Sugar Cookies, fun with Derek Borne's Devon & Brett, Ellis Knox, a party hat, A prize, a blu

It's NATIONAL SUGAR COOKIE DAY!! Ah Summer! We want a sweet treat with the Lemonade or sweet tea, or stuck in a dish of French Vanilla ice cream, or even with our morning coffee. July 9 is the day to think about the sugar cookie, a simple treat good any time of year.

Sugar cookies are very easy to make, and sure to disappear quickly once they come out of the oven. Made with sugar, flour, butter, eggs, vanilla and either baking powder or baking soda, most people have the ingredients on hand at all times and can have the kids help make a batch on any day. They are just fine plain, but substiute extracts for the vanilla, cut them in shapes and frost or flavor them and you have endless variety. The fun just begins with cutting the dough with fun shaped cookie cutters,

The sugar cookie is believed to have originated in the mid 1700′s in Nazareth Pennsylvania. It was there that the German Protestant settlers created the round, crumbly and buttery cookie that came to be known as the Nazareth Cookie.


To celebrate here is a sugar cookie recipe for you. Post on social media using #NationalSugarCookieDay. Here's a basic recipe

2 cups sugar 1 cups Crisco, butter or coconut oil 3 eggs 1 cups buttermilk 1/2 tsp. salt 1 table almond flavor 1 teaspoon soda 4 teaspoon baking powder 1 tablespoon vanilla


Mix all ingredients and cover; refrigerate overnight.

Roll dough out on floured board and cut out using a biscuit cutter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes or until just done.

Serve warm with dipping sauces if desired. Do you do Instagram and are you near an Insomnia Cookies Store?

On National Sugar Cookie Day, Insomnia Cookies is celebrating the only way we know how: with a FREE cookie*!

Show our Instagram Story offer in-store, and enjoy one free sugar cookie with any in-store purchase, only on National Sugar Cookie Day! We're making sugar an official food group. Come celebrate this sweet day with us!*Offer terms: Must show offer to cashier prior to the transaction. Offer valid for one free traditional sugar cookie with purchase. No substitutions. Valid in-store only. One per person, per visit with purchase. Cannot be combined with any other discounts or offers. Taxes and gratuities not included. Offer valid from 7/9/18 at 9am until 7/10/18 at 3am.

In October 2016 I published Book 3 of Children of Stone, Opener of the Sky. At once, I began work on Book 4 Heart of the Lotus but noticed right away that there were three semi-independent story lines competing with each other. There is Marai and those loyal to the Children of Stone. There is also Prince Maatkare and Deka - their story. There is also Count Hordjedtef and the rest of the royal family. All three stories move forward, interwoven. The important part was to make the three stories blend without sounding jumpy. That wasn't easy. Many months passed during which I wondered if I would ever complete the book. Now 2-3 revisions and two edits later...

COMING SOON!!! (here's the blurb) What do you think?

“When the death of a man comes near him

The summation of what he has done yesterday is made

He will be buried as one who is despised

In the city of the dead” --From the Instructions of Hordjedtef – the Wisdom Texts





Heart of the Lotus is Book 4 of the Sci-Fantasy Series Children of Stone.

As Marai makes plans to return to Ineb Hedj, he knows not all is settled.

Old and new foes position themselves, each seeking control of the Children of Stone.

New allies find strength and wisdom from beyond the stars, while older foes emerge from that which is hidden.

Each destiny interacts and becomes a lotus petal in the Flower of Life.


Last week we met Derek Borne and learned about his writing. To cap off the interview his two main characters will present themselves to us. Gentlemen?

1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

My name is Devon Bertrand, and I--

Brett: Wait, why do you always have to introduce yourself first?

Devon: Because I’m cooler than you, duh.

B: Thanks, jerk.

D: *smirks* I’m kidding, man. This is the Brainiac of the story beside me, Dr. Brett Gallagher aka The Specialist.

B: *crosses arms* Thank you for the riveting introduction, Ultimate Agent.

2.Tell us where and when were you born.

B: You’re from a different planet, right, Devon?

D: Don’t set me up for another Uranus joke. You know I’ll do it.

B: Oh God... I retract my first statement. Rather, for privacy purposes, I’d rather keep my origins classified.

D: Well, I’m Canadian, eh?

B: Aaaand say goodbye to your normal life.

3. How would you describe yourself?

D: *snickers* What do you think, Gallagher? Should we describe each other?

B: *chuckles* No holds barred?

D: Oooon second thought...

B: Can you tell we spend too much time together?

D: I would’ve gone easy on him.

B: Uh huh. And chickens came from T-rexes

.4. Tell us about where you grew up.

B: Sorry, going to have to pull the Classified card on this one again.

D: I’ll tell you where I would’ve liked to have grown up, the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The seafood there is to die for.

B: Don’t forget the gelato spots on every corner.

D: And the true, stone-cooked pizzas... Hey, do you mind if we order a pizza to this interview?

B: Want me to teleport? Be back in 5 minutes.

D: Don’t forget to grab the extra marinara sauce for the crusts!

B: Want pepper flakes?

D: Heck yes!

5. How old are you?

B: Oh, that’s easy, Devon is definitely five.

D: You saying I have a baby face?

B: Was referring more to your behavior. He’s always pranking people and getting into


D: And you don’t?

B: Yeah, but I do it all with style.

6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

D: Younger years were okay... When it came to high school... um... can I skip this question?

B: School was a bit of a breeze. Thanks to my “braniac-ness” as Devon referred to, I graduated university at a rather young age. It was an all right time. Nothing too intense.

7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?

B: There was someone a few years ago. Things kind of went south really fast. Can’t really get into details with that, unfortunately. Presently, I’ve got the most amazing redhead by my side.

D: Quit your gushing already.

B: You’re just jealous.

D: Excuse me? My gal is a bombshell with brains! Let’s just say we’ve both got some amazing women in our lives right now.

B: Hey, that’s pretty mature for a five-year-old to say.

D: Seriously? I was trying to have a nice moment here.

8. What do you value above all else in life?

B: A super strength proof office door and walls.

D: You know I could just teleport in.

B: Did I not tell you it’s calibrated to keep your genetic code out?

D: Well, now I know. But wait, I could probably smash the concrete floor below your office or the ceiling above to get to you, right.

B: I’m making plans in my mind as we speak to rectify that.

D: Dude, you know you love me.

B: We’re getting waaaay off track with this question. Above all else, having your family and friends around you.D:

Love you too, bro.

9. What are you obsessed with?

B: That’s super easy to answer for Bertrand. Food. Pizza, really.

D: And Gallagher is obsessed with science. It’s like Bill Nye’s brain on ‘roids. And then when he gets super passionate, and his voice gets like, a full octave higher.

B: Pretty sure your voice gets lower when you eat pizza. It’s like you go through puberty every time you eat it.

D: Speaking of, I could go for another slice...

10.How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?

D: Neither of us are really religious. Well, you didn’t go much when you were a kid, right?

B: The odd Sunday. Ultimately, though we’re all human, I do the best I can in life and treat others the way I would like to be treated.

D: That sounded strangely spiritual, Mr. Odd Sunday.

B: The second part is paraphrased from the Bible. But everyone knows that.

D: Either way, hashtag truth.Did that answer the question okay?

11. Biggest fear?

D: Russians with cybernetic arms. Oh, and superpowered rats.

B: *bursts out laughing*

D: Long story short, one time, Brett unleashed one of their ability testing rats into my bedroom while I was sleeping. I still don’t sleep well.

B: Tell them... *keeps laughing* Tell them what it could do.

D: It still haunts my dreams. Even more than Romanov, actually.

B: The rat could conduct electricity.

D: Like a taser with legs and teeth. And when it shocks you at night time, it’s little skeleton inside it’s body would glow... yeah, exactly! Creepy, right?

12. What line will you never cross?

B: There are a lot of tough choices to make in this line of work. Your sense of morality and ethics are always put to the test.

D: Unleashing an electric rat was ethical to you?

B: That was to get you back for teleporting me into a tipped over johnny-on-the-spot.

D: Touché.

B: Back to the serious question, though, as much as I use tranquilizers, sometimes you come across someone who can’t be talked down or stopped. It’s moments like that which really make you ask what kind of man you are, and what you’re willing to do. Do you cross the line for the greater good, or toe the line?

13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?

D: Other than pizza and Brett, I guess

B: You actually put pizza before me?

D: I knew pizza before I knew you, okay?

B: Fair enough.

D: As I was saying, the best thing that’s ever happened to me is Dr. Jade Hathaway. Some people say we’re crazy for falling in love so fast. But, when you know, you just know.

B: Now that Devon got his brownie points out of the way, I would have to say that I never knew how much faith Frank had in me. Though we’ve had our differences at times, his guidance is something I’ll always treasure.

D: Pretty sure we’ve covered some of the worsts.

B: Yeah, let’s leave it at those.

14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

D: Oh God, classified card. Pulling it.

B: Don’t even think about telling them about Stockholm.

D: You know I have to tell that story at some point.

B: Just remember who can take away your teleporting privileges.

15. Biggest secret?

D: We’re getting pretty heavy into the secret stuff here, don’t you think, Gallagher?

B: Sorry, did we actually do a background check on this interviewer? Oh, they’re clean?

D: Don’t think we’ll be able to give those out either way.

B: True, you never know who may be listening.

16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?

D: *looks at Brett* Want to say the word we think of each other at the same time?

B: We’ve come this far. Why not.

D: Count of three.

D & B: Three...two...

B: We going to be serious about this one?

D: We’ll have to see now, won’t we?

B: *sighs* Fine. Ready?

D & B:

B: Heart.

D: Inspiring.*shocked glances at each other*

B: Really?

D: Of course, man. Since day one.

B: See, there you go. Overall, the man’s got heart.

17. What is your current goal?

D: Think it’s safe to say for the both of us, really just to work hard and do our best to save the world one day at a time.

B: That...and to find the best calamari joint in the world.

D: YES! I’ll second that.

B: Plus, to make it through every day un-pranked by this guy here.

D: Well, we’ll see.

B: Thank you so much for having us, this was a lot of fun.

D: Agreed. But you shouldn’t have brought up I want some

PROMOTION AWARD PARTY HAT FOR JUNE - Joe Pranaitis Congratulations Joe! Hope you enjoy your copy of Voices in Crystal Next winner will be announced August 6

HOW TO WIN A BOOK OR BOOKMARK I love to get my books or a nice handcrafted bookmark into readers hands! But you have to earn these prizes... How? 1. Buy, read and review my books. (I'll match your purchase if you review a book US emails only at this point but working on it.)

2. Recommend or buy one of my books for a friend.

3. Nominate me for awards.

4. Follow me on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - Come to takeovers - Like comment and share.

5. Your participation is logged on a point system. Each month, the points are tallied and the persona with the greatest number, not already a winner. wins!

And now Ellis Knox

What made you want to be a writer?

I don’t think anything made me want to be a writer. I’ve always written. It’s simply a part of who I am, and I could no more stop writing than I could stop thinking.

Tell us your book’s genre?

Alternate historical fantasy

Tell us about your book and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.)

All my books are available at Amazon, both in paperback (for the novels) and as ebook.

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?

I can’t imagine an author who does not read books. It would be like wanting to be a video game designer who never plays video games.

How did you come up with this fantastic idea?

For Altearth, the core idea was simple. Instead of Rome falling to the barbarians, as is the usual (but incorrect) view, I would replace the barbarians with various fantasy creatures—orcs and goblins and trolls in place of Goths and Vandals and Avars. Magic would be real, arriving with the invasions. And I would leave the Empire standing. I am a medieval historian, so I knew I could have lots of fun exploring the consequences of that. My first novel, Goblins at the Gates, was the origin story, in a way: the first invasion of monsters. The idea for my second novel, A Child of Great Promise, was more modest. This exchange came to me, quite out of nowhere: “I’m half-elf.” To which the response: “Oh yeah, which half?” I realized the term “half-elf” always assumed the other half was human. What if it weren’t? And then the key inspiration: what if she were neither? She thinks she is half elf, half human, but she discovers she is neither. From there it was simply spinning out the consequences. Other story ideas I have come more clearly from specific historical events.

Which character do you identify with most in your novel?

Gonsallo, I suppose. He’s the troubador, so he’s a story-teller. I’m not sure I identify with my characters, but I definitely empathize with them.

Did the Bible or other spiritual works have anything to do with your idea for this novel?

No. I consciously decided not to have the major world religions be a factor in my books. I let the polytheism of the Roman Empire survive into the Middle Ages.

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

No. I tell stories. Messages are for telegrams and voice mail.

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

Not quite detest, but I find formatting to be the most tedious. It seems I can never quite get the thing to look exactly right on every platform. I may wind up hiring a formatter for the next book.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.

I can write in just about any atmosphere. Most distracting for me is music with lyrics. My brain keeps

chasing after words that have nothing to do with the words I’m trying to catch. I prefer silence, or

instrumental music, especially electronic stuff.

What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?

No must-haves, but I do like tea over coffee while I’m writing. Very odd, because I love espresso.

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.

Nothing bad; I’ve been fortunate. The biggest challenge was getting that first novel completed. It took me nearly ten years.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

My wife.

How do you market your book?

Badly! I belong to a number of online groups—three fantasy-related forums and a couple of Facebook groups. I announce there. I have a newsletter with a handful of subscribers.

Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.

Not directly; only reviews.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

My wife, my beta readers, my editor.

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.

I have not done one yet.

Some silly questions!

What do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

Video gaming with my wife. I used to play music quite a bit, but I’ve set that aside to devote all my time to writing.

Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is.

My favorite food is any food eaten in Italy, with Turkey a close second.

I’m not sure I have a favorite color. I love blue because it is sky and sea and eyes; it’s a color you fall into. I love green because it’s the color of life. I love brown for its wide palette and because when you live in the Great American Desert you’d better learn to like brown!

Tell us your favorite novel?

Impossible. Here are a few: War and Peace, The Martian Chronicles, Feudal Society, True Grit, Buddenbrooks, The U.S.A trilogy, Brighton Rock, The Brothers Karamazov,

Lord Jim, A High Wind in Jamaica, The Once and Future King, The Last Unicorn, The Maltese Falcon, Stranger in a Strange Land, Narcissus and Goldmund, The Left Hand of Darkness, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I’d better stop or we’ll be here all day.

A live drama or the opera?

Live drama.

Chips or crackers?


Hamburger or chicken sandwich?


Fries or onion rings?


Milk shake or smoothie?

Milk shake, but only if made with real ice cream

Thunderstorms or star gazing?


Kindle or paperback novels?

Mostly ebooks; physical books for research

Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?

Numerous, both in terms of editing and in story-telling.

What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors?

Write. There is no second path.

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?

My editor.

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

All my stories are set in Altearth, but that covers an entire continent and a thousand years, so it’s not a series.

My next book is called Into the Second World and is a re-telling of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth, but with better monsters. The one after that is titled The Falconer. It’s the story of Frederick of Hohenstaufen, who had an extraordinary childhood in Sicily, then at age eighteen traveled north with only a handful of friends, to claim the Imperial crown.

Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome book?

Altearth central is here:

My Amazon author page is here:

WE TOOK SECOND PLACE Last October I noticed a Facebook Group Dreamtime Tale Fantasy stating they were in need of a few more submissions for an anthology. They were looking for book excerpts, drabbles, poems and short stories. The only hitch was the story had to be about or include a dragon. I didn't have a dragon (per se) in any of my stories. I'd also been considering writing a semi autobiographical short story about one of my influences for Children of Stone. I thought of my stories, which had a decided spiritual bend to them, and about remembering past lives. I decided to write about my friend and her stories from childhood, throwing in a touch of my own madness.

"Ana's dream of Flying" was born. 12 other authors contributed their works of fantasy. The book was published as a charity fund for a Ferret Rescue operation in England. One month ago I saw the contest and humbly submitted the Anthology Dreamtime Dragons. We took second place. My thanks is to all the authors, Nils Visser who spearheaded the publication, and Guy Donovan who did the editing and kept me focused as well as doing his own work. Hope to do this again one day...maybe in YOUR anthology.

Here are the authors and the link: Mary R. Woldering, Jaq D. Hawkins, Nav Logan, Rick Haynes, Assaph Mehr ,Benjamin Towe, Marc Vun Kannon, A.J. Noon, Leslie Conzatti, Guy Donovan, Jonathan Royan, Nisse Visser

Reed James 6-28 Laurence Dahners 6-30-18


Ellis Knox‘ Talysse +

Jacqueline Simonds interview "Retired Writer in the sun" Challenges of Indie publishing after age 65

Featured Posts