Beyond Magic — A Magical Love Series

Beyond Magic is the first book in the Magical Love series from award-winning Lizzie T. Leaf. This imaginative series mixes a variety of realms and worlds. Throw in chocolate, the food all the heroines crave, add a few hunky heroes, and of course villains we love to hate, then mix with a dash of humor and spice. Now let the fun begin!

Following the Powers directive to unite soul mates, a Scottish Cailleach’s magic will have repercussions in several realms.

Mixed-blood author Ian McCabe, grandson of Fae and gods, tries to deny his powers while hiding his true origins from the human world. When he discovers mortal, Emma Grant unconscious at his front door, his world starts to change.

Tour director Emma Grant leads a group of senior ladies through Scotland. The breakdown of their bus on a rural Scottish backroad has her sloshing through the rain and mud on foot. Her efforts to seek help results in a fall that knocks her unconscious. She awakens to find the man of her dreams staring into her eyes.

Both feel an instant attraction, but will his secrets and her distrust of men keep them apart.

A few lines that tweak a grin.
Yep, at this rate, a long three weeks lay ahead. No one had told Emma that the dozen school teachers ranged in ages from sixty-nine to eighty-eight. Good grief, what happened to women at this age sitting on the front porch and enjoying their rocking chairs?

Mildred waved away the correction “Of course, dear. Whatever you say. I just want to know, will we see any men in kilts soon? I want to see what they wear under them.”

Dirty old woman. She asked that question at least half a dozen times before we got on the bus and stated the reason just as often.

Read the first chapter on Amazon.

To read excerpts from other books by Lizzie T. Leaf please click onto Amazon.

Lizzie T. Leaf loved books since she opened her first one. Her dream was to write them herself. Lost in the hectic day to day world of family, job, laundry and housework, writing became a distant memory. When the twinkling ember did spark, it was usually doused by someone demanding their share of her time.

Lizzie’s life went full circle. The desire to put the stories that continued to play in her head on paper emerged stronger than ever, and at a time when there was someone who encouraged. Now she lives her dream.

Learn more about Lizzie T. Leaf on her website and blog. Connect with Lizzie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

I can always tell when I’ve dove head first into writing a current book — I forget all about my blog. Even though one of my New Year’s resolutions was to write two blogs a week. Not an unreachable goal. When I set that target, I wasn’t trying to set myself up for failure. It was meant to be easily attainable, yet, here I am. Three weeks since my last blog. I’d ask for a raise of hands from all those who have missed me, but one should never set themselves up for disappointment. Haha.

The writing schedule I have set for myself for the year, is moving along nicely. I have finished the first book of a series I was working on at the start of the year. A novella about friendship and betrayal.

I’ve switched to a story I started writing in college. It was a short story set in the 1950’s about a girl who lives with her aunt and her abusive uncle. I’ve revised the book, Annabel, from a short story into a now 62,000 word novel. Lots of revision is needed, but I’m excited about writing this piece. It’s a break from the lesbian-themed stories I’ve been writing, as this story has no gay characters.

At least, not yet. A writer sometimes doesn’t know where her story will take her. I love that about writing.

I’ve tossed in the writing towel for tonight.  My pit bull snores softly beside me on the bed. He’s always right beside me. My loyal sidekick.

Today was Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. I rescued Phil from animal control, a kill shelter. He’s an amazingly sweet dog who definitely deserved to live, like so many dogs, especially pit bulls, who have been killed because homes weren’t found in time. I have become an annoying preacher to my friends against buying dogs from breeders and pet stores, as thousands of loving animals die every day in shelters. I don’t care. I’ll deal with their rolling eyes, and if I’m unfollowed on Facebook because of posts also preaching about adopting over shopping, I’ll survive just fine.

The statistic is that only 1 of every 600 pit bulls will make it out of a shelter alive. Over a million will be euthanized by the end of this year. Pit bulls are the most bred breed of dog. They are also the highest to be euthanized. If you breed a pit bull, you are nothing but an asshole. Period.

My plea to anyone who will listen is to not only adopt their next pet, but adopt a pittie. Pit bulls are great dogs. They don’t deserve to die in crowded shelters.

 

Scents and Scentsabilities

Scents and Scentsabilities

Top Romantic Shop Products
by Leigh Goff

In Disenchanted, sixteen-year-old Sophie’s quirky Aunt Janie runs a shop called Scents and Scentsabilities. The shop is situated in downtown historic Wethersfield, Connecticut and resembles a picturesque Pottery Barn for enchanted bath and body products. The products are all made from plants and flowers growing in Janie’s enchanted garden. The list below includes favorite items I would definitely purchase.

1. Forbidden Passion Potion A potion made with a combination of lemon verbena, valerian, and rose petals. That flower combinations symbolizes ‘lovers uniting’ and Sophie comes across these flowers when she meets Alexavier for the second time. The meeting reveals his dangerous streak and leaves her intrigued.

2. Tulips To Kiss Stick A lip gloss Janie crafted that contains enchanted tulip pollen, which lushifies ones lips. Sophie tries to offer this product to the strange Puritan-looking girl who enters Scents and Scentsabilities in the first scene, but she soon realizes the girl is more interested in giving something enchanted to Sophie.

3. Phyto-Glo Powder An organic powder crafted by Aunt Janie to illuminate one’s complexion when sleepless nights wreak havoc on the face, which happens a lot to Sophie as a ghost from the past haunts her dreams. The powder is guaranteed to erase under eye circles and it also creates a sparkly glow when you want that someone special to notice you.

4. Forever First Love Lip Balm This lip balm enhances feelings of affection in the other person when applied before a kiss. Sophie opts to not use this shortcut when it comes to love, preferring to take the long and difficult road which makes falling in love with a forbidden ordinary all the more sweet.

5. Waning White Willow A hemorrhoid relieving ointment made from the bark of the white willow, which reduces pain and swelling. This comes in handy when Alexavier’s brother, Zeke, tries to come between Sophie and her true love, Alexavier. She also enjoys watching her frenemy, Laney, apply a dab to her hand and neck, thinking it’s perfume.

Here’s a brief intro to Disenchanted where you can learn a little more about Sophie Goodchild.

Sophie Goodchild is a sixteen-year-old witch living with her eccentric aunt in the small town of Wethersfield, Connecticut—the sight of the first American Witch Trials. She is descended from a powerful black witch, but struggles with her erratic white magic while dealing with a mean girl witch clique known as the Glitterati, who love to make Sophie feel like she is less than they are.

Sophie is beautiful with wild waves of sable-colored hair, eyes the color of dark blue sapphires, and heart-shaped pillowy lips. More importantly, she is beautiful on the inside, although she hides it well behind her impatience and impetuousness, which makes her very relatable.

It is those heart-strong characteristics that lead her into trouble, and since she is ruled by her heart, she’s all in once she finds trouble. She is fiercely loyal, determined, and fearless and there is nothing she wouldn’t do or sacrifice for the ones she loves, especially when she learns of the true love curse her ancestor cast on the Mather family.

When Judge Mather, a descendant of the reverend who condemned Sophie’s witch ancestor to hang, finds out his handsome son (who has recently returned to Wethersfield with a sexy British accent and a face that could melt a black witch’s heart) has fallen hard for Sophie, things get even more dangerous for her. Dark secrets come to light and impossible choices are made as Sophie sacrifices everything, including her soul to save her forbidden true love.

Buy Links:
Mirror World PublishingAmazon

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Fast Food Nation

I recently reread the book, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, for the third time. Like my favorite novel, The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, Fast Food Nation is a story that warrants a refresher every few years.

The book’s raw depiction of the social injustices in the exploitation of low-wage workers, especially immigrant workers, and the conditions they are forced to work in, the horrendously inhumane way our farm animals are slaughtered, and the portrayal of how the fast food industry has permanently changed the American landscape, make Schlosser’s book an incredibly educational read.

Fast Food Nation begins with fast food’s inception in Southern California in the 1950’s and takes the reader on its journey to becoming the most powerful industry in the country.

“The basic thinking behind fast food has become the operating system of today’s retail economy, wiping out small businesses, obliterating regional differences, and spreading identical stores throughout the country like a self-replicating code.” (Schlosser)

The takeover of the American culture by the over-franchised fast food industry, including restaurant chains like Applebees, Olive Garden, and Chili’s, has led to the homogenizing of the country’s scenery. No matter what state you travel, you will find a McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s, cluttered along the state’s roads and highways, not to mention malls filled with the same retail stores.

“America’s streets and malls now boast the same Pizza Huts and Taco Bells, Gaps and Banana Republics, Starbucks and Jiffy Lubes…Almost every facet of American life has been franchised or chained.” (Schlosser)

When I first read this book ten years ago, I made a conscious effort to patronize independently owned restaurants that are unique to its own cities, establishments that give individual towns character. I no longer wanted to support the conformity the fast food industry has created and thrives on.

There are other reasons I learned from reading this book that encouraged me to turn my back on the fast food industry. Another being its unfair stranglehold of keeping minimum wage low, by employing strong lobbyists, despite the industry’s multi-billion dollar profits.

The industry has successfully kept their workers from unionizing. McDonalds went as far as shutting down one of its restaurants where workers were close to forming a union.

The high turnover rate of employment makes it hard for workers to unionize, but in recent years there has been a strong  national push among fast food workers to raise the minimum wage. I completely support this, and after reading this book and seeing how unscrupulous, greedy owners take advantage of their workers while reaping huge profits, I don’t see how most people wouldn’t agree with giving the county’s minimum wage workers a raise.

I’m sure I’ll be citing this book in any future blog I write regarding animal and worker’s rights. The horror of slaughterhouses and the dangers to its workers as companies sacrifice worker safety for profit.

These days it’s important to be a conscientiousness consumer.

 

 

Celebrating Women with a Glass of Champagne.

CELEBRATING WOMEN
by Carol Browne

March is Women’s History Month, an event that can be traced back to 1911 when the first International Women’s Day (March 8th) was initiated in the USA. In 1981 Congress authorised the President of the USA to proclaim that the week beginning 7th March should be Women’s History Week. The National Women’s History Project subsequently petitioned Congress which led to the month of March 1987 being designated as Women’s History Month. Congress continued to pass annual resolutions requesting the president to make a proclamation to this effect and this has continued down the years.

This month is celebrated in a variety of ways, from demonstrations of respect, love and admiration for women, to acknowledgement of their political, historical and social achievements and contributions. It is also a time to speak out for women’s rights, to bring to light the struggles many women face now and to honour those they have overcome in the past. As we are becoming more and more aware of the roles women have played throughout history, it is fitting that we remember the stories of Holocaust survivors like Krystyna Porsz, who are such powerful examples of the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women in particular.

If, like Krystyna, you were just 18 years old, your country was invaded and your family threatened, what would you do to survive? Being Krystyna is one woman’s story of surviving horror and loss in Poland during World War II. It’s a story with lessons still relevant to us today.

To celebrate Women’s History Month with a beverage appropriate to the era, why not try a recipe for a Champagne Cocktail that dates back to World War II?

Photo by m_bartosch

Champagne Cocktail

½ oz (15ml) ginger liqueur
½ oz (15ml) blackcurrant liqueur
Champagne

Wartime Britain was cut off from supplies of fruits like oranges but people were able to grow an abundance of blackcurrants in their own gardens and allotments. Would you believe that these tiny fruits contain vitamins B5, B6, B1, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and potassium, as well as humungous amounts of vitamin C? Ginger is also very beneficial for the health. And champagne is…well, delicious. Bottoms up!

Here’s a glimpse into the tough life of a strong woman I admire.

It’s 2012, the year of the London Olympics, and for young Polish immigrant Agnieszka, visiting fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home is a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.

Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and the death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive, these are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka find a way to accomplish her task, and, in this harrowing story of survival, what is the message for us today?

Buy Links
DilliebooksAmazon UKAmazon US

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

An Excerpt from my Untitled Work-in-Progress.

My current work-in-progress has no title. I was hoping by the midpoint mark something would have come to me, but I’m close to the end of this labor of love and my mind is still blank on a title.

This is a revision of a story I had written almost 17 years ago. It was my first novel, and it was horrible. The precis was good enough to grab the attention of a publisher, but the manuscript wasn’t strong enough to carry its own weight. A big rejection letter soon appeared in my mailbox.

After blowing the dust off this story, it was easy to see why it didn’t make the cut. The story was badly written. The characters weren’t developed enough, and the dialogue sounded like something out of Degrassi Junior High.  The story was labeled a romance, but ended with the love interest dying in a plane crash. Pretty much sums up my view on love. :p

After six months worth of revisions, I’m almost finished. I think I got most of the ugly out. I just have to write the ending…and no, no one’s dying in a plane crash. Actually, the book hardly resembles the original at all. I realized I had started the story at the wrong place. I needed to go back. I needed to show, rather than tell, more of what I wanted the reader to know.

The book revolves around the friendship of two women. The way I had written the story the first time was to tell the reader about the friendship, rather than show it. One of the women betrays the other, and it is pivotal to the story that the reader understands the depth of their friendship to really feel the deception.

Here is an unedited excerpt from my untitled work-in-progress:

Taylor’s bedroom door opened and rock music poured loudly down the hallway and into the living room where Carolyn was sitting alone on the couch, her face crammed in a book. She eyed Taylor walking toward her.

Although she knew Taylor would have turned the music down if asked, Carolyn didn’t say anything because she preferred listening to the loud raucous tunes than to the sounds of her roommate having sex.

The woman in Taylor’s bedroom wasn’t Alicia. Taylor waited for no woman. 

“Where’s Jeff?” Taylor asked.

 Carolyn peered over her book to catch Taylor lean into the fridge and pull out a bottle of beer. Taylor’s gray and white camouflage cargo shorts hung just above her knee. Carolyn counted the six small sweat stains on Taylor’s white tank top. Her ruffled dark black hair hung at her chin. A shorter layer fell just below her eyes, and often Taylor had to brush it away with a flick of her head, or a wave of her hand.

“He left,” Carolyn answered.

Taylor twisted the bottle’s cap and pitched it into the sink. She took a deep swig. “Everything okay?”

“Sure. Can you think of any reason why everything wouldn’t be okay?”

“Whoa, I know that tone.” Taylor dropped next to her on the couch. “What’s goin’ on with you?”

Carolyn closed the textbook over her lap. “You know I have finals coming up, right?”

Taylor closed her eyes and leaned her head back. “Fuck me! I’m sorry. I completely forgot. I’ll turn that shit off. You need quiet.” Taylor moved to get up, but Carolyn stopped her. “Jeff and I broke up.”

Taylor fell back into the couch. “No shit?”

“No shit.”

“Just now?” Taylor asked.

“Just now.”

“Wow… I’m sorry.”

Carolyn eyed her friend closely. “No, you’re not. You hated him.”

“I’m not sorry for me. I’m ecstatic for me. I’m sorry for you. You really liked him. Never understood why, but you did. What’d he do? Do I have to kick his ass?”

Carolyn shook her head. “It was my decision. He’s a jerk.”

Taylor draped an arm around Carolyn’s shoulders. “Yeah, well, glad you figured it out now before it was too late. You gonna be okay? Need me to do anything?”

Carolyn smirked at her friend’s seriousness because it wasn’t like her.

Taylor pulled back. “What’s that look for? I’m being sincere. I really wanna know if you’re gonna make it?”

“I’ll make it just fine. In fact, I’m surprised at how little I feel about it. When he walked out the door, I was actually relieved. Kinda scares me that I saw myself marrying him. How could I miss what an asshole he was?” Carolyn groaned and rubbed her hands over her face.

“You were blinded by love. I hear it happens a lot.”

Carolyn studied her friend. “You’ve never been in love? Never felt that emotion?”

Taylor crossed an ankle over her knee. “Nope.”

“How about the woman in your bed right now? How do you feel about her, or about Alicia? You were screaming at her on the phone earlier and now there’s another woman in your bed. Why don’t you just let her go?”

“I don’t have feelings for the woman in my bed right now, but I think I could have stronger feelings for Alicia when the time’s right. I know that’s hard for you to understand, but that’s just the way it is.”

“You’ve never loved a woman?”

“Nope.”

“Not even a crush?”

Taylor seemed to think about it. “I liked my Kindergarten teacher…a lot. Does that count?”

“In Kindergarten? You had a crush on a woman in Kindergarten?”

“She was so fucking hot.”

 “You knew way back then?”

“Hell yes! Are you kidding me? I was noticing girls for as long as I could remember, especially the older ones. They had boobs.”

Carolyn rubbed her forehead. “That is crazy. You realize I’m studying to be a teacher, right?”

“Then consider this your warning. If you see little Sally staring at your chest, she’s not admiring your necklace.”

 “Great. Something to look forward to.” Carolyn leaned her head back and sighed. “As much as I would love to sit and talk with you about meaningless crap all night, I have to study so that someday I could teach meaningless crap to children who will not respect me, make faces behind my back, and apparently, stare at my boobs.” She picked her book off her lap and stood up. “Have fun.”

Taylor tipped her bottle towards her. “You betcha. And Carolyn? I was never gonna let you marry that asshole. He didn’t deserve you.”

Carolyn smiled. “It’s good to know I have someone watching my back. Thanks, Taylor. Now turn that crap off because it’s giving me a headache.”

 

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

A Victorian Romance

With the right balance of dialogue and description Suzanne G. Rogers explores the fate of spinsters in 1800s Britain in her sweet Victorian romance Spinster. This delightful story is filled with clever twists so there’s never a dull moment. Spinster is a great book for YA fans and adults who enjoy a good read.

Staring down life as an old maid, newly jilted Clare flees to a country home she’s inherited from her grandmother. She doesn’t count on clashing with her handsome neighbor, whose gentlemanly manners and education are at odds with his workingman’s image. As their relationship unfolds, however, she discovers the mysterious Meriweather Holcroft is not what he appears to be.

EXCERPT
At the dinner table that evening, Clare decided to broach the topic of her future to her family.

“You’ve been walking on eggshells around me since I was jilted, and I feel dreadful for causing you such discomfort.”

“Nonsense.” Her father’s voice was gruff. “You’ve held up remarkably well, all things considered.”

Her sister’s response was far more dramatic. “If it had been me, I would have taken to my bed for weeks.”

Lady Ladd gave Clare a sympathetic glance. “We’ve just been worried about you, dearest.”

“I know, and I love you for it. But you needn’t worry about me any longer.” Clare cleared her throat. “On Monday, I’m going away.”

“I concur.” Sir Andrew glanced up from his cucumber soup. “A holiday might be just the thing to take your mind off your troubles.”

“Yes, indeed, that’s a wonderful idea.” Lady Ladd seemed relieved. “Perhaps a few days in London will pick up your spirits?”

“If you’re going to Brighton, do take me along.” Nell’s expression was hopeful. “I’d love to go sea bathing.”

“I’m not going on holiday.” Clare paused to let a sudden rush of emotion relax its grip on her throat. “Grandmama left me her cottage just outside of Stroud and a reasonable income. I’m going there to begin a new life on my own.”

Her pronouncement was met with a long moment of shocked silence.

“No.” Her father finally erupted in protest. “Are you out of your senses? It’s not proper for you to live alone and unchaperoned.”

“Unchaperoned?” Clare’s laugh sounded bitter, even to her own ears. “Papa, we must face the fact I’m no longer a debutante whose reputation must be carefully guarded. Forgive me for speaking plainly, but I’m on the shelf. Your eldest daughter is a spinster.”

Suzanne’s historical Victorian YA book is now available for your Kindle at Amazon.

Suzanne G. Rogers lives with her husband and son in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, and the occasional gator. She’s owned by two Sphynx cats, Houdini and Nikita. Movies, books, and writing are her passions.

Learn more about Suzanne G. Rogers on her historical romance blog and her fantasy blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to check out the website for the Sweet Romance written by Suzanne G. Rogers.