Monday, November 30, 2015

Trio of Holiday Treats

Warm up to the holiday season with this fantastic trio of holiday treats. Download for your kindle for only $0.99 each by clicking on the title below or to order the trio, Love’s Christmas Present, from Amazon in one paperback for $13.99 click here.

Backwards Christmas By Brooke Williams (Inspirational/Holiday)
Local tour guide Noelle Richards loves everything Backwards Christmas has to offer in South Pole, Alaska. She gets wrapped up in the upside down trees, taking presents TO Santa Clause and all the festivities. Sled dog trainer Chris Furst, on the other hand, approaches the holiday with nothing but skepticism. When their history bubbles into the present, their difference of opinion comes to a head. When Chris gets himself into a dangerous situation in the snow, Noelle and the hope of Christ are his only hope for redemption.

All's Fair in Love & Arson By Sharon McGregor (Holiday/Contemporary)
Bella is back at her childhood home. When her mother took a fall in the Nuisance Grounds (garbage dump) and broke her leg, Bella came back to help her and run her shop, Izzie's. Soon Bella discovers she's also been handed Izzie's role in the town's Christmas theatre production, a musical version of a well-known mystery that threatens to become more bizarre each day. A serial arsonist is frightening the townspeople, a family feud threatens young romance, and intrigue and rumors are the order of the day. On top of everything, Bella's high school sweetheart Jake, who dumped her for a cheerleader, is now Chief of Police. Poor Bella! Christmas in St. Christopher's is not what it used to be.

Love Again By Paula Mowery (Inspirational Romance)

Ben Jacobsen never thought he would find himself leaving his role as a soldier and living his life without his beloved wife. But, his two young children need a present parent. 

Jenna Campbell moves to Myrtle Beach to take a Children’s Minister position, much to the disbelief of her boyfriend, Peter Callahan. 

Through helping Ben’s daughter adjust to the church’s daycare, Jenna is taken by Ben Jacobsen. The feeling is mutual except Ben worries he is betraying his deceased wife. 

Can Ben find a way to love again? Will Jenna remain in Myrtle Beach and give love a chance? 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Adventure Scrapbook – Hero’s Square in Budapest


 Hero’s square is located on the “Pest” side of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary. It’s a solemn and impressive site in any weather, but I felt it looked even more powerful in the early morning fog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Evolution of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to celebrate with some sort of feast, usually turkey and all the trimmings, but when I’m feeling lazy we go for steak on the grill and boiled shrimp—a delicious treat, but a fraction of the work and often less expensive.

In 1621 the first Thanksgiving was celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians to celebrate the bounty of the fall harvest. They prepared a huge feast including a wide variety of animals and fowl, as well as fruits and vegetables from the fall harvest. This early celebration was the forerunner of today's holiday tradition. However, after that first Thanksgiving the observance was sporadic and almost forgotten until the early 1800's. In 1941, Congress made it a national holiday and set the date as the fourth Thursday in November.


Best wishes to all for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

For a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, I often make pumpkin cheesecake. If you want to give it a whirl this year, here’s my favorite recipe. Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Crust: Crush 10 whole graham crackers and mix with 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of butter. Press into a 10 inch cheesecake spring pan (bottom and 2 inches up the sides). Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove.

Filling: Beat together until smooth, 2 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese (works best if softened), 1 cup of light cream, 1 cup of canned pumpkin, ¾ cup of sugar, 4 egg yolks (save whites in a separate bowl), 3 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the pumpkin mixture. Pour over prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Baking times vary, so make sure the center is set. I’ve found it often takes longer than the 1 hour noted in the recipe.

Topping: Gently mix 2 cups of sour cream, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well blended. Spread topping evenly over cheesecake and bake another 5 minutes. Refrigerate and serve cold.


Enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Travel With Impact – Respect and Generosity

When in Thailand, we hit all the major highlights in Bangkok. The city and its cultural highlights were simply amazing, but a little overwhelming, so we decided to check out the countryside.  We hired a guide for the day to take us to Khao Yai National Park. On the way he stopped at a small village, clearly unaccustomed to tourists. As we wandered the market, a long single-file line of Buddhist Monks silently made their way through the village. People respectfully and generously placed food and other offerings into the basket each monk carried. This ritual is a regular part of daily life in many cities and villages across the country, and witnessing the procession and the unquestioned generosity of the people was a humbling experience. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Adventure Inspirations – Timeless Oblivion of Nature

“The most glorious value of the wilderness is that in it a person may be completely disassociated from the mechanical and dated age of the twentieth century, and bury himself in the timeless oblivion of nature. Its enjoyment depends on a very delicate psychological adjustment . . . You have got to be immersed in a region where you know that mechanization is really absent, and where you are thrown entirely on the glorious necessity of depending on your own powers.”


-Bob Marshall-

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nuggets From Life in Fiction – When a Ladder Simply Won’t Do

Nearly every fiction writer will confess to using small nuggets from real life when creating fictional scenes. I thought it might be fun to occasionally share a few of those with my readers in a segment I’ll call, “Nuggets from Life in Fiction.”  So, here’s one small example from A Dose of Danger.

The snowflakes continued to fall, illuminated by the yard light they had been able to fix earlier in the day using the tractor head to elevate Logan enough to change the bulb. She had been terrified while watching him balanced so high in the air at the mercy of a 1957 tractor with no brakes, affectionately known as the “Rustmobile,” and her mediocre ability when it came to driving the worn-out antique.


So, it wasn’t a 1957 tractor with no brakes, but we did call it the “Rustmobile.” Growing up we also had a second tractor (not sure of the year, but likely in the 1950s) on the place that had virtually no brakes, but its work was relegated to projects on the flat ground that had no risk to life or property. People who live in the country often utilize a lot of creativity to accomplish tasks. In this instance my dad and uncle were installing the top pole to the entrance. In A Dose of Danger, Logan was changing a burnt out bulb in the yard light. In both cases, a ladder wouldn’t accomplish the job, having no solid place wide enough to lean it against.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Adventure Scrapbook – Punta Arenas Penguins

One of the most memorable travel experiences of my life was a trip to Punta Arenas, Chile where we had the opportunity to visit the Otoway Sound Magellanic Penguin Colony.  The chicks hadn’t lost their warm down coats, giving them a soft gray appearance as opposed to the sleek black and white feathers of their parents.  Watching these amazing animals was an indescribable experience I’ll never forget, and I can only hope that I have the opportunity to return one day.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Travel with Impact – First Trip to Mexico



We took our first trip to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula nearly twenty years ago.  We visited several Mayan sites, Tulum and Cobá, on that trip. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the ruins of Tulum were so beautiful it nearly took my breath away, but there were a lot of tourists there. Later in the trip we visited Cobá. Much of this area is still unexcavated, but once you become attuned to what to look the ruins hidden under dirt mounds and covered with jungle start to emerge from their surroundings. At the time, there were very few visitors, and scattered around the dirt parking lot a few vendors sold drinks and handmade crafts. The feeling of having the place all to myself was overwhelming and allowed my mind to wander and visualize what it must have been like in its heyday.  The serenity and solitude of Cobá had a huge impact on me and sparked a lifelong passion for learning about the Mayan Culture. I went back to Cobá about five years later and it had changed some, but was still relatively unvisited. I’m a little afraid to return now in case these peaceful remote ruins have become overly commercialized and have lost some of what made them so special.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Adventure Inspirations – Fountains of Life

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers,
but as fountains of life.”


-John Muir-

Monday, November 2, 2015

Travel with Impact

Travel has the ability to change a person’s perspective on the world.  Experiencing different cultures, seeing in person the impacts of issues you hear about on the news, and making connections or new friends can deeply impact ones views. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to see the world, and I will be sharing some of the moments which have made the biggest impact on me in the coming weeks under the recurrent theme of, “Travel with Impact.” I hope you’ll enjoy this segment and remember these words from Mark Twain.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

- Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain -