Valentine’s Day Gifts for Writers

Valentine’s Day is upon us again. We don’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day at our house, but we do like to acknowledge it.

For me, that means last-minute scrambling to get my kids something to place next to their plates at dinner (every year, it’s as if Valentine’s Day sneaks up on me. It’s the 14th this year, in case you weren’t aware). We are trying to get away from the habit of buying “stuff,” so gift cards for food and movies are usually the gifts of choice. The kids seem to like those things better than “stuff,” anyway.

My daughter, Carolyn, though, will be receiving a care package of chips and candy. Value of the items: $15. Cost to send it to her in England: $52. I would have sent an electronic gift card if I’d known it would be that expensive.

I realize that lots of people love Valentine’s Day and they like to make a big deal of it. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the writer in your life:

  1. A professional massage. I got one for Christmas (thanks again to you-know-who-you-are) and boy, does it help get out those kinks writers get from spending too many hours hunched over a keyboard.
  2. A gift card to a bookstore. Writers love to read! Most of them would love nothing more than the opportunity to spend an hour browsing through a bookstore. A real bookstore. But for those of you who don’t have a bookstore nearby, a gift card to an online book retailer is just as nice.
  3. A fancy pen. You know, for book signings.
  4. A fancy journal. For all the ideas writers have to write down before they forget.
  5. Time. Do some housework for the writer in your life, or get the car inspected, or whatever you have to do, to give your writer some time alone. And please tell them they can’t spend that time writing. They have to spend it doing something else they love. Like browsing in a bookstore or getting a massage.
  6. A house in the mountains. With a view. (It doesn’t hurt to dream).

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Love it? Hate it? No opinion? How do you plan to celebrate this year?

Until next time,



The First First Tuesday Recipes!

So my daughter, who is thousands of miles away, is sick. And the Dow fell off a cliff yesterday. And I was nursing a headache. And I forgot to schedule my car’s oil change. And today I have so much to do that I’ll never get it all done.

You know what?

I need food. And not just food–I need to cook.

Cooking is like food for the soul. I find it to be relaxing, meditative, comforting, and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve wanted to share recipes on this blog for a long time, and this year when I realized I needed to do something new, food came to mind (as it always does).

So welcome to the inaugural edition of First Tuesday Recipes. On the first Tuesday of each month, I’ll be sharing some recipes I tried and liked over the past month and I hope you’ll share some, too. You can leave your recipes in the comments, or you’re welcome to email me at and I’ll include them the next month’s post.

This month I’ve got a fish entree, a soup, and a salad to share. Another soup recipe comes courtesy of Sharon Aguanno, who tells me it’s one of her favorites.

Fish entree: Pan-Roasted Salmon with Soy-Ginger Glaze

I found this recipe on Click here to visit the page. This is the entree in the photo at the top of the post (now you see why I never became a food stylist).

1/4 c. soy sauce

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 six-ounce salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce and ginger. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat and stir in honey and mustard.

Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Sprinkle fillets with pepper and put them in the skillet, skin side up. Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Turn the salmon over and spoon the ginger-soy glaze on top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 5 minutes.

I served this with wilted spinach and Jasmine rice. It was a big hit!

Soup#1: Slow Cooker Taco Soup

I found this on You can click here to visit.

1 lb. ground beef

1 med. onion, chopped

1 can (16 oz.) chili beans–do not drain

1 can (15 oz.) shoepeg corn–do not drain

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

2 c. water

2 cans (14.5 oz. each) peeled, diced tomatoes

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix

corn chips, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

In a medium skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Drain and place in the bottom of a greased slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients except corn chips, sour cream, and shredded cheddar, and mix. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Serve with garnishes, if desired.

Soup #2: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Sharon Aguanno found this recipe on Click here to visit.

4 c. chicken broth

2 c. water

2 c. boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves, shredded

1 pkg. (4.5 oz.) quick-cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

3/4 c. flour

1/2 c. butter

2 c. heavy cream

In a large pot, combine broth, water, and chicken over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then stir in rice, reserving the seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat.

In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then stir in contents of seasoning packet until bubbly. Reduce heat to low and, one tablespoon at a time, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture to form a roux. Whisk in the cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and mixture is smooth. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir cream mixture into rice mixture. Cook over medium heat until heated through, about 10-15 minutes.

Sharon recommends adding vegetables to this soup, too. This is one I’m going to try before the end of February!

Salad: Rachael Ray’s Asian Charred Broccoli Salad

Thanks to my aunt, I get Rachael Ray’s magazine every month and I have to say I’ve never tried a recipe from that magazine that wasn’t a hit. This one, which I adapted a bit, is quick and easy. You can visit the page here.

3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. peanut oil

1 1/4 lb. broccoli florets

1 tbsp. ponzu sauce (I used a citrus one I found in the grocery store)

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. finely chopped garlic


chopped peanuts

In a wok or large skillet, heat 3 tbsp. oil over high heat. Add broccoli and cook, stirring, until broccoli is crisp-tender and beginning to char, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk ponzu sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and remaining 2 tsp. oil. Toss with broccoli and sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts.

I served this with a lemony breaded cod–another big hit!

I hope you get a chance to try a few of these recipes and that you’ll send in your own suggestions for next month’s First Tuesday Recipes post!

Until next time,


Casualty of Court by L.S. Fellows

Today I welcome another member of Mystery Authors International, Lynne (L.S.) Fellows, to Reade and Write to talk about her upcoming release, Casualty of Court.

But before we get to that, a couple of housekeeping reminders: first, next week is my inaugural First Tuesday Recipes blog post. Don’t forget to email me at by 2/2/18 with any recipe you’d like me to include in the post (and if it’s from the internet, please give me the link, too). And second, The Last Tuesday Book Club is reading The Art Forger for our first discussion on March 27th. I hope you’ll join us! I have finished the book and I loved it.

So back to today’s guest.

A British-born author living in Spain, Lynne Fellows has penned several books, including Lacey’s Law, Magic O’Clock, The Fifth Wheel, and Casualty of Court.

Casualty of Court  follows the characters from The Fifth Wheel, which is a short book that you might want to check out before reading Casualty of Court. According to Lynne, it’s not necessary to read The Fifth Wheel first, but it makes Casualty of Court more fun!

Take it away, Lynne:

Casualty of Court releases on March 21st and follows on from where The Fifth Wheel ended, taking the characters back to Portugal for the trial of Stefan Pereira.

As a frustrated, would-have-loved-to-be a lawyer myself, I couldn’t let him get away with it, could I? That doesn’t happen in my world. I’m a sucker for legal thrillers and courtroom dramas, always rooting for the underdog – assuming he/she is in the right, of course.

The trial story was inevitable, and placing it in my favourite part of the world a foregone conclusion. So, against a backdrop of sunshine and holiday fun, the court case rolls on. Mind games come into play, ratcheting up the tension. But, of course, not everyone is playing fair.

It’s a cosy-style saga with a hint of psychopath, a whiff of Chick-lit, a dalliance with drama, and an air of mystery. In short, I’m an ‘all-or-nothing’ writer with a healthy aversion to sitting in any one box or genre.  🙂

The story is told from the viewpoint of four principal characters, each with a stake in the outcome. It mixes the suspense of a court case with their personal stories, showing how they have been influenced by life events such as abandonment, disability, and family responsibilities.

Little did I expect these characters to become as much a part of my life as they have done. I can visualise each of them, I know them so well (cue Elaine Paige & Barbara Dixon). But, it doesn’t end here. I’m already several chapters into a third book and have plans for more. Writing a series is definitely addictive! They’ve got under my skin – I hope readers feel the same way too.

Thank you, Lynne. I think it sounds exciting!

If you’re interested in pre-ordering Casualty of Court, click here. And I would highly encourage you to follow Lynne on Amazon for news about her upcoming releases. You can find Lynne’s author page here.


Until next week,


We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

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

The story I have chosen for this month introduces readers to some special people in Wyoming who put themselves at risk to save a herd of elk.

Click here to read the story.

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, Simon Falk, Lynn Hallbrooks, Eric Lahti, Damyanti Biswasand Guilie Castillo.

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


Book Recommendation: The Green Pearl Caper by Phyllis Entis

It’s been a while since I shared a book recommendation with you–not because I haven’t enjoyed any books, but because I’ve been busy writing other types of posts.

Last night I finished The Green Pearl Caper by Phyllis Entis and I knew I needed to tell you about it. Some of you may know that Phyllis and I are both members of Mystery Authors International, a small group dedicated to supporting each other, sharing tips and information, and helping promote one another’s work.

But I would recommend this book even if Phyllis were a total stranger.

The Green Pearl Caper is the first in the Damien Dickens mystery series. The main character, Damien “Dick” Dickens, is a Private Investigator in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Though I don’t spend much time in Atlantic City, I recognized the streets, the county roads, and the gritty main environs of the story, which made it even more interesting to me.

Dick is hired by Celine Sutherland to investigate some inconsistencies in the financial data from the company which is run by her family. This happens right before Celine gets killed.

I’m not spoiling anything–you’ll learn about her death on the first page of the prologue. You’ll also learn that Dick feels responsible, though you can judge that for yourself after you catch your breath from the twists and turns this book throws at you.

The Sutherland family hides plenty of secrets, most of which you won’t see coming but probably should, and that’s what makes a mystery like this so much fun. Phyllis Entis has a way of dangling red herrings in front of the reader that uses a deft sleight-of-hand.

The good news? There’s another Damien Dickens story on the way. The White Russian Caper is due out soon.

I hope Phyllis doesn’t mind me sharing her social media info here:


Amazon author page



Until next week,


Lazy Days Blog Tour

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour kicking off the release of Lazy Days, a novella detailing two women’s experience  on a holiday together over forty years ago. They kept a notebook of their experiences during the vacation and have talked for many years of writing a book about their trip.

And that book is now a reality! Congratulations to Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie on the release of Lazy Days. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping to get to it before another month has come and gone.

Today on Reade and Write I’m delighted to share two essays–one by each of the authors.

First, from Anita:

“Hi, my name is Anita and although I am 71, I am by no means a ‘silver surfer.’ I have been writing fiction novels for a while now, but never managed to be picked up by any of the mainstream publishers. They all said they loved what I wrote, but found it hard to slot them into a category!  It came tantalisingly close, but no cigar, as they say.

I realised I would have to try something else. I saved all of the rejection letters, because most of them had very encouraging comments. If my mother had slapped me as gently when I was a child, it wouldn’t have hurt half as much!

I even wrote to James Herbert once in desperation and he was so kind and supportive, it gave me the inspiration to continue writing.

Now I am retired and with the help of my sister-in-law Jaye, (who has learnt to be a ‘surfer’) we decided to dust off some of my manuscripts and try to achieve the impossible with a second chance to find out if anyone out there likes the kind of books I write…

How do I write?

I am a paper and pencil girl. You could chain me to a computer for years and nothing would happen! Jaye, on the other hand is managing to cope with all the editing and marketing, but then she has far more patience than I do.  (And she is as stubborn as a mule which helps a lot!)

They say you are never too old to learn, but in my case never is another word for infinity!

 What made me want to write?

I love music, especially country music. It always seems to take me to where my own hurt lives. Songs about heartache help my pen run along the paper, almost as though the pain writes the words.

How do I find my characters?

They tend to find me. I was listening to ‘Ruby, don’t take your love to town’  sung by Kenny Rogers and a few days later the characters for Bad Moon popped into my head and just took over. I seem to have an affinity with West Virginia and the people who live there. Just hearing the way they talk makes a connection in my head, maybe I lived there once in another life.

It was the same with The Scarlet Ribbon. The words of that song put the characters in my head and they pulled me in.

Not so sure where the idea for Simple came from, even though it is a similar story to Bad Moon, but there was a girl at school when I was eleven who had a bad stammer, and I often wonder what became of her.

The books I like to read…

I love the stories of Merlin and Arthur, but my reading list covers a wide range of genres. One of my all-time favourites is River God by Wilbur Smith; the character of Taita really spoke to me.”

And now from Jaye:

“I had no intention of becoming a writer. I loved to read, and for most of my life, that was enough for me. More than enough really, for I am a compulsive reader and will read anything I can lay my hands on. Give me a bookshelf full of books and I will start at one end and read my way to the other.

Then I offered to edit my sister Anita’s books. She hates computers, so I offered to type them up too. Before I knew it, my brain began to explore what other things I could be doing.

I tried to ignore that inner voice, for I was busy enough already. Anita was writing faster than I could format, and there were all my other interests too. Gardening, DIY, dressmaking and a host of craft projects. I love to be busy, but it came to the point where something had to give, never mind add something else to the list.

I considered myself a writer when I held my first paperback copy of my book Nine Lives in my hand for the first time. Up until that magic moment, I doubted I would ever feel like a writer. But holding that paperback copy finally convinced me.

My favourite character didn’t really appear until book two, The Last Life, and his name is Detective Inspector David Snow. The fact that my detective looks a lot like Tom Selleck should indicate how fond I am of him. I just love writing about him.

That was then, and I have now finished writing The Broken Life, the third book in my mystery thriller series.  The characters just turned up in my head, one by one, nagged me for weeks until I gave in, and listened. So you can never say never.

This genre came as a surprise, for I lean towards the supernatural, spooky kind of book, so I have no idea where the idea came from. If anything, I should have expected to write medical stories, as I always wanted to be a doctor, and these are some of my favourite television programmes.

My favourite fiction book just happens to be The Scarlet Ribbon, Anita’s supernatural mystery romance. I was the editor for this one and fell in love with it. And no, she didn’t have to pay me to say this!

My life has not been easy by anyone’s standards, and now I am growing old, I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to get through it all. So, the perfect epitaph for me would be… “She did her best…” Even though I made a pig’s ear out of most of it!”

Here’s a blurb of Lazy Days:

This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when we were looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills leave a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

Where you can find the book and more information from each of the authors:





Anita’s Author Page/Amazon Link :

Jaye’s Author Page/Amazon Link:

Thank you, ladies, for joining us today on Reade and Write! Good luck with your new book!

Until next time,