Remodeled Kitchen Photos

Due to poor planning on my part, I don’t have a guest author today. I’ll do better next week.

For now, I’ll share pictures of my remodeled kitchen, as promised months ago. At last!

New Kitchen 1

Maple cupboards are stained red mahogany, natural stone backsplash & “Dallas White” granite counters; slate-gray microwave and stovetop. Most bottom cupboard are drawers, making it much easier to pull out kettles and bake ware.

New Kitchen 2

Slate gray fridge (new color from GE) and part of my big new island — I love it! Oh, and a few of my tins on top of cupboard (I’m a collector.)

New Kitchen 8

Matching slate double ovens (had to wait two months for them because GE just brought them to market in August.) To the right is the custom designed pantry.

New Kitchen 9

Surprise! The pantry has drawers, again making it easy to find and remove whatever I need. This was a suggestion from my friend, Carra Copelin, who had her kitchen remodeled two years ago — with handy drawers.

New Kitchen 4

Breakfast nook at end of kitchen. It overlooks our large backyard. My husband had to close the blinds because it was so sunny and bright the day he took these photos. The table and chairs were my mom’s, dating to about the early 1930s. On either side you can see more tins. Sorry the picture is too dark to show their pretty designs and colors.

New Kitchen 6

Sink, dishwasher, and bar overlooking our living room. I love the new gooseneck faucet!

That’s it for now. Monday Author Meetup will return next week. Until then, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to check out my books on Amazon.


Monday Author Meetup: Mistral Dawn

My guest today is up and coming young author, Mistral Dawn. Don’t you love her cute avatar kitten?!

Mistral Dawn avatar

About the author: Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. This is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series.

Did someone inspire you to write? Who and how?

Well, the inspiration for my first book, Taken By The Huntsman, came from a dream I had after a rather spirited debate with an online friend about the nature of consent (and some other political issues I won’t bore you with). When I woke up I thought about the dream and realized it might make an interesting story (as well as provide me with a soap box ;-)). I texted a friend and asked her if she thought the idea had merit. She said she did and so I wrote the first couple of chapters and emailed them to her asking her to read them and tell me if she was bored yet. She was kind enough to say that she wasn’t bored and that she’d like to read the rest of the story, so I wrote it. The ideas for the next few books and short stories came from characters who came to me and told me that they deserved a story too, and it was my job to write them. So I will!

How do you develop your plots and your characters?

As I said, the plot for Taken By The Huntsman just sort of came to me. I had to iron out some of the rough bits and fill in some of the details, but for the most part I woke up after having a dream (sort of) about a debate I’d had and the idea was there; I just had to type it out. As I was writing Taken By The Huntsman ideas for more stories came to me. Some of the characters I was writing about informed me that they had stories to tell as well. The more I wrote about Cassie and Caderyn the more ideas I came up with for future stories.

So far I haven’t had any trouble coming up with characters; they’ve all come up and introduced themselves rather forcefully. 😉 Well, I can’t blame them, no one likes to be ignored. Plus some of my beta readers have been kind enough to become so enthusiastic about my stories that they’ve asked to be included in them, so some of my characters are based on real people (can you guess which ones? ;-)). The only real trouble I’ve had with characters is coming up with names for them. Sometimes they aren’t cooperative enough to give me their names and I have to guess. Picking just one word to describe a person is often not all that easy. Oh, and I also sometimes have trouble getting them to leave me alone when I’m trying to sleep.

I have a short story planned for after my second novel that I intend to invite readers to help develop characters for. At some point (in the next few months, hopefully) I will post an invitation on my Facebook page for readers to contribute ideas for characters to be included in that story. At this point I don’t know how many of these characters I’ll be able to incorporate, but if I get enough suggestions I’ll ask readers to vote on each other’s ideas and use the characters with the most votes. Details about the story and the parameters I’ll need for the suggestions will be forth coming, so stay tuned!

Do you ever wear your PJs or nightgown all day while writing?

Absolutely! I work a full-time job and attend graduate school, so leisure time is at a premium for me. Writing gives me an outlet for my creative energies. Both my job and my school work are rather technical and precise in nature. It’s important to get them exactly right, there’s not much margin for error, and following established procedures and protocols is crucial; people’s lives depend on it. Writing allows me to step outside of the box and just go where my imagination takes me. It’s very liberating. The kind of day when I can stay home and just write is the ultimate luxury, as far as I’m concerned. No work, no school; just stay comfy in my PJs, put on some good music, pour a glass of wine, kick back in my recliner with my laptop and a kitty or three, and let my imaginary friends tell me their stories. Heaven! 🙂

What project(s) are you working on now?

I hope to have my next book out by the beginning of 2015 (no promises). It’s the second book in the series that begins with Taken By the Huntsman and will be the story of Uaine, Fairie’s Summer Court prince, and Veronica (Roni), a human petty thief and con artist, who are united by a magical bond created by Fairie’s great mother goddess. I’ve only just started writing it, but you can read the first chapter on my Facebook page and I’ll try to post updates as I write it.

Do you see yourself in some of your characters?

There’s bits and pieces of myself (my personality and my life experiences) in all of my heroines (the one I’ve written, the one I’m writing, and the ones I have planned), but none of their “lives” truly represent mine. For instance, Cassie, in Taken By The Huntsman, is an orphan; she never knew her parents. I’m not an orphan and I grew up with both parents, but our relationship is…complicated. There have been times that I’ve felt rather like I’d imagine an orphan feels, so I tried to incorporate that feeling into Cassie’s character.

Roni, as you’ll come to find out if you read my second novel, suffers from an insecure body image. As a woman with curves in a society that values extremely thin figures, she often doubts her own attractiveness. She’s a tough lady and usually brazens her way through most situations, and she’s certainly aware of the way men (and other women) often react to her appearance, but as she grows to know and trust Uaine she’ll let her guard down and show some of her vulnerabilities. I think this is representative not only of me, but of any woman in our society that suffers (benefits from?) a little extra padding.

Do you have critique partners and/or beta readers?

Yes! And please let me take this opportunity to give a shout-out to Kate, Jilly Bean, and Stef! You ladies are totally awesome, thank you! 🙂

Who designs your book covers?

Erin Dameron-Hill designed the cover for Taken By The Huntsman. She is really good at what she does. I would absolutely recommend her for anyone looking for a cover artist. She’s easy to work with, responds quickly to requests, delivers what you ask for, and her rates are reasonable. Plus she’s just a truly talented artist.

Do you have a favorite charity that you support?

I don’t promote any one specific charity, but I do support animal rescue and aid groups. I’ve worked with many of these groups over the years and they’ve greatly aided my own efforts to rescue, rehabilitate, and find homes for cats and kittens in need. Anyone who loves animals should check out the shelters and rescue groups in their area and get to know the people involved. They’re generally really wonderful people and I don’t know of anywhere that doesn’t have animals in need. And, of course, please always spay or neuter your pets!

Do you hear from your readers? If so, please quote your favorite fan letter.

First I’d like to say to my readers: Thank you so much for reading my book!! I appreciate the fact that you’ve given your time and your money to experience my work; it humbles me that you have been willing to do so. I value all of your feedback, both good and bad, because it can only make me a better writer and help me create a better product for you to enjoy. So thank you, as far as I’m concerned you’re totally awesome! 🙂

My favorite quote from a fan letter is: “I think you have a gift for telling a story, and I sincerely hope you keep writing.” Simple words, but they mean a lot to me.

For those who might consider reading your book, what would you tell them to expect?

First off, it’s not just a bunch of sex scenes strung together. I spent a lot of time setting up the story and explaining “my world,” so you’ll have to read about 60% through it before you get to the steamy bits. It’s my opinion that it’s important for the reader to spend enough time with the characters to get to know them a bit so they care about the emotional turmoil they are experiencing, but I know that’s not what everyone is looking for. There are some BDSM elements in Taken By The Huntsman and I hope to explore those a little bit more in my next book. There are also a couple of gory scenes, so be prepared for that. All-in-all though, if you like fantasy romance stories and aren’t offended by a bit of kink I think you’ll enjoy it. I’d love it if you’d let me know one way or the other.

Without further ado, here’s Mistral’s HOT book cover, blurb & excerpt.


TakenbytheHuntsman Amazon

Book Blurb:

Discarded and ignored by those around her for most of her life, Cassie is a lonely human woman struggling to find her place in the world and meaning in her life. Cadeyrn is the Erlking, the leader of the Wild Hunt, a hundreds of thousands of years old Fae who has always known his purpose. He has spent his entire long existence tracking the criminals of Fairie and punishing them for their crimes.
While hunting for the murderer of a child who has escaped to Earth Cadeyrn comes across Cassie and realizes that she is the one that the great mother goddess has designated as his soul mate. He kidnaps her and takes her to his fortress in Fairie to protect her from his many enemies. He knows she will be angry and that he’ll have to work to earn her trust, but he finds his task to be even more challenging than he had thought it would be due to Cassie’s difficulty in opening her heart.

Will Cadeyrn be able to convince Cassie that the bond between them is real and earn her love?

Book Excerpt:

He leaned down to look into her face as she passed and it hit him: the Siorghra, literally, ‘eternal love,’ the bond between Fae who were Anamchara (soul mates). He’d heard of it, of course, all Fae knew of the Siorghra and hoped one day to feel its sweet sting, but after so long? And with a human? Impossible! He had never heard of a Fae finding their Anamchara in a human, not in all the millennia of his existence. Long ago some of the Fae had kidnapped humans and brought them to Fairie as mates or as servants, but even in the cases when the Fae and the human had felt the deepest of love for each other he had never heard of them forming the Siorghra. And yet it was unmistakable.

The Erlking looked into the human woman’s eyes, blue eyes that sparkled like the darkest sapphires, and felt a devotion unlike any he had ever felt in his very long life. His connection to this woman, who he had never even spoken to, was stronger even than his connection to the Wild Hunt. He hadn’t even thought that possible! He thought to wonder if this was some sort of spell cast by Griogal to distract him from the hunt, but no, Griogal was Sidhe and it was Pixies who had power for love and lust charms. No Pixie would aid one who had slain one of their children and even if they would, no love charm could be mistaken for the Siorghra. Dea Matrona (the great mother goddess) had created the Siorghra so that the Fae would always know when they had found their perfect match; she had made it so that all Fae would instantly know what it was when they felt it. She would never allow a cretin like Griogal to pervert such a magic for his own petty uses. No, this woman must truly be his Anamchara.

There was no question in the Erlking’s mind about what must be done next. All Fae only ever received one Anamchara; he could not possibly leave her in the human world. Aside from all of the perils she would face as part of her human existence, just being his Anamchara would make her a target for his enemies…and he had many enemies. Several hundred thousand years as the final arbiter of Fairie had resulted in more than one Fae holding a grudge against him; and along with their very long lives Fae had very long memories. .

He would need to immediately take her and bring her to his fortress in Fairie. There only those who were oath bound to him would have access to her. It was possible for a Fae to break an oath, of course, but if they did so they were subject to vengeance from the Wild Hunt. Thus far none had ever broken an oath to the Erlking.

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Monday Author Meetup: Sharla Rae

Kicking off a new season of author interviews, I’m delighted to welcome my dear friend and critique partner, Sharla Rae.


About the author: Sharla Rae and her husband live in California. She is a multi-published historical romance author whose first solo effort, Song of the Willow, was nominated for best first historical by Romantic Times Magazine. Sharla is also one of the original founders of Writers in the Storm, named one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2014 by Writer’s Digest. Currently, she is preparing to publish How To Fell A Timberman, book one in her new historical series.

Welcome Sharla! To begin, please tell us how you began writing.

Lyn, I was reading romances like some people eat potato chips. One night hubby glanced over from his Time Magazine and said, “You’ve read so many of those $%#@ things, you could write one yourself.” I’d dreamed of doing just that but never dared. His words were a challenge I couldn’t resist and I soon discovered I loved writing.

LOL I’m glad you parlayed your addiction to romances into writing them. What’s your best time of day to write? On average, how many hours a day do you write?

My fav times to write are first thing in the morning when I’m fresh or very late at night when the world is quiet and I can immerse myself in my book’s world. I write at least four hours a days unless I’m on deadline and then it’s more like 12 to 14 hours, utilizing those quiet midnight hours.

Where is your favorite place to write?

In my office. It’s quiet and hubby knows not to bother me when I’m in there. That said, we’re moving soon and there’s a lovely patio with an ocean view so I can totally see myself out there working. We’ll see, I guess.

An ocean view sounds lovely. Do you ever wear your PJs or nightgown all day while writing?

Once in a great while I’ll get caught in my PJs all day but not often. If I’m up to it, I like to exercise in the mornings so that means a shower afterward and of course getting dressed for the day. Starting with the exercise gets the blood flowing to my brain and I think I actually write better.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you choose it?

I use Pen names for privacy’s sake. My first book was co-authored. The pen name was a combination of my name and my writing partner’s name. When I went solo, I wrote as Charlotte McPherren at my publisher’s suggestion. Just try writing Charlotte McPherren over and over at a book signing and you’ll know why these days I’m going with Sharla Rae. Rae is my middle name.

Are your books published by a large publishing house or a small press? Are you self-published?

I was originally published by Avon and then Leisure books. That was some years ago. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of e-publishing – so much freedom! And for an introvert who develops a bad case of stage fright when she pitches, e-publishing is a gift from heaven. I also honestly believe e-publishing is here to stay and is the way to the future. Let me add that I will soon be e-published.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

This is any easy one to answer: Definitely a pantser. It’s just plain more fun. I read because I enjoy the adventure so writing has to be the same, an adventure.

How do you develop your plots and your characters?

It’s all about the characters for me. They just sort of pop into my head. I decide who they are, what they like and dislike, goals etc. Then I throw them into a situation that is the worst thing I can think of for their situation. I think a lot of writers do that. Again, it makes the writing fun.

How and where do you research for your books?

I have a relatively large personal library. I love everyday-life books, especially. So most of my research comes from my own collection. These days if I don’t have a book to answer a question, I turn to the Internet. Trouble is, anyone can say anything on the Internet. If I can’t verify the info on at least three different sites I won’t use it. I also find historical societies great founts of info.

Does your significant other and/or family support your writing career?

I can’t say hubby always understands my process and my need to be so solitary at time. He’s a scientist and businessman so he supports by going out of his way to make sure I have a nice office, a computer and all the other tools I need. And I discovered that while he might not say much to me about my writing, he actually brags to others.

Are your books professionally edited?

Yes. I’ve read my own book a zillion times so the tendency is to read into it what I “know” is supposed to be there. Having a set of new eyes seems the smart thing to do.

How do you unwind and relax when not writing?

Hubby loves to travel and of course I go with him. But when we’re not traveling, I dress like a hag and veg out in front of a fav TV show or I cuddle up in a big chair with a great book. I’m a boring homebody.

Do you belong to any social/community groups? What charities do you support?

I’m getting ready to move, so no community groups right now. I do belong to 4 RWA chapters and three or four non-RWA writing groups.

My husband and I lost our son to cancer a little over a year ago so we support the cancer research groups.

What a terrible loss for you both. I know how much you miss your son. I, too, support cancer research.

In closing, what advice would you give beginning writers?

Learn to take criticism good and bad because there’s something to be learned from both. Never stop learning and growing as a writer and be gracious along the way.

Excellent advice, Shar! Now, I know you have a new website with a beautiful banner featuring a majestic mountain scene. And, I also happen to know you snapped that photo. Yes, folks, she’s a terrific photographer as well as a writer. Don’t you agree?

Shar's site header cropped


To tempt your reading taste buds, here’s a sample of Sharla’s upcoming release.


Book title


Fleeing scandal, Texas schoolmarm, Noelle Bridger takes a job in Washington Territory. There she discovers yet another man has duped her. She’s to teach in a place called Whiskey Spit and her students are a bunch of brawling and profane loggers.

Vidar Bjornson, son of a Norwegian immigrant, is Noelle’s new boss and he isn’t any happier with Noelle than she is with him. He’d expected a plain middle-aged woman. Instead, the gorgeous Texan is already arousing jealousy among his men.

Bawdy loggers, bad men and lots of fun ensue as Noelle teaches Vidar the error of his ways and the mighty timberbeast is felled by the love of a good woman.


“My goodness,” Noelle gasped, “you weren’t exaggerating. There are so many men.” She was about to ask where their wives and children were when the steamer sidled up alongside the wharf with a jarring thump.

Sailors set to work securing the mail packet amidst the loud crowd of grinning lumbermen gaping up at her. A motlier bunch she’d never seen. All wore plaid shirts of various colors, stained canvas britches held up with suspenders and sturdy, high-top boots. With their hulking builds, shaggy hair and thick, untrimmed beards, they resembled grizzly bears more than men.


“Men, this is the teacher, Miss Noelle Bridger.”

Wolf howls split the air, barely eclipsing the thunder of stomping boots.

Reminding herself that Texas cowboys were just as boisterous, Noelle forced a nervous smile. Still, the uneasy feeling she’d experienced earlier returned twofold. “Mr. Gjerset, where are the –”

“Out of my way!”

Two men with arms like tree trunks stood on the gangplank elbowing each other. One grinned up at her, displaying a gold front tooth. The other man grabbed Gold Tooth’s arm and yanked him backward, almost dumping the man into the Canal.

“Where do you think your goin’, you damn Frenchie?”

“I escort ze teacher,” Gold Tooth growled in the other man’s face. “Leave off me!”

“Like hell! I’m escortin’ the lady.”

Gold Tooth threw a punch and in another moment, both men tumbled into the water, still slugging. The rest of the men shouted and wagered on the outcome. Then another brawl broke out. Two more men splashed into the drink. Somebody yelled, “Fly at it,” and they all hurled punches.

Whoops, hollers, and obscenities burned Noelle’s ears. She stared aghast, her entire body trembling at the sickening sounds of flesh pounding flesh. She told herself it wasn’t fear that gripped her as much as anger. She had more reason than most to abhor senseless violence.

“Mister Gjerset, do something!”

“Aa jo!” Gjerset exclaimed over the clamor. “Our bull of the woods is coming. The boss does not look happy.”

Noelle followed Gjerset’s gaze and spotted a long-legged giant charging down the spit. He must be Vidar Bjornson, she thought. Surely, he’d stop this senseless riot.

Bjornson cannoned into the boiling mass of bodies. She lost track of him but figured he’d start ordering the men to desist at any moment. Instead, another logger joined the others thrashing around in the green sea. A few feet closer to the gangplank, two more sailed off the pier. Bjornson was not putting an end to the heathenish row. He was slugging his way through it!

He punched, butted heads, and kicked backsides, clearing a path to the gangplank. When he finally reached it, Noelle got a better glimpse of Whiskey Spit’s pillar of the community.

Her breath caught.

Bjornson, was the epitome of a massive Viking raider gone berserk. His long nose bore a slight deviation at the bridge, as if once broken. Beneath it, a thick mustache flowed into a shaggy beard. A tawny lion’s mane scuffed his broad shoulders around a bull-like neck.

He mounted the gangplank, his torn shirtsleeve exposing a bulging bicep. Noelle noted the angry set of his features and retreated a few shaky steps.

…Without a glance in her direction, he glared below at the brawling men, fixed his fists on his narrow hips and bellowed, “Fun is over, boys.” Amazingly, the fighting ceased almost as quickly as it had begun. “This is no way to greet a lady. Get back to work. Daylight’s wasting in the swamp.”

Grumbling lumbermen sporting bloody noses, swollen eyes, and split lips splashed ashore. The rest tromped off the wharf with good-humored slaps on each other’s backs.

Standing a mere two feet from Noelle, Bjornson shifted and glared at her with startling ice-blue eyes. His gaze journeyed slowly down her body, then up again in rude perusal. A tremor of alarm gripped her gut, but she stood her ground and returned his impertinence in kind.

Up close, he seemed as lofty and strong as the mighty trees he logged. And twice as intimidating. Noelle pressed a hand to her stomach in an attempt to calm the squall erupting there.

His gaze followed her hand to her stomach, then ambled upwards again, pausing at her breasts before meeting her gaze. “Freya’s tits! You’re Noelle Bridger?” he bellowed.

Noelle gasped in outrage. She didn’t know who Freya was, but crude was crude, and she refused to be bullied by this . . . tree trunk. Squaring her shoulders, she stared him in the eye. “Yes, I’m Miss Bridger, and I’d like to know –”

“You are not what I expected.”

“This place isn’t what I expected,” she shot back. Her “new beginning” no longer looked so promising.


Vidar stared at the angry young woman, unable to believe his eyes. He cast a quick, questioning look at Ole, but his cousin merely lifted his shoulders in a bewildered shrug.

Damn. His specific needs demanded he hire a female teacher rather than a male, but he’d asked his brothers to find a plain, old-maid schoolmarm who wouldn’t stir up trouble among his men. One who wouldn’t faint at the sight of scruffy loggers.

After months of waiting, Vidar had almost given up hope. Then Garth’s telegram arrived, insisting he’d found the perfect woman. Ha! His brother was either blind or this was another one of his famous practical jokes. …

Instead of the sallow skin of a prune-faced old maid, Noelle Bridger’s creamy flesh blushed with youth. Her big eyes, the color of moss on the forest floor, tilted up at the corners with thick, brown lashes. Hair the color of polished oak was swept from her heart-shaped face into a neat braided bun at her nape.

Likewise, she was no dried up twig or a lumpy matron. Her parted cloak revealed a slender figure with a generous bosom, a trim waist, and hips that flared into gentle curves.Trouble. That’s what a pretty woman was. The men were already fighting, and she hadn’t even set foot off the steamer. He should send her packing before they killed each other. Unfortunately, time had run out.

He sighed in disgust. Well, at least she was female and so far, she hadn’t fainted.

“Mister Bjornson?”

The teacher’s slow southern drawl evoked visions of wild sex on a fur rug in his cozy fire-lit cabin. But Vidar didn’t miss the angry spark in her pretty eyes. The schoolmarm was building up a good head of steam. If he meant to keep her in Whiskey Spit — and like it or not, she must stay — he’d have to do some fancy talking.

He combed his fingers through his beard and offered a well-practiced grin, one that charmed every female he aimed it at. “I hope my men didn’t scare you, Miss Bridger. They’re rough around the edges, but they mean well. Come. You must be anxious to see your cabin, and you’ll want to rest before dinner.”

“No. That is, I want to –”

Ignoring her half-formed protest, he captured her arm and hauled her down the gangplank.


Noelle gritted her teeth at Bjornson’s high-handedness, but didn’t dare fight him on the wobbly plank, for fear of falling into the cold waves below. Once safely on the wharf, however, she planted her feet and wrestled free of his hold. Just as she opened her mouth to give him what for, she spied Gjerset directing the sailors to unload her trunks.

“Y’all can leave those, right there!” she called up to them.

His face coated with impatience, Bjornson jerked his thumb toward the lumber camp, signaling the sailors to proceed. “The Excelsior has a schedule to keep. Take them to her cabin.”

“Just a darn minute.” Noelle fumed, clenching her hands at her sides. “Something isn’t right here. Before I take another step, I want some answers.”

Seeming impervious to the chili sea breeze, the hulking logger, stood hip-shot and crossed his thick arms over his chest. “Just what is it that you think ‘isn’t right here?’”

“Plenty. I thought I was hired to teach in Seabeck. Then I find out that’s not true. I’m to teach in a place with the ridiculous name of Whiskey Spit. Fine, I told myself — a simple misunderstanding. Then I arrive at this . . . this wart of a town, and I’m greeted by a bunch of brawling hooligans. I might be willing to overlook them, but I demand to know where all the women are. And where are the children, my students?”

He quirked a tawny eyebrow and his mouth twitched. “Hmm. Students.”

Noelle heaved an impatient sigh. “Mister Bjornson!”

“The men.”

“The men what?” she asked.

“The men are your students.”






Monday Author Meetup Is Back!

Yes, after a long absence, I’m resuming my Monday author interviews. This coming Monday, Oct. 13, my guest will be multi-published western romance author Sharla Rae. Besides being a wonderful writer, Sharla is one of the original founders of Writers in the Storm, named one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2014 by Writer’s Digest. Currently, She’s a researcher extraordinaire, my personal editor and is famous for her amazing word lists.

Sharla is also a very brave woman. She and her husband lost their son to cancer slightly over a year ago and she is herself battling the Big C. I hope you will stop by and show your support for her.