Why we love collections and binge-reading

Happy World Smile Day! I hope you have a reason to smile today, wherever you are in the world.

We had a beautiful October day today, and had a chance to enjoy the falling leaves and the amazing colors of autumn. I like my seasons the way I like my books – in bundles of three. In preparation for the holiday season that is getting closer every day, I would love to share with you this lovely collection of books from our friends over at Written Musings.

Three heartwarming holiday stories featuring children writing letters to Santa in hopes of achieving what they want most: a happily ever after for their family.

Women’s Fiction – Single Dad – Romance
Decker needs help pulling off a remodeling job before Christmas. His daughter wants a mother. Will the new woman in their home bring joy, or tear their world apart?

What readers are saying…

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Sometimes life is better than a soap opera. This book is gut wrenching, heart breaking, and beautiful. Wishes do come true for Christmas.​.”

Kindle ● Play ● iBooks ● Nook ● Kobo

Also on Audible!

Women’s Fiction- Single Mom – Romance
When single mother Maura moves to Chicago with her eight-year-old son, she teams up with fellow employee Rick to fulfill the Christmas wishes of children across the city. Will the spirit of the season bring their hearts together, or will secrets tear them apart? ​

What readers are saying…

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Definitely could be made into a Hallmark movie…​”

Kindle ● Play ● iBooks ● Nook ● Kobo

Also on Audible!

Detective – Suspense – Adoption
Detective Finola McGregor’s job is mostly routine — until she joins a team that uncovers a human trafficking ring that kidnaps children and forces them to beg. One look into the little girl’s eyes, and Finn will risk everything to make Maddie’s Christmas wish come true. ​

What readers are saying…

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Ms. Colt did a great job handling this subject, and the case was quickly solved, bringing Christmas magic to little Maddie.”​

Kindle ● Play ● iBooks ● Nook ● Kobo

Also, if you’re in the mood to discover a new favorite, award-winning author Susan Tarr has a FREE literary fiction book for a limited time, and a bunch of other amazing books to check out.
My name is Malcolm. I used to think it was MmmMalcolm. I used to stutter back then, back when Mummy died and everything changed. Now I don’t stutter.
This is my story.
I always wanted regular boys’ shoes. Brown. Mine were always black boots, and one boot was made especially for my gimpy leg. Now I have regular men’s shoes. Brown. I have learned to talk again and to write. I used to. When I was at school. When I was ‘bright’. I remember that as clear as the day I fell into the goldfish pond. I was showing Julie the goldfish. One day something bad happened. Then it went dark. And I was back in the mental hospital up the hill from the little railway station where my father and Bella left me.
And finally, if you haven’t checked these out already, feel free to add them to your list of binge-reading, because they are seasoned for every season! 🙂
Until next time, my friends.
Fondly,

Rent or buy?

Authors’ Billboard Blog Traci Hall October 6th

Carving out time this morning on the balcony with coffee, enjoying the cooler temperatures that Floridians wait all year for. We’ve had so many people move to Florida that rent prices are astronomical. Pulled from the web: Net migration to Florida appears to have peaked at more than 404,000 people in 2020, and it’s expected to be only about two-thirds of that by 2032 — or more than 262,000 people—per year.

Buying a home is also hard, and now because of Hurricane Ian and the 47 billion in projected losses (I’ve also read 75 billion!) we will lose more companies willing to insure the property. After my divorce (ten years ago this December!) I rented, and I love the freedom of that. If something breaks, you call the owner, and they fix it.  I turned 55 this year and my new husband and I go round and round over buying or renting. In this market? I think renting is the safer bet.

That said, the rent prices are climbing so high that we are considering staying in a place where the elevators breaking is a common occurrence and the dog upstairs barks nonstop. To move is a pain, and expensive, and I think of the expression: better the devil you know than the one you don’t. Florida had one of the most dramatic rent increases in the nation, with no wage increase to back it up. My dream has always been to live on the beach, where I write my stories. Family have warned that Florida is sinking, so when I finally buy, to be inland.

If we buy lol. I am seeing a lot of plusses in the rent column. And maybe being exactly on the beach might not be so wise. Florida homes built to withstand hurricanes seemed to do all right in this latest storm!

As a reader as well as a writer, I was pleased to get an email from the Southern Bookseller Review—they posted updates on bookstores around the area hardest hit by Hurricane Ian. The best thing we can do for these guys is to buy books from them and keep business going.  https://thesouthernbooksellerreview.org/southern-bookseller-directory/

Reading is an escape, and what we do matters! I am writing the third book in my Misty Beach series, Mistletoe on Misty Beach. Book one can be found in Irresistible Christmas: Pets to the Rescue

I hope wherever you are, you are safe and happy <3

Traci

How I Escaped to the Middle Ages

It was during the pandemic. Like everyone else, I was locked in my house except for brief trips to the grocery store. (At least I had a loving husband and two demanding cats for company. This picture shows only one cat because they do not tolerate each other.)

I was looking for a writing project that would take me away from my endless confinement and decided to start fiddling with a far-out fun project. Why not make a getaway to the Middle Ages but use a medieval milieu that was tweaked for my own pleasure. While lying on the chaise with my other cat, I started adding details. (Yes, both cats are gray. Not what I would have chosen, but they are the stray and feral ones I brought in.)

I love writing paranormal, so why not insert magic into my medieval world? And while I was at it, why not turn the religious structure on its head and invent a pantheon of gods and goddesses. But I would keep a lot of the conventions of the times. I’d have kings and castles, troops of soldiers on horseback, roadside inns and town marketplaces. And just to add some inconvenient medieval complications, girls would be the property of their fathers, women were subject to the rule of their husbands, and your life was a crapshoot—depending on whether you were the subject of a humane or a hard-assed king.

With some of the background blocked in, I turned to the story. I started off with a princess named Sabina who runs away from her father, the king, because he’s going to marry her off to forge an alliance with an absolute bastard of a prince.

She’s captured pretty quickly by some rough and tumble freelancers and thrown into a prison tower to await the punishment of her father. Unfortunately, or ultimately fortunately, there’s already a prisoner in the tower. Everybody thinks he’s a ghost, but we find out later that he’s really Prince Killian who was enchanted by an evil magician. Everybody’s scared spitless of him. But Sabina decides that if they are locked in together, she will try to make friends with him.

This is when I started having fun with the story. Killian’s mind is a blob of Swiss cheese, but Sabina’s attentions start awakening his memories. Physical contact with her is the key to bringing him back to life—the hotter and heavier, the better.

How do you have an intimate relationship with a guy you can’t see? Lots of interesting ways. She decides: What’s the harm in letting this ghost do stuff to me. As long as he doesn’t fuck me, nobody will ever know about it. The more intimately he touches her, and the more intimately she touches him, the more visible he becomes and the more they grow to care about each other. After each heated encounter, he remembers details from his life—and finally what happened to him.

In the first part of the story, she’s the driver. But when they learn her father is coming to scoop her up, his macho guy instincts kick in.  Killian engineers their escape and takes her on a dangerous trip back to his kingdom while dad’s soldiers pursue them. Along the way, she gives up the idea of staying a virgin. That leads to an embarrassing wedding-night scene. The consummation of the prince’s marriage has to be witnessed by a bunch of courtiers—albeit through gauzy curtains. What are Sabina and Killian going to do to convince the spectators that she’s a virgin?

I had no idea if Changeling would want this story. But my editor liked it a lot. It became Killian Unbound and led to a five-book contract, so I’ve steadily been adding more episodes in my medieval world. I hope you’ll come join me. The latest is number four, Morgan Unbound, published this month.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread #Recipe by @Donna_Fasano

This chocolate zucchini bread is dense, moist, and has a decadently rich chocolate flavor. Starting out with this recipe, I then did a little fiddling. I scrapped the honey and increased the brown sugar. I used butter where they called for oil. And I doubled the amount of vanilla and espresso powder. If you don’t have espresso powder or instant coffee, leave it out, but the coffee really enhances the chocolate flavor. The loaf doesn’t taste a bit like coffee, I promise.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (also called black cocoa)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee granules
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis; do not wring out the liquid)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks (or semi-sweet baking bits)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees and grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Mix together the melted butter and the brown sugar until smooth and glossy, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Stir until fully incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and espresso powder. Then add to the butter mixture and stir well. Batter will be very thick.
  • Using a sturdy spoon, mix the zucchini and chocolate chunks.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and then spread batter into all corners of the pan; smooth the top evenly. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

I’d like to take a moment to say WELCOME, FALL! It’s my favorite time of the year. I hope you’ll consider my book MOUNTAIN LAUREL. It is available for:   Kindle  ~  Paperback  ~  Audiobook  (I’m an Amazon Affiliate and I will earn a few pennies if you use these links to make a purchase.)

Mountain Laurel