Monday, May 23, 2016

Chicken Italiano

My niece and her fiancé visited today. They'll be getting married soon. My southern sister gave them a cookbook as a shower gift. My niece said her fiancé has a lot of cookbooks. She usually pulls recipes off the internet--and I admitted I do as well sometimes, but there's nothing like an old-fashioned cookbook. I've got a nice collection and I dragged out some of my favorites. My new nephew-in-law was appreciative and took snapshots with his cellphone of several recipes I pointed out that everyone in the family loves.

One of my favorite cookbooks is The Texas Experience. Hubby brought it home from one of his business trips many, many years ago. (It's a 1983 edition.) 

After my niece and her fiancé left I glanced at one recipe I hadn't tried, Chicken Italiano. It was simple--my favorite kind of recipe! I doubled the sauce as I usually do because I love saucy recipes and I used only chicken breasts instead of cutting up a chicken.

Hubby really enjoyed it. I did, too. 

Give it a try! 

Chicken Italiano

1 (16 ounce) bottle of Kraft's Creamy Italian Dressing
2 packages onion soup mix
2 (4 ounce) cans of mushrooms, drained
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut into chunks

Combine the Creamy Italian Dressing, onion soup mix, mushrooms, bay leaf and oregano. Pour over chicken. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. 


Friday, May 20, 2016

Checklist for Heroes

Most of us have an certain mindset of what a hero should be. On the left is my hero, Wildon, from PRINCE OF THE MIST. He might not be your idea of a hero, but there are certain qualities every hero must have. Click on the blog post link below. You've got to see this one. It should make you laugh. :^)

Go to:

Thinking about heroes that I've recently read....


Friday, May 13, 2016

My Books Are At the Library

If you like reading free paper editions, you should get a library card and visit the local library. It's a great place to discover authors! If your library doesn't have the books you wish to read, ask the librarian. Libraries also carry ebooks, too.

Libraries are cultural centers as well featuring movies, live entertainment, informative talks, and offering many other benefits for their communities. Visit your local library today.

Friday, May 06, 2016

The Process--or Me and Matisse

When I was in college I took an oil painting course. Oils were nothing new to me. In her younger years, my mother worked in oils. I grew up messing around with Ma's paints when she wasn't looking. I loved squishing the oils around and mixing colors. I love the smell of the stuff, which is probably not a good thing but the truth is it smelled like home. I could draw quite well--freehand. I was quite sure I would get an A in the oil painting class, but that was until I met the professor.

My oil painting professor had a fondness for Matisse. Yes, Matisse created some wonderful paintings, but I am a realist at heart. I want scenes on my canvas to have a close approximation to what things look like to my eyes. To do that, I need small brushes and I work very tight--section by section. I love details--grass, hair, and rocks. That makes me happy.

My professor insisted all his students own large brushes. I knew I had no need for a large brush and it was terribly expensive, but I had to buy it anyhow. The professor wanted all his students to work on all areas of the canvas during the process. He did not want me to work in one corner at a time.

He wanted my painting to look like a Matisse. I wanted my painting to look like a Penelope Marzec. We had some basic ideological differences. I did not get an A. :^(

What has this got to do with writing? Everything. I've read plenty of books about writing. I've sat through innumerable writing workshops. I've listened to scores of writers explain their process and I've learned that everyone has a different process. Beyond the great divide of plotters and pantsters, there are various ways to get to The End.

There isn't a right way or a wrong way. There's only what works--for you. It probably won't work for someone else, but that's okay.

Despite that one professor, I never gave up painting. I've gotten some fabulous reviews for my books and some awards, but there have been some reviewers who reminded me of that oil painting professor. Obviously, I cannot make everyone happy. Still, I have not given up writing.

The fun is in the creating. The fun is in the process.

The only real rule is to do it. Put your butt in the chair and write. Now.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Talking Love With Paula Mowery

My guest blogger today is Paula Mowery! Read her own true story below.

We’re told in Scripture that God is love. He definitely proved His kind of love is an unconditional and undeserved type through sending His Son to die for our sins.

Some love isn’t hard to conjure. God just helps us to enhance it. For example, I am still head-over-heels in love with my husband of twenty-six years. But through God’s Word and leading, I’ve learned to love my husband more like God planned for a wife to love her husband.

When my little girl was born, I was in love, even though it took a lot to get her here. But God has shown me how to love my daughter through example and discipline.

I struggled with infertility issues before finally conceiving my only daughter. My bitterness heightened each time I would hear about a young woman or girl who conceived out of wedlock and by accident. I cried out to God that this wasn’t fair. I wanted a baby and would care for that child and love that child, giving her a mother and a father.

Some years later I was approached by the director of our church association’s Pregnancy Crisis Center to become their devotional leader. I struggled with my answer for a bit but knew God was pushing me to do this.

As I shared about the love of God and then listened to these girls tell their stories, I had to repent of my former bitterness. God taught me to love and care for these girls and their babies. They each had a story with hopes and dreams of their own.

Everyone deserves to know about the unconditional love God offers. This is what I hope readers see in the story, The Crux of Honor.

Since God is love, when we allow Him to teach us His kind of love, we can’t help but be richer and enrich others.

Check out Paula’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…

The Crux of Honor
“Love does not dishonor…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Chelsea Wilson’s life is a constant reminder of what living dishonorably looks like. At every turn she continues to prove her mother’s shunning must be deserved. 

Dr. Kevin Alley returns to the old home place to establish his medical practice. After running into Chelsea, he knows his love for her is still strong. 
Chelsea is ousted from her small rented room when her mother bursts in, proclaiming Chelsea’s pregnancy. 

Kevin takes Chelsea in, giving her space to live on the upper level of his house. 

When Chelsea’s baby displays life-threatening symptoms, Chelsea must face her mother. Secrets unfold about Chelsea’s parents. Can Chelsea and Kevin uncover the secrets linked to Amish heritage in time to save the baby? Can the two find love together despite their history?

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Books I Never Published

There are some things I just cannot bear to throw out. I have a stack of old, unpublished manuscripts. They take up room, but I don't have digital files for them because I typed out the stories on a manual typewriter. Every once in a while I take this small mountain of words out to wipe away the dust and groan, but I can't bear to part with them. They made me the author I am today.

The first book I finished was Irons in the Fire. However, it wound up being the second book I had published. The manuscript went through innumerable changes and edits. It made the rounds going from publishing houses to a variety of agents. Eventually, I finally received a contract for it. Meanwhile, I wrote other books. One was set in Florence, Italy, because I spent a summer there and I loved the place. One was set in Mexico and another here in NJ. After I finished writing the books and after a few more critiques, I realized each had problems--big problems. There were convoluted plots and too many characters. Fixing the books would take a lot of work and truthfully, I didn't even know where to start.

Then I came up with the idea for Sea Of Hope and some sort of writing magic happened. I got a contract for it. Some time later, I realized that writing those other books helped me to learn how to put a book together.

How many books have you written that are hiding under the bed, or on a shelf collecting dust? Can they be fixed or are there just too many problems in them?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The U.S. Lifesaving Service

The photo above is one I took of the old Sandy Hook, New Jersey, lifesaving station. I pasted in the unofficial motto of the U.S. Lifesaving Service. The building was inundated with water during Hurricane Sandy and has not been restored--yet. I hope it will be. Before it was ruined by the hurricane, it was used as a museum. I visited it many times and listened to historians explain how the surfmen used specific apparatus to save the people on the ships caught in the shoals during storms.

There is another lifesaving station nearby in Monmouth Beach, which is now used as a community cultural center.

The U.S. Lifesaving Service eventually became the U.S. Coast Guard. You can read more about the history at

My book, OUTSIDE BLESSINGS, includes the story of a young surfman and his experience in the lifesaving service. So if you enjoy reading about brave men, wicked winter storms, and lots of churning water check into OUTSIDE BLESSINGS at