Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Video A Recipe and Heartfelt Thankyou

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

We are closing in on the time when we celebrate hope. To me, that's what Christmas is really about. In a time of poverty, darkness and oppression, a baby was born and that moment has been celebrated for over 2,000 years as the perfect symbol of hope. 

Today I read a piece where people posted their current joy. On of the postees said rewatching John Lewis Christmas Ads made her feel good. I had never heard of John Lewis and I turned to YouTube to see what she was talking about. And I loved them. I am sharing my favorite with you. 2016 Buster The Dog

(Just in case the video insert doesn't work, here's the YouTube link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN0lbTq4HnQ )

If you enjoyed Buster here is a video showing all of the 2007-2020

(again, Just in casehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rJ86fLF71I&t=180s )

For the curious, The John Lewis & Partners Christmas advert is a television advertising campaign released by British department store chain John Lewis & Partners and since 2019, also Waitrose & Partners in the build-up to Christmas. John Lewis & Partners launched their first Christmas advert in 2007. It has since become something of an annual tradition in the UK,[2] and one of the signals that the countdown to Christmas has begun.

I am grateful to all who read this blog. My Thanksgiving will be small. I suspect that's true for most of us this year. But the joy and good food will be abundant. More than half the turkey will go in the freezer. Some of it will make a guest appearance in Turkey Corn Chowder. But I see no reason to give up my favorite bird because only three of us will be eating it, - one of the "us" being a five-year-old with a small appetite. My son Chris is now Vegan and he won't be eating it.

I am also sharing a recipe my daughter-in-law texted me. It sounds delicious.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cinnamon Butternut Squash with Pecans and Cranberries

I linked to the printable recipe. Below is a look at it.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt to taste

Roasted Butternut Squash:

  • 1 1/2 lb butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes (Yields about 4 cups of uncooked cubed butternut squash)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup optional


How to roast Brussels Sprouts:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

  2. Trim ends of Brussels sprouts  and remove yellow leaves. 

  3. Then, slice all Brussels sprouts in half. 

  4. In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (to taste), and toss to combine. 

  5. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and roast in the oven at 400 F for about 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even browning, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened (see my photos).

How to roast Butternut Squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded),1 tablespoon of olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and toss to mix.
  3. Place butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way through baking, until softened.
  4. Note: You can roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on 2 separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven – that’s what I did.

How to toast pecans:

  1. Toast pecans in the preheated oven at 350 F

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  3. Toast the pecans for about 5 minutes (maybe a bit longer) in the preheated oven at 350 F until they get darker in color.  

  4. Note: pecans burn really fast, so make sure to check the nuts after 5 minutes and frequently afterwords. 


  1. In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, pecans, and cranberries, and mix to combine. 

  2. (OPTIONAL): For more sweetness, add 2 or 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, if desired – do not add all maple syrup at once, start with 2 tablespoons, then add more, if desired, and toss with the salad ingredients to combine.

I wish you a week of joy and gratitudes. With Love. Susan

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

1925 Magic in New York Spellbound by Allie Therin # Giveaway

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

Meet Allie Therin, one of my new favorite authors. I found Allie by accident when looking for an example of a good query letter. After reading the letter my thought was I would read it in a heartbeat. Amazon Prime gave me the opportunity. It was a Prime Reading Editor’s Choice for September. I borrowed it, loved it, bought the next book and preordered the third. I love her work so much that I am giving away a copy of Spellbound. (Rafflecopter at the end of the post.)

To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…

New York

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him. 

Hop over to Amazon if you want to use the Look Inside Feature

 I asked Allie for an interview. Allie, please tell us a little about yourself.

Well, like many romance authors, my day job is in law, although I’m more of a law librarian than a practicing lawyer. I have a wonderful seven-year-old son and an adorable gremlin of a cat.
My heritage is mixed Cuban-American, and I also have an autoimmune disease, which I try to be honest about because being chronically ill can be an isolating experience and I want others to know they’re not alone. 

 I am happy so see you have such an able assistant.  I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.

I was actually on a vacation with my family and missed the call! I was in the hotel room and discovered a voicemail from Angela James (then the editor at Harlequin’s Carina Press). I called her back and she told me Carina wanted not just SPELLBOUND, but the three-book series I’d pitched. Hopefully I sounded somewhat professional on the call because I was jumping up and down on the hotel balcony afterwards, lol.  I can't wait till Carina decides to bring out Spellbound in paperback. I also have an e-publisher and it usually takes about seven months.

You mention so many details about 1925 New York – Clothing, food, drinks places, mores. Do you have a favorite tidit you learned by researching?

Oh gosh, I don’t know if I can pick a favorite! There’s so much history I’ve discovered that wasn’t taught in my schools. I loved learning about New York’s immigrant groups and queer community. I loved digging up old pictures--and even film footage--of 1920s New York (and Philadelphia, for STARCROSSED). I absolutely loved learning about Josephine Baker, what a beautiful and fascinating person.  Yes! I agree. I never got to meet Josephine Baker, but I did meet Bricktop in Rome in 1961 and got to hear her sing.

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?I was sitting in a coffee shop on my lunch break from my day job. I had a physical printout of my first book in front of me, from my home printer, because for the past few weeks I’d been going through it with a red pen. I hit the final page in that coffee shop and I realized—I’d done it. I’d written and edited a book, and now I was going to take that next step and query it.  And then you wrote the best query letter I ever read. Here it is, friends. Would you want to see it after reading this?

 Dear Editor:

Thank you for taking the time to read and like my #CarinaPitch tweet! I’m excited to query you with my adult historical fantasy male/male romance, SPELLBOUND (68,000 words). I hope you find it matches many items on your wishlist, including an opposites-attract couple with a virgin hero in an intricate fantasy world.

It’s 1925 in Prohibition-ruled Manhattan and Rory Brodigan is hiding in Hell’s Kitchen. Afraid his volatile power to see objects’ histories will trap his mind in someone else’s past—or worse, his own past might find him—Rory isolates himself as he scrapes out a living in a fake antiques appraisal shop. At least, until the big timer with the rush job shows up.

Seven years ago, Arthur Kenzie was an Ivy League quarterback who quit to enlist in the Great War. Now he still protects the world, recovering dangerous magical relics before they fall into the wrong hands. It’s risky business for magic-less Arthur, but at least it keeps him abroad where his illegal attraction to men can’t hurt his political family. Except now he’s back in New York, chasing a lead: an antiques shop in Hell’s Kitchen with suspiciously accurate appraisals.

It’s a rocky start when mistaken identity leads Arthur to trigger Rory’s magic in a Harlem speakeasy. But when a mysterious relic that controls the tide arrives in the Port of New York, Arthur will need Rory’s help to steal it before it’s sold to a telepathic German baron who will weaponize it. Facing Rory’s unpredictable magic and Arthur’s treacherous enemies, they must find a way to save each other, because it’s going to take them both to save Manhattan.

SPELLBOUND is a standalone novel with series potential.  The novel’s diverse cast includes half-Italian Rory, an immigrant’s son navigating the charged politics of the Twenties. Of mixed Latinx-American heritage and a first-generation American myself, I currently work as an attorney.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?

Be kind and encouraging to yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes and get things wrong; that’s part of learning! Cheer yourself on like you would a friend. Try different things to see what works for you. Have fun and create art with abandon.  

What’s your current WIP? 

Currently I’m working on a paranormal mystery romance that spins off from the Magic in Manhattan series. This book is set in 1925 England and brings back two of STARCROSSED’s antagonists, Lord Fine and Sebastian de Leon, for a romance of their own. It’s planned for release in 2022 from Carina Press.

And finally, where can we find you?

You can find more information about me and my books--including my goofy stick figures of Arthur and Rory and some truly spectacular fan art by readers--over on my website, www.allietherin.com. You can also find me on social media: 

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bookbub | Goodreads | Amazon

Thanks so much for having me here!

Thank you so much for being here, Allie. If you don't want to wait, Spellbound is 4.99 on Amazon and the eBook and Audiobook are available free on Hoopla. Here's the Rafflecopter.  Happy reading and please stay safe.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Caroline Warfield on Waiting and Writing

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

As I write this, the country is waiting. Several states are still counting votes, others have recount requests already being made, and people are demanding that we stop counting votes now that election day is over. Uh, no. We won’t do that.   We never have before. While all this gets sorted out, and sane voices call to count every vote, we wait. I plan to avoid getting agitated until every state has counted and every governor issues her state’s “Certificate of Ascertainment” formally announcing their electors. The Electoral College votes December 14. It will be a bit of a wait.

I’m not fond of waiting, so I’m coping by writing. When it goes well, and lately it is, I’m taken away to a world of action and emotion. I’m working on two different series, one of them for Soul Mate Publishing, and I have plenty of other projects. In short. I’m busy.

On the downside, I somehow worked my way into a big lull in actual publication. My last series ended in 2018, I published a stand-alone novel set in World War I in 2019. Music on the Waters, more of a novella is my sole output in 2020.  Neither of my new series will launch until mid-2021. What does that mean? I wait. Impatiently. Did I mention that I’m not fond of waiting? 

About the Books

In 2019 I published Christmas Hope, my very first independently published work. I didn’t enjoy the process. While reviews were outstanding—“The best book I read all year” for example—it didn’t get enough attention. Part of it was the cover I chose, one of the pitfalls of indie publishing. It has a new one now, and I love it. What do you think?

Some wars must be fought; some stories must be told. This is one, an epic love story. After two years at war Harry ran out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him. Love gives them the hope they need to survive the dark times, but will it still be enough when the war is over?

Music on the Waters popped up as a surprise this year. I wrote it three years ago while on a long flight to New Zealand. It incorporates sights and sounds from a visit to Orkney the year before. A digital publisher had requested it, but after I sent it off, I didn’t hear much and forgot about it. Since I don’t wait well, I just went on to other things. Imagine my delight when this little gem about a lonely merchant, a gifted musician, and Regency life in Orkney came to life.

Sir Alexander Bradshaw, merchant of Orkney, Scotland, needs a wife to manage his unruly sons, cope with his sullen daughter, and warm his bed. But he hopes for so much more. The Kirkwall organist, Ann Dunwood, has passion that enthralls him when she is lost in her music, but she folds into a demure little mouse when others are around. He is determined to reignite that passion and fill his home—and his heart—with her music. 

You can buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086SGRWSG/

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author of family centered romance set in the Regency and Victorian eras, but I’ve been many things (even a nun). Someone who begins life as an army brat develops a wide view of life, and a love for travel. Now settled in the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, I believe I’m on my third act or so, waiting impatiently until I can travel again, but happily writing stories brimming with emotion, adventure, and always a happy ending.

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Amazon Author http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads http://bit.ly/1C5blTm 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/WarfieldFellowTravelers 

Twitter https://twitter.com/CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Newsletter:   http://www.carolinewarfield.com/newsletter/

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/caroline-warfield

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCycyfKdNnZlueqo8MlgWyWQ

Tuesday, November 3, 2020