My Porch Zoo

There’s been some unusual activity on my front porch this spring. I put out food for stray cats, but a lot of other critters are interested in the free buffet. Here’s one of the foxes who stops by regularly. Perhaps he thinks that if he takes the bowl away, he’s the only one who’s going to get fed.


Two bowls disappeared that night. I have found only one of them. Perhaps the other will eventually turn up in the weeds. Meanwhile, I bought two new ones.

Here’s a different fox. Instead of absconding with my property, he’s brought something he wants to display at the door..


I posted the picture on Facebook, and a lot of people suggested he was bringing me a present. I thought he looked like he had a cigar in his mouth. By enlarging the image, some of us determined that the cigar is actually a bird with the tail pointing forward.

In addition to the foxes, there has been a lot of raccoon activity, most notably a mother directing her five babies to the best food source in the neighborhood.


And now, they are having a food fight.

Here’s a very cute little guy. Maybe he’s checking to see if I’m going to put out something better than Meow Mix.


Watching the little scamps is going to be fun. The increased food bill–not so much.

This month I have Firelight Confession on sale.



Mail order bride, Carin Tully, arrived on the frontier planet, Palomar, hoping for a better life–with her new husband Gabe Cooper. Like all the guys on Palomar, he hadn’t seen a woman for fifteen years–since the plague that had sent men and their sons fleeing to this outpost on the edge of civilization. Carin wants to seduce Gabe and prove she’s up to the job of farm wife, but she’s hiding a secret that could destroy their marriage before it has a chance to succeed.

Stop by my web site and enter my newsletter contest to be eligible for some cool prizes.


My Husband’s Baked Oatmeal * Yum!

Baked Oatmeal is delicious! My husband took over my kitchen yesterday and made this treat for me. It has just a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup and the raisins, and the melty chocolate chips make me want a second helping! This baked dish is best served warm. It is perfect for breakfast or brunch. And if a scoop of vanilla ice cream were added, it would make a wonderful dessert.

Baked Oatmeal

Bill’s Baked Oatmeal

Serves 6-8

For the batter:

  • 2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins

For decoration (optional):

  • 1 medium very ripe banana


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Pour batter into the pan and level with a spatula. Add some banana slices on top, if desired.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is slightly golden and edges have dried.

Have you visited our June Featured Books Page? You should! You’ll find lots of free and bargain books available!


Overcoming Obstacles to Be the Best you Can Be

A friend sent me this poem this morning and another found its author. I don’t know who took the picture, where they took it, or when, but the two resonated in me today. There are things that happen in life that seem insurmountable, but if we’re determined and look to the future, anything is possible.


by Becky Helmsley

“She sat at the back and they said she was shy,

She led from the front and they hated her pride,

They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance,

They branded her loud, then were shocked by her silence,

When she shared no ambition they said it was sad,

So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad,

They told her they’d listen, then covered their ears,

And gave her a hug while they laughed at her fears,

And she listened to all of it thinking she should,

Be the girl they told her to be best as she could,

But one day she asked what was best for herself,

Instead of trying to please everyone else,

So she walked to the forest and stood with the trees,

She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves,

She spoke to the willow, the elm and the pine,

And she told them what she’d been told time after time,

She told them she felt she was never enough,

She was either too little or far far too much,

Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak,

Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek,

Then she found a small clearing surrounded by firs,

And she stopped…and she heard what the trees said to her,

And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave,

For the forest said nothing, it just let her breathe”

 Becky Hemsley

Sometimes, all we can do is sit, breathe, and hope.

Life isn’t easy, nor is it fair. People do judge you, and most of the time someone will question your choices. The key is to find a way to rise above it all and keep doing what you do best. To me, the perfect example of this kind of dedication, determination, and perseverance is found in my daughter.

My grandchildren lost their father eight years ago, two weeks before Christmas. Since he and my daughter had been estranged for four years prior to that, his family refused to allow her to attend the funeral service, but they wanted the children there. N was 9, E 8, G 7, and A was 5. Losing a father, even one who might not be the best, is really hard on kids, and at that time of the year–brutal comes to mind.

My daughter vowed that her children would never lack for anything. That she would raise them to be the best they could be, and that Christmas and Santa would still be there that year for them. She made sure they had everything they needed over the years–food, clothing, a home, sports, other activities, and education. Now that N is 17, E 16, G 15, and A 13 she can see how well her hard work, sacrifice and efforts have paid off. As grandparents, we did what we could to support her, but when I say she did it on her own, I’m not kidding.

She instilled in her children a work ethic similar to hers. The three oldest, in addition to being on the honor roll at school, have parttime jobs. The youngest, also an honor student, earns money cutting grass and intends to get a job as soon as he’s of age. While G plays basketball on a girl’s traveling team, the other three are army cadets. My father was a veteran and while he didn’t see any action oversees because of his age, he did defend the home borders. He passed away three and a half years ago, and while I miss him still, I know he would’ve been proud of his great-grandchildren.

At the annual cadet review last night, N got the trophy for best Senior Cadet and marksmanship. E was given charge of the color party and the honor of carrying the Canadian flag, and A was part of the party as well, carrying a rifle. Next week, there will be a second round of cadets. I couldn’t be prouder.

It’s important in life to persevere. Getting to be the best you can be takes sacrifice and hard work. Don’t let your circumstances define you. If you want it, go for it.

Don’t forget to check out this month’s great deals from the ABB.

Among them is Atonement, my paranormal psychic romance thriller, on sale this month for $2.99 USD

Although she was raised in an alleged haunted house by a Wiccan priestess, Anca Cole, a bartender with a degree in psychology, refuses to believe in magic, demons, ghosts, curses, or anything remotely supernatural. There’s a logical explanation for everything.
When her aunt has an accident, Anca rushes back to Salem, arriving home to realize that things aren’t what she expected. The family ghost exists and insists it’s time for Anca to accept and fulfill her destiny.
With help from Dr. Walt Tanner, the man who broke her heart, a couple of unusual cats, and an ancient parrot, Anca sets out to discover the truth about Cole Cottage and find the key to saving the future. This fight may have started more than three hundred and fifty years ago, but the war ends now.
Unless she and Walt can find what was lost, evil will prevail and destroy any chance they may have at a future together. Can their love overcome centuries of hatred, jealousy, envy, and greed, or will they be doomed to stay apart forever?

Also, check out Irresistible Accidental Heroes, featuring my novel, Finding Melinda, a novel about a woman’s search for her roots.


Travel with Mona to Brazil

We spent two days in Rio as part of a cruise to the East coast of South America.

Rio de Janeiro is a huge seaside city in Brazil, famous for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, 38 meter Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado and for Sugarloaf Mountain, a granite peak with cable cars to its summit. The city is also known for its sprawling favelas (shanty towns). Its raucous Carnival festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes and samba dancers, is considered the world’s largest.

The landscape of Rio, is just so different, and so beautiful. Mountains and hills rise dramatically right on the shore and the contrast between these jungle covered mountains and cliffs with the sea is stunning.

Sugarloaf Mountain is a peak situated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rising 396 meters above the harbor, the peak is named for its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar. For the majority of the Great Sugarloaf walk, it’s an easy stroll along a simple, steep path. It gets quite rocky towards the summit.

Ascent is made in two stages: first to the top of Urca Hill to a height of 220 meters above sea level and then the cable car goes all the way to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, for a breathtaking 360 degree view of Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara Bay, and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

For many people, Rio de Janeiro is worth visiting just to see the Christ the Redeemer statue, one of the 7 wonders of the world, standing tall and proud on Corcovado Mountain.

It’s one of the largest statues of Jesus and the tallest art deco statue in the world.  Christ the Redeemer is one of Rio’s most popular tourist attractions offering stunning views of one of the best Latin American cities! In fact, the Redeemer Statue receives almost 2 million visitors per year. 

The statue itself, called Cristo Redentor in Portuguese, is 98 feet tall (30 m) and stands on a 26 foot tall pedestal, making it 125 feet tall in total. The arm span is 92 feet wide (28 m). There is a viewing platform around and beneath the statue, where you can see the Cristo Redentor and enjoy the view over Rio.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian has a unique, unusual shape for a Cathedral. From the outside it is sort of a 4 sided cone shape with 4 sides of stained glass windows, with step looking windows/bricks/tiles up to the top of it. 

Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida: According to local tradition, three fishermen were attempting to catch a large amount of fish in the Paraíba River for a banquet honoring the visit of São Paulo Governor, Pedro de Almeida in 1717.  Despite their prayers, their attempts were fruitless until late in the day, one of the fishermen cast his net and pulled it back to find the statue of the Virgin Mary. Upon his next cast, he found the head. The group cleaned the statue, wrapped it in cloth, and returned to their task to find their fortunes had changed and they were able to obtain all the fish they needed. The statue is believed to be the work of Frei Agostino de Jesus, a monk residing in São Paulo.

Rio has some of the most famous beaches in the world! Copacabana Beach is huge and very centrally located in the city, a favorite with locals and tourists alike.

Hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and residential buildings line the promenade, which constitutes the longest continuous sidewalk in the world, stretching for 4.15 kilometers (2.58 miles), facing Avenida Atlântica. On Sundays and holidays, one side of Avenida Atlântica is closed to cars, giving residents and tourists more space for activities along the beach.

Rio de Janeiro hosts one of the biggest Carnival celebrations in the entire world. Seriously, Carnival is a huge deal there.

Carnival starts on the Friday preceding the beginning of Lent, and runs for about a week. Parades and parties happen daily throughout the neighborhoods of the city, and one massive, gigantic production of a parade is held every night in the Sambadome. These parades last for hours and include elaborate floats and literally thousands of Samba dancers in big, colorful, Samba outfits.

An average of 2 million people are celebrating every day during Carnival in Rio. It’s like a huge party or an elaborate Samba production.

While you’re traveling you need a good book to read or a box of several wonderful novels.

Irresistible Accidental Heroes

They never intended to become heroes… But actions speak louder than words.
Find true love with these accidental heroes, in the pages of EIGHT BRAND NEW, full-length steamy stories, from New York Times and USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors.

TWO HEARTS’ ACCIDENTAL HEROES by Tamara Ferguson, USA Today bestselling author: Rick O’Neill has never been able to forget Shanna Weldon, the girl he suspected was being abused and had tried to help. There was evidence that she could be alive after her disappearance ten years earlier. Was she really a trafficking victim or could she be part of the organization?
SAVING ME by Natalie Ann, USA Today bestselling author: A relaxing day of golf soon turns into a life saved and the love of a lifetime found.
BAYOU HEAT by Suzanne Jenkins, USA Today bestselling author: After a devastating loss, Maggie embarks on a new chapter in her life when she takes a boat ride at dusk and discovers a body floating in the canal.
TARGETING LUCY by Cynthia Cooke, USA Today bestselling author: When a serial rapist is after the woman he used to love, can Jared Halloway protect Lucy, and keep his heart from breaking all over again?
WE’RE ALL STARS by Mona Risk, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author: She points at two children drowning. He saves them and turns their lives upside down.
BORN A HERO by Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author: Bryce’s day turns upside down when he reaches out to help an elderly lady during a raging storm. By the time he gets her to her house, the levee breaks, and they’re in deep… ahh, water.
FINDING MELINDA by Susanne Matthews, International bestselling author: If she isn’t Melinda Crites, who is she? And why is someone trying to kill her? Can she trust anyone? Especially the stranger who makes her heart sing?
COMPROMISED by Taylor Lee, USA Today bestselling author: She’s as gorgeous as she is outrageous. He’s a political superstar. What quickly becomes a face-off is complicated by their passionate love affair.