Monday, 29 February 2016

LIFE is too Short not to ENJOY the SWEET THINGS…

In my book, Legend of the Timekeepers—the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series—my 14-year-old protagonist Lilith is faced with the reality that Atlantis is on the brink of being destroyed, and her family must evacuate their home immediately.

While many of us look back on our lives and think—where the heck did the time go?—it doesn’t take a catastrophe like Lilith and her father had to endure to make us realize that life is indeed short, and we’d better be grateful for what we have in the present. During the month of March, the sap begins to run up here in the northern hemisphere, and I can't think of a better way to ring in Spring than with a mouth-watering treat from nature. The following recipe will make you appreciate the sweet things in your life, and is great to prepare on those cherished afternoons of baking with a loved one.

Maple Madness Butter Tarts

Tart Shells

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. (5 mL) salt
¾ cup (175 mL) all-vegetable shortening, well chilled (we use CRISCO® Golden All-Vegetable Shortening)
4-8 tbsp. (60-120 mL) ice cold water

BLEND flour and salt in medium mixing bowl. Cut ½-inch (1.5 cm) cubes of chilled shortening into flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized pieces remaining.

SPRINKLE 4 tbsp. (60 mL) of the ice cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top; press chunks down to bottom of bowl with fork. Add more water by the tablespoon, mixing until dough holds together.

DIVIDE dough into two balls. Flatten balls into ½-inch (1.5 cm) thick disks, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

PLACE ball of dough on lightly floured work surface. With floured rolling pin, roll out thinly from center outward. Cut out 6 rounds with 4” (10 cm) cutter. Repeat with second ball of dough. Fit rounds into 12 medium-sized muffin cups.


½ cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup
¼ cup (60 mL) corn syrup
¼ cup (60 mL) all-vegetable shortening
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¾ cup of raisin or pecans (if desired)

PREHEAT oven to 425°F (220°C)

COMBINE all filling ingredients except raisins (or pecans); mix well.

EVENLY divide raisins (or pecans) into pastry shells.

FILL cups ⅔ full with syrup mixture.

BAKE on bottom shelf for 12 to 15 minutes or just until set. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool completely before removing from the pan.

MAKES 12 Maple Madness butter tarts.

Now, while you’re waiting for your butter tarts to cool, why not partake in an afternoon of cozying up on the couch with a good book? Ready for a trip to Atlantis?

There is no moving forward without first going back. Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

To read an excerpt from Legend of the Timekeepers or purchase a copy, please click a vendor's name Mirror World Publishing - Amazon US - Amazon CA

If you haven’t already read Sharon Ledwith's novel, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, here’s the blurb…

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis. 

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

To read more of the Arch of Atlantis or purchase a copy, please click a vendor's name Mirror World Publishing - Amazon US - Amazon CA

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Engineering Exciting Excerpts…

OMG, what's gonna happen next?
The task of engineering exciting excerpts is actually easy for a writer. You've already written it.  Now you just have to find it. An excerpt is typically 500 words, and for a short story about 200-250 words. The advice I have is general—pick an excerpt from the first third of your book. Told you it was easy! Although very rarely does that mean that you need to copy and paste the first five hundred words of your story and call it a day. For a short story? Yes—that's exactly what you do. But not a novel.

Why, you ask?  Well, that's inherent in the differences between long and short fiction. A successful short story begins with a strong hook. In order to sell a short story, you have to pull the reader in from the very first sentence. With a novel, the creation of the story comes along with a more deliberate pace. With a novel, you want to select a scene that sets up the story and above all makes the reader want to read MORE.

In other words—a cliff hanger.

Say you're writing a young adult romance novel. A good choice for any YA romance novel excerpt is a scene between the heroine and the hero. A first meeting, perhaps. A confrontation. The moment when the heroine first realizes that there's something different about this guy.
Say you're writing a middle grade fantasy novel. Pick a scene that jump starts the action. A fight. The moment when the hero realizes that he or she has a purpose to fulfill. The moment when everything changes.

Once you've decided on a scene, the real skill comes into play. You need to pick the moment of that scene where the reader absolutely has to know what happens next. And if the reader wants to know, what does he or she have to do? Buy the book. Which is, of course, the point.

So that's the kind of scene you want to choose for your excerpt.  And here's another little hint, too—if you DON'T have a moment like this in your book, then you have some work to do. Every good story should have a moment like this—several in fact. That's how you want to end a chapter, a POV section. That's a real cliffhanger—the excerpt, the paragraph, the SENTENCE that forces the reader to turn the page. The moment that the reader thinks, "Well, one more chapter won't hurt. I'll just read a little while longer." That moment is the holy grail for every story in existence. This is how writers should approach every excerpt they choose.

And one last thing—wait to pick your excerpt until an editor has gone through it with you and cleaned it up. The absolute worst thing that can happen here is for spelling and grammar errors to make it through to publication. Your excerpt, like your blurb is part of your sales strategy. You can't sell a car if the engine doesn't work, right?  Well, technique—grammar, spelling, structure—is the writer's engine.  It doesn't matter how great your story is, it's not going to run unless those techniques are there and sharp.

If you’re an author, how do you go about choosing excerpts? If you’re a reader, what makes you purchase a book based on its excerpt? Would love to hear your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my post!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Family Day Feast: Savory Sausage Soup…

Families. They challenge us. They shape us. They define us. Here in Ontario, Canada, we’re celebrating Family Day today. Although not a statutory holiday, Family Day was originally created to give people a day off to spend with their families because of the long period of time between New Year’s Day and Good Friday. Common Family Day activities include skating, playing hockey, snowboarding/skiing, snow shoeing, and going to various winter festivals. So I figured, after a day spent doing fun things with your family, there’s nothing better than coming home to a big crock pot of homemade savory sausage soup!

What you Need:

1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small onions, chopped
2 (16 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1¼ cups dry red wine
5 cups beef broth
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 zucchini, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 (16 ounce) package spinach fettuccine pasta (or plain, whatever your heart desires)
Salt and pepper to taste

What you Do:

IN a large pot, cook sausage over medium heat until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Drain fat from pan, reserving 3 tablespoons. If desired, instead of ground sausage, cut sausages in thin slices.

COOK garlic and onion in reserved fat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, wine, broth, basil, and oregano. Transfer to a slow cooker, and stir in sausage, zucchini, bell pepper, and parsley.

COVER, and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours.

BRING pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Break pasta into smaller pieces, then cook in boiling water until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain water, and add pasta to slow cooker. Simmer for a few minutes, and season with salt and pepper before serving.

SERVE topped with grated parmesan.

This is a fantastic soup to serve to your crew, and freezes well. Salad, hard rolls, and wine (red or white) complete this meal! You can make it 24 hours ahead of time without the noodles and wait to add noodles until soup is reheated for serving. Whatever you decide to do this Family Day (or any other holiday), enjoy your time with your loved ones, and cherish the memories you create! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Writers Coping with Stress…

No one in life gets a free pass on stress. It’s like our shadow, following us around, sometimes huge, sometimes small, and thankfully sometimes not there at all. We writers face stress all the time in the form of looming deadlines, writer’s block, research, misbehaving characters, editing and revising, finding time to write, not enough money flowing to the author, and so on. We get so caught up in life (which is truly the messy bits), that we forget to take a breath, and let go.

Stress is our body’s alarm system telling us that there are new changes and demands in our environment. Stress is also a natural response when there are big changes in our lives. Unfortunately, stress can drain our body and mind, making it difficult to focus on other things – like finishing writing that freaking book! In the long run, all we can do is our best.

So how might you do your best?

Increase your activity – especially in pleasurable activities and tackling your list of tasks and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out of your seat to stretch, or taking a walk that will release the cork.

Goalsetting – Break long-term goals down into short-term and attainable goals. I know life can get (and does get) in the way of your writing goals. Moving. Publisher closes. Death in family. Parent in hospital. It’s taken me almost two years to complete the next installment of my time travel series. Go with the flow or you’ll be swept away. You need goals to keep you from going under. Plus, they will keep you sane while the hurricane is blowing you around in different directions. Remember: This too shall pass.

Mental Imagery – Imagine yourself successfully coping with a situation, and do a mental rehearsal by envisioning yourself doing the task successfully. This works great for athletes, so give it a try!

Being assertive – Stick up for yourself while being respectful of others. Block off time for you to write or your goals will never be reached. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. This sets up your boundaries for others to respect.

Deep breathing 101 – Relaxed breathing is slower and deeper than normal breathing, so when things get crazy, take a mental step back and try this:

·         Close your eyes, sit comfortably, scan your body for tension
·         Breathe from your belly, not chest
·         Your stomach should move out as you breath in, and out as you breath out
·         Breath out any anxiety, tension, or pain
·         Count from 1 to 8 slowly as you breath:
·         One – breathe in
·         Two – breathe out
·         Three – breathe in
·         Four – breathe out
·         Five – breathe in
·         Six – breathe out
·         Seven – breath in
·         Eight – breath out

Feel better? Works for me always! I even do this breathing exercise in the car. So in the future, if life gets too messy and those words aren’t making it to the page, then remember to take a deep breath and relax, and know you’re going to do your best to get you through this stressful time in your life.

How do you cope with stress as a writer? What are some of the strategies you use to defuse stress? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Celebrating Groundhog Day, Candlemas, and my Goodreads Giveaways…

What does Groundhog Day and Candlemas (a.k.a. Imbolc) have in common? Besides being celebrated on February 2nd, it’s also my birthday! And what better way to kick off the month of February than to have a Goodreads Giveaway for both my books, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and the prequel to my young adult time travel series, Legend of the Timekeepers. It’s just one way I can thank my readers yearly, as well as give back to the reading community of Goodreads. Thank you, readers, I wouldn’t be doing what I love without you!

So here’s a little information about Candlemas/Imbolc and Groundhog Day, straight from the pages of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft (Second Edition):

Imbolc (pronounced IM-bolk), which is often called Candlemas, is the time when Wiccans celebrate the renewing fertility of the Earth. The Goddess is seen as recovering from childbirth, and the God is a small child. This is also the time of ‘fire in the belly.’ There is the feeling that spring is coming, but a certain restlessness or cabin fever can set in. This can also be the bleakest time of the year when we start to fear that spring will never arrive. It’s no coincidence that many people celebrate Groundhog Day on this date. What is Groundhog Day but a way to let Nature reassure us that spring really will come? Sometimes, even though it is still cold, you can see early buds on trees on this date. This is another way that Nature reminds us to hang on; life is getting ready to burst forth.

Imbolc, a Greater Sabbat, is a time to celebrate with seeds, or with a newly germinating idea. Some covens like to initiate new members at this time of year. Imbolc is a holiday of purification and of the renewed fertility of the Earth. It’s a great time for some early spring cleaning, too. Get rid of the things you don’t need. Get ready for the spring season to come.

Whatever day you choose to celebrate, here’s hoping for a short winter and early spring, so this Groundhog gal can shed her winter jacket for some lighter clothes! And if the groundhog energy moves you, please enter my Goodreads Giveaways below for a chance to win one of my autographed time travel tales. Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Legend of the Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith

Legend of the Timekeepers

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis by Sharon Ledwith

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway