Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Welcome Tahlia Newland!

Happy Monday,

PJ Sharon here today! I know it’s not my usual day to post, but I’m filling in for one of my lovely Scribes sisters. I hope you won’t mind seeing me twice in one month.

Now that we’re all crawling out of our turkey comas and forging on, I thought I’d share some love with my pal Tahlia Newland, the woman who put the “Awesome” in Awesome Indies. She’s here today to talk about her latest release, PRUNELLA SMITH:WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS; part thriller, part magical realism, and part stress management instruction manual. She’s going to touch on one aspect of her new book that affects us all these days…cyber-bullying.

Please give a warm welcome to our guest, leave comments, ask questions, and feel free to follow her on social media or check out her books on her website.

Post by Tahlia Newland, award-winning magical realism author. Read more from her on her blog. You can also join her on Facebook , Twitter Google+  and Linkedin.

Take it away, Tahlia!

How would you deal with a cyber-bully?

Have you ever been bullied or had to deal with nasty comments online? How did it feel? What did you do?

The anonymity of the internet makes it all too easy for those who might never say something nasty to your face to say it online. Cyber-bullies can hide behind a false identity and vent their anger without concern for the kind of repercussions they might get otherwise. They can live on the other side of the world, but their venom can come right into your home and shout at you in black and white from your computer or mobile device. And no matter how hard you try to ignore it, it’s an unpleasant experience, and one that can, if you don’t have the skills to deal with it in a stress-free way, cause a lot of anguish, both mental and physical.

Dealing with this reality is the focus of my latest book Prunella Smith: Worlds Within Worlds.  Prunella Smith is a book reviewer, and an author unhappy with her review of his book begins systematically abusing her online. The recent publicity over a case where an author upset by a negative review actually located and physically assaulted a reviewer makes this theme all too real and raises questions for those who review books, especially if they are an author themselves as Prunella is.

When the bully and his friends leave negative reviews of Ella’s own book, she experiences the situation from the other side—as an author, rather than a reviewer—so we see both sides of the issue of dealing with negativity, whether designed to be helpful or blatantly vindictive.

This book raises many questions: Should reviewers not publish negative reviews and remain silent when they have nothing positive to say? What happens to freedom of speech if readers are too scared to share their honest opinions? Should reviewers moderate their language to avoid upsetting the authors? What use are reviews to readers, if no low ratings only means that those who didn’t like the book aren’t telling? This book does not offer definitive answers, but it does look at options and their repercussions. And most importantly, it does model a way to deal with such situations with the least amount of upset.

That’s what you’ll get from this book: a way to handle the difficult people in your life packaged in a heart-warming and inspiring story. This book is more than just a novel; I draw on my many years of meditation study and practice to provide Prunella with realistic and practical ‘solutions’ to her problems. As always, I write ‘real magic’. The magic in my magical realism is a very real way of working with your mind that makes you strong in the face of adversity.

And that is just one strand of this multi-layered book!

Description:

Worlds_Final-WEB‘The barrier between the worlds shatters like the window. The beast is loose. My nightmare has become real. The guy has totally lost it. If he finds us here, we could die. No, I don’t doubt it; we will die.’

Author and editor Prunella Smith inhabits a multilayered reality. Physically, she lives in the Australian bush with her crazy cat Merlin. In her work world, she edits the love story of Kelee, a Magan Lord’s daughter, and in the cyber-world of social media, she’s subjected to slanderous attacks by a disgruntled author. To complicate matters further she sees things through the eyes of a Tibetan Yogi, has strange dreams and relives forgotten memories.

Separate worlds, interconnected and complementary, but can they help when Prunella becomes victim to a real life stalker and her sanity is threatened?

Worlds Within Worlds has a unique perspective on the nature of creativity. Its touch is light, its humour distinctive but it reaches deep into the nature of human experience.

Comments from readers:

 “This is riveting stuff, part magical realism dreamscape, part taut psychological thriller, and I was literally on the edge of my seat when the final twist—and what a twist it is—came around. Phew, what a ride! I can honestly say it is the best book I have read this year.” Frank Kusy, author of Rupee Millionaires.

 “This book will make you think. Considering the deluge of new works streaming from authors these days, that may be the highest praise a novel can receive.” Amy Spahn, literary critic.

“A fascinating insight into the mind of someone using meditative techniques to deal with stress.” Kevin Berry, Awesome Indies reviews.

Purchase outlets

Ebook

Kindle Stores

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

Apple stores

Smashwords

The paperback will be available from all outlets in early December.

Tahlia Newland, author of six books, including the award-winning Diamond Peak Series (AIA Seal of Excellence in Fiction and BRAG Medallion for Outstanding Fiction), writes heart-warming and inspiring magical realism and contemporary fantasy. She is also an editor and the coordinator of Awesome Indies Books, a website that accredits and showcases quality independent fiction.

Tahlia began writing full time in 2008 after twenty years in the performing arts and a five-year stint as a creative and performing arts teacher in a High School. She has had extensive training in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney with her husband and a cheeky Burmese cat, who features in most of her novels.

Thanks for being with us today Tahlia. Let me leave readers with a few questions for discussion.

Have you ever been bullied online or off? Do you post negative reviews, or do you find yourself hesitant to do so, even if a book deserves a low grade? How do you handle negative reviews?

Pre-orders, giveaways, and box sets

Riley swim classNovember…the time to give thanks! PJ Sharon here, and it’s been a crazy busy month–what with editing HEALING WATERS, finishing up my Christmas novella, and taking my sweetpea to baby swim classes. Have I mentioned that I LOVE being a grammy?

The good news is that everything is coming together. HEALING WATERS, book three in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, is now available for pre-order and set for release December 23rd!

For those of you who can’t wait for this final installment, I’m offering a Goodreads Giveaway of three signed copies (Giveaway starts tonight at midnight). Enter below between Nov. 13-Dec. 15th, or pre-order it now to make sure you have the ebook before Christmas!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Healing Waters by P.J. Sharon

Healing Waters

by P.J. Sharon

Giveaway ends December 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Box set coverSpeaking of Christmas, I’m putting together this nifty box set. Sami’s Christmas Wish List (a brand spankin’ new 30k novella) ties together all the characters from Heaven is for Heroes, On Thin Ice, and Pieces of Love in one heartwarming Christmas story. Since all the girls hale from the same fictitious CT lake town, the box set is aptly named The Girls of Thompson Lake. I’ll be sure to let you know when it will be on sale!

I guess that’s it for now. Back to work. But don’t think I won’t be enjoying the Thanksgiving pie this month. I’m grateful for countless blessings, as always…family time and pie nearing the top of the list.

What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving?

Audiobooks

Good day, PJ Sharon here, coming to you from the snow-carpeted Berkshires. The first snow fall is always so pretty.  First snow picI have a couple of questions for all of you. Do you listen to audiobooks? How do you listen to them? And where do you find them? Best seller’s lists? Specific authors/narrators you love to read/hear? Let’s chat.

I’ll confess that I’ve only listened to a few audiobooks–and always in the car with a tangible CD (or 29 CD’s as is the case for OUTLANDER  which I’ve listened to five times). I’m afraid I haven’t made the leap to the next technological step in the evolution of how we read books and hear stories–digital audiobooks. As in–downloaded them onto my i-pod touch or my android phone, or listened to them directly from my computer. As hard as I try, I’m still resistant to learning/using new technology.

I often feel as if I’m being dragged forcibly into the future. I’m trying not to scream too loudly about it since I know that many people are having great success with audiobook sales. According to the world of publishing, audiobooks are in. Bob Mayer admits to having spent over $35,000 having all of his books turned into audiobooks, and I know Bella Andre thinks they are as untapped a market as the foreign marketplace. I’m pretty sure their audiobooks are selling…I’d love to ask them.

Personally, I’m not seeing it. Maybe because I’m not on any best sellers lists or because I’m not out “finding my audience” as diligently as is needed, but I don’t see my readers buying audiobooks. Whenever I mention that my book is available on audio, I’m asked where they can buy the CD so they can listen to it in their car. Um…sorry…no CD. These are friends and family I’m talking to, however–the folks like me who are always one step behind the latest tech trend. No problem, you say. You write books for teens, and teens in general are glued to the latest and greatest electronic devices. Surley, they must be listening to audiobooks. But once again, they don’t have the buying power of adults. And let’s face it, none of them is likely to spend $17.95 on a digital download of a book unless it’s someone they really want to read/hear.

When I decided to dabble in the realm of audiobooks, I figured I would start with a book that had universal appeal. Many adult readers loved HEAVEN IS FOR  HEROES for it’s sweet military romance, family drama and Thanksgiving theme. It seemed like the right story for an audiobook audience.HeavenisforHeroes_audiobookcover (2013_06_07 00_53_00 UTC)

You can hear a sample of Erin Mallon’s awesome narration of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES here. Just click on the little “listen” arrow beneath the cover picture on the sales page.

With companies like ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), it’s much easier for authors to have professionally produced and fabulously narrated audiobooks. ACX offers two plans. You can either pay up front, which will likely cost you between $1,500-2,000, depending on the length of your book (mine was 78,000 words and would have cost me $1,000). Or you can do a 50/50 royalty share, where you pay an upfront cost (usually half) and then split the royalties until the complete cost of production is paid and I’ve sold a certain number of copies, at which time, my royalty rate increases.. Basically, I paid $500 for an awesome narrator who I found on the ACX site, and I split the royalties. It comes out to a nice little chunk of the $17.95 per copy price through Amazon, Audible, or i-tunes. If you want to read more about ACX and how it all works, the WG2E has several excellent posts here.

On the consumer’s side, If you’re an avid audiobook fan and decide to become an Audible Member, which is around $14.95/month, you’d get the $17.95 price point OR you can use the 1 Credit you get each month and download the book for FREE–or even gift it to someone else. You can also purchase the file from Amazon and get it FREE with a 30-day Audible Trial Membership.

Now, the other difficulty I find with audiobooks is getting people to review them. I don’t know if people who have bought the book have downloaded it and simply haven’t listened to it yet, or if they aren’t inclined to leave reviews on audiobooks. Either way, I can’t even give a copy away to get an honest review. ACX provides five free download codes to give out to reviewers or as giveaways, but finding reviewers for audiobooks seems to be a bit of a challenge. It’s a market that is getting increasingly flooded and some reviewers are backlogged for months. If anyone is willing to listen and review the book, I’d be happy to gift you a copy along with instructions on how to download from Audible, Amazon, or i-tunes. All I ask in return is that you give it an honest review.

If anyone has any suggestions on where’s a good place to market audiobooks or how I can get some reviews, I’m wide open! I’ve even tried to join a Goodreads group of romance audiobook reviewers, but those groups are pretty persnickety about authors promoting themselves. If you aren’t part of the discussion every day, it’s not really cool to just jump in and ask for reviews. And since I hang around mostly with the characters in my head and not the characters on Goodreads, I haven’t found an “in”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks. Questions are cool too–if you’re wondering about the process or have questions about working with ACX. I’d be happy to answer them. Have a lovely day!

Sweet Gratitude is My Favorite Attitude! by Author Jan Nash

Thanks for the blog invite to The Seven Scribes, Katy! It’s great to be here. My debut novel, POWERLESS CONSENT, is available at: (Amazon, B&N, and SMP) Pop over to my website www.janetnash.com for details on my book. Here’s a little hint: You’ll never talk on your cell phone the same!

Sweet Gratitude is My Favorite Attitude!

I decided to skip the standard author Q and A and chat about Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.

So…Thanksgiving night, just before I slipped into my jammies and bellied up to my laptop, a flash of indigestion reminded me of how much I’d eaten. Turkey smothered in gravy, sweet potato casserole, crescent rolls slathered in butter, pecan pie…oh what a feast. Did I mention the second piece of pecan pie? Though decadent and yummy, my dancing taste buds weren’t the highlight of my Thanksgiving. What I savored most was spending dedicated time in gratitude. Ah, sweet gratitude is my favorite attitude.

Hubby and I make an extra effort to spotlight all our blessings during the Thanksgiving season. It’s become a treasured tradition. We focus on the simple, yet joyous things we normally take for granted and try to come up with creative ways to bless others. Here’s one…I’m so blessed to own an oven. I can bless a neighbor or friend by baking cookies. An added bonus is that a few cookies manage to fill my cookie jar. For me, focusing on how blessed I am always ignites a sense of fulfillment and serenity. And that night was no exception.

It didn’t take long for my happy thoughts to be interrupted by another Black Friday commercial. The chatter actually started around November 1st.  Surely, you’ve heard all the buzz. Super sales, blowout prices, save up to 80%; stores open at noon Thanksgiving Day. All I could think about was what happened to celebrating and giving thanks with family and friends?  Don’t get me wrong, Christmas shopping rocks and who doesn’t like a great bargain? But couldn’t it wait until early Friday morning? I still wanted to savor the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

I didn’t want to end my favorite holiday as a Debbie Downer, so I started thinking of what would add to the Thanksgiving spirit. I know. A smile splashed across my face. What if instead of calling it Black Friday, we tagged it Blessed Friday, and spent the day blessing others instead of spending money? Oh, I liked that idea. Personally, I’m not a super shopper, so the Blessed Friday concept sang to my soul.

Either way, shop till you drop or pay it forward, I’m staying in the zone of my attitude of sweet gratitude.

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to blog!

Readers: What are you grateful for?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of my book, Powerless Consent.

 
 
 
Katy Lee here: Jan, you sure have blessed me with your post today! You put in words how I have felt all week.  I used to work in retail and the term “Black Friday” was thrown around by the back-office managers trying to make sure they didn’t end in the red for the year. It has since become a publicly used term and now an annual event, usurping the day President Lincoln deemed a special day to remember all of our blessings. It seems only right to spend the next day paying those blessings forward.

Jan, I am so excited to have you part of the Soul Mate Publishing family! Welcome!

And READERS: Don’t miss Jan’s latest book, Powerless Consent. Don’t you just LOVE the cover? Check it out here.

Powerless Consent

Kate Ballard thinks attending a gala on a luxury yacht honoring her old college friend will be the time of her life, but secret cell phone video threats to her family’s safety, and a hidden sniper force her into a world of deception and lies. Can her faith erase such horror? Though powerless, she relentlessly tries to outsmart her captor and return to the love of her life.

Her husband, Tom, refuses to accept his wife’s decision to leave and discovers that he must revisit his past. With the help of an unlikely ally, he finds evidence of theft and murder tucked away in an old storage locker. When his investigation starts to uncover the truth, he struggles with whom to believe. Will he trust his heart, or the deception before his eyes? One thing’s for sure, nothing can stop him from reuniting his family, not even a force as great as Invisible Surveillance.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, darlings! Suze here, writing to you from the deck of my cabin in the woods. I woke in time to see the sunrise over the lake. A flock of ducks just came in for a landing on the water below me. A bald eagle just flew past (I never, ever fail to be thrilled, no matter how many times I see them!). And if I’d remembered to set up the coffeepot last night, I’d be enjoying a cup right now, making it pretty much a perfect morning. We make our own electricity here and must be frugal with what we have, so it’s an old-fashioned top-of-the-woodstove percolator for us–no Keurig machine!

I have so much to be grateful for, more this year than most, perhaps. So I’m making a Thanksgiving resolution: to live more mindfully and to practice gratitude in some form every day.

That being said, I’m thankful for all of you, my friends!

Now that the mushy stuff is over, how about a no-longer-secret recipe? I make my Black Friday stew every … Black Friday! I’ve never shopped on Black Friday, and don’t intend to (except maybe once as a bucket list kind of thing). It takes a while, but it’s easy, and it’s a great way to use up leftovers.

SUZE’S BLACK FRIDAY STEW

Pick as much meat as you can off the turkey frame and refrigerate the meat. Get a big stock pot and put the frame in the pot, breaking it up if you need to. Toss in the wing tips, and any other bones that people didn’t gnaw on (legs, thigh, wings), as well as a quartered onion, a couple of bay leaves, a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, and a parsnip if you have one. Fill the pot about 2/3 full with water, cover, and put the pot on the stove. (I make mine on a woodstove here at the cabin). Bring the water almost to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for several hours. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Strain out all the solids, discard, and return broth to the pot. (I find it works well to use two strainers—one with larger holes nested inside one with finer mesh).

Now comes the fun part. Add in:

-2 cans of cream of celery/mushroom/chicken soup, undiluted, or a combination of soups

-3 cans of creamed corn

-Leftover mashed potatoes

-Leftover gravy

-Leftover corn (or a can of corn, drained)

Stir to combine, and heat through (10 or 15 minutes is plenty). A few minutes before serving, add leftover turkey and heat for a couple more minutes.

Ladle into big bowls, and serve with a green salad and a loaf of French bread (I’m a fan of the Pillsbury French bread, the kind that comes in a tube in the refrigerator section).  Don’t forget leftover pie for dessert.

This feeds a crowd! If you don’t have a crowd, freeze the rest. It’s nice to pull out a tub of homemade soup for a quick supper or lunch on a cold winter day.

Have a wonderful day!

I Want Candy. . . Candy Dot Scarf Giveaway

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

The Winner of the candy dot scarf is – Alli-cat Sharron!! Congratulations Alli-cat! I will contact you through e-mail.

Don’t forget to visit me at my website before 2/13/12. I’m participating in a blog hop – Romancing the Valentine Giveaway hop. I’ll be giving away an e-book of Mystic Ink.

But don’t leave yet. Or you’ll miss the fun giveaway here.

I have two favorite holidays.

My first favorite is Thanksgiving. The other is Valentine’s Day. Or as I like to think of it – Chocolate Day!

Seriously, even if you don’t love chocolate, I bet you like candy of some kind.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, I have crocheted a candy dot scarf. And I am giving it away to one lucky commentor (open to US residents only).

In case you’re wondering what the heck is a candy dot scarf and why would I want one, remember those little tiny dot candies? The ones on the white paper? Pink, yellow and blue?

I think candy dots are the closest I’ve ever come to intentionally eating paper. You know, in all fairness, it’s kinda hard not to eat the paper.

Anyway, back to the scarf. I crochet and knit things when I want a break from writing. Or when I’m avoiding an unpleasant chore like creating a synopsis or query letter.

But I don’t just craft to avoid writing. Sometimes I pick up knitting needles or a crochet hook to let my mind wander and think about something other than writing.

I made a candy dot scarf for myself last January and ever since I’ve had several offers to buy it.

I did not invent this pattern (nor have I ever sold my scarf). Twinkie Chan deserves all the credit. If you like this scarf, you can find the pattern and many other yummy food themed scarves in her book – Twinkie Chan’s Crochet Goodie for Fashion Foodies.

As you can tell from the book cover, many delights await you inside. Don’t send me hate mail, if you find yourself in a crochet frenzy. I’ve made several of the scarves and they’re a lot of fun.

Yes, this could be yours…

So who wants a candy dot scarf? What is your favorite sweet confection? And what fun thing do you like to do when procrastinating or taking a break?

Reminder the drawing is open to US residents only and you must comment to be entered. And don’t forget to visit me at my website before 2/13/12 to enter for a chance to win an e-book of Mystic Ink –  Romancing the Valentine Giveaway hop.

A Tale of Two Turkeys

Happy Thursday again, and Happy First Day of December, you wonderful Scribe fans!  Suze here.  It’s great to see you all again after the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Before we get to the “meat” of this post, some business.  If you’re a writer and you haven’t entered CTRWA’s Write Stuff contest, what are you waiting for?  There are still a few days left.  First prize in each category is a hundred bucks, which you know you want.  Go for it!  Click here for details.

Now, I know you’re all dying to find out what happened last Thursday at my mom’s house.  Remember?  The turducken?  Click here for a link to last week’s post so you can get yourselves up to speed if you missed it.

Mr. Suze and our son and I spent the morning at our remote woodland cabin, alternately watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and an awe-inspiring trio of bald eagles circling not too far overhead — two golden brown juveniles and an adult with a snowy white head and tail.  Once the parade and the aerobatics show were over, we headed over to Mom’s.

She wasn’t home.   We knew she wouldn’t be there yet, because she was doing volunteer work at her church.  So we brought in the box of turducken, and I set about preparing it for cooking.  Hmmm. A frown creased my forehead.  A distinctive aroma permeated the kitchen, and it wasn’t coming from my still-raw Turducken.  A tiny orangey light caught my eye.  Not a Faulknerian Light in August, but a very suspicious Light in the Oven.

I investigated further.  I strode to the oven.  I threw open the door.  A blast of hot air hit me in the face as I discovered — you guessed it — a 20 pound turkey, skin brown and crispy, hissing poultry steam from the vent holes in the old blue enamelware roaster pan.

Nearly four hundred years of family Thanksgiving tradition simply could not be denied.  Mr. Suze just shook his head.

I pulled out the cooked bird and replaced it with the turducken, prepared according to the package directions (leave it in the cooking bag and place on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven).  Mom came in the door shortly afterward.

“Oh, good,” she said.  “My turkey’s done.”  She had the grace to look a little sheepish (pardon my mixing of farm animals here).  “I had to cook the turkey.  Ooh, is that the turducken?”

She never did say why she “had” to cook the turkey.  Was it because the turkey was about to spoil and “had” to be cooked?  (unappetizing, but entirely possible)  Or was she simply compelled by a force greater than herself to cook that bird on the fourth Thursday of November?  The world may never know.

As for the turducken, reviews were mixed.  Like most prepared foods, this bizarre hybrid concoction was overly salty, or at least the rice stuffing was.  Maybe a “homemade” turducken would be better, but I can tell you that personally I will not be deboning and stuffing three birds anytime soon.  The turkey layer was judged to be fine.  The duck layer was generally not hated, but not really liked.  As for the chicken core, it tasted pretty much like the turkey layer, which is probably why chicken and turkey are never mixed together in recipes.

The other turkey ended up being sliced up for sandwiches the next day, and I made my famous Black Friday Stew with the carcass.  (I’ll give you that recipe soon).

What about you?  Do you have habits that you just can’t break, no matter how hard you try?  Inquiring Scribes want to know!