Books

The Song of Us by J.D. Barrett

Zoe Wylde is a woman at a crossroad. Five years ago, she fled her successful career as a concert harpist in London to return to her Bondi home. She still plays, but now her audience is on the way out ... literally. It's complicated and complication is something Zoe understands well. Her best friend is chasing a new love, her brother's chasing too much love and her father has been married far too many times. Compared to them she thought she was doing okay. She's met the guy she is sure is the one. He wooed her and has been sleeping with her for almost five years. It would all be perfect ... if he wasn't married.

Zoe is learning that hearts, like harps, are capable of beautiful music if treated the right way and can be tricky to manoeuvre. She's over the old tune. But does Zoe have the courage to rewrite the song of her own life?

The Song Of Us is a soulful story of family, love and the notes that define our lives by the author of The Secret Recipe For Second Chances.
 




Hey! Here's my review!

I loved the familiar Aussie setting and enjoyed the exploration of different kinds of relationships. Stories involving adultery often make me feel uncomfortable, but this issue was dealt with in a relatable way. I was able to empathise with the heroine even though I didn't always agree with her choices and I was glad to see her grow and mature throughout the story. It was wonderful to learn more about the realities of palliative care as a natural part of life. It was refreshing to read about a harp player, that's an instrument you don't read about often.

This was the first book I've read from this author and I'd be interested in reading more.

★★★★
  • Format: ebook
  • Where: NetGalley


It Doesn't Show Signs of Stopping by Geralyn Corcillo

Hey Everyone!

If you enjoy devouring stories in a sitting or two (like with my short stories - Gotta Be This or That, Catching Onix and Wife, Mother, Woman) then you might enjoy the latest Christmas themed story, It Doesn't Show Signs of Stopping, from my friend, Geralyn Corcillo. I've invited her over here to say hi and tell us a little about her latest story and her favourite (or should I say favorite) Christmas tradition. 






Hey Renee!



I am delighted to be on your blog today. For me, December is the season of giving ... and the season of wonderful, heart-warming stories! So, I am thrilled to share with your fans that from now through Sunday, my 12K Christmas story “It Doesn't Show Signs of Stopping” is FREE on Amazon Kindle. http://getBook.at/Stopping 

If flirty cross-country texters Dan and Tanya can manage to get together this Christmas, they might just find out if what they have is as real as it feels.


I wrote this story - and I'm giving it away - because I love to indulge in and share the warm cozy magic of the holiday season. And you know what? Besides Christmas stories, I love Christmas cookies almost as much! Have you ever heard of the cookies “kolucis”?


In my house growing up, making kolucis at Christmas was an EVENT.


They were the favorite Christmas cookie recipe of my Gram Mogilewsky and my mom. You pronounce the Polish (maybe Lithuanian?) kolucis as “kuh LOTCH eez.” The cookies are like tiny nut rolls, only sweeter, crispier, and flakier. And don't worry, you do not have to decipher my Mom's writing underneath years of baking stains - the full recipe is written out at the end of this post.






When I was growing up, making the kolucis was a BIG DEAL because it took two days and an assembly line of kid labor. Two days! And it meant that Christmas was officially coming! It simply couldn't not come if we went through all the pomp and circumstance of making the kolucis! And to get the job done right, it took all 4 of us rambunctious, constantly arguing kids working at our various stations at the kitchen table and my mother manning the oven and threatening to whack us with the wooden spoon if we acted up. (Note: My family was never really into that whole “Peace on Earth” kind of Christmas.)


On the first day, my mom would make the dough while we bugged her, and then she put it in the fridge to set for a day. I don't know why the dough had to be done this way. It just did. It just does.


Then, on the second day, the hours of cookie-making would commence!


1. One of us kids would go to the fridge and get a hunk of dough (the dough HAD to stay in the fridge until use or it would get sooooo sticky!) That same kid would then break off pieces of the dough and roll them into small balls.


2. Kid #2 (usually my older sister who was trusted with an implement such as the rolling pin) would then dust a circle of powdered sugar on the table, sprinkle the rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll the small balls into small flat ovals of dough.


3. Kids #3 and #4 (because this step took more time and precision so it needed two kids so the assembly line didn't jam) would place the small ovals of dough onto the powdered sugar-covered table and, with the back of a spoon, spread the nutty, sweet, gooey filling onto the cookie dough.


Now where, you may ask, did the filling come from? After all, I have not chronicled its making in this narrative. The answer is, I dunno. I think my mom must have made it late at night after we kids had gone to bed, cuz we were never involved in the filling-making part. But the old-fashioned nut grinder was mysteriously set out to dry on a dishtowel the morning of the koluci assembly and the filling was always there at cookie-making time.


4. Then kids #3 and #4 would roll up the filling-smeared ovals.


5. Kids #1 and #2 would pinch the edges closed, and set the mini sweet nut roll-like cookies on the cookie sheet. And my mom took it from there, putting the sheets in the oven, taking the hot sheets of cookies out of the oven, putting the cookies out on the cooling rack, and slapping away any hands that tried to swipe a cookie.


We would work from early afternoon until darkness fell at 4:30. And the BEST part? We would bop along to Christmas music while we toiled away like elves. Sometimes we would listen to Christmas LPs from the stereo in the living room. We'd blast the volume loud enough so that we could hear Disco Noelle and Elvis's Christmas all the way across the house in the kitchen. And one year, we'd had the foresight to record the songs  from Christmas specials on the TV on a cassette.. So, not only could we play songs like “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, but we could hear ourselves loudly singing the wrong words in the recording of “I'm Mister Heat Miser” from The Year Without a Santa Claus.


I don't have any pictures of us making the cookies, since my mom has most of those back home in Pennsylvania and I live in California. But here is one picture of me and my siblings from when we were little – a few years before we were all old enough to pull off the koluci assembly line. I was then, as I am now, the blonde with her big mouth wide open.





If you'd like to make delicious kulocis, I am more than happy for you to use this recipe! I am all about sharing the joy – after all, it's why I write romantic comedy. Sprinkling drops of pleasure into people's lives is just so wonderful, whether the joy is delivered through a cookie or a story.


I hope you enjoy your free download of “It Doesn't Show Signs of Stopping,” and I hope you find many wonderful stories this holiday season. I wish you all a relaxing, safe, and happy December! Thank you, Renee, for letting me indulge in these warm memories as I share some holiday delight with you and your wonderful fans. Thanks, again!


Koluci Recipe


Dough:
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 packet dry yeast
1 pound shortening
3 eggs
1 cup milk
powdered sugar


Filling:
1 pound bag of walnuts – ground
2 eggs
1 stick margarine (soft)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla


For the filling, grind the walnuts. Add other ingredients and mash all together. It shouldn't be too thin and runny – it should be spreadable. You can do this the day before or on baking day itself.


For the dough, A DAY BEFORE BAKING, in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in milk. Add salt, sugar, and eggs. Add shortening and beat with an electric beater or by hand very fast. Start adding flour a cup at a time until it is all used. It will be very hard to mix and very sticky towards the end – you may have to use your hands. Refrigerate overnight before baking.


BAKING DAY: Leave dough in refrigerator – take out a lump at a time. Make the lump into balls and roll balls out on powdered sugar. (Dust rolling pin with powdered sugar, too, or dough will STICK EVERYWHERE.) Spread filling on dough with the back of a spoon, roll up, pinch ends closed and put on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Watch the first batch and bake until lightly browned. Enjoy!




Bio

When she was kid growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo loved decorating the tree on Christmas Eve. Here she is as a teen doing just that. Notice the classically 80's perm and fashion-choice to wear her sweatshirt inside-out. And notice that her big mouth, is, of course, wide open.


Geralyn loves to connect with readers! Check out her posts and comment to chat at:







Wife, Mother, Woman - Now on Audio

Hey Everyone!

I'm excited to announce the Wife, Mother, Woman is now available as an audiobook. I adore audiobooks so ever since I decided to publish a book, I've wanted to publish an audiobook. I enjoyed the process of independently publishing this flash fiction collection so much that I decided to have a go at independently narrating and publishing an audiobook edition. I had a ball and it's now in the process of being distributed to Audible, iTunes, Kobo, and lots of other places. But just incase you're as impatient as me, it's available for immediate download below. Purchasing via the Payhip widget below is a great way to support my author career as I get a greater percentage of the royalties (100% - I get ALL of them) Purchases are processed via PayPal, so very secure.


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Nominated Best New Author

Hey Everyone,

I was so excited at the beginning of the month to discover that I'd made it to the voting round of AusRom Today's Reader's Choice Awards for  Best New Author. Voting closes at the end of November and I'm in with a good chance to win. I've been trading the lead position back and forth with another author and it's looking to be a photo finish.

This is the first time in my life I've had a chance at winning a popularity contest. Give my nerdy inner teenager a boost - vote for me.

All you need to do is click THIS LINK then like the image (on Facebook)

If I win, I'll run a giveaway in celebration. Stay tuned...



#8wordstory

Hey Everyone,

I was so excited to see words and my name up on five billboards around Brisbane today. It would have been even more exciting if I'd been there in person, but I made do with taking screenshots of the live feed on my phone. One of the feeds was down, so I was rapt that another featured writer, Ray See, was a Brissy local and took a photo for me.

The Queensland Writers Centre is running an #8wordstory writing competition and I was lucky enough to have my story selected from thousands of entries to be featured on the billboards. The competition is running until November 24. Entry instructions on their website https://8wordstory.com/