A Challenging Year … Enter “Mattress Mack” by @TaylorLeeWrites

To say this has been a challenging year is a massive understatement. But then how do we describe, much less fathom, a year when half a million Americans have died from Covid 19? Add that millions of people have lost their jobs, foodbanks are running out of food, schools are operating at half-mast… the list goes on. A breathtakingly challenging year indeed.

But I’m an optimist at heart and was beginning to think we might be turning the corner. On a personal level, my “guy” underwent months of radiation treatment and his prognosis is encouraging. We made it through the holidays. Hopefully next year I will be able to celebrate with my daughters and grandsons. The election drama is over. Help from the federal government to people in desperate need seems to be on the way. I got my first vaccine shot. Yep, I thought, maybe the challenging year was behind us and things were beginning to look up. I decided we might be able to get back to living life again.

And then the storm of a decade (century?) hit Texas. As of Sunday, more than 14 million Texans were under orders to boil their water before drinking it–or did not have water. Millions lost power.  We saw pictures of families putting on all their clothes and huddling under covers with their kids in below zero temperatures. Across the state, neighbors lined up at municipal spigots for water, melted snow to flush their toilets, and lined up for food at poorly stocked grocery stores and food banks. The scenes were devastating. So much for optimism.

Just when I was about to give into depression, along came Mattress Mack! In case you missed the story, Mattress Mack, otherwise known as James F. McIngvale, is a Houston furniture store owner who was known to dress up in a mattress in his television commercials. According to the Associated Press, seeing his fellow Texans cold and hungry, with little shelter from the winter storm, Mattress Mack opened his doors. In the last week thousands spent a few hours on armchairs and couches to warm up, or slept on their choice of beds in the 100,000 square foot showroom. Little kids played on playground equipment. They ate donated food or food paid for by Mr. McIngvale. McIngvale said, “When my people are dying and freezing, I am going to take care of them,” he said. “That comes before profit every time.”

I don’t know about you, but knowing that there are people like Mattress Mack, selfless beacons of hope in decidedly crummy times, is inspiring.  It might even confirm that being a “cock-eyed” optimist is at least worth considering. Onward.

On a decidedly optimistic note, my latest book goes live today.

Challenging Year

He’s a hard as nails police chief.  She’s a feisty ADA. The one thing they have in common is arrogance.  Sparks flare when the challenging duo face off. You Can’t Always Get What You Want is the third standalone book in The Olive or Twist Saga, a steamy romantic suspense series. If you like smart characters, cops, courts, and scorching passion, then you’ll love this sizzling thrill-ride. Grab your copy of You Can’t Always Get What You Want to get hot under the collar today!

Kingley Vale by Katy Walters @KatyWalters07

In Kingley Vale, near Chichester in West Sussex, England, nestles an ancient forest of yews over 2,000 years old, believed to be the oldest living organisms in Great Britain. Above this prehistoric combe stand The Kings Graves, otherwise known as the Devil’s Humps. They are supposed to be the graves of Anglo Saxon Kings and marauding Vikings. Kingley Vale

It is said the ghosts of ancient Druids haunt the forest, mingling with the slain Anglo-Saxons. For some, it is a place of spiritual healing, for others a place of mystery and beauty.

Kingley Vale

Kingley Vale treads into my heart,

Its paths of loam roam arteries,

Twigs carve through capillaries.

Falling leaves, sleeve the skin.

Ancient peat, fleshing feet.

Roots grope the hungering breath,

Feeding, raising Sorcerer and Druid.

Slain sacrificial maid long dead,

Leavens the bread of my emptiness.

Ghouls whisper in death stench groves,

Of Wicca, the Priestess, the dagger.

Owl’s eyes light the night, as the raven cries,

Covering terror’s screams and death’s moans,

On stone altar the ravaging Warlock groans.

Moon Mother throws her silver lance,

Elf and fairy, gnome and crone,

Leap and weep in the ecstasy of dance.

The steel ping of the coca cola tin,

Snaps my reverie,

Kingley Vale treads gently

Back into the caverns of my soul

Whispering, forever, whispering.

Copyright: Katy Walters: 1998

Look for THE LADY LOSES A SHOE, a Regency Romance, available for just 99 cents. Kindle Unlimited members can read this book for free.

Kingley Vale

Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Scones by @Donna_Fasano

Cheddar Cheese and Bacon SconesHello! Donna Fasano here. Recently, a good friend of mine told me she’d made a batch of cheddar cheese and bacon scones, and the recipe sounded SO delicious, I had to try it for myself. For my first batch, I used cheddar cheese. I will soon try the recipe using Swiss cheese and I’m certain that will taste good, too. My Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Scones adventure resulted in a light, flaky, and extremely flavorful biscuit-like treat. As you can see from the picture, I cut my scones into triangles rather than the circles called for in the recipe. (When I traveled to Europe, every scone I ate was 3-sided not circular. But you cut yours however you wish.) I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Cheese and Bacon Scones

Makes 1 dozen

  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 T butter
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss or Cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices bacon crisply fried and crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly grease cookie sheet. 

  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add the butter in chunks and work into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the bacon and cheese. 

  Mix the egg and buttermilk together and add them to the dry ingredients. Mix until a soft dough forms. Do not overwork the dough. 

  Roll or pat the dough on a floured board to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter. Place scones on cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until scones are golden and well risen. 

~  ~  ~

There is nothing better on a chilly autumn afternoon than a cup of hot tea, a yummy scone, and a good book. Here are a few of my romances that are very inexpensive… less than $1 each.

Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Scones

Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Scones

Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Scones

HAPPY EATING! AND HAPPY READING!

Cracked Open

Oceanside, CA. I miss you! Photo © Ev Bishop

I’ve just returned from a very restful, inspiring, sun-drenched, sand-filled, saltwater-soaked vacation in Newport Beach, California.

I loved playing in the white sand that was hot under my feet. I adored wearing flip-flops as I tripped along the boardwalk, knowing friends and co-workers back home were in their winter gear, suffering fresh snow and below freezing temperatures. (Sorry guys!) And it was very special to spend do-nothing-but-have-fun family time with my husband, nieces, sister, stepmom, and daughter. The biggest impact of the trip, however, came from the ocean.

I was amazed by her. Awed.

Obviously, living where I do, I’m already familiar with the Pacific—but let me tell you: her waters are very different up in northern British Columbia than they are in southern California.

I spent a lot of time playing in the surf, being knocked down and getting up again, being dragged back into deeper water as the ocean readied to send another wave, and, most fun of all, swimming out over my head, beyond the crash line, where even the hugest waves were just starting as rolling swells. Above me, the sky was so blue and just . . . huge. And all around me, as far as my eye could see, was water. Since it’s California’s “winter” too, there weren’t a lot of locals in the water. Sometimes, for hours, I was the only one.

And maybe it was the salt pulling things out of me, the same way soaking in Epsom salts releases toxins. Or maybe it was because it was the first time in far, far too long where I didn’t have anywhere to go specifically or anyone I had to see, and my mind was deliciously free and uncluttered. Or perhaps it was the sounds of the ocean working to bring the tide in or out, the sea birds calling and swooping about, blotting out any noise in my head . . . But whatever the reason or combination of reasons, something deep inside me cracked open, and I had one of those strange epiphanies, where you can see so clearly where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you want to go next.

Sometimes it’s easy to lie to ourselves, to make excuses for why we’re standing still instead of moving forward, to justify our reasons for sticking with things that are no longer a good fit.

I found that out there, salt-crusted, saturated and awed by the unmitigated power, depth and magnitude of the ocean, it was impossible to be false with myself. I might as well have tried to keep the surf from crashing, or the sand from pulling away beneath my feet in the after effects of the waves. But it wasn’t a negative or self-condemning sort of feeling. I didn’t beat myself up for work not done or goals not accomplished. And it wasn’t merely a giddy, momentary flash of newfound enthusiasm (though I did feel those lovely bursts too). The feeling was a deep sense of readiness, of quiet resolution and surety. A sense that change is coming, and instead of fighting it or being afraid of it, I was going to welcome it and move with it.

I kept waking up my first couple of nights home because I missed the sound of the surf—and I’d only been away eight days. I’ve carried the decision I arrived at in the waves with me, however, and while my suntan’s receding, my resolve hasn’t waned.

I’ll be making some exciting announcements the next two months or so. In the meantime, if you can somehow sneak away to a beach—ocean, river or lakeside—to do some thinking and dreaming, I highly recommend it.

So good for what, if anything, ails you. Photo © Ev Bishop

Author’s Note: I have NOT just returned from a sunny beach vacation, but a photo from the 2015 trip I shared about above just popped up as a FaceBook Memory, plus showed on my website as a “past post you might enjoy.” I can take a hint! I do need to have some ocean time again soon, but for now, this was a good reminder and refresher. . . ahhhh!

And the bit about “having exciting announcements to make in the next few months” is absolutely current too! Stay tuned for a big reveal on April 1st—no fooling!)

Can’t get away for a soak in the sea right now, but still craving a little escape? Look no further than INVINCIBLE SECRETS, a 9-novel set brought to you by me and 8 other bestselling, award-winning Authors’ Billboard authors. Book your getaway now! JUST .99 or FREE on KU.