Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chasing Lady Midnight - Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - Magenta The Mentalist

Fortunately for us she’s retired and she’s married to Ted, a fact that did not go over well with her former teammates. When they found out. After the wedding.
Yeah that was on purpose.
You see she figured since they made her retire she didn’t have to answer to them anymore. The Squad, as they usually do, disagreed. However, seeing as they are not exactly sure what secrets Magenta knows (and she’s not about to tell them) it convinced them to back off.
Needless to say Magenta doesn’t get invited to the reunions.
Magenta, or as she prefers these days Kari, is the only other person who knows what’s going on with me right now. Truth to tell, I was leery about that, seeing as she was one of the original members of The Squad so she might feel it was her duty to fink on me. However as Ted pointed out he couldn’t keep a secret from his wife, besides the fact that you really can’t keep a secret from Kari because she’s a mind reader.
Don’t tell her I said that, she hates the term. According to Kari you can’t really read people’s minds anyway, at least not as easily as they make it out in comic books and TV shows. There’s just too much stuff going on up there at the same time. It’s confusing. You know how people tell you to focus? Turns out there’s a reason for that. Then you have to block out the noise from anyone else’s mind that’s around. Needless to say it takes a lot of practice. From what I’ve heard tell The Squad’s most current telepath, Gamma Wave is nowhere near as good as his predecessor because he hates to practice.
So why did Kari take the alias Magenta? Well it wasn’t because she has purple hair. Her hair is white, it’s always been white, it was her superhero outfit that was the pinky purple color. Apparently that was a trend in superhero names at the time.
You’ve got watch out for fads in everything.
“Why so serious my little cherry?”
Ted has always called her his little cherry, only he says it in Russian which I am not even going to try to pronounce. It drove Kari crazy for a long time because he started back in the day when they were on opposite sides. So what’s so bad about being called a cherry? From what I’ve been able to figure the way he used it referred to a sour cherry, something about her personality …it’s one of those Russian things. Anyway once Ted served his term and they got together he couldn’t get out of the habit and Kari got used to it.
Ah love it’s… strange.
Kari gave him a stern look and admonished, “Aside from almost getting our girl put into lockup you mean?”
“You agreed to test run,” her husband reminded her.
“I know, I’m not blaming you. I was just worried when Protostar showed up. The last thing I want is to start a family fued.”
“That may be inevitable,” he warned.
Man, I hope not, I kind of like my family.
Fortunately Kari doesn’t pursue the subject and says to me, “By the way kiddo, not bad for your first time out.”
That’s tall praise indeed, when you consider Kari’s a perfectionist when it comes to her mission plans, and this one hardly went according to plan. Also I’m a twenty-oner.
What’s that?

Historical Fact Check Break

The way of super powers is always, or should I say almost always, been for the super being in question to start to develop their powers from young childhood and evolve as they grow up. This gives ample time for the fledgling superhero, or villain as the case may, to be trained in controlling their powers so they can be the best super that they can be.
However, every once in a blue moon (so rare that everyone is sure that it is only an old super wives’ tale) the super powers remain dormant until the super being reaches twenty-one. Then they hit all at once. Full strength.
So why does no one believe that twenty-oners actually happen in the superworld? Well, even before The Squad, there was another set of control freaks, the super scientists, who decided to get into the genetic control business by picking who all the supers were going to marry and with whom they were going to …oh there’s no other way to say it…breed.
So if the super scientists say it isn't possible who can disagree with them?
I guess they forgot that the only one who is truly in control is God, and He has a wonderful sense of humor. Me being a case in point.

End of Historical Fact Check Break

Now I wanted a new laptop for my twenty-first birthday, what I got turned my whole life wacky.
Because now these powers of mine are just ON and I don’t know all what I can do because they decide to reveal themselves when they feel like it. For instance, I knew I could manipulate shadows and that I could travel through them. I practiced and was pretty good at it as evidenced today. What I didn’t know is that I have shields. Good thing to have on defense. I just wished I had known about it.
Also there was something else weird going on, but I’m almost afraid to find out that it wasn’t an adrenaline induced delusion like I hope.
For the moment however I answer Kari, ““I’m just happy to still be in one piece, I’d forgotten how much my sister’s Star Blasts hurt.”
“She used to blast you?” Kari asked in an appalled tone.
“Not on purpose,” I assured her, “She just didn’t have best aim, especially at the beginning. She hit herself more than she did me, especially once I learned to dodge.”
“Well I am glad to hear that. We’ll do a debriefing in a minute. I want to go over what you did today. There were some surprises.”
Why do I get the distinct impression that she’s not just talking about the shields?
“Was good. Protostar and friends never knew what hit them,” Ted insisted.
“The Platoon was expected once an UNA was identified. What I want to know is what Tracker was doing there. That is overdoing it.”
“My guess is that they plan for him to take the credit if things went according to plan or place the blame on The Platoon if the thing went south, which it did,” I suggested.
“Sounds reasonable. The Squad’s been taking some public relations hits lately. They might have thought bringing you in would help. Face it honey you look scary with the black hair, green eyes and black outfit. Beautiful, but scary,” Kari said.
“I thought the fedora was supposed to help lighten things up?” I complained taking off the black hat, mask, and leather gloves.
Kari smiled and said, “No I just thought it looked cool.”
“Hair and eyes are going back to normal,” Ted noted.
Normal? What is normal for me these days? Still I look over at the mirror and note that the black hair is returning to the dark blond I am used to and my eyes are changing from emerald green to blue.
I told you my life was wacky.
“So it sounds like I’m going to end up being public super villain number one if The Squad has anything to say about it.”
“There are already starting,” Kari agreed, “It seems our hostage is a well-known blogger for a site that’s been critical of superheroes in general and The Squad particularly. There are already rumors of a hoax being thrown around.”
“A hoax? What are they going to do with the bank robbers? Let them go?” I asked with concern. They may not have super powers but you didn’t need those to be dangerous.
“I hope not,” Ted answered, “But when it comes to Squad protecting reputations these days all lots are switched.”
I think he means all bets are off.
Kari gives a sigh. This has got to be tough on her. That group has a lot of her friends in it, or at least they were her friends. Also she knows that The Squad was never meant to be what it has become. But it was inevitable as they made their first mistake at the beginning when they wouldn’t let God into the briefing room.
There’s a way that seems right to man….
“It’s too bad we can’t bring your parents in on this,” she finally said, “Quazar and Lightening Lass are amongst the best thinkers in The Squad.”
Like I hadn’t wished that a hundred times? But….it’s complicated. Like everything else in my life right now.
“Kari you know why we can’t tell them about any of this,” I reminded her, “Remember, all is not well in superhero land."

Mystery and adventure writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Cozy Mystery Series, and a superhero story called Chasing Lady Midnight. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. A big secret from her past, which is not so secret anymore, is that she used to a major comic book geek. Nowadays she loves to crochet, but she is still a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I don't cook much so I'm not good with recipes so when it comes my time to post I naturally tend to gravitate to writing articles. I hope this is useful to someone out there that might be writing or thinking of writing.

Here are a few techniques I found on the internet for writing humor. I have a lot of humor in my books and love to read books that have humor. These are written by Vonda Skelton, speaker and writer. Her website is

  1. Set the story up well. Take the time to lay out the groundwork in a logical way.
  2. Use exaggeration. This is one time you want to take literary license through the use of hyperbole. The story is still true, but you just make it more. As I tell the school students in my Writing is Fun Workshops, take real life and make it bigger, badder, meaner, sadder.
  3. Apply the rule of threes. Even though it’s not officially a rule, we know there is melody in the use of threes. And there’s humor in the use of threes, too.
  4. And whether you’re using the rule of threes or simply telling a story, try to place the funniest word at the end of the sentence.
  5. Punch words and/or punch lines often work well.
  6. Write tight. When I initially write out a story, it’s a rambling story with all the details I normally include when I tell it from the stage. But in writing, I discovered it was best told in no more than half the spoken words.
  7. Use words that begin with hard consonants, especially the K sound.
  8. Use short sentences for more emphasis.
  9. Even in humor writing, be sure to listen for the music or cadence of the words.
  10. Rewrite…rewrite…rewrite.

 Deborah Malone’s first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest! Deborah was also nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year in First Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, for the historic magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published, and her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails,” edited by Olin Jackson. She is a member of the Georgia Writer’s Association. As a current member of the American Christian Fiction Writer she has established a blog where she reviews Christian Fiction.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Prunella's Quest--Part One By Linda Kozar

Prunella's Quest: A Tongue-in-Cheek Romantic Saga (Part One of Three)

No woman asks to fall in love with the wrong man. And Master David Cunningham Leff would never be Mr. Right.

He'd taken her down the garden path and left her among the rutabagas, so to speak. Well, no more. . .

Prunella Busby stared at her reflection in the duck pond. Comely was not one of the words society ascribed to her appearance Sallow-skinned old maid, yes. But not comely. Perhaps another visit to the matchmaker her father had sent her to seek the previous year. On that occasion, Mrs. Brimley had taken her on as a challenge.

"I'll find you a husband, dear." She held a finger to the air. Glorietta Brimley will prevail in this Herculean task. Mark my words, child." Her wig, a tad too tight for the woman's porcine head in Prunella's humble opinion, launched sprigs of tight blonde curls in various directions under her elaborate bonnet. An odd contrast to the crumpled texture of her skin. Eyebrows painted in thin black arches above her eyes, gave the impression of great surprise. Though Mrs. Brimley boasted of her experience and prowess as a titled matchmaker, her facial expression seemed to contradict, to betray her as a woman of ineptitude and inexperience.

No matter. Prunella had few options left to her.

"I will not help you. I can not help you. Please go. You, madamoisselle, are a cause perdue!"

These were Mrs. Brimley's first words in response to the new proposal. However, Prunella's father had advised her of the likelihood of this response from the matchmaker, and given her instructions as to how to proceed. She dropped a small pouch of gold coins on the secretariat beside which the matchmaker reclined. Her father urged her to drop the pouch from a height in order to provide the woman's ears with the sound of prosperity.

And as her father had predicted, the sound of prosperity was music to Mrs. Brimley's ears.

With renewed resolve, Mrs. Brimley had assigned no less than three servant girls to the goal of beautification. "Miss Busby must be made to appear presentable in no less than three months time. Three months time."

The servant girls, named after the famous ships assigned to Christopher Columbus, went about their assigned tasks with nary a hint of enthusiasm.

Nina, the eldest of the girls, though no beauty of her own accord, had the dolesome task of bathing Prunella in fresh goats milk three times daily to soften and make supple, the texture of her skin. The servant girl spit, quite accurately at a fly on the windowsill. "No man will have a woman with skin like your'm Miss. Bumpy as a plucked chicken and dry as starch." The buxom servant raised a damp hand from the bathwater to itch at the large black mole above her lip.

Prunella noted the presence of a black hair as firm as a flag pole that had asserted itself in the center of the blotch.

"Miss, I don't see how this is gonna help you none. Thar isn't a man in this town who'd have you, money or no money."

Pinta offered more than her sister's scant quantity of hope in the matter, though her level of sincerity might have been called into question were she asked to swear on the most holy word. Pinta bore an uncanny resemblance to a field mouse, mostly for the unfortunate fact that her ears protrouded outward from her head at a most unflattering angle. In the light of  day, her ears transmuted a prism of pink much like chapel windows, the blue of tiny veins serving as the lead in betwix'd.

She surveyed Prunella, pulling down her gums to examine her teeth, as if examining a sheep on the auction block.

"Well, what do you think of me?"

Furrows rose on the woman's forehead. "Your nose is crooked."

"I fell on a cobblestone when I was but five."

"Lips are thin and cracked. Hair without lustre. Skin sallow as old butter."

"Is that your final assessment?"

The servant squinted her small eyes causing them to recede into her face. "You'll never be a beauty, Miss, but you have one good quality."

"What quality is that?"

"Good teeth, Miss."

"Oh. . ."

"Miss, that's a compliment. Good teeth means you'll live long. Well, I believe they be good teeth anyway. We'll see when we clean them up."

She offered a sly wink. "My task is to beautify your hair and smile. Tell me, how often you wash your body and your teeth."

Prunella shrugged, noting the circles of perspiration fanning from under Pinta's arms. "When I choose to bathe, once or twice per year, my servant bathes me with lye soap. I don't wash my teeth."

She shook a finger at her mistress. "Twice a year, you say? That's too often. Drying to the skin. Once per year is more than enough."

"Very well then." Prunella agreed.

"I will rinse your hair with cold spring water and a tincture of elderberry bark and a mash of garden snails to provide it with lustre and shine. And we'll use a willow tree twig to clean your teeth each day. With a great deal of effort, I believe my sisters and I will be able to help you look ah the least objectionable and perhaps even presentable enough to lay hold of a gentleman in need of a boost to his inheritance."

Prunella smiled. Truth at last. "Thank you."

The third sister, Santa Maria, had less enthusiasm than either two. Her disdain for Prunella had no mask. 

Her duty? To sand the deep calluses on Prunella's feet and elbows, to trim her twisted toenails, treat them with warmed paraffin--and to pluck all the hair from the tops of her feet.

At work on her mistress's feet, Santa Maria wrang her mouth into an odd contortion and remarked, "Your toenails resemble sea shells, Miss."

"Thank you," Prunella beamed a bright smile her way thanks to a daily tooth cleansing with a willow twig. "I'm fond of the sea."

Friday, February 22, 2013

"THE WRONG GHOST" by C.L. Ragsdale

It's not often a book cover captures the heroine of a story, so true to what I imagined her to look like, as one of our own contributors, Traci Hilton, did for C.L. Ragsdale's "THE WRONG GHOST."

Irene Waters, a lovely young brunette, is a no-nonsense journalist for The Reboot Files, a reporting outfit for paranormal activities. Irene has a past, although innocent in the matter, but does her job well finding out the truth based on facts.

If you like a good cozy mystery, and you must or you wouldn't be reading this post, you will enjoy this series. Cindy Ragsdale writes with humor underpinned with Christian values, which speaks to a great many of us. 

Get your copies now - only $.99 each!

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I think you'll enjoy reading them as much as I did! 
Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers.

See you in my books!
 ~Nancy Jill 
Mystery novelist Nancy Jill Thames began publishing Christian fiction in 2010. The author of six books in the Jillian Bradley series, she is an award winning blogger and is listed numerous times on the Author Watch Bestseller’s List, this in addition to winning first place for her Chocolate Cream Pie.

When she isn’t plotting her next book, she spends time with her six grandchildren in two states, tags along with her husband on business trips, and plays classical piano for her own personal enjoyment. She is an active member of the Leander Writers Guild and supports the Central Texas SPCA with a portion of her book sales.

Nancy Jill is busy working on book 7 "The Ruby of Siam" a mystery taking place in London, England. To learn more about the author and check out her books, please visit her blog at  

To view and purchase her books on this site, please visit the Cozy Book Store.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chasing Lady Midnight - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 – My fearless leader A few seconds later, yes it only takes that long, I walked out of the shadows into the secret lair (aka the workshop at the back of his house) of Fyodor Makariy Oleg Shereshevski, formerly known as The Russian Accelerator. As his real name is a bit of mouthful his friends call him Ted, fortunately I’m one of his friends.
Did I mention he’s reformed? Well he has, and it’s a good thing for me. You see Ted is my mentor and teaching me in the way of all things super powered. It might seem odd taking lessons from a former super baddie, but my options were limited. Besides we go to the same church.
Ted used to be the fastest man on the planet, and one of the cleverest super villains around. But he never wanted to take over the world. When I asked him why he explained that the profit margin stunk. Besides taking over the world is one thing, running it is another matter entirely and involved way too many headaches.
Anyway, like all the villains do sooner or later do, he pushed it too far. The corporation who was taking the loses for his clever thievery got sick of it, and requested The Squad to convince him to decease. It was a win-win, as the Squad loves to do favors. For a price.
Well after that it was only a matter of time. Ted got caught and got locked up in the super security facility where The Squad keeps their captured super villains. Most spend their time getting bitter and plotting dire revenge, but Ted decided on different route. Instead of becoming bitter, he returned to the faith of his youth and become a model prisoner. Eventually he was paroled after promising to behave himself. Yes there is overcrowding even in super villain jail. He’s still pretty speedy for a man pushing sixty, but he can’t keep up with the new speedsters, The Roller Derbies.
Oh the hits just keep on coming.
“So I see we had some issues on our training run,” he said amicably not looking away from his computer screen.
“We?” I ask him, “I don’t remember any “we” out there fending off four superheroes at once.”
“We all have our place in God’s plan my dear,” Ted responded calmly, “Besides, been there done that. I’m concluded it.”
Sometimes it’s kind of hard to get what Ted means when he tries to use American expressions with that thick Russian accent of his. Most of time I get what he means. Most of time.
“You mean you’re over it?” I asked.
“Right, concluded. So did you wish to see what you did today? It was a Special Report and you are the hottest thing on internet.”.
“I knew those cameras were somewhere. So how bad did I come off? Did I make the 10 most wanted list?”.
“Actually, not so much. Captain Cornflake…”
“Cornflake?” I interrupted, “You mean Captain Courageous? You’d better let him hear you call him that or he'll throw you back in the slammer. The man has an ego bigger than his muscles and takes himself way too seriously. Where did you get Cornflake from anyway?”
“Has gotten stuck in brain will show in a minute. He tried to make suggestion that you were in league with bank robbers. Squad even tried to obtain not only bank images, but all outside cameras footage as well for their investigation.”
“Investigation? You mean smear campaign.”
He nodded and agreed, “Exactly. Fast as they were they were too late to stop footage from getting on web. Once that happened, not even Squad can stop it.”.
“Now I wonder how that happened?” I mused, “They are usually so good a spin control.”
“Lots of people with cameras these days, and many groups, both good and bad, always trying to make Squad look bad,” he pointed out as he looked for the computer link he wanted..
“The opposition must be getting better. That could be good or bad.”
“Depends on how paranoid Squad gets.”
That thought worried me. They were already control freaks, but paranoid control freaks that had super powers? That could be really bad.
“You wanted to know where I got Captain Cornflake from? Watch,” Ted said as he played a video.
“So you think this new super being was in with the robbers?” the reporter asked congenially.
“Well Scott,” the Captain said his dark brown hair, costume and cape all in perfect order, “We still need to gather evidence but it does look…”.
“Don’t any you listen to the talkin’ head here,” the victim said coming into camera, “That girl risked her life and limb for me and I am not going to forget it.”
“The Captain was speaking,” the reporter admonished her, obviously appalled at the idea that anyone would dare to interrupt the Number 1 Superhero of the World. At least that was what his agent kept assuring everyone.
“That’s quite all right Scott,” the Captain assured him benevolently, “The victim has had a shock and most likely cannot remember the full details…”.
“The victim” looked anything but shocked, she looked outraged. Don’t, I thought, don’t do it, let it go. I won’t mind..
You know, I think even if she heard me, she wouldn’t have listened to me.
“Now look here Captain Cornflake…”
“See how brave she is?” Ted smiled as he sat back and crossed him arms.
“I don’t know that I’d call it brave,” I disagreed. Making fun of a super guy with no sense of humor? One step closer to oblivion is what I would call it.
Fortunately the Captain held on to his temper, as he corrected through gritted teeth, “Courageous.”
“Whatever. I suppose I imagined your partner Private Pervis…”
“Sargent Strong.”
“We take our names very seriously….”
“And I take the fact that I came that close,” she illustrated her point by pinching her thumb and forefinger together, “To meeting my maker today, and you and your bully boy over there are trying to make me say that poor girl attacked me…”
“Are you saying The Squad suggested you lie?” the reporter asked eagerly actually sounding like a reporter.
“Of course not,” the Captain denied with righteous indignation, “I’m sure there was a misunderstanding. We would never…”
“Oh so why are you two shooting around terms like shocked and can’t remember details? I remember just fine and I know a frame job when I see it…”.
Ted paused the play and looked at me.
“Who is that?” I asked.
“That,” another voice announced, “Is a lady who just got into a lot trouble. Along with both of you.”
Ted and I looked up and saw Magenta the Mentalist, one of the founding members of The Superhero Security Squad standing in the doorway.

Mystery and adventure writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Cozy Mystery Series, and a superhero story called Chasing Lady Midnight. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. A big secret from her past, which is not so secret anymore, is that she used to a major comic book geek. Nowadays she loves to crochet, but she is still a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.
Cindy posts on her own blog called Short Mysteries and Tall Tales at as well as The Cozy Mystery Magazine on
Her Facebook Authors Page is located at

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Production Notes

*Post Blog Publication Note: THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM! Good, Clean, Murder is Now Available*

Since I am inches away from publishing Good, Clean, Murder, I thought I'd share some of the steps it took to create it!

First, I brought pages and pages of the story to my critique group. My critique group is amazing, and led by none other than the man who wrote Writing Fiction for Dummies. They gave feedback on pacing, character, action, dialogue--and anything else they thought I was doing wrong.

While I was still writing it,  I polished the beginning to within an inch of its life, and sent it off to a couple contests. As the prizes included feedback from agents and publishing house editors I knew this would be invaluable for me. I finaled in both contests, and won the mystery category at the Phoenix Rattler. (You can read more about that here and here.) Contests and crit groups are a great way to help develop a story.

After that it was time to refine and polish. I sent the whole story to a couple of beta readers. Beta's give your book a "second" reading and give you feedback on weaknesses and strengths of the story. My romance beta let me know she thought my description of the male romantic lead wasn't handsome enough. I decided that was worth fixing! After betas my little baby went through three professional editors and then another reading by yours truly. I have to say, for that final read through the kindle and it's note taking function was a life saver! No more staring at a bright white screen and trying not to add more mistakes than I fixed!

With a clean document in hand, it was time to format. Like editing, many writers chose to hire professionals for this. I have done it both ways--though when I hired formatting help, it was for the paperback books which I find more challenging. This time I decided to do it all myself because there were certain features I wanted to learn. I won't give away all of my new tricks but I will say that the mobipocket app is a life saver, and I wish I had been using it all along.

Towards the end of the project I hired a graphic designer (Andrew Rothery) to create the cover. This is another aspect of the job I can handle myself, but prefer to hire out, as usually my vision is beyond my ability.

I began my story in June of 2012, so all in all, creating Good, Clean, Murder has been an almost ten month project!

Now I'm going to get really open, and share how much all of this cost. If you are a writer considering self publishing, this is the kind of nitty gritty that really comes in handy. Good, Clean, Murder is my most professional book to date, and also likely my most expensive to produce. The cost of the cover was about $80. The cost for the three editors was around $400. Entrance to the two contests cost me $50 total.  Prizes for the launch party will come in around $100. Advertizing for the release will be $60. We can round up and say that producing Good, Clean, Murder was $700. All of my other mysteries made a profit by their second month, but none of the others cost even close to this much to produce. We shall see if the prizes and advertizing do their job. *praying!* As for hiring three different people to each edit it, I will never regret spending that money. I know where my talents lie, and it isn't in self-editing!

To win some of these fun prizes, stop by my Facebook event on March 2nd! I'll have games throughout the day with prizes ranging from signed copies of the book to Plain Jane coffee mugs, to a gift certificate for a great online yoga studio!

Thank you all for being a part of this process!

Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of Good, Clean, Murder, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series, and one of the authors in the The Tangle Saga series of science fiction novellas. She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. Traci serves as the Vice President of the Portland chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association.
Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, their two daughters, and their dog, Dr. Watson.
More of Traci's work can be found at

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Salad Fit For A Spring! By Linda Kozar

Although many people are still in the clutches of winter's wind, ice and snow, where I live, there are signs of spring. Tender shoots are inching up, wildflowers are beginning to bloom. My lemon and lime trees are laden with fragrant blossoms. Even the doves are cooing--heralding the arrival of a glorious spring.

And with the arrival of spring, my favorite season, my thoughts turn to the foods of that special interlude between winter and summer. Below is a recipe given to me by my mother-in-law. We first sampled it at her home in Ohio one spring, though spring in Ohio is often unpredictable and less than the temperate springs we am accustomed to in the southern clime.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!

Strawberry Nut Salad

1 large package strawberry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
2 packages frozen sliced strawberries (10 oz.)
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple
3 bananas mashed
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1 pint sour cream (lightly whipped)

Make this salad one day before serving. Combine gelatin with boiling water and stir until dissolved. Fold in all at once--strawberries with juice, drained pineapples, bananas and walnuts. Put half fruit/gelatin mixture into pan as a first layer. Refrigerate until firm (1-1/2 hours) Spread evenly with sour cream. Gently spoon on other half of fruit/gelatin mixture. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Linda P. Kozar, Author

Different Strokes for Different Folks

"I LOVED her book!"
"I loved her book!"
"Dahling, I absolutely adored her book - fabulous!"

Depending on who you are as a reader - one of the above will appeal to you more than the others. I like the third one. After writing seriously for almost three years now, I've discovered readers either love your writing style, hate it, or hope improvement comes with time. Go figure! With millions of books on the market I finally decided to write in my own voice and study the craft every chance I get through creative writing classes at the library, which I'm currently attending, and then auditing a class this summer at Concordia University.

Now, having a degree in music, I could tell you the difference between a perfect authentic cadence and an imperfect authentic cadence, but ask me about usage difference between an endash, an emdash and an ellipsis and I begin to scratch my head! Add to that different conventions of grammar styles and I go into a tailspin. So what's an author to do?

Just keep writing!

Think of books as meeting the author in person. Authors may be informal in their habits and speech and write that way, or more formal as in my case. To address the title of this post, I think I'm a good story teller on a mission to write a mystery series of eight books. Those of you who have joined me on my journey and supported me with favorable reviews I consider friends. All others are mere acquaintances just as in life there are both. Thank you for downloading "From the Clutches of Evil" over the weekend. If this is your first book in the series, by doing so you've entered my world of gentility coupled with my imagination. I hope to see you as a new friend in the rest of the Jillian Bradley mystery series. If not, thank you for sampling my work. If you'd like to sample it for free - download "Murder in Half Moon Bay" on Smashwords and Kobo.

Now I must get back to writing "The Ruby of Siam" - after all, readers need to find out what happens to Jillian and Teddy in London.

See you in my books!
 ~Nancy Jill 
Mystery novelist Nancy Jill Thames began publishing Christian fiction in 2010. The author of six books in the Jillian Bradley series, she is an award winning blogger and is listed numerous times on the Author Watch Bestseller’s List, this in addition to winning first place for her Chocolate Cream Pie.

When she isn’t plotting her next book, she spends time with her six grandchildren in two states, tags along with her husband on business trips, and plays classical piano for her own personal enjoyment. She is an active member of the Leander Writers Guild and supports the Central Texas SPCA with a portion of her book sales.

Nancy Jill is busy working on book 7 "The Ruby of Siam" a mystery taking place in London, England. To learn more about the author and check out her books, please visit her blog at  

To view and purchase her books on this site, please visit the Cozy Book Store.