I am so grateful for this wonderful review of my book by
Friday, January 28, 2022
Saturday, January 1, 2022
I can think of a no more delightful way of opening 2022 than to share with my readers the charming story of my friend and brilliant author Marina Sardarova’s memories of the New Year Celebration in the USSR of her childhood. Marina writes under the penname of Stella May. Featured below is the link to her web site at which readers can access her excellent time-travel fantasy and romance novels. –Linda Lee Greene, Author/Artist
Author Stella May’s Childhood and New Year’s Celebration in the USSR
From Stella May/Marina Sardarova
When I was a child, December 31st was the happiest and most anticipated day of the year. You see, in my old country, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even know what Christmas was. Instead, we celebrated New Year. How come? Well, I was born in the former USSR, the communist country, where Christmas as a religious holiday was banned since 1928. (I think they reinstated it in 1991, but I am not positive.) But, back to my story. As sad as it may seem to you, our New Years were
festive, and happy.
We decorated our flats with an abandon. A fresh pine tree was a must. I still remember how it smelled—fresh and green like hope. And, oh God, the decorations! Hand-made, or store bought, and the garlands… We had our own version of Santa Claus—Ded Moroz, who had his lovely granddaughter, Snegurochka. Oh, the New Years of my childhood! It was pure joy, and expectation of something wonderful, and magic rolled into one. The smell of tangerines permeated the air. Those little orange delights were an absolute necessary attribute of any New Year’s celebration–- even more than champagne. My mom slaved in the kitchen for days to put the biggest and most scrumptious meal on the table. And the most favorite dish of all? Olivier Salad, of course. (Look for the recipe in December on Marina’s blog.) It was, and still is, a synonym of New Year. Then, on the big day, we would put our best china and gather around the table for dinner. For children, it was the biggest thrill, because only on New Year’s Eve we were allowed to stay up all night, eat sweets, and watch TV until we dropped. And only the children received presents. Mostly, it was sweets, fruit, books, and an occasional toy— nothing the modern children would consider a ‘present’, especially a Christmas present. But we were waiting for those special presents all year and treasured them immensely. To us, they were precious. They represented something special–New Year. No one wrapped our presents simply because we didn’t have any wrapping paper. I remember my mom used cellophane and some ribbons to make our presents a little more festive. I remember how she would hide these funny-looking bundles from us, and how happy she was when she’d manage to transfer them in the middle of the night under the tree, and then looked surprised when we find them in the morning. But most of all, I remember the feeling of absolute and total happiness. Oh, what a joy it was, that magical New Year’s night! The exhilaration, anticipation, celebration! I remember everything so vividly like it was yesterday, and my heart breaks a little each and every time. In my family we keep the tradition and celebrate New Year’s in a big way. Now I am slaving in the kitchen, using my mother’s recipes to put on a celebratory dinner. And every year, there are tangerines, champagne, and Olivier Salad. And presents? There will be plenty of presents for everyone— not only for children. And they will be wrapped in a pretty paper, and adorned with festive ribbons and bows. We will sit around the table, and raise our glasses to toast 2022, wishing for health and happiness, peace and prosperity. May this coming year be kind to everybody. Stay safe and healthy, love each other, care for your loved ones, and always keep a positive attitude. Happy New Year, or as we said in Russia, с Новым Годом! Stella
Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.
Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors. When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are partners in their family business.
#NewYearCelebrations, #USSR, #MarinaSardarova, #StellaMay, #TillTimeDoUsPart, #RhapsodyInDreams
Sunday, December 19, 2021
From Linda Lee Greene, Author/Artist
How much easier it would be for me to fulfill a commission to write an article titled ‘Christmas Around the World,’ if I were actually free to travel, but I do not have that freedom for various reasons. Therefore, I call on my crafty Muse to settle on my shoulder and whisper in my ear an imaginary tale of travel, one in which I call on a number of women in faraway places, each of whom is immersed in high holiday celebrations unique to her culture. I am giddy over the prospect of beginning my make-believe trip with my Muse depositing me smack-dab in the presence of a Native American sister.
Paulette welcomes me into her kitchen and then very graciously explains to me that embracing the Christian tradition is a thorny issue for many of her people given the injustices that America’s indigenous people have faced under white domination, both in the past and the present. Even so, the good spirit of the season permeates her culture in admirable ways. “You showed up just in time to catch me before I leave for a meeting of the Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA),” Paulette informs me. Responding to the quizzical look on my face, she continues. “We spread holiday cheer in the way of blankets, nutrition and education services, medical screenings, and more to over 30,000 of our Elders, children, and families in approximately 110 reservation communities here in the Northern Plains and the Southwest. Winter is brutal in these reservations and rural communities, and we work hard to come together in the spirit of giving at this special time.” Upon making my exit into a frozen morning, I drop a couple of Andrew Jacksons into Paulette’s PWNA donation basket and cringe at the gruesome symbolism of that particular face being imprinted on those U. S. $20.00 bills.
I suppose my Muse took pity on me and decided to defrost me, because in the blink of an eye, I am stretched out on the blinding sand of a beach in Melbourne, Australia. I am clad in a bathing suit, and the unmistakable aroma of seafood sizzling on a grill within smelling distance floods my mouth with saliva. Jingle Bells, the jolly Christmas song, rings out from an electronic device. The incongruity is not lost on me as I push to my feet to the greeting of a scantily-clad blonde goddess waving a barbecue fork in her hand. “We thought you were dead to the world, myte,” she says to me. “Come on and git yerself a plyte. It’s prawns on the barbie, stryght from Dad’s boat this mornin’.” Kathryn is the name of this supernatural being, and she is only one of many just like her in her large circle of beach party buddies. Someone thrusts a frosty bottle of beer in my hand and I recoup my senses enough to inquire, “Jingle Bells?” “What else?” Kathryn replies. “It’s Christmas! Eat up! Drink up! The day is jist gittin’ started. You don’t want to miss Carols by Candlelight tonight.” “Carols by Candlelight?” “Yeh, you know! The big charity evint to help out the needy in the community.” To get in the spirit of things, I chug the cold beer and pretend the hot white sand squishing between my bare toes is bone-chilling snow.
A strong scent reminiscent of home that I am powerless to resist lures me away from summertime Melbourne to a cozy dining room in Tokyo, Japan. A table laden with buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken is occupied on all sides by a young Japanese family comprised of a mother, father, and two children. Apparently I am the only dinner guest at what Aimi, the lovely mother, explains to me is their “hidden Christmas”. While the stigma of what in Japan is mainly a secular event is dissipating thanks to ubiquitous Western influences wrought through television and social media, influences such as America’s KFC as the food of choice for Christmas Day in Japan, still many people whose leanings remain Shinto or Buddhism, observe the day on the quiet. “It ruffles fewer feathers that way,” an otherwise very Japanese Aimi tells me in ironical American terminology.
Muse is anxious to send me further into my whirlwind tour, and next, and for a minute or two, I wonder if Muse has time-slipped me back to America’s Old West as the gentle steed on whose back I ride trots me beneath a wide, wood archway that spans an opening in split-rail fencing on both sides. The fencing wanders and then evaporates into what appears a boundless, misty landscape. A carved sign in wood at the crest of the archway proclaims, “LET’S GO GREEN!” And then I know I am in current time, the ominous Climate Change time that does not withdraw to a voiceless corner even on Christmas Day. Great plumes of crystalized breath billow from the nostrils of the horse, and my own frosty breath hazes the lenses of my spectacles. I am in cold, cold country—not quite to the Arctic plain, but close enough, I am pretty sure. No level treeless tundra is this, though, for there are evergreen trees, evergreen trees upon evergreen trees as far as the eye can see, planted in deliberate, neat and regimental rows, like line upon line of locked-arm chorus girls frocked in frilly green. Donned in blue-jeans and a fleece-layered black-and-red-plaid flannel shirt, a Paul Bunyan-like figure materializes out of nowhere suddenly. “Welcome to Saskatchewan’s Evergreen Tree Farm. We’ve been expecting you. I’m Anne,” this burly Canadian female greets me. “You look like you need a warm-up. Come on up to the house. There’s a rum and brandy hot toddy there with your name on it.”
A profusion of Christmas decorations, evergreen garlands, and twinkling lights at every door, window, and eave forms an almost impenetrable obstacle course to the entrance of the place. In the wake of my hostess, I step across the threshold and enter a winter wonderland, a plethora of all things Christmas. A steaming mug of the hot toddy beckons me to the table upon which it rests, and on the stovetop, the valve on the lid of a pressure cooker dances up and down. The aroma emitting from it is heavenly. “Have you ever had frontier bison stew?” Anne asks me. My stomach drops to my toes and I shake my head. I feel my enthusiasm wilt to a point of no return. I am not so sure my belly is ready for frontier bison stew. “I thought bison was an endangered species,” I state, my mouth going desert-dry in my unease. “Our First Nation people have taken the herds in hand and are bringing the numbers back to almost double now,” Anne explains. “The grazing habits of the herds are also reestablishing the indigenous grasses that are much better carbon capturers than non-native plant-life that was introduced in colonial times. With their bison and my trees, the First Nation people and I are working hard to do right by Mother Nature.”
Don’t get me wrong. My gratitude for all of Anne’s hospitality is as mammoth as the woman herself. This big-hearted female had a hot toddy waiting to warm my icy bones. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if she had grabbed that bison by its horns in her immense lumberjack hands and wrestled it to the ground all by herself, and then saw to all further machinations to get it into her pressure cooker just in time for my arrival at her tree farm this Christmas Day. And while I also appreciate all the laudable environmentalism, suffice to say that my main motivator at the moment is finding a gracious way of sidestepping Anne’s looming offer of a bowl of that bison stew. I send a private, silent message to my Muse that I am ready to move on to the next spot on my journey. Muse hears my plea and at mach-speed, I turn up in Jerusalem of all places, which I am to learn is planet Earth’s ‘City of Three Christmases’.
While terrorists are wiping out Christians far and wide in the Middle East, the Jewish state of Israel is the one place in the area in which Christians can practice their religion freely. Their number is small: only about 2.5% of the total Israeli population, but Christmas celebrations are large. I meet up with Susan in a library on an outskirt of Jerusalem. She leads me to a table on which lays an enormous tome. She invites me to sit next to her, and she opens the book and I follow along as she spins an intriguing and complex story of Christmas in Jerusalem, the index finger of her right hand tracing the lines on the pages like a sightless person reading braille. Now and then, her head lowers to within mere inches of the book for a closer look at the ancient, fading text, and a crucifix suspended from a silver chain around her neck drops forward and drags across the pages. It seems a confirmation, of sorts.
“The Christmas story took place in Israel,” Susan reminds me. “But through the centuries, and for a variety of reasons, the different factions of Christians have not come to a meeting of minds on the actual date of the birth of Jesus. So you see, Christmas in Jerusalem is not a one-day affair. Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians celebrate the day on December 25th. Orthodox Christians do so on January 6th, and Armenian Christians on January 18th.” Susan implores me to stick around and partake of an array of dazzling festivities commemorating the holiday, but by this time, I am more than ready for crisp air and fluffy snow and a bona-fide traditional Christmas as I recognize it to be—a Midwest America Christmas of time spent with family and friends, of sharing food and memories, of gift-giving and receiving amid the ambience of a gorgeously adorned Christmas tree and sparkly mantel and tabletops aglow in candlelight. As ever, my Muse reads me and transports me back to my home.
My wise Muse arranges my return trip to be a bit slower than my arrivals had been, to give me time to reflect on all I had experienced. The impression most indelible in my memory is the evidence of Creator’s handiwork in those places, of the sights and sounds and aromas, and in the people and their talismans for good, such as Paulette’s donation basket, Kathryn’s barbecue fork, Aimi’s KFC bucket, Anne’s trees, and Susan’s crucifix. And I wonder now, what’s in store for me on my next go around!?©
Image: CHRISTMAS ON MITHOFF STREET, watercolor painting by Linda Lee Greene
Multi-award-winning author Linda Lee Greene’s GARDEN OF THE SPIRITS OF THE POTS, A Spiritual Odyssey, a blend of visionary and inspirational fiction with a touch of romance, finds ex-pat American Nicholas Plato in Sydney, Australia, a relocation that pits him against parts unknown both within his new home and himself. It is a quest that in the end reveals to him his true purpose for living. The book is available in eBook and/or paperback. Just click the following link/URL and it will take you straight to the page on Amazon on which you can purchase it. https://www.amazon.com/GARDEN-SPIRITS-POTS-SPIRITUAL-ODYSSEY-ebook/dp/B09JM7YL6F/
#Christmas, #ChristmasAroundtheWorld, #Christianity, #PartnershipWithNativeAmericans, #PWNA, #Australia, #Tokyo, #KFC, #Saskatchewan, #Jerusalem, #GardenoftheSpiritsofthePots, #SpiritualOdyssey, #LindaLeeGreene
Saturday, December 11, 2021
AN EASY-PEASY CHRISTMAS DAY BRUNCH FROM AUTHOR AND KITCHEN GURU SLOANE TAYLOR
From Sloane Taylor
After we entertain Christmas Eve, we tear through the house cleaning up before the kids and grands come for brunch Christmas Day. This meal is wonderful because so much can be prepared well in advance and stored in the fridge until it’s time to cook.
Fresh Fruit Salad
Christmas Cookies & Leftover Desserts
1 lb. (½kg) ham, bacon, or breakfast sausage
9 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups (750ml) milk
1 tsp. (5ml) dry mustard
Diced green, red, and/or yellow pepper to taste
½ lb. (57g) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ lb. (57g) Swiss or Gruyere cheese, or a combination of the two, grated
Diced onion to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 – 1 in. (2.54cm) slices Vienna or French bread, cubed
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Dice ham or bacon. If you use ham, set aside in the bowl you use for the eggs. Fry bacon to the crispness you prefer. Drain on paper towels. If you use breakfast sausage, fry meat until no longer pink. Be sure to break up any clumps. Drain meat in a colander while you continue to prepare the soufflé.
Add all ingredients, except the bread, to eggs. Stir well. Gently stir in bread.
Pour mixture into an ungreased 9 x 13-inch (33 x 22cm) glass baking dish. Bake 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center has no egg clinging to it.
This dish can be assembled one or two days ahead of time. On serving day allow the soufflé to sit on your counter 1 – 2 hours before you bake it.
Leftovers are excellent from the microwave.
If you need to increase the hash browns recipe for a larger group of people, it’s best to sparingly add more garlic powder. As is this recipe serves 6. Leftovers reheat beautifully.
3 russet potatoes (about
1½ pounds), peeled
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) garlic powder, not salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
Shred potatoes on the large holes of a box grater or use the coarse grater disk on a food processor. Transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to soak for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and then rinse under cold water. You do this to remove the starch that makes hash browns gummy.
Transfer shreds to a kitchen towel. Gather together ends of towel and twist over sink, squeezing firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible. This step creates crisp hash browns. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl and toss with garlic powder and pepper. Be sure to evenly distribute the seasonings.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, press down to form a thin layer and cook for a minute or two. Stir and then press down again. Cook until a dark golden crust forms, about 5 minutes.
Turn potatoes in sections. This is easier than trying to turn the food as a whole. Continue to fry until hash browns are crisp and browned all over, 5 minutes or so. Transfer to paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Fresh Fruit Salad
1 banana, peeled
1 pear, cored
1 tbsp. (15ml) lemon juice
¼ pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
10 seedless red grapes, halved
10 raspberries, optional
Slice banana into bitesize pieces. Scoop into a medium-sized bowl. Dice pear and add to bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice over fruit to stop it from turning brown and mix well.
Gently fold in remaining fruit.
Spoon into a glass bowl, cover with cling wrap, and chill until time to serve. Leftovers are still good the next day.
1 bottle sparking white wine or champagne, cold
1 carton orange juice, cold
Tall slender glasses
Fill glasses half full with wine. Tip the glass slightly as you pour to retain the fizz. Top off with orange juice. Don’t stir. That will destroy the bubbles.
May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!
Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.
#ChristmasRecipes, #BreakfastSouffle, #ChristmasLuncheon, #AuthorLife, #HolidayMenu, #SloaneTaylorAuthor
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Author Leigh Goff shares some benefits of listening to audiobooks during the holiday season
My publisher, Parliament House, encouraged me to turn my Southern Gothic Horror book, Koush Hollow into an audiobook. Before I made that commitment, I decided to investigate the benefits of audiobooks. And was I surprised! Here are just some of the things I learned that you may find interesting:
• Something new. Some people prefer listening rather than reading text and the increasing popularity of audiobooks proves that. According to Goodereader.com, audiobook sales increased by 16 percent in 2019 and generated over $1.2 billion in revenue. That same year, e-books only made $983 million.
• Convenience. You can listen to a book on your phone, iPad, computer, at the beach, or at a family get together you want to escape from. It’s easier than ever to download a book thanks to Audible, and it’s tough to lose one when it’s on your phone. Bonus, no more physical bookmarks or reading glasses needed! Just pick up where you left off listening.
· Huge Variety. In 2020, more than 71 thousand audiobooks were published in the U.S. The number has increased 39 percent year over year since 2007. There are currently more than 25 audiobook publishers, and according to Forcreators.com, the most popular genres in audiobooks are autobiography/memoir, mystery, thriller, fantasy, and science fiction. Almost anything you want to read is ready for downloading.
· Pro-Multitasking. According to Goodereader.com, over half of UK audiobook listeners say they don’t have time to sit and read a physical book. Audiobooks allow you to listen while you walk your dog, clean your room, get a load of laundry done, workout on the elliptical, or prep dinner.
· Popular. One in three book buyers has listened to an audiobook in the past year and if you’re in a book club, you can have all of those book titles downloaded into one place to make it easier than ever to listen anytime, anywhere. They’re so popular, the big publishers like Audible and Harper Collins are investing in more studios and narrators to speed up production.
· Mood Elevator. Listening to an audiobook before bed is similar to meditation because it keeps unnecessary thoughts from creeping into your mind. Studies show that it’s a more immersive and intimate experience that can also help you fall asleep.
· Vocabulary Helper. When you listen to audiobooks, you learn how to pronounce difficult words and learn their meaning through the context of the dialogue. You may not be able to guess the spelling of the word, but your curiosity could lead you to investigate further.
Koush Hollow: Horror/Fantasy/Southern Gothic. This is a brand-new audiobook release from The Parliament House Press, and it offers an original story that’s a great choice for all readers. It’s a chilling yet hopeful tale of one girl’s resistance to an elite world of wealth and class and her brave questioning of the strange happenings around her. The talented Erin Seidel gives voice to an eclectic cast of characters and her narration captures the youthful, idealistic character of Jenna as she is transformed from a disillusioned girl to one who honors her convictions and truths at all costs in a riveting story set in the mystical bayous of New Orleans. Available on Audible, Amazon, and iBooks.
For your listening pleasure, enjoy a sweet cocktail from New Orleans that pairs perfectly with the audio version of Koush Hollow.
BEST-EVER HURRICANE from Delish
2 oz. light rum
3 oz. dark rum
6 oz. passion fruit juice
6 oz. orange juice
2 tbsp. grenadine
2 Orange slices
2 maraschino cherries
In a large liquid measuring cup, combine rums, passion fruit juice, orange juice, and grenadine.
Pour over iced-filled glasses.
Garnish each glass with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
Find the original recipe at Delish.
Here's a brief intro to my new audiobook. Click the audible link below to hear more.
After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother. As the 16-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow: How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing? As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.
Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.
Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.
Thursday, December 2, 2021
From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist
The dictionary defines the word “crucible” as, “A situation of severe trial, in which different elements interact and lead to the creation of something new.” An example might be a marriage that is strengthened and renewed in the crucible of devastating illness, or financial loss, or even infidelity.
The idea of a mysterious pot that travels around the world and shows up in the life of a fictional character, a pot that creates a crucible through which the character surmounts barriers to the discovery of the next chapter of his/her fate, came to me a while back, and I wrote a story about it. It grew to a manuscript and then a book. The same pot set out on yet a new adventure, which led to a second book. The pot didn’t stop there—it stationed itself in my mind as brewing ingredients of a third book. Apparently, I have a series in the making.
The prelude of each of the stories reads: “Make me large for a pot and impressive,” the clay spoke through the hands of the potter. “In the rough texture of my mud, give me a history too intriguing and beauty too irresistible for the navigators of my path to ignore. Put luminosity in my pigmentation so that no matter the quality of the darkness, I will at all times attract the light. Make my skin so impermeable that it will withstand ice and heat and cyclones and hurricanes and tornadoes on land, and fathomless depths of oceans and gales and storms on seas, for I will inhabit many lands and voyage across countless bodies of water before my quest is through. With all of these things, give me flexibility, for like Tennyson's Ulysses, I will become a part of all I meet.” And so, the potter obeyed.
It is my great pleasure to bring to readers the first novel in my traveling pot series. It is titled GARDEN OF THE SPIRITS OF THE POTS: A SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY and is available now in eBook and/or paperback. Just click the following link/URL and it will take you straight to the page on Amazon at which you can purchase it. https://www.amazon.com/GARDEN-SPIRITS-POTS-SPIRITUAL-ODYSSEY-ebook/dp/B09JM7YL6F/
#Novella, #eBook, #Paperback, #Pottery, #NewRelease, #BookLaunch, #GardenoftheSpiritsofthePots, #LindaLeeGreene
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist
“Cigarettes burning in the ashtray, coffee cooling in your cups, cheek to cheek at the kitchen table, you and Mom worked the crossword puzzle at the end of each day.
“Many long years it was that Mom’s seat was empty at the kitchen table. Times were that I’d fill it, and others too, but everyone knew there was no true substitute to you for Mom in her seat at the crossword puzzle.
“Seven years ago, you took your seat in heaven Mom held there for you. Cigarettes burning in the ashtray, coffee cooling in your cups, no doubt the two of you are cheek to cheek over the crossword puzzle at the end of each day—even this day of your 96th birthday.
“Forgive me for the interruption, Dad, but I want to say, ‘Happy Birthday.’”©
#CrosswordPuzzles, #LindaLeeGreene, #AuthorArtist