Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sample Sunday

Second Chances by Valerie Maarten


Premise:  After 20 years of the pain and suffering from the loss of a loved one, Dain and Kadi must confront the ghosts that haunt their past, present and future.  Will they, in turn, be able to embrace their Second Chances?

The set-up: With a heavy heart and a blackened soul, Dain McKnight lays-in-wait to finally confront the man that was convicted of murdering his sister, Hanna.  He sits in the dank bar across the street pondering on the multitude of ways to torture a man as he bides his time.

Dain McKnight’s jaw clenched and unclenched in a violent rhythm of madness.  His large hand cupped the glass he held, threatening to shatter it into a zillion shards.  Still, the low rumble of voices in the dimly lit bar couldn’t drown out his fatalistic thoughts.  The primal instincts for blood had dwelled dormant inside him…until he heard the news.  He took another swig from his glass.  The burning sensation went down, slow.
The bartender broke into his thoughts, clearly intimidated by Dain’s dark, mysterious behavior.  His eyes instinctively lowered in submission.  “Do you want another?”
Dain grunted.  He slid the empty glass over in the man’s direction.  Yet, his eyes never left his line of sight.  The brown, two-story brick building held all his attention and the brunt of his wrath.  Inside that building lived the man who brutally and savagely murdered his sister Hanna, 20 years ago.  Now here he was, free and living amongst society as if nothing had ever happened.  Yet Hanna still lay cold in her grave with no such reprieve.
Dain clenched his teeth again, his jaws flexed violently as the muscles in his neck strained to break free from beneath his skin.
The bartender returned with another double shot of whiskey and placed it on the table in front of him.  His eyes wandered curiously at the window to try and glean what held his glare so intently.  All he could see was the normal comings and goings at the Trinity House, a half-way house that housed reformed drug addicts and paroled prisoners. 
Dain ignored his presence and essentially dismissed him with a $50 bill that he slammed down on his tray.  The bartender shrugged and returned to his tasks.
An older gentleman who had been sitting at the bar since Dain’s arrival appeared to have finally drunk enough to conjure up the courage to approach.  He staggered and side-stepped the whole way.  In an almost comical way, the drunken man gave a slight bow in a gesture that indicated that he had come in ‘peace’.  Still, he swayed back and forth as he tried to maintain his equilibrium. 
“If it’s a young lady who’s got you drowning your sorrows away, let an old man give you a word of advice…” he gave Dain a friendly, toothless grin.  “Get another one.  No woman is worth so much pain.”
Pain.  What does he know about my pain?  He frowned and gave the man a menacing stare, though he didn’t waiver.  He seemed too deadened by all the alcohol that he had consumed throughout the course of the day to be afraid.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Old Man,” Dain said in a low grumble.  His voice was low, his tone even.  Which was the opposite emotion of what he felt inside.  Inside, he felt bold, brazen and on the verge of being unable to contain the ‘Monster’ that lived in his darkened soul.
The man was oblivious to Dain’s contempt and sat down in the empty chair across from him.  Dain’s eyebrow went up slightly. 
“I’ve spent a lot of days in that chair,” he pointed to a dark, lonely corner at the back end of the bar.  Dain stared for a moment, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dimness of the room after having stared out at the glare of the street for hours on end.  “No woman is worth the sorrow I see in your eyes, boy.”
“I assure you, she is worth it.”  He leaned forward so the man could see the hatred that lurked behind his eyes.  “I am prepared to kill for her.”
The man scotched back in his seat, feeling the power of Dain’s declaration.  For a long while he was unable to speak.  There was a moment of clarity in his eyes.  In that instant, he was as sober as a Judge.  “You don’t mean that, son.”  He pleaded.  “You have a second chance, right here…right now.  All you have to do is take it.  Don’t throw your life away.  There’s nothing worth that.”
Dain leaned back in his chair, pondering the words of the man before him.  He was a complete stranger to him and yet he had cared enough about him to warn him against the destructive thoughts that haunted his mind, knowing that it would ruin the rest of his life and destroy his family.  But the need to avenge the death of his beloved sister was too powerful.  He wanted nothing less than to make the man who was responsible, endure the same pain and suffering he had caused her.


Oriental Ham Soup


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sliced bok choy
  • 3/4 cup carrot cut into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Dash pepper
  • 8-ounces fully cooked ham, cut into thin strips (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup spinach or regular egg noodles


  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven combine water, boy choy, carrot, onion, soy sauce, dry sherry, and pepper. Bring to boiling. Add ham and noodles.
  2. Simmer about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender and vegetables are crisp-tender. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Featured Indie Authors

Seb Kirby, Author of Mystery / Thriller "Take No More"

I was raised with books - my grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham and my parents inherited a random selection of the books. They weren't much interested in them; the books were piled up in a box room, gathering dust. I would disappear in there and resurrect much used classics - Zane Gray 'Riders of the Purple Sage', H G Wells 'The Invisible Man', Charles Dickens 'A Tale of Two Cities' and more obscure stuff that I don't now recall. I was hooked.

There was gap, a long gap, until I was lucky enough to find an inspirational school teacher. He donated his own books to make a lending library in a stock cupboard off the classroom. Kids queued to borrow the books. Except these were the classics - Franz Kafka 'Metamorphosis' and 'The Trial', George Orwell '1984' and 'Animal Farm', Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 'One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich', Ray Bradbury 'Fahrenheit 451', Boris Pasternak 'Dr Zhivago', Arthur Koestler 'Darkness At Noon', Vladimir Nabokov 'Pale Fire', Ken Kesey 'One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest', Aldous Huxley 'Brave New World'.............I've been an avid reader ever since.

Take No More (A murder mystery thriller)


Edie Ramer, Author of multiple Romance genre

Edie Ramer loves her cat so much, she wrote CATTITUDE, a book in which a cat changes bodies with a woman. Edie tried to put herself in her cat's mind. She managed so well it was eerily freakish.

She lives in southeastern Wisconsin with her husband, two dogs, and the original Belle the cat. She started writing in the 1990's, selling short stories in the mystery genre to National magazines and two Women Sleuth books. In addition to non-fiction articles, she wrote verses for greeting cards, and she possesses a drawer filled with cards for any occasion.

She's co-founder of Write Attitude (, an inspirational website for writers, and a popular group blog, Magical Musings (

You can visit Edie at

Dead People (Haunted Hearts) Dragon Blues (Dragon series)Cattitude The Seventh Dimension
Amazon US           Amazon US        Amazon US         Amazon US
Amazon UK           Amazon UK        Amazon UK         Amazon UK
Amazon DE           Amazon DE        Amazon DE        Amazon DE
B&N                       B&N                     B&N                    B&N
Smashwords         Smashwords      Smashwords      Smashwords


Alex Knight, Author of Paranormal Romance / Vampires

Alex Knight enjoys writing mysteries, horror stories and romantic comedies. She has had several humorous essays published in U.S. newspapers and her essays, poetry and fiction have been published in numerous online publications around the globe. Her most recent project, Murder in Mendocino, will be available soon. Other works in progress include a sequel to What Luck and a romantic comedy. She is also compiling collections of her short stories and poems. When she isn't busy reading or writing she can be found gathering research for her next novel or acting as her partner's photography assistant. She currently resides in a small Canadian city with her partner and an ever growing number of exotic 'pets.'

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guest Blog featuring Reena Jacobs

How Many Points Ya Got?
Reena Jacobs

Everyone (okay, maybe not everyone, but you know what I mean) talks about the importance of social networking in today’s market. Without having any statistical data whatsoever, I’m going to go with, yeah. I think social networking is important. How it helps book sales, I have no idea. What I will say is the indie world of writing is a lot less lonely with my fellow authors by my side.

If you do a quick search, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of information about the different types of social media and how to use those networking tools to generate sales. We’re not doing that today. :) Today, we’re going to learn about being a good internet buddy. Whether you’re a writer, reader, blogger, entrepreneur, or whatever, there’s more to social networking than picking out folks to use.

That’s right. In a roundabout way, I just called some of you folks users. If you want to be that person, go for it. For others, read further, because I’m offering suggestions on making real connections today. It all revolves round keeping tabs, or rather not keeping tabs.

Here’s the thing. No one owes you anything. Naught. Zilch. Zippo. When you offer help, specials, or goodies to others, do it because you want… out of the goodness of your own heart. Don’t expect anything in return. There is no scoreboard. And if you’re keeping one, I guarantee your opponents’ tab likely leans more in their favor. I’m telling you, don’t play that game. Rather, let giving be enough.

So you’re racking up karma points or something for later, right? Nope. So what’s the catch? There is no catch. What I’m saying is be a decent person. If someone asks for help, and you’re willing and able to aid them, go for it. Notice the italics. You don’t have to bend over backward to help everyone. If you want to help, then do it… no pressure. Just don’t expect anyone to return any favors. This isn’t a loan system.

What if you need help too? You’re in the same position as everyone else. Simply ask. Some folks may be willing and able to lend a hand, others may not. That’s the way the world works.

I’ve been known to turn down a request here or there. For the sake of me, yes to everything just doesn’t work. :) Yes today. No tomorrow. There have been times I’ve looked at my calendar and thought, if I add one more thing to my to-do list, I’ll shut down completely.

People are free to pick and choose their projects same as you. Still, I will say from experience, there are a lot… and I mean a lot!!! of wonderful people out there. Check out my Authors Helping Authors section sometime. Great authors offering free advice to whomever will listen—their time, their energy. You’ll find instances of folks sharing all over the webosphere, and people welcoming you into the fold with open arms. All you have to do is learn how to hug them back.

So take a different stance other than who’s done what for whom, and when that special someone comes to your rescue, be grateful… show your appreciation. That person just went out of their way for you. Because remember, they don’t owe you a thing.


Reena Jacobs is just your typical writer who loves to see her words in print. As an avid reader, she’s known to hoard books and begs her husband regularly for “just one more purchase.” Her home life is filled with days chasing her preschooler and nights harassing her husband. Between it all, she squeezes in time for writing and growling at the dog. You can find Reena on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer, Amazon, Goodreads, and Smashwords.

They formed a bond so strong, death couldn't keep them apart.
Shadow Cat (The Striped Ones)
Shadow Cat (The Striped Ones)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sample Sunday

First Chapter of FORGET ME NOT by Valerie Maarten

PROLOGUE (unedited version)

Violet DeGrace bounded up the stairs to her bedroom, unable to believe what had just occurred between her and her mother.  Her heart raced as she tore through her room like a cyclone, removing clothes from hangers and dumping undergarments on the bed.

A myriad of emotions coursed through her veins, but most prevalent was hatred.  Hatred of the man that had come between her and her mother…her stepfather.  But anger at her mother ran a close second, making her disappointment acute.

Never, in a million years, did she envision that the conversation she needed to have with her mother would erode into a knock-down, drag-out war.  What she did expect was for her mother to feel just as appalled and betrayed as she did.

Violet plopped down heavily on the bed, listening but not hearing the argument that continued downstairs.  Their words were muffled, but the anger and rage in their tones was clear.  Yet, it was an anger that was unjustly aimed towards her.  She was the victim here.  So, why did she feel so wretched?

Violet reached for the suitcase in the back ofher closet and tossed it on her bed.  She was not staying in this place another moment. Although she had nowhere to go, she’d rather sleep on the street like a homeless urchin than to sleep under the same roof with that vile man. If you could call him that.  He was more like a…a predator,” she thought to herself.

Soon, the arguing downstairs died down to an eerie hush that shrouded the house.  The silence put a cold shiver up Violet’s spine. Then she could hear it…footsteps. They were light and tentative. She knew, without seeing, that it was her mother.

A soft rap on the door drew her attention back to her packing.  She did not want to talk anymore.  All she had wanted to do was leave and NEVER return.  The knocking came again, harder and more insistent this time.

“Violet…it’s me. Open the door,” her mother called from the other side of the door.

“Go away!” Violet yelled from the other side. “I don’t want to talk to you.”

She could hear her take in a deep, impatient breath.  “Open this door this instant!” she yelled back.  “I’ve had just about enough of your wild accusations and your foolishness to try and come between me and my husband.  Now, open this door, or so help me, I’ll rip it from the hinges.”

Violet stared at the closed door for a long while, still not believing her mother’s harsh words from their argument earlier.  “Wild accusations?”  Did she not understand what she was trying to tell her?  Just the thought of it enraged her further.  Renewed anger propelled her to the door.  She was prepared to do battle, once and for all. If she never saw her mother again in her lifetime, she would know what she meant to her before she left.

Violet snatched the door open with such violent force her mother was stunned into silence for a moment, but quickly collected her wits.  She clearly had come to do battle, as well.

Bonnie Willis was no shrinking violet and neither was her daughter.  She had raised her to be tough and strong.  A trait she thought would be useful when Violet became a woman and married.  She had prepared her to defend herself and accept nothing less than the best for herself. But that characteristic was supposed to be reserved for a wandering husband that would leave her for a much younger woman and start a new family, as if the life he had previously never existed. She never thought in all her life that her own daughter would turn it on her.

Bonnie brushed past Violet and entered the bedroom.  She did not require an invitation in her own home.  Her eyes fell to the disarray Violet caused in the short time she stormed from the argument downstairs and slammed the door in a fierce temper.  It was havoc. Clothes were snatched from the hangers in the closet and her undergarments were strewn haphazardly across her bed, the drawer tossed aside on the floor.

She let her eyes take in the scene around her.  Her face pinched together in a pensive scowl.  “Well, if she thinks she could do better on her own, let her leave,” she thought to herself.  “She will be back, begging for their forgiveness within the week.”

“Going somewhere?”  Bonnie asked. She still never looked at her daughter. She continued to survey the room, inch by inch.  She was determined that she would not be the one to give in.  This was too important.  She had to stand firm…hold her ground or Violet would ruin her only chance at finding love again.

Violet stubbornly didn’t answer.  She knew that her silence would speak volumes.  And though she and her mother rarely had a disagreement, she could not back down now.  And if she couldn’t make her understand and see what was going on right under her nose, then there was nothing left to say.  She tossed her jeans and shirts in the suitcase, her mind reeling from the cruel words that were spoken earlier, the hateful words that had already begun to sear her heart.

Bonnie became impatient with Violet’s attitude and grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her around to face her.  The look she gave her cut Bonnie to her soul, but she knew she was doing the right thing.  She could not let her daughter's petty jealousy of her relationship with her new husband ruin her chance at happiness.

“Where do you think you’re going, huh?  To your father?” she let out a sarcastic, scoffing sound.  “When he divorced me, he divorced you.  Or have you forgotten?”  She stepped closer to Violet, crowding her space and making her scotch back a few paces. “When was the last time he called you?” she poked her in the chest.  “When was the last time he did anything for you?  It’s like you no longer exist to him.”

Violet flinched at her mother’s words.  They were true.  When he left them five years ago, he never looked back.  It was like he never had a wife and daughter.  And now…now he had a new wife and family. She could never go to him for help. He would only turn her away and say that his precious wife wanted time for them and their new daughter to become acquainted first.  Her mother was right about that, but she would not…could not stay here.

"It’s no longer any of your concern what I do, mother,” she said angrily.  Disdain and venom dripped from her words.  “You’ve clearly made your choice and you’re no different than my father in that regard.”

Before the words left her lips, her mother delivered her a stinging slap that made her head snap back and a loud ringing sound droned in her ears.  Tears did sting behind her eyes this time, more from shock than from the pain.  Her mother had never struck her before…until she married that disgusting man.

“Don’t you dare say that to me!” Bonnie yelled.  Her temper had reached its boiling point with her flippant,  teenage daughter’s antics.  She had had enough.  “When your father left us, I was the one that struggled to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly.  Who do you think bought those clothes you’re packing?  I did!”

Violet slammed the pants that she was holding into the suitcase.  She didn’t care if she had to strip naked, she was not staying here.   “Fine! Youcan keep your damned clothes.  I don’t need them.  And I don’t need you!”

Bonnie stepped aside as Violet pushed past her and stormed from the room, leaving her mother looking on, bewildered and shocked.  Her motherly instinct told her to stop her from leaving…to apologize and hope that things would go back to the way they had been before this discourse.  But she didn’t want to it the way it was.  She didn’t want to be alone for the rest of her life.  And if her daughter couldn’t see that…understand that, then she could just go.  She was not going to stop her.

Yet, the sight of her daughter’s retreating back as she walked from the room and down the stairs fueled an anger she would regret for the rest of her life.  Her next words were surely going to seal their fates.  But she had given her no other choice.  She had forced her to have to choose between a thick-headed daughter and her new husband.  Violet was 16 years old and would be leaving off to college in a year.  So why should she give up on her life and her marriage? She loved her husband.

Bonnie ran to the top of the stairs as Violet rushed towards the door.  “Go! Get out!”  she yelled at Violet’retreating back.  “And do not EVER come back.  Do you hear me?  You’re no longer my daughter and you’re not welcomed in my…our,” referring to her husband, “…home.  From this day forward, I don’t have a daughter.”

Her biting words made Violet stop in her tracks, her trembling hands hovered over the doorknob.  She did not look back as she spoke.  Tears filled her eyes and she did not want her mother to know that she had hurt her so deeply.  Her instinct was to strike back.  “And I no longer have a mother.  You are dead to me.  And when your husband breaks your heart, do not come looking for me to help you put your pathetic life back together.”

“Get out of my house!” Bonnie yelled again.  Her body shook from the intensity of her rage.  She held her stomach, as if to ward off the pain her words had caused. “Go!” Bonnie continued to scream, her shrills bouncing off the walls andf ollowed Violet as she closed the door behind her.  The price of remaining with her husband had cost her the dearest person in the world. But it was too late to take back all that she had said.  In a fit of anguish and raw  pain, Bonnie screamed as she slid to the floor and began to sob for her loss.

Copyright © 2011 Valerie Maarten


Parmesan Spinach Balls


  • 1 pound package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 10 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 3/4 cups Italian-style bread crumbs


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Squeeze the excess water from the spinach and put it in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well by hand.* Form the mixture into 1-inch balls, either by hand or with a small ice cream scoop. Place the balls closely together on a baking sheet.
  • Cook in the top half of the oven until firm to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, and then transfer to a platter and serve immediately.
* Cook's Note: Wearing latex gloves while mixing and forming the balls is suggested.


Other Great Sample Sunday and Recipes you will want to check out!

Mel Comley - Sweet and Sour and Chicken
Betty Carlton - Pot Roast
Seb Kirby - Humous
Faith Mortimer - Crab Salad
Libby Fischer Hellmann - Blintz Souffle
Traci Hohenstein - Shrimp Scampi
Tania Tirraoro - Asparagus & smokey bacon fishcakes
Sibel Hodge - Turkish Meatballs
Linda Prather - Homemade Candy
Lia Fairchild -
Larry Enright -
Mark Adair -
Kristina Jackson -