#MarchMadness Through the Eyes of a Writer #amreading #books

Hello & Welcome!

Three things come to mind when I think about the month of March: St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, Spring Break at the beach, and March Madness—the road to the Final Four!

Growing up in Southern Indiana, March was all about basketball. So I thought I’d have a little fun and fill out my brackets using a book to go along with each team. I put this together before the tournament started. These books have something to do with the state or region the basketball team is from. If watching college basketball isn’t really your thing, you can always dig into a good book. Here are a few of my favorites.


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Let’s take a closer look at each bracket…

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Decisions, decisions!

If you’ve ever tried to find the best recipe for Shepard’s Pie, you’ll understand how much time it takes to find the right one for you and your family.



Some use ground beef, or a mixture or ground beef and lamb, while other recipes use roast beef.

Most of the ones I’ve found have different herbs and spices, so it’s a toss-up. Some use only mashed potatoes on top, others use a biscuit dough crust.

So…I’ve decided on the recipe using roast beef. For now. Once the family tries it, I may go back to the original which uses ground beef. Crust or no crust? Mashed potatoes seem to be the norm. Guess what I’ll try first?

It’s worth a shot since it’s a great comfort food dish.

Here’s one recipe I’ve found for Shepard’s Pie using ground beef. https://youtu.be/JTFAUoABDR4  

Here’s another using lamb. https://youtu.be/TsrTU3CJn2

If you have a good Shepard’s Pie recipe, would you care to share a link?

 In the meantime, I’m finishing up taxes and writing on my next Christmas novel. “The Christmas Stocking” involves loss of a child and what could happen if you rethink your life and open your heart. 

I know, I know. Taxes and Christmas don’t mix and Christmas is a long way off, but not when the story has to be written, edited and rewritten.

Please check out these links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html


I wish you Butterflies, Music and Love

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How We Met

romantic kissFor a long time, I was embarrassed to admit how I met my husband. I thought the method I used to find a mate sounded desperate. But after nearly 20 years of marriage, what does it matter? It’s time to fess up. Now I am only bemused that we’ve known each other since before the advent of online dating. Back then, we used a telephone dating service.

I’d been single for a while when my married friend introduced me to Telepersonals. I wasn’t seriously hoping to meet my soul mate through this service, but it was free for women (only men had to pay) so I figured, why not?

The first guy I went out with turned out to be a jerk who wouldn’t let me out of his car before I kissed him goodnight. I intended to be more cautious before trying again. Then John’s greeting message grabbed me. His voice stood out from the rest, with his smooth English accent. He said he liked classical music, travel and international cuisine. I thought he sounded sophisticated. I was intrigued.

We exchanged a few messages and arranged to meet for drinks. I took my friend with me for safety. When I saw him, I thought he was cute, with his neat dark hair and kind hazel eyes. But at first I wasn’t sure we had any chemistry. He seemed to have more in common with my friend, whose parents came from England. They reminisced about Polo mints and Flake bars while I sat back shyly.

After that first meeting, he called me right away and said he’d like to see me again. I decided to give him another chance. We met at an Elvis-themed restaurant for dessert—alone this time. That’s when the sparks flew. Talking to him was easy, and he was gentle and interesting. He showed me pictures of his family. He loved cats and 1950s and 60s music, just like me. I was smitten. And the rest is history! We’ll celebrate our 20th anniversary this August.

How did you meet your significant other, and how long have you been together?

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A New Novella ~ Raine English

I tend to get more writing done in winter than any other time of year. And this year has been no exception. Living in New England where it’s cold and snowy, who wants to go outside? Even my dogs want to stay snuggled up in their beds. Most of my time is spent in my office working on my books, and even though I feel like a hermit, I love what I do.

I recently finished FROM NOW ON, a sweet contemporary romance set in Atlanta. It’s available for pre-order and will release on April 24th.

From Now On Graphic5

Who says love’s sweeter the second time around?

When Whitney Adams discovers her first love is back in Atlanta, she can’t help but wonder if they might have a second chance at love. But after she learns there’s more to his kisses than wanting to rekindle their romance, she isn’t about to let her heart rule.

Cash Galloway has never forgotten his high school sweetheart, so when he might have another chance with her, he’s elated. However, his happiness is short lived once he discovers his new dream job involves acquiring Atlanta Belles—Whitney’s popular salon and spa. Will Cash lose the perfect woman a second time, or will love prevail?

Preorder FROM NOW ON today at the following retailers for just $0.99:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MTFXQ2N

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/from-now-on-raine-english/1125582062

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/from-now-on-11

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1200596315


 USA Today bestselling author Raine English writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, along with paranormal and romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist.

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St. Patrick Was a Scot

Like most epically wonderful things, St. Patrick was born in what we now refer to as Scotland in 387 A.D. Then, Scotland would have been known as Caledonia or Alba.


Patrick was taken when he was about 16 from his family estate by Irish pirates who took him to Ireland as a slave. He was put to work as a shepherd until he escaped 6 years later. It was during that time of isolation when he was said to have been visited by the voice of God.

Patrick spent the 15 years after his escape studying Christianity. He returned to Ireland as a priest, charged with tending the flock of Christians already in Ireland and converting those who practiced the native Irish earth-based religion.

Patrick is credited with incorporating and melding elements of that earth-based religion with Christianity. Recognizing the powerful symbol of the sun for native Irish people, he adopted that image, placed it on top of the Christian cross, and created what is known today as the “Celtic Cross”.imagesF4MPIOEP

Patrick was a vital missionary in Ireland for the next 40 years.

We celebrate the anniversary of his death on March 17, 460 A.D. as, “ST. PATRICK’S DAY”.


I’ll be spending mine in Toronto listening to the Irish rebel band, The Wolfe Tones, as I’ve done with my loved ones every year about this time, in celebration of all wonders of the CELTIC SOUL. St. Patrick~That wonderful Scot~had much to do with that.

Happy St.Patrick’s Day! May your Blessings by Many and your troubles be Few.




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Out of the Box Book Selling Ideas


By the way, Cicero died in 43 BC. So even if he was concerned about his books being noticed, he must have been successful to have his words carry on throughout the centuries. Most of us don’t really care about being quoted 2000 years in the future, but those of us in the writing gig would like our books to get a little attention.

If everyone is writing a book and Amazon is swimming in free and nearly free books, how can anyone find your book baby? I’m beginning to think we writers and wannabe booksellers need to start thinking outside of the box.

Writer friends, I would love to hear your out of the box book-selling ideas. Leave an idea in the comments, and feel free to post a buy link and a two sentence blurb about your book.

Reader friends, how do you find books?

I’ll come back tomorrow with ideas. Hopefully, I’ll find a few. Stay tuned….Kristy

Sign up for Kristy’s newsletter here

free book 3

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Depression and Empathy – the writer connection

The views in this post are solely my own and are in no way a scientific or medical paper. –Jill

Go to any writers group loop, bulletin board, or meeting and you will find a plethora of ailments; mental and physical. I don’t think it is a coincidence that writers suffer from a host of illnesses that I do not find in my non-writer family and friends.

I believe the connection is empathy. The better the writer, the more empathy they contain. Or that could be vice-versa. We don’t just write words. We write people. We write feelings. We have to feel the feelings to write them.

When you read a story with a character who had their heart ripped out, know that the writer got inside that character’s skin. She lived that moment, she felt that moment. She could tell you every nuance of the heart-ripping time.

Belinda pressed her hand to her chest as if it would stop the breaking of her heart. She gasped, the air trapped in her lungs. Gray hovered at the edge of her vision. If she could just hold on for a few more moments it wouldn’t happen. Is she could just turn back time and unhear the words from his lips. He didn’t mean them. He couldn’t mean them. If they didn’t drum in her head until she tried to rip them from her brain. He was leaving her. The thought pinned her in the middle of the room like a statue as the slamming door ripped a picture from the wall and it crashed to the floor. The glass shattered like the jagged edges of her heart. If she moved the pieces would cut through her ribs. She fell to the floor, her knees cracking on the tile. It would be hours before she knew she wasn’t dead, she just wished she were.

Been there, done that, have the T-shirt to prove it.

Empathy is great to write a story, it isn’t so great to wallow in day after day. I cry at Hallmark commercials. I can’t even watch a Hallmark Lifetime movie. To this day, I swear they were produced to rip my heart to shreds. I cry at happy movies. I cry at sad movies. I wear my heart on a sleeve. Sometimes it is so painful to FEEL everything, all the time. I have a friend who wonders where I put them all. That is why I really feel that writers suffer from so much mental anguish and all the ailments that accompany it. We need those emotions to put into our writing. We can’t just turn them off. They are with us, 24/7.

So, next time you are reading a book or watching a movie and the emotion overwhelms you, know that the writer is right there with you, feeling every tear, every laugh, every emotion on the page before you did.

Enjoy the read–tears and all!  Jill James





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