Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Recipe Sharing Time!



Hello all! Cheryl Wyatt here. I'm getting ready to go on a writing spree to finish a couple book projects. That means less online time and pretty much hibernating away with my computer for a couple of weeks. One thing I like to do ahead of time is prepare meals for my family to make dinnertime easier and my writing days more efficient. I make them ahead then toss them in the freezer. So all I have to do is toss the ready-made ingredients in the crock pot or oven. 

What's your favorite crock pot meal? Can you share the recipe in the comment section? 

If you do dump dinners, like I described above, let me know. I'd love to try some new recipes for my family. 

Thanks in advance for sharing. 

I'm sharing a meal that my middle daughter created. It's SO, SO good. Enjoy! 

Cheryl Wyatt
--

BELL PEPPER PASTA

Ingredients: 

-1 block or bag of mozzarella cheese
-1 red bell pepper
-1 orange bell pepper
-1 yellow bell pepper
-grilled chicken strips
-Alfredo sauce
-1 stick butter
-1/2 c flour
-onion powder
-1 cup cream or milk
-3 cloves garlic
-salt and pepper to taste
-olive oil
-penne pasta

Directions:

Preheat oven to grill chicken strips. I use the ones already cut and precooked in a bag. But you can use fresh chicken breasts-grill and cut into strips.

Heat your favorite brand of pre-made Alfredo sauce in a pan, along with 1 stick of butter. Add flour and stir it until it becomes a thick paste. Add milk and stir. Cook until it boils. Add onion powder. Slowly add strips of mozzarella cheese until it's all melted in with the mixture. Add salt, pepper and garlic. Let simmer on low. 

Dice bell peppers and sauté in olive oil. 

Cook 1 box of penne pasta. 

Add peppers, penne pasta and chicken strips to the mixture, then stir. Serve and enjoy! 

~Cheryl
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Your turn. Share your favorite recipe! :-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

If You Like Suspense...

Hi, Patricia Bradley here, and today I'm going to talk about a book I've just finished. 

But first, the winner of last week's drawing: 
Susan P. So, Susan, email me at pat at ptbradley dot com and I'll send your book. I didn't realize Blogger doesn't capture the email addresses of those who comment. 


Now on to this a-maz-ing book I'm reading. It's Miracle Drug by Richard Mabry, MD. Doc, as most people call him, has crafted an incredible, can-I-turn-the-page-faster story. Here's the back cover copy:

The infection wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn’t. Then Dr. Josh Pearson discovers why—his patients, including the former President of the United States, have been dosed with a different strain of the original virus, one that is universally fatal. The only chance for survival is treatment with an experimental drug, but the manufacturer might already have discarded its supply.

As if treating the President of the United States isn’t stressful enough, the situation goes from bad to worse when Rachel Moore, a nurse Josh is falling in love with, falls ill. With the nation’s eyes on him, Josh must pull off a miracle to save a man who holds a good deal of power and the woman who holds his heart.


This 320-page book kept me reading way late at night!  

Another suspense book I've read lately is a Love Inspire Suspense that I read in one sitting--partly because it's a smaller book, but mostly because it was another book I had to know the ending. Person of Interest by Debby Giusti is part of LIS's Military Investigations books. Here's the cover and copy for it:


While babysitting a young servicewoman's infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can't be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed… 

I hope you'll give these two books a try, but be warned--start them when you have plenty of time to read them...

Monday, April 25, 2016

FRIENDSHIP SNIPPET #4

She's baaaack! In Friendship Snippet #3, I listed three broad types of friends. Now, before we consider the three levels of friendship, I must tell you about a cup I bought 30 years ago—not because it was beautiful, but because of the words printed on it that spoke to my depths: “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same.” Flavia. Still makes me sigh…

So, back on track. Here are the three levels of friendship:

Some are for a Season—You love each other, but after a while you go your separate ways (move, develop different interests).

Some are for a Reason—You work together on a church/school project that provides closeness and camaraderie when needed the most. However, when reason is gone, so is the friendship.

Some are meant to last a Lifetime—Usually, only a rare and precious few fit this category. With these “kindred spirits” we share the details of our life, goals, spiritual pursuits, difficulties, and sorrows. These friends know things no one else knows and can be counted on to keep confidences. Well…providing you chose them wisely, and I certainly haven't always done so.

Well, that’s it for now. Next time, we’ll go deeper and wider. See you then!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

FRIENDSHIP SNIPPET #3

Tamara Leigh again. Yes, I'm back on the topic of friendship, this time: HEALTHY FRIENDSHIPS. We all long for relationships that are intimate and satisfying—relationships that allow us to be ourselves. However, what we really need are friendships in which we are encouraged to become better than ourselves.

Jesus modeled for us what our relationships should look like. Though we are called to love everyone, this doesn’t extend to being intimate with everyone. As with Jesus, all our friendships are important, but each serves a different purpose. Here are three broad types of friends:

Acquaintances—These are friends we know, but not well. Conversations stay pretty much at the surface level.

Good Friends—These are friends with whom we click. We have something in common and often move in the same direction. To these friends, we reveal ourselves on a deeper level, often sharing opinions, concerns, facts, and interests.

Lifetime Friends—These friends are those with whom we can pick up right where we left off, even when we haven’t talked for months. We call them best friends, sometimes even soul mates. They coach us, stretch our minds, listen to and encourage our dreams, share our tears, protect us, rebuke us, and engage in activities with us. They are the ones to whom Proverbs 27:17 is most fully realized: “As Iron sharpens iron, so one man (woman!) sharpens another.” Count yourself blessed if you have three or four best friends over a lifetime.

That’s it for now. Next time—the three levels of friendship.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Oops! My Bad

by
Patricia Bradley

Oops! My book, Silence in the Dark, released yesterday and I didn't know it until Monday! 

How can that happen, you ask? 

When you get one date from your publisher but then check Amazon and the date is different, you don't know what to think. Amazon even changed it twice, reflecting the May 5th date my publisher gave me. I thought the date was still in May...

Let me tell you a little bit about Silence in the Dark. Here's the back cover copy:

In one of the most dangerous states in Mexico, Bailey Adams is running for her life . . . again.

When Bailey Adams left Logan Point two years ago for the mission field of Chihuahua, Mexico, she thought she was getting away from her problems. Running into her ex-fiancé Danny Maxwell was not part of the plan—neither was being chased through the city by the local drug cartel, the Calatrava. Now despite her best efforts, Danny is her only chance of escaping the people chasing her and getting back to Logan Point safely. Can Bailey find the strength to face what’s coming? And in the midst of the chaos, can she keep herself from falling in love with her rescuer all over again?


With lean, fast-paced prose that will keep you turning the pages, Patricia Bradley pens a superb story of suspense and second chances.

And I love the banner Revell made for my Facebook and Twitter pages:

And I love that Revell is running my first book, Shadows of the Past, for FREE in digital format at all the major epublisher sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD...

Back to Silence in the Dark. The opening scene is something that happened in my life. While fictionalized in the book--I was never actually in danger--it was very traumatic and has stayed with me for more than fifty years. Have you ever had something to stay with you that long--good or bad? If you want to share, leave a comment and I'll enter you in a drawing for Silence in the Dark. (Ebook if outside the Continental US.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

From Survive to Thrive

Hello all! Cheryl Wyatt here. Thank you so much for visiting our blog. We are glad you're here!

A month ago, I caught wind that I'd face something really hard, but that God would be with me. Time and time again the promise came that while I'd go through the fire and pass through the waters, I would not get burned, nor be overtaken to a point of drowning. I dreaded hearing those words because my overactive imagination tends to fear the worst. LOL.

When I felt God's reassurance that he'd bring me out of the other side of it, I realized that meant I'd likely have the blessing of being refined and washed clean and pure by the event or circumstance. So, I saved those promises on my computer and more promises came in pretty much the same theme, different wording. But always, that same scripture.



I felt God nudging me to hold fast to him and his word and to prayer and worship once I caught sight of the flames and the waves. I didn't want myself or my family member to be in this situation. Two things came to mind. Two fears. Two losses that I just really did not want to face.

Within a week, the first fear came to pass. My worst fear in that promise-happened-is happening right now. To me, to a family member I love more than life. I can't share details but suffice it to say it is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to face---and believe me, I've been through a lot. My faith is not shaken but my emotions are in ruins. Picture a shipwreck scattered along a debris-strewn shore after the worst hurricane you can imagine. Only my emotions are the hurricane and the debris the promise I shunned out of fear that the reason I'd need it wouldn't be. I lost hold of it thus running along the barren shore in a desperate re-gathering.

Until today-last night actually while walking around my church parking lot in gut raw prayer, peace finally won the war over my emotions and my soul. I'm grateful! So grateful God heard my prayers, saw my tears, my hurt, so raw I could not even enunciate it coherently and so the Holy Spirit prayed through me, prayed lifeboats of peace and hope and promise to me. I'm trusting that for the first time in weeks I won't wake up depressed and sad but hopeful and filled with joy.

 The promise I abhored became an anchor I adored and a fire shield to my faith. 

In the middle of literally dragging myself through the thick of it with God's help, I was able to tell that while the pain is raw nearly every minute of every day with no end or relief in sight, I see beats of hope thumping against my heart like its a bird cage and the hope in shards yet still alive like little mustard seeds knocking to be let out. Hope can be shattered and yet still alive.

Last summer, my daughter was stung by a dead jellyfish. Actually, she was stung, according to a beach community physician, "hundreds of thousands of times." How? The jellyfish apparently got in the path of a ship motor or boat propeller, then still floated through the ocean toward shore. My daughter swam through the particles, all of which stung her on impact. Within thirty minutes she was covered neck to ankles in the most horrible rash I've ever seen. Thousands upon thousands of microscopic pieces of that still-charged jellyfish kept stinging her because the particles got trapped in her swim clothes. Rubbing the rash made it worse.

Hope deferred is like that. Hope can be shattered and it still stings. One the other hand, hope can be shattered and it still sings. Hearts can be ripped apart like shards of glass and still beat. Believe me. I'd take her pain if I could. In the situation that prompted the promise from God, her heart was stung hundreds of times with microscopic letters. Double-minded utterances. Lies. Confusion. Broken promises. Retracted dreams. Deception. And most of all, by careless words-over and over and over.

One thing I've prayed, and that we've learned through this is that God is good even when we aren't. God is good, even when others mistreat us. God is good even when things don't turn out like we planned, or like someone promised or like we hoped. People change. Minds change. Plans change. But God? He never changes. His love will never change, will never go away. The miracle in the middle of this is that we were able to pray (and mean it) for not our will but God's will utmost. God made us instantly able to give grace, forgiveness, prayers of blessing. Also miraculous is the glimpse I'm already seeing that my girl is not only going to survive this but she's going to thrive this. In her faith, in her walk with God, in her emotions, in her trust, in her health and wellbeing with future relationships.



The beauty in this is that God intervenes. That his perfect will will be done. His plans will come to pass. He is a good, good father. He loves us. We are his children. His plans are better than ours. Much better. His ways are higher than our ways and he knows our lives from beginning to end. Hallelujah!
Another blessing is her instant ability, by God's grace, to forgive-and yet set healthy boundaries. She's not wavering in her faith. She's running toward rather than away from God in her pain and frustration.    She's going to more than survive this heartbreak. She's going to thrive it in God's strength and she's going to be anchored in God's promises. He never lies. He says what he means and he means what he says. Praise the Lord! Many worship songs in this season are speaking to my situation. I took this personally because she's mine. She belongs to me. She also belongs to God and he loves her even more than I do if that's possible. I believe so because his love is bigger than anything. We will both come through this fire refined like gold-trusting in God alone-choosing to believe in trust and hope.

This was very long and I'm sorry for that. I pretty much opened my heart and bled onto the page. Bear with one more thing I have to say because it's important. If you're going through something hard, look to Jesus. Immerse yourself in his words. Seeks his face. Stay in his presence. His words-they are promises that counteract your pain and that uphold you when the waves and wind try to overtake you. Anchor your eyes and hope and heart to Jesus. Press in. Take his hand. He's reaching. He will not let you sink. He will not let you fall. He will lift you up. He will help you. Trust him.

Praying for you to not only just survive but to thrive in hardship, heartache, turmoil. Jesus loves you!

Cheryl Wyatt


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can't get to the Great Barrier Reef? Bring it to you!

Okay, maybe not the Great Barrier Reef, but a coral reef, nonetheless, at least a tiny slice of one. Yup. That's my hobby, my one and only hobby that time allows. I'm a Reefer. (No, not that kind of reefer!).  I maintain a 54 gallon Coral Reef in my writing room. Yes, I have a room in my home which is my office and where I probably spend 10 hours a day when I'm not watching my grandkids.

If you follow my writing at all, you know I have an infatuation with the sea. I was raised in South Florida where I spent as much time as possible at the beach. It was there that I dreamt of pirates and of sailing away on tall ship adventures. I loved snorkling in the warm waters and looking at all the fish. Now, I live in Northern California where the beaches are rocky and cold and the water flows down from Alaska. All very gorgeous, mind you, but not condusive to swimming and there certainly aren't any coral reefs.

Keeping a coral reef tank is a challenge. The complexity of maintaining optimal conditions for sensitive corals to not only survive but thrive is far and above any normal aquarium keeping.  Proper levels of salinity, calcium, ammonia, nitrate and nitrites, ph, phosphate and other chemicals must be maintained, not to mention proper lighting, water quality (you can only use RO or Distilled water) and temperature. If one or more of these things is off even slightly, the corals die.  But if done properly, a reef tank can eventually be quite gorgeous.  You can not only keep corals, but shrimp, anemones, crabs, clams, starfish, and even some beautiful coral reef fish.  Once a reef is set up, it takes years for the corals to actually grow and start to cover the rocks.  

First, let me show you how beautiful a coral reef tank can be. (No, this isn't mine)



Now, here's a few pictures of my tank. It's a new tank. I just set it up 4 or 5 months ago so it's still "cycling" and settling into the right water quality and the correct compounds. That's why you'll see some brown algae growing here and there.  Soon, I hope to add a few more fish and another coral but I wanted it to stablize first.






I'm not quite there yet, obviously.  Still how wonderful to have it here in the room where I spend so much time. It's so relaxing and makes me think of the sea.

 Now that I've shared my hobby, what about you? What hobbies do you enjoy?


.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

When reading experiments fail

Hi Everyone, Danica Favorite here, and I'm just going to admit right now that I have nothing to recommend to you all. Well, okay, that's not entirely true. A few months ago, as I was reading a magazine in the dentist's office (I know, I lead such a glamorous life!), I stumbled across a section listing "must-read" books. At first, I was indignant because they had no ROMANCE books listed. And then, I realized something. I've been reading romance almost exclusively for so long that I don't even know what kinds of other books are out there.

I decided to experiment and try new books. New genres. I promptly put myself on the waiting list at the library for the books in the article, and since I'm so strapped for time, those are the only books I've been reading.

Can I make a confession? They are total snoozers!! GAH!! Unlike some people (I'm looking at you, Camy Tang!), I can't not finish a novel. I have a compulsion to finish. Part of me hopes it will get better, and part of me needs to know how it ends. And so, I, Danica Favorite, romance lover, read a bunch of super boring literary books that I can only recommend if you're suffering from insomnia or have a deep burning need to know what it's like to be thoroughly depressed because the boring book you just read was so hopeless and dark that you probably should have stabbed out your eyeballs instead of reading. Seriously, they were that bad.

I probably should have sprinkled in some happy books between the "other" books, but I wanted to return them to the library on time. I'm just glad I didn't buy them, because I almost did, but then I saw how much I was spending, and decided to borrow them instead. Wow. I would have really been mad had I paid money for those books! Point being, I just had to get through them all as fast as possible, and with everything else I had going on, I had no time to read a good romance. Which means, I have nothing to recommend to you.



So... I have decided to turn the tables. Friends, readers, people who understand the need to read a book that is happy and uplifting, I am begging you... help me expand my reading horizons. Help me get over this horrible depression from having read a bunch of downers. What have YOU read that's been a GREAT read?

And, because I do have a new release out (and I promise it is a HAPPY book!), I'm going to give away a copy of Shotgun Marriage to someone who shares a recommendation for a good book. 


Here's a little about my book, Shotgun Marriage:
Conveniently Wed 
Forced to wed to protect their reputations after being trapped overnight in a mine, Emma Jane and Jasper Jackson's marriage is one in name only. Resenting the choices taken from him, Jasper's determined not to lose his heart. But it's not so easy to stay distanced from his new bride when a gang of bandits abducts them both.

Other young women might be ecstatic to land Leadville's wealthiest bachelor. But Emma Jane would rather have Jasper's love than his family's money. A true bond with her handsome husband seems impossible…until their ordeal leaves Emma Jane caring for an orphaned baby. In reach now is the one thing neither expected—the chance to turn a convenient marriage into a forever family.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Dark Place by Camy/Camille

I’m planning a new Regency right now, and I’m finding that I’m going into a darker place than normal for these characters.

My hero has abandonment issues because his mother left him when he was young. Thank God, my own parents are great, but I’ve had friends with parents from hell, and I’m using their experiences for my hero’s pain and self-worth issues.

But I’ve also had to delve into my hero’s mother’s point of view, and I’m exploring an issue I’ve only ever heard about from a couple people—postpartum depression.

I know that when I’m grieving or in pain, I do terrible, terrible things. I do things I would never do if I were in my right mind. I can hurt others without a second thought and feel the rage and hurt boil inside me.

I know from my psychology classes in college that depression can sometimes exhibit itself in irritation and malice as opposed to just being sad. And so I’m imagining my hero’s mother lashing out in the midst of her own grief and pain, pushing away the people she loves.

Writing about this character is making me explore the more selfish and emotional parts of myself, the parts that I usually try to keep away from the forefront of my mind because, well, they’re not pleasant parts of me. But writing about this character is not just about doing things I regret and facing the fallout of my actions, but also about hope.

I think that in our society, we often believe that once we’ve failed or messed up, it’s game over for us. People in general don’t forgive others easily, and it can be even worse when we have to forgive ourselves.

But somehow, God forgives. God redeems us. God saves us from ourselves.

There are still consequences for our actions, but we don’t have to give in to the hopelessness. It’s not game over if we fail or mess up. God forgives and wants to help us start again, try again, start all over. This was why Jesus died on the cross, to save us from our sins—so we can have another chance, no matter what we do.

Writing about all this in a book is hard, but it’s also a good reminder for me that I am not expected to be perfect. I’m human and sinful, and I have been redeemed.

And so have you.

So my prayer today is that God meets you where you are and helps you overcome anything you might still be regretting in your life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

From the desk of MaryLu Tyndall - A book Recommendation!

I'll be honest with you, I have a hard time finding books I really really enjoy. I don't want to recommend something mediocre to my friends or readers. I want you to trust my judgement.  Well, it so happens that the other day I was asked if I would read the first installment of Lynnette Bonner's new series, The Sonnets of the Spice Isle.  Since it was short, I agreed. WOW, was I blown away!


On the Wings of a Whisper

Stone Town, Zanzibar, Early 1866

RyAnne Hunter is determined to stop her father from leaving for the continent of Africa, where he plans to start a mission station. And she only has until morning. Tonight at the Harcourts’ Annual Ball will be her last chance to change his mind. She must succeed! Papa’s health, and her future, depend on her success. But, as if her task isn’t difficult enough, now the insufferable Captain Dawson has agreed to guide Papa’s expedition!

After spending six months at sea, Captain Trent Dawson only wants to think about rest and relaxation. However, when he’s recruited by a British naval officer to help put an end to a slave smuggling ring, the perfect opportunity presents itself in Dr. Hunter, who needs a guide to the Interior. Now if he can just help the doctor without spending too much time with the man’s troublesome and flighty youngest daughter.

A thrilling historical romance from the time of missionary explorer David Livingstone.

Here's my endorsement!

What a pleasant surprise! On the Wings of a Whisper is one of those rare books that kept me up late at night. It has everything I love in a story: a dashing hero, romance, intrigue, high-seas adventure, not to mention excellent characters and a riveting plot. Rarely have I been so caught up in a story. I can't wait for the next installment!
MaryLu Tyndall, best-selling author of The Legacy of the King's Pirates series.


This is the first installment of a serial novel, which this author plans on adding to every few weeks. I can't wait for the next episode!   Here's the link to ORDER !  It's only 99 cents!  And well worth that and much much more!