The Magical Balm of Friendship #RachelleAyala @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Photo by Matheus Ferrero: https://www.pexels.com/photo/four-men-sitting-on-ground-1974927/

Why do we like friendship fiction so much?

Think about it. What would your favorite story be like if the hero or heroine had no friends? Think about Frodo without Samwise Gamgee, or Harry without Ron and Hermione. I’m betting your favorite romances have at least one friend character, either the hero’s or the heroine’s or one of each. I like to write romances with a friendship group, such as the Bumblebees in my Bad Boys for Hire series or the Girl Crew in my Not Mine romantic comedy series.

Having friends is one of the most basic joys of being human. A friend is someone who wants to be with you because he likes you and enjoys spending time with you. It’s a voluntary association and it makes you feel special and recognized. Friends help you celebrate the good times in your life as well as support you through the bad times. They provide you with social cues and help you understand yourself, and of course, they give you a chance to care about them too. They also reveal things about your personality, either directly through feedback and counsel or indirectly as a foil or contrast or comparison of how they would have handled a situation.

Having a group of friends provides even more feedback. The love and caring as well as fun times and sometimes, friction, bring out the best in group dynamics. That’s why books and TV shows about friendship groups are so popular. We enjoy the drama, the loving, the hijinks, and even the support during sad times. When we read about friends and relationships, we learn how to relate to other people and we can vicariously feel the love and emotion, as well as taste the strife that sometimes breaks up a friendship. Of course, we root for the characters, individually and as a group, and when they are back in harmony and celebrating, we get to go along and party with them too.

These are some of the reasons I enjoy friendship fiction. It invites me into the group as a participating member and also allows me to hone my friendship skills by experiencing the drama and angst the characters go through. Do you enjoy friendship fiction? If so, please check out my Bad Boys for Hire series, where my group of Bumblebees met in preschool dance class. They’re all grown up now and still dancing together, and as each one of them finds their bad boy, the others are there to support them and celebrate and give advice. The boys become friends too, but only after meeting the girls. Check out all seven Bad Boys for Hire.

Bad Boys for Hire: Complete Collection

Plotting Mystery Novels by @_NancyRadke

Mystery novels are a little bit different than regular stories because you need to plot backwards on some things. I wrote two cozy mysteries, Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, 2021, and Any Lucky Dog Can Find a Missing Child, 2022, and am starting to plot the third one, Any Lucky Dog Can Save Her Master’s Life (working title).

Mystery Novel

Because this is a series, I already have the dog’s name, Lucky, and the hero, Sheriff Craig, and the heroine, Jenna. I also have the town and many characters in the town. But because this is a series, I have to figure out what time of year I want it. Right now I think I will put this in December, when Jenna and Craig plan to have their wedding. Nothing like a murder to interfere with wedding plans.

Plotting backwards involves deciding on the villain or villains—who they are and what their motive is before you plan anything else. Once I have that, then I have to decide who they will kill and how. Since I am just starting to plot, I haven’t made these decisions yet. I am at the stage of just jotting down ideas in a notebook.

Next, I need to figure out what clues the sheriff and Jenna will follow to solve the mystery. I also need to decide on what are called “red herrings.” These look like clues but lead nowhere.

Who will find the body? I’ve already decided that it will be Lucky who leads them to the body, and I’ve decided where I’m going to hide it, as this will be the opening chapter. I might have to change it, but that sounds good right now.

Two other books which I plotted backward were Scorpion’s Trail (my all-time favorite) and Stolen Secrets, both written in the late 1900’s.

I am not an author who enjoys plotting. It “ruins” the excitement of writing the book when I know all the answers. But a mystery can’t be written totally plotless. If I can, I will avoid plotting some scenes and let them write themselves. Then I’ll enjoy it more and I think the book just turns out better.

I enjoy watching Korean mystery series on Netflix and pick up some ideas from them. Two series I watch over and over are “Stranger” and “Beyond Evil.” Neither are “cozy” but I enjoy the characters and watching how they work the clues into the plot.

If you enjoy mystery novels, take a look at Murder Is To Die For, a boxed set featuring diehard dames who don’t give up.

Diehard Dames

Find other Authors’ Billboard Boxed Sets by clicking here.

Corn Pudding #Recipe by @Donna_Fasano

Corn Pudding is a side dish that’s served in many homes in Southern USA. If you’ve never tried this, you are in for a treat. It’s very easy to make and it tastes so good. I should point out that other Corn Pudding recipes call for up to 1/2 cup of sugar. I find that way too sweet. One eighth cup of sugar adds plenty of sweetness for me and my family. Oh, I also should mention that this casserole cooks from the outside in, so don’t skip the last instruction to stir the ingredients half way through the baking time. This step assures that the pudding will be cooked all the way through. Remove the corn pudding from the oven, stir thoroughly, then return to the oven for the final 30 minutes of baking time.

Corn Pudding

INGREDIENTS:
  • 12 ounces frozen whole kernel corn
  • 2 (17-ounce) cans cream-style corn
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1⁄8 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons McCormick’s seasoned salt
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1⁄2 cup whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup butter, melted
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Stir together the whole corn, the cream corn, and the eggs in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine corn starch, seasoned salt, dry mustard, and shallot.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Stir in the milk and butter.
  5. Pour into an oiled 13-inch x 9-inch pan. I use cooking spray.
  6. Bake at 400 for 60 minutes, stirring thoroughly after 30 minutes.

This month, my publisher is offering my book – RECLAIM MY HEART – for 50% off the cover price. This book is available for Kindle Unlimited members.

Reclaim My Heart 1/2 price

This is my USA TODAY Bestselling Romance. I am proud that so many readers have enjoyed this books.

About the book: When her teenager lands in serious trouble with the law, Tyne Whitlock knows she must reach out to the boy’s father—a powerful attorney who is unaware he has a son.

Travel with Mona to Florida

Why would you go anywhere else on New Year Day? Since I moved to Florida I have often wondered how I coped with living in the north for so many years. And Fort Lauderdale is the best of Florida. So what would you expect to find in Fort Lauderdale? A glorious sunshine, wonderfully warm temperatures, sandy beaches, the turquoise ocean, … Should I continue?

Sunrise on the ocean in Fort Lauderdale

If you are a snowbird escaping from the cold, you will love sunbathing on the sand, walking along the coastline, or swimming in the ocean.

Sunset on the city and the canals in Fort Lauderdale

Sunbathing on the beach: With over 23 miles of smooth sand, Greater Fort Lauderdale provides plenty of space to soak up the sun in one of Broward County’s beaches.

A picture from the ocean: The high-rises lining the coast

Swimming in the ocean: Average annual water temperature on the coast in Fort Lauderdale is 79°F, by the seasons: in winter 73°F, in spring 77°F, in summer 84°F, in autumn 81°F. With minimal current, exceptional water quality, typically calm sea conditions, shy marine life inhabiting the nearby coral reefs, and professional lifeguards stationed above, visitors find safe swimming conditions at the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale.

My favorite beach Fort Lauderdale Beach

Walking along the coastline: The paved beachfront promenade highlights Fort Lauderdale’s world-famous coastline and stretches the 7-mile length of the beach, and is lined by an array of shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues.

The famous Fort Lauderdale promenade

Bicycling in a park: Fort Lauderdale’s “Central Park” was gifted to the city by Hugh Taylor Birch. The park is named after him. Hugh Taylor Birch Park is complete with gopher tortoises and boat access from the intracoastal waterway. The park is a vibrant center for the community of Fort Lauderdale, and residents take pleasure in activities from inline skating to reading under the shade of palms and oaks. Visitors can access the beach via the pedestrian tunnel under A1A.

Seen while walking on the promenade

Seen while walking on the promenade

To visit Fort Lauderdale—a city of canals—we hoped on a Water Taxi and experienced the multi-million-dollar mansions, hotels, and seafood restaurants lining the canals. In addition to sightseeing, the water taxi stops at boutiques and eateries along Las Olas Boulevard.

Boating along the intercoastal

Some of the mansions along the main canal

Las Olas Blvd is the main strip in Fort Lauderdale – Stretching from the heart of downtown, through the business, shopping and dining districts all the way to Fort Lauderdale Beach. Las Olas Boulevard is at the forefront of everything from fashion boutiques and art galleries, to memorable restaurants, sidewalk cafes and bars…The oldest and most famous bar in Fort Lauderdale is the Elbo Bar. It was featured in the movie ” Where the Boys Are” with Connie Frances and George Hamilton in 1961. It’s always crowded.

If you have time you can visit the Everglades Holiday Park where you can take a boat ride and watch an alligator show.

If you come to Fort Lauderdale, I’ll be happy to take you around and give you a
tour of Fort Lauderdale–my Paradise on Earth, especially at Christmas time.

LAST CHANCE PLANS on Preorder

Available at Amazon

At twenty, Rick Lambert ran away from the US to escape the accusations hurled at him. Fifteen years later, he returns to settle in Fort Lauderdale. His mother agrees to live with him and take care of his two sons who have been raised by nannies and boarding schools.
Flight attendant, Madison Howell loves nothing more than her job. During a flight from Dubai to Miami, she meets the authoritative businessman and his mother. The sweet old lady befriends her, and Rick doesn’t hide his attraction. When his children come home, Madison finds herself entangled with the Lamberts way too often. As she helps the young boys adapt to their new life, she falls in love with their gorgeous father, but she’s not sure she really knows Rick, her charming lover. A loving son and dedicated father but also a womanizer and tough businessman with a hidden past.
When people from long-ago cross his path, secrets are revealed, threatening to ruin their romance. Now mature and powerful, Rick confronts his enemies to clear his name, but will it cost him the woman he loves?