Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Hope is a Thing With Feathers

Posted by Susan B James on 8:29:00 PM with 2 comments
Hi there.
Perhaps you too are experiencing soul panic. I am finding it hard to write. And to read new books right now. I want the comfort of the tried and true. Fortunately, I have a huge library of favorites. Plus there is the blessing of online borrowing from my local library. And free books on Amazon.
What are you doing to put fun in your life?

I meditate, read, walk, avoid the news, and do jigsaw puzzles.

Chris, my younger son does my grocery shopping. He and Melanie come over to hang out with Eugene (age two months) and Walter.
We have seen each other on most days since the beginning of the shutdown. They see no one but me and visa versa. So it counts as social distance.

I check Facebook, go to church online and answer email and phone calls from friends.
And I remember this too shall pass. One day it will simply be a memory.
Good things: 
I have an excuse to order out.
Making Paleo fudge
We walked on the beach. No traffic. Fabulous social distancing. Great joy.

Realizing we truly are all one community.

Links I found comforting:
Alyssa Cole has a Field Guide to Confinement. 
Jen Crusie has a post Rats With Islands about why paying attention to reality is not your best option. This is about being a writer. But it applies to us right now.
Deepak Chopra has a video on YouTube about the Pandemic of fear currently infecting the world and how to mitigate its effect.
Here is a video of an alternate had washing song to sing.
Stay panic free. Our God is way bigger than this.https://vimeo.com/399036765

I wish each of you comfort, joy, freedom from panic and so much love.
Soon I will be back to regularly scheduled blogs.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Irish Magic on sale for 99 cents thru St. Patrick's Day

Posted by Susan B James on 4:49:00 PM with 1 comment

Because St Patrick's Day is Monday. My publisher put the eBook for Irish Magic on sale for 99 cents.

Now that's lucky for readers looking for escapism with humor,.
The paperback is available for 14.99. If you buy it, that's lucky for me.

Because we now have the possibility of being quarantined and may all need escapist reading. I will give you a few more books (not mine) at the end of this post.

I've had so much good luck lately.
 I started writing this newletter while sitting in my dressing room at Warner Brothers waiting to be called to the set. That's super lucky for me. I am in Joel Coen's movie of William Shakepeare's Macbeth Starring Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington. And I have a new grandson - Eugene Keaton Howard-Corbin.

In honor of St Patrick's Day, here are a few Irish Superstitions
If giving someone a purse or wallet, be sure to put money into it or it will be forever empty.
It is unlucky to knit at night until you are certain the sheep are asleep.

If you meet a magpie, a cat or a woman with a limp while you’re on a trip it is bad luck.
If you find a horseshoe and nail it to the door it will bring good luck. This will not work if the shoe is bought or given as a gift by someone else.  It is not safe to pick up an unbaptized child unless you make the sign of the cross.
If the palm of your hand itches you’re going to come into some money. If it’s your elbow you will be changing beds. If your ear feels hot someone is talking about you. If it’s your nose that's itchy you are going to have a fight with the person nearest to you. To remedy this punch them in the arm and shake them by the hand. Fight over!
Handing someone a knife is bad luck. Always put it on the table in front of them never in their hand. When giving someone a knife or a pair of scissors as a gift, have them chew a piece of bread when opening the gift. This will prevent them from ever being cut by the implement.
If a child was born before noon, he or she would not be able to see spirits or the good people - but if born at night, the child would have the gift. By the way, it's considered very risky to refer to the good people as fairies, wee folk or little people.

Last one: A cross on the bread lets the devil out
Soda bread was traditionally a staple of many Irish households as it could be cooked easily from basic, cheap ingredients – flour, soured milk, baking soda – in a bastible pot suspended over the home fire with no need for an oven. To this day, the person who is baking scores a cross through the top of the bread before baking – the practical reason is to facilitate more even cooking, but the more spiritual interpretation traditionally was that the cross let the devil out.
This  recipe is from

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread

Prep 15 m
Cook 50 m
Ready In 1 h 5 m

Recipe By:MP Welty
"A good old fashioned soda bread with just the basic ingredients. Buttermilk gives this crusty loaf a good flavor. The best Irish soda bread around!"


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'CROSS' into the top of the loaf.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check for doneness after 30 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2020 Allrecipes.com
Printed From Allrecipes.com 3/9/2020
Some more reading for you after you finish Irish Magic.
I wanted to give you authors and books you  might enjoy during our current appocalytpic situation.
Most of these you can get at your public library. Or on your Kindle app.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Funny escapist lovely reading. I just re-read First Lady.
Jayne Ann Krentz I just finished The Vanishing and a reread of all of her Curtain series.
Alyssa Cole A Princess in Theory blew me away. I just gave away a copy on my blog.
Beverly Jenkins had a new book come out in her Blessings series
Tamora Pierce's series for mid-grade readers. Hey I love them and reread them all the time. https://www.amazon.com/Tamora-Pierce/e/B000APBE82/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0   
Belle Ami's The Girl who Knew DaVinci https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Knew-Vinci-Romantic-ebook/dp/B07C6MJYW5
Right now I am reading The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rossner. Not very escapist, but beautifully lyrical. I will be giving away a copy on my blog next week.
During this time of madness please find something you can do to make yourself happy. Stay sane and healthy

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Unicorn slime

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments

This week Walter and I made Unicorn Slime from a powder made by Jello.
May your life be as full of joy as we were.
It's the first week of March. St  Patrick's day approaches.
Could I tempt you into reading a bit of humor and a love letter to Ireland? Available in eBook, Paperback and Audio
 Review: From Rocking Book Reviews
 Irish Magic - Susan B. James 
   This is such a wonderful story. I loved the history of Ireland throughout the book.
    Michael and Kate are awesome characters. I also really liked Brad. The fantasy characters are a lot of fun too. All of the characters are well-developed. It is easy to feel their emotions.
   The book cover and title of the book are a perfect match for the story.
    I highly recommend this book to others. It is a wonderful read.
I give it a literary rating of 5/5

A romantic comedy with a touch of magic.
What do you do when everything goes wrong?
Make a wish on a four-leaf clover, right?
There’s no other logical way out of it!
But a clover wish is a heart wish. Everyone knows that.
When part leprechaun, Bradley Flynn is charged with finding Kate’s true love, he calls on retired matchmaker, Essie O’Callaghan, who happens to have a mission of her own.
Dr Michael Walshe had a ring in his pocket when he walked in on his girlfriend sleeping with her costar. He wants no part of Essie’s plan to find him a wife.
Fate – or something more leprechaun-shaped – has Kate and the doctor both heading to Cluhalaugh, home to Ireland’s most famous matchmaking festival. And somehow their paths keep crossing. The more they see of each other the harder it is to resist exploring their reluctant attraction. Will Kate realize that Michael could be far more than the cure to her writer’s block?

Irish Magic
By Susan B. James

Madison Square Park. New York City
Hanford House wants its advance back.
Kate’s author mind edited her agent’s six-word text down to two. Panic now.
Blowing the last of her book advance on a ticket to Ireland to do research might be her worst idea to date. If you didn’t count getting engaged to Eric and using him as a model for her hero. Or quitting her day job before turning in the revisions on her second book. Did bad luck come in threes?
From her seat on the grass, she focused on the barely visible triangular point of the Flatiron Building. She was supposed to leave for Ireland next week. She was pretty sure her trip insurance wouldn’t accept needing a new job as a reason for a refund. The brownie she’d bought to celebrate her last day as a bookkeeper tasted like ashes. What was she going to do now?
Batten Barton and Dunston had already replaced her. Her savings would take her through the next two months, but she’d been counting on the second part of the book advance to tide her over till she finished her next book. And now they wanted the first part back?
She fisted a handful of grass for comfort, praying for an answer to stop this disaster. None came.
Advance spent, Kate texted back. Stall them.
You broke contract. Revisions due last month.
Almost done. Just one thing to fix.
One major thing. The ghost of her ex-fiancé tainted her hero’s every word. Physically Eric had been the perfect inspiration for dashing, mysterious Lord Rotherham, but . . . Kate’s throat constricted. She was no Jane Austen, turning the real-life man who broke her heart into a hero that haunted readers’ dreams. Her Lord R was a complete ass.
Why did she have to be the kind of writer who needed a real person to hang her fictional character on? Her thoughts raced till they crashed into the wall blocking her creative mind.
Traveling to Ireland had seemed reasonable when she bought the ticket. She’d kill two birds with one trip. Find a new model for Lord Rotherham and research her next book, Perfect Match, on the Bus Eireann tour she’d spent the last month planning. The plot had already bloomed in her head. All she needed was the bus tour to nail down the details.
Kate twiddled broken blades of grass between her thumb and forefinger. One fell free. No. Not grass. It was a four-leaf clover. Her first ever. In the middle of New York City?
Kate picked it up carefully. True love might be a dead issue, but there was still the hope of magic. She closed her eyes and made a wish. “Please. Send me the perfect hero.”
* * *
Bradley Flynn, CEO of Abbey Public Relations propped his feet on the windowsill of his fortieth-floor office, feeling lord of all he surveyed. He loved New York. In seven years, he’d achieved more than he thought possible. The only thing he needed now was . . .
The intercom buzzed. “Brad, a Mr. McPhee is on line two. He says he has a contract with you.”
Brad’s size-eight Ferragamo’s hit the floor with a bang. He swiveled his chair to face the desk. Icicles clog-danced on his spine. “Tell him I’m out.
The Wearing of the Green blared from his cell phone. McPhee’s signature ring with McPhee’s own lyrics meant to entice errant half-Leprechauns back to the auld sod. Oh, there is a little island and our people love it well. A place by Nature gifted with a most endearing spell— Brad switched off the phone.
The picture on his monitor pixilated; re-forming into the face he least wanted to see. Damn the Leprechaun Guild and especially the Guild Master.
McPhee smirked at him. “You’re up.”
“I can’t be. It hasn’t been—”
“The woman used a clover.”
The monitor view reformed again, revealing a woman with closed eyes speaking into her cupped hands. Her mass of auburn hair was wound into a granny bun. She might have a nice figure. Impossible to tell because of the oversized NYU hoodie she had on over . . . a business suit? Seriously?
“She wants a real hero.”
“I suppose I could manage that.” At least, he could teach her how to dress.
“You’re not what she has in mind. Find her a hero.” McPhee’s smirk got nastier. “And remember. No magic.”
“No magic? Why?”
“Because you’re dealing with a heart wish. You can’t use magic to make someone fall in love. Find another way. And remember, if you don’t succeed, you’re mine for the next seven years.” The screen went dark.
Brad glared at the two pages his printer spat out. Kate Carnahan. His wish client. Name, address, and pertinent history. He scanned them rapidly. Hah. She was going to Ireland next week. Score one for The McPhee.
Well, forcing him back to Ireland wasn’t going to work. He’d find a way to accompany her, see to her wish and be back in New York in a fortnight. But how in the name of Finn was he supposed to provide her with a hero without magic?
Perhaps a bit of help? Asking a favor didn’t count as magic. He scrolled through his contact list till he found the name he wanted and punched in a call. The vibrant voice he remembered sounded much older now. Humans aged so fast. “Essie, how would you feel about an all-expenses-paid trip home to Ireland?”

Chapter 2 Michael
Parsonville, California
Dr. Michael Walshe looked at the golden leaves blowing past his office window, wondering if he could get in a run before sunset. The intercom buzzed. “Michael, you have a call from Mrs. O’Brian on line one.”
Michael picked up the phone. “Essie, what’s wrong?”
Essie’s voice had more spring in it than he’d heard in months. “And can’t a body call you without being sick? I was wondering if you could drop by today, Michael, I’ve got to go home to Ireland and I’m not sure I can do it by myself.”
Couldn’t be a funeral. She sounded too perky. “Somebody getting married?”
“More than one, dear boy. I’ve got a mission to fulfill.”
Not good. That sounded delusional. “Of course I’ll come. How bout I make dinner. Spaghetti okay?”
“That will be grand.” Essie’s voice dropped to a whisper. “It’s not just the trip. I don’t know what to do about Chloe.”
Relax. We’ll figure it out. See you soon.” He flicked the intercom. “Lynne, how many more patients?”
His nurse poked her head through the door. “Prissy was the last one. She told me she’s got a date with you for Saturday. Where was your running pass formation?”
“I zoned out after about fifteen minutes and she slipped it in sideways.”
“Doctor Adorable bites the dust again.” Lynne lounged against the door frame, her rocker-punk hairstyle contrasting oddly with her broad moon face. Her daughter must have been playing hairdresser again. “You know they wouldn’t try so hard if you weren’t hot.”
“Stuff it, Lynne.”
“I’m serious. You look exactly like the new doctor on As She Turns. Tall dark and dreamy.”
Michael turned on the faucets in the small office sink. Lynne needed a new hobby. “Watching soaps will rot your brain.”
“That hint of beard on your strong, manly chin. And that aloof but rumbly look in your eyes and . . .”
He took the last paper towel out of the dispenser. “We need more towels.”
“Your only fault is you don’t have a romantic bone in your body.” Lynne clasped her plump hands over her Hello Kitty scrub top. “I’m having a fantasy here. Don’t ruin it.”
He would never understand women. “What do you need a fantasy for? You’re in love with your husband.”
“So? Tom has fantasies too. Part of being happily married. His is Tracy Jay.”
Michael winced. Growing up with a well-known actress for a godmother meant he’d met lots of A-list stars, but his heart had been immune until Lorena introduced him to Tracy Jay at the wrap party for Just the Girls two years ago.
“Come on, Michael. Don’t you have fantasies?”
“None that I care to tell you about.” His relationship with Tracy was classified. Tracy had wanted it that way. He exchanged his white coat for the tan windbreaker he kept in the small closet. “I’m off to check on Essie. We have a dinner date. I’m making her my secret-recipe spaghetti sauce.”
“Big deal. I know you use Ragu.”
“What is it with this town? You know my grocery list?”
Lynne patted his cheek. “I think there’s a town website devoted to your every move.”
“Go home and annoy your children. We’re done for the day.”
Lynne blew him a kiss and shut the door behind her.
A quick stop at the market, and off to Essie’s. What kind of secret mission could she be fantasizing? His phone buzzed. Another phone call from Tracy. They’d been coming like clockwork all day. He pushed delete without answering.
Lynne’s question echoed in his mind. Don’t you have fantasies? His heart twisted, remembering his last sight of Tracy.
Not anymore.

Buy links Irish Magic eBook and paperback

Audiobook links

Susan writes second chance romances with a touch of magic as Susan B. James and children’s books as Susan J. Berger. She writes older heroines because she is chronologically gifted and enjoys creating characters who remember that change is only on the outside. Inside our older shells is a much younger psyche. Her second book, Maybe This Time, won the 2019 Raven award for Best Contemporary, the 2019 Readers favorite Gold medal in Time travel and was runner-up for the 2019 RONE Award for Audiobook-General. The audiobook will be out in December 2019
Susan’s other career is acting. On IMDB She is Susan Berger.


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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Meet Alyssa Cole and The Reluctant Royals. # Giveaway.

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 1 comment
 Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series begins with A Princess in Theory. I fell in instant love with the story. Her writing enchants me. 
I am giving away a Kindle copy of A Princess in Theory because I love introducing my readers to my favorite authors.
From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .
Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.
Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.
The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?
Selected as one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018!

Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bustle, Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her pets.
When I finished The Reluctant Royals I went on to read An Extraordinary Union, Book one in her Loyal League series.

As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.
Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy's favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other.
I finished An Extraordinary Union two days ago. And I plan to read the rest of the series. I like princess better than historical romance, but this woman's writing has me hooked.
and now . . .Alyssa just released an audiobook only and look who's narrating! 
I prefer words to audio, but I want this one
The A.I. Who Loved Me