Sunday Dinner Tickets in Small Towns by Pepper Phillips

When you live in a small town in Louisiana, you will be approached to buy a Sunday dinner ticket.

It’s usually Civic Organizations, Churches, Special Interest Groups and the meals are generally the same.

BBQ Chicken, and/or Pork. dirty rice, baked beans and coleslaw. A slice of white bread or maybe a roll and that’s dinner.

Every now and then there are fried catfish dinners. You might get French fries with that or maybe not.

The dinner comes in a white plastic plate with a folded cover, which they ask local businesses to donate. They also ask for donations of all the ingredients.

Cost?  The price has gone up through the years and is generally $7 or $8 dollars apiece.

Every now and then you get really lucky and can get a piece of cake to go with it.

There are a few food establishments where you can purchase a Sunday Dinner in the same method.

Generally the food is delicious, and sometimes it’s not.

If you own a business, the ticket sellers will hit you up first.  We have Sunday Dinners for ten for one day in August.

The dinners are generally generous, so I will strip the plates, keep what we like and toss anything or add ingredients to make it what we like.

There’s nothing better than dirty rice with added eggplant, which I have frozen in the freezer.

Dirty rice…it’s a staple in Louisiana.

dirty riceHere’s a good recipe from Paula Deen.

In my books, I try to give the flavor of Louisiana and what we really eat. I hate it when I go somewhere and see a dish marked “Cajun” only to realize it’s something I’ve never heard of or seen. It’s false advertising and I generally tell the restaurant that they got it all wrong.  Sure we like our food with a touch of kick, but throwing hot sauce on everything isn’t it.  It’s the flavor that counts.

For my book Naomi’s Heart, I took several recipes for White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce and came up with my own.  Men Love It!!!  I love it.  And it’s easy to make.  If you want to try some delicious goodness, check it out:  White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Naomi’s Heart is a romance for the mature woman…something truly different that is set in Boggy Bayou. It’s available at Amazon, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.

“Pepper Phillips clearly understands the customs, cuisine and conversation of the Deep South, with the first novella in her Boggy Bayou Series. Naomi’s Heart portrays the developing romance of an older couple, who prove that age has nothing to do with love.  Ms. Phillips’ obvious knowledge of Southern culture is highly entertaining and informative, and along with her endearing and well-developed characters, leave the reader reluctant to leave the world she’s created.”

 

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5 Tips for Writing a Quotable Book Review by Stephanie Queen

Myren

Myren the ChauffeurHello to all you readers out there in book-lovers land! Stephanie Queen checking in with a big fat WELCOME TO THE AUTHORS OF MAIN STREET BLOG! Myren, my chauffeur says hello too.

I know, I know—it’s been a while since I’ve contributed to the Authors of Main Street blog, but I blame that all on Myren [It’s in his job description—Chauffeur: Takes the fall for any and all issues, problems, criticisms, and other assorted blamable things]

It’s true. Myren can be very distracting. He insists on driving around at least fifty miles a day so that I don’t have an excuse to cut his pay. I said fine—go take a long ride off a short pier and enjoy yourself. I’m smiling when I say it, I swear. But he insists I must ride along with him in the back of the limo to make it official. (I thought of buying one of those blow up dolls to throw in the back seat, but I was too shy distressed appalled amazed flummoxed whatever to go on that website where they sell blow up dolls).

Seriously though, Myren is absolutely a nut case pain in the invaluable—I absolutely do don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s a devilish big mouth darling and more annoying than a bees nest in the ground after you just ran over it with your lawn mower worth his weight in gold. (In case you’re wondering, I told him I’d be more supportive) (Don’t tell him about the blame thing above).

We’re all here—by “here” I mean at Authors of Main Street—because we LOVE reading books. It’s our thing—among other things of course, but I wasn’t going to go into all those other things right now in the middle of this blog post—even though Myren is right now dictating a list of other things he’d rather do—did I mention the man is incorrigible a delight?

So where was I? Oh, yes—Books! We love them, some we especially adore. When that happens, dear readers, I would encourage you to write up a review of said adorable book and share your love with the world. But maybe you’re too shy distressed appalled amazed flummoxed whatever to write a review.

This is your lucky day! I have 5 tips to help you write a fabulously quotable review!

  1. Do not use cliches.

For an example of a cliche, see above where I say “worth his weight in gold”. An example of a cliche from a book review would be something like “full of twists and turns” or “kept me up all night”. Rather, think of how refreshing it would be if you said honestly, “I couldn’t keep my eyes open even though I really wanted to, so I fell asleep in the middle of page seven and then dreamed about the story all night. What a dream inspiring book that was!”

  1. Do use inventive words. The thesaurus is your friend. For an example of an inventive word, see above where I say “flummoxed”.  An example of an inventive word in a review would be “popped”.
  1. Do use metaphors and analogies—inventive ones.

For an example of an inventive analogy see above where I said the thing about the bees nest and the lawn mower.   An example of an inventive analogy in a book review would be “characters who come alive like Pop Rocks and carbonated beverages”

  1. Do NOT include spoilers, no matter how tempting it is.

An example of a tempting spoiler in a review would be “Darth Vader revealed that Luke was his son.” (No, this is not from an actual review—but it could be. It would be tempting to throw it in there, right?)

  1. Always be honest.
  1. Do say something positive—at least one little thing, no matter how small a point it might be. (NOTE: If you can’t do both #5 and #6, then perhaps you should reconsider writing this review. Remember, I said we’re book LOVERs not HATERs!)

An example of an honest, yet positive small point from a book review is: “catchy title”.

  1. Have fun with it! Here’s an example of a fun-loving reviewer having fun:

“Reading Queen is an absolutely scrumptious experience. Readers will fall in love, get heated, laugh and have an energizing adventure. The story has sublime settings, smooth writing that melds into a well-developed plot and characters who come alive like Pop Rocks and carbonated beverages” –from Romantic Times Book Review on Playing the Game

Now go forth and write pithy glittering reviews that could fly with the cow over the moon! (Was that too over the top?)

Umm. Myren tells me none of this is helpful to him for writing reviews—except the part about the thesaurus.

I said to Myren, “So? You didn’t think I was going to write a straight “how to” post did you?

Then he said…

NOTE: The argument went on far too long to encapsulate here. For more about the travails of being driven crazy by a recalcitrant cranky chauffeur, you might pop into Stephanie Queen’s website at www.StephanieQueen.com and sign up for her newsletter for a free Myren the Chauffeur story!

Losing Weight!

I am always looking for new diets or special tricks to lose weight and get rid of my belly fat.

My bookcase shelters a variety of books on the subject.

The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston, M.D.
Mayo Clinic on Healthy Weight
Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello
The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley

Over the years I tried the Weight Watcher diet: I lost ten pounds and put back fifteen;
Quick Weight Loss: I lost thirty pounds and put back thirty-five;
Atkin diet–I lost five pounds and put back six.

Five years ago, I hired a private trainer at the gym. After four months of supervised exercise, I transformed ten pounds of fat into eleven pounds of muscles.

But I learned a few good tips:

Blackberries are great for your skin: eating a cup a day can make you look five years younger.
Grapes are a fat blaster. Eating two cups a day can make you shed four pounds in a month.
A bowl of raspberry can chase away tiredness in twenty minutes. Blueberries keep you mentally sharp.
Strawberries can keep blood sugar steady. Pumpkin seeds contain a high amount of zinc and increase your immunity.

I spend eight to ten hours a day sitting in front of my computer and developed an ugly fat belt where my slim waist used to be. Am I a desperate case?

Are you able to control your weight? Any advice?

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PRIORITIES

We traveled to the part of North Carolina, that rests in the foothills of the Appalachian, Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, last weekend for a family reunion.

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Isn’t life all about family? I think so. Warmly greeting old friends, celebrating new life, renewing friendships with family we hadn’t seen in a while. Pausing for a quiet moment to celebrate our loved ones we were gifted to love and share their journey, who are no longer with us. We are blessed God loaned them to us. I can’t imagine not ever having them in my life.

Being in the mountains where the air is cleaner, cooler and stimulating, renews my spirit like no other. Okay, maybe the beach! So it’s a toss-up between the two. There’s such a different reaction though between the mountains and a beach, at least for me. Mountains restore that sensation of relaxation and oneness with nature. Enormous trees that whisper as the movement of breezes flow through them. Babbling brooks, and that child in you when you find a hidden trail you simply have to sneak away and follow, and then seek its ending.

The beach is invigorating. The moment I see the shimmer of the sun’s rays dance across the waves, my heart swells.

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I can’t wait to dig my toes in the sand, breath in the salty air, take an early morning walk and search out seashells. Children to build sand castles with. A long walk on the beach with a loved one.

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Waiting for the guys to come back from their fishing trip, catch in hand. We know there will be a huge fish fry in the future. Ahhh…there isn’t anything like the beach.

My newest book due out sometime in August or September 2015, LOVING LEXI, set in a small fishing Texas town, is a Contemporary Romance.

Here’s a short excerpt:

Tyler did his best to reject thoughts of the blonde haired, Lexi from his mind, but the push hadn’t helped. She lingered still. Her scent and beauty was still wrapped inside his head.

The fishing charter Tyler had taken out this morning had caught their limit before noon. He was thankful because the heat that bore down on them, even with the breezes, was unbearable. One young boy had gotten sick not long after they’d shoved off, but there was nothing he could do but make him comfortable. Later, he’d found out the boy had forgotten to take anything for motion sickness. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but one Tyler was accustomed to dealing with.

After he’d showered and changed, Tyler went in search of Lexi. She couldn’t be too hard to find in this town. He knew which car Ted had loaned her, so if she were still in town, that would make the search easier. Why he should care, hadn’t made any sense, because Lexi was none of his business, but he wanted to make sure she was doing okay. Why he sensed the need to protect her was none of his business either. But he did.

Tyler cranked the car, and flipped the air conditioner on high. Out of habit, he slid an Anne Murray CD in the player, and then adjusted the volume. Wouldn’t you know the first song would be his late wife’s favorite song, “Could I Have This Dance?” That old queasy plunge inside his stomach kicked in, and prompted him to tap off the CD.

It wasn’t bad enough that every waking moment filled him with her memories, but certain events sparked an unbearable state of mind. Her death had been over a year ago. So far nothing had eased the pain or helped him find some closure with her death. It was time he came to grips with her death. If only he didn’t feel so guilty that he’d taken her out on the boat that fateful day. The storm had come up so suddenly, the waves so high and ravaging, his wife was gone in an instant. Tyler sucked in a deep breath and let out slowly.

How he would accomplish ridding himself of the nightmares of that day, was beyond him. But he would. He prayed he could, for his own peace of mind. At times, the grief was unbearable. He wasn’t sure if he could endure a lifetime of merciless grief.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can find links on my website for all My Books

Regrets – I’ve Had a Few

This summer, Indie Artist Press has Eastport Bindup Kindle Cover Jpgreleased all three books in my Eastport Series (Secret Vow, Kiss the Bridesmaid, Forever Your Valentine) in a set called A Homecoming in Eastport. These contemporary romances involve three friends in the fictional town of Eastport, Ontario.

In Book 1, Secret Vow, Brooke has kept a terrible secret for 18 years. As she falls in love with Ian, she realizes that revealing what she knows might mean losing him forever. On the other hand, she can’t live with herself if she doesn’t try to set things right.

Brooke’s predicament leads me to the topic of regrets, and how they can torment us if we let them. How often have you looked back on decisions you’ve made in the past and thought, “If only I’d done that differently …”?

I’m the type who will stew about my mistakes for years, or even decades. Fortunately there are no tragic secrets or hidden crimes in my past to weigh on my conscience. But there are many things I would have done differently, given a second chance. Now that I’m [mmmf] years old and maybe a little wiser, it’s easier to look back and see where I went wrong.

To begin with, I wish I hadn’t let fear hold me back so often. How many opportunities did I miss?

I wish I hadn’t let pride interfere with relationships. Better to let things go instead of wasting time with arguments that don’t matter.

I wish I’d appreciated my grandparents more when they were alive, and taken time to ask more questions about their lives and our family history. I’m sure they had many stories to tell and life lessons to share. Now that they’re gone, it’s too late.

Maybe making a list of one’s regrets is a good way to let them go. Since it’s impossible to travel back in time and fix our mistakes, regrets are futile; all we can do is forgive ourselves, learn from our errors, and apply those lessons in the future.

Do you hold onto regrets, or are you able to let go of the past?

A Homecoming in Eastport is available at Amazon.

Leave Time for Joy by Joan Reeves

Cover of Heat Lightning by Joan ReevesI couldn’t decide between blogging about all the organizing and clutter elimination I’ve been doing or talk about this lazy summer that I’m enjoying. Perhaps I can do both.

By the way, since I have a new release coming out July 21, I had to show the cover here, but this post is not about my romantic suspense novella, it’s about. . .

Getting Organized

We’ve had so much going on this year that a lot of things just fell through the cracks. All these onerous tasks wouldn’t have taken much time if I’d done them when they needed doing. Now, it’s like climbing a mountain to take care of all these things from filing to finishing the print editions of my books.

Throw in updating copyright and ISBN files, publishing my subscription newsletters, updating various websites, and I am underwhelmed at the prospect of tackling these overwhelming tasks.

Help!

I decided I needed a refresher course in avoiding procrastination and managing my time and focus better, and I needed it now, not on New Year’s Eve when I make new resolutions. {LOL}

I pulled my copy of Time Management for the Creative Person: Right-Brain Strategies for Stopping Procrastination, Getting Control of the Clock and Calendar, and Freeing Up Your Time and Your Life by Lee Silber from my bookshelf.

I read this book several years ago when it first came out. In 2010, it was released again so it’s available to buy if you haven’t got a copy.

One of the quotes in the book stuck with me: “Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more effect of an economic well-being than any other single factor.” ~ Paul Hawken

This goes against all the “work hard, put in more hours, keep your nose to the grindstone” philosophy by which too many of us live.

Organizing and Finding Joy

So that’s what I’m doing, organizing, cleaning out clutter, doing all the necessary evil that an administrative assistant would do for me if I were rich lucky enough to have one. Most importantly though, I’m taking time every day to find the joy in the day whether it’s walking to the lake and watching the ducks or sewing that sundress I cut out last year or putting the top down on the car while I drive to the grocery store.

Giveaway

What do you do each day that makes you happy? Leave a comment with your email address written out and be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Heat Lightning: Romantic Suspense Novella (Outlaw Ridge, Texas Book 1).

Post Script

NY Times and USA Today bestselling romance author Joan Reeves lives her happily ever after with her husband in the Lone Star State. Her books, available as ebooks and audiobooks, all have the underlying theme that is her motto: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Readers, sign up for Joan’s email list. Writers, sign up for free newsletter, Writing Hacks. Find Joan at SlingWords, her blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Pink Hats

2015-07-15 15.25.26Well my lovelies, it’s been one heck of a year. I lost my dad, then my dog, and not to be outdone, my mother. Losing my dad was hard. His estate is still in play—not that he had much, but isn’t that always the case. Tomorrow, right after I push the button for my mother’s cremation, I meet with a realtor to list the home my father lived in.

My mom’s memorial service was held last evening, which seemed to me to be all kinds of backwards. But, I wasn’t given a say in when it was planned. It was a lovely service—one I’m sure she would have been happy with had she attended. Tomorrow, I will be the one to push the button for my mom, as I did for my dad; not to say goodbye, but to be there for her body’s last journey. It is important to me to show her that honor. My mother, being half Norwegian, also had a thing for Viking funerals (really), so this gift is even more apropos than it may otherwise appear.

So why the pink hat?

My mom was a flamboyant soul with many talents and many loves, among those loves was a passion for color. Color brought her joy. Color enhanced her life. Colorful describes her perfectly. I wore the same black dress for mom’s funeral as I did for my dad’s. It’s lovely, with pink flowers embroidered on sateen black with sweeping bright green stems. I painted my toenails vibrant pink, and used the same shade on all but two of my fingernails, which I painted the same verdant green as the green on my dress.

Then, I found my hat.2015-07-15 16.07.02

I went to three hat stores in two counties until I found the perfect iridescent pink derby hat. I’d already purchased a black and white hat that was lovely and would have been far more funeral appropriate, but I couldn’t help it, when I saw the lovely pink hat, I had to have it.

Some attendees raised a brow at the cotton-candy confection on my head. A few looked askance at my less than subtle display of nail color. Those who truly knew my mom’s soul smiled at me and grinned at the hat.

Mom would have loved it.

My dad was a country lawyer. My mom was a speech pathologist and special education administrator. They were both highly educated, multi-faceted people who loved life, people, and bad jokes. They were good parents. They were exceptional grandparents. Both laughed freely and often. Both took their work seriously. Neither took themselves seriously.

I will miss them both.

Both will live in my heart and in my children’s eyes.

My father was fond of saying: No One Gives You Tomorrow. He was right. That’s why I’m sporting a pink hat today, thankful that I’m here and that I have loved ones to hold.

2015-07-15 16.22.12May you dance when you can, love long and often, laugh at yourself and the vagaries of this wonderful life, and may you always chose the pink hat instead of the black one.

Slainte!

Leigh

or perhaps you’ll choose one like these

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