Spotlight on Diane Rinella

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There is an originality to Diane Rinella’s work that is not only refreshing, but utterly fascinating. She somehow manages to charm her readers while at the same time enticing them to think … and feel. That’s not an easy feat. If you want an entertaining read that also allows you to tap into your own emotions, then Diane’s work is for you.

Diane’s latest release is

*Something To Dream On.”

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SYNOPSIS

If a painting in the home of your perfect man reflects your dreams of doom, do you run, or do you dare to embrace love? While Lizetta lives a life of compassion, childhood bullying over a few extra pounds have caused this sparky woman to lose sight of the beauty of her soul. Jensen’s recent past is filled with substance abuse, shady morals, and loose women. A brutal wake up call forced him to find his way back to the gentle soul he once was; however, there are some whose futures depend on the return of the demon. Souls can heal, but how long can they fight the forces that seek to destroy them? If one of those forces is the person who shattered your self-image, and she is determined to take down the one you love, could you still believe that everyone deserves a second chance?

MY REVIEW

I enjoyed every page of this book, and was sorry to see it end. Frankly,The story is completely fantastical, yet it quickly hooked me and became real., as did the characters. I’ve been pondering how Ms. Rinella achieved that, and can only conclude she is not only a master of dialogue, but that the characters all possess a part of her – a piece of her heart? – which she passes on to her readers. Exactly how she does that is a wonderful mystery. Most of us would blithely agree that the universe does indeed work in mysterious ways. However, the concepts that we are all the sum of our experiences, as well as being responsible for all our choices,whether they are made consciously or unconsciously., can be uncomfortable to contemplate, as well as difficult to fully accept, and act on. Yet, this story successfully tackles these ideas, providing us with an entertaining framework that explores and explains, as well as inspires. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. While it tackles serious issues, it doesn’t drag the reader down. In fact, I found myself uplifted. I am left with the idea that the universe, in all its mysteriousness, also provides us with more opportunities to get it right than we could ever imagine. That’s a very comforting thought. I highly recommend reading “Something to Dream On.” It will be time well spent. I’m glad the universe saw fit to help me discover Diane Rinella’s work. You will be too.

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Fortunately, “Something to Dream On” is currently on sale for just 99 cents, or free with Kindle Unlimited on AMAZON. Don’t wait too long to get your copy, as the price will be going up. You can also go to Beyond the Valley of the Books for a chance to win a signed copy and SWAG pack! Learn more about Diane at her Amazon Author Page. You can also follow her on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.

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Author Spotlight: Cherime MacFarlane

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Fascinating interview with a very interesting author. I want to share it.

Ella Medler

Hello, my friends, and welcome.

Today I want to introduce to you one amazing author from Alaska: Cherime MacFarlane. I have discovered Cherime lurking on facebook, and read one of her books. It was full of local color, and you know me – I’m a sucker for real-life-inspired stories. Recently, I’ve bought another of her books, The Twisted Laird, and that is what drove me to write this post. Listen carefully: That book is amazing!

I’ve written a review, of course, but I’ve also twisted Cherime’s arm and sat her down for a chat. Here’s what she has to say.

Q & A with Cherime MacFarlane

I was surprised at the amount of detail in The Twisted Laird. All the strands of the story – the family life, relationships and customs, even the way of thinking and the speech – everything weaves together beautifully into a fascinating book. How did…

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Crazy Love

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By the time we get to know our parents they’ve had to grow up. They’ve accepted responsibility for raising children, and learned to handle the tough stuff, like mortgage payments. Of course, they were young once, and had crazy periods in their lives that their kids may never know about. Or, if their kids do find out, they are inevitably shocked.

By the time I knew my grandparents they were, of course, old. I couldn’t imagine them in their younger days and when I heard the story of how they got married, my mind reeled. As it turns out, they were so anxious to get to the honeymoon that they got married in a horse and buggy, with the the minister and the guests either on horseback or also in buggies. Once they were pronounced husband and wife, Grandpa said “giddy-up” and off they went to start their life together. I smile every time I think of this. Now that I’m older myself, I like knowing my staid grandparents were once young, in love, and just a little crazy.

My parents’ story also surprised me. My dad was a truck driver for Standard Oil, and my mother was a waitress at the truck-stop diner he stopped at regularly. When she wasn’t there, he left her little love notes in his determination to win her over. My dad wrote love notes??? After winning her over, they moved in together before they were married. My parents shacked up together??? At one time that information made me a little uncomfortable, but now it makes me giggle. Go Dad!

My own kids have no idea that their seemingly conventional mother and father were also young and a little crazy at one time. Oh yes! We actually had lives before they came along. We met at a survivors party. What’s that? The party after the party for those who survived the first party. It was a Halloween party. I’d gone as a vampiress, wearing several layers of sexy black satin and lace draped over one another. He wore his old army fatigues. I was sexy as all get out, and he was invisible. I didn’t even notice him, but he’d noticed me. It was hard not to when I came in second in the costume contest. I lost to a fat guy wearing a tutu, of course. Tell me, why does the fat guy in the tutu always win? Anyway, the next day I went back and HE was still there … at the survivors party. He’d been waiting, hoping I would show up. He charmed me with his admission that he’d been too shy to approach me at the party, and I fell for him … and his green eyes. Two years later, we were married.

My kids can’t imagine their mom being sexy or their dad being charming. They can’t imagine that once upon a time we were crazy in love. One day they’ll probably figure it out.

My short story, “Crazy Love,” is about how being young and in love makes us do crazy things. I hope it will make you smile. I smiled a lot as I wrote it.

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You can find it in the Treasured Moments collection, which is currently available on Amazon for only 99 cents. Along with my story you’ll also have 13 more stories to enjoy … all written by a group of writers who call themselves The Crazy Lady Authors, because we were crazy when we were young, and we’re still a little crazy now. Being a little crazy is one of the things that makes life so much fun, don’t you think?

Wait. Didn’t I just finish this?

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How author C. R. Richards avoids burn-out.

Deep Thoughts and Junk

Burnout

Everyone has a creative process they use to complete their artistic projects. I’ve honed mine to a comfortable routine. Everything starts with a wonderful spark of an idea. I grab that spark, bounce it around in my brain for a while before finally writing it down. I’ve got files full of Sparkies waiting for attention. Work on the idea doesn’t begin in earnest until after I’ve made the multi-year commitment to the story.

My new year has started in an on again/off again relationship with the epic dark fantasy series, Heart of the Warrior.  I put the series up on blocks six years ago while I pursued other stories. Bad advice and novice skills made Book One unsellable. Crushed, I walked away. BUT here I come again like that cheatin’ cowboy in a Dolly Parton song. The series is back on in a big way.

While I’m excited to…

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Hyphen Hate? When Amazon went to war against punctuation.

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Yes, grammar matters. So does common sense.

Graeme Reynolds's Blog

10520828_935072746511716_41317665270618143_nThis is a really strange blog post to have to write, simply because the situation is absurd. It would be comedic, really, if the situation was not costing me money and resulted in one of my best-selling books being unavailable in the run up to the busiest time of the year.

Let me tell you a little story.

I was sitting in front of my computer on Friday night, as is often the case, talking to friends on Facebook, randomly browsing things that seemed interesting and, in this particular case, attending the launch party for Chantal Noordeloos’s latest Coyote book, when I had an email notification arrive in my inbox from Kindle Direct Publishing.

The email was titled rather ominously as
Kindle Quality Notice: High Moor 2: Moonstruck – B00BVC7MKW

Now – Moonstruck has been out for around 18 months now. It’s done well for itself and, at the time…

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Brining the Beans

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Image courtesy of womanincredible.com

Seeing as how this blog is called Musings of an Author, you probably think today’s title is a metaphor. Nope. I’m actually going to talk about brining beans. Why? Because that’s what’s on my mind.

If you pay any attention at all to food fashions, you’re no doubt aware that brining is all the rage. I’ve watched demonstrations on TV of chefs submerging whole turkeys in huge plastic vats of heavily salted water. My reaction has always been: “Huh-uh, ain’t gonna do that.”  Frankly, the logistics overwhelm me. Turkeys are big!

However, I’ve been brining chicken since before it was fashionable to do so. Why? Because that’s what my mother did. Before making fried chicken; she soaked the chicken pieces in a bath of salted water. Since her pan-fired chicken was the best I ever tasted, I’ve followed her lead.

As for beans: She soaked them, but she didn’t brine them. And, frankly, I don’t remember if she salted them while they were cooking. I do remember that she liked to throw a ham bone, a chopped onion, and a couple of bay leaves into the pot … and I do too. As for salt … well …

Now, I know a lot of TV chefs, and quite a few cookbooks, say that salting beans will make them tough. Bah! Humbug! It is true that if you have very hard water with a high mineral content, the water could keep the beans from getting tender. Salt, though, not so much.. In fact, I soak my beans overnight in water that has a couple of tablespoons of salt thrown in. And my beans turn out great every time.

Alright, I must confess here that I used to be one of those people who worried about salting the beans before they were done. Yet, it was my habit to throw in a ham bone if I had one handy, and the salt in the ham bone never seemed to adversely affect the beans. Still, I worried about when to salt the beans because the “experts” had told me I should worry about it. Then, I came across an expert who told me something new.

One day while watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS I heard Christopher Kimball give a scientific explanation about why it was beneficial to brine beans. I didn’t truly get the science behind it, yet I found it intriguing.  I dd an internet search to see if any of the food bloggers were brining their beans. Turns out they were, and were raving about the results.So, I tried it. Now, I wouldn’t think of cooking beans any other way.

For those of you who are thinking about sending me hate mail or leaving a sarcastic comment: I’ll understand if you do, but keep in mind that you should never fear change. Change is good. Trying new things is good. Try brining your beans. What have you got to lose?

Here’s a link to all the information you will need to learn how to brine your  beans.

Video explaining how to brine beans.

After you’ve brined your beans, you can use the following recipe to make a fabulous pot of beans. My mother preferred small white navy beans, and my daughter prefers pinto beans. My favorite is great northern beans. They come out creamy and tender, and are even better the second day. I make mine in a slow cooker.

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Jayne’s Slow-Cooked Beans with Ham

  • 1 lb bag or 2 cups great northern beans, soaked (brined) overnight and then rinsed well
  • 7 C water (or enough water to cover contents of slow cooker by about 1 inch)
  • 2 ham shanks, a ham hock, or a meaty ham bone
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated or chopped small
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
  •  pepper to taste
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, Herbs de Provence, or other herbs of your choice
  • 1/2-1 chicken bouillon cube, or salt; to taste

Season your crock by rubbing the inside with a tablespoon of olive oil (use a paper towel to do this). Add the veggies, ham bone and beans to the pot. Add the pepper, bay leaves and herbs. Pour water over all. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or more, until beans are tender and broth has thickened. Pull out the bay leaves and throw them away. Remove the ham bone and take off the meat; return the meat to the pot. Taste the beans and broth. If they still need some salt, add 1/2 to 1 bouillon cube, crumbled, or salt to taste. Stir and allow to simmer for thirty more minutes (while you make the corn bread). Serve.

Note: You can cook the beans on high if you’re in a hurry. It should take about 6-7 hours. If you don’t have a slow cooker, put everything in a large heavy dutch oven and cook in the oven at 325-350 degrees for about 2-3 hours.

Spotlight on Michele Gwynn

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MicheleGwynnPhoto  I’ve mentioned Michele Gwynn in my blog before, in connection with a charity book project she contributed to – to help raise money for her town’s library and literacy projects. You can see that post here. Her involvement with that project should give you an idea of what a terrific person she is. She’s also a terrific author and freelance journalist. She writes for newspapers, magazines, and online websites like Examiner.com (under the categories of Film, Animal Rights, Healthy Food, and Sex and Relationships), and more. She also finds time to work as a book and website editor. Moreover, and this is important, she is also a cat lover.

You see, most of Michele’s books are meant for an adult audience. However, she has also written a children’s book, The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, then I suggest you do a free download of this charmingly illustrated book and read it with the child in your life.  Or, if you’re a cat lover like Michele, read it for yourself!

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You can find it on Amazon.

To connect with Michele Gwynn, just follow these links:

"Christmas Tree With Merry Christmas Word" by pixbox77

“Christmas Tree With Merry Christmas Word” by pixbox77