Friday, March 31, 2017

How We Fall by Melissa Toppen

How We Fall Cover Reveal

It’s not always about how we fall- it’s about where we end up once we land.

I remember the very first time I laid eyes on Cole Lincoln. It still feels like yesterday when he stumbled into my life with his messy brown hair and dark eyes. Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I knew right then and there that he was going to change everything.

From that point on Cole and I were always together—inseparable—and I naively believed we’d be best friends forever. But forever didn’t last nearly as long as I expected.

We grew up and grew apart, life driving the distance between us, but my love for Cole never faltered. Even long after he moved away, leaving me and our little town behind, I still carried a piece of him with me every single day. Because Cole wasn’t just my childhood best friend- the boy who knew me better than anyone else in the whole world. He was also my first love- a part of my very core.

When a tragic death brings us face to face again after six years, every single memory comes rushing to the surface. Only this is not the boy I fell in love with all those years ago. The man before me is hardened, intimidating, and so damn sexy I practically melt when those dark eyes meet mine for the first time in six years.

And like the first time he walked into my life, I know with complete certainty that everything is about to change.

How We Fall is a STANDALONE Contemporary Romance.

Melissa Toppen is a Reader's Choice Award Winning and Bestselling Romance Author of New Adult, Contemporary, Erotic and Romantic Suspense. She is a lover of books and enjoys nothing more than losing herself in a good novel. She has a soft spot for Romance and focuses her writing in that direction; writing what she loves to read.

Melissa was born and raised in a small town in Ohio and now resides in Cincinnati with her husband and two children, where she writes full time.

In addition to spending time with family and friends, Melissa loves going to concerts and is obsessed with the T.V. shows Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time and Outlander.

Connect with Melissa Toppen

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Homecoming, Bayou Shfters One by Tammy Tate

Sydney is half human, half wolf, and has fallen in love with Kyle, a full-fledged shifter who for the last six months has been appearing in her dreams. 

The next full moon, Sydney makes her first shift from human to wolf. The transformation won’t be easy. Thanks to her human genes, it could leave her disfigured. Or, worse. Dead.

Edward knows he can't rush Sydney to the hospital if something goes terribly wrong, so he sends his only daughter to live with his late wife’s wolf clan deep in Louisiana’s alligator infested bayou. Despite holding Edward responsible for her sister’s death, Susan agrees to help. 

Sydney learns Kyle is in Bayou Fontaine. But, for the sake of the pack, the council has already chosen Emily, as his mate. The relentless she-wolf will stop at nothing to claim what is rightfully hers and teams up with Kyle’s twin brother, Justin, who’s hell bent on revenge.

The clock is ticking...

Amazon Link:

This review is from: The Homecoming (Bayou Shifters) (Volume 1) (Paperback)
In the Homecoming, Bayou Shifters One, Tammy Tate has created a credible, interesting wolf world isolated in the bayou country, where half-shifter Sidney is sent by her father to train for her first wolf transformation, which is always the hardest and sometimes even a fatal event. The twists and turns keep you guessing as Sidney's path is thwarted with danger and evil intentions. But Kyle, a forbidden love she cannot resist, give her strength and purpose in this novel where their family members are true beasts. Outstanding Plot! I highly recommend. 

Tammy is having a goodreads giveaway right now!
Here is the link to participate:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Dreamy, Ethereal Art of Evgeny Lushpin

The Dreamy, Ethereal Art of 
Evgeny Lushpin

The paintings of Evgeny Lushpin have an ethereal, dreamlike quality that draws the eye of the viewer into the beauty of his photo-like art work.  At first, you think it’s a photo; a really, really great photo, with perfect lighting and balance of hues and tone resonance, a perfect picture of a familiar famous city or landmark scene.  

But upon further examination, one sees it is a painting, a beautiful painting with a golden light emanating from a 
perfectly composed piece.  He not only transport you to that perfect place, but to that perfect time.  One cannot view a Lushpin and not be touched, in my opinion.  I wonder if this is how this amazing Russian painter actually sees the world!

Evgeny Lushpin, a celebrated contemporary artist, was born in a small town outside of Moscow in November of 1966 and was educated in the finest schools in Russia, following the traditional techniques of the Russian Realism School of Art.  

Nothing here is mine. Here are my sources.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

BLUE LAKE by Carol Ann Kauffman

 Dear Gentle Readers,

BLUE LAKE was the first book I published. I wrote BLUE LAKE and BELTERRA at the same time, so I could never decided which came first. BLUE LAKE was originally titled Belpiccolo but my editor thought it was too ethnic, so we changed it. 

Here is the target audience statement for BLUE LAKE from 2010, when I was sending query letters to the big publishing companies.

Belpiccolo is a love story.  It is a state of mind, as well as a place, uniting two unlikely lovers across years, continents, and the universe.  It’s targeted audience is female over thirty, who have loved and lost, or who are still waiting, still hoping.  This targeted audience is ever-growing.  

This is not the original cover. In fact, BLUE LAKE has had more facelifts than Joan Rivers, may she rest in peace.
The first cover photo was from Lago Maggiore in northern Italy in the Lake region. I turn the photo on vacation years ago, and was captivated by it's serene beauty.

I loved the cover. It had the ethereal, timeless quality I was seeking.

However, as technology improved and requirements for online photos became more than my little point-and-shoot camera could deliver, I had to move on to another visual interpretation of BLUE LAKE, this one down the street from me at the time, part of the Girard Lake system.  

Although the cover has changed over the last seven years, BLUE LAKE remains the same, a state of mind as well as a place, uniting two unlikely lovers across years, continents, and the universe. BLUE LAKE is the first in the Time After Time series, that follows a pair of unlikely lovers through their many lifetimes together. 

It's a strange take on reincarnation, I know. And I'm not a believer in the concept. I believe this is no dress rehearsal, sweetie, so get out there and get moving!

Books in the Time After Time series SO FAR are: BLUE LAKE, BELTERRA, a sci-fi post apocalyptic story of opposing clans, BENTLEY SQUARE, rich girl falls for poor boy with problems, THE BASLICATO, a man caught in the wrong time and the wrong body with the right woman, Waiting for Richard, a novella where our lovers are senior citizens feeling as if love has past them by, LORD OF BLAKELEY, where our lovers really were born on other planets, but do visit Chicago in the '60s, and MacKALVEY HOUSE, where a young American girl falls in love with an older British author.

Please note the titles of full-length novels are in all capitals, and shorter stories appear in regular print. There are a few more at different stages of development in the Time After Time series and the last one will reveal who I think this couple really is. They are a famous couple in our culture and literature.

More to come on BLUE LAKE in the coming weeks.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Authors in Bloom 10 Days of Daily Giveaways Blog Hop

Happy Spring, Gentle Readers!

Today we are celebrating the 6th AnnualAuthors in Bloom 10 Days of Daily Giveaways Blog Hop.

Here on Vision and Verse you will see some photos of my garden, hints, a garden recipe or two, and my giveaway instructions.

I love my garden. I love to putsy around in the dirt. To the left, my peonies by the waterfalls fell down after a good spring rain. That's okay, they'll perk up again! 
I love that lush greenness of springtime. 

I have a very special recipe for you.  It was my father's "dirt recipe." His flowers were always gorgeous and full of blooms. He used it in his vegetable and flower beds and in his container gardens. If you want to use it in your beds, window boxes, or pots too big to move, it's convenient to mix it in a wheelbarrow, so you can move it around to where you need it. For my deck, I mix it in a large plastic storage container with a lid.

Dad's Dirt Recipe
Equal parts:
   Vermiculite or Perlite
   Spaghnum Moss

Mix as much or as little as you think you'll need. Now, you MUST mix it with your hands. If you are a fussy girlie-girl type, wear gardening gloves. Thoroughly combine the mixture. It is a good idea not to breathe in when you add the spaghnum moss. 

I make it in big batches, put a lid on it, and keep it on the deck. It's good for houseplants, too. The combination makes a lightweight planting medium that allows rapid root growth and good drainage.

Now, I live in a woodsy, county area and deer and other woodland creatures do find their way into my beautiful gardens. They can be very destructive This recipe will keep them from devouring your beautiful blooms.

This recipe is not my father's. This one comes from a book called Jerry Baker's Terrific Garden Tonics! Jerry has 345 gardening formulas for just about any gardening problem you can think of. It is available at

 All-Purpose Varmint Repellent
1/2 cup Murphy's Oil Soap
1/2 cup lemon-scented dishwashing liquid
1/2 cup castor oil
1/2 cup lemon-scented ammonia
1/2 cup hot pepper sauce (like Frank's)

Mix in a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer.  Spray to the point of run off.  If you apply once a week for a month, the woodland  creatures will cross you off their list of favorite dining spots. 

Wear gloves. Mix it outside. You may have to reapply after several days of hard rain. 

 Sometimes aphids and other little bugs will attack your plants. I know they're disgusting, but they are easy to get rid off if you do it early in the infestation.
How? Soapy water. Water the plant with soapy water. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to a watering can and wash away the problem. Do it as soon as you notice the problem, because the insects weaken the plant.

Container gardens are lovely additions to benches and walkways. The key is to group plants together that have the same watering and light needs. Shade plants together, Sun plants together.  Plants like petunias need much watering and need it often, in hot spells every night.  

 I am giving away copy of my romantic adventure novel, BLUE LAKE. It's the first story in the Time After Time series, that follows a pair of lovers through their many lifetimes together. All you need to do to be eligible to win is comment below!! If I get a lot of comments, I give away more. 

I love planting lavender in window boxes. even the slightest breeze will send the wonderful aroma of lavender into your open windows. At the end of the growing season, just plant in the ground. They are perennials and will be ready to go back in your window boxes next spring. 

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Winners will be posted on both the first (Dianne Venetta) and last (BloominThyme) websites. Remember, I will be hosting a Facebook Party, including more garden tips, recipes, fun facts, etc. at Feel free to join in, or host one of your own! If you do decide to host a FB or Twitter party for the event, please let me know and I will pass the information along to the other participating authors.

Schedule for March 27 - 31, 2017

Schedule for March 27 - 31, 2017

Mon., Mar. 27 -  Authors in Bloom Blog Hop
10 Days of  Giveaways
Tues., Mar. 28 -  BLUE LAKE 
by Carol Ann Kauffman
Wed., Mar. 29 - The Dreamy Ethereal Art
 of Evgeny Lushpin
Thurs., Mar. 30 - The Homecoming, Bayou Shifter Book One
by Tammy Tate
Fri., Mar. 31 - Cover Reveal
How We Fall by Melissa Toppen

Friday, March 24, 2017

American Adventurer/Painter Jim Gray

 Jim Gray.  Ever heard of him?  No?  Well, you should have.  I was first drawn to the art of Jim Gray by his ship paintings.  I've always loved the ocean and lighthouses, so that love naturally evolved to include sailing ships, though the only sailing ships I have ever been aboard, besides our little eight-foot Sunflower, were anchored firmly and securely in the harbor.

Jim Gray is a special kind of artist.  He is first and foremost an American adventurer, who records his experiences, not with the camera or a tape recorder, but with the canvas.  For over fifty years, he has allowed us to join him on  his adventures through his paintings.

Jim's first job was not the typical grocery store stocker or  newspaper delivery boy, but an illustrator for a loan company.  His good-natured humorous drawings drew in the customers.

During the Korean War, Jim was an electronics instructor and later a technical illustrator in the Air Force.  Afterward he moved back to Mobile, Alabama, where he worked at an illustrator for an ad agency.  In 1962, he and two partners opened their own ad agency.

In 1966, Jim and his family visited the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee and it was a life changing experience.  He moved to Tennessee, leaving behind a very successful business, allowing his creative spirit to explore and paint the beautiful countryside surrounding the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

In 1968, Jim was featured in National Geographic, and the writer from NG was taken with Jim's enthusiasm and immense talent.  This article led to nationwide coverage in other magazines like American Artist and Southern Living.

When Carl Sagan was picking photos to be included on CD for the Voyager I and II missions, he chose one of Jim in his studio, painting a scene from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

I claim no rights to anything here.  None of this is my own.  

The list to the right is where I got my information on the talented Mr. Jim Gray, and I am including it for those who want to know more about him and view more of his works. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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

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

Dear Gentle Readers,

Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life is a short story written in the form of a letter, or journal, from an ill mother to her unborn daughter. It has advice on love and life, as well as delicious recipes, like Spinach Cream Cheese Foldovers, Pineapple Squares, Chicken Parmesan, Italian Turkey Stuffing, and Ricotta Pies (chocolate, lemon, and cinnamon) to name of few.  These were my mother's recipes. 

Now, my mother was one of those old Italian ladies who never wrote down a recipe in her life. She never gave her recipes to anyone, not even my sister and me. When we would ask, she would say, "I'll make it for you. Come and get it tomorrow." 

She was an outstanding cook and baker.  Everything she made was outstanding. She made it all look effortless.  She was her happiest in the kitchen. Our home was always filled with hungry friends and relatives.

When she was in her nineties, very ill, and not expected to live much longer, she finally agreed to give me her recipes, provided I waited until she passed away before sharing them with anyone.

Then I would go home and make them, returning the following day with the results, which were never like my mother's. She would taste it and say, "you cooked it too long,"  "you rushed it", "too much flour", and my very favorite, "why the hell weren't you interested when I wanted to show you?", so I went back and fixed the recipe.

It wasn't an easy experience. It involved hours and hours of wringing these recipes from her, when the last thing she wanted to think about was food, or anything else pleasant. But it was a way for me to pass the time while I stayed with her and tried to get her mind off the road ahead of her.
My mother passed in March of 2006. The following Christmas I made a recipe photo album for each member of my family. On Dec. 25, 2013. I published Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life to share these recipes with you. I know you'll love them. Many of my readers have made some of these recipes part of their Christmas tradition.


Amazon Link: 

Recipe List:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SPORE by Christopher Weed

This gorgeous, eye-catching powder-coated steel beauty called Spore is the work of the very talented American metal sculptor, Christopher Weed.  His work is very well-known in the American West, with pieces on display in Denver and throughout Colorado.  

I had the privilege of viewing this spectacular piece in person at the Museum of Art in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the spring.  This giant purple orb draws you to it, bringing to mind some fascinating scientific object... or maybe a squishy toy... or a kidney stone... or an alien spacecraft from Doctor Who, all at the same time.  Once you see a "Weed" in person, you never forget it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dying Thoughts - Fifth Secret by Joey Paul

Join Tara in the fifth Dying Thoughts book...

Tara has an admirer, someone who thinks the world revolves around her. The problem is, they won’t reveal their identity and the notes they’re sending her are getting weirder and creepier.

Then there’s the fact that she thinks she’s being watched. And the notes seem to be coming from someone she knows. Now she’s getting scared.

Can she find out who they are before their behaviour escalates and Tara pays the price?

Links are:

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Madison Rand Books by Carol Ann Kauffman

Madison's Christmas tells the story of Madison Rand, a young woman dealing with grief during the holiday season, and is afraid to get involved with a handsome, new man at work who wiggles his way into her life. Although the Christmas season is a backdrop for the book, I wouldn't call it a Christmas book.  

Madison Rand's story continues in Christmas at Star Lake, which takes place the following December. Madison discovers the death of her father and Bob Turner, her best friend/sometimes boyfriend, were not natural causes. Someone is targeting Madison's highly specialized employees and eliminating them. She closes down her business, sends her people into hiding, and heads to a cabin in the woods on the lake in upstate New York. What could POSSIBLY go wrong? This one is a madcap adventure you don't want to miss.

There is a third and final installment in the Madison Rand book series. I'm working on it now. It should be out this coming holiday season. The Madison Rand short stories are published by Books To Go Now Publishers.


Amazon Links:
Madison's Christmas
Christmas at Star Lake

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Schedule for March 20 - 24, 2017

Schedule for March 20 - 24, 2017
Happy Spring, My Dears!

Mon., Mar. 20 - The Madison Rand Books
by Carol Ann Kauffman
Tues., Mar. 21 - Joey Paul's Cover Reveal for
Dying Thoughts, Fifth Secret
Wed., Mar. 22 - American Metal Sculptor
Christopher Weed
Thurs., Mar. 23 - Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life
by Carol Ann Kauffman
Fri., Mar. 24 - American Adventurer/Artist
Jim Gray