Wednesday, October 23, 2019

#WednesdayWriter'sQuote The Exhausting Struggle



I think Orwell was right! Sometimes, writing can be a struggle and other times a joy. This month marked the completion of one big project that I worked on all year, which was the cookbook. The formatting took me a month! But all in all, the finished product was worth it and I'm proud to have something that I hope will be passed on to future generations of my family.

During the week that I published it, I ended up sick with a flu-like cold. The first one that I've had in years and I'm still not over it, so I'm behind on things now. But that's life, I guess.

Halloween is only a week away!!!

Friday, October 18, 2019

#HalloweenTrivia How #Pumpkins Became Jack O'Lanterns


Jack O’Lanterns have been around for centuries. They originated in Ireland and Scotland. Originally they were made from potatoes and turnips! In England, large beets were used for Jack-o-lanterns. Scary faces were carved in the vegetables and they were placed in windows and doors to scare away evil spirits like Stingy Jack.

The myth of Stingy Jack goes like this: Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. Then Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for the drinks so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin. So Stingy Jack decided to keep the coin instead of paying for the drinks. He kept it in his pocket next to a silver cross so the Devil couldn’t change back. Finally, Jack freed the Devil by making a deal that the Devil wouldn’t bother him for a year and if Jack died, he wouldn’t claim his soul. In the coming year, Jack trapped the Devil in a tree by carving a cross on it and making the Devil promise not to bother him again for 10 more years.

Jack died and the myth that God wouldn’t allow him in Heaven and the Devil wouldn’t allow him in Hell. Jack was sent off into the night with a burning coal in a carved-out turnip to light his way. His ghost has been wandering the Earth ever since.  He became known as Jack O’Lantern

In the American colonies, they found that pumpkins, a fruit found in the New World, made perfect Jack O’Lanterns. They could be hollowed out and carving scary faces was easy.
Plus they had plenty of room for a candle. Now pumpkins are used everywhere for Jack O'Lanterns.

 
Check out my new release, Darlene's Redneck Recipes, a fun-filled recipe book with over 200 simple, country-style recipes that will make for some delicious fall cooking!!

For a list of the recipes, click on the Darlene's Redneck Recipe tab.

Print:  Amazon       Barnes and Noble







Wednesday, October 16, 2019

#MeetTheAuthor #BookSpotlight Fyrian's Fire by @emilyhjeffries #YAFantasy


Today my guest is Emily H. Jeffries. She is a theology teacher and speaker with bachelor's degrees in drama and religious studies from the University of Virginia and a master's in sacred theology from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, where most of her classmates were wizards--that is, friars. She loves wandering through forests and cathedrals, and her hidden magical abilities include improv comedy, evading cardiovascular activity, and singing all of Les Misérables from memory. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, baby daughter, Aussie-doodle, and herbs."

Emily has taken the time to answer some fun questions in a quick interview.


 If you were about to be served your last meal, what would be on your plate?

If I were to set the menu for my last meal, the main dish would have to be crispy quail. And as my side, I'd request a handmade butternut squash ravioli. Since this is my last meal, the heartburn would be worth it! And since we're throwing caution to the wind already, for dessert I'll have a slice of chocolate pecan pie topped with whole fat whipped cream, please and thank you.

If you could time-travel, where would your first stop be?

If I could travel to any time period, my first stop would be Prince Edward Island, the late 1800s. No contest.

What do you collect?

I do not collect many things, but since getting married, I have started to cultivate two habits when I travel. The first is to buy a felt Christmas ornament (usually of a local animal). The second is to buy a hand-painted plate to hang in my kitchen. This is something my well-traveled maternal grandmother always did, and I used to love to listen to her tell the story behind each of the dozens of blue and white plates she had hanging under the crown molding of her little kitchen. I hope to make similar memories with my grandchildren someday.

If someone sent you flowers, they would be a bouquet of what?   

I am a bit of a flower enthusiast, so asking me to assemble my favorite bouquet is both an exciting and overwhelming question! Haha. It depends on my mood and the season, I suppose. But among the most treasured blooms would be yellow roses (like a Rosa Molineux), white anenome, and richly colored dahlias. In fact, a character in my book, Fyrian's Fire, is named Dahly after one of my favorite flowers! Ranunculus and poppies would make the list too okay I'm done.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing? 

While I was writing and editing my second novel, The Midways (unpublished), I kept to a writing schedule inspired by Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe. Wolfe is an eccentric private detective who never leaves his home if he can help it, and keeps to a daily schedule with unwavering constancy. In the afternoons, no matter what is going on, he leaves his office to tend to his orchids for two hours. I thought his afternoon gardening time - 4pm to 6pm - seemed a perfect slot to carve out for my writing. I think the key to the writing hours is that your friends and family are made aware, and you consistently hold that time sacred. Once it became clear that I did not schedule anything between 4 and 6, and didn't answer my phone or emails, I think those close to me started to appreciate that I was taking my writing seriously. Of course, many, many writers carve out a similar time during the early morning. I wish with all my heart that I had that kind of self-discipline, but alas, I am fairly useless until I've had my lunch.

Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

There are so many ways to become a better writer, most of which I'm sure I have not yet learned. But given a typical writer, new to the industry and hoping to publish a novel through the traditional channels, I'd offer a couple of pieces of advice guaranteed to improve her writing. First, be extraordinarily picky about who you allow to offer feedback on your WIP -- and I don't mean friends and family. If you think you are ready to query, give the first pages to professionals who like to read your genre, don't know you from Adam, but have some reason to want you to succeed (I volunteer to be one of those people!). Second, when you get their advice, follow it. You can vent about how they are so wrong and don't know anything about writing with your spouse or in your journal, but then you need to buck up, express your undying gratitude to the person who took the time to improve your stuff, and then implement 90% of their suggestions.

If you were going to cast the hero of your book, what actor would get the part?

Casting the heroine of my debut novel, Fyrian's Fire is very easy! She is all over the Pinterest inspiration page. It would be a teenaged Lily Collins, but super freckly. 

Give us a short pitch for your newest book and tell us why we’re gonna love it

It is a clean YA fantasy adventure, featuring Redwall-esque warrior animals, an enchanted hair tie, and a princess-to-be with a lot to learn about herself and her homeland's past.

When Tess commits a grievous error, siege befalls her land—a siege only Tess’s magic can end.
The week of her wedding, Lady Tessamine Canyon is jilted by her betrothed, Prince Linden. Left utterly humiliated, Tess betrays a tightly guarded secret to an enemy spy—a decision that throws the Dione of Glademont into chaos. Hunted by bloodthirsty mercenaries, Tess flees into the Hinge Forest. There, with the help of a wild owl and a two-hundred-year-old bear, Tess begins to unlock the forgotten mysteries of her people.
Deep in the woods, the spirit of a long-dead dryad awaits the next Thane of a fierce weapon. To Tess’s amazement, it is she who is called to master the weapon’s power and save Glademont from an impending war.
When a surprising turn of events reunites Tess with Linden—the prince who called off their engagement—Tess must swallow her pride and join forces with him. But even if Tess can rescue her people, will that be enough to forgive her treason? Armed with a fiery magic, Tess is forced to make an impossible choice, one that might seal her fate as the next Thane—but forever extinguish any chance at following her heart.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Blending Family Stories and Cooking and Fiction in Darlene's Redneck Recipes #Homestyle #Recipes

This week marks the end of a two-year project for me. I decided a while back that I would put together a recipe book for the younger girls in our Southern family that would reflect how their grandmothers and great-grandmothers cooked. I'm one of the last members of my family who grew up with these women and their food. That being said, I didn't want it to be just another cookbook.

I love writing humor and I knew I had the perfect character for it. Darlene Higginbottom. She made her first appearance in a 50's Southern comedy I wrote called "Laid to Rest." Actually, she was never supposed to be the main character but once she came on stage, I knew the story belonged to her and not Richie and Tommy Ray as I had planned. Darlene is an outspoken, ambitious, assertive country girl who believes you should dream big. Her dream is to become a movie star like her idol, Marilyn Monroe. I always thought of Darlene as looking like Marilyn, acting like Lucille Ball and talking like Madea. Darlene has always been one of my most popular characters. I've had more readers ask me about her than any other character I've written. 

Then I had to come up with a title. Darlene's Cookbook was meh. So I finally settled on Darlene's Redneck Recipes: Humor and Home Cooking. Darlene, who is from the '50s, talks about cast-iron skillets, cooking pies, picking poke sallet, etc. Plus she adds comments to the recipes every so often. Her comments and stories are all fictional, but they are based on things that I recall being told about or either doing growing up and as an adult. I also talked to my friends to see what they remembered about their mothers cooking and meals at the house. 

Regarding the recipes, my one stipulation was to use only recipes that required simple ingredients found in most kitchens. Nothing fancy or hard to make. Many of the recipes came from my recipe box and that's what I wanted for the book. Like looking through a recipe box with over 200 recipes. 


The cookbook contains my mother's chocolate pie recipe. It is the only recipe of hers that I have in her handwriting. She wrote "very good" at the end and circled it. That's true. That chocolate pie is awesome. Other recipes I had accumulated over the years were some from our patients at the medical clinic where I worked years ago. The patients used to make goodies for us at Christmas. Two of my favorites were Miss Jessie's sour cream pound cake, which was heavenly and Miss Amelia's pineapple filling that she put in little tart shells. They brought me their recipes, which I still have and included in the book. They have both been dead for many years, but their cooking lives on. Then there are the co-worker recipes like the one for a lemon pie that was written on a Post-It note.

In my quest for recipes and how women once cooked, I headed to a country beauty owned by an old friend of mine. On Fridays, she does all her "old ladies" hair for the weekend, especially church on Sunday. So I went out there on a Friday with notebook in hand and sat and talked with women who came in about cooking and what memories they had of their mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen. Plus I gathered more recipes. 

The women I grew up around cooked constantly. I had one aunt that practically lived in her kitchen. She was always in the kitchen cooking something. When we went to her house, we all sat at a big white and chrome table that was in the dining area of the kitchen. We never sat in the living room and I don't remember her ever being anywhere but in the kitchen puttering from the stove to the sink. 

She couldn't drive as was true of many of the farm-raised women who were my kin and ancestors. They lived on farms, milked cows, had chickens, hogs, and vegetable gardens.
They used what they had on hand when they started cooking a meal. They didn't have ready access to grocery stores and they didn't have the money for specialty items. So all their dishes were simple and homemade. I tried to stay true to that in this book

In Darlene's cookbook, I leave it up to the cook to add whatever additional spices, herbs or flavors they want to try. That's how new recipes are created, so be creative in the kitchen and enjoy some good food!

Here's an interior picture:


Darlene says her cookbook would make a terrific Christmas gift!!! So keep it in mind.

It is also available as an ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z1DJVMF
The books aren't linked yet on the same page. 

And thanks so much to anyone who takes the time to leave a review! 

Wishing you a wonderful week! 


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Quick Fire Quiz with Kryssie Fortune and #Book Spotlight The Viscount's Pet #RegencyRomance

Quick Fire Quiz 
with Kryssie Fortune


Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Definitely energize. I get bad-tempered if I don’t do something to inch my writing forward every day.

Ballpoint or fountain pen?
Ballpoint. I write in a notebook, type up, then read it through before moving on to the next chapter.

What time of the day is best for you as a writer?
Anywhere, anytime. If I have a free moment I put pen to paper. A lot of my early writing was done on the bus on the way and from work.

Who are three of your favorite authors?
Kresley Cole, Georgette Heyer, and currently J.S. Scott. The last one changes but I’ve loved the other two for years.  ,

Which book – of all the books you’ve written – do you like the best?
Always the one I’m working on. I’m proud of Taken as Theirs because it was my first book to hit the top ten in it’s category. I love regency romance, and I love my latest very hot Regency romance. Georgette Heyer would be turning in her grave.

How do you research your locations?
Internet and visits. A lot of my books are set in Yorkshire, England. That’s my home county. For my Westhorpe Ridge series, I hounded friends in North Carolina to check details. For my current WIP I visited Lindisfarne in Northumberland to scout the island. (Any excuse for a weekend break with my husband.)

When her brother tries to arrange a marriage with the detestable Baron Cosford, Julianna strikes out on her own, but her plan is disrupted by an unexpected encounter with Viscount Stonehurst.

Stonehurst is less than pleased to find a beautiful young woman travelling alone at night, but when he discovers her predicament will the handsome gentleman come to Juliana’s rescue?

Excerpt
A single tear slipped through her defenses. She blinked and wiped it away. If he said another word, she’d shatter. Anger that he’d spanked and insulted her welled up inside her. She couldn’t decide which hurt more—her bruised ribs or her sore bottom.
Misery blocked her throat and dried her mouth. She’d probably deserved that spanking since her failure ten years ago cost Susanna her life. She’d blamed herself when she heard the French had killed Stonehurst. That her childhood scheme hadn’t sent him to his death was the only bright spot in her miserable evening.
As they rode, her brief spark of anger faded into despair. She never made a sound, but tears flowed down her cheeks.
“Damn it,” Stonehurst muttered under his breath, “don’t cry.”
Despite the balmy summer night, she couldn’t stop shivering. He tightened his arms, pulling her toward him. When he buried his face in her hair, she thought he inhaled in her favorite floral perfume. She hoped it pleased him. His citrus and herbal cologne certainly delighted her.
When he reached the rose garden, the musky scent of the flowers lingered, heady and intoxicating. Despite his wooden leg, he slid easily from the saddle and helped her dismount. His hands rested a few seconds too long on her waist. She relaxed and leaned toward him, but his severe expression condemned her. While her past actions deserved his scorn, it still crushed her.
As if he couldn’t stop himself, he tugged her against him. His mouth slammed against hers, claiming, dominating, and possessing. A soft moan flowed from her. When she nestled into his embrace, her heart told her she’d come home.
He tangled his hands in the loose strands of her hair and anchored her lips to his. As his tongue traced the seam between them, she opened for him. He tasted of fresh lemons and spearmint. His kiss was all-consuming and addictive, a sinful delight that flooded her soul with joy.
The longer he held her, the more she relaxed. Everything about him made her feel sheltered and safe. Deep down she knew it was an illusion. He’d already sided with her brother, and her ribs would suffer for it.
Confused by the feelings he roused in her breast, her grip on reality faded, and she responded with unexpected eagerness. Wrong or not, she’d savor this moment of pleasure. Something hot and sensual sizzled between them. Unable to resist, she slid her arms around his neck and ran her foot up and down his right calf.
When he crushed her against his chest, the added intimacy made her heart pound and her knees weak. Only, given their past, they could never have a future.

Publisher’s Note: The Viscount’s Pet is a stand-alone novel which shares the Regency-era setting of Wickedly Used and His Innocent Bride. It includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.

Buy links


OR READ FOR FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

Find out more about Kryssie and her books:

Blog            http://kryssiefortune.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter         https://twitter.com/KryssieFortune
Pinterest      http://bit.ly/1OGFnjc
Goodreads     http://bit.ly/2kxqabJ
Amazon Author Page  http://amzn.to/2hA0ZVO

Thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment to say hello. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Finished by the First of Fall. Goal Reached! #HappyFirstDayofFall


I can't believe fall is here already. Of course, we've haven't had any fall weather yet and I'm wondering if fall will come later and grow shorter with each passing year. I hope not. Fall has always been my favorite season. I love the colors and clothes. I'm just an autumn person.

I have been away from my blog for most of this year as I've spent a lot of time working on my house, doing some fixing up and cleaning that I had neglected for a few years. LOL!!! I finally finished this weekend. My goal was to be done by the fall and I made it! I also finished up the cookbook I've been working on all year. More about that in coming posts.

I have a lot of writing to get done this winter. Several projects waiting on me. I'm happy that I finally got my writing cave put back together after getting new flooring. I had moved everything around and it didn't work for me, so it was back to moving stuff again. I think I've got it like I want it. Here's a picture of it and trust me, it is rare that it is ever this uncluttered. I'm a writer who has to have a lot of stuff around me when I'm working.


One of my favorite new things is the quote I have on the wall. "Do one thing every day that makes you happy." I had a friend, who has since passed away, but she always told me to do one thing every day that you enjoy, even if it is just a good cup of coffee. I think it's important to do something, even a very small thing, that you enjoy. So this first day of fall I hope you find some joy.


Friday, August 2, 2019

How to Give Furniture a New Look with Homemade Chalk Paint. Cheap and Easy!

Since April, I have been working on my house. It all started when I decided to paint the den and have new carpet installed. Of course, one job led to another. While I was at it, I thought I should go ahead and have the floor covering in my writing room replaced. Plus there were numerous other things that needed to be done including touch-up painting, cleaning out cabinets and the shed. I ended up having two yard sales. Now it is the first of August and I am finished with all the big tasks for now. I'm looking forward to autumn and some new ventures, but that's for another blog post.

I wanted to share with you my experience with making and using chalk paint, which I've found I love!!! I have painted several old pieces of furniture I had and a cart. When I decided to do this, I did some research and check out Lowe's. I was practically going over there every day when I was working on the house. Chalk paint is expensive and since I didn't know if it would work or not, I didn't want to invest that much in it. After doing research I decided to try to make my own paint. It worked great. Plus it costs next to nothing.

I ordered calcium carbonate from Amazon. I bought the LD Carlson brand. It costs about $6 for a 1 pound bag which I still have some left. The texture is like flour. Mixes really well with the paint and there's no grainy problem. 

I bought the small sample jars of paint from Lowe's $3.98 each. Note: you can save even more if you buy the mixing error paint samples if you find a color you like at $1.25. For the final finish, I used Johnson's Paste Wax, about $8. Still have half the container left. 

Prep furniture: Be sure it is clean. And I recommend sanding lightly. I used a sanding block and went over the tables, especially the tops. At any rate, chalk paint adheres well.

Regarding paint: flat latex is recommended. However, Lowe's samples are satin finish. So I used satin finish and was happy with the outcome.

Recipe for chalk paint
1 cup latex paint  
4 tablespoons calcium carbonate
2 tablespoons warm water.

Note: This is going to be enough paint to do a couple of table or more. 
If you are doing a small project like a table, cut it in half or fourth.
I cut it in half. 

Pour your cup of paint into a container. You can use empty Cool Whip or cottage cheese containers which are great because they have lids.

In a separate container, add calcium. Then warm water and stir until dissolved.

Pour this into the container with regular paint and mix well. 

Apply a good coat and use a good brush for a smooth result.

Let dry and cure overnight. I found it's important to let paint cure overnight. A couple of times when the paint had dried, I started to apply a whitewash/paint coat and I had a problem with the bottom layer coming off. So I advise to put on a good coat and let it dry overnight. 

After the project is dry, you can do different techniques such as antiquing or whitewashing or distressing. I didn't do antiquing. You would need to get the stain for that at the store.
You need sandpaper for distressing. And you can make whitewash from any color paint, which is what I did.

To make whitewash you use 1 part paint and 2 parts water. For example: 1/3 cup paint and 2/3 cup water. Stir well. Have some soft old cloths for wiping it on and off. You can use a brush to paint it the furniture and then wipe it off with the cloth.

You can apply layers, lightly wipe on and off until you get the effect you want. You can use a couple of different colors of whitewash for a beautiful result. 

You may want to distress the piece. Using a block of coarse sandpaper, sand paint off a couple of places like on the trim or edges so the wood shows through. You can use a block of fine sandpaper to smooth those places.

Let all your paint dry overnight. 

Finish with wax. You may need to get a round brush, used for chalk paint finishing, to use to apply your wax. I used a friend's on my tables. Then I did one a couple of days ago and I applied the wax using a cloth because I didn't have the brush. After you have put the wax on the furniture, then you use a cloth and rub it in. The more you rub the more satiny the finish is. 

You can also use an acrylic clear coat to finish a project. That's what I used on my metal cart and it worked well. 

I am going to share some photos of my projects. The dark table and the round table were vintage tables that I bought at estate sales, probably 20 years ago. The square table I've had in the shed for many years. I bought it on clearance years ago and used it for a while as a printer stand. Then put it in storage.

The bookcase is old too and on the bookcase, I used a blue-green paint that was one of Lowe's mistake samples that I got for $1.25. Then I made a wash of deep blue paint to go over it. I used a color called piano brown on the square table. Then I made a wash of a little brown mixed with a color called Hopsack, a tan color. I put the wash on the table. Then I made another wash of white paint and put that on the table. I used white and hopsack to make the base paint for the round table and side table. Then I used a wash of hopsack over them. I distressed the side table edges. 

I sanded the metal cart, which was sprayed paint black and looked awful, and painted it with a violet color that was another mistake sample. The chalk paint held well to the metal and I finished it with the acrylic spray finish, applying several light coats.  


For all the pieces I did, I still have paint left. I used about a 1/2 cup of chalk paint per piece. Maybe a little more for the bookcase and cart. So I probably have less than $5 invested in painting and finishing of each piece. The cart is probably $10 since I used a half-can of the spray that cost $11. 

You can also use chalk paint on flower pots. I painted one with the hopsack color just to see and it stuck to it. I want to eventually do some picture frames. It's a great way to update colors. The picture below is a maple table I painted using blue chalk paint and dark blue wash. The flower pot was green. It's not a good photo as I had to crop it. 

That's it for my post on chalk paint. If you have some old tables stuck back in a shed like I did, it might be fun to give them a new look. You could even sale them. When I was having a yard sale, I was working on painting the first two tables outside and everyone wanted to know if they were for sale.

If you have any questions about chalk paint, leave them in the comments and I'll respond with what I know in relation to my experience.

Have a great weekend and I plan to blog more often now that I am finally caught up around the house. Of course, I have a lot of writing I need to do!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Practicing the Art of Decluttering and Painting Wallpaper

Happy May! The month of May always brings blossoms to a hardy rose bush in my yard. My mother grew rows of them. They are the kind of roses that you can break off a stem and stick it in the ground and it'll root. I don't know of anything that kills it either. You just have to dig it up. I enjoy the blooms this time of year and they have such a sweet scent. 

I haven't posted much at all online because for the past month I've been busy with my house. I painted the wallpaper in the den. I wasn't sure this would work and now I wish I had tried it much sooner than I did. The wallpaper had been up there for years and I knew it would be impossible to take it down since there was another layer beneath it. But the den carpet needed to be replaced and I had to decide what to do with the walls. I watched some YouTube videos and decide to try to paint the wallpaper.
I wiped down the walls with some mild cleanser and a soft kitchen dishtowel. 
Then I used Kilz Premium primer. The paper was a dark stripe so I put on several coats. I used 2 gallons. Then for paint, I used Sherwin-Williams Superpaint in White Organdy. It did a great job with coverage. I'm very happy with the outcome. 
Having new flooring put down is almost like moving since you have to move everything out of a room. I figured I might as well get rid of a lot of the stuff I've accumulated over the years. I've been reading the Japanese Art of Decluttering and I've reached a point in my life where it is time to let go of sentimental things from years past that has no value to anyone other than me. I'm trying to apply this to my house and I really dread the writing room. I am going to start on moving stuff out of here this weekend. Pray for me. 😃

My son came home for a couple of days and we had a great visit. I was really happy that he installed a new hard drive on one of my computers and I think that will be the computer I'll use for writing. Of course, switching computers is like moving, too.

I will have more news on Darlene's Cookbook soon! Hopefully this weekend.