Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What I'm Reading this Month by Connie Vines #BWLAuthors, #BookReviews, #WritingTips, #AmazonReads #Mysteries, #Romance

My Apologies for being remiss in posting to my blog site.  I've been living in my home while undergoing construction (my home, not me).  Chaos is an understatement. I'm happy to report there is running water, a kitchen and a bathroom sink, and my stove and refrigerator are in back in the kitchen.

Consequently, I had time to read many ebooks and post reviews 🙋🕮📱. Yay!

September and October:  My star reviews appear on Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, BarnesandNoble, Smashwords, and other sites. I purchase from various vendors as well as the publishers' site when possible.  Reviews are posted with 4 - 5 stars ratings. I've linked back to each author's web or blog site for additional info./purchase links.

Reading at the moment: 

Death and Denial by Joan Havelange

Arranging a Dream by J.Q. Rose

Book of Practical Magic by Mikki Sadil

Read and Reviewed:

Ghost Point by Diane Scott Lewis

Dracula by Bram Stoker (which I read at least twice a year)

Fly Away Snow Goose by Juliet Waldron and John Wisdomkeeper

Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose (link above)

The  Curious Case of Simon Todd by Vanessa C Hawkins

Opposites in Love, The Gemini - Sagittarius Connection by Janet Lane-Walters

Possessing Prudence by Betty Ann Harris

Loving that Cowboy by Victoria Chatham

Trading Faces by Ann Herrick
4 out of 5 stars.

Death Without Honor by Diane Bator

Diamondback by Elizabeth Dearl

Codename Romance by Kat Attaila

The Heart Leads Home by Sydell Voeller

Happy Reading!

e-book each month!    from BWL Publishing

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Halloween Meals Fit for Pint-Sized Ghouls and Goblins! By Connie Vines #Halloween Food, #BWLAuthor, #Connievines, #VampiresandWerewolves #CoffeeTimeRomance

Cannibal's Hot Dogs

What is my favorite thing about Halloween?
Parties, Decorations, and my yearly Dinner Party!

It's  Spook-tacular Dinner Party for my (adult) children and grandchildren.

Each year there is a different theme.  I Igo old-school, emailing invitations with the menu.

My first dinner featured “Deadman over Worms” (meatloaf in person-form with a fork in the chest) served over wheat pasta with snips of parsley, bleeding cemetery cake, with a side of eyeballs, and witches-fingers.

The next year it was hot dogs carved to look like bloody fingers served in a bun, punch with ice-cube eyeballs, dip that looked like slime, veggies arranged to look like a skeleton, chocolates shaped like mice served over the cake with chopped and crushed candy to resemble graveyard dirt.

Of course, everyone dresses up, we play spooky music, and play games.  All these events are very tame and especially for preschoolers.   Everyone goes home clutching a goodie bag and toy (flying bats, wax teeth, a blinking necklace).

The planning and selected theme are discussed throughout the year.  As the children matured, they helped prepare the meal.  Painting the bloody fingers with ketchup, smashing the ghosts (mashed potatoes), and taste-testing the cemetery dirt were the most popular.

Visit here for my posted Halloween Party ideas and kid-tested meals!

Sweet and Sour Bat Wings, Vampire Punch, or Spooky Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!

Happy Halloween my Lovelies, (check out the CONTEST link 🠟



My novella, Here Today Zombie Tomorrow
is part of the Hocus Pic It Contest!

Visit my website HERE and follow the instructions!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Connie's Tuesday Kitchen: Cajun Country Cooking by Connie Vines,

Flash Back to the Past! 
It's Cajun Cooking!

I miss Justin Wilson's Cajun Cooking Show.

I watched him on weekends. My husband is from Louisiana and enjoyed the mini-vacation to the south when he watched his shows.

Gotta love Justin Wilson's funny stories.  And, no matter what was on the stove, everything needed more wine!

Gumbo Ya Ya an anthology for women who like Cajun romance, includes recipes for delicious Cajun meals.  All are home-cook friendly.

                                                                Gumbo and rice

Instant Pot Gumbo is so easy to make! Loaded with sausage, chicken, and shrimp, this is a family favorite!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Total: 45 minutes
Serves: 8 servings


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper diced
1 green bell pepper diced
1 onion diced
1 cup celery chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
13.5 ounces Andouille sausage cut into rounds
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
3 cups chicken broth
1 pound chicken cubed
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (or to taste, I used Tony Chachere’s)

10 ounces diced tomatoes with green chiles (aka Rotel tomatoes)
14 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1 cup okra sliced
1 pound shrimp peeled, deveined
4 cups cooked rice


I spray my Instant Pot with non-stick PAM for easy clean-up

Set Instant Pot to "Saute" function and add olive oil. Add peppers, onion, celery, garlic, and sausage. 
Sausage, peppers, celery, onion, and garlic are cooked in an Instant Pot to make Instant Pot Gumbo.

Saute for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables become soft. Remove all vegetables and sausage. Set aside. 
Sausage, peppers, onion, and celery. Immediately add butter and stir, scraping up any cooked bits from the bottom of the pot.
When butter is melted, add flour to make a roux. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly forming a light roux. If you want to make a "dark roux", cook for 30-40 minutes until the roux becomes a dark, golden brown color. Turn the cooker off. 

Add chicken broth, cooked vegetables, and sausage, chicken, Creole seasoning, diced tomatoes with chiles, fire-roasted tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. 

Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Turn the steam release handle to the “Sealing” position (see notes above about avoiding the "burn" notice).

Chicken, tomatoes, may leaves, salt, and pepper in an Instant Pot.

Press "Manual" and select “High Pressure." Set time to 20 minutes. When time is up, turn the cooker off.  Quick-release by turning the valve to "venting". 

When pressure is fully released, remove the lid and stir in okra. Press "Saute", and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.

Okra added to the gumbo in an Instant Pot

Add shrimp and cook an additional 5 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through. 

Remove and discard bay leaves. Serve with rice. 

A bowl of Instant Pot gumbo made with chicken, sausage, shrimp, peppers, onions, okra, and seasonings with rice served on the side.

Calories: 542kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 224mg | Sodium: 1517mg | Potassium: 570mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1410IU | Vitamin C: 49.4mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 3.6mg

Remember: Instant Pot instructions may vary by manufacturer.  I have a Pioneer Woman version, the instructions and the buttons are different.

More adventurous in your dining?

You will find my recipe for fried gator 'bites' in my Gumbp Ya Ya anthololgy! 

                                                                    Fried Gator Bites

Happy Reading and wishing Ya'll adventures in cooking,


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Connie's Tuesday Kitchen: Scones by Connie Vines #BWLAuthor, #AuthorsWhoBake, #Scones, #MFRWAuthor, TuesdayTreats,

Happy Tuesday!

 I'd like to share a scone recipe I prepare as a special treat for a family brunch.  Or, I must confess,  for an afternoon accompaniment to a cup of hot tea--just for me :-).  I am not the purest.  I will freeze and rewarm scones in a toaster oven or my upper open/warmer of my stove.  I do not, however, recommend reheating any type of bread in a microwave.

Real English Scones

12 scones

2 cups flour, preferably cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, room temp
1 egg, lightly beaten
milk, enough to add up to 3/4 cup with the egg added
1 egg, extra

(If you prefer a sweet scone you may add a bit of sugar to the recipe or dried fruit).


Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Add butter and rub it with fingers until it resembles crumbs.

Beat egg lightly, pour into a measuring cup, and add milk -- you can use buttermilk instead -- to make up 3/4 cup liquid.

Add liquid slowly to dry ingredients while mixing. You should have a soft dough, but not wet or very sticky.

Sprinkle flour on a wooden board or working surface. Turn dough out on that. Pat out lightly with fingers until about 1 1/2 inch flat, or a little less.

Press out rounds about 2 1/2 inches across.

Gather excess dough and repeat the process.
Beat extra egg well.

Put the scones on a greased tin, use a pastry brush, and brush with the beaten egg.
Bake for about 13 minutes until well risen and golden.

To serve, best use them quickly. Coffee shops keep making up batches, so as to serve them almost hot from the oven.

To eat, break open while hot or warm, and eat with cream and different jams.

Do you have a favorite Scone recipe?
Please share.  

Do you have Scone Tales--misadventures in backing, you'd lie to share?

Remember, scones are the perfect snack while reading one of my novels!


Monday, September 20, 2021

Opening Scenes #Lynx, Rodeo Romance Book 1 By Connie Vines #Lynx Rodeo Romance, #BWLAuthor, #MFRWAuthor, #CowboyRomance, #RandomThoughtsScatteredAbout

Feature # 8

 Hello, My Lovelies,

It's Rodeo Season

SEP 23 - SEP 26•

Salinas, CA

California Rodeo Salinas

Payout: $437,500

Opening Chapter from my Rodeo Romance Series, Book 1, Lynx

Charlene hadn’t told Rachel that she’d fixed her up with a cowboy, much less Lynx Maddox, the “Wild Cat” of the rodeo circuit.  Rachel sighed.  She should have known.  After all, Charlene only dated men who wore boots and Stetsons.

Rachel Scott cringed at the very thought even as her gaze took in the breadth of Lynx Maddox's chest, his broad shoulders, and dark green eyes that scanned her with blatant masculine approval.  

Despite her stern efforts to control it, her heart pounded against her rib cage. She'd seen him sitting at the table with Charlene Davis and Dan Elder before he'd spotted her.  Oh, she'd allowed herself to look when he'd walked her way--looking didn't hurt.  And it was okay to dream--a little fantasy never harmed a woman.  But that was it; that was where it ended.  After watching her father die in the arena, Rachel had sworn she’d never have anything to do with another rodeo cowboy. She stopped her train of thoughts and managed to give the cowboy a smile.  

"Nice to meet you," she said, accepting his extended hand.  She felt the strength in his warm calloused fingers.  Rachel tried to ignore a fluttering sensation low in her stomach.  There was one thing she was certain of as she looked up at his piercing eyes and uncompromising jaw--men like him had trouble written all over them.  And she doubted Lynx Maddox would prove to be an exception.

"Rachel, I'm glad you came tonight."  His voice was soft as velvet and laced with a Texas drawl.

He smelled of woodsy masculine cologne and the sudden rise in her body temperature clued Rachel to the unexpected twist to this encounter--she was much too aware of this sexy cowboy.  So aware, in fact, she had difficulty recalling her own name! She focused on the warmth of his hand against hers and she knew, although his grip was light, he was very strong.  Nevertheless, his strength wasn't affecting her nearly as much as the power of his presence; it vibrated everywhere, even from the sawdust-covered floor beneath her feet.  His slow, lingering smile seemed to unravel what remained of her composure.  For several seconds she seemed incapable of speech, or even movement.  

Good Lord, she was having heart palpitations!

Her reaction was so out of character, Rachel was at a loss as to what to do.

"I hope you didn't mind meetin’ us here," he said, easily, oblivious to her inner turmoil. 

His question seemed to release her tongue from its state of paralysis.

"No.  Not at all,” she replied, feeling somewhat less nervous.

"I'll see you home, of course," Lynx said, ushering her farther into the room.

I don't think so, she thought, eyeing the tall stranger. Meeting Lynx here at the honky-tonk was one thing; going home with him was entirely another.  She didn't voice her decision, however, she knew Charlene would be horrified if she dared to offend him.  So exercising her limited diplomatic skills, Rachel sidestepped the issue.  "Is it always this crowded in here?  And so loud?" she asked, suddenly feeling claustrophobic.  The drummer seemed to have placed himself inside her head, his sticks pounding against her skull, and the raucous noise of the patrons made it almost impossible to hear herself think.  The packed crowd made it difficult to breathe.

"Friday nights are always busy.  Haven't you been here before?" he asked.

"No."  She realized her comment was a bit sharp, but she couldn't help that.  Honky-tonk bars were fine for other people, but not for her.  If it weren't for her fast-talking best friend, Charlene Davis, she wouldn't be here--feeling so out of place and strangely vulnerable.  

"What happened?" he asked, looking down at her.  "Lose a bet?" 

"Sort of," she mumbled so low he couldn't hear her.  Forcing a smile, Rachel said, “I guess everyone should experience this once."  More than her hearing was under assault.  Somewhere low in her body, a riotous group of sensuous messages beats in rhythm to the band, the lyrics communicating thoughts about Lynx Maddox she shouldn't even be thinking.

Lynx arched one dark, sardonic eyebrow. "This place will grow on you.  Trust me."  

Rachel stopped and looked up at him warily. She knew better than to trust him—or anybody.  At twenty-four, she'd been on her own for years.  After a moment, she regained her composure. "Dan and Charlene have a table for us across the room, don't they?"

She peered through the smoke that diffused the colored lights revolving overhead, and swallowed as the bitter haze of tobacco coated the back of her throat.  A cloud of it hovered near the ceiling, giving the mirrored wall behind the bar a bluish look.  The air was stale and smelled of barley malt, tobacco, and hay.  Rachel blinked, her eyes burning. 

Lynx grinned.  "Well, they did.  It's kinda difficult to tell right now, though."

Rachel couldn't help but agree, especially since his white western shirt stretched across his impressive chest, which was more than wide enough to block her view.  When he shifted, she couldn't tell how many people were standing beyond him.  "How on earth are we going to get through that mob?" she asked.

"We don't have to," he said, easily.

"What do you mean?" Rachel asked, puzzled.

"We have another choice.  We can sneak out the back door to some quiet, secluded spot where we could, ah, get better acquainted."

A hot flush of denial raced to her cheeks and Rachel knew she was about to tell a lie.  "Thanks, but I think running the gauntlet is a better idea right now.  I'm sure Charlene wants me to meet her date."

Not the least bit offended, Lynx winked at her.

"Okay, sweetheart.  Stick with me, and I'll show you how a man makes a path."

Lynx placed his hand under her forearm to guide her toward the table.  Rachel felt heat rise along the length of her spine, and a fine sweat gathered at the small of her back.  Darn Charlene and her matchmaking.  Ever since Rachel’s break-up with Steven two years ago, Charlene had hovered over her like a mother hen.  Finally, after months of badgering, Rachel had given in and agreed to show up at the honky-tonk that night.  Now, with Lynx so close, she could almost feel him breathe, Rachel wondered about the wisdom of her actions.

No man was worth the risk of losing her peace of mind.  In her life, what men had offered her had turned out to be mirages.  Rachel knew all about mirages, and she made sure she steered clear of them. 

As they made their way toward the center of the dance floor, someone bumped her from the side.  The man was wearing high-heeled, western boots designed for something far less physical than evasive maneuvers.  Rachel felt thrown off balance and automatically reached for Lynx's arm.

His grasp tightened around her wrist, to steady her.

Embarrassed at being reduced to grappling with her date, Rachel quickly regained her footing.  As soon as she succeeded, she moved to step away from him.

Assessing the situation, Lynx held her hand.  His brows drew together in displeasure as he shot a warning glance toward the offender.  "Justin," he growled.  "Watch your step, cowboy."  Though unsteady on his feet, the man still managed to back off in a hurry.

"Careful," he addressed her. His voice, though gruff, held a soothing tone.  Grateful for it, and the fact that he seemed willing to ignore her embarrassment, Rachel breathed a soft sign of relief.  

It was his next comment, which had her emotions zinging. "A woman can't be too careful in a place like this."

Rachel shook her head and chuckled to herself.  Those were her thoughts, exactly.

Rachel tried to convince herself that the rush she felt upon making eye contact with Lynx had to do with their close proximity, not the dark-haired man's expression.

A muscle in Lynx's lean cheek jumped in response to her appraisal and exasperation lurked in the depths of his eyes, the greenest eyes she'd ever seen.  It was at that moment Rachel realized she was in trouble.  A warning bell clamored in her brain like the buzzer in a calf-roping contest, still Rachel chose to ignore it.  

Lynx wrapped his arm around her shoulder, glancing at the crowd.  "Don't worry Rachel--you'll get the knack of it," he said, pulling her to his side.  "Relax and let me do all the work."

Somehow, she managed to tear her gaze away from his, to put one wobbly foot in front of the other.

Forcing herself not to stiffen at his nearness, 

Rachel adjusted to the rock-hardness of his body.  She knew that professional bull riders were strong--built heavy in the chest and shoulders; still, Lynx was a mountain of a man, topping six feet by two or three inches.

"Come on," he said, swinging her into his arms.  "Looks like there's only one way to get to the table."

Rachel gave a gasp of surprise by the sudden turn of events.  Finding herself pulled against him, she refused to crane her neck to look up, so she stared at the middle of his chest. She swallowed.  Maybe it was the shock of being held in his arms or the topsy-turvy, surreal feel to the evening, but her insides wouldn't stop quaking, and the way his hand kept stroking her side didn't help.  To make matters worse, strands of her hair were tumbling loose from its French twist.  With those loose strands flowing down to her breasts, she knew she resembled a wide-eyed flower child far more than a capable, independent woman.

The way Lynx looked at her only confirmed her suspicions.  

Lynx tucked her head against his chest.  "I won't bite. You can relax a little."

Fat chance, she thought as she followed his graceful steps around the dance floor.  Lynx was very good at taking control.  He was brisk without being rude, and it was obvious he didn't know her.  Not that she was unreasonable or difficult, Rachel assured herself; she simply had her principles—that was all.

As they neared the table, Charlene stood up and waved. Lynx grinned and guided Rachel into a complicated two-step that left her gasping for breath.  

Charlene let out a whoop of delight when they reached the table. "You two sure dance well together," she said, glancing at them with a speculative gleam in her eye as she reached for her date's arm.  "Rachel, honey, I want you to meet Dan Elder."  

"Hello Dan," Rachel replied, and smiled at the lanky, red-haired man, trying not to act uncomfortable with Charlene's appraising look.  Stepping away from Lynx, she returned the offered handshake.  "Charlene's been looking forward to this evening for weeks.  It's good to finally meet you."

"I'm sure glad you decided to join us, Rachel.  Otherwise, I'd still be waiting for Charlene to get ready."

Charlene gave Dan a playful jab to the ribs with her elbow, and he grinned.  "I didn't hear you complaining.  As I recall, you were too busy pawing through my refrigerator--"

"Can I help it if you make the best meatloaf this side of the Mississippi?"

    Charlene gave a snort of disbelief.  "You're from Texas.  What do you know about the             Mississippi?"

    Lynx chuckled.  "She's got you there, cousin."

    "I reckon so."

    Lynx pulled out a chair and Rachel gave him a polite smile as he seated her.   

        Quarters were crowded, the chairs wedged closely together.  Rachel tried not to notice the heat of Lynx's muscular thigh pressed against hers.  Why hadn't she maneuvered closer to  Charlene?  This was crazy.  She shouldn't be feeling this way.  Thinking these thoughts.  

        She didn't mean to touch his arm when she reached for a napkin.  Or bump his thigh with her leg, did she?

    Immediately, Lynx put down his drink.  His gaze began to roam over her face and Rachel caught her breath.

    It was as if they were tangled in some web of emotion that was unbreakable.  Suddenly everything before her seemed to shift into slow motion.

    A smile was out of the question, she thought, as she stared at his lips.  She knew if he lowered his head and touched his lips to hers, it would have triggered such heat it would have ignited a Fourth of July firecracker between them.  

    "What would you like to drink?" he asked, voice low as his gaze held hers captive.

    I hope you enjoyed my teaser!

    What woman doesn't love a cowboy?

Thank you for stopping by,




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