I have always disliked having my picture taken. Everyone most likely has some kind of quirk or characteristic that’s specific to them. (I also dislike talking on the phone, which I think is a pretty rare characteristic.) We are all different and that’s something to be unapologetic about. After all, who wants to know a robot woman with no individuality, no personal traits--a manufactured person without their little surprises? If there is such a robot out there, I don’t know her and I don’t want to know her.
However, I've found it's really valuable to learn to do things that are not 100% my favorite. And even people who normally enjoy dressing up and smiling vacantly into a camera (as I do not) don’t like photographs of them in all circumstances. For instance, the picture on their driver’s license. I’ve never met someone who told me they like the way they look on their driver’s license. I have often met people who said they distinctly hated that picture and that it barely even looks like them. I sometimes wonder if the people who actually take the driver’s license pictures enjoy doing it, but I have never asked about it.
So I woke up about a week ago and realized my author photo is almost 5 years old. I remember the day it was taken—a nice warm afternoon in late February, in 2017. I was sitting on our porch. At that time our little dog was still alive and she featured in a lot of the pictures because she loved accompanying us to do anything. This picture had served me pretty well, but maybe it was time for a new one. So I put on something green, to try a new look because I was wearing pink in the previous snapshot. I wore tall heels just for fun because I rarely wear them and I have never practiced keeping my balance in that type of shoe. It wasn’t easy! 😊 And I ended up wrecking the heels as I walked all over our yard taking pics, but I enjoyed myself a lot more than I thought I would. We went out into the orchard to a big old mulberry tree we have. It's huge and its branches trail on the ground and have to be tied up with ropes, but the ropes blend into the foliage so you hardly notice them. Autumn leaves littered the ground while we took pictures. I haven’t been out to this tree in the autumn before—I go out to help in the summer when there are mulberries.
Here’s a pic of me in the branches along with my updated author pic. In fact, I am sitting on the same porch in almost the way I did for my last pic. I just often choose pics taken on the porch because they have good lighting.
Review copies for the next 2 weeks are Celestine Princess and City of the Invaders. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion. (Celestine Princess content is Moderate for violence, including an area where a prisoner is partially undressed while she talks with a man--the scene is not sexual--and later she is forcibly costumed by other women while she’s subjected to a ritual. However, this does not really count as “sexual violence” and is not mentioned in the content rating on the download page.)
Celestine Princess Review Copy
City of the Invaders Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
Whenever I poke into a resale shop, I find lots of stuff that costs literally pennies. Pennies are my favorite type of money to hand over to sales clerks. So I pick up a DVD here, a candle there, a wall hanging for a few dollars more but still very nice price, and CDs for a few per dollar. It’s mostly old stuff, of course, but I’ve never exactly courted high fashion so that doesn’t bother me at all. 😊 While sorting through lots of things that are old and look it, I stumble sometimes on something that faintly brings back memories and one of those is Point of Grace. This Christian quartet recorded CDs for about 25 years, becoming a trio towards the end. I remember people often complained about their sticky sound and feel-goody message, but I didn’t listen to them much because they seemed to be for middle-aged women.
However, with just a few cents per CD I took a chance on some of their albums. Maybe because I actually AM a middle-aged woman now or maybe because it’s time to give the group a reevaluation, I found I actually enjoyed some of their music. There are lots of frontrunner tracks that live up to their sugary reputation, like “Day by Day” and “Circle of Friends,” but tucked behind them I was surprised to find a few good tracks in the corners. I looked up the albums I didn’t have on YouTube and put 1 track per album I’d listened to into a YouTube playlist. It’s nice to listen to while I’m dealing with my books because I correlated the songs to go with a particular book in my mind. They appear in the playlist in the order books appear on the website (Track 4 “Love Like No Other” goes with my Scotland book which I will put at the top of the General Fiction category when it’s written) and at the end there are a couple of POG Christmas songs that I simply put in because I liked these 2 songs.
When our cars had lots and lots of trouble this week, I had the adventure of driving my sister to work in an unfamiliar area of town which has been tormented by massive construction around the interstate highway for 3 years. It wasn’t easy to figure out how to get there and back when she wasn’t directing me because the GPS was not working and I ended up having a near wreck at one point. But while I hung around the store waiting for her to close up, I got this lovely framed picture and at home I placed it near the portrait of our special friend, our Pomeranian dog, who passed away in June. The framed pic is a little hard to see from this angle, but it’s a painting of an enchanted-looking house just visible at the end of a moonlit lane surrounded by mysterious woods. I just liked it so much.
Review copies for next 2 weeks are A Year with the Harrisons and Bellevere House. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion. (Don't be fooled: I've listed Bellevere as Young Adult and Literary Fiction on the hosting site, but the review download page calls it "Chapter Books and Middle-Grade" for some reason. This is not a chapter book or MG fiction title, so you should be aware of that.)
A Year with the Harrisons Review Copy
Bellevere House Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
I have done a lot of reading over the past few years and recently the staff of a site called Shepherd.com asked me to create a list of top 5 books I’ve read. They have lots of lists by authors who each briefly describe what they love about 5 books that have a unified theme (such as the history of the American West.) While I’ve read some great nonfiction and women’s fiction books, I have specialized in reading children’s and YA because that’s what I write. So I put together a list of 5 children’s adventure books I’d recommend and when it is available on the site I’ll share a link for you to read. The hard part was choosing just 5 books! I thought my heart was going to break with some of the choices I had to make. 😉
To solve the problem of review requests taking time out of my life, I plan to put review copies for my books on an automatic recurring basis with copies available for 2 week at a time. That way I can cycle through all my publications with minimum effort while I get on with writing new books. Books will appear in pairs in each newsletter, correlating to roughly 1 book per week over a 2-week period, gradually repeating over time. BookSprout will only let me seek reviews once for each book on its free program, so I made a quick ARC there for Celestine Princess, since I've never run it through the site before. After that I will send direct download links from somewhere else and will send the books in alphabetical order to keep me from losing track of when they should be posted again.
Celestine Princess Request
Now remember the giant zucchini I mentioned last week? Well, a logical question might be “what did you DO with all that zucchini?” It’s a good question. 😊 When dealing with zucchini there’s only one recipe that’s our go-to and that’s Zucchini Pancakes. You can put zucchini in everything from soups to breads, but we don’t make a lot of those recipes because the zucchini easily gets squishy and we don’t prefer the taste. These pancakes are the only thing we really make with zucchini. They were the reason we grew the zucchini in the first place, although we didn’t plan for them to get so big! So I’ll put the recipe right here if you want to try it yourself. It can be cut in half if you want to serve fewer people. This recipe will make a nice side accompaniment to a main course for five people.
2/3 cup biscuit/baking mix
½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ tsp pepper
4 cups fresh grated zucchini
½ cup oil or butter for frying
Mix all together until blended. Heat some of the oil in a saute pan or small skillet (works better than a big one.) Pour spoonfuls of batter onto the hot oil. Turn when brown on the bottom. Might need to turn a couple of times until fully cooked on all sides. These can heat quickly and easily burn, so watch them carefully and don’t let oil get too hot. They should be golden brown, but not black. Replenish oil if needed for second batch. Serves 5 as a side dish.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Author
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Check out my list of Top 5 Best Children's Adventure Books About Family and Exploring I've Recommended on Shepherd.com!