Getting Help

photo courtesy of pixabay, wokandapix

The post I originally wrote for today was about my summer reading wish list, but that will have to wait until next week.

Today my heart is broken for a family I’ve never met.

Yesterday a student at the high school two of my children attend took his own life. I found out about it this morning through my church’s prayer chain. I have no words for the sorrow I feel for this boy’s family.

This is not the first time this has happened at the school. In fact, it’s at least the fourth time in as many years. There is something really, really wrong when a child feels there is no hope and no help.

Please, please, if you know anyone who is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

Whether you contact them by phone or online, someone is there to help 24/7 all across the United States. And because I know people from all over the world read this blog, click here for a list of suicide hotlines by country. Please note that Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England are listed under United Kingdom. If you know any information on that list to be incorrect, please let me know and I’ll post the correct information below in the comments.

If you know someone who is struggling emotionally or mentally, you could be the catalyst for getting that person the help he or she desperately needs. Please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/ to find out what you can do to help. There’s also great information about things you shouldn’t do.

Please keep struggling families in your prayers, and please remember to be kind–you never know what someone else is going through.

Until next time,

Amy

 

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First Tuesday Recipes for June

The unofficial start of summer may have been over Memorial Day weekend, but according to Mother Nature’s calendar, summer officially starts this month.

In the spirit of lazy summer days, I have three recipes for you this month that are a combination of easy and cool.  Serve them if you have people over, but make sure they’re people you like–because I guarantee they’ll be back after they taste these offerings.

 

Sharon’s Potato Salad

I tried this recipe just a couple days after Sharon sent it to me and it’s my new favorite potato salad. I have one child who hates potato salad and she asked for seconds. It’s that good. A quick note: I only had half an onion, so I used that instead of a whole onion. I also grated it instead of chopping it.

8 Small/medium potatoes

4 hard-boiled eggs, 1 for the top if you want to make it pretty

1 medium onion (optional), chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoons prepared mustard

2 or 3 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Paprika

1 In a large pot, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and cool. (I like to refrigerate for at least an hour to keep potatoes firm.) Peel potatoes; cut into bite size pieces. Chop eggs, saving one for the top, and add to the potatoes. Add chopped onion.

2 Dressing: combine mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes; toss well. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Spoon into a serving bowl. Garnish with egg slices and paprika. Chill until serving. Yield: approximately 8 servings.

 

Orange Slush: for adults only!

9 c. water, divided

2 c. sugar

2 teabags, your choice of flavor

1 12-oz. container frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 12-oz. container frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 qt. vodka

In a medium saucepan, boil 7 c. water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.

Heat remaining 2 c. water and add the 2 teabags. Set aside while tea steeps, then discard teabags.

In a 13×9″ baking dish, mix the orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, and vodka. Add sugar water and tea, stir to combine well, and place in freezer. Allow mixture to become slushy, stirring occasionally.

To serve, fill glass 2/3 full with slush, then top with ginger ale or lemon-lime soda.

 

Four-Layer Dessert

Crust:

I stick butter, melted

1 c. flour

1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Filling #1:

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

2/3 c. powdered sugar

1/2 large container Cool Whip

Filling #2:

2 3-oz. packages instant pudding (either chocolate or pistachio are best, in my opinion)

3 c. milk

Topping:

remaining Cool Whip

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine topping ingredients until crumbly. Press into 13×9″ dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, mix ingredients for Filling #1 until fluffy. Spread on cooled crust.

In another medium bowl using an electric mixer or whisk, mix ingredients for Filling #2. Spread over first filling layer.

Cover entire dessert with the remaining Cool Whip and chill until ready to serve.

 

I hope you enjoy this month’s selection of recipes. I’m always looking for new stuff, so if you have anything to share, please let me know! I’d love to feature your recipes in upcoming posts.

Until next time,

Amy

The Last Tuesday Book Club: The Life She Was Given

This month’s book club selection is The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman. The only other book I’ve read by Ms. Wiseman is The Plum Tree, though she has two others: What She Left Behind and Coal River. Her books feature female protagonists placed in heart-wrenching circumstances who somehow learn to survive and grow.

The Life She Was Given is about two people: Lilly Blackwood, a young Albino girl whose mother sells her to the circus during the Great Depression, and Julia Blackwood, a young woman who has run away from home in the mid-1950s to escape her controlling and unkind mother.

For anyone who hasn’t read the book, I won’t put out any spoilers, but you may want to avoid reading the questions below until you’ve had a chance to read it.

I have mixed feelings about the book. I think Ellen Marie Wiseman is an extremely skilled and gifted writer and she has a way with words that I can almost assure you will bring tears to your eyes (if not a gushing flood of emotion). That being said, this story pushed me a little too far out of my comfort zone. I actually skipped one whole chapter because I knew what was going to happen and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. I have to say I’ve never done that before.

For those of you who read it, what did you think? What were your overall impressions? And if you read the book, can you guess the chapter I skipped?

Here are the questions for this month, some of which I borrowed and/or tweaked from the back of The Life She Was Given:

  1. When Lilly left Blackwood Manor after ten years of never setting foot outside the attic, were you surprised by how quickly she acclimated to life on the outside? Did you expect her to have more developmental problems given the isolation of her first ten years?
  2. What is the author trying to say, if anything, about religion in The Life She Was Given?
  3. Why do you think Momma and Father were unkind to Julia, when their stated intention was to give her the life her mother had never had?
  4. Do you think Momma loved Lilly, or was her attitude toward her daughter based on something else?
  5. Do you think Lilly could have survived on her own if she had escaped from Momma on the way to the circus?
  6. What are your feelings about Lilly’s father?
  7. The parallels between Lilly’s life and that of the elephants and other animals are many and obvious. How did you feel when Jojo was taken from Pepper?
  8. What do you think of Claude? Do you think he did the right thing by keeping to himself during the time after Lilly disappeared? Do you think he was right not to share his knowledge with Julia?
  9. Do you think the title, The Life She Was Given, specifically refers to Lilly? Did you think it could refer to Julia, too?
  10. Have you ever been to the circus? What is your opinion of circuses?

Next month’s book is The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It’s a story about a college student looking for a cousin in France after WWII who is joined by a former spy from WWI. I’m excited to read this one!

Until next time,

Amy

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into June with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month put a big smile on my face, and I’m happy to share it with you. It’s the story of a national park in Chad, where elephants are making a great comeback after being poached unchecked for years. In Zakouma National Park, elephants are back from the brink of decimation.

Click here to read the story. You can find other versions of the story here and here.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Kaul Uppal, Peter Nena, Andrea Michaels, and Damyanti Biswas.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

The New and Improved Reade and Write!

I’ve spent some time in the past week working on the blog to make it easier to read and easier for readers to find my books. I’ve updated the “About Me” page and I’ve added a page listing my books with links to my website and/or Amazon. I’ve also changed the font and, more importantly, the font size, to make the title of the blog and the different pages more user-friendly.

One of my goals is to use the blog more effectively to invite people to sign up for my newsletter. If you haven’t already signed up, click the tab that says “Website and Newsletter” at the top of the blog’s home page and you’ll be redirected to my sign-up form. I’m always trying to grow the newsletter, so I invite you to join us!

One of these days I intend to include some short stories on the blog (and duplicated on the website) that readers can peruse, too.

I hope you like the new look! Let me know what you think and if there’s anything else I could do to make visiting Reade and Write a pleasant experience!

Until  next time,

Amy

P.S. Don’t forget next week’s book club discussion! We’re reading The Life She was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

Author Spotlight: Phyllis Entis

Today I welcome author Phyllis Entis back to Reade and Write. Phyllis has penned both fiction and non-fiction, but it’s the fiction she’s talking about today. Phyllis is the author of the Damien Dickens Mysteries, which consist of The Green Pearl Caper, The White Russian Caper, The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper, and now, The Gold Dragon Caper. I can personally attest to how good the books are! She’s here to tell us a little about The Gold Dragon Caper.

Here’s Phyllis:

The Gold Dragon Caper was both the easiest and the most difficult of the Damien Dickens Mysteries for me to write. I knew where I wanted to go with my plot, I knew my villain (not always the case for me at the start of a book project), and I knew how and where I wanted the story to end. That was the easy part.

The hard part of the project was its emotional content. I literally wrote some of this book with tears in my eyes.

The Gold Dragon Caper is a darker story than the first three novels. It was difficult to avoid the influence of the political climate in the USA during its writing, especially as Derek J. Turpin shares some characteristics with another DJT.

I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, so let me just say that we learn more about what makes Millie tick in this Caper. She went through some tough times before she met Damien, and some of that comes back to haunt her in this story.

I hope you enjoy The Gold Dragon Caper.”

About Phyllis Entis:

Phyllis’s debut novel, The Green Pearl Caper, was a Library Journal SELF-e Selection. Phyllis is a free-lance writer and retired food safety microbiologist with degrees from McGill University and the University of Toronto. In 2007, ASM Press published her non-fiction book, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives.

Phyllis lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, with her husband and their Australian Cobberdog, Shalom. When she’s not writing, Phyllis usually can be found walking around town, browsing in the local library, or enjoying her garden.

Here’s where you can find Phyllis online:

Website and blog: phyllisentis.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/PromptProse

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/DamienDickensMysteries/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/phyllis-entis-1697a849/

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Phyllis-Entis/e/B001JRZM1K/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/1750852.Phyllis_Entis

Thank you, Phyllis!

Until next week,

Amy

Tuesday Laughs

I thought we could all use a few laughs today, so I am sharing some of my favorite writing memes with you. Before you go, please note that the book club selection for May’s Last Tuesday Book Club is THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN by Ellen Marie Wiseman. It is NOT What She Left Behind, as I stated incorrectly last week. Thank you to Sharon Aguanno for catching my mistake! If you’ve already started What She Left Behind, email me at amymreadeauthor@gmail[dot]com and I’ll schedule it for another time.

 

credit: King Tumblr

 

 

credit: themetapicture.com

 

credit: King Tumblr

 

credit:icanhascheezburger.com, Sarah Cradit

 

credit: quickmeme.com, http://www.ermilia.wordpress

 

credit: Someecards

 

Have a great day!

Until next time,

Amy