Sunday, April 10, 2016
The month May was named for the Greek goddess Maia, known for her connection to the Roman goddess of fertility, Bona Dea. Unless you listen to the Roman poet Ovid, who claims the month of May is named for the maiores (Latin for 'elders'). And then there's Mayovka, a celebration born in the late Russian empire, where countryside picnics celebrated the merry first days of the month.
The emerald is May's birthstone--symbolic of love and success. The aromatic Lily of the Valley plant has become May's official flower, the harbinger of 'true spring.' May's zodiac signs are Taurus (through the 20th) and Gemini (May 21st and onward).
One thing you can rely on—all year long!—are exciting, poignant storylines presented by Harlequin authors. In May, I'll close out my “Those Marshall Boys” series with The Firefighter’s Refrain, featuring a Colorado cowboy turned firefighter who, after an on-the-job injury, puts his skills to use at the Nashville fire academy, teaching rookies what it takes to keep citizens—and themselves—safe.
But wait, you say, why did this rugged cowpoke trade life on the family’s Double M Ranch for the hustle-bustle of Music City, USA? Well, it just so happens Sam Marshall is a talented songwriter whose guitar skills are rivaled only by his smooth baritone… Things move along according to his plan…until he literally knocks the lovely owner of The Right Note Café off her feet.
Once he dusts her off and sets her back on her feet, Finn Leary tries hard not to get lost in Sam’s apologetic blue eyes. But he’s a musician, she reminds herself, and she hasn’t met one yet—wanna-be-stars parents included—that can be trusted.
Does she have the willpower to keep Sam at arm’s length? And does he have what it takes to choose between a lifelong dream and the woman who could complete his life?
Just for fun, here's a sneak peek into the moment when Sam and Finn first meet…
The movements of a short-haired brunette drew Sam’s attention to the kitchen.
“Didn’t your mama teach you it’s rude to stare?”
“My luck,” he told his pal, “she’ll turn around and give me an eyeful of hairy moles and missing teeth.”
Mark snickered, then pointed at Sam’s leg, stretched out into the aisle. “There are better ways to find out than to trip her.”
Sam, too preoccupied with hopes that the waitress would turn around, barely heard the warning.
“So it’s still bugging you, is it?”
“Now and then.” Sam shrugged. “Not much.”
“How long since the last surgery?”
Sam did the math in his head. The ceiling cave-in happened in 2009, and he’d had two operations since. “Going on three years.”
Mark leaned back. “Are you gonna talk to somebody about it, or keep playing the brave, silent hero?”“I’m talking about it now.” He leaned back, too. “Unfortunately.”
The waiter arrived with Sam’s iced tea, and taking a pencil from behind his ear, asked, “You guys ready to order?”
Mark hadn’t even glanced at his menu. “Turkey burger and sweet potato fries, house salad with lite Italian on the side.”
“Holy health food, Batman,” the kid said, “what’s got into you?”
“That crack is coming out of your tip, wise guy.”
Sam read the boy’s nametag. “Go ahead and laugh, Ted. I’ll get the tip. It’s worth every dollar to see this guy squirm.” He tapped his menu. “I’ll have a BLT, a side of curly fries, and coleslaw.” And when Ted walked away, he leaned forward and whispered “So what’s her name?”
Mark’s eyebrows rose. “Whose name?”
“The woman who put you on a diet.”
Waving the comment away, Mark said, “Can’t a guy cut back a little without his friends jumping to crazy conclusions?”
“So I take it ‘be my best man’ isn’t the reason I’m here.”
“Man. You’re like a puppy with a bone.” Shaking a packet of sugar into his already-sweet tea, he said, “All right, Mr. Impatience, here’s the deal: Duke Miller is taking Eli on the road.”
“No kiddin’? Well, good for Eli. It’s about time that brother of yours caught a break.”
After leukemia took his little girl, Eli’s heartbroken wife committed suicide, and he found comfort at the bottom of a bottle. Hard to tell how long he might have stayed there if Mark hadn’t made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “Shape up and kick the addiction, and I’ll make you full partner at The Meetinghouse.”
“He leaves in two weeks. Just enough time to get his affairs in order.”
“Will Torry replace him as manager?”
“I’ll ask him, but he won’t say yes. He’s on the road more than he’s here in Nashville.”
Sam pictured Torry Martin, the big red-haired comic whose stand-up and movie career had taken off in the past year. “But Eli’s still your partner, right?”
Mark shrugged. “Therein lies the rub, Sherlock.”
“Wish I had a dollar for every time that line was botched.”
Mark looked up. “Huh?"
“For starters, it’s Shakespeare, not Sherlock Holmes…Hamlet, to be specific.”
“Gimme a break,” Mark kidded. “You know as much about the bard as I do. Which is zip.”
“Sez you.” Sam launched into the story of how, back in high school, the object his affections was signed up to play Gertrude in the annual winter pageant.
“Claudia’s family owned the ranch just north of the Double M, see, and I figured she and I might have a chance to get closer if I signed up, too, and offered to drive her to and from rehearsals.”
“Closer, huh?” Mark wiggled his eyebrows.
Sam ignored the disruption. “Claudia loved attention. Positive. Negative. Didn’t matter, long as people were looking at her or talking about her. She was a cheerleader. Recited the Pledge during morning announcements. Faked migraines and fainting spells in the halls, so guys would have to pick her up and carry her to the nurse’s office.”
“Figures you’d develop a crush on a girl like that.”
“I was young and dumb. What can I say? Anyway, it didn’t surprise anyone when she snagged the female lead. I read for the part of Horatio, thinking, fewer lines to memorize than Hamlet. But good old Mrs. Smith had other ideas.”
Sam nodded. “Yes way. You should’ve heard my cousins, mocking every line as I prepped for that part.”
“Well, at least you got the girl.”
Sam took a deep breath, let it out slowly.
“No way,” Mark repeated.
“Yup. I took all that razzing for nothing, since Claudia only had eyes for Bart Isaacs.”
“Captain of the football team?”
“Nah. His dad was a big shot in Denver politics.”
“Ah. Name-dropper, was she?” Mark took a swig of his tea. “But I didn’t just fall off the proverbial turnip truck, my firefighter friend. No way you’ll convince me you played Hamlet!”
Sam sat ramrod straight, and began:
“‘To sleep, perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub. For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give—’”
A breathy oomph, the shattering of plates, and the clatter of silverware hitting the tiles interrupted his monologue.
There on the floor beside him, amid broken dishes, tomato slices, and a jumble of golden fries, sat the most gorgeous woman Sam had ever seen. Dark, long-lashed eyes flashing, she glared up at him.
“Did it ever occur to you that sticking your leg out into the aisle might trip someone who can’t see over a serving tray?”
Now for our traditional "The Lough Down" recipe, an easy, healthy, tasty treat for the whole family:
Spring Veggies and Spinach Dip
For the spinach dip…
One 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
One cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
3 spring onions, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 clove grated garlic
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt & pepper
For the veggies…
2 bunches asparagus
2 bunches kale
6 carrots, cut into strips
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 bunch spring onion
1 bunch radishes, each cut in half
1 head red cabbage, hollowed-out (to hold the dip)
For the spinach dip…
In a medium bowl, mix spinach, sour cream, mayo, green onions, carrots, garlic, lemon juice, half of the salt and pepper. Cove and chill for 2 hours.
For the veggies…
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In separate pot or large bowl, prepare an ice water bath. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water, until bright green but still crisp. Transfer to the ice water bath to stop cooking process. Drain, dry with paper towels, and set aside.
Line a pretty basket with a paper doily and cover with kale. Then, arrange the remaining veggies on top of it, leaving space in the center for the dip.
Spoon the dip into the hollowed-out cabbage and place in the center of the basket, and voila! (Recipe and photo from Ree Drummund.)
Stay tuned for the next installment of The Lough Down, coming soon!
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
Travis W. Inman grew up in the ranch country of West Texas and worked as a cowboy for his first 20 years. Travis graduated from seminary in Dallas, Texas, and later served a year in the mission field in Mexico and South America. He returned home and married Sarah, his wife and sweetheart of more than 20 years. They have two teenagers whom they home school.
Over the years, Travis has applied his skills to a variety of fields, ranging from marketing and real estate to criminal justice and law enforcement. Travis served in the United States Army where he overcame a devastating injury and was able to walk again despite the odds.
Writing is a life-long passion for Travis. His short stories and poems have been selected for publication in a variety of newspapers and on Internet sites. Travis’ writing includes children’s literature, action adventure, short stories, one act plays, love stories, westerns, sci-fi, thrillers, and drama.
Travis and Sarah Inman currently reside in Idaho.
And now, without further ado, here's Travis!
ü How old were you when you learned to read?
o First grade…so that would be about 6? I was as ordinary as ordinary could be. I learned how to birth calves before I learned how to read! One of those is a skill set that will help you get a paying job. One of them isn’t.
ü Since then, how many books would you guess you’ve read…and which one stands out from all others?
o Hundreds. I honestly have no better guess. And my absolute favorite was Chippy Chipmunk’s Vacation by Adda Mai Sharp. This is the first real book I read in the first grade, and it started my journey. Your first love is always a fond memory, or so they say.
ü What’s your favorite form of entertainment? (Sorry, writing doesn’t count.)
o Well, cage fighting, of course. But, since they don’t let Nicholas come out to play anymore, I’m going with working in the yard, planting, landscaping, etc… I absolutely love planting trees. And with all the deer in my yard, I get to plant them over again every year.
ü What do you like best about the place you call home (city, state, house)?
o I grew up on the Wildhorse Ranch near Colorado City, Texas. Our nearest neighbor was several miles away, and the ranch extended as far as your eyes could see. I enjoy isolation and we had enough isolation to fill a dump truck (if that’s possible). We could see the stars at night, and we would sit and stare into the heavens as often as the weather permitted. And that’s how we came to see our first UFO! But, I’m off topic. Anyway, that ranch house was home. It was where we were comfortable and felt at peace, and it was a magnificent place to grow up. Years later when my folks moved to town, I mourned the loss of that house as if a dear friend died. Gee, ain’t I fun to chat with?
ü If you don’t write full time, how much does your job/career impact your writing? (If you do write full time, which past job/career had the biggest influence on your work?)
o Well, I have a broad range of experience when it comes to the many ways I brought home the bacon. The first real “paying” job was collecting shopping carts in a grocery store. I have also been a taco maker, a hammer swinger, a ditch digger, a real estate salesman, a marketing rep for my very own firm, and the list goes on. But, the jobs I’ve held that provided the most depth to my experience where my cowboying days, the time in the Army and the infantry, and the time I spent on the Southern border as a Border Patrol Agent. Those three jobs granted me a glimpse at how the world works, and how it should work, and how it doesn’t work. The last job I’ll note is being a police chaplain, which is something I still do to this day.
ü Typically, interviewers often ask, “If you could have dinner with any person from history, who would it be, and why?” But I’ve never been ‘typical,’ so let’s change that up a little: If you could take me on a tour of your favorite place, where would we go and what would we do?
o I’m not sure there are any roads that would get us there, so we’d probably have to saddle up and ride to a rock that stands out in the middle of nowhere in West Texas. It doesn’t have a name, but it does have a history. Early pioneers, cowboys, and soldiers carved their names on that rock which is near a watering hole. I found that rock while exploring, and I’m not sure that more than a dozen or so people know of its existence. What would we do? We would go out there with a hammer and chisel, and scrape my name off of the rock. I deeply regret scratching my name on the rock, knowing that I probably ruined its historical value. But, man, I love that place and I can only imagine what events happened at that rock throughout history.
ü What do you like best/least about the Facebook group, Loree Lough and Friends: A Nice Place to Hide?
o Well, the members. Those are some of the most incredible people in all of social media, and they are all collected into one location. And I can’t offer complaints about it.
ü If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be, and why?
o I would significantly improve my health. I have a substantial heart issue that has changed the course of my life in many ways. If I could live a life without blood thinners, I would explore more, and do more adventuring. Perhaps knowing my limitations has kept me alive? Perhaps. I used to be quite the risk taker…and I have many stories that prove my willingness to throw caution to the wind. But, I do miss that, and I long for those days of adventuring.
ü What, in your opinion, is the scariest animal in the animal kingdom, and why?
o Spiders. I hate spiders. I have one approach to them. BLOW TORCH! When I was a kid, I was crawling around under the house and got bit by spiders, and huge blisters formed on my skin, which had to be lanced and drained. Frequently. Very bad memories of spiders.
ü If you have a go-to Bible verse, which is it, and why?
o “He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.” Col 1:17 I love knowing that God has it all under control, and is holding it all together.
ü Tell us how—and why!—you became an author.
o Like so many others, if I didn’t, I think I would have died. All those stories and ideas were building up inside of me, and I had to release them into the wild. So, it all began in junior high English. Our teacher gave us a writing assignment to write anything we wanted. I wrote a fictional story of a soldier on Hill 503 in Korea. My teacher wrote, “Good job! Great imagination!” on my paper—and the bug bit me. It started with short stories. I LOVE short stories. I even won a few writing contests back in the 80s with a few of them. But, my career began when I had heart surgery back in 2006. I was sitting at home and had nothing to do because there was nothing I could do. So, I sat down and started typing out a story line that was gnawing at me. 45 days later, When Love Called (Book One of the Glenfield Series) emerged. So, in a way, I became an author because of my strongest weakness.
ü What is your newest release?
o Shadows, which is a book published by Fred St Laurent and Elk Lake Publishing. Shadows is Christian speculative fiction, and it examines one man, Justin “Flip” Grey, who has to make a decision if he will accept or reject the advances of a tempting and mysterious woman he meets while on a business trip. Through the miracle of writing, I allow him to make both decisions, and create a split-screen type of story where I project the probable outcome of his decisions. In one reality he stays true to his wife, and I examine how God blesses his life. In the other reality, the one where he sinfully pursues the tempting woman, I analyze how his betrayal cascades down to his wife and kids, and alters the course of their lives. The story is edgy and gripping, and both inspiring and terrifying. All at the same time!
ü Can you share a little about your WIP (work in progress)?
o I’m currently mapping out a young adult science fiction series that involves time travel, alternate realities, civil war, adventures in an abandoned mine, secrets behind the theme park on the moon, treasure hunts in the past, and good old fashioned youthful fun. I pitched the idea to my publishers, and they gave me the nod. I’m hip-deep in researching things such as mining the moon, near space travel, string theory, and a place called Skin Walker Canyon. My kids are very involved with this project. Caitie, my only teen daughter, is focused on designing uniforms and fashion for a world that doesn’t yet exist. Seth, my only teen son, is busy building and mapping out the theme park on the moon. It’s been a blast so far! And a new horizon for me, so to speak.
o Having said all of that, I will probably release the second book of the Glenfield Series, which is already written, just delayed due to some technical difficulties.
ü When people ask if you’ll ever retire from writing, what’s your standard response?
o To not be driven mad by getting words on paper? Bring it on! I’m lazy enough not to work if I don’t have to! But, that within itself will cause a build up of words, which have to be released into the wild, which will cause madness if they aren’t written. I’m not sure it’s possible.
ü What can readers expect next in the Travis W. Inman lineup?
o I have a few one-act plays that are scheduled to be in production in Spring 2016, under the skillful direction of Jesus Quintero and the American Laboratory Theater. This is a fun project for me. I love writing for theater. It’s almost easier than writing books. Almost. But, I’m excited to see my plays actually brought to life with real actors on a real stage.
ü Tell us a little about the family you grew up with.
o I am a fourth generation Texan, who grew up in a traditional ranch setting. My extended family homesteaded a huge ranch in Scurry County, which is in West Texas. I grew up the middle child of three, under parents who were kind, caring, God fearing, Jesus loving, strong, and determined. My father is the kind of man who would bring home an orphaned calf for us to bottle-feed, but would single handedly face down poachers or rustlers. My mother is a fantastic cook, who knew how to feed the cowboys with brisket, beans, sour dough rolls, and blackberry cobbler. She is also a registered nurse. My older sister was a hardheaded teen. We used to sit around the record player in her room and listen to music. My younger brother was and is a hard worker who knew the value of an honest day’s work. He and I spent many hours sword fighting in the back yard and down along the creek, where we would spend even more time fighting Indians and Yankees, and sweeping in the very last minute to help Davy Crockett defend the Alamo. I had a GREAT childhood!
ü How did your background form the ‘character’ you are today?
o I learned the value of life and the value of struggling at an early age. Getting up on a snowy night to help my dad pull a calf was a common thing. You learn to respect life, doing things like that. I learned the value of strength and valor while serving in the Army and the Border Patrol. Some things are worth dying for, and America is one of them. But, I’m probably not actually answering your question. I see that character is in quotes. I learned how to adventure because Louis Lamour and Zane Grey inspired me. I would saddle up on a Saturday morning and strike out across the pastures looking for anything that might pop up. I loved weathering storms. I loved hunting for arrowheads. I loved camping under the stars. I’m the “character“ I am today because I learned to adventure at a very young age. And mischievously, at that!
ü Share a little about your wife and kids…
o My wife, Sarah, is the love of my life. She is an RN who gave up her career to become a stay at home mother and homeschooler. She is my best friend, and I’m so thankful she didn’t jettison me when she had the chance. Caitlin is our only daughter, who is now 17. She was born 12 weeks premature, and learned how to struggle for life at a tender age. We are lucky she is still with us! Seth is our 13 year old, and he is our brainiac. He knows how to write computer code, and is a graphic designer, and is active with his YouTube channel posting video games he designs.
ü Define ‘fatherhood.’
o I’m always hesitant to offer advice for something I’ve not yet fully proven, but if I could sum up my approach to being a father, I’d say this: “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion, while relationship without rules leads to disaster.” The hardest aspect of being a father for me is allowing my children to fail. I’m a fixer. And watching them fail is very painful to me. And they have to do so before they can learn success. But, I’m always there with them, cheering them on, and pointing the way. They may not know it, but I’m always watching them from a distance, waiting and watching, just in case!
ü Define ‘husband.’
o I’ve been married for almost 23 years. I first married my sweetheart, and then my enemy, and finally, after many years of power struggles, my best friend. Realization came to me and I accepted that the vast majority of our troubles are because I failed to be the leader and the lover, and I selfishly expected her to be those things for me. Once I learned who I really was, and how that was affecting my wife, I made a significant course adjustment and learned how to lead and love sacrificially, and my best friend emerged! Fancy that! So, I would say this, “It’s not about who is right. It’s about what is right. And when you decide that together, there is harmony.”
ü Do those definitions ‘slant’ what you write, and they way you write it?
o I write from my worldview and my own experience. I’ve tried not writing what I know, and it doesn’t work very well for me. My characters will always reflect my journey. The dark characters will also reflect me in some way. My positive characters reflect who God has made me to be.
ü Which of your fictional characters is most like you?
o All of them reflect me. My friends often compare me to Caton Harvey from the Glenfield Series, saying that his sense of humor and approach to life are very similar to me. I would say that I most closely identify with Justin “Flip” Grey, who is both the hero and the goat in my newest release, Shadows. His story could be mine in that we struggle with the same issues.
ü Please share a favorite photo of yourself…
ü Please share the cover of your favorite Travis W. Inman novel…and tell us why it’s your favorite.
o I love the cover for When Love Called because the depth of the character gazing into the distance speaks so strongly of longing and desire, and perfectly encapsulates the character, Lily.
ü 25.) How can readers get in touch with you? (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)
o My personal Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/travis.w.inman
o My author Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/BlunderingDiscoverer?ref=hl
o My twitter account is: @traviswinman
o My website is: www.traviswinman.com
o My blog is: www.traviswinman.blogspot.com
o Gee, that ought to be enough, eh?
Thanks, Travis, for spending a portion of your day with us. It’s been a pleasure, getting to know you better!