Posted in Blog Tour

Life’s a Banquet by Robin Bennett @rararesources #guestpost #lifesabanquet

Life’s A Banquet

If life gives you lemons, add gin

 

Life’s a Banquet is the unofficial but essential ‘guide book’ to negotiating your way through life – through education, family life and business, to relationships, marriage, failure and rejection.

Aged 21, Robin Bennett was set to become a cavalry officer and aged 21 and a half, he found himself working as an assistant grave digger in South London – wondering where it had all gone wrong.

Determined to succeed, he went on and founded The Bennett Group, aged 23, and since then has gone on to start and run over a dozen successful businesses in a variety of areas from dog-sitting to cigars, translation to home tuition. In 2003, Robin was recognised in Who’s Who as one of the UK’s most successful business initiators. Catapulting readers through his colourful life and career, Robin Bennett’s memoir is an inspiring tale.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lifes-Banquet-Robin-Bennett/dp/1912881683

US – https://www.amazon.com/Lifes-Banquet-Robin-Bennett/dp/1912881683

Robin Bennett lives in Henley on Thames, Oxon. He is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children and books on the swashbuckling world of business. His documentary, Fantastic Britain, about the British obsession with magic and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.

Robin says, “When the world seems to be precarious and cruel, remember that the game is to never give up – there’s everything to play for, and it will all be OK.”

Guest Post

Audio Killed the Bookmark

Cognitive language … or Gossip Theory

Along with about 18 million other people, I’m finally getting around to reading Harari’s book on the history of our species, Sapiens. If that sounds highbrow, keep in mind the book I’ve just finished was a Stephen King – Under the Dome, which is low-brow, even for him.

And talking about low brows, according to Sapiens, it turns out that we Europeans all have a bit of Homo Neanderthal in us (not that you’d call him that to his face) or Homo Erectus (even worse). The actual figure of what is non-Sapien in our DNA is between 1 and 4%, which explains why we spend between 1 and 4 % of our time on social networks watching videos of people injuring themselves in amusing ways.

Except it turns out that our dim-looking genetic cousins could not only rip us into small pieces with their bare hands but they were actually smarter than us. The first section of Harari’s excellent tome deals with the question of how Sapiens came to rule the world, allowing for the fact we are stupid and a bit weedy.

The theory is rather brilliant and completely plays to my prejudices, which is the only reason I’m writing about it now. In a nutshell, Sapiens gained the upper hand through team work facilitated by cognitive language. By that, he means we Sapiens took language beyond saying ‘Look, Ugg, danger!’ to ‘Last week, Ugg was eaten by a mammoth by the river. He is stupid.’ The first phrase is merely very basic factual information, no more sophisticated than a dog barking because it’s seen a postman. The second, however, has detailed information – on Ugg: it fixes place, time (in the past), cause of demise and his mental capacity; it also has important information for the well-being of the group, i.e., be careful about going down to the river, there’s hairy elephants about. There’s even a joke at someone else’s expense.

The someone else’s expense is vitally important and explains why Harari supposes we developed cognitive speech in the first place and also why we spend so much time on Facebook – and it is this: Sapiens are very nosey.

But gossiping and taking the piss out of our friends is his point. It is precisely our fascination in what our fellow humans get up to, however trivial, that enabled us to become the massively social creatures who worked as small teams of hunters, then larger groups that turned into villages.

However, beyond that, to be able to form the societies which made up cities, then countries … then empires and all in a hugely short space of time (about 30,000 years, which is a blink of an eye when you think how long it took us to get a decent fire lit), we needed something else.

We needed stories.

Myth and magic became cult, then formalised religion, shared anecdote became culture, then country. Religions have good stories to tell about where they come from and why they deserve our loyalty, countries have them and so do corporations (called brand) – in fact no successful human endeavour can do without them. Stories are what make us work together behind a common cause.

You can harness huge numbers of people you have never met behind a strong idea. Before that the only way to get people to follow you was to be known to them personally and have a really big club, so it was limited in number.

So, where next? Well, I’m only about 50 pages in, so who knows.

However, aside from telling me what I like to hear (that stories are vital) it also got me thinking about machines in general and AI specifically and machine translation, even more specifically. Inadvertently, I think Harari has essentially hit upon the reason why MT and AI will not take over – machines do not have imaginations and without that they lack the ability to grasp the abstract. It also means they cannot gang up on us and take over the world.

Yet.

Posted in Book Birthday

A wedding in Cornwall by Laura Briggs @paperdollwrites @rararesources #bookbirthday #guestpost #aweddingincornwall #giveaway

Happy Thursday and happy third birthday to this charming book!🎉🎉🎉

Laura Briggs is such a wonderful author! I find all her stories so full of whimsy and charm and will read just about anything she writes! Thanks Rachel for inviting me to this celebration!

A Wedding in Cornwall

It’s the career move of a lifetime, and Julianne can’t believe it’s hers: a position as an event planner at a country house in Cornwall, England, beginning with the wedding of a celebrity! If her old firm’s senior planner back in the States hadn’t fallen suddenly sick with the chicken pox, Julianne would never have found herself chosen for a life in one of England’s most beautiful coastal counties, surrounded by rugged shores, quaint cottages, elegant gardens and a house to die for.

But life in Cornwall isn’t exactly as Julianne imagined it. Her first bride-to-be is a resentful, petted snob, the groom is immature and bored, and the Cornish staff of Cliffs House has a difficult time believing that an event planner from a mid-level position can handle a wedding this big. And then there’s a personal matter — the handsome, sometimes charming, sometimes standoffish gardener Matthew Rose. He and Julianne have a strangely complicated relationship somewhere between friendship and attraction. But with a secret in his past, and a scheming bridesmaid plotting to have Matthew all to herself, will Julianne find a way to untangle her feelings and the problems of planning a perfect Cornish wedding?

Purchase Link: https://smarturl.it/

aweddingincornwall

Author Bio –

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1JjeMoI

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1ME9ivJ

Giveaway to Win one of 4 Fabulous A Wedding in Cornwall Prizes (Open Internationally)

1st Prize: A Demelza collectible Knitdark character doll (Open Internationally) – 1 winner

A wonderful keepsake for fans of all-things Poldark, this Demelza doll was made by Angela Blay, whose popular Knitdark creations have been featured on The Graham Norton Show. You can learn more about the Knitdarks at Angela’s Twitter page @kwerkyknits as well as her Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/kwerkyknits

2nd Prize A Kindle/Tablet case featuring cover art from the series A Wedding in Cornwall (Open Internationally) – 1 winner

A specially designed case for a Kindle or Tablet featuring cover art from the series A Wedding in Cornwall. The final product’s size, image, texture, and color will depend on the winner’s device.

3rd Prize: A Paperback Copy of A Wedding in Cornwall: Books 1-6 (Open Internationally) – 1 winner

This winning paperback (non-signed) contains the novellas A Wedding in Cornwall, A Christmas in Cornwall, A Cottage in Cornwall, A Manor in Cornwall, A Bake Off in Cornwall, and A Castle in Cornwall.

4th Prize: A Paperback Copy of A Wedding in Cornwall: Books 7-12 (Open Internationally) – 1 winner

This winning paperback (non-signed) contains the novellas A Romance in Cornwall, A Star in Cornwall, A Sewing Circle in Cornwall, A Talent Show in Cornwall, An American in Cornwall, and A Garden in Cornwall.

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494270/?

Guest Post

If You Like These, You Might Like My Cornish Romance Series!

Thank you so much to everyone at Audio Killed the Bookmark for letting me share about the book birthday event for A Wedding in Cornwall with their lovely readers! I penned the first of what would become twelve novellas in the series three years ago now and watched with surprise as it climbed to the Top 100 Amazon UK. Readers warmly embraced the story of Julianne, an American event planner who finds a new life, new job, and new love when she takes a job at a gorgeous Cornish estate. For those of you who think it might be right up your street but can’t quite decide, I thought it might be helpful (and fun!) to list some things that readers who like A Wedding in Cornwall also tend to like.

The TV show Poldark:

It’s no secret that A Wedding in Cornwall took some of its inspiration from the BBC’s Poldark. After all, the book’s hero, Matthew Rose, is described as being a Poldark look-alike and nicknamed ‘Ross’ by a few of his admirers (a joke that only the heroine, Julianne, doesn’t get, since she’s never before seen an episode of Poldark when she arrives across the pond!) And then there’s the Cornish setting they have in common—albeit a highly fictionalized version in my book— with Julianne’s world full of romantic cliffside views and scenic beaches, cosy little cottages with rambling gardens, a big manor house, and a sleepy little village where residents gather at the local pub for a night’s entertainment.

Escapist Romance Reads:

By ‘escapist’, I mean fun, uplifting reads that transport you from everyday life to glamorous or exciting settings. Julianne’s work as an event planner involves everything from holiday balls to royal weddings to helping with a televised baking contest that resembles The Great British Bake Off. And for a supposedly sleepy village, there is always plenty of excitement in Ceffylgwyn, not the least of which involves Shakespearean dramas with behind-the-scenes romances, a local talent show based on The X Factor, and even a visit from a famous romance writer in search of inspiration for their next story.

Austen-esque Stuff:

Jane Austen might be the gold standard of romance reads, and she’s certainly influenced my writing in different ways over the years, with several Austen re-tellings in my past publications. With picturesque gardens, a stately manor house, and a hero with a bit of brooding in him, there’s a glimmer of Austen’s influence in Julianne’s world, I hope!

Hallmark Channel Movies:

If you love a good cuppa—or cup of cocoa—with a round of sweet romance Hallmark style, then A Wedding in Cornwall might also be your cup of tea. Julianne may not be getting swept off to a castle with a handsome prince like the heroines in Hallmark’s royal romance movies, but a grand manor house and Poldark-esque gardener is a pretty fair trade, right? Plus you get a cast of quirky, colorful side characters, a picturesque setting, and the kind of happy-ever-after that Hallmark viewers appreciate in their favorite films. There’s even a cosy Christmas story for those who love their seasonal romances (and yes, there’s snow and tree decorating involved).

Harry Potter:

Okay, just kidding. Mostly. I mean, pretty much EVERYONE likes Harry Potter, so the odds are good, right? Ah, well… it was worth a try 😉

Seriously, though, I do hope this will inspire you to give Julianne’s adventures a glance. All twelve novellas are available individually as well as in book bundles and paperback. Happy reading.

Posted in Blog Tour

The Dog Walking Club by Liz Hinds @Liz_Hinds99 @rararesources #guestpost #thedogwalkingclub

Happy Sunday all!

This book sounds so adorable and like so much fun, I cannot wait to read it myself! Excited to share with you a guest post from the author!🐶

The Dog-walking Club

Every dog walk brings new drama into the lives of these dogs and their people. A supermarket shelf-stacker, a stay-at-home dad, an elderly widow and a freelance photographer sound an unlikely bunch of friends but they have one thing in common: they all walk their dogs in Beauville Park at roughly the same time each morning.

And that’s enough for Angela, bored organiser without a cause, to get them together to form the Dog-walking Club.For Jock the Scottie, Benji the spaniel, Pixie the boxer, Mitzi the poodle and Bassett the … all sorts, walking each day with their friends is a dream come true. And it changes the lives of widowed Sybil who’s spent a lifetime hiding her secret sorrow, hopeless-with-women Jon who’s wandering almost unwittingly into an affair, freelance photographer Jemma who is at every wedding but her own, and Maggi who is frantically trying to save money to visit her family in Australia.

And for long-suffering Angela a nasty shock turns into a new start in disguise for her and her husband – and their love life.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dog-walking-Club-Liz-Hinds/dp/1729286054

US – https://www.amazon.com/Dog-walking-Club-Liz-Hinds/dp/1729286054

Author Bio –

I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate and gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.

Writing-wise, I am an experienced freelance writer – published in The Guardian, Christian Herald and various other magazines and newspapers – with an MA in Creative Writing (Trinity College, University of Wales). My short stories have been published in Cambrensis (the now sadly-defunct short story magazine of Wales) as well as in several anthologies including Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe (Parthian) and Catwomen from Hell (Honno). I am also the author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.

I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club.

I enjoy speaking about my writing to various gatherings and the media, and am an active blogger, facebooker and tweeter.

My everyday blog: http://www.liz-and-harvey.blogspot.com

My writing blog: http://notanotherwannabewriter.blogspot.com/

Social Media Links –

Facebook @LizHinds99

Twitter @Liz_Hinds99

Pinterest Not Another Wannabe Writer

Giveaway to Win a set of reusable beeswax wraps, three metal straws with a carrying pouch and cleaner, and a face wipe, all in pretty doggy fabric (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494249/?

How Liz Began Her Writing Journey

Did you know that Hitler wanted to be an artist but was turned down by art school?

Or that Mussolini aspired to be a romantic novelist? In fact he did have one novel published: The Cardinal’s Mistress is a bodice-ripper based on a true story.

But just imagine if these men had followed their dreams and left the dictating to someone nicer.

When I was a child, inspired by All Creatures Great and Small, I wanted to be a vet; strangely it was the same programme that eventually deterred me. How many times in his lifetime does a vet have to put his hand up a cow’s bottom?!

After that it was engineering. I really have no idea why. I wasn’t good at maths or physics and I didn’t enjoy taking things apart just to put them together again. Somewhere along the line I thought owning an oil rig would be a good idea but the bank wouldn’t lend me the money to buy one.

Eventually after doing a science degree and being unable to find work in my field – there wasn’t much out there for female oceanographers in those days – I joined the civil service, met Husband and did what I really wanted to do: get married and have children.

So I can’t claim that I always wanted to be a writer, or that I wrote my first novel aged six. In fact I was in my thirties before I began writing in anything like a serious way. Yes, I was good at English at school and wrote a couple of pieces that were included in the school magazine but I never had a tremendous urge to write. So what happened? What changed in the time between then and now, when I have one published non-fiction book and two self-published novels under my belt.

Life happened to me. Always more reactive than proactive I ended up as editor of a small local newspaper simply because no-one else wanted to do it. Being editor meant I often had to fill the gaps; I had to be creative and write something, anything. And then the important thing occurred, the event that changed me: someone – or rather several someones – said I was good at it. And that was all I needed.

I was good at something. How much do we all yearn to be told, ‘Yes, that’s good, well done’? I’m sure both Hitler and Mussolini sought recognition and acclaim for their art from their peers – we won’t delve into the psycho-analysis and were they loved by their fathers bit – and as humans we all have that need. William James, who has been called the father of American psychology as well as the greatest American philosopher, wrote, ‘What … every genuine man craves most is praise.’

And Mark Twain said, ‘I can live for two months on a good compliment,’ and who hasn’t, especially when the rejections flood in, been kept going by recalling and savouring complimentary words about our writing? As writers we can get used to having our self-esteem battered so a nice word here, a flattering comment there, can make all the difference to our day. A good review can carry us, if not for two months, to the end of the week at least.

And that good feeling can inspire our writing in the same way that a bad review can make us consider giving it all up. Writing that is, not life.

So readers remember that please when you enjoy a book. It doesn’t take long to write a quick review or post an encouraging comment but it might make all the difference to the author.

And writers, let’s not give up our dreams. The world isn’t ready for a rampage of dictators.

https://liz-and-harvey.blogspot.com/ (everyday blog)

http://notanotherwannabewriter.blogspot.com/ (writing blog)

Facebook

@LizHinds99

Twitter

@Liz_Hinds99

Pinterest

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Posted in Blog Tour

Dead and Talking by Des Burkinshaw @DesBirkenshaw @rararesources #guestpost #deadandtalking

Happy hump day all!

Today I have a guest post from the author of this intriguing story! If you were to be an author would you be a planner or would you fly by the seat of your pants?😃

Dead & Talking

If a ghost appeared from nowhere, rescued you from suicide and then ordered you to start solving crimes to help dead people, what would you do? When it happens to Porter Norton, he just wants to put his head in his hands and have nothing to do with it. But now he has to atone for the family curse that has seen all the men die at their own hands for five generations. The Gliss, the sarcastic spirit that rescues him, says he can now and see and hear the Dead – if he’s close to their remains. Porter has to use his unwelcome gift to clear up past injustices. Or else. Forced to investigate the murder of a WW1 British Tommy executed for spying in 1917, he begins to suspect the case has links to his own family history. Along the way, Porter enlists the help of a bickering group of misfits, who struggle to stay involved – because only fools believe in the supernatural, don’t they? Full of pop culture references, banter and twists, the story takes us from present-day London and Flanders to scenes from World War 1. As Porter, The Gliss, and friends, get deeper into the explosive case, they discover their own lives and sanity are at stake. An evil from WW1 pursues them all.

Purchase Links:

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PLLNB4M

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07PLLNB4M

Born in the middle of the Summer of Love on a pre-fab council estate in Luton, teenage bitterness and a chance viewing of the Watergate movie, All the President’s Men, made him vow to become a journalist and bring down the government. 

First he had to pay for his journalism course, so he became a civil servant. Literally the day he had enough for his fees, he packed it in.
Twelve years on from watching the film, he was a journalist at The Times and had a big hand in bringing down John Major’s government. News ambitions sated, he packed that in too. 

Several years of working for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC as a senior producer saw him working across the world, but he eventually got fed up with asking bands how the new album was coming along, and packed it in. 

He set up his own production company magnificent! in 2002 and simultaneously worked on the BBC Live Events team for another 10 years. But then six years of work on the Olympics came along, so he packed the BBC in. Again. 

Des has jammed with many of his heroes from Paul McCartney to Brian Wilson, Queen to Nancy Sinatra. He has interviewed many A-listers, including David Bowie, Michael Caine, John Cleese and even Noam Chomsky. 

He has directed/produced a fairly long list of people – Muse, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, produced BBC3’s Glastonbury coverage for a couple of years, made films about leprosy in India, comedy shorts with Miranda Hart and Lenny Henry and played guitar for Chas and Dave at the Hackney Empire. 

He has made 300+ short films for the Queen, MI5, the BBC, Sky, Discovery, EMI, the British Academy and dozens of authorities, charities and private sector firms. His most recent publication was a series of interviews with leading academics like Mary Beard on the state of the humanities which was published as a standalone magazine by the British Academy.

Fed up with travelling and determined to be a half-decent dad, he now works in London as often as he can. He runs the Young Directors Film School making movies with young people and is about to head up the Digital Film and Video MA at Tileyard. An avid musician and producer, he releases his third album as Romano Chorizo (he plays drums, bass, piano, guitar and really bad sax). 

He hates to be pigeon-holed, thinks creativity is a learned state of mind and wishes they would teach people memory and learning techniques at school. 

Dead & Talking is his first novel, the first in a series of Porter & The Gliss investigations.

Social Media Links – http://www.desburkinshaw.com twitter.com/DesBurkinshaw, facebook as Des Burkinshaw

Giveaway to Win 3 x Signed Copies of Dead & Talking (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494246/?

Pantsing v Plotting

Pantsing versus Plotting – that old chestnut by Des Burkinshaw

I’ve been writing all my life. For magazines, papers, scripts, and all my early attempts at fiction – none of the latter deemed worthy enough by me to see publication.

When I finally decided to get serious and write the book I’d been dreaming of, I spent six months reading every book on writing I could get my hands on. By the end of the first book I realised why my earlier attempts had failed. I pantsed them. I instinctively knew there must be two types of writer; I just didn’t have names for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved many books written by authors who’ve outed themselves as pantsers, but my background as a journalist probably skewed me to be a plotter by temperament.

I used the Snowflake method to develop my plot for my debut novel Dead & Talking. Eventually I had a 30,000-word outline. I can see now that is a ridiculously big outline, but it carried dialogue suggestions as well as a chapter-by-chapter plot breakdown.

Once I had the outline, which I ran past three or four friends, I started writing. Bang. First draft 2 months later. Cramming in everything in the outline meant the resulting book was way too long at 130,000 words.

I listened to my editor and we got it down to 110, 000, still the absolute limit for a supernatural mystery. I didn’t miss the 20,000 words that were cut and neither did the story.

What I was left with was a very tight, intricately plotted, red herring-laced mystery. Because I knew exactly what the story was, I was able to concentrate on things like character and dialogue development – as well as prose style.

So I’m going to be a plotter forever, right? Wrong.

Buoyed by completing my first novel, I decided to get straight on with the YA book I’d also always wanted to write. But, for an experiment, I decided to mostly be a pantser. I say, mostly, because I thought of some characters in a situation, a rough idea for the ending, and then pantsed my way between joining the dots.

It was only 20,000 words this time and, locked away, doing it like this took only a week to get draft 1 done. I’m used to rewriting, editing, and subbing away the flab, so believe me, there are half a dozen rewrites to go before I publish it, but I really enjoyed the process.

Just as Stephen King predicted, all kinds of strange things happen when you’re pantsing. They do when you’re a plotter too or you wouldn’t have a plot, but the big difference is that with pantsing, things are revealed as you write, not during preparation. This was quite exciting, as I became almost a reader – what happens next?

My main project is the Porter and the Gliss series and I’m currently working on Book 2.

So am I pantsing that? No. The hallmark of book 1, Dead & Talking, is the intricate plotting. Dozens of readers have commented on that already in reviews gathered before July 9th release day. However, I will not be writing a 30,000-word outline this time. More like 3,000, the barebones of the story, so that I can still pants within that.

As is so often the case in life, it’s not one extreme or the other that gives the best results, but a blend of both.

Posted in Blog Tour

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj @mamohanraj @rararesources #cookbook #guestpost

Happy weekend everybody!

I am not much of a cook at all, but reading over this blurb and the authors introduction to Sri Lankan cooking, sure makes me want to be! It all sounds so different and delicious!👩🏻‍🍳

A Feast of Serendib

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.

Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

Purchase Links:

Serendib Kitchen Shop

https://a-feast-of-serendib.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Author Bio –

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and also founded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org). She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog. Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies.  2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib. http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Social Media Links –

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mamohanraj
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/maryannemohanraj/
Website:  http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Serendib Kitchen website: http://serendibkitchen.com

Intro to Sri Lankan Cooking

An Introduction to Sri Lankan Cuisine

I’m often asked what is characteristic of Sri Lankan food. The main distinctions are our use of dark-roasted curry powder across the island and goraka (a souring fruit, similar to tamarind) in Sinhalese cooking. You won’t find goraka in recipes here, though, as my Tamil family doesn’t use it.  Other characteristic elements include wholesome red rice, plenty of chili heat, curry leaves, lots of coconut milk and shredded coconut, a bit of pungent dried Maldive fish in many dishes, and usually a bit of tang (from tomato, vinegar, tamarind, or lime). We also eat a wide variety of fish, poultry and meat dishes, which I think is somewhat unusual in the region, give religious prohibitions, but can be traced to a long-standing multiethnic and multi-religious population.

 

I came to America when I was two years old, and so I never ate like a Sri Lankan would in Sri Lanka; for example, I had usually cereal for breakfast growing up in Connecticut. A typical Sri Lankan breakfast is some idli and sambar, or string hoppers and sothi, perhaps with paripoo (lentils). I grew up disliking lentils and have only recently learned to appreciate them, but most people in Sri Lanka eat lots of them regularly. If you were feeling fancier, you might make hoppers (but you’d have to plan that the night before). Uppuma is also a nice change, usually with some fish curry. I’ve gotten addicted to eating American pancakes with curry—the sweetness of the pancakes works really well with a spicy curry. 

 

As a child, I would have often eaten a bologna sandwich for lunch, but in Sri Lanka, lunches are rice and curries, often eaten around 3 p.m., and dinners are the same, often eaten around 9 p.m. Generally we would serve plain white rice, a meat curry, and a vegetable curry. Appetizers and sides are usually saved for when guests or more family come over, although you’d likely keep containers of sambol or pickle around, for added flavor. Some of my American friends are surprised when I tell them that I had rice and curry for dinner every single night when I was growing up—what can I say? If your mother is an excellent cook, then you never get bored with it.

 

The fancier dishes, the hoppers and pittu and stringhoppers, the patties and cutlets, the milk toffees and rich cake—those were all saved for parties. Usually, we stuffed ourselves on the delectable appetizers (called short eats), but somehow always managed to find room for dinner and then dessert.

 

Note:  Sri Lankans eat with their right hand, not with utensils, generally. It takes a little practice to learn how to make a neat little ball of rice and curry with your fingers, but more than a few of my friends have learned how over the years. Note that many of our recipes use whole spices such as cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon, that are not meant to be bitten into – when you’re eating with your hands, it’s easy to pick out and avoid those as you have dinner. If you’re planning on eating with a fork, you may want to either grind those spices before adding them, use pre-ground versions (generally not as strongly-flavored, so you may want a bit more), or tie them into a bit of cheesecloth that you can fish out before serving (this works better for a more liquid curry).

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Solstice Sizzle by Lilliana Rose @rararesources #guestpost #solsticesizzle

Solstice Sizzle (Pagan Pleasures Bk 2)

Johan Rogers is a sharpshooting family lawyer who is close to burn out. This is affecting his ability with the Magiks and his once reliable skill as a medium. On a whim, he’s come south to Edi’s shop, Crystal Sands, for a break over the summer solstice. He’s looking for fun, nothing serious, and definitely no commitment. 

That’s how things start with the stunning Nova. But then a side of him he’s repressed to be a lawyer begins to emerge. Can he get a handle on his emotions, or will Nova help him to realize his full potential with the Magiks?

Nova McGinnis is struggling to find her unique skill with the Magiks. She’s been repressed too long, and despite Edi’s help, her ability is erratic at best. It’s been nearly a month of trying and she’s made minimal progress. Frustrated, she sees Johan as the perfect distraction. 

It was meant to be just a summer love affair, but things are developing into something more lasting. Will a hot love affair prevent Nova from discovering her Magik ability, or help her?

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Author Bio –

Lilliana is an Amazon Bestselling author, who writes romance in the subgenres of contemporary, paranormal, steampunk, and rural. She enjoys helping characters overcome problems, or issues, and the misunderstandings that often plague relationships, to help them fall in love. Whether it city heels being replaced with country work boots, or some magic beyond this world, or cogs and gears and corsets, each story shows how love can prevail.

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Change of Plans

By Lilliana Rose

Disaster. One of my favourite cafés has closed. This is a little more dramatic for me, because I love to write in cafés. I have my favourites which I frequent, because of the quality of coffee, the atmosphere, the friendly staff (some who are the only people I might talk to during the day if I’m in the middle of writing a novel), and if they are close to where I live.

The other day I had to drive to the other side of town for an appointment. I thought a I could combine the trip and then go to one of my favourite cafés. I had to drive past the café on the way to the appointment, and to my horror it was closed. And not a closed for today, or opening late today sort of closed. It had shut up shop. Forever. I had so been looking forward to being naughty and buying a cheeky lamington (it’s an Aussie sponge covered in chocolate and coconut, and this one is made with marshmallow inside of it, oh my yum!) with my coffee, and spending a little time writing (or trying to write as bubs was with me).

What was I going to do now? Plan B wasn’t forming in my mind. Simply I needed another café. But where? And there’s always the risk of trying a new café and things don’t always work out. The atmosphere isn’t quite right for me, or the coffee too milky. I was in a risk free mood, and yet, here I was having to do that. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to try something new or different to my routine or what I was used to.

Through the appointment all I could think of was where am I going to have my morning coffee where I can write? I wanted to go to a café where I could take a pram, and one where there was a bit of a rustic, organic vibe to help the creative flow. I wanted to soak up the atmosphere so the inspiration would stay with me for the rest of the day.

It took a lot of thinking, then I remembered a café down the road. Relief! And it was the perfect solution. I had a lovely coffee, room with the pram and a more than a few minutes to write. There were beautiful organic vibes for me to absorb. The staff super polite and friendly. Thank goodness! And I’ve got another café to add to my list to go and visit.

All wasn’t lost.

It’s obvious to think there’s not really any risk here, and that it’s simple just think of another café to go to. In a way it was. But it did take a bit of thought for me to work through this. It reminded me of the process of problem solving. The chance to think on my feet. And to be flexible with the pre-made plans of the day. I also got to practice it for something simple, so when the big problems come along I’ll be ready. I tell you things seem not to go to plan at all very often as a writer, so you’d think I’d be used to this!

There’s a lot more than just plan B and having to go to a different café. For me, it’s also about being willing to try something different, to change the plans – on the fly. And to remember that this can actually help the inspiration and lead to some creative progress.

I might just need to try a new café more regularly!