Saturday, December 30, 2017

Savvy Saturday: A Year in Review

Welcome back to Savvy Saturday! This week, we celebrate the coming New Year with a look back at all we have done in 2017. It's been a busy, but fun year, and we are happy we were able to share a bit of it with you.

New Publisher/Owner
This year we happily welcomed Cassiel Knight as the new publisher and owner of Champagne Book Group. Congrats Cassie!

1. Highland Promise by Mary McCall
2. Children of Neptune by Makenna Snow
3. Caves in the Rain by Bob Bickford
4. Smile and Walk Away by Danielle Riedel
5. Witch on Parole by Kay Latour

New Releases
Caves in the RainA bereaved father stumbles across evidence of an old murder and tries to find healing in bringing a child-killer to justice.
Fallen- She has seduced men everywhere…but never fallen in love. Until now.
Fortune Teller's Secret- A dead man on a Ferris wheel and a cold-case murder take Cavendish Brown into a world of carnival freaks, ghosts, and killers.
Penetrating the DarknessA kidnapped child, a young woman in charge of protecting her, a newly created vampire, and a city cast in darkness. Three innocent lives are about to change.
Murder on the Disoriented ExpressPrivate Eyeball Randy accepts an assignment to escort two harmless elves—an elderly maiden aunt and her niece— across the continent. Seems simple enough. If only.
Thin Ice- Can the truth unleash the past and set their hearts and minds free?
Elfin Nights- Nothing in the world of men or fae will keep this Knight from his duty...or his true loves.
Smile and Walk AwayDetective Duran thinks he’s searching for a missing woman. Little does he know he’s actually pursuing the last remaining evidence of a CIA cover up.
Love on Longboat Key- Over Christmas break, a sweet but shy copywriter must fight off her aggressive boss to win the heart of the CEO's son.
Children of Neptune- To save her family and her crown, Jet leaves the life she's known to uncover the plot to destroy everything she holds dear.
Take the Bai Road- Conspiracy. Cartels. Chaos.
Desperate Knight- No time... No options... No plan... No one said saving the world was easy.
Witch on ParoleWhen a woman tries to leave her dark world behind, she learns there is no escape from her past as it bleeds into her future. Can a Witch on Parole break free and forge a new path that includes a new famiiy...and love?
Midnight in MongoliaCan Doll find two kidnapped friends before they disappear into the wilds of the Gobi Desert?
Hot WaterCan Agent Sullivan repress his feelings for the woman he secretly loves and use her as bait to catch a serial killer?
Heart of the HolidayFive heartwarming tales of the season.
Under a Calico Moon- When everything you love has been taken, sometimes all you have left is revenge.
Cold Sweat- Can they conquer the mountains and the past in time to save Hope?

In Other News:
Brantwijn Serrah launched her design and author website. She also attended an Indie Author book signing in July.

KM Tolan attended four conventions and sold his books. He contracted a new book, Storm Child, and had a glass figurine made of his character Water from Siren's Song.

Children of Neptune, Elfin Nights, and Tracks all received cover awards from Affaire de Couer.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Unexpected: Duty Bound for Christmas by J.S. Marlo

The blindfold, snug around her head, soaked up Riley's tears.

As if he sensed her disappointment, Blythe took her hand into his and gently stroked her fingers. “It'll be all right, Shamrock. We'll still spend a memorable Christmas and we'll see the kids in a few days.”

An avalanche had closed the Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke, trapping Hunter on the wrong side of the snow dump, and an ice storm on the east coast had cancelled Rowan's connecting flight to Calgary. What should have been their first Christmas as a family on their new ranch had turned into heartbreak.

“I know...” Still, she would rather spend Christmas Eve alone with her husband at the ranch than surrounded by strangers. “Can we go back home and cuddle in front of the fireplace?”

Deep laughter reverberated inside the SUV. “It's tempting, but no.”

To cheer her up, Blythe had insisted on a road trip to a secret destination. After what felt like hours, he stopped and turned the engine off. A tender kiss brushed her lips then the blindfold loosened and fell onto her lap.

A snowy mountain covered with evergreen climbed into the clouds. In its fold rested a wooden building from where vapor mounted into the air.

“It's beautiful, Blythe. Where are we?”

“Banff.” He reached on the backseat for their gym bags. “Come.”

Her hand tucked into Blythe's glove and her bag slung over her shoulder, she strolled by his side. Teased by the wind, the snowflakes swirled in the cold air and pricked her cheeks. As they drew closer, voices and laughter leaped from the vapor, and a strong, acerbic odor tickled Riley's nose.

“Is that sulfur?” As she identified the chemical compound, understanding dawned on her. “Hot Springs?”

~ * ~

In the changing room, Riley searched her bag. Blythe had replaced her top, shorts, and runners with a towel and the teal bikini she'd bought on their Icelandic honeymoon in November. The purchase had been for her husband's eyes only, not to parade in public.

Around her, tourists wore old-fashioned bathing suits while chatting in foreign languages Riley didn't understand. To her relief, no one seemed to pay attention to her or her sexy attire.

A steamy tunnel sloping downward led to the thermal pool. As she advanced, the hot mineral water rose, encircling her ankles. Sporting blue and gray trunks, Blythe waited a few feet away.

He sought her hand, then her waist, pulling her into a loving embrace. “You're stunning.”

The door opened and the cold Canadian winter assailed her bare skin.

“This is amazing, Blythe.”

~ * ~

Riley sank to her neck into the water, and the blissful sigh escaping her lips warmed Blythe's heart. Christmas was all about love and family. Tears of sorrow didn't belong in her lovely green eyes.

He wrapped her in his arms and sat with her on his lap. A shield of vapor arched over their heads, transforming the falling snow into a warm mist. The tension of the day ebbed away as his wife relaxed against his chest. Leaning forward, he nibbled on her ear. Her wiggly response fueled his passion. “I love you, Shamrock.”

At the mercy of strong wind gusts, fog patches drifted across the water, enveloping the bathers. Taking advantage of the low visibility, Blythe ventured covert caresses over her bikini.

“You're not behaving,” she whispered against his neck, her fingers laced with his.

His skin tingled under her touch and he basked in the sensations she awoke. “You're impossible to resist.”

Silent laughter rippled through her body. “Will we spend the night in Banff?”

Had his efforts to give her a special Christmas failed, he would have entertained the idea. “No, we have a plane to catch.”

“We're flying?” A hint of panic had crept into her voice. “Where?”

He bestowed a feathery kiss in the crook of her neck. “If I tell you, it won't be a surprise.”

~ * ~

As Riley entered the Calgary airport, hope there might have been a last-minute seat available for Rowan or Hunter surged, only to crash when Blythe presented her with a boarding pass.

The destination stunned her. “We're flying to Winnipeg?”

“When Beth learned the kids couldn't come home until later this week, she invited us.” Blythe shared a close relationship with his sister Beth and her twin sons. That he'd want to spend Christmas with them shouldn't have come as a shock. After all, Christmas was all about spending time with loved ones.

Her disappointment bottled up, Riley smiled. “That's very sweet of her.”

During the flight, Blythe regaled her with childhood stories, and as she joined in with tales of her own, the memories of the past alleviated the ache in her heart. She might not be with her children, but they were present in her heart.

By the time the plane landed, she was eager to experience the magic of Christmas through the eyes of two rambunctious eight-year-old boys.

~ * ~

The smell of chocolate and cookie dough wafted into the vestibule, teasing Blythe's nose and empty stomach.

“I'm so glad you're here.” Beth smothered him and Riley with a long hug. “Noah and Adam are in the kitchen making cookies with their two little cousins.”

Eager to meet the visitors and taste their creation, Blythe pressed a hand to the small of his wife's back and directed her toward the clatters and laughter.

“You have four cookie monsters in your kitchen?” Riley's gorgeous eyes shone a darker shade of green. “Are you sure it's safe to enter?”

His sister looked at him with a knowing smile. Blythe owed her big for the many trips she made to the airport today.

“I promise to protect you from sticky fingers.” As he teased his wife, Blythe nudged her along. “This way.”

Riley stilled in the kitchen doorway.

A spatula clunked onto the floor, dropping chunks of cookie dough in its wake. His nephews squealed when Rowan and Hunter enveloped their mother in a bear hug.

Tears streamed down Riley's cheeks as she gazed lovingly at him over their children's shoulders. “Thank you.”

“Merry Christmas, Shamrock.”

~ * ~

Author’s note: "Unexpected: Duty Bound for Christmas" is a short story taking place between Unscripted (Duty Bound #1) and Unearthed (Duty Bound #2). I hope you enjoyed. Merry Christmas! XOX

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review of Love on Longboat Key by Kelli Keith

Book Review

Kelli Keith

December 17, 2017

Book Title:
Love on Longboat Key (The Keys to His Heart, Book 1)

Book Author:
Meg West

Date of Publication:
July 8, 2017

Number of Pages:

Main Characters:
Julie Joseph is a copywriter at Pilgrim Mutual Insurance in the wintery state of Massachusetts.

Thomas Briggs IV is an actuary at Pilgrim Mutual Insurance and the reluctant heir to the company

Other Important Characters:
Amanda “Mandy” Ford, the power and money hungry boss of Julie and former fiancé of Thomas.

Longboat Key/Sarasota, FL; present day.

Julie Joseph reluctantly escapes the brutal Massachusetts winter to spend a Christmas holiday with her parents in Florida. She arrives in the sunny clime as single woman on the verge of 30 with no prospects in sight. Everything changes on a fateful visit to the local botanical garden. Has she met the man of her dreams or another complication?

Key Points/Conflict:
Julie’s parents are in a constant state of bickering. She loves her parents but they are driving her crazy. To escape, she seeks refuge in her favorite place to visit in Sarasota—Selby Botanical Gardens. She seats herself under the Bodhi tree, lost in the view, the warmth, and the soothing coo of the passing birds.

Thomas is tall, handsome, and charming. Running an errand (read: also escaping) for his mother, he meets the shy Julie. As they exchange pleasantries, they discover they not only live in the same city, they work for the same company, and their parents both live in the Sun Towers condominiums.

On their first dinner date, Thomas learns that Julie’s supervisor is his former fiancé, Amanda Ford. “Mandy” is extremely ambitious, callous, and lied about using connections to get her supervisory position. Once she learned that Thomas did not want to step into the family legacy, she quickly broke off the engagement.

Secrets about Thomas’s father threaten to end his relationship with Julie before it has even had a chance to begin. Once the truth is revealed, Thomas realizes he can truly trust Julie. Through mutual encouragement and support, the pair end up leaving Massachusetts to permanently reside in Florida.

More of a novella, Love on Longboat Key is not my normal genre. Most romance novels are too over-the-top to be considered enjoyable. Julie and Thomas’s characters were well written and decently developed; the same goes for Julie’s parents. Everyone else in the novel could use more depth.

I really enjoyed the slow pace of the budding relationship in the beginning. Attempting to be friends before venturing into the land of sex and relationships is sensible and real. The intimate moments were tender and non-descriptive, which was appealing to someone who does not enjoy the romance genre.

Everything flowed well until chapter 16. All of the sudden, we are not too far into a future where Julie and Thomas are married, redecorating, and expecting a child. Chapter 17 brings us back to what happened after the vacation and ends with the following Christmas.

I would love to see these chapters reordered, chronologically, to avoid giving the reader a sense of “Whoa; that escalated quickly.” Then again, a romance novel wouldn’t be a romance novel without the heroine being swept off her feet and living happily ever after.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Review of Unbalanced by Linda Workman-Crider

Book Review: Unbalanced, written by Courtney Shepard

Review by: Linda Workman-Crider

Unbalanced is a story repeated throughout history between the powers of Dark and Light, a story of destiny, a story of elemental magic, and of being persecuted simply for being born different and surviving thus far. It is also a story of ill-fated love and the precarious balance of self-protection versus trust that plays out in the lives of all of us.

Some books defy a summary in paragraph form that does the storyline any justice. In some books, the character’s individual stories are so intertwined and interdependent, that excluded characters to define only two main characters also seems an injustice to the author’s work. Unbalanced is one these books. Perhaps the title and theme of this book have subliminally affected me, but I do not wish to portrait Asha and Clay as the main characters of this book simply based on their budding romance. I wish to shed some light on the other important characters, to show more of author Courtney Shepard’s efforts at presenting us with an engaging story, and to not leave readers in the dark about the entanglement of character storylines in this book that I hope they will soon dive into. Instead of forcing this review into my normal format, I hope my condensed reading notes on these main characters will prove much more informative.

Asha has the power of Fire. Father Sean is her handler. She’s a mercenary-type soldier with flaming red hair and black-colored eyes. Carries a rifle slung over her shoulder, a silenced pistol strapped to her thigh, and a gold dragon-hilted sword sheathed at her back. Raised in the San Francisco, lives now in Southern Columbia, the area of her last mission with Father Sean and his team. It was there she realized that she’d been given misinformation and had killed infants and children at a hospital compound. She escapes. She spends her time now trying to help the local communities, killing those who threaten them, trying to make amends for her own wrong-doing.

Clay is a soldier for The Order, following the orders of Master Heath and Master Miles. Green-eyed, tall, brown-haired, handsome. Has been dreaming of Asha since his childhood. His shock at discovering that she is a real person causes him to veer from his mission of targeting and killing her on sight. Instead, he poses as a doctor from Doctors without Borders delivering supplies and infiltrates the camp. Is he Asha’s star-crossed love interest and/or her assassin? Even he doesn’t seem to know.

Ivy has the power of Earth. Father Bennett is her handler. She’s an auburn-haired, green-eyed veterinarian from Canada. Comes home to discover Father Bennett assassinated in her living room and the assassin still waiting for her. Later, she finds a note left in her vest from Father Bennett telling her to find her sisters, Asha, Mere, and Avia, and to also find Master Miles. These are the only people she should trust. Not only coping with the shock of Father Bennett’s unfortunate death, she is only now discovering that the she has sisters and has no idea who Master Miles is.

Mere has the power of Water. Father Austin is her handler. She’s a surfing instructor in Australia. Wavy black hair, light blue eyes. Almost kills a child while basking in the thrill of her created wave. Flees the beach to head home, happy to find Father Austin there making tea, hoping he will relieve her of her self-recriminating thoughts. The arrival of assassins halts the conversation. Father Austin stalls them with a pistol grabbed from a kitchen drawer, telling Mere to flee and find her sisters. Sisters she didn’t know, until that moment, existed.

Avia has the power of Air. Father James is her handler. She’s a renowned flutist residing in Hong Kong. White hair, light grey eyes. Finds her limo driver assassinated in the back alley of her latest performance. Flees to Switzerland and her secluded cabin in the Alps. It is at this location that all four sisters are united while engaged in a battle with Clay and the Order. Will they all survive? Will Clay choose obedient duty or be ruled by his own desire?

In a majority of the story’s timeline, the main characters are all in their mid-twenties. Asha, as a mercenary, was always prepared for battle, and her sisters had all been prepared by their priests for the day they all knew would come, when they would have to flee to preserve their lives. They understood that they would be hunted for their powers, but it seems they were never told by whom or for what purpose. Even the fact that they had sisters was kept from them. Which side are the priests really on? Ivy’s priest, Father Bennett, names Master Miles as one of the few people she can trust, but Master Miles is not only one of the highest-ranking members of the Order, he is also the first-born son of the Grand Master of the Order.

Unbalanced is opening book to a series by the same title. It is fast-paced and packed full of interesting turns of events that keep the reader engaged. Courtney Shepard is a master of description in matters of both love and battle. Both types of actions scenes are vividly written while, at the same time, not being overly done. While I was at first a little disappointed with the name, hair color, and eye color matching to the corresponding element, thinking these choices lacked imagination, I changed my mind after realizing that I would probably be more upset if there were no outwardly visible connections. For those who usually avoid books written in a series due to the high rate of abrupt unsatisfactory endings, this book stands well and ends well on its own. There are actually more characters than I introduced here, leaving Shepard with many options for continued writing. I would recommend this book and I would definitely be interested in reading the next book in this series.

is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Recipes Part Two!

From the family of Makenna Snow:

For Christmas Eve every year my family does an “iron chef” competition for appetizers and desserts with a secret ingredient. This year is sour cream so I am preparing How the Grinch stole Spinach dip. Yeah, we’re weird.

2 packages frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
3 packages cream cheese
2 containers sour cream
2 cans quartered artichokes
1 cup mayo
Salt and pepper to taste
Half cup Parmesan cheese (for top)

Mix all ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Put is oven safe casserole dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cook on 350 F for 45 minutes or until heated thoroughly in the center. Serve with tortilla chips.

Snickerdoodles from Celia Breslin's Grandmother's Cookie Jar:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine, butter, or shortening (my grandmother uses shortening)
1 – 2 tsp. vanilla (my grandmother uses 1 more often than 2)
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. In a small bowl, mix the tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. Mix together margarine (or butter or shortening), sugar, vanilla, eggs.
4. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt. Add to wet ingredients.
5. Form one-inch or 1 1/4 inch balls, and roll balls in sugar/cinnamon mixture.
6. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, cook for 8 – 10 minutes.
7. Remove from sheet and cool on cookie rack.

Spinach Artichoke Dip from the recipe book of Amy McKinley:

14 ounces of marinated artichoke hearts
1 jar of Alfredo sauce
10 ounces frozen spinach
1 package of shredded Kraft Italian 5 cheese blend (or your preferred brand)
1 cup grated Romano cheese (or parmesan if you prefer)
French bread or crackers to serve on

Cook and fully drain the spinach of all excess water. Drain and chop the artichoke hearts. mix it all together in a bow. Pour into a pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.

Hot out of Hannah McKee's oven:

I make my lasagna vegetarian, so the directions are for that. It’s my own recipe but very easy.

You will need:

1 box of lasagna noodles
1 bag of Morningstar crumbles (or substitute with meat of your choice)
Mozzarella cheese (at least 2 cups but more if you like it extra cheesy)
1/2 - 1 cup of cheddar cheese - I prefer sharp
1 small container (8 oz) of ricotta cheese
1 jar of the spaghetti sauce if your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional 1 - any garlic/oregano or Italian spices to add to ricotta cheese
Optional 2 - use 1/2 ricotta and 1/2 marscapone cheese


Set oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease a pan (usually do 8 x 8 but any size you want is fine.)

Boil lasagna noodles as directed on package.

At this time prepare ricotta cheese in a small bowl. I mix salt and pepper to taste and any desired spices.

In a separate bowl prepare meatless crumbles. (Or meat of your choice) once cooked as any spices and salt and pepper. Also add spaghetti sauce so crumbles are saturated but not swimming.

Once lasagna noodles are finished cooking, lay them on a paper towel and dry them off. They should be damp but not dripping wet.

Line the bottom of the greased pan with noodles. On top, place either the crumbles or cheese and sprinkle mozzarella over it. Continue by layering more noodles and the alternate filling, sprinkling with mozzarella each time.

Top with noodles then cover with remaining mozzarella and the cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes. It varies due to where you live. (In CA I always pushed 45 minutes but I’m HI it cooks closer to the 30 side)

And there you go, super easy and delicious lasagna. You can add anything you want just by making a new layer or mixing in with the other ones.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Review of Blind Consent by Kelli Keith

Book Review

Kelli Keith

December 10, 2017

Book Title:
Blind Consent

Book Author:
Michael W. Davis

Date of Publication:
May 2014

Number of Pages:

Main Characters:
Ryan Matthews is a mechanical engineer who lost his wife to childbirth. Haunted by nightmares, he seeks refuge in his hometown of Tanglewood, VA.

Annie is a small-town girl with a gift for “reading” people and Ryan’s childhood friend.

Other Important Characters:
April Matthews is Ryan’s wife who dies during childbirth.

Dr. Sam Cooper is the brilliant scientist who works (mostly for free) in the impoverished town of Tanglewood.

Jake Montgomery is the shady owner of the lumber yard whose lax safety practices cause many residents to age before their time.

Virginia-Approximately the year 2000.

After tragically losing his wife, April, Ryan Matthews can’t seem to pick up the pieces.  After a year of nightmares and self-imposed isolation, he decides to move back to Tanglewood, VA to be with his mom and daughter.  From the moment he arrived he noticed something was out of the ordinary with the forgotten town, population 277.  With his childhood friend, Annie, by his side, they will solve the mystery and rid Ryan of his nightmares forever.

Key Points/Conflict:
Ryan and April have the perfect marriage, filled with love and a baby on the way.  When April dies during childbirth, everything Ryan knows and loves is lost.  For a year he goes through life’s motions, thinking he will never recover from his loss.  The nightmares from his life have taken over his dreams and he realizes he can no longer stay in their apartment, or the city, they called home. To move on with his life, he decides to move in with his mom, Martha, and his one-year old daughter, Emma.

Tanglewood, VA has a diminishing population currently at 277 people.  Approximately 30 years prior, the town had a flourishing livestock and crafts industry that abruptly disappeared, leaving the people and the town in utter poverty.  Ryan’s family moved away when he was seven and his memories of that time are hazy or non-existent.  When he arrives he senses something is wrong with the people.  Even though the number of deaths has waned to one every five years, the injuries and resulting deformities are above the national average.

When Ryan meets Annie, his world his turned upside down.  Her familiarity both intrigues and terrifies him.  He is not ready to let go of April or her memory.  The more time they spend together, the more memories return—some he is ready for, some he wants to stay buried.

As Ryan digs for answers about the town’s strange history, he knowingly pokes a hornet’s nest.  The closer he gets to the truth, the more nervous the villains become and they will stop at nothing to end his query.

Ryan and Annie must trust each other and join together to fight for the town, the people, and to keep certain secrets from coming to light.  In a figurative battle of good vs evil, Judgement Day has arrived.

Blind Consent was far from what was expected.  At times the descriptions were over the top and repetitive but, it did not keep the reader from losing interest in the storyline.  Although, it took until 30% into the book to find out that Ryan’s daughter survived the birthing process and has lived with his mother.

Continuity throughout the novel was beautiful.  There were no unexplained time lapses, no character mistakes, and everything received a full explanation.  This reader feels like Nancy’s character should be removed from the story.  The way she was presented in the beginning, it seemed as if she was a key element of the plot, then suddenly, she was written off.  Her affection for Ryan, despite being April’s “best friend” was a turn off.

Another aspect of the novel that may avert certain readers is the constant reference to religion.  The genre for this novel really should fall into the Christian Fiction realm, even though there are hints of the science fiction and mildly-explicit romance.  At times it felt a bit “preachy” but that was necessary to the storyline.  

The science presented throughout the story was solid but the terminology was a bit outdated.  When Dr. Cooper was explaining stem cells to Ryan, the “immoral” treatment he developed sounds very much like the process to produce induced pluripotent stem cells; which are adult stem cells that are reprogrammed to be embryonic-like through gene (virus) therapy.  However, they cannot produce the same results as Dr. Coopers!  

The story moved a bit slow due to the superfluous storylines and descriptions but, this reader still could not put it down.  The finality was in chapter 45 and the additional chapters did not add any new or relevant information.  The final two chapters should have been done as an epilogue instead of a continuation of the story.

Blind Consent is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Box of Books Giveaway

A wintery present to light up your holiday

Love to curl up with a good book? Like getting free things? Want to win a box full of books this holiday season? Then enter to win our Box of Books! Open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Wintertime Recipes From Your Favorite Authors Part 1

Hello and welcome to Savvy Saturday! This week, we asked our authors what their favorite recipes were for winter or the holidays, and it turns out that they were eager to share. So much so, that we had to split this post in two! So get your cooking tools ready for Part One of these wonderful author recipes.

From the kitchen of Carly Marino's Grandmother:

Italian Anginetti Cookies

1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup vegetable shortening
3 large eggs
1 1⁄2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄8 teaspoon salt

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1⁄4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • For cookies, cream together sugar and shortening.
  • Add eggs and lemon extract and beat well.
  • Add flour, baking powder and salt; Mix well.
  • The dough should be soft and sticky.
  • With a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto a slightly greased cookie sheet or baking stone, spacing them about 2-inches apart.
  • Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until firm and lightly brown.
  • Remove cookies from cookie sheet and allow to cool completely on wire racks.
  • For frosting, combine confectioners' sugar, water and lemon extract and mix until smooth.
  • Frost the tops of each cookie with a metal spatula.
  • Allow cookies to dry before stacking.
  • Store in an airtight container.
From Shiela Stewart's Cookie Jar:

Eatmore Bars. 
If you have peanut allergies than this isn’t a recipe you’ll want to try.
What you will need is:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups corn syrup
3 table spoons of cocoa
2 cups chocolate chips
4 cups chopped peanuts.

Mix the first four ingredients together in a pot and heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add in chocolate chips. Once melted, add the nuts. Press into a large cookie sheet. Let cool before cutting.

There you go. It’s a simple recipe. I hope you enjoy them!

From the recipe book of Keith Willis:

King Size Holiday Gingersnaps (my grandmother's recipe handed down)

In medium bowl combine:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
3 tbsp baking soda

Blend together and set aside.

In large bowl mix:
1 cup sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup shortening

Have Red and green sugar crystals for decoration.
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Cream shortening and sugar until smooth. Add egg and molasses and beat until smooth.
  • Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in small batches to form dough.
  • Form dough into small balls (no larger than 1"). 
  • Place coated dough balls on cookie sheet. 
  • Flatten balls slightly with bottom of a glass coated in butter and dipped into colored sugar. 
  • (Note:flatten more for crispier cookies)
  • Bake approximately 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Enjoy. 
Egg Nog Bundt Cake (courtesy of Hood Eggnog)

1 18 oz pudding-added yellow cake mix
Oil and eggs according to cake mix package directions
1 tsp nutmeg
Eggnog (substitute for water on cake mix package directions)
  • Preheat oven to temp on cake mix directions. 
  • Spray sides & bottom of bundt pan with cooking spray.
  • Combine cake mix w/ eggs and oil. Add nutmeg. 
  • Mix in eggnog, pour into bundt pan and bake.
  • Cool and turn out cake onto rack.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with eggnog glaze (below).
Eggnog Glaze

2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp softened butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp eggnog

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Add more eggnog to bring mixture to desired consistency.

From the family of Kay Latour:

Sweet Potato Casserole 

2 cups mashed sweet potato (baked in skin, sliced in half & filling scooped out)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and put in buttered casserole dish

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup butter

Crumble together, sprinkle over sweet potato mixture, and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review of Lanyon for Hire by Linda Wokman-Crider

Book Review: Lanyon for Hire by John Paultis

Review by: Linda Workman-Crider

Lanyon is a 43-year-old, sexually promiscuous Earthling available for hire within the planetary system that includes Telluria, Argon, Vanadia, Selenia, Luthania, Terbania, Guardon, and Malcosia. He has his own Rator, a gun small enough to conceal within the the heel of his boot. No job is too big or too small. From lover’s quarrels to political revolutions, Lanyon’s the man to call.

This book is set into three parts during which we follow Lanyon, and a varying list of companions, as he takes on assignments. The plot-lines for each job almost always introduce a sub-plot and each brings new characters and cultures into the mix. Moreover, each section builds a greater insight to the web of planetary politics. The ease of understanding these complexities of plot-line makes me believe that this book is an excellent bridge-builder from mainstream reading into literary works.

The inclusion of such things as sexual promiscuity, prostitution, sexual open-mindedness regarding a diversity of partners, a society that revolves around daily drug use, a religiously radical planet where the entire society oppresses women, and a main character still learning to cope with the loss of his wife and child are all topics leading to contemplation, and hopefully conversation, regarding the human condition. Lanyon for Hire is an excellent and enjoyable example of Young Adult Literature. While it may be controversial to include with a classroom setting, I would still recommend it for that use. I believe this book could be an amazing tool for relationship building when read in partnership with friends, family, or even within a therapeutic setting.

Lanyon for Hire
is unique in that this book can be as light or as heavy of a reading as the individual reader would like to make it. For those not prone to introspection or contemplation beyond the words the author has set down, this book is still a fun read. The story-line is not dependent on the literary commentary on the human condition. It is an entertaining book that has a high probability to lead to personal and/or global insights. Is it the best book that I have ever read, no, but it is the first Sci-fi book that I have ever read that I would consider useful to society while still being highly enjoyable. A definite recommended read.

Lanyon for Hire is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Savvy Saturday: New Goodies for the Holiday

Hey everyone and welcome back to Savvy Saturday. We had some new goodies come out just in time for the holidays, and we want to share them with out faithful readers.

First up, we have a calendar for 2018. Buy it, and see your favorite CBG book covers every month! Check it out here:

We also have a holiday anthology, with enough stories to keep you busy until your wintertime holiday of choice. Here are some details:

Heart of the Holiday Anthology
By Nikki Andrews, Nancy Brophy, Donica Covey, Rebecca Goings, Ellie Lynn
Holiday Anthology
Champagne Books


At Christmas, You Always Tell the Truth
Nancy Brophy

For a long time, spotlight-avoiding attorney, Janelle Jackson, has been in love with her playboy law practice partner, Matt Masterson. She is the stalwart brains, and he is the flashy muscle—a perfect partnership. At least, until her one-sided romance sends her into a tail spin.

She flies to Venice to visit her cousin with the hope she can recharge and slip her gal-pal mask firmly in place before returning. When she meets American clothier, Rudy Macon, his charming companionship leaves her dreaming of his kisses and wishing for more.

But how can she be in love with Matt yet want to be with Rudy? That question is answered when Matt surprises her at her cousin’s ball in Venice. She learns that Matt has been hiding a secret—a secret that will shatter her heart unless she can let go, face the truth and open her heart.

Hope for the Holidays
Ellie Lynn

Christmas is the worst time of the year for Hope Hardcastle. Recovering from a disastrous divorce, every thought, every child’s voice reminds her of the daughter she was forced to leave behind. To make matters worse, her new neighbor is a handsome single guy, with a daughter about the same age as her own. Just speaking to either of them is an exercise in pain, so it’s easiest to simply ignore them and hope they’ll go away.

Joshua Michaels is a single dad, struggling to get through the holidays after the death of his wife. He’s not looking for a new relationship, but the lady next door intrigues him enough to consider it. And a little feminine companionship would be nice, too.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, Hope and Josh are thrown together to get through the season but when he discovers her darkest secrets, he’s determined to give her a holiday she’ll never forget. Christmas is the worst time of the year for Hope Hardcastle. Recovering from a disastrous divorce, every thought, every child’s voice reminds her of the daughter she was forced to leave behind. To make matters worse, her new neighbor is a handsome single guy, with a daughter about the same age as her own. Just speaking to either of them is an exercise in pain, so it’s easiest to simply ignore them and hope they’ll go away.

Seven Days in December
Nikki Andrews

A withdrawn, fiercely independent widow, Jody is determined to stay in her home, even in the dead of winter. But then an ice storm knocks out the electricity, and her generator fails. Faced with the prospect of a week without power, she reluctantly moves to a shelter at the local school.

After a hot shower, a good meal, and a game of solitaire with a little boy, Jody begins to relish being part of a community again. And then there is Bill Simmons, the volunteer with the twinkling gray eyes, who sees beyond the defenses she has relied on for so long.

As the outside world thaws, so does her heart.

Noella’s Gift
Donica Covey

Holly Harper has hated Christmas for years. The season full of commercialism has left her feeling cold and bitter. When she finds a little girl freezing and alone she feels warmth spark in her heart. She's determined to keep the child until Christmas is over.

Jaxon Cole is a police detective whose Christmas spirit left a long time ago. He knows the season brings an increase in drunk driving accidents and suicides. But when a dark haired woman shows up in his office with a little waif in tow he sees that there is some good in the holiday.

Will they find joy in the season or will their hearts be as cold as the winter winds?

Underneath the Mistletoe
Rebecca Goings

Faith Jenkins has lost her faith in Christmas. Not only did she never celebrate Christmas as a child, but last year, a few days before the holiday, she was dumped by the man she thought was "The One". To save herself from further heartache, she's vowed never to let another man into her heart.

Enter Jeremy Kitteridge, Faith's fun-loving neighbor, a man who adores Christmas and seems to adore Faith as well. His sexy smiles and obvious advances are not lost on her, but she's determined to keep her promise to herself, guarding her heart. Yet Jeremy is just as determined to show Faith the magic of Christmas come hell or high water!

When Jeremy finally gets her underneath the mistletoe, will he be able to slip under her armor and win her heart? Or will Faith be too afraid to take another chance on love?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tattle & Wrye column December 2017 edition


December 2017


Dressed as elves, Tattle and Wrye, have a Christmas joke-off.

Wrye swirls about Tattle, his hat’s bell’s jingling. “What do you call a kid who doesn't believe in Santa?
 A rebel without a Claus.

Tattle rolls her eyes. “Try this one. What do you call an elf who sings?”

“Not you!”

“Ha…ha… I can, too, sing.  An elf who sings is a wrapper!”

“Why does Santa Claus go down the chimney on Christmas Eve? Because it soot's him.”

“Just like it soots us to go on a Love of Literature Leap,” Tattle declares.

And the two jump right into their reviews for December.

THIN ICE by J.S. Marlo (Heart & Endurance Book 2) ~ Romantic Suspense

Tattle frowns at the sight of the damaged van. “That had to hurt.”

“Well, it didn’t hurt Julie Lavoie. In the end its how she met Luke, and he was exactly what she needed.” 

Wrye lifts a brow, giving his best distinguished James Bond look, which doesn’t quite cut it while wearing his green elf outfit. “Julie lost her husband and now her eighteen year old son, Thierry, has vanished on his way to a hockey tournament.”

Bolts of lightning crash overhead as if reflecting Tattle’s anger. “Thierry is an exemplary young man and a goaltender, who sees how drugs are affecting his teammates. His determination to bring it to light puts him in ominous danger.”

Wrye nods. “Luke, a federal agent, ends up helping Julie look for her son.  Only, the closer they get to answers the more Thierry’s survival is threatened.”

“At the same time, they are drawn to each other, which isn’t easy for Julie whose heart still aches for her deceased husband.”

“Will Julie ever see her son again? Will the love blooming between Julie and Luke have a chance if something happens to Thierry? Not to mention, will they themselves survive the perilous and ruthless drug dealers?” Tattle pants and looks wild eyed.

Wrye pats Tattle on the back. “Oh, yes! What a complex plotline. It makes such a great read. As usual, J. S. Marlo has given us a treat. Her classic writing skills are at their best in this saga. Her literary scheming has taken a leap, offering new levels of intrigue and anticipation. You never know what is around the bend. The characters are sympathetic and have her signature bravery and good hearted natures. As always, I am impressed, and an ardent fan of this book as well as all her works.”

“I especially like the pacing of this book and how the author interweaves romance with dramatic conspiracies. The danger is nail biting while the realism raises the hackles on your neck. You have to remind yourself to breath. Meanwhile, through it all, the tender romance between Julie and Luke provides a humanistic quality. I forgot this wasn’t just a story. It was as if I was part of it. It was all very real. This is J. S. Marlo’s brand of writing, inspiring and addictive. I can’t get enough of her.

FALLEN BY Andrea R. Cooper (Claimed Series – Book 2) ~ romantic paranormal

Wrye dons his serious face as he walks into Jack’s coffee shop. “In FALLEN, supernaturals are, well natural, but Jack hoped to avoid them in the rundown part of town where he had set up his coffee shop.” Wrye notes the baked goods and helps himself.
Tattle snares a treat herself, crumbs drifting onto her business suit. Yes, the two swapped out their Christmas outfits. Now, the two are dressed like Men in Black dusted with powdered sugar. “What Jack couldn’t avoid was being a supernatural himself, the sort who could absorb another’s powers through his palms. A gift? Or…” hums the Twiglight Zone theme “…a curse!”
“Meanwhile, Adeline no longer has her succubus powers. Yes, ladies and gents, in this universe, succubus’ are real and oh-so-hot, but not immune to troubles. The crystal shackled to her wrist blocks her powers, and she needs money to pay the Oracle, the only one who can get the stone off her.  Otherwise, da da da da, she’d end up being a plain ole human being.”
Tattle gets a huffy look. “I like human. Of course, she thinks it’s a fate worse than a dive into Hades for eternity, but I get it. A succubus can seduce men into doing whatever she wants. For example, if I had those powers, I would charm you into giving me the last pastry.”
Wrye sighs and breaks the treat in half, offering it to Tattle. “But none could seduce Adeline, or win any little bitty part of her heart.”
“Then she met Jack.” Tattled grinned widely. “He’s so cute with that dark hair and crooked grin. How could she resist.”
“Game changer!” Wrye announces in a high pitched tone.
“Yup… yup… yup…” Tattle finds a fresh cuppa coffee in the shop and sips. “Jack ends up on the run from both vamps and weres just cause he wanted to shoo them away from outside his coffee shop and accidently ended up killing one and exposing his powers to a were. Poor guy. Everything he wanted to avoid comes tumbling down on him.”
“The bounty on his head is a heady lure for Adeline until she begins to find herself being seduced by the irresistible Jake. Simultaneously, she uncovers his secret doppelgänger talents.” Wrye’s suit suddenly spouts a cape and he swirls it around like a magician in his final act.
“As for Jack, Adeline doesn’t need any succubus powers to ensnare Jack’s desire. The two are in a pickled brew of passion and love, and a cauldron of trouble, especially when a voodoo queen enters stage left!”
Wrye concludes, “This book is a delightful fast-paced read with endless action, steamy romance and sizzling characters. The writing itself is especially clean and seamless, not a stumble in sight to halt the fantasy. I now need to read book one of the series!”
“Though this is the second book of the series, it can be a stand alone. I enjoyed Adeline’s feisty character and the progression she makes learning real seduction is all about love. The plot line is packaged perfectly and has just enough unexpected twists to intrigue and keep me reading until the very last word, and wanting more. Kudos on a job well done!”

Hope you enjoyed this month’s reviews. More to come!


Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by:  Angelica Hart and Zi

Books by: Angelica Hart and Zi
Books by: Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review of Forgotten Children

Kelli Keith

November 26, 2017

Book Title:
Forgotten Children

Book Author:
Michael W. Davis

Date of Publication:
July 1, 2008

Number of Pages:

Main Characters:
Mark Daniels is a former college linebacker turned investigative journalist, married to his college sweetheart, Sara Daniels. Sara is a teacher and is intent on becoming pregnant.

Don (Don Juan/D.J.) Sanchez is Mark’s best friend and colleague. Known as the local Lothario, he uses his wiles to obtain information from Lawton’s single, female population.

Other Important Characters:
Jamie Andrews- a research assistant at BSSI and the character that sets everything into motion.

Dr. Matthew Thomas- researcher and former professor who discovers his findings are being used unethically by BSSI.

Edward Kerns- CEO of BSSI.

Lawton, Virginia; Early 2000s.

Biotech Skin Solutions Incorporated has a secret—one they are willing to kill to keep quiet. Dr. Thomas, a former professor at the University of Lawton, learns his research is being used for nefarious deeds at the seemingly benign BSSI. He contacts a former student-turned-reporter for help but before the meeting he is viciously murdered. Mark Daniels, his wife Sara, and Don Sanchez are plunged into a wicked web of cover-ups, lethal experiments, and the worst kinds of evil. They must expose the truth or die trying.

Key Points/Conflict:
In the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to Jamie Andrews, a reluctant employee at BSSI. He dreams of escaping the nightmare of his research assistantship. When he makes that dream a reality, he sets a pendulum in motion that begins to swing out of control. Andrews escapes with evidence of wrong-doing by BSSI and sends it to Dr. Matthew Thomas, a former university professor, and current researcher of anti-aging solutions. Dr. Thomas is stunned to learn that his research is being used unethically and seeks out the assistance of a former student, Mark Daniels.

Mark and his best friend, Don (DJ) Sanchez, are investigative reporters at the local paper (Winston Sentinel) and arrange to meet Dr. Thomas the following morning. Upon their arrival, they discover Dr. Thomas had been murdered. Before his demise, the doctor left clues for the pair to decipher. Although, the cryptic clues left more questions than answers.

Mark, his wife Sara, and DJ become embroiled in solving the case. As they dig deeper and deeper, they find that not only is BSSI unethically conducting research, they are doing so at the peril of the local children. As one mystery leads to another, the trio are faced with untold dangers and even more unscrupulous men. Not everyone will survive but it is a risk they must take to save the forgotten children of Lawton.

Mr. Davis masterfully crafted a riveting thriller! The information within the story was well researched and scientifically accurate at the time of authoring. It should be noted that some of the jargon/procedures have advanced and would be worth further exploration, if the reader was interested. Davis does an excellent job at explaining complicated terms and explaining them within the story. It never feels as though the reader is receiving a Science lesson or a dictionary definition.

The first few chapters are used to provide the necessary background information for the meat of the story. If the reader finds this tedious—stick with it—it’s important and all will reveal itself in time. Each scene is set with just enough description to allow the reader to recreate it in their mind but not so much that it is overwhelming.

The characters are well defined and believable, even if some of their dialog/terms of endearment feel dated. There were no errors in continuity and the story flowed at an even pace.

From beginning to end, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how everything was going to turn out. Davis ends the story with enough closure to make this novel stand on its own but, open enough to continue into a series. If that is what he decides, I would be delighted to keep reading.

Forgotten Children is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review of Housetrap by Linda Workman-Crider

Book Review: Housetrap by R.J. Hore

Review by: Linda Workman-Crider

The Maltese Falcon/Dragnet type detective story combines with an entire encyclopedia of fairy creatures who travel in carriages and ox carts over cobblestone streets to catch their shuttles from Earth to Mars or Saturn in this who’s chasing who, and for what real reason, head-spinning mystery.

Private Detective Randolf C. Aloysius is approached by an Elven client, giving the name of Rose and her employment as the Assistant Headmistress at a college for quality young ladies. She says her boyfriend, Rupert, has disappeared, along with the ring she gave him as a token of her love. She wants Randolf to find the man and the ring. The ring, however, is a family heirloom and she is willing to pay twice the agreed upon fees to get it back. But Randolf discovers that Rose isn’t Rose, who turns out to be a missing Elven student who has fled Earth with her boyfriend, Rupert, to the most probable destination of Mars. Randolf decides to follow the trail of Rose#2 to find Rupert and the ring, which would satisfy his client, formerly-known-as-Rose, and lead to the detective actually getting paid. However, Randolf is now being followed by a Demon and a Vampire, who may be the same creatures who got to Rupert’s room ahead of him and tossed the place. Buckle your seat belts and keep your smart-device handy. R.J. Hore’s Housetrap is a vortex of fantasmic mystery laced with plenty of word candy for the intellectual reader.

This story-line, written in first person, is not one that could be followed easily by someone new to the fantasy genre, simply due to extensive inclusion of so many varieties of fantasy creatures and fairy tales. Even with some prerequisite knowledge, there were portions that had my mind swirling like the very first time I heard Russel Brand speak; in awe and in need of a glossary but loving the challenge of trying to keep up. As far as actual plot-line, Hore plays the reader like a cat plays a mouse. We are allowed a correct prediction or two and then killed with the plot-twists. The story line is a mystery plot but also a story that never seems to take itself too seriously. While I may seem to hype up the creature knowledge and the need for a dictionary, Housetrap, from start to finish, is a fun read.

Randolf C. Aloyius is mustached Mongrel with a self-described ugly mug and an Uncle’s charm. All those ancestral bits of magical talents from so many different races combine to make him a top-notch, though financially broken, private detective. He smokes a briar pipe, loves baseball and beer, and knows how to use all seven of his senses to avoid debt collectors. As the narrator, the characters voice reminded me of Sergeant Joe Friday, from the 1960’s TV series Dragnet, plus the additional class of 1940’s actor, Humphrey Bogart with lines like, “[She] slid into the battered chair opposite me like maple syrup poured from a mason jar.” And, “The Elf had the kind of face you see perched on a mantelpiece, thin bone china, pale, delicate, and carved by a Master.” Or, my personal favorite in regard to a goblin landlord making googly eyes at him, “[She had] a face that would make a herd of woolly mammoth stampede.” Randolf’s dialogue and narration will keep you wrapped up in the story, even if just to find out what he might say next.

As you may have noticed in the summary, there are two characters going by the name of Rose. Both are Elves, both are linked to a Rupert and an antique ring, and both are equally important to the plot-line. I am afraid it would get too confusing to describe either character further here, but it is important to note that this situation becomes much less confusing within the actual story. In complete honesty, I suffer some remorse in giving the detail of the two Roses away, but felt it was important for audience understanding of the plot summary. In either case, the characters are well written, but the first-person narration regulates our major closeness to remain loyal to Randolf.

In Housetrap, Hore takes would be trope characters and adds dashes of something extra until they’re so flavored that they become unique. They are neither flat nor rounded characters, but instead have bumps and lumps of human qualities that make them stand out as distinguishable from any other trope-based characters, so not really tropes at all. There is a genius behind these characters that poke fun at the genre without distracting from the storyline at all—Well, except for a Wolf driver of a carriage nonchalantly described as wearing a faux sheep skin coat. I had to back up three words before I could laugh out loud at that one. I almost missed it.

The world-building in Housetrap requires the reader to be capable of some suspension of belief to take in all the magic, fairy creatures, planetary travel, and some juxtaposition in the levels of available technology/magical creation limitations. Most fantasy readers will have the ability to sink into the world without any difficulty, and once there, Hore’s descriptions are consistent and connected in a way that world makes its own kind of sense. As an example, in one scene, Randolf is looking into his crystal ball and switching channels trying to find something to watch. It is explained that the wizards still hadn’t found a way to create audio and visuals within the same device. Now we know why a world that can send people to Mars doesn’t have something as simple as a television. It’s believable in that it is explained, and quite frankly, the real world still hasn’t found a cure for the common cold, though we are capable of splicing genes into organisms which causes them to produce human insulin.

Housetrap in an enjoyable quick read while, at the same time, being a great mental workout. R.J. Hore’s word choices and sentence structure are on a level with great literary works of fiction. While being fast-paced, the complexity of the writing style will increase the reading time and the amount of time spent lingering in pure awe at R. J. Hore’s mental capacity to contain that much knowledge and the talent to convey it in such an enjoyable way. I highly recommend this book to experienced readers of the fantasy genre.

Housetrap is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Inspiration for a Story with Ellie Lynn

Years ago, I wanted to write a historical romance, but my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make it believable. Research wasn’t necessarily one of my strong suits, so I sat down to figure out the best way to accomplish a historical, without making too many period mistakes. My solution? A time travel. What better way to show historical times, but through the eyes of a modern twenty-first century woman?

Then I had to settle on a specific time period. I love westerns, always have. I mean really, who doesn’t love a cowboy? I grew up on Gunsmoke, with Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty (le sigh), so I guess, in a way, the old west picked me.

Now that I had my era down, research was fun! I watched a lot of old re-runs of Gunsmoke and Bonanaza, watched movies like Tombstone, and every John Wayne and Clint Eastwood western I could find. Then there was Quigley Down Under, Cat Ballou, Maverick and Young Guns. But I didn’t limit my research to Hollywood. I spent hours at museums, looking at all sorts of frontier items. I’m the worst artist ever, but I made sketches of clothes, furniture and other assorted things that were used in the period.

Next was the most fun of all. Finding my setting. I decided that I wanted to use a real place, not just a made up western town, so I scoured the history books (which means I did an extensive internet search!) and found Calico, California. There was just something about this little town that sparked my imagination, so I took a closer look and fell in love.

Most of the layout of the town is my own creation. I did use some existing/former buildings in my version of Calico, though.

There really was a Marshal’s Office, and Lil’s Saloon exists to this day. If you look inside the interior of her saloon, you’ll see the tablecloths that Jenny O’Farrel gave Lil to use after Riley’s thugs tore up the place.

The old schoolhouse is still there, sitting at the edge of town, just as it did in Amy Mallory’s time (New Prints In Old Calico) as school teacher. This is the second schoolhouse, since the first one was burned down in a fire long ago. It was fun making up a reason for the arson, but in truth, no one really knows how the fire started that destroyed the first schoolhouse.

The backdrop of a real location really helped fuel the ideas for the two Calico novels (New Prints in Old Calico, Under A Calico Moon) and the one novella (Calico Bride). I’ve got another Calico story in the works and I’m sure there will be more short novellas as well because let’s face it, the people of Calico are not finished telling their stories yet.

And me? I’m just happy to share them with you.

About the Author

Ellie Lynn always wanted to be a writer, and since every writer she'd ever met said to 'write what you know', she started out writing romantic comedy. She's since discovered a love of historical western romances as she channels Gunsmoke and Bonanza! Ellie writes under her own name, but often writes contemporary romance as Jennifer Lynn.

Ellie lives in rural Saskatchewan with her husband, two incredibly spoiled dogs and Horatio the salamander.

Ellie loves to interact with readers on her website at, on Twitter @ellielynnbooks or via Facebook and if you'd like to keep up on latest releases, contests or assorted free gifties, sign up for her mailing list:

Ellie's books are available for purchase on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.