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Roast Beef Po’boys by Rochelle Alers

Roast Beef and Gravy

4-6 –lb. inside round of beef, trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large yellow onion, quartered
1 whole garlic bulb, outer papery skin removed and bulb cut in half
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried marjoram
¼ tsp. black peppercorns
1-3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce



3 loaves poor-boy bread or 6 French baguettes, cut lengthwise and into sections 6-8 inches long


1 head lettuce, shredded coarsely
8 tomatoes, thinly sliced
Dill pickle slices

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Season the beef with salt and pepper.  Put it in a Dutch oven filled about a third of the way with water.  Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, and black peppercorns.  Roast, uncovered for 4-6 hours, turning the roast and adding water every hour or so.  The water level should slowly drop, but don’t let it get less than approximately 2 inches deep.  The beef is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the center read 160º.

Remove the roast from the pot and place in a pan hat will catch all the juices as it cools.

Skim off fat from the stock in the pot.  Use a coarse sieve to strain the stock into a bowl, and then return the stock to the pot.  Add any juices that came out of the roast as it rests.  Bring the stock to a simmer.  Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.  Cook to a thin gravy consistency.

When you’re ready to make sandwiches, preheat the oven to 400º.  Bring the gravy to a simmer and whisk in the flour (but only if the gravy appears to need thickening).  Add the Worcestershire sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice the roast beef as thin as possible.  Collect all the crumbs and slivers that fall off and add this to the gravy.  Stack as much sliced roast beef as you want on a length of French bread.  Garnish with lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and dill pickles.  Spoon on as much gravy as the sandwich can hold.  Bake the assembled sandwich for about a minute to toast the bed.

Makes 12-18 po’boys


In bestselling author Rochelle Alers’ passionate, uplifting new series, four friends from very different backgrounds find new beginnings amid the sultry beauty of New Orleans…

Corporate attorney Hannah DuPont-Lowell always pictured herself returning to New Orleans to retire—just not yet. But after her Manhattan company abruptly lays off its staff, there’s no better place to figure out a next move than the porch of her plantation-style home.

Nestled in the stunning Garden District, the DuPont House has been in Hannah’s family for two centuries. With its eighteen rooms and two guesthouses, it’s far more home than widowed Hannah needs. Still, it could make a wonderful inn, especially if she can convince her friends and former coworkers Tonya, Jasmine, and Nydia to join in the venture. But in the meantime, Hannah has a high school reunion to attend…

College Professor St. John McNair, Hannah’s one-time classmate, is still the finest guy in any room. Between Hannah’s willowy, blonde beauty, and his uncanny resemblance to Marvin Gaye, they make a striking pair. And gradually, their rekindled friendship moves toward romance. Still, Hannah is too bruised by her late husband’s infidelities to trust a man again. But her friends’ arrival and encouragement just might show her a path through uncertainty—straight to a vibrant, joyful new life…

Death Among the Doilies, by Mollie Cox Bryan

The Girl with Book Lungs

28411831Setting:  Indigo Gap, North Carolina


  • Cora Chevalier – Former counselor at a women’s shelter, current craft retreat owner in the small town of Indigo Gap, North Carolina
  • Jane Starr – Cora’s best friend, potter, and one of her partners in their crafting retreat business
  • Ruby O’Malley – An herbalist who lives at the craft retreat and also teaches there
  • Cashel O’Malley – Attorney, Ruby’s son
  • Assorted crafters, victims, and suspects!

Plot:  Life as a counselor to women who had experienced domestic abuse took a toll on Cora; she’s ready for a reboot. Cora and Jane leave Pennsylvania for North Carolina and a lovely historic Victorian home in a small town. Together, they fix the place up and create homes for themselves – Cora in the attic apartment and Jane in the carriage house with her daughter, London – as well as a crafter’s retreat in the main house. Cora…

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Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes by Charlotte Hubbard

Faith, tenderness, security—there’s nothing a mother won’t give. Now beloved author Charlotte Hubbard brings you an unforgettable tale of hope, courage, discovery…and the most precious gift of all.

For widow Rose Raber, it’s been a year of tragic loss and difficult decisions. She thought providing for her young daughter was the greatest challenge she faced. Until her dying mother revealed that Rose was adopted—and her birth mother is someone with much to lose if the secret comes out. As Rose struggles to reconcile the truth with her faith—and her troubling curiosity—outgoing newcomer Matthias Wagler is another surprise she didn’t expect. His optimism and easy understanding inspires her. And his prospective partnership with wealthy deacon Saul Hartzler promises a possible new life for them—together. But with this second chance comes yet another revelation for all involved.

When Saul’s wife unexpectedly turns up at Rose’s new job, their bond as mother and daughter is instant and unmistakable. And it isn’t long before an unforgiving Saul discovers the truth, threatening Matthias’s livelihood and Rose’s future. Now with more than just their happiness at stake, Rose and Matthias must find the strength and courage to stand strong—and trust God’s enduring miracles of motherhood, forgiveness, and love. Continue reading “Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes by Charlotte Hubbard”

Guest Blog : The Making Of A Medical Examiner

The following is a guest blog from THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN author, Charlie Donlea. 

The Making of a Medical Examiner By Dr. Livia Cutty

The summer after my sister graduated high school, just as she was preparing to head off to college, she disappeared. She and another girl, actually. They both vanished from a beach party in our small North Carolina town. Their abduction sent Emerson Bay into a panic.

Every resident, neighbor and friend looked for these two girls, large packs of volunteers walking shoulder-to-shoulder through the woods hoping to stumble across any clue that might help located them. We held vigils, too, lighting candles late into the summer night in some strange show of faith that our girls would be returned to us.

This went on for two weeks, just long enough for me to secretly lose hope. And then Megan McDonald, the other girl who was taken along with my sister, resurfaced. She had escaped from a bunker hidden deep in the woods, ramrodding her way through the forest on a dark, rainy night until someone spotted her wandering on Highway 57.

My sister? She was never seen again. Continue reading “Guest Blog : The Making Of A Medical Examiner”

The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea


You’re a male author whose novel has at its center two strong female characters.  Did you find it difficult to write from the female perspective?

Initially, it was a challenge.  But there comes a point in the writing process where your characters are no longer these entities you created.  They become people in your life, or at least your mind.  They develop traits you never imagined they’d have when you first invented them, and they take on a life of their own. Then, it’s more about how they react to the story they are part of and less about me making decisions for them.  This is what makes them authentic.  And if the character becomes real enough, the reader will connect with them.

How do you create suspense within your writing?

It’s important to have astute and honest first readers when you’re creating a story that contains plot twists.  The best way to learn the art of suspense is to read novels from the author’s point of view, and write stories from the reader’s point of view.  Then have first readers who will tell you what works within the story and what doesn’t.  The first draft of SUMMIT LAKE failed so horribly to fool my wife that I was embarrassed by how little credit I initially gave readers of this genre.  Suspense readers are careful readers who look for clues and will anticipate plot twists unless they are carefully constructed.  My wife and my sister helped me see more clearly form the reader’s point of view, and understand what the readers would likely be thinking during critical plot twists.  This collaboration is at the heart of the suspense in my work.

Can you name any books or authors who have influenced you?

Many, but Robert Ludlum will always be the author I credit for planting in my head the desire to write.  He was the first author I read for pleasure and not by assignment.

Writing is like any sport or hobby.  To improve at it, you have to learn from people who do it better than you.  To become a better writer, you need to read authors who are better than you.  You need to read books and say, “Wow, this is so much better than what I’m capable of producing.”  These authors and their books will make you a better writer.  For me, a few of those authors are Robert Ludlum, Dennis Lehane, Gillian Flynn and the great Nelson DeMille.  It’s actually a very long list. Continue reading “The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea”

It’s Your Party, Die if You Want To by Vickie Fee

The Girl with Book Lungs

13938985Setting:  Dixie, Tennessee


  • Liv McKay – party planner, protagonist, narrator
  • Diane (Di) Souther – Liv’s best friend and partner in crime (fighting)
  • Larry Joe McKay – Liv’s husband
  • Sheriff Dave – Di’s significant other
  • A cast including friends and business owners and a television ghost hunter

Plot:  It’s fall in Dixie and Liv’s schedule is as scary as a gruesome Halloween costume. She’s helping to plan a businesswomen’s retreat, a charity fundraiser, and an elaborate engagement party, not to mention urging her husband to continue working on their crumbling Victorian and managing the spoiled and meddlesome Morgan Robison. Morgan is the daughter of the town’s bank and she’s used to getting her way. But she was able to get a celebrity psychic – Morgan’s former college roommate – to speak at the women’s retreat, so Liv is trying to cut Morgan some slack. At the retreat, Morgan’s celebrity guest…

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Review: Tagged for Death


Tagged for Death
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 Sarah Winston, 38, is devoid of a social life since divorcing her husband, CJ Hooker, former Air Force Base Security Forces squadron commander. Forced to retire for “misconduct” after having had an affair with a 19 year old airman, Tiffany Lopez. Sarah does, however, enjoy frequenting garage sales, and recently she’s snagged a great buy at one in particular, even managing to collect various free items for charity. Back at her small apartment, while sorting out the charitable items to be taken to the military base thrift shop, she finds a bloodstained shirt with her ex-husband’s initials on the monogrammed cuff, along with another piece of bloodied clothing, a maternity top, that belonged to his dismissed lover, Tiffany Lopez. Flabbergasted as to how either of the items wound up with her other collectibles, and in a…

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Easter Books


For the next few day I am going to post a list of Easter books in the hopes that you find some for your reading pleasure.  Enjoy and Happy Reading!

7347372The fourth work in the widely acclaimed, laugh-out-loud Trash n’ Treasures series by the husband-and-wife writing team, “New York Times”-bestselling author Max Allan Collins and mystery-writer Barbara Collins.

Spring has sprung a major leak in far-from-serene Serenity, as the Mississippi River drops in for an extended stay. With homes and businesses flooded, how better to help the town recover than by staging a church bazaar?

Brandy Borne knows her mother Vivian’s plan, however, is more likely to lean towards Bizarre, especially when she hears Mother wheedle a reclusive Russian heiress into donating the last Faberge egg ever created! When the winning bidder turns up mortally scrambled, Brandy and Mother cook up a plan to crack the case of this…

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Creole-Cajun Jambalaya by Rochelle Alers

¼ cup vegetable oil
4 lb. chicken-leg quarters – each cut into 4 pieces, bone in
2 lb. andouille or other smoked sausage, cut into ¼ -inch-thick slices
2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Tabasco
1 Tbsp. salt-free Creole seasoning
1 Tbsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried marjoram
4 cups (uncooked) Uncle Ben’s rice, or similar parboiled rice
2 green onions, chopped
3 springs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 dozen large fresh shrimp

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven.  Add the chicken and sausage, and brown the chicken all over.  Add the onions, peppers, celery, and garlic, and sauté until they wilt.  Add the chicken stock and 5 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the browned bits in the pot. Continue reading “Creole-Cajun Jambalaya by Rochelle Alers”

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