Friday, February 15, 2019

BOOK: Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life by Carol Ann Kauffman

Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life" is a short story written in the form of a letter from a very ill mother to her unborn daughter, telling her the incidents surrounding her birth, giving her advice on life, and leaving her the best of her family recipes.

Amazon Buy Link:


Good News and Bad News

“Well, Melina, the sonogram looks good. Are you feeling okay?”
“Yes. Mornings are still a little rough, but I’m fine after ten o’clock. So, the baby’s okay?”
“Yes, she is. You, on the other hand…”
“Dr. Townsend, please, I appreciate your concern for me, I do, but I’m going to do this my way. As long as my sweet little baby girl is okay, that’s all that matters.”
“And who’s going to take care of your sweet little baby girl when you’re gone, Melina? Let’s abort this pregnancy now, before it’s too late. If you insist on carrying this child to full term, it will kill you.”
“You’re over-reacting to my cardiologist’s report. Dr. Lambert is an alarmist.” 
“No, I’m not over-reacting. Pregnancy is very stressful on the heart.”
“Not as stressful as parenting, I’ve been told.”
“Let him fix this heart problem, get yourself healthy again, and you and Ethan can start all over again.”
“No. I want this baby.”
This baby will kill you. You know, Melina, your husband, ‘the Professor’ can hardly take care of himself, let alone himself and a baby.”
“Oh, Doctor, he’s just a little pre-occupied and sometimes absent-minded. But Ethan’s not incapable. And he’s very loving.”
“Think about it, just think about it. You don’t have to make a decision today. We have time yet. I’m extremely worried about your condition, that’s all. There is every indication in this cardiology report that the stress from this pregnancy could be fatal.”
Could be, not will be. And if the cardiology business ever dries up, Dr. Lambert could write bestsellers. He likes to scare people with heart problems.
“No. This is serious. Think about it, talk it over with Ethan, and call me in a day or two and we’ll schedule the procedure, okay?”
Melina nodded, but not in agreement, just simply to get out of there. 
She got in the car and drove toward home. Think? That’s all she’d been doing is thinking. Talk to Ethan? Yuck, no! Ethan wouldn’t understand. Ethan could care less if they ever had a child. And, although he would never admit it to her, he’d much prefer a son to a daughter anytime to carry on the Rosemont all male tradition. She sometimes wondered how dear sweet Mother Maeve Rosemont lived with all that male testosterone. Ethan would side with Dr. Townsend. The last discussion with Ethan over the baby ended with “Do whatever you want.”
She pulled over and tapped a number on her cell phone.
“Hey, Glo, I need to talk. Can you give me a call when you have a sec? Just came out of Dr. Townsend’s office. And I’m feeling all bummed out. Love you. Bye.”
She pulled back onto the highway and drove to the local office supply store. She walked up and down the aisles. She stopped to look at journals. She picked up a big, beautiful, brown embossed leather-bound journal with gold-leaf edging. She ran her fingers over the embossed scrolls and flowers. It was a beautiful book. 
Melina was a smart woman. She had much to share with her daughter, what to do, what not to do, pitfalls, plans for success, and recipes for disaster. Things she wished someone had told her when she was young. Personal things. Romantic things. Cultural things. The culture of a country is handed down from mother to daughter when it comes to the traditions and customs of a family. She wanted her daughter to have all the advantages of her vast experiences.
“Ethan? Ethan? I’m home. Are you home? Honey, where are you?” she called as she walked in the door. 
She looked all over for him. “Ethan?” No Ethan. She pulled out the journal, sat down at her desk, and began to write.

A Letter to My Unborn Daughter

Hi, Sweetie! 
I’m your mama. My name is Melina Valentina Rossetti Rosemont. I’m thirty-three years old. I’m a geneticist at the Harborton University Hospital. I work in the Lab. I am of Italian descent and married an Englishman, the brilliant and handsome Dr. Ethan John Rosemont, who is a thirty-one-year-old English Literature professor at Harborton University. We say the alphabet threw us together, because Harborton University insisted on us sitting alphabetically at all university meetings. I hope you inherit his thick, gorgeous, blonde wavy hair and tallness and my brown eyes and sense of humor. 
And I have a very serious heart condition. They say it needs attention yesterday. Others in my family have had the same condition and lived full, productive, long lives without submitting to the knife. But there is a very real possibility, honey, that while you’re on your way into the world, I may be on my way out. But this is my choice. Today all we talk about is choice, but usually the choice is to choose not to carry to full term. That is not the choice I am making. I choose to do this. I choose you.
Now, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way to this point in my life, and although I completely give you permission to make your own mistakes, you might want to avoid some of the same ones I made and make a few new and interesting ones of your own!
So, consider this a recipe book. Yes, I’m going to include some of our favorite family recipes. But it’s also a recipe for living a full and happy life.

1. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It matters what you think of you. Wow! If I had only figured this one out earlier. I spent all of my high school and half of my college years trying to fit into a mold that – just didn’t fit me. 
2. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, even Ethan Rosemont, your father, unless of course, it’s a safety issue, like running with pointy scissors. Then you should listen to him.
3 .Love comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Don’t overlook potential best friends or lovers because they are different. Your father’s grandma didn’t like Italians. She missed out on knowing and loving a lot of wonderful people with such closed vision. And a whole lot of great dinner invitations and Christmas eves with the thirteen kinds of fishes, and... 

Melina’s cell phone rang. She put down the journal.
“Mel, what did the doctor say?” It was her best friend, Gloria Velasquez.
“He said… Glo, can you come over? Ethan’s not home and I need to talk to you.”
“Oh, Jesus! You are scaring the crap out of me. I’ll be there in five minutes.” Click.

4. Men are strange, bizarre creatures. Don’t look for perfection. You will be constantly disappointed. There are no perfect ones, believe me, they all have kinks. Some kinks you see right away, and some you don’t. Pick one who has kinks you can live with. And pick only one man at a time.
5. Don’t make promises lightly. Once you have given your word, keep it. It’s a pact, not only with the other person, but with yourself as well.


In a large stockpot, boil a whole chicken in 8 cups of water. Remove chicken, let cool, debone and dice chicken. Return to the stockpot. Cook small pasta for soup according to directions. In a frying pan, sauté 1 T. olive oil, 1 medium diced onion, 3 stalks diced celery, 1 clove garlic (Leave whole, easier to find and remove before serving.) Add to stockpot. Add ½ c. fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley, a pinch of salt and pepper, add pasta and simmer together for 20 minutes.

6. Like yourself. Make peace with what you think are your flaws. If you are my daughter, you will probably inherit my wild curly hair, big boobs, ample thighs, and my giggle. Embrace them. Learn to accept them as part of who you are.
7. Stand on your own two feet. You have all the inherent building blocks of an independent woman. You should have met my tough old great grandmother.

Gloria was there in less than five minutes
“Okay, what the doctor say?”  said Gloria as she rushed through the front door.
“Coffee?” asked Melina, already pouring. “I made some pizzelles.”
“You made pizzelles? Oh, this has to be bad news. You know I need something sweet to go with my coffee in order to process bad news.”

Thursday, February 14, 2019

ART: French Artist of Modern Asia, Paul Jacoulet

Paul Jacoulet was a French
woodblock print artist who lived in Japan. He was fascinated by the traditional Japanese ukiyo-e style of art, 

Paul was born in Japan to French parents in 1896. His father was the French ambassador to Japan. He lived in Japan most of his life. 

His creative period was between 1939 and 1960, when he learned to mix the Japanese traditional ukiyo-e with his own artistic methods.  

His work is mostly people,  either portraits or full body images capturing some background detail. 

Paul Jacoulet was a true Renaissance man. He was an expert in Kabuki, proficient on traditional Japanese musical instruments, a good calligrapher, a recognized butterfly collector, and he spoke several languages. 

Jacoulet's surviving work is important for a number of  reasons.

 One, he is considered one of the masters of woodblock printing recognized in both Europe and Japan. 

Two, not much of his art was saved during the war. Much was destroyed by fire.

Thirdly, Jacoulet's work is of special interest to today's anthropologists because his subjects were indigenous people in their traditional dress in the 1930's and 40's. 

Because of this, his work is used as a basis for reconstructing the costumes of that area. 

Also, some of his models are still alive and are currently being interviewed by Dr. Donald Rubenstein, a professor from Guam, to learn more about Paul Jaboulet's artist procedures.


Paul Jacoulet Woodblock Art | Limited Edition Designs‎

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

INTERVIEW: Children's Author Maxine Sylvester

Maxine Sylvester
Bali, Indonesia

Good morning, Maxine! And welcome to Vision and Verse, the site for art and authors. What have you written?
I have written three books in the ‘Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer’ series; they are available as ebooks from The second book, Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher, is coming out in paperback at the end of February.

What is your favorite genre to write?
Children aged 6-10 years. I am very much in touch with my inner child so writing and illustrating for this age group comes naturally.

taught that age group for 35 years. They are my favorite people.  
Favorite food
Pizza! I also have a passion for Indian curry.

Tea or coffee?
Herbal tea. Jasmine is my favourite.

Pizza or ice cream? 
Without a shadow of a doubt, pizza! I would only eat ice cream if there was a fudge brownie buried beneath it.

Wine or beer or soda? 
I don’t tend to drink alcohol or soda but I will have the odd glass of wine at Christmas or on my birthday.

Where would you like to visit? 
Disneyland, Shanghai. Ihave been to the other Disney Resorts; this is the last one on my bucket list.

Favorite musical artist.
Anything from Guns ‘n’ Roses and ACDC to Bruce Springsteen, 
Pink Floyd and James Taylor. I also have a wonderful Disney soundtrack with all the songs from the films and theatre productions.
Do you listen to music when you write?  
I listen to music when I am illustrating but I find it too distracting when I write.
What makes you laugh? 
Old comedies like ‘Fawlty Towers’. I also like ‘Johnny English’ films.

Favorite work of art or sculpture. 
I have a folk art painting which I bought in Park Cultury (Gorky Park) in Moscow. Not only do I love it because it’s a winter scene but it reminds me of the time I spent in Russia. I also like the Hachiko statue in Tokyo. I saw the film and made a point of having my photo taken with it while I was in Japan.

How old were you when you started writing? 
Mary Poppins says you should never discuss a woman’s age, but I will make an exception this once (ha!) I was 47 years old.

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write? I usually have a rough idea in my head how I am going to start the story, but then it veers off in a different direction, and then I am thrilled because I never saw it happening that way. I always keep a notebook handy because once my brain is in writing mode, ideas keep coming at the strangest times and I might be in the bath or out shopping.

Describe your perfect evening
I like Saturday evenings at home with my partner, Mark. We usually order an Indian curry and watch the Premier League football. (Unfortunately we support different teams which have led to minor conflict over the years!)

Where do you get your inspiration? 
From childrenI love to encourage them and each book has a message. Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcheris about friendship and bravery. My first book, Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy, deals with self belief. Ronaldo is a good role model and very relatable; I want children to feel they have a friend every time they pick up a Ronaldo book.

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 
I have a few sessions of acupuncture. I believe that a writer’s block comes from the body not functioning to the best of its ability. Outside factors like stress can have a major influence on how the body performs.

Who is your favorite author? 
I’d have to say J.K. Rowling. I devoured the Harry Potterbooks. 

Best book you ever read. 
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle; it was life changing for me. Whenever I feel anxious, I read the shortened version and it reminds me to get out of my head.

I have that book sitting on my shelf, in my giant "to be read" pile. Maybe I'll move it up toward the top.  Last book you read. 
Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull. The author is one of the founding fathers of Pixar animation, a tiny little company who created Toy Story and eventually merged with the epic Disney. I am obsessed with Disney and Pixar so the book is a fantastic read for me and so inspirational!

I've read that one! Excellent! I wished I had read that when I was younger. I doubt I would have stayed in the classroom for 35 years. What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I would probably illustrate for other people. At the moment I only illustrate my books. I am a trained Pilates Instructor, so I could teach a few classes as well.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why? 
My partner, Mark. Over the last twenty-three years, he has supported every hairbrained idea I have ever had. He helps with my social media to give me more time to write/illustrate.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Walt Disney, although I tend to get tongue tied when I am awe of brilliant people. (I once sat at the next table to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd – I couldn’t even ask him for an autograph!) As to why, Walt Disney has brought so much joy and inspiration to my life, I would like the opportunity to say thank you!

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Do it! Believe in yourself but don’t be too proud to ask for help. You want your book to be the best it can possibly be, so surround yourself with people that have experience in the industry. I would also suggest investing in an editor; a good one is worth their weight in carrots!

Do you have some links for us to follow you?
Twitter:      @flyingronaldo

Monday, February 11, 2019

BOOK: Just Released! Dark Return, Belterra Book 2, by Carol Ann Kauffman

Dark Return is the sequel to Belterra, Time After Time, and takes place about ten years afterwards. 

When Belterra was populated long ago by a select group of humans sent here by the ancients in the hope of saving what's left of the human race, the indigenous race of bat-like creatures called the Batrach were forced into the ocean and underground sea caves by a giant force field. The force field has now weakened. The Batrach have emerged from their watery prison and they want their planet back.

This long-awaited sequel to my bestselling romantic sci-fi adventure, Belterra, continues the adventure saga of Braedon and Neeka on a medieval future earth-like planet, where the indigenous evil bat-like creatures, the Batrach, return to claim their planet. Neeka is still trying to patch up wounded warriors and send them back into battle, and Braedon is still single-handedly trying to save the planet. $.99.

Please note this is the sequel to Belterra. To understand the story, you need to have read Belterra.  Dark Return was released on February 8, 2019.

Amazon Links:         
Belterra -
Dark Return -

Sunday, February 10, 2019

SCHEDULE: February 11 - 15, 2019

Mon., Feb. 11 - BOOK: Just Released!
Dark Return by Carol Ann Kauffman
Tues., Feb. 12 - BLOG TOUR:
Virginia Templeton Stones
by Marsha Casper Cook 
Wed., Feb. 13 - INTERVIEW: Children's Author
Maxine Sylvester
Thurs., Feb. 14 - ART: French Artist of Modern Asia,
Paul Jacoulet
Fri., Feb. 15 - BOOK:
Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life 
by Carol Ann Kauffman

Friday, February 8, 2019

BOOK: February White Lies by Carol Ann Kauffman

Join Cat Collier from January Black Ice as she starts her own detective agency, Red Cat Investigations, inside the gorgeous old Palazzo Castellano Hotel and solves her first real paid case, the case of Shotzie, the missing French poodle. Just when she feels she is destined to find lost pets and missing luggage for the rest of her life in her beautiful new office, complete with business cards, magazines in the waiting room, and her Red Cat logo painted on the frosted glass door, a lovely, mysterious woman named Ms. Nola White hires her to find out who is stalking her. A dead rat on her car. Being run off the road. A car bombing. Someone wants Ms. White frightened or maybe…dead.

The trail of graft and corruption leads Cat into danger as she hides the mystery woman with the old, reclusive lawyer Detrick Bittmor for safe keeping.

Cat’s relationship with the handsome Erick “Carter” Larsen is put in jeopardy when she teams up with Officer Kiernan Scott from the Heaton Valley Police Department to unravel the mystery in February White Lies. 


“The roads are horrendous! It’s freezing out there. I don’t think you should go. His flight arrives in the middle of the night. He told you not to go get him. It’s extremely dangerous and inconvenient. He’ll find a way home,” my mother snipped.
“I’m sure he could find a way home, but I want to go get him. I’ve missed him.” I spoke calmly but glared at the phone, wondering if my mother called me just to make me crazy.
“That’s not a smart decision,” she said. I could hear her wrinkling up her nose.
Well, I’m going anyway, Mother.”
“If you’re not concerned with your own safety, then what about all the poor, hapless people who happen to be on the road at the same time as the daredevil Cat Collier?”
“I’ll steer clear of all other vehicles. Don’t worry about me, or any unfortunate soul on the highway with me. We’ll all be fine.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Good night, Mom.”
“Good night, wild child. Be careful.”
After the conversation with my mother, I needed aspirin and a nap before heading to the airport to pick up my boyfriend because alcohol, my first choice, would have seriously impaired my driving ability.
Hours later, I pulled out of the parking lot of my apartment building, refreshed, excited, and in happy anticipation as I slowly crawled through the icy, snow-covered, country roads to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. 

“Flight 211 from New York has landed. Passengers will be arriving at Gate Three,” the United Airlines flight representative announced. I scrambled to the gate and waited as the weary, red-eye travelers quietly trickled passed me from the gate. The sleep-deprived commuters shuffled to baggage pick-up in a zombie-like state.
But my eyes were glued on the doorway. Finally, I saw his gorgeous head of dark, wavy hair towering above the others.
Now, you need to know something about me. I never get the handsome guy. I’m never even in the running. I’m short, more round than the publicly sought after elongated image of beauty, and I have this wild mop of uncontrollable red curly hair. I have freckles. I’m stubborn. I have an odd sense of humor. I don’t like to be told what to do. 
My mother says I lack social refinement. I don’t care. She also says I have bad taste in men and has never liked one of my boyfriends…until Carter, that is. Why this sweet, kind, smart, handsome creature left his underwear model girlfriend for me, I don’t know. But I’m deliriously happy.
Carter!” I shouted and waved. I startled some of the near-by sleepwalkers. “Sorry,” I whispered.
He searched the waiting crowd, broke into a giant grin when he spotted me, and rushed towards me as fast as he could without knocking over the stragglers.
“You’re here!” he picked me up, hugged me, and kissed me. “I told you that you didn’t need to come and get me. I would’ve rented a car. It’s the middle of the night. And it’s freezing.” His smile lit up the airport terminal. His hug was warm and strong. Everyone else was dragging, but the tall, dark, and handsome Erick Carter Larsen was full of energy. “Thank you for coming, sweetie.”
“Oh, my pleasure,” I said. I saw he had his carry-on bag. “Do we need to go to baggage pick-up?”
“No, I had the rest of my stuff shipped. It’ll all be here Wednesday.”
“Then let’s go home,” I said. I reached for his hand.
“Home. Sounds wonderful,” he said, clasping my hand as we walked out the door.
We slipped and slid our way to my old, red Chevy Cruze, clutching onto each other for support. 
“Oh, safe!” he said as he closed the car door. “The sidewalks and parking lot are treacherous. Have these people never heard of rock salt?”
“It’s too cold for rock salt to work right now and… we’re not safe yet. The roads are slick. Luckily, everybody else is home asleep, so we’ll have the road back to Heaton Valley all to ourselves. Buckle up, honey, and hold on tight.” 
I pulled out of the parking lot and slid sideways, just missing the unmanned ticket booth.
Carter shrieked and covered his face while I howled with laughter. I’m used to driving in this kind of weather.
“You almost took out that ticket booth,” he panted.
“The operative word being ‘almost.’ Quit fussing,” I laughed. “I had a good four-inch clearance.”
Carter groaned. “I think there are more dents on your car since I left you last week.”
“No. Some cowardly paint may have run off in fear, but no new dents.”
Carter raised an eyebrow at me.
“Excuse me, Mr. Larsen, would you prefer to drive?”
“No, absolutely not, Miss Collier. You’re doing a great job. Fantastic. No complaints.” He searched the floor and in the back seat.
“What are you looking for?”
“Helmet. Mouth guard. Knee pads. Shin guards. Rosary beads to wear around my neck. Holy water. Race car shoulder harness. Tibetan prayer shawl.”
“Rough flight, honey?” I laughed.

“Not until now,” he teased with a wink and a smile.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

ART:1950's Kool Kats by Parker Kaufman

1950's Kool Kats
by Parker Kaufman
 Date Completed 10-23-17

Dear Gentle Readers,

I have a special treat for you today. Our own Parker Kaufman has graciously shared with us one of my many favorites of his creations, 1950's Kool Kats. I hope you love it as much as you do!
P. S. Miss you, Parker.

In Parker's own words:
"I have an affinity for all things Mid-Century. I am obsessed with the architecture and design. Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Miles Van de Roche, Herman Miller, Charles and Ray Eames. This is my list of top iconic architects and designers of mid-century modern style. 

“I wanted to create art with the attributes indicative of Post-war American design. Organic, quirky, geometrics. Bold colors. Mod, curvy, Atomic Age patterns. Sleek, cool, sophisticated, sculptural shapes.

"Inspired by all those characteristics, my latest work, a 16" x 20" composition of 78 hand-cut yardstick pieces, layered on foam board."

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

INTERVIEW:Epic Fantasy Author Rival Gates

Rival Gates

Good morning, Rival, and welcome to Vision and Verse, the site for art and book lovers. Can you tell us a little about what you've written?
I have published 3 books in the Sapphire Chronicles so far.  They are “Quest for the Red Sapphire,” “Sapphire Crucible,” and “Mandrean Revenge”. The last one was just re-released; thus, the two covers shown. 

What is your favorite genre to write?

I love Epic Fantasy.  Give me some good battle scenes, a touch of magic, and perhaps a dab of romance and I am a happy man.

Favorite food.
Hands down, it’s lasagna.

Tea or coffee?
Tea, no sugar.

Pizza or ice cream?
That’s like asking which is my favorite child.  If, however, I had to choose it would be pizza.

Wine or beer or soda?
Love wine. Love beer. But most of the time I’m picking soda.

Where would you like to visit?

Rome is fabulous, Rival. You should go, and soon. Do all the big sightseeing favorites, like the Collesium, Trivi Fountain, the Vatican Museum, etc. But also, take an afternoon to stroll down a side street, get a coffee or gelato, and absorb the Italian joy of life and their unique concept of time. Favorite musical artist.  Do you listen to music when you write?  What?
Favorite artist/group is Genesis.  I can’t listen to music while writing. My words flow through my mind like music and I don’t want to break my concentration. Just about any other time I have something playing.

What makes you laugh?
Comedy I can relate to.

Favorite work of art or sculpture.
Anything by Thomas Kinkade. It just relaxes me.

How old were you when you started writing?

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write?
I write a detailed outline so that if I ever get stuck, I can just look back over it.

Describe your perfect evening.

Just my wife and me alone at home with take-out and a funny movie.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons as a kid.  As I was creating dungeons, I started to write stories.  That led to reading more books in the Epic Fantasy genre and finally writing my first draft of “Quest” at age 15.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I read the outline and then read my last couple of pages to get back into the flow.

Who is your favorite author?
C.S. Lewis

Best book you ever read.
The Hobbit.

What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I would be a furniture salesman.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My mother was an English teacher and she always encouraged me in writing, jobs, self-esteem and relationships.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
I’d love to talk to and play chess against Napoleon. He is one of the generals I pattern my battles after.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Always be your own biggest fan. Many people will try to tear you down. Create the best work you possibly can and then stand by it.

Do you have some links for us to follow you?

Twitter: RivalGates1

Purchase “Quest for the Red Sapphire”

Purchase “The Sapphire Crucible”

Purchase “Mandrean Revenge”
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