Sunday, August 28, 2016

Zucchini—A Favorite Summertime Vegetable! By Raine English

Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables, and there are lots of ways to serve it. Below is a quick and easy recipe that I love.

Parmesan Zucchini Chips

4 Servings

2 medium zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/8 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet very lightly with olive oil. Cut the zucchini into ¼ inch thick slices. In a bowl, toss the zucchini with some oil. In another bowl, combine Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a little pepper. Dip each slice into the mixture, coating both sides, then place on baking sheet. Bake 25 – 30 minutes, or until browned. Serve right away.

What are some of your favorite zucchini recipes?


USA Today bestselling author Raine English writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, along with steamier paranormal and Gothic romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist. Too Good to Believe, book three in her sweet series, Love Always, is available now. It features three childhood friends who encounter a lot more than anticipated while searching for love. To receive information on all her new releases, you can sign up for her newsletter, visit her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter. Scroll down the right side of our blog and enter your email address under Newsletter Signup. Remember to join the Sweet Romance Reads Cafe too.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Changing your Priorities with a newborn

So I'm super happy that I wrote last month's blog post on the 27th early and talked about impending motherhood. The truth was I became a mom on the 24th of July when my daughter showed up. (That's her in the pic.) She was slightly early, but still full term. And unlike most newborns, she's not sleeping all the time. She's awake alot and vocal. And honestly I thought people were joking/over-exaggerating about the whole 'no sleeping' at night once the baby was born. I now know better, but it's all good. 

So now that I know I'll be up and about with my little girl, the question becomes how to fit everything in. Do I write another chapter or do I pump milk? And when did that even become something possible. My life before this month was in many ways easier. I did what i wanted. My husband and I coming together to do things wasn't a hardship. He's fun and he's an adult so he can wash, feed and otherwise be fine on his own. This is not true with my baby. She needs me to do things for her and that's just the priority.

However babies do sleep and the question of how do I write is now, when does it fit into the schedule. When do I have twenty minutes? An hour would be glorious! However when there is a will, you can get it done. I want to teach my girl that she can accomplish anything she wants to in the world, so I have to set the example. And writing to me is not a hobby or a 'something to do when bored' thing. It's something I take serious in my life. So life is now readjusting but it's the best possible readjustment that I could ask for. 

It's no longer a question of 'who would ever call me mom' because now I see into her baby blue eyes (for now) and felt that the second she was born on the 24th and I saw her in person. (Does this make me a Doubting Thomas type as I needed to see with my eyes how and who was coming to change me? Hmm. This is something I'll now think about for the rest of the day.) I hope you are all having an amazing day yourself!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Found A Friend by Pat Simmons

The Book of Proverbs is filled with wise tidbits about how to live life to the fullest. Chapter eighteen ends at verse twenty-four about friendships: A man who has friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We know Jesus is the that friend.
Earlier this year, God gave us some new friends. Eric and Evelyn Mapp had recently relocated to St. Louis from our sister church in Chicago.

Because they attended my cousin’s congregation, I especially wanted to reach out to them with a dinner invitation. We got to know each other over a Super Bowl party. They came to our house for dinner and one morning for breakfast. By June, we waited on each other after service to pick a place to eat.
Eric at our anniversaryIn this picture, the Mapps and our neighbors helped Kerry and I celebrate our June 33rd wedding anniversary.  Funny thing about this dinner is not only did everyone wear blue, except Eric, but it was the same shade. We laughed about him not getting the memo.

Evelyn and me (2016_06_01 16_47_04 UTC)When my novel, THE CONFESSION, won Best Inspirational Romance a few months ago, we celebrated by enjoying a buffet after church service. When the Mapps walked into Bristol’s, Evelyn was carrying flowers. Since Eric could be quoted saying, “I love my wife,” I assumed he had bought her flowers. Instead the bouquet was for me in celebration of my win.  Wow, I thought. That was something I would do. It was a humbling experience.

As 4th of July rolled around, I asked them if they were going back home to Chicago and said Kerry and I were barbecuing. Evelyn’s response was, “We’re coming to your house.” See, friends don’t wait for an invitation. They invite themselves and show up with a dish. I love it!
It was fun introducing the former Chicago couple to popular eating places in St. Louis, and not so long ago, we enjoyed soul food at OL’ Henrys. Eric said he couldn’t wait to eat there again.

The last Sunday in July, we didn’t meet at a restaurant for dinner after church. Instead, Eric and Evelyn decided to join Kerry and me at a concert in the park on the campus of Washington University. Two days after that outing on August 2, 2016, at 7:30 in the morning, Eric was dead at the age of fifty-six.

My husband and I never cried so hard. Hours earlier, he was still alive. I remember his last words to me on that Sunday night, “See you later sweetie.” We exchanged kisses on the cheeks.
There were two things I can say about Brother Eric Mapp in the short time Kerry and I were able to form a friendship with him. He loved his wife and he was sincere about his Holy Ghost led walk with Christ.

As shocking as his sudden death was, Eric knew weighing more than four hundred pounds was a health risk. So three years earlier, he and Evelyn embarked on a diet plan together to lose hundreds of pounds. If they hadn’t told us, we wouldn’t have believed them. Eric lost the weight, but I guess the damage to his heart was already done.

So now fourteen days after his death, I reflect on the few months God gave us to be friends with Eric down to his last days. Kerry and I will always be thankful that “we showed ourselves friendly.”
Please keep Evelyn in your prayers. Oh, and we will continue to take her out to dinner on Sundays after church.

2016 Better Emma Award (2016_06_01 16_47_04 UTC)Pat Simmons is an multi-published author of more than a dozen Christian titles and is a three-time recipient of the Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance. The Confession is the latest winner. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.
As a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth, Pat is passionate about researching her ancestors and then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.
Pat is currently overseeing the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions. She has a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Pat converted her sofa-strapped, sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter.
Read more about Pat and her books by visiting or on social media. Download her latest release JET: Back Story to Love Led by the Spirit for only .99
restore my soul series

Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day of School by Julie Jarnagin

Thursday was the first day of second grade for my eight-year-old. He was nervous about his new teacher and what the work would be like. He was excited about seeing old friends. When I went to wake him to get ready, he was already up and making his bed. I wish it was that easy to get him to make his bed every morning!

There's something special about a fresh start. Whether it's the first day of school, a new year, or a new home, a new beginning brings up the excitement and butterflies that can bring out the best in us. But we shouldn't have to wait for a new year to inspire the best in ourselves. The start of a new job, a move, a project at work (or a book for my fellow writers) or even the start of a new month or week can serve as a new beginning if we treat it correctly. 

1. Make it special - Every year before school starts, my husband takes my son to pick out a new pair of tennis shoes. Whether it's buying a notebook for your new project or simply cleaning off your desk, a clean slate is fun and exciting. 

2. Celebrate it - I'm sure parents just like me were filling up your Facebook feed with first-day of school photos. A lot of families make a special breakfast. I wrote my son a fun note on his lunch. What can you do to celebrate your new beginning? Write yourself a little note. Circle the big day on your calendar. Celebrate that this is the first day of something new and wonderful.

3. Embrace the nerves - Even though my son has been at the same school for three years and we had visited his classroom previously, he asked me where his room was. He was nervous, and I could see it all over his face. But it's okay to be nervous. It means you care. So if you're uneasy about something coming up in your life, embrace it.

Do you have a fresh start coming up in your life? Do you have or did you have any first-day-of-school traditions?  

New Release! 
Cowgirl in the Kitchen

Just as she's about to make her dream come true, disaster strikes. The only way she can get back in the saddle is to strike a bargain—with a man her family despises. 

Jentry Lawson's dream of becoming a world-class barrel racer is about to happen—until she and her horse are injured in a terrible accident. Forced to move back home to Texas to recuperate, her Dallas-based brother makes her an offer she can't refuse. He needs someone he can trust to oversee the renovation and grand opening of his new restaurant. If she'll take that on, he'll finance her return to the arena. It doesn't take Jentry long to discover she bit off more than she can chew. Swallowing her pride, she asks for help from Gavin Easton—a man her brother despises. But he's the one person who can make the restaurant succeed. 

People in Glover never thought Gavin Easton would amount to anything. Ever since his own restaurant in town burned down, he's taken odd jobs to provide for his niece, whom he is raising alone. When beautiful and stubborn Jentry offers him the perfect job, his first reaction is to turn her down flat. No way he's going to do anything to help her brother! But there's more at stake than his pride. Can he trust his future to the woman whose brother tried to ruin his reputation—and his life? 

Besides, how can he manage a restaurant, when he can't manage his heart?

USA Today Best Selling author Julie Jarnagin writes sweet and inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.comSign up for her newsletter to be the first to learn about new releases and free books:

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Driving Lessons by Milou Koenings

I recently went over ten years without driving. I had my driver's license, mind you, but I didn't have a car or have any need for one. Then two of my kids grew old enough to learn to drive. They'd come home from each of their lessons with different tales, and comments the instructor had made.

Sh4rp-i, cc-by 2.0.

It was fascinating to me that somehow each kids' driving style so perfectly reflects her personality. There's the one who graciously gives everyone else the right of way, even if it means she has to sit at an intersection for fifteen minutes. Okay. That is so her that it wasn't a surprise.

The other kid? Well, here's the thing. If you don't know this girl really well, you'd guess she'd drive just like her older sister. This is a kid who appears to be quiet, well-behaved, thoughtful. And she is all those things. But inside?

Inside lurks the heart of a Formula One driver.

A parachuting, bungee-jumping, high-diving, mountain climbing , white-water rafting, spelunking sports lover. The more extreme, the better. So it turns out that when you put this sweet, soft-spoken kid with the two braids and parochial school uniform behind the wheel of a car ... whoa, baby, you better buckle up!
formula one car
Alessio Mazzocco, cc-by-nd-2.0.

The elderly driving instructor seemed a little surprised by this. He clearly did not expect to have to spend his time keeping this kid from flooring it. Or that she'd think parallel parking is no big deal and ace it every time from the first attempt.

Do I sound a little too blasé? Trust me, I do understand the importance of safe driving. But secretly, I guess part of me gets a little thrill that she follows a family tradition. Her grandmother, my mom, spent her youth in the pits of a Grand Prix racetrack, working with the drivers. My dad was certified in counter-terrorism driving. Hot cars were kind of the background scenery of my youth.

spa-francorchamps racetrack
One of my mom's favorite hangouts: Spa-Francorchamps racetrack.
Nicolas Frenay, cc-by-nd-nc-2.0.

So although I hope and pray she learns to tame that urge to burn rubber, at least off a race track, I'm glad to see there are other places outside of home where she lets her true self show. And I'd better start saving up — in case driving lessons of a different kind are in her future!
race car
Tell me that's not my kid driving!

She inspired me, too, to get back behind the wheel. I signed up for refresher driving lessons. We'll see what I learn about myself this time around.

What I can say is that it's got me thinking. Racetracks and hot cars — sounds like a good backdrop for a future romance novel, no?

Amazon /  iTunes / KoboGoogle

Milou Koenings is a USA Today best-selling author. She writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place.

Her Green Pines sweet romances, Reclaiming Home and Sweet Blizzard are available on Amazon and

You can find her on her website,, on TwitterFacebookPinterest, or Instagram.

Sign up for our newsletter and keep up with Sweet Romance Reads!

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Missing a deadline & YOUR favorite books?

I just realized that it's August 20, and that I haven't prepared a blog post. But outside, the sun is shining, and I really, really want to continue to write my next mystery, so I decided to write a quick post instead of presenting my book of the month. Besides, it's time to discuss YOUR favorite books!

For my next blog posts, what books do you think I should feature? You will know by now that I love a combination of cozy mystery and romance, but I also love anything that makes me laugh. Do you have any recommendations for me, so I can discuss them here come the next 20th?

I would also like to tell you about a free book: Next week, my first mystery Delayed Death (yep, you guessed right, a combination of cozy mystery and romance, set in Italy) will be free on iTunes. If any of you would like get a free copy now, let me know in the comment section with your e-mail address (or via Facebook, direct message!)

I'm looking forward to discovering your favorite books!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Meeting Readers

Writing is usually solitary but occasionally authors get out of that writing space to attend conferences and conventions. This year, I’ve kept my travel calendar pretty lean, but this past weekend (including Monday evening) was different, and a lot of fun.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Suffolk Va. Mystery Authors Festival where a range of genre fiction authors, including those who write romance and women’s fiction, are invited to meet readers, present or sit on panels for workshops, and hold readings. I loved meeting the readers, and also seeing author friends, and making new relationships with both readers and authors. The Suffolk tourism department does an amazing job with this event. It was the third year for the event and I’ve attended two of those years and plan to attend next year as well. I highly recommend any readers who can make it there next August to do so. You won’t be sorry. 

On Monday evening I attended the Cape Charles, VA library speaker series to discuss books. I was there with two other authors, Nancy Naigle and Kelsey Browning. It was a much quieter event than the Mystery Authors Festival in Suffolk, but equally delightful. Small can be nice, too – in fact, it was cozy and congenial and I had a great time discussing books with the readers. 

Usually readers meet  authors via browsing and reading their books. When we have the opportunity to go to the readers and meet them in book-filled environments, it’s a special opportunity and I was glad and grateful to be able to participate. Now, I need to get back to writing!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Depends on your point of view - by Magdalena Scott

I'm nearing the end of a series. It's a misty-eyed time for me, because I've put a lot of myself into these books. As far as I know, putting a lot of yourself into your stories is the way to write the best tales possible.

If someone knows an easier way, I'd be glad to hear it.

The series I'm finishing is called "Serendipity, Indiana." The setting is a small fictional town, in which the powerful magic of Love creates unexpected events that lead to happy endings. (Or, if one is more of a concrete thinker, a bunch of random coincidences happen to people, and inexplicably, a happy ending appears.)

In recent years, instead of typing The End when finishing a manuscript, I use The End...or is it The Beginning? I love this change. After all, don't we all want our favorite characters to have more happily-ever-after than is seen on the page?

It's all in the point of view, isn't it? End of a series, or beginning of new opportunities? End of summer and super hot weather, or... Okay, I'm not going to try to predict that. Ouch.

Do you like long series, or prefer a stand-alone novel, or maybe a trilogy? Serendipity will have 7 books, and my McClains of Legend, Tennessee series has 8 plus three bundles. Is less truly more? Or is more waaaay better? I'd love to hear your opinions. Here's a graphic with all the covers of my Serendipity, Indiana series...

Magdalena Scott is a USA Today Bestselling Author, and writes sweet romance and women's fiction with just enough spice, but the lid's still on the jar. Visit her website:

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Summer Olympic Games in Rio

The Summer Olympic Games
By Margaret Daley

How many of you have been watching the Summer Olympic Games right now? I’ve been following certain sports like beach volleyball, diving, swimming, gymnastics and track. The games have something for everyone. I understand in the next summer games in Japan there are going to add five more sports: surfing, softball, baseball and two types of rock climbing. That announcement made me think of all the types of sports there are. There must be hundreds, at least that’s the way it seems to me.

But what I’ve enjoyed the most about the televised games is seeing Rio again. I went years ago for a week and loved the place. I’ve enjoyed the stories about Rio and its customs and people. I get to revisit landmarks I’ve seen in person. There was even a story on a restaurant my friend and I ate lunch at thirty-eight years ago. It is still going strong. What I remember about the restaurant was the huge portions they served and that I really had no idea what I was ordering because the menu was in Portuguese and the waiters didn’t speak English.

Are you watching the Olympics? What is your favorite sport to watch?

Margaret Daley’s most recent book is Deadly Legacy.
Legacy of Secrets. Threats and Danger. Second Chances.
From USA Today Bestselling author, Margaret Daley, is another romantic suspense from her series Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations.
Down on her luck, single mom, Lacey St. John, believes her life has finally changed for the better when she receives an inheritance from a wealthy stranger. Her ancestral home she'd thought forever lost has been transformed into a lucrative bed and breakfast guaranteed to bring much-needed financial security. Her happiness is complete until strange happenings erode her sense of well-being. When her life is threatened, she turns to neighbor, Sheriff Ryan McNeil, for help. He promises to solve the mystery of who's ruining her newfound peace of mind, but when her troubles escalate to the point that her every move leads to danger, she's unsure who to trust. Is the strong, capable neighbor she's falling for as amazing as he seems? Or could he be the man who wants her dead?

Check out her books at