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Friday, October 27, 2017

Paying it Forward and Paying it Back

The latest rage right now is charity through social media. And it works, virtually by mere networking. You can reach more people to announce your cause to generate contributions in the service of others.

There are many worthwhile charities out there; you’d be amiss to say there are not. They all do some good in many different ways.

But there are very few that move silently with their agendas, not calling much attention to themselves, literally blending with the tragic landscape around them whilst helping people in the greatest need.

I have one charity in mind, in particular. One that has touched more people than any other. In a disaster, they are generally the first ones to respond. Not only do they assist with much needed food, clean water and medicine to 128 countries worldwide in crisis, they serve the homeless, hungry and poor of every zip code across the United States since 1865.

One in every six Americans live in poverty, and they have made it their mission to assist in any way possible. No one is ever turned away.  They “exist to meet human need wherever, whenever and however …” they can.

They work to:

·         Help disaster survivors
·         Cure hunger
·         Overcome poverty
·         Provide shelter
·         Fight human trafficking
·         Stop domestic abuse
·         Help families
·         Teach kids
·         Empower the arts
·         Assist the unemployed
·         Combat addiction
·         Love the elderly
·         Serve veterans
·         Meet the greatest need
·         Brighten the holidays, and
·         SHARE GOD’S LOVE

This worthwhile charity is the Salvation Army.

Now, when we speak of the Salvation Army, sometimes we think of this:

Or this:

But, in reality, that’s only a fraction of what they do. You might be surprised to learn that they do this:

Or this:

Or even this:

              8-28-17 Salvation Army.jpg

Photo courtesy of Corsicana Daily Sun

As you can see from the photo above, it's still raining, the ground is still wet, and the Salvation Army are the only ones there.

A friend of mine has donated his birthday to generate contributions for a cause that many people hold very dear.  What this means is, that in lieu of receiving any gifts, he prefers that the money be contributed towards helping others.

It is a fine and selfless thing.  I’m lucky to know him at all.

And that’s why I’m challenging everyone to just contribute one dollar. Just a buck. It can’t even buy you a cup of coffee anymore. But if everyone would just donate one dollar, it will go a long way.

Just to show you how much I believe in the Salvation Army, if Mr. Russell meets his $500 goal through your generous donations, I will provide electronic copies of all of my books (ebooks) free on November 4th and 5th.

Please log in to Facebook and visit the link here to contribute.

Thank you so much, it really means a lot.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tess’ Slow-Cooked Guinness® Chili

It has been a while since I posted a recipe. But I recently got a request on Facebook when there was a discussion on whether to drain, drain and rinse or use the entire can of beans in chili. My teachings of childhood dictate that chili does not, should not and never should have beans in it.

Below is the never before disclosed, reverse-engineered (translated from a pinch of this and a grab of that method) Slow Cooked Chili to die for. I made this on Halloween one year, and it was gone in minutes.

1 lb. Pork Chorizo
1-2 lbs. Lean Stewing Beef, cut into 1 inch cubes (I generally use 2 lbs, cutting away the fat)
1 lb. Pork Sausage
1 lb. Grass-Fed Ground Beef (90/10 or better)
Couple tablespoons of Olive Oil (if desired)
½ Cup Flour
1 Tsp. Salt (or more to taste)
½ Tsp. Pepper
½ Cup Chili Powder
1 Tsp. Cumin
2 Tsp. Oregano
⅛ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper (If you want a little extra kick, optional)
1 large sweet onion, finely diced (I like Vidalia’s)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) Tomato puree or sauce
2 bottles (11 oz each) Guinness® Stout (more if needed)

Sour cream (for garnish)
Cheddar cheese (for garnish)
Chives (for garnish)

Fry the chorizo, then either drain the fat and wipe the skillet clean, or remove the chorizo, saving the grease, your choice (I use the chorizo rendering). Place the chorizo in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Place the rest of the meat in a bowl and coat with the flour. Heat the oil (or chorizo rendering) and brown the meat mixture. Drain and discard grease and place meat mixture in slow cooker. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne (if adventurous), diced onions and minced garlic. Mix until well blended in meat mixture. Add diced tomatoes, sauce (or puree) and brown sugar and stir.

Open the stout and test it to make sure it is of the highest quality (a mouthful ought to do it). Add the rest to the chili mixture.

If needed (or desired) open up the second bottle of stout. You’ll want to test this one as well, then, add a little more to the chili mixture until it is just covered with the stout. You’ll want to drink the rest, if any, (waste not, want not).

Cover the slow cooker and set on low. Go watch a movie. Or play some golf. Or maybe go read a book (read one of mine). Come back and give the pot a stir, then reorganize your closet. Or mow the lawn. Or play some cards. You’ll want to give the pot a stir every couple or few hours. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, then, serve in large bowls with some sour cream, cheddar cheese and chives. Maybe make some cornbread. This stuff is amazing with cornbread.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Review of Damned - Book 1 in the Blackwell Series, by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor

Title: Damned
Author: Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor
Genre: Adult Paranormal thriller
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Over a hundred years after the death of Magnus Blackwell, Altmover Manor sits abandoned.
Lexie Arden and her fiancé, Will Bennet, are determined to rescue the neglected Mount Desert Island landmark. They want to make Altmover Manor their home. But Magnus has other plans.

A spirit bound to his former residence, Magnus finds himself inexplicably drawn to the young woman. She has a supernatural gift; a gift Magnus wants to exploit.

As Lexie and Will settle in, secrets from Magnus’s past begin to surface. Compelled to learn all she can about the former owner, Lexie becomes immersed in a world of voodoo, curses, and the whereabouts of a mysterious dragon cane.

Magnus’s crimes won’t be so easily forgotten, and what Lexie unearths is going to change the future … for everyone.

Bound to a spirit with a sinister history, a woman with a dark power will battle to rule the realm of the dead…


Damned was absolutely outstanding! The story was rich in French Quarter culture and all its charm. It picks up years later from the prequel book, Blackwell (a must read). I was pulled into the story immediately, and it was difficult, turning to impossible to put down. Rated at 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads, but I would have given it a higher rating if I were able.

If you read nothing else this year, read Damned.

From New Orleans, Alexandrea Weis was raised in the motion picture industry and began writing stories at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen once again and began her first novel, To My Senses. Since that time she has published many novels. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning books, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable.

Alexandrea Weis is also a certified/permitted wildlife rehabber with the La. Wildlife and Fisheries. When she is not writing, she rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She is married; they live in New Orleans.

Author Links:
Lexie awoke with a start from a sound sleep. Gaping into the blackness of the strange bedroom, she discovered the storm had abated and she detected the creaks and groans of the old house. Then a crack from the floorboards made her flinch.

It came from Will’s side of the bed. She reached out to shake him, but he didn’t move.


She received a muffled grunt.

Another crack in the floor, but this time it happened right next to her side of the bed. An odor lingered in the air.

Is that coffee?

A column of light glittering to her left made Lexie’s mouth go dry. The oddity soon took on the shape of a man.

His strong frame, long arms, and tapered hands came into view. Good-looking, despite the cruel curl of his lips, his chiseled features, and engaging eyes, made her insides tingle. But when the cut of his old-fashioned red vest, long black coat, and white ascot tie took shape, Lexie understood this wasn’t some hazy fantasy. She didn’t fantasize about men from another century.

Lexie clutched her bedsheet as a fearful scream rose in her throat.

“Please, my dear, don’t bore me with your petty shrieks,” the figure said, his tone condescending.

Like a lightbulb getting enough electricity to reach its wattage, his image brightened, bringing out his details. Lexie scrutinized the buttons on his coat, the fine craftsmanship of his high black boots, and grasped the identity of her visitor.

Then a loud pop rang out, and he was gone. It happened so fast, Lexie questioned if it had happened at all.

“Welcome to Altmover Manor, Ms. Arden.” She recognized the voice of the apparition. “I hope you enjoy your stay.”

This time, Lexie did not hold back her scream, and as she opened her mouth …

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Sacred Knights, by Mary Ting

Title: The Sacred Knights
Author: Mary Ting
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

I have the honor and privilege of kicking off this blog tour for Mary Ting, author of the Secret Knights Series. I'm very excited for this opportunity!

The Chosen Knights think they’ve found all the clues, but the last one leads them to yet another destination. They astral travel back to the massive destruction of the Knights Templar and find a missing element. As they decipher the final puzzle piece, Cyrus continues to grow his army.

A powerful volcano in Hawaii erupts, and inhabitants are forced to stay and fight the demons or flee. Many people once believed to be dead rise to help defeat Cyrus, and Venators arrive from Crossroads to help. Time is running out, and the Chosen Knights must decide to finish what they started or leave the battle to find the Snow Queen, who some believe is the only one who can defeat Cyrus.
Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

Author Links:

Buy Links:
The Angel Knights: The Chosen Knights: The Blessed Knights: The Sacred Knights: