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A heart-warming, dramatic family saga. Unspoken is a tale of secrets, love, betrayal and revenge. Unspoken means something that cannot be uttered aloud. Unspoken is the dark secret a woman must keep, for life. Alice is fast approaching her one-hundredth … Continue reading


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A Day in the life of…
Cindy McDonald

Over the course of twenty-six years I was very
comfortable with my title: Miss Cindy—dance teacher/choreographer, and after a
long and successful career, I decided to make a change. In 2011 I published my
first book,
 DEADLY.COM. I became an author, a writer, a storyteller. Problem
was that I still thought of myself as a dancer/choreographer.
Nothing had
changed and I didn’t give it much thought until I attended a wedding—it was the
day that everything changed…

I had just retired from my dance school in May to
focus on writing my books, and on a very hot day in June, my husband and I
attended my dear friend’s daughter’s wedding. It was an outside wedding and we
took our seats waiting for the ceremony to begin when another friend sat down
next to me. She asked about my new release and how it was going, and we chatted
casually until it was time for the bride to make her appearance. I didn’t give
it another thought. After all, I was still just Miss Cindy the dance
teacher/choreographer, and then as I approached the cookie table a woman tapped
me on the shoulder.

“I didn’t mean to listen in on your conversation,” she
began, “but did I hear you say that you are an author?”

I probably looked at the woman like she had just grown
another head. What? Am I a what?
was the first time anyone had called me that! It was the first time anyone had
even uttered the word. Author…author…
I must’ve stood there for well over fifteen seconds staring at her like an
idiot because she cocked her head to the side and said to me, “I could have
sworn that I heard someone ask you about a book that you’ve written. I love to
read, and I’ve never met an author.” Skeptically, she repeated, “Are you an

It wasn’t computing. Yes, I wrote a book, and I had
said book published. But I’m a dance teacher, a choreographer, I couldn’t
possibly be an …um… author.
Finally, my husband spoke up, “Yes, Cindy wrote a
book called, Deadly.Com. It’s a murder suspense book. Do you like murder
suspense books?”

The woman’s face lit up. “I love murder suspense
books! Where can I buy it?”

Yet still I stood there like a total moron, still
contemplating her very first question: are you an author? At last I managed to
speak. I said, “Amazon… you can buy the book on Amazon.”

Tickled pink that she had actually met a real-live
honest-to-God moron… I mean, author, the woman gathered some cookies and
returned to her table. My husband turned to me and said, “Well you totally blew
that. If she’d have asked you about the dance school, you would’ve given her a
business card, directed her to the website, and told her all about it. She
asked you about your book and you were clueless. You’ve got to get better
prepared, Cindy. She was a potential customer.”

He was right. After I came out of my funk, I went
straight to the task of getting prepared. Nowadays with five published books
under my belt, I actually admit to being an author. When someone asks me about
my books, I whip out that business card, I direct them to my website, and yes I
bore them to tears as I tell them all about my books. Yep! That’s what I am: an
honest-to-goodness, real-live, in-the –flesh author.

Hmmm, now I’ve just got to figure out something snappy
to say when people ask, “Are you on the New York Times best seller list?”

First Force Series

A notorious killer leaves Jack Haliday’s
world in shambles.

It has been four years since ex Navy SEAL,
Jack Haliday, had an explosive run-in with a biker gang wounding their leader,
Gunner. During those years Jack had acquired everything he ever wanted: a
beautiful wife, an adorable daughter, and a lovely home in the
suburbs—everything was just about as perfect as it could get, until Gunner
returned to twist Jack’s world inside-out with a vengeance that he could never
have prepared for.

Now Jack has a score to settle and he’s
got some friends to help him do it!

Cindy McDonald was born and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. For 26 years she was a professional choreographer,she taught ballet, jazz, and tap. During that time she choregraphed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. 

Most recently she has retired to write her novels. She resides with her husband on their Thoroughbred farm know as Fly By Night Stables near Pittsburgh.

See more of Cindy’s posts on

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Chasing the Cookbook!

A Day in the life of… 
Joan Porte

As a cookbook author, my methodology is not typical of
most writers. I do not have to face a blank screen or piece of paper and will
the words out of my right brain.
I don’t have to fear writers block. However,
that does not make my task any easier than that of the novelist or biographer.
In fact, I am not as fortunate as those lucky people are. Every time I sit down
to work on a recipe, I face something much more dastardly. It is the memory of
the days when I had to chase my mother around the kitchen to try to have her
actually write down a recipe for what she was making. Don’t snicker! This is
something that can cause flashbacks of horrors for decades.
Members of my mother’s family were of the touch-and-feel
school of cooking. If you would ask her how much salt to add to a pasta recipe
she would say something like, “Feel it, when it feels like there is enough, it
is good.” How do you write a recipe that reads – amount of salt — to the
feel? It can’t be done.

One day I was determined to get her recipes on paper and
spent days which seemed like decades  –
yelling “STOP” every time she was about to add something – and then grab a
measuring cup to get some idea of an amount. It was not pretty – nor were the
looks she was throwing me throughout the process.
Actually today, when I see one of her recipes, I smile
at those days.  I now know that they were
good training for cookbook writing because they instilled in me two skills you
must have to write a good recipe. The first is measure, taste and measure again.
Whether it is an old recipe that needs to be updated or something I concoct I
pay special attention to that extra ½-teaspoon of cardamom and the ¼-teaspoon
of lemon zest that will just make the dish pop.
When I get an old recipe – and I love scouring colonial
cookbooks for ideas – I, of course, have to change some of the meats. There is
not much call for squirrel anymore. Then I always update the herbs because
today fresh is always better. However, you cannot just toss in the same amount
of a fresh herb as dried. Something like oregano packs quite the punch and 2
teaspoons of fresh will destroy the flavor of every other herb. Therefore, you
measure, taste, and measure again.
The second lesson is to take the recipes that friends
gave and make it your own. In other words, I had to “feel them” and see if they
needed something else to suit my personal taste. Many friends offered family
treasures for my cookbook but I had to rework each so they had the same “tone”
as all of the others and still had my touch. I would make the recipe exactly as
written, then take those same ingredients, and make it my way.

What do I mean by tone? You have to remember that a cookbook is still a book
and you do not want to have it appear disjointed as if two different voices had
written the same book.
It is a mistake to take someone else’s words and think
that they will flow naturally with yours. I had to be sure that everyone was
fine with me not taking her recipe verbatim. I wanted no hard feelings but had
to be sure it was totally mine.
So, while the training was harrowing I thank Mom for the
lessons and for the food – and the memories.

“Signs of the Tines: The Ultimate Astrological Cookbook”
is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Sign of the Tines
.  Link for chart readings or contact Joan via email or visit her blog (above). Download her podcast Astrological Cooking.
The 295-page book with more than 120 recipes is written to celebrate a unique pairing of food and astrology. 
Barnes and Noble
A new breed of cookbook that combines personal astrology with a love for preparing and sharing delicious meals. 
Astrologer and gastronome Joan Porte brings a new, fun twist to cooking by showing anyone who loves to cook how to personalize a menu for your family and friends. Beautiful photographs complement the more than 120 featured recipes organized by zodiac sign. Choose a dish or plan a multi-course meal with selections from: Appetizers, Soups, Pasta, Veggies & Fruit, Meat & Fish, and Dessert for each of the twelve signs. SIGNS OF THE TINES is a heart-warming and mouth-watering invitation to eat in alignment with our stars!
Discover why:
Scorpios have
a craving for pasta puttanesca
Librans feel
grounded when they dig into a chocolate mousse parfait
Cancerians stand
tall with their bowl of Brunswick stew
Virgoans set
aside their healthy-conscious habits when faced with chocolate raspberry
Aquarians respond
to the sustainable fish used in Pollock with berry prosecco sauce
Pisceans beat
a common ailment when feasting on quinoa with roasted root veggies.
“These recipes are taken from a
number of sources; some are family gems, others I’ve concocted and tweaked over
the years,” says author Joan Porte.

The home cook will discover how
astrology as a source for new food ideas and new ways to entertain friends. And
the astrology enthusiast will discover how cooking can be a new use for
astrology as a way to add more meaning to the daily ritual of eating we perform
to survive and thrive.
Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a signed paperback and a $10 Starbucks Gift Card!

Joan Porte started “playing” with
Astrology when she was in grammar school. She always had a fixation with the
planets – Pluto being her favorite (surprise she is Scorpio Sun!) Yes, Pluto is
still a planet to her! She put her astrology “toys” away when she
grew up and went into the “real world,” sadly convinced that it was
time to do more important things. The universe and her North Node in Sagittarius
woke her up in her mid-thirties after which she began an intensive study of
Western astrology.

According to Joan, “Modern Man takes for granted the Sun and how its
energy propels and sustains life. Moon energy controls the tides yet we ignore
the other more personal influences it has on our bodies and lives. We have lost
the art of appreciating and reading the stars as messengers from the god and
goddess. Humanity has disconnected from its source

and consequently suffers emotionally, spiritually and physically.”

“Each person is born with a map – a soul map – that is his or her
astrological chart. It is a map through the maze of life that shows the karma
we need to balance our soul’s desire for a life that leads to enhanced soul
growth. I simply read the map – illustrating where you have been and where you
are going to make your journey through life less bumpy.” With this cook
book Joan is combining her astrological knowledge with her lifelong love of
cooking in her own inimitable way.

Gram’s Cranberry Pie

Every Christmas my friend, Diane Stoy,
makes her Gram’s cranberry pie as a way to keep her grandmother’s memory alive.
It is a wonderful tradition – to be appreciated by tradition-bound Cancer, and a very good pie!
This is what Diane has to say about her Gram’s pie. “So you thought cranberries
were only for use in cranberry sauce??

Here is a famous original recipe for cranberry. Gram lives on in many ways, but
especially in this recipe. Over the years, her granddaughter shared this
special treat with many others in Washington, D.C. Now this delicious memory
can be enjoyed by friends everywhere. Thanks, Gram!”

1 ¼ cup fresh cranberries, washed
1 cup sugar, divided
1 egg (2 eggs if you want a fluffier batter)
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup flour
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup walnuts or pecans (optional. Diane leaves these little buggers out when
she brings this to my house.)
1 cup whipping cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

Makes one 8-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the cranberries in a plate and
sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sugar. In a large bowl mix all of the other
ingredients well except the ice cream or whipped cream and pour on top of the
berries. (Batter may be thick.) Bake for 45 minutes in a greased 8-inch pie
plate. Serve warm or cold with the whipped cream or plain.
To serve with the whipped cream just beat the cream with an electric blender
until it becomes cream and dollop on top.
You can also serve with vanilla ice cream. 

A day in the life of an Author

but not this day!

Pink and fluffy chick lit

struggled to get out of bed. Had a late night trying to finish an awkward scene on a novel I’m working on, but ended up playing chess with the computer. This
resulted in a tense stand-off with several more games until I was satisfied
that the computer was sorry that it beat me in two moves on the first game.

coffee, and turn on computer. I can hear it groan. No, that’s my stomach. I
haven’t eaten since, er, Saturday (it’s Monday). Funny, I’m as porky as
ever. Must be the constant supply of Hobnobs. In the kitchen I pour flakes into a bowl,
and top it with milk.

said flakes into my mouth, I open my email. Spam. Spam. Spam. And more spam.
Oh! Win a holiday with one click.

click. And read. And imagine I’ve won the holiday. I think about the new
clothes I would have buy. Would have to buy a new suitcase, too. And lose
weight. My dream ends, and the very nice, but very loud Chris Evans declares it’s
nine. Already?

make another coffee, the previous cold, and delete the spam and the holiday. A
new email comes in. It’s from a lady whose work I was editing. She’s not happy
with the edits. Thinks I was too harsh. Harsh? Learn how to punctuate, muppet!

Another email comes through from an agent I was hopeful on bagging. No, she isn’t
going to pursue with my submission after all. I hit the minimize button. Too early
in the morning to deal with, and I don’t feel strong enough. Insufficient caffeine
circulating the blood stream for a start!

glug the coffee, but still don’t feel like reading the agent’s email. I wonder
about deleting it. If I call her and act
like I haven’t seen it, maybe she’ll change her mind?

open last night’s scene. Then immediately minimize it, and click on Twitter. Ah, I’ve several
messages and RTs that I need to reply to/thank. Oh no! Kate Moss is trending.
Has she died? I click and see that it’s her birthday. I wish her happy

I go
into #wip to see how everyone is getting on with their writing. @Flashgit has managed
5k this morning. I unfollow @Flashgit.

is still editing her  novel. She said she wrote in the whole damn thing in the NaNoWriMo month. I don’t believe her. I report her for abuse.

type: On second coffee and still can’t
get started #wip

Beauty and the Beast
for grown ups
open up The Scene and re-read aloud to see if it sounds any better. It

on Twitter I see if anyone has answered me. They have. @pruebatten suggests I go for a walk to think things over in my head. Good idea actually. The “me time”
is very, very important. Note to self – make more “me time”.

shower and dress, and immediately feel better. I grab my bag and car keys and
out I go. Walk? Is she frigging joking! I head to the shops. Nothing like
retail therapy for “me time”.

hours later, and a lots of pounds lighter (money, not weight – I wish!) I come
home. I’ve bought a pair of boyfriend jeans and a T-shirt. I go to dump the bags in
my wardrobe, but as I open the door a pair of jeans, with the label still on, fall
out. I pick them up and remember I bought them last week. They are EXACTLY THE


at my computer I check my emails. The agent one is still there and I open it sulkily:
“the round table isn’t keen on your concept and doesn’t think it’ll sell”.
Round table? What is she, bloody King Arthur?

Welcome to the dark side
of chick lit

open Twitter to pour out my woes: Rejected
again #wip #submission #reject #author Might hit the bottle later.

I glance
at clock to see if this idea is doable. Almost mid-day, a little early, even
for me!

I notice
I’ve lost three followers. Really depressed now. I call my friend and tell her
all about my horrendous morning. She can’t really talk because her house was
burgled last night, and the police are there taking statements. Still, she could
have been a little more sympathetic, selfish cow.

the computer I open The Scene.

know, it reads really good now. Think I’ll keep it after all.