Michelle’s logic and tact failed her so obviously, Allison had to wonder about her mental state.

A hulking figure filled the aisle, stowing his bag in the overhead compartment.

Those shorts. That shirt.

It was him.

He checked his ticket, looked at her and smiled. His blond hair fell across his forehead as he sat next to her, his shoulder bumping hers. “Hello again.”

For two years, she’d rubbed elbows with stars of all magnitudes without so much as a blink, and fended off paparazzi following the wife of megastar James McCarter.

With two words, she’d been reduced to the rank of dreamy-eyed teeny bopper.

He smiled, raised an eyebrow.

She realized, then, she hadn’t responded. And her mouth hung open.

Make that drooling dreamy-eyed teeny bopper.

She flashed a smile. Think. Damage control is your business. Put it to good use for once.

“Hi.” Oh, yes. Very witty. What a deft deflection of his charm.

She turned back to her articles, but sensed the weight of his stare.

He frowned at her reading material. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to read over your shoulder. I take it you’re a closet fan of the poor little rich girl?”

“In the same way I’m a closet fan of train wrecks, I suppose. I guess you’re not a fan.”

“Of hers?” He chuckled. “God, no. She’s awful. Her publicist should be shot.”

Shot. Of course. Working fifty-five to sixty-five hours a week wasn’t enough to keep the spin spinning fast enough for the rest of the world. The one guy who’d interested her in the past two and a half years thought she made a good candidate for execution. Her life was in such a rut, she’d need mountain climbing gear to get out.

“If you’re a fan, I didn’t mean to offend.” Sincerity had wiped the smile from his face.

“Actually, I’m..” She turned and smiled, “…her publicist.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Computer Hackers

It's a crying shame that even when you stay at home these days to do your shopping and banking that you're not safe. We're told that when we go to the bank's ATM machine to make sure you're not alone, or not to go after dark. And if you have to, make sure it's well lit and on a heavily traveled street. Most of us are aware of the dangers and take the appropriate measures.

Nowadays a lot of us, especially the younger folks, do everything on line. And I mean everything. Within the last couple of years I've joined the club. It's fast, convenient, and you can monitor your accounts daily. I do most of my Christmas shopping online because I hate shopping. It's called going green. I've even opted to stop receiving paper bills. My daughter began doing it years ago, saying I needed to join the 2oth century. So I joined. Don't let it be said that I can't be taught something by a young in.

Two weeks ago my daughter and son-in-law's bank account was wiped out. The money wired to Mexico. While the bank investigates, they're left scrambling around to cover checks they've written out. Notifying billers what's going on. Closing old and opening new accounts. And they're told, they'll get their money back but it will take up to three months.

Everything was done online. I know things like this happen but it's the first time it's happened to someone in the family. What a mess for them but they're getting through it. I haven't dared mention it to my hubby, who's as old as dirt and convinced doing anything, especially banking online, isn't safe. I couldn't stand hearing him say, I told you so.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Soggy In New York!

We've had a lot of rainy days lately. While I never really mind being kept indoors by the fireplace with my hubby, a pot of tea and a good book, I did do a little dance of joy yesterday afternoon when the sun peeked its smiling face out. Granted, the sun peered down on us for only about an hour or so, but it was a glorious interlude in the dreary day.

Always ready with my camera, I went outdoors and snapped a photo of the sky for you to see. Nothing elaborate or even rainbow-y (is that a word? No? Well, shouldn't it be one?) but I figure any day that's got even a small patch of blue sky in it is a good one!

I hope your weekend is filled with blue-sky days and starry nights. If it stops raining here, I've got plans to begin raking leaves. Again, nothing fancy but leaf raking is a calming sort of chore, with lots of time to ponder, so I enjoy it. What have you got planned for the weekend?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Interview with Margaret Tanner

Margaret Blake’s Interview with Margaret Tanner

Hi Margaret, great of you to stop by. Please can you tell us about your two recent novels “Devil’s Ridge” and “Stolen Birthright” both of which have been very well received?

M.T: Thank you for having me, I am honoured to be here.
Devils Ridge is set during the 1st World War and tells the story of Harry (Harriet) Martin who masquerades as a boy so she can help her shell-shocked brother obtain employment. They are hired by Ross Calvert to work on his cattle station, Devil’s Ridge. Of course, falling in love with Ross was never part of the plan.

Stolen Birthright, is the sequel to Savage Utopia and is set in Australia in the 1840’s. Marcus Lindquist is the son of an English Lord, banished to Australia for an indiscretion. He meets up with George (Georgina), a tomboy who lives with an elderly uncle and three boy cousins. They fall in love, but how can the daughter of convicts marry into the English aristocracy? And twelve thousand miles across the sea, an English Earl, who was prepared to send an innocent man (Georgina’s father) to the gallows, plots Georgina’s death, so that his shameful secret will never see the light of day.

These sound terrific reads, Margaret. Exciting plots, I am not surprised they did so well. Tell me now, when did you start writing and why?

M.T: I have virtually been writing stories since I could put pen to paper. As a child I used to make up stories and write them down in old exercise books. I was having a clean out of my cupboards a few months ago and found one of the exercise books which was really surprising, I thought it would have been thrown out years ago. I am going to keep it now and pass it on to my little granddaughter.

You are an Australian, does the wonderful country of Australia inspire your writing?

M.T: Yes it certainly does. We have beautiful scenery, unique wild life. My pioneering ancestors, fought against the tyranny of distance in an inhospitable and savage land, where only the tough and resilient would survive. They not only survived but prospered in ways that would not have been possible for them had they stayed in England and Scotland.

Yes, Margaret that is so true. There is a splendid classlessness in Australia which still doesn’t exist in England. Only in Australia could a convict’s daughter keep company with an earl! I know you recently had a trip to Europe, did you find anything that you will use in a future novel?





MT: Oh Yes. Plenty of ideas are swimming around in my head waiting to be told. We visited Cornwall, and I would love to set a story there against those beautiful rugged cliffs and wild seas. We spent a week in Penzance, but I didn’t see any handsome pirates in the flesh, but in my mind I did. And of course, Scotland, those castles and men in kilts, I only had to close my eyes and I could hear the swirl of the pipes floating across the moors. All I have to do is find the time to write the stories.

Both are inspiring places. What sparked your interest in both the World Wars?

M.T: As a child I used to listen to my elderly relatives talk about the 1st World War. It was hard to visualize these frail old men as dashing young soldiers. As I grew older my interest grew. I read the history books, had access to diaries and on one of our trips to England, I visited the World War 1 battlefields in France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience. From then on, I knew I had to write about these brave young men who sailed thousands of miles across the sea to fight for mother England, the birth country of their parents and grandparents. I also wanted to write about the mothers and sweethearts who often waited in vain for their loved ones to return.

From a population of about 4 million, Australia sent over 300,000 men to the front, more than 60,000 were killed, more than double that number wounded.

The 1st World War decimated the male population of some country towns, and they never recovered from it.

I have written three books set during World War 1. Devil’s Ridge from WCP press, Shattered Dreams from TWRP, and I have a 3rd novel, Wild Oats, coming out next year from TWRP.

As for the 2nd World War.
My interest is fired by the fact that my father served during the 2nd World War in Singapore and Malaya, and had a miraculous escape from Singapore just a couple of days before the capitulation to the Japanese. My novel, The Trouble With Playboys, published by TWRP, is set against that background, and I had access to letters by father wrote during the war to my mother (who was engaged to him at the time), plus the stories Dad told us as kids, and I felt compelled to write about it.

That sounds so fascinating, Margaret. I think you Aussie’s have great respect for those who fought in those wars. The war memorials are beautiful and held in great reverence. I was very impressed by how these ANZAC memorials are cared for. Please tell us what you have planned for the future.

M.T: I have three longer historical novels, around 100,000 words that I would like to try and have published with one of the larger publishers, and I am working towards that goal by doing revisions and re-writes.
In the last couple of months I have signed two contracts with The Wild Rose Press (TWRP). So, I aim to keep busy.

My website is: http://www.margarettanner.com
My publishers are: Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press

Thank you, Margaret, this has been such fun and you have made it so very interesting. Good luck in the future.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Targeting the T's


Wednesday is my library day and I generally go pick out five or six books. Last week I decided to head to the T shelf and pick out some new authors.

Boy did I get lucky: I found two new authors: Nancy Thayer and Jodi Thomas. I liked them both so today I went back for more of their books. Then I wandered to the B's and picked up Rhys Bowen and Elizabeth Berg, two old friends.

It's cooler here in Florida so I'm off to the lanai for some light reading with old and new friends.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sorry Larkers...

I didn't get around to posting last Monday. Didn't even realize I missed it until the end of the week. Just too much going on at work and home. I'm trying to find balance. And every time I think I should put myself on some kind of plan it works for a short time and then I fall right back into the old ways.

Someone was asking me the other day about my writing and when I had time to do it. The trouble is I don't make time. I'm so busy promoting all over the Internet that by the time I've hit all the networking sites, yahoo groups, blogs facebook and myspace sites to keep visible it's time to go to bed.

Last weekend I was determined to get some writing done and I accomplished what I set out to do. I finished adding content to a pre-released book in the hopes of it going to print with a new publisher. I should hear back from her in a couple weeks. I also did some work on a new project and I started a short romance. I was only able to get all this done by taking a three-day weekend.

This past weekend I spent a day with my girls. I won't give up the chance to spend time with them to write. So that left me with Saturday. I sat all day on the computer making the rounds and I did get a couple paragraphs done. But it wasn't enough. I don't know how anyone who has a career, young children at home, finds the time it takes to be a successful writer and I take my hat off to them.

It's a good thing writing is just a hobby for me:)




Hey, for us cat lovers. Can you relate to this picture?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Popping In

Good morning, friends.

No, don't check your calendar. It's Saturday, not Friday.

I know, I know...I'm supposed to visit on Friday but, in all honesty, Friday began and ended almost before I could shake the sleep from my eyes. You must have had a few of those days, haven't you? You know the kind, where your feet hit the floor in the morning at a fast jog and don't stop until you lift them late at night to tuck them beneath the covers, don't you?

Anyhow, I apologize for missing Friday. I'll try to be more punctual next week, I promise!

Today is one of those perfectly gorgeous fall days where the sky is blue, the breeze cool but not chilly and there are still flowers around to add spashes of color to the yard. I love days like this, and I plan to take full advantage of the fine weather. I'm going to mulch the flower beds and till the vegetable gardens under. Then, I'll bake a fast batch of my husband's favorite fig cookies before we settle in for a just-for-two Saturday night pizza and movie party.

That's the plan, for now at least. What do you have planned for today? Anything you'd care to share?

Whatever you've got up your sleeve, I hope your day is lovely. Happy Saturday!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gardens


I thought I would share this beautiful picture taken at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute, Scotland. This is a wonderful house full of gorgeous marble pillars and stained glass.

It was a lovely day when we visited and there was time to look at the garden. I love gardens and this is particularly attractive. Lots of gardens today are "show" gardens and some of them far too trendy for my taste. I confess to loving "old fashioned" gardens. I am not keen on lots of brick and wood and gee gaws in the garden. I like plants. And you know I hate gardens that are too hoovered - know what I mean, a leaf drifts down and someone rushes out to pick it up. I like daisy covered lawns too, I always mow around my lawn daisies, they are small and perfect and beautiful.

You know what I really hate - "gardening" which is why my garden never looks "hoovered" I have gangling plants and shrubs and a honeysuckle going riot over my fence. I put plants in, feed and water them, but I am not a fuss pot over it. I know certain people who should put a glass dome over their garden, it is always immaculate, like their home. Well if they like that ok but for me a garden and a home is a place to relax and have fun in.Snuggle down or sit out with a soda and a book on a fine summer day...ah, roll on next summer.

Now like the beautiful garden in the picture, Autumn is upon us, everything is turning colour. Not spectacularly like in New England, but gently. Of course the grass isn't growing too quickly either...did I mention I hated mowing!

Ciao.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Gift


Authors have a few advantages. We always have a gift on hand. Last night I went to a farewell party for a local couple. I don't know them well and wasn't sure it was appropriate to buy them something. So I inscribed and wrapped up a copy of Men of Paradise.


Turns out it wasn't a gift-giving occasion but I slipped her the book anyway. I have found that when you are giving away your art it's never too much or not enough. No, it's always just right.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Last Chance

LAST CHANCE by Sarita Leone - Click Image to Close


Last Chance is available!


Young widow Laura Perkins learned the hard way that life in the rugged frontier isn’t all sunshine and roses. She never planned to find herself alone in a land where gunshots and hangings are commonplace. But planned or not, that’s exactly what happens to her and, short of turning tail and fleeing, she’ll have to learn to live with her circumstances—one way or another.


When a handsome stranger saunters into Granite Creek, life takes a drastic turn. Laura and Chance are as different as night from day, but she still finds herself intrigued by the man.


And Chance? He’s as drawn to Laura as a moth to a flame. Too bad that moth has a trail of mystery—and murder—hot on his trail.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Perfect Weather





You have perhaps heard that we have had a lousy summer - summer? What's summer? I have been hanging on just longing for October to arrive so I can go to Florida and enjoy some sun. We had four days booked in Scotland - Scotland? Well a beautiful country but not renowned for sunshine. Rubbish! Most time I've been to Scotland I've had good weather - apart from five days in Edinburgh when it rained every day - but enough of the past.

Well Scotland came up trumps, the sun burned down, every single day! The lochs and glens had never looked so lovely. Standing on a terrace overlooking Loch Awe I could even imagine I was at Lake Como in Italy. Warm and beautiful. So we had our sunshine but on top of that, glorious scenery to enjoy. I am posting a couple of pictures - just to prove what I am saying. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Ramble


I love reading about Margaret Blake's adventures. She boards a motor coach and takes off on magical outings with great scenery, quaint stops and the occasional Mr. Darcy sighting. I was so inspired I signed up for my own outing and can't wait. See Decription below. I'm hoping to run into the Duke of Bewcastle.

THURS - SEPT 17 - EMMA’S ROSE TEA ROOM and GIFT SHOPPE - St Petersburg - It’s an indulgence, a time out, but one that is supremely civilized, conjuring Trollope novels, paper-thin bone china and pinkies extended. Emma’s is a wonderful new place for just such an indulgence. It’s an experience and a destination for excellent food and atmosphere. We will indulge in The Royal High Tea, consisting of an Endless pot of loose tea, Freshly baked scones with sweet cream and preserves, Assorted finger sandwiches, Delectable sweets and tea bread along with a Variety of savories and seasonal fresh fruits. After Tea you will have ample time to browse the gift shoppe, before heading home.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Coincidence?

I'm beginning to think my daughter and I have a strong, if not strange, connection. As my only child we've always been close, nothing strange about that. Aren't most mothers and daughters? But our bond seems to go beyond wanting to spend time together, talking on the phone a few times a week, and thinking a like.

Sometimes we have similar dreams, about family members. But the strangest? We often times have the same symptoms. And by that I mean we'll have headaches at the same time, flu like symptoms, things like that. I didn't even think about it until a co-worker commented that she noticed it.

One morning last week I woke up head achy, a little sick to my stomach. Just plain didn't feel good. But I forced myself to go to work because I'm rarely sick and when I do get something it doesn't last. I figured as the day went on I'd feel better.

Later that same morning my daughter called. As we were talking she asked me what was wrong and I told her I didn't feel all that great. She said, yeah, I've been kind of nauseous and have a head ache, too. Alivia has the flu. And I thought, okay, that explains it. I'm getting the flu because I'd spent a couple days with them and on one of those days Alivia had the runs.

As the day went on I felt worse so my co-workers made me go home. On the way I stopped at my doctors and they took a test, which came back negative. I didn't have the flu. So I went home, took a couple Tylenol and fell into bed. A few hours later I woke, feeling good. Not great, just good.

The next day I went into work everyone was surprised to see me, considering how I looked the day before. One said, I was as white as a sheet. I can't believe you're here. That same co-worker said later, out of the blue, "Do you remember when Michelle was pregnant and you had morning sickness symptoms the same times she did?"I said yeah. How could I forget? Didn't realize it at the time but later when Michelle and I would talk we'd discover we'd both felt sick around the same times.

My co-worker then said, "wasn't she feeling sick yesterday, too?"I just looked at Mel, and then it hit me, what she was leading up to. She was right! I never thought much about it before. Sometimes I can be dense. But realizing that somehow made me feel good. What a cool bond we have! If...that's what it is.

Or is it just a strange coincidence?

Friday, September 11, 2009

In the Air

This morning it is decidely chilly here at the farm. I mean really cool. I slid my feet into slippers the moment I rose, and wrapped a thick blanket around my shoulders as I headed for my desk. While there's no frost on the lawn or snow in the air, there is a feel of summer coming to a close and fall knocking on the door--hard!

But yesterday was glorious...warm and sunny, the perfect day for a slow stroll. I took a few photos to share with you. I hope you enjoy them!

Happy Friday!







Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stand-Out Books


It's been a hot summer in Florida. During the steamy afternoons I've read lots of good books. The one that remains with me is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It made me laugh, cry and want to know these people better.


The story takes place in 1960's Mississippi when it's perfectly okay for Black domestic help to raise your children and care for your elderly but they can't use your bathroom or drink from your water glasses. What made this story so special is Stockett didn't demonize anyone. She just showed us a slice of history and created the most delightful characters that I've met in a long time.


I also enjoyed reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It's an historical novel about a woman who loved and gave up everything to follow Frank Lloyd Wright. Her research made that time period (early 1900's) come alive for me.


The other book that stood out is P.D. Jame's The Private Patient. It isn't my favorite of her mysteries but the language is gorgeous and I read with the dictionary beside me.


I do want to add a male to the list so I'll include Michael Connelly's The Brass Verdict. I thought it was his best mystery and especially interesting since Harry Bosch is a character but not the narrator.


I'd love to hear about the books that made your summer special.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day


Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

If there's one holiday we should have off...with pay...it's Labor Day. Don't you agree? I'm old enough to remember the days when most businesses were closed on the weekends. And they ran from 8:00-5:00 closing for an hour lunch. I remember business closing on major holidays...all day.

Weekends were for families. A time when the worker could unwind, chill, rest up for the week. I remember eagerly looking forward to every holiday because I knew I'd be out of school or off from work. Nowadays you get to leave early on a holiday. Not too many businesses close down completely. And I think that's sad. Less time at home, less family life. Maybe if we went back to the good ole days there'd be less crime in the world today. More good people.

I asked to have today off, as did a few others in my area. The office isn't closed. And I feel for my one co-worker who will hold down the fort. I think we should take a page from the banks and post offices. When they're closed, everyone should be closed.

There are some holidays that should be observed the way they were meant to be.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Bit of a Mystery

On Tuesday I booked to go on a mystery tour. It was being run by my church. I love a good mystery.

The coach set off and we stopped at this lovely quaint village called Scorton. Here there is an old barn that has been turned into a gift shop and a cafe. We were served hot buttered tea cakes and either tea or coffee. The coffee was freshly made and delicious. The tea cakes had that slight flavour of cinnamon that I love. It was a somewhat stormy day so the food and drink was welcome.

Off we went again, I guessed we were heading for the beautiful and wild Trough of Bowland by the route being taken. This is a land of fells and rivers and woods. It is a favourite haunt of the Queen, believe it or not, and much of it is owned by the Duke of Westminster. Situated in North East Lancashire it falls away eventually into Yorkshire, but we don't have to talk about that! Lancashire and Yorkshire folk have a friendly rivalry.

It was a hairy journey, tiny roads, hump backed bridges, frightening bends. The weather did not help, pouring with rain, a wind blowing in from the west (straight from the USA I suspect!). However the heather was in full bloom, and spread in vivid purple clumps over the dark green hills.

Eventually after negotiating milk tankers and other motorists, we arrived at this beautiful house. Built in l721, it was a perfect example of Georgian architecture. There were lovely gardens - we managed to enjoy the brief spaces between rain when even the sun popped out - and the house allowed us to mix and mingle as resting in a pub or restaurant would not have allowed.

Our wonderful organisers had booked the house for the day and we were free to wander at will. They provided us with a hot and cold buffet and sold any drinks at cost price. Remember, this is a church trip...but we know how to enjoy ourselves. The house buzzed with chatter and friendliness. It was wonderful.

It was said the house had a "presence" i.e. ghost, but I did not see one...however I think I did see Mr Darcy in the garden...yes I am sure it was he!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Healing


Had a bit of surgery last week and am now working hard at healing. Lots of things help of course: flowers, books, candy and did I mention a new book contract from Whiskey Creek Press.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bookends

I work in a small office, there's only five of us. Three of us have been together for years and are pretty close. Melanie commented to me the other day that an old friend of hers in another office has asked if she might consider relocating to their office. When she confided in me my first selfish response was, "you can't leave me! You and Rita are my book ends."

Maybe that's a strange comment to make but it's the truth. I sit in between Mel and Rita so they are my book ends. They keep me sane. Not too long ago I told them that one of the reasons I look forward to going into work every day was because of them. We've been through a lot of changes through the years, stressful times where we've all at one time or another wanted to walk out. And there's always one of us who reins the other two in and makes us see reason, and we manage to get through it to face another day.

I realized my selfishness almost immediately and told Mel to do what she needed to do, that I would understand. But then I went on to remind her how much we, at our ages, hate change.

I was just reminding her!