Goodbye and the very best of luck!

Hi There,

It’s always bittersweet when a chapter comes to an end. The Authors’ Billboard has left behind a legacy of captivating stories, and their best sellers have undoubtedly made an indelible mark on readers’ hearts.

These last ten years of interacting with you has been a thrill and an honor. I will miss our contact more than you know. Unfortunately, many of our ladies are heading in different directions, and we felt this would be the perfect time to say good-bye.

Take care, stay safe, and please be well.

Love and Hugs,

Mimi Barbour (Founder of the Authors’ Billboard).

***For those who wish to continue following their favorite authors, I know they’d be thrilled to have you stop by. Here’s a list of their personal websites:

Natalie Ann (USAT)  https://natalieannbooks.com/

Rachelle Ayala (USAT) https://rachelleayala.net

Leanne Banks (USAT) http://leannebanks.com    

Mimi Barbour (NYT & USAT) https://mimibarbour.com

Callie Bardot (NYT & USAT) http://www.calindab.com   http://www.authorcalliebardot.com

Jacquie Biggar (USAT) http://jacqbiggar.com

J. L. Campbell (Bestselling author)  http://www.joylcampbell.com/p/books.html

Cynthia Cooke (USAT) www.cynthiacooke.com

Denise Devine (USAT) http://www.deniseannettedevine.com

Stacy S Eaton (USAT) www.StacyEaton.com

Donna Fasano (USAT) http://donnafasano.blogspot.com

Tamara Ferguson (USAT) https://Tammysdragonfly.wordpress.com/  http://www.TalesOfTheDragonflyTheBook.com

Rebecca York/Ruth Glick (NYT & USAT)  http://www.rebeccayork.com/

Dani Haviland (USAT) www.danihaviland.com

Taylor Lee (USAT) http://www.taylorleebooks.com    

Susanne Matthews (Bestselling Author) https://mhsusannematthews.ca/

Nancy Radke (USAT) http://www.nancyradkeauthor.com/      www.showandtellbible.com

Susan Ricci (USAT) http://www.susanjeanricci.com/

Mona Risk (NYT & USAT) http://www.monarisk.com/     

Josie Riviera (USAT)  http://josieriviera.com/

Patricia Rosemoor (NYT & USAT) https://PatriciaRosemoor.com

Jennifer St. Giles (USAT) www.Jenniferstgiles.com     

Alicia Street (USAT) http://aliciastreet-roystreet.com    

Ari Thatcher (Aileen Fish) (USA) http://arithatcher.com  http://arithatcher.com/wordpress/

Hi and So Long, With Hugs…

Looking Forward: I’m thrilled to share my story will be done very soon and included in the Fake Fiancés collection, published by the award-winning, Bestselling, all over the place fabulous author Tamara Ferguson, and we’re looking forward to its release on May 7th.

A fake fiancé…
What started as a ploy transformed into something much much more.
But can a relationship based on deception survive?
Discover how these counterfeit couples finally find their happily-ever-after in these EIGHT BRAND NEW STORIES by New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Authors.

You can preorder it here> https://www.amazon.com/FAKE-FIANC%C3%89S-Tempting-Fate-Book-ebook/dp/B0CV82ZXQF

IN THE REARVIEW: About seven years ago, an outstanding and talented author named Mimi Barbour, the leader of Mimi’s Gang and famous worldwide with more awards and titles than I can count, adopted me into her writing family. Along with the joy I felt professionally, I was fortunate to gain about thirty sisters. It was a privilege not many authors obtain while they pen along during sometimes lonely careers.  

They taught me the skills necessary to succeed on some level in this very difficult industry. Some of them shared their joys and tragedies with me, and I was honored by their trust. Through this group, I was also able to connect with readers, make treasured friends in other parts of the industry, join organizations, and learn things I might not have figured out on my own. I’m very grateful.

I also don’t know how I would’ve gotten beyond the tundra after Joe died without the support of these outstanding, talented, and empathetic women. Sisters in theory who propped me up when it was difficult to stand, who gave me work to do (writing in sets). They gave me a purpose and I hope in some small way I’ve been able to return the many favors.

Some of you I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person, and some I hope to still meet. Please take a peek at my latest banner: Spring 2024. Probably two-thirds of these stories have been written with your help, your guidance, and your support, during my treasured time as one of The Gang.

Thank You for Everything, Ladies! You can always find me here: https://www.susanjricci.com/ https://www.bookbub.com/authors/susan-jean-ricci https://www.amazon.com/stores/Susan-Jean-Ricci/author/B0094H8BEC

https://www.susanjricci.com/

See you soon!

Blending Truth and Reality With Fiction

When fiction authors set out to craft their books, they have many decisions to make. Character names and occupations must be considered. The era or period of the story has to be examined for relevance. Next, the genre of the tale, be it historical, romance, suspense, paranormal, or any combination has to be determined, and finally the the location must be chosen. Those aren’t the only options the author has to consider. There’s the audience, the level of heat, whether or not it’s part of a series, and many other factors most readers don’t realize are part of the earliest conception of a book. But, in my opinion, while each one of those issues is important, research is the most critical aspect of those first few pages. Unless you set a book on an undiscovered planet in a distant universe, sooner or later, you will have to deal with truth and reality.

In my latest novel, Listen to the Stones, I used the location as my primary focus. I visited the Standing Stones of Calanais on the Isle of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The stones fascinated me. Looking at them and listening to the guide, my imagination soared. The marbling in the stones, the designs that looked like pictograms, and the positioning of the stones as if some were guarding a pathway while others seemed to be discussing things had all kinds of ideas floating through my head.

When we went to the souvenir shop, I purchased a book on the stones and their excavation. Within its pages were theories on the stones’ provenance. The fact that they predated Stonehenge and that there were many such circles in the Hebrides and the Orkneys, as well as in the UK fascinated me as much as it must have Diana Gabaldon who used a similar stone circle for Outlander books. Several Outlander books and items of television memorabilia were available in that souvenir shop. Whereas she saw the stone circles as a portal to the past, a doorway for time travel, I see them as a magical place. One of the theories about the stones was that they were the people living on the island who were turned to stone when they refused to accept Christianity … a little like Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt for looking back. That’s the idea I chose to explore. Then came the research to give credibility to my vision.

I spent countless hours examining every article I could find on the Standing Stones and everything relating to them. That’s where I came across information on magic, witchcraft, and Druidism, which led me to the dark side of Scottish history and Edinburgh. I discovered many things about the city. This is one of the sites I found particularly interesting. While I knew that witch persecutions had been plentiful, I had no idea that a city existed beneath the city that boasted Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. Unfortunately, the tour we had booked in Edinburgh as part of our cruise was canceled due to bad weather, but if I ever get the chance to return, you can bet I’ll be checking this out. https://www.visitscotland.com/info/tours/underground-city-of-the-dead-8b8d6efc

Another site that intrigued me was https://www.teamthomastravels.com/post/visiting-the-world-s-most-haunted-cemetery-a-complete-guide-to-greyfriars-kirkyard-edinburgh This site is dedicated to Greyfriars Kirkyard, considered to be the most haunted cemetery in the world and the place where JK Rowling found the names for the characters in her Harry Potter novels. I recalled seeing a Disney movie called Greyfriars’ Bobby years ago, so I knew about the faithful little dog, but everything else was a surprise.

Deciding how to incorporate all of these fascinating facts into the story to make it part of a cohesive whole was challenging. Choosing to make my main character the pure soul hidden for eons to protect her from a greedy, power-hungry wizard who was nothing more than a spoiled child who became an entitled adult, I let her take a trip on her way home and visit some of the places I’d seen as well as find a few I hadn’t.

Last but not least, since my novel is a contemporary paranormal, I needed to create the myths involved. I combined many Irish, Scottish, and English folktales, myths, and legends I’d read to create a race of elemental giants, who could control the elements of air, fire, water, and earth. Once again, my research provided the basis for my myth. The mysterious skeleton found in Glastonbury, which some people believe to be the legendary King Arthur, gave me that little bit of reality I needed for my imaginary race. After all, every fantasy has to start somewhere. https://www.visiontimes.com/2021/10/14/mysterious-giant-of-glastonbury-abbey.html

And there you have it. How I blend fiction with truth and reality. If you would like a sample of the way I do this, Check out Book 1 of the Timeless Love series, Beneath the Ashes.

Wishing you all the best. If you would like to keep seeing my posts and follow my books, perhaps pick up a copy of Listen to the Stones when it’s released later this spring, consider following my blog. https://aroundthedream.blog/ or check out my website. https://mhsusannematthews.ca/

The Secret of Mookies

Have you heard about Mookies?

A few years back, I decided to go gluten-free. One of the happy accidents that resulted from my recipe experiments was a sort of cookie. They baked best in a muffin tin, so I called them Mookies. I have since discovered others use the same name for similar bakery goods.
I treat myself to a fresh batch of six almost every morning. They taste better than a bowl of cereal. I can also spread out my breakfast bowl of oatmeal to include a couple Mookies for a late-morning snack. This recipe makes six Mookies and has about the same ingredients as a hearty bowl of hot oatmeal.

Basic recipe:
1 egg
1 pinch of baking soda
1 small mashed banana (or about a five-inch piece of a larger one)
1/4 cup Australian Instant Coconut Oatmeal (or the equivalent of quick-cooking oatmeal)
1/4 cup Old Fashioned oats
1 Tbsp Grape Nuts cereal (I want the extra fiber to knock down cholesterol)
1-2 Tbsp chopped pecans
(1-2 Tbsp raisins, craisins, or chopped dried fruit optional)

Mash the banana in a bowl. Add the egg and a pinch of baking soda. Blend. Add the other ingredients and mix.
Grease or spray oil into each of the six muffin tins. Portion the lumpy batter into these. Put the tray into a preheated toaster oven/air fryer at 355 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. Take the pan out and let cool for at least five minutes. Run a plastic knife or spatula around the cooled ‘mookies’ to loosen them. Dump or pry out with the spatula.
(INFO: The Red Farm Australian oatmeal I use has a small amount of sugar and coconut. In a pinch, you can use a packet of instant, flavored oatmeal. If your batter is soupy and not semi-firm, add more old-fashioned oats.)

Note: I got a cute little tool with another appliance that is perfect for this. It looks like a plastic knife with the tip ground off to make it flat, not rounded. It works great for running around the edges before prying them out of the pan.

This recipe can be totally sugar-free if you use plain instant or quick-cooking oatmeal/ It’s also gluten-free, and very heart-healthy!

If you double the recipe and bake in a twelve-cup tin, you can make your own snacks for you, the family, and last-minute ‘bring something to share’ events.

As far as the latest from me, I finished ‘editing’ the audiobook version of the first book I ever wrote. NAKED IN THE WINTER WIND is the tale of a perky woman who falls through time and gets her sixty-year-old plump body converted into that of a foxy eighteen-year-old with amnesia. She does recognize some of her new acquaintances: they’re supposed to be fictional characters from the popular time-travel romance series ‘LOST.

The audiobook is free with your Audible Plus (USA version) subscription. It’s a long listen: 23 hours and 40 minutes. You can speed along if you want to read for free with Kindle Unlimited when listening isn’t convenient.