Sunday, April 18, 2021

Keto Tips & the Best Keto Recipe I've Ever Tried! by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Okay, so they say the average person gained 28 lbs during the lockdowns. There are plenty of free workout videos and groups, and many states (including mine) have open gyms. I previously did a review of some exercise equipment I obtained to create my own home gym, so now I have decided to discuss the diet I’ve adopted. Keto. Yes, yes, I see your eyes rolling.

Fortunately for you, I’m not a health professional and have no intention of trying to convince you to go on Keto and burn fat instead of carbs (sugars and starches) with the help of ketones, on a 70% fats, 5% carbohydrates, and 25% protein daily diet, (here’s a free keto calculator in case you’re interested: But  I can give a personal testimony and tell you that many people lose 10 lbs or more, (especially at the beginning if you need to lose more than 20 lbs) a month.

I know a lot of people who stay on Keto all the time, taking a cheat day now and then or even taking the weekends off once they just want to maintain. Keto works for me. Why? Because I can eat bacon and cream cheese frosting made with real cream cheese and heavy whipping cream, any meat and most vegetables. Sure, I miss heavy carbs, like potatoes and corn (starchy!) and carrots and fruit (natural sugar) on a regular basis. I still take an occasional day off to eat what I want so I don’t suffer at all.  

Keto is very popular now so most grocery stores and even Walmart carry things like Almond Flour. At Sprouts they have 2 net carb cinnamon raisin and whole grain bread (in the freezer section of the bakery, and I assume Whole Foods carries It too), and cauliflower rice or cauliflower mashed potatoes. They even have cauliflower cheese crackers and everything crackers made with almond flour and low carb protein bars, protein cookies, and protein tortilla chips from Quest. I love the Quest Lime Chili chips and their raspberry white chocolate and birthday cake protein bars. Little tip: I cut them into 10 pieces and freeze them and when I feel a sweet tooth, I grab a couple for a very satisfying high protein treat.

There are lots of things you can make yourself, too. They have keto friendly waffle and pancake mix that’s fast, easy and delicious. I make a waffle once in a while with sugar free syrup. Yummy. A friend got me a little griddle that makes mozzarella cheese and egg ‘pancakes’ that can be used as taco shells (while hot, you lay them on a taco cooker and they form into the shape of tacos) or to make sandwiches. If you have a Ninja or other air fryer (or just a frying pan and oil), you’ve got your fried food and you can use crushed pig skins for breading. Delicious.

It doesn’t really sound like I’m suffering does it? But, the best part is that you actually lose weight quite steadily with this diet. I made a delicious keto cheesecake and pumpkin bread for Christmas, but my favorite (and my non-Keto hubby’s favorite) recipe so far is FRIED ZUCCHINI LASAGNA. Even if/when I am no longer on Keto we will be eating this new family favorite.

I adapted it from a recipe by Christine and Carla Pallotta, sisters from the Nebo Restaurant. It’s an old family recipe, what they call peasant food, and it’s so delicious they beat out Bobby Flay at a throw down using it.  Below is the video of their recipe, followed by how I convert it into a keto dish.

The biggest complaint I’ve ever heard about Zucchini Lasagna is that the Zucchini is wet and therefore can be soggy.  Not so in this recipe! The zucchini is FRIED (who doesn’t like fried…anything?). You can use a mandolin to thin slice the zucchini lengthwise, but I just cut off the edge, then turn it onto that flattened side and thin slice it. It’s easier for me. You clean it well, of course, so you can leave the skins on. I lay it on paper towel and sprinkle lightly with sea salt to make it sweat and then blot it dry. But I skipped this step once when in a hurry and it was fine. My zucchini is nowhere near as big as theirs so I use 6-8 to make a huge lasagna pan full. They used a much smaller lasagna pan than mine. When I full on cook I like to get a couple meals out of it! 

I use Almond Flour instead of all purpose flour, to make this keto friendly.  You could also use pig skins for added breading, but I have not found it necessary and it’s just one more step I can skip. So I use the eggs, cheese (parmesan/Romano) and paprika, salt and pepper, and dredge in AF and then deep fry it in a heated peanut combo oil that I used to use in my deep fryer, but you can use whatever oil you prefer. Turn once when golden brown on the bottom. I use a square frying pan and can fit quite a few at a time.

Another Keto-friendly trick I use is low sugar (sugar is a CARB) marinara sauce. Rao’s is good and both Hunts and Prego have a no sugar added variety. To spice up the sauce a bit, I add some browned Italian sausage/ground beef combo (you can skip the meat for a vegetarian version) added to sautéed onion and garlic, then add it all to the sauce. Season to taste, of course.

Being cheap and lazy, I used packaged mozzarella, grated parmesan/Romano and ricotta cheeses and also add cottage if there’s some in the frig. (You know using their recipe cheeses is probably even yummier, but a bit more expensive.)

Layer it according to the recipe, which is the same method as most any lasagna recipe I’ve had. Like all lasagna, it’s even better the next day so make a big batch! People will want seconds! You can also make this ahead and freeze it for an easy company or busy weekend meal. Bon Appetit!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Breaking Up with Your Story

 Have you ever had a story idea so perfect that it practically wrote itself? There’s something so thrilling about getting an idea for a story, plotting it out, watching it take shape on a storyboard. But have you ever sat in your writing chair only to realize, 35,000 words later, that your beloved story idea was dead in the water? Today, let’s chat about 3 signs that you need to break up with your story.

1. You find every excuse in the book to avoid your writing.

Sometimes life throws so many curve balls that you’re simply out of creative energy to sit down and connect with your story, much less your reader (and that’s okay!). But sometimes that avoidance is founded on a broken interest with your current piece.

There are lots of reasons for this break, and none of them are bad ones, but if you find yourself dreading the very thought of writing, it may be your cue to stick your current work in progress on the shelf and go back to the drawing board.

2. You just cannot connect with the main character.

Writing fictional beings who are interesting and relatable into existence is nothing short of a miracle. This means that sometimes the character you need to lead the story, isn’t one that you can connect with (and in extension write) well. And that’s oooooookay!

There could be any of a hundred reasons you can’t quite vibe with your MC. Maybe they need a bit more stewing time to come out fully fleshed, or maybe you need more research/ life experience under your belt before you tackle this particular character again. Either way, if you just cannot connect with your protagonist, it might be time for a cooling-off period.

3. Your writing partners hold an intervention

When your critique partners tell you that you might need a break from your WIP, it’s a fairly reliable hint that you and your story need a break.

Words reflect the writer. Read that again. Words reflect the writer. They hold our beliefs, interests, and truest emotions, so if your story is giving off corpse vibes (and it’s not a zombie thriller), it might be your clue to put it down for a bit.

I don’t want you to see these crafting breaks as a failure because they are anything but that. They are a chance for you to jump back on those gorgeous creative parts of yourself and stir things up a bit. It’s a self-granted opportunity to be curious about the world and wait for one idea to lure you back to the page in promise. There is no reason you can’t go back to a project you set aside, and I hope you do, but there’s a great expression of self-love when we have the courage to set something down and try something else. And that is what I hope you will give yourself permission to do because writing is magical. We take the same 26 letters and rearrange them over and over to connect with people we’ve never even met. We don’t know one thing about. And that is such a lovely gift from one human to another. So be nice to the writing side of that dynamic, and give yourself permission to set aside the piece that isn’t working (yet) for the one that’s dying to come into the world.

Happy writing.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

So What's One More Ghost? by Debby Grahl

An ancestor’s tale of betrayal, murder, and a stolen fortune in silver leads Elise Baxter to Max Holt’s Victorian inn. She is reluctantly, though irresistibly, attracted to Max. 

Leery of loving again, Max lets passion overrule caution, tumbling them into an erotic encounter. 

Guided by ghosts and opposed by an evil presence, the couple searches for the treasure. But there are others who will stop at nothing to unlock the mystery of the Silver Crescent.


                       The backstory features a group of miners in Leadville, Colorado.

    For my first blog with Paranormal Romantics, I’d like to tell you about my first published book, The Silver Crescent. I love old haunted houses, and I enjoy using ghosts and witches in my stories. So what better than a pair of Victorian ghosts in need of help? My setting was my home state of Michigan in the beautiful Irish Hills. This is an area of small towns, late nineteenth-century homes, and wonderful ghost stories.

    With eager anticipation, I sent the MS of The Silver Crescent off to a small publisher who responded with the comment, “You have a good story if you could write it.” Ouch! I worked on her suggestions and sent it back. This time she thought it was great, except she wanted me to make the ghosts mean. 

    For me, as a writer, I can’t change characters' personalities at will. They are who they are. I told her this, but she insisted I have a mean ghost. So I had to create an entire new ghost character. This can be challenging because you can’t just plop an additional character in anywhere. They must blend in with the story. By the time I was done, I’d added fifteen-thousand words. The editor was right; the mean ghost definitely added to the story. 

    This small press has closed, and I have regained my rights to the book. Like other writers, rereading our first work can make us cringe as all the no-no's in writing jump out at us. I’m going to revamp the story, and hopefully my editor with Wild Rose Press will love it, and it will be reborn.


Cedar Bend, Michigan 1900

 The bullet slammed into Cyrus Mosby’s chest. The pain was quick and sharp. A dream-like sensation came over him as his body crumpled to the floor. His eyes fell upon his wife’s portrait. With his last breath, he whispered, “Virginia.”

“Cyrus, my love, I’m here.”

Cyrus opened his eyes. Confused, he stared at his beautiful wife, kneeling next to him, silver tears streaming down her translucent face. “Virginia?”

“Yes, love, it’s me.”

Cyrus took her outstretched hand and slowly sat up. Weightless, he floated upward until once again he stood. “Virginia, I don’t understand. What’s happened? How can you be here?”

Virginia brushed away her tears. “I couldn’t leave you. I’ve been waiting for you to join me, but I never expected it to happen like this. Cyrus, I’m so sorry. I had no idea of the evil that lurked within him.”

Still bewildered, Cyrus glanced around his library: tall bookcases holding leather- bound books neatly arranged, the large mahogany desk where moments before he’d been sitting, an Oriental rug now stained with the blood of three men. His own lifeless body lay at his feet. And here was Virginia, dead these past five years, standing in front of him. Tentatively he reached out his hand and touched her face. His fingers brushed across air that felt cool and thick. “I've truly joined you in death? Or am I dreaming?”

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Monozygotic Twins


Monozygotic twins,
or identical twins. result from the fertilization of a single egg with a single sperm. Fraternal twins, or dizygotic twins, are the product of fertilization of two different eggs.

In identical twins, as the cells divide and multiply, at some point very early in the embryonic growth, they spit into two individuals. As you can imagine, the genetic material in these twins is identical, hence the name identical twins. Monozygotic twins are always the same sex (except in my dark fantasy Gemini Rising!)

Fraternal twins, can be different genders, look different, and have different characteristics. Even though we call identical twins identical and think of their genetic material as identical, we need to keep in mind that there is another important factor—environmental influences—which means identical twins come from the same genetic material, but,  in characteristics they may actually have differences as well.

Whose genes produce monozygotic twins? Only women ovulate. So, the mother's genes control this propensity to twins, and the father’s genes don't. This is why having a background of twins in the family matters only if it is on the mother's side.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos are more likely than naturally conceived embryos to split into identical twins A fertility doctor can transfer just one embryo—in hopes of reducing the risk of non-identical twins—but identical twins may still occur, and more frequently than in the general population.


Gemini Rising stars monozygotic twins, Alina and Alain aren't quite your average identical twins, however. As their names suggest, they are male/female twins--which scientifically cannot occur. When they are born, to escape the notoriety and the scientific probing, Lord and Lady Alastair whisk their miracle children to their island castle on an island off the coast of England (the island is fictional but patterned after the beautiful and majestic St. Michael's Mount which is off the coast of England)

Here, Alina and Alain grow up in relative seclusion until they reach their 18th birthday. After so long under the domination of their father, who won't even allow internet in the castle, Alain is ready to leave the Keep for good, but Alina fears being alone without friends to turn to.

Therein, this dark fantasy by Bianca Swan begins. As reviewers have unanimously said, the "ending will shock you".

To read a sample of Gemini Rising, or to purchase the book:

You can find Bianca at:    Her Website:



Have a wonderful Wednesday!  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Quantum Wishes by Marilyn Barr

         I have wished on stars since I was a little kid. I blame the animated movies I watched where every girl who wished and dreamed of becoming a princess did in the next ninety minutes. Whether you call it wishing, new moon affirmations, prayer, or setting a growth mindset, vocalizing what you wish to bring into your life is a powerful 2021 trend.

Was it the isolation of 2020 which brought about a mass spiritual awakening or that people were given the time to sit back and daydream? I was inspired by many of my Instagram followers reading The Power Wish by Keiko. This book is instructions on personalized moon wishing. Being an astrology geek with a master’s degree in Physics, I had to check it out. With my star chart in hand, I was prepared to do the math required to manifest my latest set of dreams. What I found were down-to-earth (ha-ha) instructions based on one’s moon sign, prose to help someone construct their wish, and a few advanced rituals boost your wish. When I say advanced, I mean the addition of moon water. No blood sacrifices are required.

Why the new moon and not the “first star I see tonight”? The moon is our closest large neighbor so it will have a large impact on us gravitationally. It comes down to quantum physics. Please do not let this particle physicist scare you. I will keep my calculus to myself but the math behind wishing is fascinating…to a few of us. The moon is between the sun and earth at this phase with powerful ramifications to our surface mechanics. This is the only phase where a solar eclipse is possible as even the sun is not immune to the power behind a new moon. In school, we learned there are high tide and low tide every day due to the moon’s movement and the extremes of those tides are in direct correlation to the moon’s position to us. The highest of high tides and lowest of low tides are found twice a month – the full and new moon occurrences. The ocean water is pulled on a quantum level toward the moon, so the earth has a slight football shape instead of perfectly round.

Illustration from

The geeks (like me) who went on to study physics in college and graduate school look at the minutia behind this phenomenon which ironically is the basis behind the wishing woo. Who knew witches, mystics, and astrologists would have common interests with physicists? It goes back to Newtonian mechanics which states that matter (and therefore energy) cannot be created or destroyed, so when we release energy through ion exchanges (i.e. living) it is released as background radiation. (See video of calculus behind it here). Scientists who have studied The Big Bang have measured the overall current of background radiation as their evidence. Moon radiation can increase the vibrational frequency of this background energy in the same way your microwave radiation increases the vibration of your cheese molecules when you melt it for nachos. When there is a New Moon, we are seeing the effects of an absence of radiation reflecting off the moon.

                                                     Illustration from

Does this radiation influence human behavior? Any ER nurse or kindergarten teacher can give you examples of humans acting out-of-character in mass quantities with the only common factor being a full or new moon. The Full Moon is blasting radiation and the astrology community uses this time to release “low vibe” habits such as negative self-talk, self-injurious behaviors, and memories of trauma. It is a time for forgiveness. A coincidence is both of my Strawberry Shifters books were released on full moons. (My debut was released on the Strawberry Full Moon even though I didn’t plan it.)

The New Moon releases almost no radiation and is the opposite. We see an absence of the moon because our eyes are radiation detectors for a small range of light emission. The New Moon acts as a large impaction plate to collect minute levels of radiation to complete the radiation cycle and keep the earth at homeostasis (as much as can be done with our screens and artificial increasing overall radiation (see NASA’s video on it here). What if we send our wishes along this radiation superhighway into the universe? What will is your wish?

Communicating wishes to the universe is one of the themes of my next book, Dance to a Wylder Beat. In 1878, there wasn't quantum physics discoveries to explain the power of the New Moon but that doesn't stop Nartan Sagebrush. He has tools provided by his spiritual culture.  Following the traditions of his Arapaho people, he creates sacred geometry on the ground with his dance steps. He asks his spirit guides for a wife who will help integrate him into the settler population of Wylder, Wyoming Territory. Olive Muegge answers his ad, not as the woman he wants but the woman he needs. Will he see past her wild ways to her golden heart within, or will he miss out on having his wish for community to come true? Dance to a Wylder Beat is coming this spring from The Wild Rose Press. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

New Release Alert! (Plus a Heartfelt Backstory)


To celebrate Book 2 of the Ancient Aliens Descendants “The Alien Legacy – The Shapeshifter”, I wanted to give you a bit of history on what inspired me to write this series.

To start, there are a couple of things to confess concerning the first book, “The Empath”. A long time ago there was a western series called “Alias Smith & Jones” with two main characters that I and my best friend were obsessed with, as only preteens could be.

One of the actors, Ben Murphy, was my first love (funny how my husband ended up with the same curly dark blonde hair, overall build, and prominent Roman nose that the actor did). To salute that cutie, I fashioned my main hero after him.

Secondly, I admit that a lot of what happens to Julienne in the first part of Book One (The Empath) actually happened to me (ok, there weren’t any aliens…). I'd worked my way up in a small bank in Vegas until I reached the pinnacle position she did. As I wrote the book, I loosely based some of my characters from the people I worked with at the time. While my boss was a lot like Claude in the story, I’m pretty sure he wasn't a CIA operative. I've also included the actions of my supposed “best friend” who betrayed me much like Kathy did Julienne.

But, unlike Julienne, I wasn’t demoted. I was let go. And they weren't nice about it either. You know the same old reason, “We’re headed in a different direction and don't need you anymore”. I was devastated. It was a low blow, especially since I spent over twenty years with that company. I have to tell you, my deep depression lasted a long time. I felt like my very foundation had been ripped out of me and stomped on.  It took years to crawl out of the deep hole I'd fallen into before I had the strength to build up my self-esteem again.

So, how did I cope after something like that happened? Why, I wrote a book, of course! I can’t tell you what an immense relief it was when I “killed” one of my personal tormentors in the story. Yeah, I had that sucker shot right between the eyes…

For the newest book, “The Shapeshifter”, the hero was the other main actor in that TV series by the name of Pete Duel.

I was heartbroken when at the age of 31, Pete killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. My best friend and I were devastated. It was hard for us at such a young age to understand why a seemingly successful, good-looking man would do something like that. Even though that tragedy happened a long time ago, I still find myself dwelling on it from time-to-time.

In the Shapeshifter, I wanted to give Pete an extra zest for life… to honor the man along with his killer dimples.


With this series, I was eager to highlight my home state of Nevada. Born and raised in Reno, my family moved to Las Vegas when I was ten. After my husband and I married (he’s a native Nevadan as well), we moved to Lake Tahoe (on the Nevada side, like our heroine Jena does in The Shapeshifter) in a small community called Zephyr Cove. 

In Book Three: The Psychic takes place at the capital of Nevada, Carson City. As a matter of fact, my husband was the general manager at a small casino there like our heroine, Jordyn. I’m working on editing the first draft and I gotta admit I’m loving the story as much as I do the other two. If all goes well, I'm hoping to release it around August of this year.


In honor of my newest release, I'm offering Alien Legacy: The Shapeshifter for the bargain price of 0.99¢! But that only for a limit time (Click Here)!  FYI - It's FREE if you are on Kindle Unlimited.

No chance to delve into my newest series? Never fear, I’ve got your back! Click here for Book One – Alien Legacy: The Empath.

I can’t wait to see what you think about Ben and Pete and their tangle with their feisty mates!   

Friday, April 9, 2021

A Writer’s Quirky Habits by Mary Morgan


One of the many questions I’ve been asked in interviews is to share any quirky writing habits I have with their readers. I have too many to list here, so I won’t bore you. Yet there are a couple that make me smile and set the mood when I descend into my writing cave. It’s almost like entering another world for me—full of brave, stubborn warriors, and strong, feisty women. In addition, a few magical dragons, an occasional evil druid and or seer, and lots of wolves.

I don’t consider this one a quirky habit, but rather a tradition—a leather journal. It’s one that has to be purchased before the start of each story or series. I have to find the right one that feels right in my hands. This is where I put all the pertinent information for the world of my story. My collection started with my first purchase at a Renaissance Faire years ago. Now, I’m able to find really lovely leather journals at Barnes & Noble.

The photo of the journal below is for my current series The Wolves of Clan Sutherland.


Though some might argue it’s odd and suggest any random notepad or writer’s computer program will do the job more easily, I cannot. For this writer, it’s leather journals all the way! Also, I believe each writer is unique and has their own special technique that works for them.

Another quirky habit is to hold one of my crystals in my hand and take three deep cleansing breaths before I start writing. I’ve found when I’m in a hurry to get into the story and don’t do this ritual, I’m not as focused.

So my writer friends, what quirky habits do you have? Do share!

Available at AMAZON

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Alternate Universes in Paranormal Romance and Sci-Fi Romance by @jsubject #PNR #SFRomance #Romance



As an author of both sci-fi and paranormal romance, I know we have to create alternate worlds for our stories. Because as much as we like to believe that aliens, shifters, ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc. exist on this planet, we don't see them walking around in public on a daily basis. So, we create our own where they do.

Now, these alternate worlds or universes can be as similar or different from our own existence as we want them to be. In my ALIEN NEXT DOOR series, aliens live on an Earth much like our own. And they try to blend in to human society so their secret is not discovered. The world-building was simple, as I only had to tweak a few things from our own world.

In my most recently published series, SHIFTER TOWERS, shifters live amongst humans in an omegaverse. There was a little more world-building involved with this series. As similar as I tried to make this world to our own, I did create new cities, towns, and landmarks to match the world I was writing in. And since the characters were mostly AOB shifters, there were a few other differences I had to consider. Like how often, and where they were allowed to shift.

With my GALACTIC DEFENDERS series and my upcoming KADDIM BROTHERS series, I went all out, creating new worlds with new rules, and so much more. And the joy of these stories taking place on multiple planets and on space craft as well is that each one is different from the other, leading to so many possibilities for things to happen.

As a reader, or an author, I want to know how close you like your stories to be to your reality? Do you like to wonder if your neighbor might be an alien or a vampire? Or, do you want the full escape to leave this world during your reading/writing time? I enjoy both, but I'm always curious about what everyone else thinks.

Here's a snippet from BRYCE, the first book in my Galactic Defenders series, where Lalia is on the Galactic Defenders ship and trying to find her way around...

Glancing one last time at her daughter, she pulled on her robe then exited the room.

Confident of their safety on the carrier and in space, the Galactic Alliance hadn’t assigned them any security. They’d been housed in the guest quarters, three floors up from Bryce and the rest of the Defenders.

No one patrolled the hallway at all, making her passage past the communal bathroom and  to the lift easy. “Second floor, Defender’s Lounge,” she recited to the computer after the doors slid closed behind her. The chamber softly glowed around her, no buttons or emergency phones on the walls like elevators on Earth. While Bryce had told her to locate him in the lounge if she had an emergency, she doubted he’d expect her so soon after he’d left her. But she couldn’t share her objections in front of her daughter. If they did end up on Hemera, she didn’t want Katrina to know how much she’d detested life on her home planet.

“Destination reached,” the computer said in a neutral tone, neither male nor female.

Peeking out, she spotted no one. With all the Defenders she’d met on board, she’d expected to run into at least one of them. Instead, closed doors surrounded the gleaming floor of the large, circular room. Tables, chairs, couches, and other odd-shaped furniture rested along the far wall, as if pushed there before one of the crew had cleaned the floor.

Would she leave marks on the polished surface if she stepped across it, evidence of her visit to Bryce? Or, worse, set off an intruder alarm?

The lift door whooshed toward her. Lalia jumped out of the way to avoid getting squished. She paused, waiting for an ear-piercing wail, for all the Defenders to come rushing out to see what had set off the alarm. Yet, an eerie silence hung around her, all the doors remaining closed.

She tiptoed around the edge of the room, searching the entrances for some marker indicating which one led to Bryce. Nothing. They all looked the same, brushed metal without even a window to help her find him. No number or any sort of identification to tell them apart from each other. How did any of the Defenders find their own room?


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Why Veronica Scott Wrote #SciFi Novel COLONY ON FIRE

After writing the first book, COLONY UNDER SIEGE with these characters – Dr. Saffia Mandell, newly minted doctor working off her medical school bills by doing five years of government service on a remote colony and Micah Navonn, Chief Ranger of his people, who own the planet – I just really wasn’t ready to walk away from them. More plots kept coming to mind and I like these two and their world a lot.

The book is set in my Sectors scifi universe.

It’s a first for me to write a series which focuses on the same hero and heroine in all the books. I have other series but they feature a new couple each time. I’m enjoying the challenge and with Saffia and Micah it feels natural to me to follow their lives through the succeeding years. Lots of adventures to be had on a colony planet!

I’ve always been fascinated by disasters and I've written many a scifi disaster novel. I hope with a title like COLONY ON FIRE it’s not a spoiler to reveal there’s a major wildfire in the plot. I’ve lived in Southern California since I was 19 and had my own brushfire experiences. Nothing like what my characters go through in the novel, nor what many have suffered in real life, but enough to be able to extrapolate. I think my worst was being on my way to work one morning and becoming trapped on the freeway by a fire which had jumped the road…and I was next to a gasoline truck! (Yeah, if I put that in a novel people would scoff but true story.) The CHP eventually led us to safety. Looking back, I think it’s lucky we all made it without someone getting stuck. There were about ten cars.

I’ve always been especially terrified of being stuck in my car with the fire approaching and having to flee on foot…because the fires move incredibly fast, especially if wind driven.

And I do maintain a prioritized list of what to grab if we’re evacuating for a fire, prioritizing in order of how much time we have to get out, from basically none to half an hour. There are always so many sad stories of people who took things which were replaceable or just the closest items – it’s very VERY hard to think clearly in a crisis like a rapidly spreading wildfire and limited escape routes. We have a teaspoon which has been in the family over 200 years and it’s not melting on my watch, so that’s right at the top of the list, after humans and the cats.

There are other elements in the book than the wildfire, and of course the main theme is the relationship between the hero and heroine. The book can be read as a standalone.

Here's the blurb:


When she came to Haven Two Dr. Saffia Mandell expected to grimly do her five years of medical service as the colony’s only doctor, work off her medical school debt and leave. Then she’d fallen in love, handled an epidemic and become an accepted member of the community. Now, in her second year, she faces new challenges as the tinder dry planet heads into a fire season and a mysterious food allergy threatens the local restaurant’s reputation.

Chief Ranger Micah Navonn of the Calinurra never expected to fall in love with a human woman but Saffia was a special person who captured his heart and now means everything to him. Not all of his people are as enthusiastic about the situation and his efforts to handle the politics are getting complicated. Add to that an infestation by insects from another world, causing portions of the forest to die off and his plate is full.

When the jet stream shifts course and the fires rage, will the colonists and the Calinurra set aside their differences? With Saffia’s life hanging in the balance, can Micah arrive in time to save her and the colonists in jeopardy?

Life on Haven Two never lets up.

Amazon      Apple Books     Kobo     Nook     GooglePlay

And a quick excerpt: 

“We’ve got to get to town right away. Can you open your mobile clinic a day early?”

“Of course if there’s a need. What’s wrong?” Saffia followed Ellen to toward the parking lot at a jog, Roann on her heels.

“Two of the boys got burned, not sure how bad. The wind shifted and they couldn’t move fast enough. The crew is bringing them to town now. Smoke inhalation problem too. Good thing you’re here, doc.”

“We won’t open up the entire mobile clinic,” Saffia said to Roann while she mentally reviewed what supplies she had for treating burns. “Unless there’s more to these injuries. The examining room should be adequate.”

“Yes, doctor.” Roann leaned forward. “What does the town do when you aren’t here?”

“We have a physician’s assistant and a couple of former medics,” Ellen said, keeping her attention on the narrow road. “But for anything serious the patient has to be flown to the main colony.”

“I’m glad I’m here to help today,” Saffia said. She got out her handheld and sent Warby, her medical AI a quick message. True to his prediction, he’d managed to create a version of himself to add to Gretchen’s systems. While the version didn’t have all of his enhanced capabilities, it could perform quite a few tasks and multiply her efforts and that of her staff, which in this case was only Roann.

She arrived at the landing field before the injured men were brought in, although as she hastened to Gretchen, Saffia could hear sirens coming closer. As soon as the mobile clinic opened, she rushed inside to throw on a medical coat and run herself through the decontam ray so she could begin examination and treatments immediately.

She and Roann worked together smoothly to take the most severely injured man into deep treatment for his lungs and burns, which fortunately weren’t as severe as Saffia had been dreading. The second man was stoic about waiting his turn and Warby was able to begin the lung therapy to some extent, once Roann had the patient properly situated on the exam table in the second small room. It was an hour of intense work before Saffia was able to step outside of Gretchen’s portal and announce to the waiting crowd both men were going to be okay and able to go home that same evening. A cheer went up from the surprisingly large group of villagers and she escaped inside to supervise the last few aspects of the procedures.

“I want to see both of you tomorrow,” she said to the men. “Have someone in your family work with Ellen to schedule an appointment but you must be seen. Those burns were nothing to take lightly and neither is the condition of your lungs. In the bad old days, you might not have survived the pulmonary damage.”

“We’ll be here, doc,” said the elder, a man named Baxter, who ran one of the local stores when he wasn’t fighting fires as a volunteer. “We’re sure blessed you were here today.”

“Can I attend the party this evening?” asked the younger, Duncan, with a shy glance at Roann, standing beside Saffia. “It’s supposed to be quite a special event, all my friends are going. Live music and everything. Be a shame to miss it—we don’t get much excitement up here.”

“Sorry, doctor’s orders you need to stay home and rest.” She was a bit annoyed she even had to say this but at least he’d asked. She probably would have gone supernova if she learned later he’d taken the risk of attending the gathering. “I know it’s hard to miss a good party and we should celebrate the lucky escape you both have had today, but these types of injuries are nothing to fool around with. You’ll be in for the long flight to the colony if you don’t heal and a lot more unpleasant treatments.” Duncan had struggled with the lung flushing and had required a medinject to partially sedate him in fact so she figured it was an effective threat.

Roann escorted the two men from the clinic and Saffia headed for her tiny office to make proper notes about the cases. She heard a muted cheer go up and smiled. It had been a satisfying ‘save’. This is what I got into medicine to do.

“You look satisfied with yourself.” Micah leaned against the door frame. “Thought you weren’t treating people today?”

“There was an emergency; couple of the firefighters were burned. Not too badly thank goodness, but I also had to treat substantial lung damage.” She rose and went to him, putting her arms around him in a tight hug. “When you go out to a wildfire, are you running the same risks?”

“Fire doesn’t treat anyone better than the next person,” Micah said, holding her close. “But as I’ve told you before, the Calinurra take a different approach to managing the blazes. I’m not usually a frontline responder anyway—we have trained crews for that.” He smoothed her hair away from her face and gave her a long kiss. “I promise you I’m always careful. Even more so, now I have you to come home to.”


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today

by Maureen Bonatch

Last year was the first time we spent Easter at home with just our girls. COVID cancelled our usual celebration with family, but it also changed my daughter's plans to return to school since it suddenly went online at the end of spring break. 

This year will be another different type of year as my daughters are back on campus, but precautions remain in place so it will be the first Easter that we don't get to see them. We will see them on Zoom, of course. Thank goodness for the wonders of technology.

Then some of my extended family members got COVID and an additional family get together for this weekend was rescheduled for a later date. 

We're on our way back to a new normal, but we're not there yet. 

Part of me wants to rush time along so everything gets back to at least semi-normal, or until the semester ends so I can see my girls. But then I think about just how fast time goes by. I only realized that April 4th had snuck up one day prior, and remembered that I had a post to write for all my peeps here!

My brain came up empty as I dwelled on this very different holiday weekend this year. I looked through some of my old flash fiction, thinking I might have something related to spring. I came across this one. It's something that I probably wrote when my girls were in elementary school themselves. It made me think once again how fast time goes by, and how important it is to cherish every stage of our lives and the memories we create. 

Another Summer

    “I can’t believe the school year is over.” Lisa folded her arms across her cobalt shirt and grimaced. “I’m dreading entertaining Anthony and Johnny all summer.” 
        Susan smiled, taking in the clear blue sky. “I’m kind of looking forward to spending time with Tessa.”      
     The roar of the bus announced its arrival. Above the Blue Bird Bus logo, tiny heads bobbed as they scurried to exit. 
    Whoops and cheers emanated from the tiny mob, celebrating three months of freedom. 
     Susan searched the faces. 
     “Tessa?” Susan’s smile faltered. Her daughter's Blue’s Clues lunchbox clanked against her jean clad leg as she burst toward her mother. 
     “What’s wrong?” Susan clutched Tessa after she collided into her legs. Her cries muffled against Susan’s indigo shorts. 
    Tessa’s baby blue eyes scrunched up, pushing fat tears down her cheeks as she wailed, “I miss Julie!” 
     “What? You just saw her.” Susan gestured to the pig-tailed girl sporting navy ribbons and an identical expression of agony peering out the bus window as it continued up the hill. 
    Tessa sniffled, throwing her head back and opening her mouth so wide that she was in danger of choking on her strawberry bubblegum and bellowed, “I won’t get to see Julie all summer!” 
     Susan met Lisa’s gaze as she was trying to corral her two terrors wrestling on the lawn, adding more black and blue marks to their collection. 
    “Still looking forward to it?” Lisa smirked with a raised brow. Susan was spared a reply when the boys rolled over the Cool Berry juice box from their lunch, spraying a sapphire colored liquid over them.      
     “Boys!” Lisa deftly separated their intertwined limbs and stilled them with a narrowed look. Heads hanging, they trudged behind their mother. 
     Susan knelt to Tessa, smoothing hair from her face and wiping a tissue over her swollen cheeks. “Sweetheart, think of all the fun you and I can have. Most kids are happy for summer break, just look at Anthony and Johnny.” 
    The scolding already forgotten, they rushed ahead and stripped off their stained shirts and dove into an inflated swimming pool. 
 Tessa’s chin rested upon her chest and her whimpering continued. “That’s because they have someone to play with.” “Well you and I can do plenty together and I’m sure Anthony and Johnny would love to play with you—” 
    “Mama!” Tessa’s face contorted into an expression of horror. “They’re boys! And you’re old!” 
     “Oh.” Susan frowned. Her baby was growing up. 
    “Well,” Susan hid her dismay by hugging her daughter tightly. “Julie only lives a mile away. You can still play, phone her or write letters.” 
    Tessa pulled away. “Can she have a sleepover sometime? I’m the only girl in my class who’s never had one.” Placing her hands on her hips Tessa declared. “I’m not a baby anymore.” 
    “Well,” Susan sighed. “Okay.” Tessa’s smile lit up her face. “Thank you, mama!” She threw her arms around her mother. Susan laughed. 
    “As long as you know you’ll always be my baby.”

Happy Easter - Happy Spring - from Scuff!

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebook Twitter 

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