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Monday, December 31, 2018

Romancing yourself

ROMANCING YOURSELF
The first time I came read that phrase I found it a bit weird. But it does make a lot of sense. Why should we make ourselves dependent on a partner or dates to get romanced? And what if you fall for someone who isn’t all that romantic? Then you’re stuck again.
So why not romance yourself? Whether single or involved. You deserve love and attention, which starts with you loving and caring about yourself. 
I hadn’t been romanced in a while, nor had I romanced myself. I’d treated myself well, but my heart wasn’t completely open so I could only allow it in on a superficial level.
Something curious happened when I was watching “The Bodyguard” with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Yes, an old movie, but I’d run out of things to watch and I thought, why the hell not.
At some point there’s a scene where Ms Spoiled Brat gets him to date her so she gets an evening out. She talks him into slow dancing with her, and the very second he takes her in his arms on the dance-floor I feel this Pang!! in my heart. Not my physical heart of course, that’d be scary, but energetically in my heart chakra. Because of that scene my heart chakra had opened and I felt that glorious jolt of romance. I almost cried from joy.



I decided in that moment to start a “Romancing Myself” project by watching romantic movies. Maybe you’re now wondering what the big deal is with that. Well, I never watch romantic movies or anything that is considered ‘chick flick’. I’m a very feminine woman, yet when it comes to movies and series I prefer action, thriller, police & FBI and so on.
Time to bring some change in my menu so for the first time ever I began looking for romantic movies to watch. And you know what? I’m enjoying it so much!
In an attempt to not go for tear jerkers like “Titanic”, I began with watching “Miss Congeniality”. And even though I know the movie quite well, it made me laugh so loud I had tears running down my cheeks. I hadn’t laughed that hard in yonks.
I must say it does help to watch romantic movies. It changes your mindset and vibe, which is exactly what I am looking for.

The reason I’m sharing this… if you too have lost that romantic touch, that juicy sparkling part of life that makes it great, because of heartache or being stuck in ruts and routines, then maybe starting your own little romantic project can help you!

Of course that doesn’t have to be limited to movies you watch. I think it’s mostly about doing these extra little things that you normally don’t do (anymore). Maybe do run a bath more often, put candles all around it, soft music, and have some ‘you’ time.
Or buy that wonderful smelling shower gel that makes you feel like a goddess when you’re using it.
Just get creative with it, romance yourself whichever way suits you and makes you feel loved. If you’re single something as simple as taking 10 minutes to lovingly touch and caress your body can be a real eye-opener! Touch is so important, our bodies need it, yet in our society we hardly ever get touched unless we’re in a (healthy) relationship.
Regularly taking 10 minutes to give that to yourself can really help your ‘feeling good’ levels.

I’m wishing you lots of fun with your Romantic Project
&
all the best for the New Year!

Dani Rose

Author of "Free Me, Master!"
Available as E-book and paperback in all large bookshops.
AMAZON

DANI ROSE: "I wish to bring you, my reader, joy with my books, a little romance and a love story. And considering the sexy genre it also has to have good levels of hot-ness. Trust me, it does! But I want it to be more than just that so my books also hold a bit of a message, and insight in BDSM, and in what moves people. Nothing that will make you feel like you're reading a textbook of course, I make sure it is an enjoyable experience!"

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Happy New Year Dinner

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I hope this next year brings you all you desire—or at least a lot of it.

I'm hoping to get more books written, finishing up the last book in my Kitchen Confessions series. I also want to eat well and exercise more than I did this year, which was not at all, so I don't have to do much to improve. But before I get on the healthy bandwagon, I have one more New Year's Eve indulgence dinner, which I will share with you now. It's impressive but soooo easy.

Roast Duck with Port Wine Green Apple Sauce with Polenta and Roasted Asparagus

2 6-8 oz. duck breasts,
1 1/2 cups Ruby Red Port
1 large green apple, peeled and diced small
1 sprig thyme

1 bunch asparagus, tips removed
Extra-virgin olive oil

Quick cook polenta
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a medium saucepan, Put in the Port, diced green apple and thyme sprig. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook uncovered till the apple is soft 10-15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the asparagus on a sheet pan and sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes until nice and brown.

Start water boiling for polenta, following package directions.

Score the duck breast skin in a cross-hatch pattern, but don't go through the meat. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. In a heavy ovenproof skillet that will fit both duck breasts, put them in skin side down and turn on the heat to medium-low. Cook the breasts until the skin turns brown, removing the fat each time it covers the bottom of the pan. (Save the fat. It's great for pan-fried potatoes.)

When the breasts are nice and brown, turn them over and put them in the oven and roast till they hit 135 degrees. Remove from skillet and let rest for 5-8 minutes while you prepare the polenta.

Once polenta is done, add butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Remove thyme sprig from Port wine and pour through a fine sieve, pushing the now soft apple through. Stir till apple is combined with Port. It should be a nice sauce consistency.

Slice duck into thin slices and fan out on each plate. Put polenta in the curve of the duck and rest the asparagus against the polenta. Spoon sauce over duck and serve. Enjoy!


You can get more recipes if you join my reader group Rose's Garden of Delights. I also give teasers and cover reveals for my books. You can also visit me at my website www.roseccarole.com



Friday, December 28, 2018

Five Things a Writer Must From A Reader's Point of View

1. Respect your reader’s intelligence.

I am tired of books who spell EVERYTHING out instead of realizing the person reading the book has something of substance between her ears. Read this to see what I mean:

Terri spent most of the day cleaning. A clean house shows better than a dirty one. After last night’s storm, this hot, steamy, summer Georgia morning made cleaning even harder. There almost wasn’t enough time to clean up before her date with Jeff. She desperately needed to shower away all the sweat and grim typical to Georgia in the summer, the morning after a storm.
Now before you ask, I made up this passage, so please do not think it is from one of the books I have read for a review. Did you catch the issue? I think it is a very safe bet to assume your reader will know about summers in the south. If you don’t, let me fill you in, it’s hot and the morning after a nighttime storm it’s miserable.  Perhaps the reader has spent her whole life on Antarctica and has no knowledge of the weather patterns in the southern states. The author does have the responsibility to create a full experience for the reader. However, look closer at the passage:
After last night’s storm… summer Georgia morning… Georgia in the summer, the morning after a storm
We get it. It’s hot, it’s the morning after a storm, and it’s in Georgia.  Trust your reader to understand the first time she reads it. If this detail is important to the story, reiterate a different way, or better yet show the reader.

2. Know when to end your story.

I love stories. Trust me when I say that is not an exaggeration. I have withdraws when I don’t read for a few days. I actually get moody. Sometimes I feel depressed when I finish a book. If it is a series, I jump into the next book, but when that series ends- oh boy I may not be a very nice person (you could even call me that word that rhymes with ditch). However, all good things must come to an end. I can’t tell how YOU will know because it is YOUR story, but a hero doesn’t need to face obstacle after obstacle.

3. Interact with your readers socially.

Do you know why I review books? Yes, I get free books and that’s way cool. But I like working with the authors. It’s exciting to meet an author and help them promote their book. Many of the authors I work with are indie authors and they need all the help they can get. I see it like rooting for the little gal. I know these authors are busy. It takes less than a second to like a post. It takes about two minutes to share a post or respond to it. When an author responds to me socially, IT MAKES MY DAY. I totally geek out. I have printed screen shots of some of the interactions I’ve had.  See, every author has done the one thing I have been working towards- they have finished a book. I admire each author I’ve reviewed, interviewed, and spotlighted.

4. Don’t always use a thesaurus.

Read this:
Terri waltzed into the room wearing an accouterment made of dazzling baubles. Every fellow in the ostentatious room turned his craniumum to watch her flow down the staircase.
I understand not using the same old words over and over. However, it’s ok to just say:
Terri looked so hot as she walked down the stairs that every guy in the joint turned to watch her.

5. Use a professional editor.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is I cannot edit myself. When I read what I’ve written I see it the way it should be. Please pay for a good editor. Find one who will not only check grammar but will also make sure the main character stays blonde throughout the whole story. Read this and see if you can find the mistake.
Terri leaned in to talk to Jeff. "You're fly is opened."
I’ll just share this to show you what I mean:
This post may make some mad. That’s not what I want. What I want is for every writer who dreamed of finishing a book to not only make it to THE END but to succeed.  So who am I to write this? I’m a reader who’s read over a hundred books last year and has read over fifty books so far this year. I’ve read multiple genres from both indie and traditionally published authors.  Books are who I am. They are in my blood.
******************************************
Terri is a former English teacher and librarian. She taught middle and high school and college. Now she works from home homeschooling her two daughters and living out her dreams via her stories. She began escaping into books a little later than most but was hooked after the first book. It has been her dream to give back to the book world since second grade.
When she's not writing or reading, she enjoys binging on Netflix and painting. Due to her crunchy lifestyle and free spirit, she considers herself a recycled hippie. Her most important goal is to help others jump and learn to fly.
To find out more about her characters and the lives they live, check out her website, http://www.terriluvsbooks.com. Follow her on Amazon and Goodreads, or connect through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Newsletter- http://eepurl.com/dCKgkj
Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/TerriAWilson
Twitter- http://twitter.com/terriawilson
Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/wilsonterria/
Instagram- http://www.instagram.com/terria.wilson/
BookBub- https://www.bookbub.com/profile/terri-a-wilson

Thursday, December 27, 2018

TV series "Bodyguard", Travels with Cerise and scullery maids!


Have you watched the BBC/Netflix series Bodyguard? If so, you've seen the Home Secretary pull up to the home of the Prime Minister.

Later they ID it as Chequers, the home once of Winston Churchill, now the PM's.

Well! This one in the show is not the real Chequers! No!

It's Ham House, a marvelous 17th century darkly gorgeous brick home in suburb of London along the Thames! Built for the Dysarts, this home is a wonderful example of Stuart, early Georgian architecture and a wonderful place to visit.

The interior is rich with black walnut walls and tiled floors of many colors. Done in parquet designs too. Many of the furnishings are of the period, too, including a Queen's Bedchamber done in rich reds and gold.

One aspect of touring the house and kitchen gardens was for me the informative plaques describing servants' duties. Here for you is Mary Hobley's. Mary was a scullery maid. Do read about her work, her pay and her superiors.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

THE ADVENTURES OF BEING A BOOK REVIEWER



Each year, I make one New Year’s Resolution, and that is at Goodreads for a certain number of books to read (and review) each year.  For the past three years, that goal has been set at SEVEN HUNDRED books.  Each year, I meet and exceed that goal. I read every single day, without fail, and some days, I read two books--all with reviews.



In 2018, I have read and reviewed 775 books so far, with nearly a week left, that will go over 780 books.  And, each boxed set, whether four or twenty-four books only counts as one book at Goodreads and I have many boxed sets in that count.  I will also say that my reviews are more detailed than the average review, but I do not leave spoilers, only teasers. I highlight in my Kindle as I am reading a story when something jumps out at me, a quote, etc. and I use those in my reviews.

I have lost count of how many times I have had an author send me a message thanking me for the review I left, and comments like: “I wrote the book, but reading your review made me want to read the book.” “I can’t wait each time to see what quotes you will add into your review.”  Trust me readers, authors see those reviews and it can either make their day or hurt their feelings.  Use your words wisely.


I don’t just read a book, I write a review, and I want to give some simple points about how easy it is to review a book, it isn’t a book report like you did in school, it doesn’t even need to be a summary of the book.  It can be as simple as saying how the book made you feel; it might have been a page-turner, kept you on the edge of your seat, a roller coaster ride, or even caused you to feel emotions while reading it.

So why, as a reader, should you take the time to write a review? Well, reviews are the best way to say “thank you” to an author for their hard work.  It helps other readers get a feel as to how other readers rate a book, and it is as simple as just a few words or a sentence or two of what you came away with after reading it.



For me, I won’t leave a review under 3 stars; I just won’t.  Most of my reviews are 5-star reviews with a mix of some 4-stars.  It’s a grading system, 5-stars = A; 4-stars = B, etc.

When I was first asked from authors about accepting an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of a book for an honest review, I had no idea what to say in a review besides I liked this book, the characters, and interactions.  So I Googled reviews and found this site that had several simple templates to help, and did it ever.  It was the basis for me becoming a better reviewer.

https://authorsofmainstreet.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/how-to-write-a-review/?blogsub=subscribed#subscribe-blog

I will be the first to say that I have pet peeves about reviewing a book, these are a few of WHAT NOT TO DO items.  Remember Thumper in the movie Bambi, “If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.”  Make that your motto.




#1: Unless you read the entire book and finish it, you haven’t earned the right to review it.  If for some reason, you don’t like a book (and yes, there are times a book doesn’t work for me) you just act like an adult and DO NOT LEAVE A NASTY REVIEW.  I am appalled at the number of reviews that are 1-star with comments, DNF (did not finish) or something as bad. SHAME ON YOU.

If you have accepted an ARC from an author, NetGalley or Booksprout, etc. where accepting the book equates leaving a review, there is a way to meet the obligation and not review. In other words, they have a place to inform them why you won’t be leaving a review. I have sent a message to authors and told them that the story just does not work for me, and the best thing is for me to stop and not write a review.  They all seem to understand an appreciate my honesty with them.  Trust me; they would rather not have a review than having a low star review that hurts their star rankings.

#2: DO NOT PUT IN SPOILERS.  OMG, seriously, why would you tell the “ending” or the “surprises” that usually don’t come out until near the end?  Just don’t do it.

#3: So what, you didn’t like the Hero or heroine, for whatever reason.  You didn’t write the book; if you were that talented, you could write yours however you chose.  But don’t write a nasty review based on a character.  Last time I checked, in life, people can be snarky, mean, etc., so get off the Pollyanna attitude about characters not being as you think they should be.

I have read reviews that stated, “If I had written this book, I would do---xyz differently.” Well, you didn’t.  Sometimes girls are whiny, guys are mean, and not everything isn’t nice with unicorns and glitter rainbows.

#4: Just because you can have a “free” book to read, don’t read a genre you have triggers or issues.  I don’t like horror or true crime. Therefore, I don’t read either. 

I read a very detailed, very nasty review of a book that was in a genre that the reader does not like to read, yet, she took a pdf free copy of a book, her friend “loaned her.”  Hint: that is piracy. She read a book on a subject she dislikes and then proceded to write a one and a half page review, full of spoilers, plus getting nasty about that particular fetish.  Let me also mention; if an author—publisher—or free book provider sends you a book based upon your agreeing to read and review, it does not allow you to share or loan to someone else.

#5:  I can honestly read a story and not like it and still give it a raving review.  OMG, HOW?  Glad you asked.  Just because I don’t like the characters, how they act, or whatever, I kept reading, and overall, it was a really good story.  So what I am saying is that just because you didn’t like the book, that isn’t a reason for a bad review.  Yes, some books will take you out of your “comfort zone,” but at the same time, it will make you think or see something as different. 

I have been a guest on several authors blogs about being a reviewer, and my first appearance was picked up by RWA (Romance Writers Association) and reposted the next day.  I am sharing that link here to my review over at Four Foxes, One Hound from January 2016:


I hope that this little addition to Sweet N Sexy Divas Blog will encourage you to write reviews on the books you read.  Also, if you aren’t a member (which is free) of Goodreads, I would encourage you to join and set your 2019 Reading Challenge Goal.  Make it reasonable for YOU, not someone else.  It is fun to post your reviews at Goodreads, which keeps the tally for you.  Even if you don’t purchase a book at Amazon, or the other retailers, that does not mean you can’t leave reviews. So “thank an author and leave a review.” They will appreciate you for doing so.

If you want to follow me on Facebook, Goodreads, etc. Please see links below. I want to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year and to encourage you to READ and WRITE REVIEWS.
Twitter: @heare2watts   https://twitter.com/heare2watts


Kathy Heare Watts, aka Redrabbitt.  I am a Top 500 Reviewer at Amazon and the Top #48 Reviewer (all time) at Goodreads for the USA and #65 Global.  I have over 3000 reviews listed on Amazon and over 3600 on Goodreads.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

For your After Christmas Reading Pleasure...#FREE on #KU: Holiday Romances by Suz deMello



HOLIDAY ROMANCES
Free on KU


It's the holidays, and Shelbie Nathanson must face the unwelcome news that Rick Saldano, not she, will become the C.O.O. of her family's shoe company, a job she's wanted all her life. But she can't resist his red-hot, sexy style of lovemaking... one that focuses on her passion: shoes.

“Deliciously hot!”
--Author Justine Elyot

“This book was great…very believable fun story…Thanks for the quick romp.”
--Black Disaster Fairy




Setting: Scotland, Yule Eve, 1260

A Viking raider with mysterious powers brings change to little Clan Kilbirnie, especially to the chieftain’s daughter Rhona.


Five Stars!  
--T.B. Cooper

Five Stars!  
Good book. Interesting, fun, exciting and so much more. Good characters and great story. I recommend it.
--Sherry Westendorf





HAPPY READING AND 
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas Goodies!


As usual, this holiday season is a joyful, mad rush to get things done and prepare for next year. Last year, I spent Christmas in the hospital, and this year I'm battling illness again, but at least I'm not on lock-down in a hospital bed. I've got some cool holiday goodies to tell you about, so in case I forget to tell you later, Merry Christmas and I'm praying your new year will bring joy, health, and prosperity!

Goodies #1 and #2 Get 39 books for only 99 cents AND get an additional bonus prize!



Love urban fantasy? Do you have a Barnes and Noble account? You don't have to have a Nook, just an account. Do you have an iPad, iPhone, or Mac? If your answer is "Heck, yeah," we've got a special giveaway for you. Not only can you get 39 books for 99 cents, but if you email me your proof of purchase from one of the links above, I'll send you an additional bonus prize! 




Here's how it works: 
1. Get your copy of the set from one of the retailers above and copy or take a screen shot of your proof of purchase/receipt.
2. Visit this post to find out how to get your additional 14 books (there are 25 in the set) to get the 39 books for 99 cents.
3. Send me an email with your proof of purchase and I'll send you your bonus prize. Easy peasy!  



Goody #3 Get a free copy of book one in my "Secret Admirer's Christmas Wish" series! 

Sometimes, a little Christmas magic delivers love in the most inconvenient places.

Cheryl Hightower has an iron-clad mind for figures, statistics, and organization. That’s all well and good, but she also has a creative side screaming to be unleashed from a desk, computer, and horn-rimmed glasses. When she finally finds the courage to follow her heart, her orderly life seems to unravel, leading her to a new job with vipers at every turn, and leaving her in a position of uncertainty for the first time since childhood. The resulting encounter with the object of her secret crush – who also happens to be her new boss – prompts both of them to acknowledge the emptiness they’ve endured for far too long. The challenge is figuring out what to do about it. 



If you're a no-drama person who enjoys animals as well as books, join my Facebook group for chats, updates, giveaway opportunities, and more.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Winter Solstice


Earth would be a dead planet without the sun. All life on earth, plants, animals, people, everything
depends on the sun to live. The sun gives us light and warmth. Also, we use the sun to keep track of the time of day and of the year.

Earth...more than that...our entire solar system...revolves around the Sun. So, at the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, the ancient Celts celebrated the return of the sun’s trek back towards earth with traditions we still observe today. 

Mistletoe and oak were sacred to the ancient Celts. Therefore, the mistletoe that grew on oak trees was highly prized. Mistletoe was called all-heal for its medicinal properties. The Celts looked upon mistletoe as a symbol of peace and goodwill. It was a used as a sign to warring tribes to observe a temporary truce with each other until the next day.

Druids picked mistletoe from oak trees five days after the new moon following the Winter Solstice. One druid climbed the tree and cut the mistletoe with a sickle, while others held an open a sheet beneath him to catch the sacred plant since it was taboo to let it touch the ground. The druids handed out sprigs of mistletoe to the tribe members, who then hung them over entranceways for protection.

The Celts built and danced around huge bonfires and also burned a Yule log in their central fireplace, which was like bringing the blessing of the sun-god into their home. A Yule log could be a gift, or it could be taken from your land, or found in the woods. But if you bought or sold a Yule log its magic would be obliterated.



The ancient Celts would decorate the Yule log with evergreens and bring it home in a cart pulled by an ok. Usually, they sprinkled ale or mead over the log before they lit it. They kept it slowly, yet steadily burning for 12 days in the fire place before extinguishing it. To pass the light on from one year to the next, they kept part of the unburned log safely to one side and used it to light next year’s Yule log. Also, they stashed the log's ashes away until spring, at which time they mixed them with seeds and scattered them on the fields, spreading the sun-god's magic contained in the Yule log over the land.


For the Winter Solstice, ancient Celts decorated the Yule logs and their homes with holly and ivy, which are linked to the God Bran.
He had a club made of holly and the gold-gold-crest wren, his sacred bird, nests in ivy.

Last but not least is the food. Feasting was a part of the Winter Solstice festival just like the big Christmas day dinners we enjoy in the 21st century.

In conclusion, let me which you a merry Winter solstice, Christmas, or whatever winter holiday you observe, full of warmth, lush evergreens, kissing under the mistletoe, yummy food, peace and goodwill, and a great time with your tribe (friends and family.)

Also you can spend an Iron age Winter Solstice with Druidess  Bronwen  in my novella, The Bear and the Druidess.

Winter is Coming...The Winter Solstice that is...and the Romans are causing problems as well in The Bear and the Druidess.
Sometimes a secret must be revealed to move from the winter of love into its spring.
Romans stole all the winter grain from Druidess Bronwen's tribe. Now, pursued by Romans, she ducks into a cave to hide. There she finds a handsome warrior who offers to help. He ignites a fiery spark of attraction within her but she can tell he's keeping something from her.

The prayers of a beautiful druidess he can't resist lead the Bear God Artaois into the cave where Bronwen is hiding. He pretends to be asleep until she finds him.

Artaois (Art) is determined to spend the longest night of the year with her. But Bronwen doesn't realize he's a god. He keeps his secret from her and even though he can transform into a bear, he only reveals himself in human form.

With the Winter Solstice upon them, can Artaois (Art) find a way to save her tribe from starvation? And, when Bronwen finally discovers his secret, will she leave the romance building between them out in the cold?