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Christmas Novella

I’m excited about my Christmas novella and I hope you’ll like it as much as I do. I had fun writing this one, and I might try my hand at another novella soon. This short read is a part of a Christmas Cookie Series done with other authors at The Wild Rose Press. Now you can read your way through the holiday season with some great stories and get some tasty cookie recipes too.

Here’s a small taste of Magic and Midnight Mint Bars and how I imagine Blue Cove at Christmas time.

“Sally was warming to her, but she had to make changes gingerly. She didn’t want to scare the girl with
an overt use of magic. Sally’s life had more than enough drama to last a lifetime. Gentle reminders were
best in her case. The first rule in the Intermediary Manual on page one in bold letters under line one-A
says, “the case subject has to believe that any decision made is their own idea.” Sally couldn’t feel
manipulated. Hundreds of years made Elida a pro at her job. Heck, she even taught classes on how it should be done, but occasionally even the best could mess up. In her guise as Holly, she wouldn’t leave anything to chance. All her hard work over the years had paid off with many inches added to her stature. She had always been on the tiny size from day one, known among her peers as Little Sprite quite lovingly. But with perseverance and her present rate of growth, she could be human size before long. She smiled wistfully. She hopped into Sally’s coat pocket while she dressed. Oh, how she loved the thrill of a case. Making people see the possibilities in their own life was exhilarating.”

Blue Cove at Christmas

Highs, Lows, and In-betweens

There is nothing like seeing my finished book and holding it in mine hands for the first time. Getting the first peek at a new cover is awesome too. ‘As The Page Turns’ release date is August 8th. ‘Magic and Midnight Mint Bars’ is my first attempt at a Christmas story. It’s a novella and I had a lot of fun writing this one.

For me, these are a few of the small joys of life not to be confused with the most important and key times with family and those you love. After a year of losing some folks I love, I was once again reminded people are what really matter. Their presence fills life with something truly irreplaceable.

Life is often a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Some highs are amazingly hard to beat moments, and some lows are tough to slog your way through. Thankfully most of life is routine, everydayness, and simply living. There are times when you can experience them all in a single day. Some weeks are filled with special activities and some have nothing new at all. Or as we all now know, a pandemic can change a year and the way we think of normal.

Yesterday I celebrated a milestone of years upon the earth. One that my mother never got to see. It made me grateful to experience this particular birthday. At some point in my life, it may be different for each of us, I quit worrying about getting older and became grateful for each birthday I get to see. This one was especially nice surrounded by people who are important to me. Laughter was the order of the evening, and for a time life was serving up memories and joy all the way around. Add to that a book release, and new cover, grandkids, and a special wedding anniversary coming up and I would say this is one of those high times after several lows.

At times like this I can breathe, take my foot of the gas, and rest being grateful to enjoy the moment before the ride begins again. I still find life beautiful, at times perplexing, and amazing. A wild ride, which I’m grateful to have survived, endured, and enjoyed surrounded by highs, the ordinary, and yes those pesky lows that have a way of changing me. Today I’m taking time to smell my birthday flowers.

A birthday bouquet from my brother. I love flowers.

Guidepost for Social Media

I’ve always found marketing my books harder than writing them. I get a lot of encouragement and ideas from my publisher, which has helped me to wade out into the social media waters. Like most authors I have a website, I’m on several author’s sites, and have a Facebook page. I have a blog and I’m on Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads to name a few. And I have found that Twitter works incredibly well for me.

In the beginning, Twitter overwhelmed me but once I figured out the nuances, I found a great writing community that supports one another. You can find people with the hashtag #writingcommunity. You have to search for and follow other authors or people who say they are readers. You have to be willing to retweet their tweets. I follow most people back but rarely answer direct messages unless I know the group. I started by following and thanking people when they followed me. I would then do a tweet asking people to follow them. Here’s an example: #follow@crystalnapolit2@summerb_author@woodcowbooks@SkyWatcher_HL@JessSFrankel@DaisyWo62695811@Kavi59814611@downthelanebook@MarciaLynnPaul1@DerekRKing2@joanne_paulson@LynessaLayne@christinevz@AlamoHapa@jay_burgh@stevenlclifford@CAKennedy6 Often you’ll see #ww or (Wednesday writers) and and a list of people or #ff (Friday follows) There’s also a #writerslift. If you have a particular tweet like a book release coming you can pin it to the top of your profile page and people will often Retweet it in response to a follow or a retweet. I have found my books promoted on sites when I least expected it. (Example) Your daily dose of author news at http://thebookshelfcafe.news is out! Thanks for writing! @ionacrv@lauren_minette@dearsusanbranch

In the past few years, I have built a following of over 19,000 people by following and supporting others as well. I tweet their books and they do mine also. I don’t just advertise my books though, I have built friendships, and with them came book sales and even a few reviews from places like Ireland, Canada, and Wales. I connected with a special group that has someone from Ireland, India, and Rhode Island in it. We talk about weather, send music to listen to, share about our families, or what we’re doing.

Two key pieces of information given by the Senior Editor of The Wild Rose Press are, if you what to sell more books write more books and don’t flood social media with your books all the time, but let people get to know you the author. I have used that advice as my guidepost for all my social media. I spend time writing and on social media each day. On any of my accounts you’ll find statements, and ideas that are important to me, or things that bring me a smile. A post might be as simple as sending music, answering questions, or using a gif. Here’s an exmaple of a non-book post. Happy Sunday! #bekind#enjoythejourney#lovewins with the poster below added to the tweet. I spend time in the morning thanking, following, and responding to people and a few times in the day. The hardest part is sticking with following new people and following folks back who have followed me. Our Marketing Director encouraged us to find one format that works for you and work it the most. There are so many out there you can be overwhelmed. I liked the quick movement of twitter and how many people I can reach from other countries but I don’t get Pinterest even though I’m on it and have several boards. The key is to find out what works for you, build it up, and continue to write your books.

I’m happy to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and will be happy to encourage others to follow you too. Look me up if you’re out there. #socialmedia #author #writingromance #mystery #bookseries

Iona Morrison (@ionacrv) / Twitter

Iona M Morrison | Facebook

Iona M Morrison (@morrison.iona) • Instagram photos and videos

Book News.

I was excited to learn that Key To The Past is a finalist in the Colorado Author’s League Awards. I feel honored to be named among so many great authors. The winner will be announced on July 17th. Searching For Closure is a Firebird Book Award Winner in the Urban Fantasy category.

Coming August 8th, is As The Page Turns.

“Peyton awakened with a start. An odd scraping sound sent her imagination into overdrive. Was it
outside? The scratching seemed loud enough to be coming from inside the cottage. Trying to focus in the
dark, her eyes searched the room while she strained to hear the noise. The scraping sound came again. Nails on a chalkboard, tree branches against the cottage, or someone trying to force open a lock, back and forth it went, pausing only to begin again. She sat up quietly, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Did Jessie hear it too? She reached for her phone. Slipping on her robe, she tiptoed over to the bedroom door to listen while reaching for a heavy vase on top of the dresser.”Ouch.” She heard Jessie yell out. Followed by
something she couldn’t hear.
Without thinking Peyton opened the bedroom door and raced toward the lightened living room, ready to go
battle and save her cousin. Suddenly she was propelled backward when her body slammed hard into a solid object standing right in the way. The vase in her hand fell to the floor with a loud crash sending shards of glass in several directions. With the wind knocked out of her and no air to scream, she sprawled out helplessly on the floor imagining the worst. She was afraid to open her eyes.”

Sometimes we have to take the time to be grateful for the small suprises that come our way. This life has a way of reminding us of what’s really important and then ever so often handing us a gift. I am learning to enjoy those moments and gifts when they come along.

Your journey is not the same as mine, and my journey is not yours… But if you meet me on a certain path, may we encourage each other.~*~ Author Unknown ~*~

Make A Difference

Words help us describe our emotions, say our goodbyes, and express our love for someone. Sometimes they come easily, and other times the only way they flow is through our tears. It takes strength and vulnerability to care about others. Being authentic, compassionate, and kind takes work. Sometimes it is simply being able to weep with those who weep or. being happy for others‘ successes.

t’s easy to be tempted to believe that what we say and do only touches us. The truth is we impact and are impacted by others more than we understand. We hold each other’s dreams and hopes in our hands and with a few words can dash them or build them. We have the power to touch or break each other’s hearts. Be careful out there someone may be counting on you.

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was thinking today of something I read awhile back “A long life is not good enough, but a good life is long enough.” What constitutes a good life? I have come to believe it is the way a person lives. How they treat people, and their actions toward others. I have met people who have little faith with great love and people who declare great faith with little love. Love is the greatest of all and everything hinges on it Our actions do speak louder than words. I started out wanting to change the world but I found what changed was me, which in turn impacts the world. It’s just the long way around.

#makeadifference #bekind #showcompassion

My Happy Place

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” Elder Uchtdorf

I’m always amazed at the talent of people. I’m also impressed by my friends who are trying new endeavors and creating new things. Paintings, quilts, and amazing sculptures to name a few. None of us come to our tasks with instant perfection. There is always room to grow and the biggest competition is often with the person looking back at you from the mirror. Recently I finished writing a Christmas Novella with a magical twist. The story presented a new place to take my writing and stretch to my thinking. There are many different kinds of mysteries in this world and not all have to do with murder. I’m never sure when inspiration will hit me or what will stir my imagination. These two photos inspired my two Manuscripts that are under contract now.

I find solace in my happy place. A place where my imagination is free to take flight. It doesn’t make my problems go away it simply gives me a break. A chance to think of new ways of making sense of the world around me. Writing is a good way to express my emotions and to learn about what I’m thinking. I may lose myself in the pages I write but I can discover many things about myself there too.

My happy place gives me a imaginary world to retreat to if only for a few hours each day. Thankfully, new ideas continue to sprout up along the way. And there are times that I simply have to let the ides keep coming and do my best to write them down. It makes for a magical day and word count. Sure reality returns soon enough, but for a moment I’ve traveled to a new place and found a small reprieve.

I’m thankful for my dreams that were always one size bigger than I thought was possible. And for the songs in my heart that kept those dreams alive when life said they were impossible. I’m grateful for the little voice inside me that has asked me many times over what do you have to lose? And for the knowledge that failure isn’t the end, but only an invitation to keep trying. How sweet is the moment when I can finally write the words, The End!

Author Interview with Allan J. Lewis

Allan and his wife Eirlys will be celebrating 60 years of marriage on March 11.

Allan J Lewis was born in South Wales UK, a son of a coal miner, in August 1939, just before the outbreak of World War 2.

He started work underground for the National Coal Board on his fifteenth birthday. He married in March 1961 and has two children, a daughter and a son, and two grandchildren.

Deep down he always wanted to be a writer but he felt thwarted by his lack of education. He would write a few pages and give up, frustrated by spelling and grammar. (This was before the days of personal computers.) As a young man, he didn’t have much time to read or write. He was working two shifts on the coalface, and when his daughter came along he got himself another job as a part-time fireman.

By the time he was in his late forties and his two children had married, he found time to start reading again. He enjoyed the adventure novels of Wilbur Smith and the works of James Patterson and Lee Child. He loves a good crime thriller.

The pleasure he found in reading rekindled his desire to write.

He would create stories in his head but did not put pen to paper in earnest until he retired. Allan has written five books a Mystery/Thriller and five Erotic Adventures.

Get out of My Dreams is Allan’s first Psychological Thriller novel and the first in the series of Joe the Magic Man. Where the two main characters are, Joe, who the FBI believes to be a rogue hypnotist, and his friend Alice Timberlake a freelance journalist, and the two of them with Joe’s gift of getting into your mind ends up helping the FBI solve difficult crimes.

Allan’s Erotic novels are a spin-off from ‘Get Out Of My Dreams” where Joe’s addiction to getting into someone’s dreams leads him to find his dream lover Jean Thornton, who looks forward to Joe’s visits as he takes her on sexual adventures, that in her dreams where she could end up as a barmaid back in France in the time of the Three Musketeers, or back in King Henry VIII time and have two young soldiers wanting to marry her. And a few present day time dreams, but whatever dream Joe visited Jean knew it would be an erotic adventure that she would love.  

Book Link. Get Out Of My Dreams (Joe The Magic Man Series Book 1) – Kindle edition by Lewis, Allan J., Cushnie-Mansour, Mary M.. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Allan J Lewis – Allan J Lewis: Author

The Countdown Begins

‘Searching For Closure’, is the ninth book in the Blue Cove Mystery Series. In this book I am introducing a new hero and heroine along with some of my old favorites. I’m getting to know Peyton Reynolds (Jessie Reynold’s cousin), and Jaxon Kincaid along with you. Of course, they’ve been with me in my mind for over a year, and I’m getting used to them taking up space there. I like hearing their voices in my head. They both sound different to me than Jessie and Matt. It’s weird how that happens. Katie has her own way of talking and so does Reba. I love their quirks, personality traits, and flaws.

The truth is, this author leaves a bit of her own character flaws in each book along with maybe a good trait or two. Up to this point, I can distinguish between them all, but I wonder at what point it will get too crowded in my head. I have started a book of descriptions for each of them. I wouldn’t want to make some one who is blonde with blue eyes suddenly become a brunette with green eyes. It wouldn’t be good, unless they dyed their hair and wore colored contacts, of course.

‘Searching for Closure’, is dedicated to Blanche Morrison my sister in law. Born with Down Syndrome, she didn’t live nearly long enough as far as I’m concerned. Blanche was a hoot, and those who knew her loved her. She made her way into this story like she made her way into my heart.

Detective Jaxon Kincaid knows that Peyton is hiding something. But can he protect her from someone who seems to want them both dead?

An Arizona heatwave, a murder, and a ghost searching for closure give Peyton Reynolds all she can handle on her long-awaited vacation. When a body is found at the bottom of the pool of the resort she’s staying at, Peyton leaps into action, starting CPR. She stops when she sees the young man’s ghost watching her actions. And he’s not alone.

Detective Jaxon Kincaid knows that Peyton is hiding something. How did she know the caliber of the weapon which killed the victim? And why is she so nervous and combative when she talks to him? He’s fascinated but wary of this beautiful redhead. As their attraction grows, and as Peyton inserts herself into his case, can he protect her from someone who seems to want them both dead?

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did writing it! Searching for closure joins the other Blue Cove Mysteries on February 3, 2021.

Keep The Light On

~

As we light a path for others,
we naturally light our own way.
~*~ Mary Anne Radmacher ~*

This has been without a doubt one of the strangest years that I have lived through. The optimum word is lived, and I’m grateful. Everything is different, the line of normal has changed, and the world seems somehow a smaller place. More painful, and yet it has made me conscious of the fact that what we do, doesn’t only impact us but others as well. What our world needs right now is a conspiracy of love, a glimpse of the possible, and a gentle reminder that every human has value and is loved.

Recently I received a Christmas card from a friend. Her message was a simple one and it touched my heart. “It may seem like a hard year,” she said, “but I am blessed. I’m alive. Today I no longer need physical therapy, so I’m getting stronger. I will still have an RN for a while. God is giving me the blessing of life.” This friend spent fifteen days in the ICU fighting Covid-19. She’s grateful to be alive and I couldn’t agree more with her. Life is precious.

At this point, most of us know someone or have lost someone who has had the virus. We’ve all been impacted by not being able to attend funerals, weddings, or all the special moments that give life meaning. Birthdays and holidays have come and gone without personal celebrations and large gatherings. Now those seem like small sacrifices when it comes to keeping people safe. We stay a part today hoping we can be together tomorrow.

In memory of those who can’t, we can embrace each new day we are given. Each of us has our own special kind of light to shine in life. A way of being kind, a sort of magic, if you will. So keep the light on, it might help someone who is struggling to find their way, and it’s quite possible someone’s light will shine on you when you need it too. Keep the light on. No matter how small the light appears it still is a welcoming sight on a dark night. #Keepthelighton #embracethenewday

Guest Author Diana Rubino

I am happy to have as my guest today Author Diana Rubino. She writes Historical Fiction. Be sure to check out her books. Remember books make great gifts. Sit back and enjoy reading about one of the Christmas traditional treats she learned from her grandmother.

Can an Italian sweatshop worker and an Irish cop fall in love on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1894? The answer is a big YES, and once they’re enjoying wedded bliss in their Greenwich Village brownstone, they spend their first Christmas together feasting on her Strufoli! (Italian for honey balls).

In FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET it’s 1894 on New York’s Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. They know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. 

getBook.at/NewYorkSagaBookOne

Here’s Vita’s Honey Balls recipe:

When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or recipes along with their possessions. A favorite Christmas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here’s an accurate recipe in English!

Image preview

Ingredients
Dough:
•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook’s Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Directions


For dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don’t have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above).


In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a spoon or damp hands, arrange struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar.

Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.


Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven 8 to 10 minutes. Cool before using.


Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Contact Diana:

My Website

www.dianarubino.com

My Blog

www.dianarubinoauthor.blogspot.com

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