Lone Star Writing Competition Deadline Nears

Writers, get your entries ready. There's only a couple of weeks left to enter the 27th Annual Lone Star Writing Competition is now open, and it's a reputable writing contest you don't want to miss.

Sponsored by the Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America Chapter, this prestigious writing contest has opened the doors to publication for a lot of writers.


Fee: $25

Deadline: June 4, 2017

What to Send: First 5000 words. Electronic entries, only.

Eligibility: Open to all writers – published and unpublished in any category. However, the entry must never have been published in any format (digital or print), and may not be under contract until the announcement of the winning entries on October 6th. Open to RWA and non-RWA members.

Categories: Contemporary Series, Fantasy-Futuristic-Paranormal, Historical-Regency, Inspirational Romance, Romantic Suspense, Single Title, Young Adult. Each category, except the Single Title is open for Novella or Novel length works.

For Full Information, click here or contact Contest Coordinator, Erica Thompson.

Takeaway Truth

Someone will win. Maybe it will be you so enter today.

Thought to Guide You This Week

Most people worry. A lot. In fact, I'd venture to say an unreasonable lot.

I read once that 90 per cent of what you worry about never comes to pass.

Unreasonable fears and worries suck the life out of you because you expend a ton of emotional and mental energy.

Wouldn't it be better to expend energy by taking action rather than passive worrying?

Worried about losing a job? Really apply yourself at work. Worried about your book not selling? Expend energy writing another book or promoting the one that has you worried.

Worried about your kids? Spend more time with them playing, talking, building bonds.

Takeaway Truth

You can either expend your energy worrying or expend your energy tackling the problem. Far better to be a warrior, not a worrier.

Saturday Recipe Share: Kicked Up Mac and Cheese

Who doesn't love Mac and Cheese? Did you know you can make this American favorite in a slow cooker?

This recipe is easy and will feed a large family. Add a good salad, a nice green vegetable, and some rustic bread, and you have a family-pleasing meal.

My version of this family-friendly comfort food is a combination of the Mac and Cheese my Mom made. She always used real cheese and eggs beaten with the milk. She made the most delicious Mac and Cheese ever.

I added poblano peppers for a unique flavor that pairs well with the cheesy concoction.

Kicked Up Mac and Cheese
  • 6 cups of cooked macaroni or any pasta shape you like
  • 2 tablespoons of a light salad oil
  • 1 13-ounce can of Pet Milk (or other evaporated milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  •  1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced, roasted and peeled poblano peppers (If you like to sweat, use 1-2 jalapeno peppers instead. (Read below for how to roast peppers.)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs beaten well
  • Prepare the peppers in advance. If you don't want to add peppers, just eliminate them.
  • Prepare the slow cooker by lightly buttering the stoneware crock or the slow cooker pan or spray the crock/pan with Pam or a similar product..
  • Place the cooked pasta in the cooker and drizzle the oil over it. Toss to cover well.
  • Mix the evaporated milk, 1 1/2 cups of milk, melted butter, and beaten eggs.
  • Pour over the pasta and mix well..
  • Sprinkle the onion and poblano peppers over the mixture and stir to mix.
  • Add the shredded cheese and mix well. Cover with the lid and cook on LOW, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Directions to Roast Any Pepper

Roasting makes it easy to remove the thin "skin" on peppers. It also brings out the flavor of the peppers. You can use these roasting methods for any pepper. Do a bunch and store the excess in the fridge for up to a week.

Poblano is a mild chili pepper with a delightful flavor. When dried, this pepper is called ancho or chile ancho. It's often used to make chile rellenos, and cream of poblano soup is out of this world.

You can roast the peppers under an oven broiler, in a hot oven, or directly over a gas flame.

Under a broiler, just place on a baking sheet and roast until the tops are blackened. Turn over to do both sides. This takes about 5 minutes.

In the oven, it takes about 30 to 40 minutes at 500F. degrees. Turn as needed. When they're blackened, they're done.

To roast chilies over an open gas flame, just lay the chili over the open flame. Tongs makes it easy to turn when using this method. Roast until blackened on all sides.

Let the roasted peppers cool then use a paper towel to rub off the skin or exterior membrane.

Takeaway Truth

I think you'll like this dish. I know my family does.

Father's Day Essay Contest

Back in March, I posted about an essay contest for Mother's Day. Erika Lawson of Shame Kills was kind enough to update me on the contest.

To refresh your memory, Shame Kills is an organization dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with addiction in communities nationwide.

They say: "Shame Kills loves the addict but hates the disease. The more we talk about addiction and bring it out of the shadows, the better chance we have of saving those who suffer."

Erika thanked me and all the bloggers who called attention to their 2017 “My Mother, My Hero” Mother’s Day Essay Contest.

She said: "We didn’t know what kind of response to expect with our competition, but we were totally blown away. Not only did we get some amazing essays, but we had an incredible number of submissions, and part of that has to come from visibility on sites like yours; we can’t thank you enough for sharing our contest information."

To see the winners of their Mother’s Day Essay Contest, and read their essays, click here.

When I Think of My Dad

Their Mother's Day contest was so successful--140 entries--that they've decided to do a Father's Day Contest.

In 250 words or less, use the starting phrase “When I think of my dad,” and say what your father means to you and how he has made your life better. What has he done to lift you up and keep you on the right track? How has he influenced you? How has he helped you stay on the path towards healing?

Visit the Father's Day Contest Page.

Takeaway Truth

If this contest appeals to you, flex your writing muscles and make a submission.

Review: Romance on the High Seas Box Set

As a kid, I loved the old pirate movies on TV. Movies like Captain Blood with Errol Flynn, The Black Swan with Tyrone Power, and so many others.

I was thrilled when Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise became a huge hit. Now I’ve discovered a new romance genre to read: pirate romance.

If you like romances with swashbuckling heroes and saucy heroines, matey, hie thee to Amazon and purchase Romance on the High Seas.

In The Pirate's Debt by Katherine Bone, Basil Halford seeks redemption for the sins of his father. At odds with the law and honorable men, he owes a favor to the man who “rescued” him. He takes on the quest to find and return a young runaway, but the runaway turns out to be a young woman with an over-developed imagination who fancies herself in love with Basil. In seeking redemption, the reader is gratified that Basil finds more than he knew he wanted.

Dead Man's Kiss by Jennifer Bray-Weber opens with an explosive bar fight. Valeryn, captain of the Rissa, ends up in jail, his ship seized, and a threatened death sentence. Offered a deal, he agrees to escort Catalina, the alcalde’s niece, to a remote island and bring her back safely. Catalina is more than he bargained for. The two together generate enough heat to make the Caribbean boil! This book has lots of action, and it’s well-plotted with believable characters and emotional depth.

The Black Morass by Barbara Devlin is a quest for redemption. Captain Jean Marc Cavalier rescues Maddie, a shipwreck survivor, who proceeds to complicate his life, arousing his desire along with his long-buried conscience. A nice “woman in jeopardy” mystery rounds out this tale.

Pirate Heiress by Chloe Flowers is about a treasure hunt inspired by a letter from the famous Irish woman pirate Anne Bonny. A family thinks to recover their losses with Anne Bonny’s treasure, but they need a ship--Conal O’Brien’s ship. Stevie, a would-be lady pirate, takes Conal hostage. They set sail for Jamaica on a voyage fraught with disasters, not the least of which is the desire that rises between Conal and Stevie. Likable secondary characters nicely round out the story.

My Lady Pirate by Danelle Harmon features Maeve, a pirate queen, who sees visions. Her latest one kicks off an adventure that turns her life upside down. Maeve doesn’t believe in love nor does she trust it, but that doesn’t stop her from falling for a pirate named Gray–except he’s not really a pirate but an admiral in the British Navy. Maeve and Gray have to figure out if love is enough to overcome their differences.

Captivated by the Captain by Amanda Mariel has Prudence, victim of pirates, and Jasper, a pirate captain, in forced companionship. She hates pirates because they killed those she loved, but Jasper isn’t your average pirate. He has scruples, and Prudence tests them all. If you like “lovers from two different worlds,” you’ll enjoy this.

Carried Away by Kamery Solomon has time travel as part of the story. Throw in some of history’s most compelling conspiracy theories, and you have a a nice mashup of speculative fiction and pirate romance. It’s not immediately apparent that this is Tristan and Samantha’s romance because this is part of a series. It tries to tie this to past books and also foreshadow the next book. You may have a quibble with the ending because there's not a solid romantic ending with the heroine and hero, but a hook ending for the next book.

Takeaway Truth

All in all, this is a satisfying romance box set that should appeal to those who love Regency romance and the Master and Commander set of books from that same era.

So grab it, me hearties, for some weekend reading fun.

Writers Must Possess Certain Skills

Writers who sell know that more is required than inspiration to create a compelling story.

A writer must possess certain learned skills. If you’re going to be a professional writer, you must respect the craftsmanship involved in becoming a selling writer and learn those narrative skills.

What Are These Skills?

Jack E. Bickham, author of many novels and nonfiction books on writing, said: “A story is the formed record of a character testing conflict, told from a point of view.”

Formed Record

Mr. Bickham taught that a formed record means an author controls the material. There is a formal structure. There is a consciousness of narrative principles. Classical ideas of dramatic architecture are followed. In other words, great stories just don’t happen.


A character is not just a person. In fiction, a character is a creation of many things. A character is an exaggeration of a real-life person in some respects. A character is much easier to understand than a human being, because their “tags” and traits, their attitudes, internal and external wants and needs, their conflicts are played on the stage of our minds.

Often, it’s much easier to understand what makes a created character tick than to understand why your spouse gets depressed if you blow off your anniversary to play golf. Or it should be easier. That’s the author’s job: make the character understandable by the reader and make the reader want to know the character.


Conflict is the driving force of fiction. Conflict is struggle. It is a fight that plays on stage for the reader.

Yes, sometimes conflict is a character at war with himself, but this isn’t enough. There has to be an external conflict driving the external plot and reflecting the internal struggle.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing adversity with conflict. Adversity is just bad luck, not conflict.

Point of View

Point of view, is what makes the story someone’s story. Viewpoint is necessary to fiction, because a reader wants and needs to identify with someone. The reader wants to cheer for someone and relate to the story.

Viewpoint is a carefully wielded skill by the writer.

A writer must make careful decisions about what kind of viewpoint to use, whose viewpoint to use, and how to use that viewpoint to not only relate the events of the story but also reveal character to the reader.

Takeaway Truth

If you are just starting out, your writer’s tool box probably has lots of empty space.

Add these skills as quickly as possibly, and you’ll be on your way to writing salable fiction.

Review: Tuscan Wedding

Recently, Darling Hubby and I watched Tuscan Wedding.

This Dutch romantic comedy was so delightful we forgot we hardly realized we were reading dialogue rather than listening to it.

The movie is about the owners of a Tuscan villa  which specializes in weddings. From simple to complicated, the weddings always come with their share of oddball family members.

Initially released in 2014, Tuscan Wedding, directed by Johan Nijenhuis, produced by Klaas de Jong, and with an appealing soundtrack with music composed by André Rieu and Ronald Schilperoort, has made its way to Netflix.

My Opinion

The cast is excellent, in particular Jan Kooijman as Jeroen, the divorce attorney/ladies' man who never "sees" a woman more than 3 times, and Sophie van Oers as Sanne, who lives her happily ever after vicariously through the weddings she performs at the villa.

Sanne is divorced and reluctant to yield to the attraction she feels for Jeroen, but good intentions fall by the wayside as desire wins out.

Just when you think the movie will fade out into a happily ever after ending, Sanne proclaims that she doesn't want to be a three-timer.

The movie is full of twists and surprises--some amusing and some poignant. Sanne and Jeroen seem destined to unrequited love. You'll have to watch the movie to see how everything works out. I enjoyed it so much that I plan to watch it again.

Unfortunately, the BluRay edition of this movie from the Netherlands is Region A/B/C so unless you have a BluRay player capable of multiple regions, you won't be able to view it. You can find it on Netflix for now. If you'd like to see the trailer, visit YouTube

Takeaway Truth

The characters and their stories are by turns farcical, touching, humorous, and emotional. The scenery is gorgeous. The acting is solid. The soundtrack is good. Beyond all that, the emotion and story has universal appeal.

Quick Blog Tip: Give Details

Monday is the perfect day to give another tip from my upcoming book on blogging.

Many bloggers think they can just rattle off something without giving the pertinent details required by the most basic exposition. What are those basic details?

The 6 Basic Details

1. Who?
2. What?
3. When?
4. Where?
5. Why?
6. How?

Remember this was taught in English composition. Maybe the teacher called it the 5 W's plus How.

Why Give These 6 Details

Never assume the reader is on the same wave length as you and immediately knows what you're writing about.

This basic tenet of writing--giving these 6 details quickly--clue the reader in to what an article or post is about. This hooks the reader into reading more to get the information those details promise.

Write your posts this way and especially write a multi-part series using this technique. If you're covering a topic with many facets that you plan to write as a three-part series or something similar, giving the 6 basic details at the beginning of each part is like a TV show that presents scenes of previous episodes--sometimes with a voice over: "Previously on The Big Bang Theory."

Takeaway Truth

Include those 6 details then give your information, and give it in grammatically-correct, well-chosen words, and you'll turn a casual visitor into a follower.

Happy Mother's Day

When your mother is no longer there, Mother's Day holds a certain poignancy.

Even if you, yourself, are a mom, you still miss your own mom. Life is just too short.

Takeaway Truth

Always tell your mother you love her--especially on Mother's Day.

Saturday Recipe Share: Strawberry Punch Bowl Cake

Since tomorrow is Mother's Day, why not serve up a delicious cake for Mom's celebration?

Since this is a busy weekend, let's make a super easy cake like Strawberry Punch Bowl Cake?

A punch bowl cake is really a chilled trifle, a delicious combination of cake, fruit, and whipped cream. So you can put this together today to serve tomorrow.

Today's recipe for Strawberry Punch Bowl Cake is from Friday Is Cake Day, my cake recipe book. It's available for only 99 cents from Amazon Kindle and other ebook sellers. See all buy links at the end of this post.

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 12 ounces of heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 large can crushed pineapple in real juice
  • 1 large package of vanilla pudding mix, prepared
  • 1 can strawberry pie filling or 2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
  • Bake the cake as the package directions require and cook the vanilla pudding mix.
  • Crumble the cake into pieces about an inch square.
  • In a large punchbowl or a pretty large glass bowl of any kind, layer the ingredients in this order: cake pieces, pudding, pineapple, pie filling or fresh strawberries, and whipped cream.
  • Repeat the layers until you’ve used up all the ingredients, finishing with whipped cream on top.
  • You can get extra fancy and place chocolate curls on top of the whipped cream.
  • Chill at least 4 hours and serve. The longer it chills; the better it tastes because all the flavors meld.
Add Friday Is Cake Day to Your Cookbook Collection

Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords * Scribd * 24Symbols * Inktera.

Takeaway Truth

Enjoy the cake and have a Happy Mother's Day!

Celebrating Book Birthday for Still The One + Giveaway

To celebrate the book birthday for Still The One, I'm giving away 5 copies of this romantic comedy.

"I bought this book after reading others comments. I fell in love with it after the first few pages!!! Very romantic...." ~ Amazon Review

About Still The One

Burke Winslow stands at the altar, ready to marry his business partner in a marriage of convenience.

The minister solemnly asks: "If anyone here knows why this man and this woman shouldn't be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace."

What follows is a funny, sexy romp that proves when there's love, passion never dies, it just smolders away until you toss some gasoline on it. Burke and Ally provide that gasoline! Still The One is a rollicking good time--Texas style! Sassy, sexy, and funny!

Claim Your Free Copy

The Coupon Code is good for only 5 redemptions so it's first come; first served.

1. Visit the Smashwords Page for Still The One and add it to your Cart.

2. Prior to checkout, enter the Smashwords Coupon Code: DQ76N

3. If a redemption is still available, your cart will show zero due. If it doesn't, then all codes have been used.

Code Expires: After 5 Redemptions.

Takeaway Truth

Happy reading.

Thursday3Some: I Got Your Back, Hailey by June Kramin

Good morning! I'm happy to bring you another book spotlight on Thursday3Some.

Today I'm chatting with a new author friend, June Kramin, author of I Got Your Back, Hailey.

June says, "There is a fine line between genius and crazy... I like to use that line as a jump rope!"

I love that! I surmise that she brings that out of the box imagination to her romance novels. In fact, she confessed that her Super Power is being hopelessly addicted to 80's music. (That's not a bad addiction in my opinion.)

More About June Kramin

June, who prefers to go by Bug, was born in Philadelphia but moved to Maui, Hawaii, when she was four. She met her Prince Charming on Kauai and is currently living Happily Ever After in a small town in Minnesota.

Her son and daughter are her greatest accomplishments. She takes pride in embarrassing them every chance she gets.

Visit June Online

You'll find June hanging out here: Website * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter.

While you're at it, sign up for June's Newsletter.

I Got Your Back, Hailey

When Hailey stumbles upon a backpack full of money on her nightly jog, she escapes under gunfire with Parker, a man she'd met only moments sooner.

Leaving the security of her secret identity behind, they put together the pieces of Hailey's past and try to put a stop to the man that wants her dead.

Falling in love in the middle of it all was the last thing either one of them expected!

Add I Got Your Back, Hailey by June Kramin to your romance library. You'll find June's book at: Amazon * B&N * Smashwords.

When did you write I Got Your Back, Hailey?

June: I Got You Back, Hailey was published in April 2014, so it was probably written around June of 2013. I remember this story moving very quickly for me. Hailey and Parker had complete control over this one. Things completely fell into place and it was done within 2 months.

By this point, I had parted ways with the last of my 3 publishers. I just wasn't ready to do the query bit again. I abused my 3 beta readers, and they unanimously decided it was their favorite of everything I had written. I found a fabulous editor who helped beat it into shape and voila! A new book was born.

I knew the ins and outs from getting my other books re-released, so I was proud to have this one be my first solo "self-pubbed" novel. I love a good series so that's what I decided to do. Stop with my single titles and concentrate on Hailey and her crew. I'm currently writing number four and enjoying the ride they're taking me on.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

This whole series dumbfounds me. One night I was wide awake, and the character name "Parker Peters" came to mind. I know, Spiderman's real name backward. Insane, but one never questions the Muse! I ran with it, and the story unfolded. Even I was unsure if he was the bad guy or the good guy in the beginning. I was thrilled when two characters from another series decided to pop into book 3. Now the series is taking even more twists and turns.

Why do your readers buy I Got Your Back, Hailey?

I Got Your Back, Hailey is more along the lines of what I like to read. There is a romantic element, but it's heavier on the suspense. It was the first book I did a "read and review" for and received phenomenal emails back. I guess I hit a good chord with this one.

Takeaway Truth

Okay, readers. The weekend is coming. I Got Your Back, Hailey sounds like a good book to grab for your leisure reading. Remember, you can find it at: Amazon * B&N * Smashwords.

Review: Bosch, Season 3

If you've read my previous reviews of Bosch, Season 1 and Season 2, you know Darling Hubby and I are big fans of the series made from Michael Connelly's books.

If you aren't Amazon Prime Subscribers, you can watch a recap of Seasons 1 and 2 and a trailer for Season 3, here. Just scroll to the bottom and you'll find those videos.

We're such big fans that I actually marked the date on my calendar when Season 3 would be available. When the big day came, we weren't disappointed. The new season is as captivating as the previous two.

C Is For Captivating, Compelling, and Charismatic

At the end of season 2, Harry Bosch had finally learned who murdered his mother. He thinks he's made peace with the past. However, as season 3 progresses, Harry begins to question what he knows.

With other murders to solve, he's back with a "feeling that he can't let go." Watch the series and you'll agree that the musical theme is spot on for the kind of detective he is. Titus Welliver was born to play Bosch. He is simply superb in the role.

How the Series Is Built

Rather than have each season be one book, each season is an amalgamation of several books. Hubby and I were so captivated by the Bosch character that we started on Connelly's books in order. We're up to book 14 now so we recognize the various books used as source material for the series.

I won't give any spoilers because I think you should watch this police procedural series yourself. There are twists and turns, and all kinds of bad guys--who think they're smarter than a mere cop--to catch. This series is worth the price of becoming an Amazon Prime Subscriber.

Takeaway Truth

Do yourself a favor and watch Bosch. Start at the beginning and watch from Season 1. Have a Bosch Festival. We are on our first available weekend because we want to introduce friends to this outstanding series.

Quote To Deal With Tough Times

I guess I overdid it Monday because today I got very little accomplished. Spent most of the day on the couch dealing with the pain of overdoing. *LOL*

So tonight I'm up, and can't sleep. I realized I didn't get a blog post written so I thought I'd share this quote that I frequently repeat to myself when the going is tough.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Originally, Friedrich Nietzsche said that in a book in 1888. "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

Kelly Clarkson took the phrase and made it into a hit song in 2011. Guess truth never dies.

Takeaway Truth

Judging by the last few years, I should be qualified to compete for the title: Strongest Woman on Earth. Here's another truth. It can always be worse.

Conspicuous Absence

I have been conspicuously absent from the scene. I thought I'd let you know why.

I was at my daughter's house the last week in April while her darling hubby was out of town on a business trip. I'm her main helper since she's trying to rehab from being a chronic pain patient.

To make a long story short, I was carrying a tray with cups of hot tea upstairs to her when I tripped over a step (yes, I was really tired) and went flying. Not in a Supergirl kind of way.

I hit my head on a wrought iron spindle and totally messed up left arm, left leg from the knee down, and the right leg.

The good news is that nothing was concussed or broken. The bad news is that my left knee and has been swollen to the size of a grapefruit. Then there's the pain there and in left arm.

Since April 29, I have been able to walk very little. No driving. No computer.

Today I was a little better so I started trying to catch up on some things. I think I'll probably be in the recliner with the laptop for a while yet which is inconvenient but doable. More good news is that I'm getting better every day.

Takeaway Truth

Time heals all wounds--even those caused by exhaustion and dumb accidents.

Quick Blog Tip: Respect Your Readers

One thing I've noticed in perusing lots of blogs is that many bloggers operate on the anything to fill the space theory.

They've been told a blogger should blog often--every day if possible. So they fall into the trap of throwing something out there.

They tell themselves a post doesn't have to be very good--it just needs to fill the space so they can say they blog every day. Consequently, their posts are unremarkable.

Casual Communication? Yes, But Good Too

Then there are the bloggers who think a post is a casual means of communication--kind of like jotting something down on a sticky note.

In their opinion, a blog post is just a top of the head way of communicating with the audience so it doesn't matter if it is full of grammar errors, typos, incorrect punctuation, wrong words, and misspellings.

Readers Avoid Those Blogs

Reading a blog like those described above is arduous at best, if someone makes the effort. Most visitors won't make the effort. I don't.

Readers just move on to another blog. Why waste time reading something incompetently written when there are blogs written by articulate authors with a mastery of language and grammar?

Takeaway Truth

Bloggers, respect your readers. The blog is a tool that can work for you or against you.

Vow to publish content that educates and/or entertains, and that you'll make that content easy to read with good grammar, punctuation, etc.

Saturday Recipe Share: Sunday Dinner Pork Roast

How is your Saturday? Mine has been busy with errands: buying groceries, shopping for a birthday present, and picking up some wine at our favorite wine store.

Once at home, hubby put away the food while I made a big pot of chili since Darling Hubby wanted hotdogs for dinner tonight.

Time To Unwind

While the chili cooked, we took a glass of wine (Skinny Girl California Red) over to the lake and sat on one of the park benches.

Sipping the wine, watching the ducks gliding across the lake, feeling the slight breeze caressing our
faces, and hearing doves cooing in the trees was sheer pleasure. I could feel the stress melting away.

I decided to carry forward that stress-free, mellowed-out feeling by putting Sunday dinner on tonight. So I set my trusty Crock Pot on the counter. The recipe I'm using takes 10 to 12 hours to cook. I'll get all the ingredients together, but I won't actually put the slow cooker on until later this evening.

So, you can do that too, and have dinner ready tomorrow between 11:00 and noon. Look the recipe over and go to the store for anything you might not have.

Sunday Dinner Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 to 4-pound pork loin roast, trimmed, with some fat left to flavor the meat & vegetables
  • Kitchen Bouquet 
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 3 to 4 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled & cut in large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • Brush the pork roast with Kitchen Bouquet. If you've never used Kitchen Bouquet before, it's a seasoning and browning agent made from caramelized vegetable flavorings. It's been produced since 1873. It's intense so you never used it straight from the bottle as a sauce. Instead, you season soups, stews, and gravies with it, or you coat meat with it prior to cooking. It's less than $3.00 for a 4 ounce bottle.
  • Sprinkle the roast liberally with the garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Prepare cooking surface of your slow cooker by spraying with Pam or lining it with a plastic bag made for slow cookers.
  • Place the sweet potato chunks in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • Arrange the onion slices over the potatoes.
  • Place pork roast on top of onions.
  • Cover with the slow cooker lid.
  • Cook on low 10 to 12 hours. (I'm putting this on to cook around 11 tonight, just before I go to bed. Tomorrow after church, I'll come home and put the finishing touches on this dish.
Finishing Touches
  • Turn slow cooker off. Remove roast to a large serving platter. Let it rest for 10-20 minutes before slicing.
  • Remove vegetables to an oven-proof bowl and place in the oven set on warm.
  • Pour the drippings into a small to medium-size saucepan and heat to simmering.
  • Make a slurry--a mixture of equal parts of a thickener and cold liquid. The thickener can be plain white flour, arrowroot, or constarch. The cold liquid can be water, broth, or white wine. The liquid must be cold.
  • If you have a lot of drippings, use 2 tablespoons thickener and 2 tablespoons cold liquid. Place in a measuring cup and stir well to make sure all the thickener is dissolved.
  • Stir the slurry into the simmering drippings. Keep stirring it's thickened. It takes a few minutes. You know it’s thickened, and the thickening agent is cooked when the mixture is not only thicker but kind of glossy looking. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Drizzle gravy over the sliced roast and serve the rest in a gravy boat or bowl. 
There you have your Sunday dinner that's large enough and tasty enough for a family gathering. Add a large tossed salad, a fresh fruit medley, and bread of your choice, and you have a great meal. Oh, and by the way, Skinny Girl California Red goes nicely with this. So does a chilled Chenin Blanc.

Takeaway Truth

If you're lucky, you'll have leftovers! Have a wonderful weekend.

How To Be a Happy Writer

Writers complain. A lot. I'll be honest--that's me sometimes. I have to remind myself of some simple truths about being a writer.

Happiness is an attitude. You're either happy or unhappy based on what you think about--make that, obsess about.

How To Be a Happy Writer

1. Refuse to let other people's ideas about what you write affect your mood and/or your writing.

2. Avoid reading reviews if you internalize them.

3. Accept that if you want to sell, you need to write what the reader wants.

You see, publishing is a business driven by the bottom line even if you're an indie self-published author.  Stay abreast of what kind of books are in demand.

I learned something valuable from my husband who was an energy trader. One of the first things he said he learned is that you must want what the market wants. If the markets are moving, then you must want to take a position that takes advantage of the market movement.

Our market is publishing. If the publishing market is moving toward a particular genre, look for something about that genre that really appeals to you. Create your niche within the genre.

4. If you don't care whether you sell or not, then write what you want to write.
Just don't bitch about not selling.

5. Develop a solid work ethic that gets you writing regularly.
You are a writer so writing should make you happy. If writing doesn't make you happy, you need to find something else to do.

6. Always remember, there is no one way to succeed.What works for Nora Roberts may not work for you so you must learn what works for you. You must know yourself, your abilities, your aptitudes, your skills, your desires, and your ability to create.

7. Don't be a literary snob.
Every genre out exists because there's an audience for it. Respect what other people read.

8. Be open to literary criticism.
Never think your words are carved in granite. Any agent, editor, reviewer, or reader will tell you/teach you that they're not. Learn to take editorial guidance without getting upset.

Takeaway Truth

Be open. To new genres, new ideas, and the need to change if necessary. Change can mean growth. Choose to be happy because in the final analysis, it really is a choice.

Lone Star Writing Competition Now Open

Writers, get your entries ready. The 27th Annual Lone Star Writing Competition is now open, and it's a reputable writing contest you don't want to miss.

Sponsored by the Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America Chapter, this prestigious writing contest has opened the doors to publication for a lot of writers.


Fee: $25

Deadline: June 4, 2017

What to Send: First 5000 words. Electronic entries, only.

Eligibility: Open to all writers – published and unpublished in any category. However, the entry must never have been published in any format (digital or print), and may not be under contract until the announcement of the winning entries on October 6th. Open to RWA and non-RWA members.

Categories: Contemporary Series, Fantasy-Futuristic-Paranormal, Historical-Regency, Inspirational Romance, Romantic Suspense, Single Title, Young Adult. Each category, except the Single Title is open for Novella or Novel length works.

For Full Information, click here or contact Contest Coordinator, Erica Thompson.

Takeaway Truth

Someone will win. Maybe it will be you so enter today.

Nothing Great Is Created Quickly

I've been updating my website. I'm embarrassed to confess that it's been 2-3 years since I last updated parts of the webiste, but Life has been less than kind in these last few years.

I'm revamping the website and eliminating some of the pages where I once posted fresh content each month. I simply don't have the time any longer to do that.

In fact, I'm eliminating a lot of the weekly and monthly tasks that I once did just to make more time to write.

In scrolling through the articles, I've saved some to post on the blog. Today's post is one. It's advice to writers who fret over how long it takes to produce a new work.

Nothing Great Is Created Quickly

Many people decry how long it takes to create something meaningful. I realized many years ago that nothing great is ever created quickly. You probably know that too, but it's good to remind oneself of that fact.

To make a scientific discovery, to paint a masterpiece, to write an immortal poem, to create a symphony, to write a novel that will be remembered--all of these take time. So does earning a college degree, making a home, nurturing a child, or building a business.

Nothing worthwhile is ever instantaneous. To do anything great requires time, patience, and perseverance. Goals are achieved little by little.

Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in a year. Bach did not compose The Brandenburg Condertos in a month or two. Margaret Mitchell did not write Gone With the Wind in a matter of months, nor did Shakespeare create Hamlet in a few days.

Just as the most famous musicians begin with basic musical notes, and artists first draw with charcoal or pencil, the greatest writer who ever lived began with the alphabet. With words. You too must start there.

Takeaway Truth

To do anything great requires time, patience, and perseverance. Get started.

Blog Ops: Source of Topics

I like to check the "on this day in history" websites each morning to see if something noteworthy happened. It goes without saying that many historic events occurred on every day of the year. Battles were fought, treaties were written and broken, etc.,but I'm more interested in the "literary" events that occurred on each day.

On May 2

1885, "Good Housekeeping" magazine was first published.

1908, "Take me out to the Ball Game" was registered for copyright.

1932, Pulitzer prize was awarded to Pearl S. Buck for The Good Earth.

1938, Pulitzer prize was awarded to Thornton Wilder for his play "Our Town."

1949, Arthur Miller wins the Pulitzer Prize for "Death of a Salesman."

1955, Pulitzer prize awarded to Tennessee Williams for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

1966, Pulitzer prize was awarded Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. for A Thousand Days, an account of the Presidency of John F. Kennedy.

This Day Websites

Bloggers are always asking what they should blog about. Visiting websites that list "this day in history" events can spur the imagination. Here's a list of that kind of website.

On This Day


The People History

Timelines of History

The History Place

This Day in History

There are lots of others, but these give nice snapshots of events.

Takeaway Truth

Do you have some "inspiration" resources?