Friday, May 29, 2015

Andrea Cooper stops by Penny's Tales and talks about Plotting

To Plot or Not to Plot

There is a war going on. A battle across the world… and in the minds of many authors.
Plotter vs. Pantser
Plotter – someone who outlines, makes notes, plans before writing a sentence of their story.
Pantser – someone who writes either part or all of a story without prior outlining, plotting, etc.
Which are you?
Each type has pros and cons. I’m a pantser, and if I ever plot, it’s only character arcs, not story arcs or outlines. Why?
Here’s one time experience as a plotter:
After writing over a dozen stories and having half a dozen in various stages, I thought perhaps if I plotted, the stories would be easier and quicker to write. So I created an outline, a chapter outline, and completed various character sketches, etc. But after writing the first chapter, I wanted to smack my head on my keyboard.
I deviated from the outline so much and for the better, that it was as if I wrote a completely different book. For example, I had the heroine leaving the archeological site in Turkey around chapter two. However, when I wrote chapter one, I realized, why am I flying her back to the states so soon? The story is set in this wonderful, exotic country and I’m having her hop back on a plane? No.
For me, plotting didn’t work. I may try a combo-method where I would do character arc, mindmapping, etc. Write the story, then either if I reach a sagging middle, follow up with more of the plotting techniques—but have flexibility.
In contrast, my friend and a fellow author who plots everything. Before she writes a word, she even has breakdowns of each chapter. Reading through her outlines, she can spot plot holes, sagging middles, etc. She fixes them and then writes.
I say do whatever works for you and your writing.
Here are some websites for pantsers and plotters:

Andrea R. Cooper’s Bio:
Andrea has always created characters and stories. But it wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels.
What happened that ignited the writing flame in her fingers? Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. She thought. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world. Then she met her husband and realized, yes love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories say. She is now a happy wife, and a mom to three kids (two boys and a girl).
Andrea writes fantasy, paranormal, historical, and contemporary romance suspense. When not writing or reading, one may find Andrea dancing in Zumba.
She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.

Her latest novel is Stolen Hearts Book 1 : Romantic Suspense
Crystal has spent her entire life training to be a thief in order to find evidence against the man who had her parents murdered. In her pursuit of justice she's had to give up her identity, her name, and any chance at love. When Crystal is forced on a blind date with the cop who is investigating her, she plays a dangerous game of hearts that could land her in a prison cell. 

Kade is in search of a new life, after losing his partner. He's taken a new job, in a new city, and met a new girl. In order to keep his fresh start, he will have to catch an elusive thief targeting one of the largest corporations in the country. Desperate to forget the failures of his past, Kade has no intention of failing.

But secrets can’t be hidden forever.

Amazon: Buy Link:

Stolen Hearts Book Trailer:

Author Website:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

J J DiBenedetto talks about his new book Fever Dream and the Dream Series

What if you could see everyone else's dreams?

Find out with the Dream Series by J.J. DiBenedetto!  Book #9, FEVER DREAM, is out today! What's the story?
FeverDreamV2Dr. Sara Alderson isn’t used to her patients dying for no reason. When a young boy succumbs to a mysterious illness that defies all her efforts to treat it, she refuses to accept defeat. After two months of questions, Sara has attracted the attention of powerful people who don’t want their secrets uncovered, and will go to any lengths to make sure they stay hidden. Now, time is running out for Sara to unravel the mystery before anyone else falls victim to the illness. And before her career, her family and her freedom are taken from her by enemies she doesn’t even know she has.
Where can you buy it? Amazon (Kindle or Paperback) Smashwords Barnes & Noble (Nook or Paperback) Apple iBookstore Kobo AllRomanceEboo Want to know more?  Here's an excerpt!
It’s one in the morning, and the last guests have gone.  Other than the cleaning crew, Brian and I are the only ones left in the ballroom.  I know we need to leave, but I can’t bear the thought of standing up and trying to walk out of the room, down to the garage and then to the car.  I think my feet might literally fall off. “You’re going to have to carry me out of here,” I tell Brian, and he gives me a wicked grin in return. “I was planning on it,” he says, and he stands, takes a deep breath, and lifts me right out of my seat.  I yelp and throw my arms around his neck as he carries me out of the room and over to the elevator, barely showing any strain at all.  He has to put me down once we get to the elevator, though.  “I need a free hand,” he says, hitting the “up” button.  But the garage is – oh.  I should have known. “You booked a room.”  He nods.  “And you told my parents we wouldn’t be home tonight.”  Another nod.  It’s all part of the fantasy, I guess.  He’s been imagining that he’s James Bond all night, and after a glitzy evening at the casino, James Bond doesn’t hop into the minivan so he can get home, walk the dog and collapse into bed.  No way.  He takes his conquest for the evening up to the five-star hotel room, where the champagne is already waiting.  On ice, no doubt. The bell dings, he ushers me into the empty elevator, and as the door closes, I feel my fatigue suddenly, instantly, drain away, and I’m all over him.  I may not be a fan of those movies, but I know how they go, and it’s not as though I need much of an excuse to throw myself at my husband.  By the time the door opens onto the third floor, I’m panting and extricating my hands from his tuxedo jacket.  “You woke up in a hurry,” he says, panting himself, pulling his hand off the zipper of my dress, which is already halfway down my back. “Well, I know what you were thinking, and I also know that no girl can resist James Bond, right?”  By way of an answer, he leads me down the hall, opens the door to our room, picks me up again and deposits me on the bed.  In seconds, he’s finished the job of zipping me right out of my dress, and his tuxedo is in an undignified mess somewhere on the floor.  After that – there’s no more thought, just feeling, just his hands and his lips and his – his everything.
Interested in the books that lead up to this one? The first five books in the series are collected in one Kindle Box Set, and it's on sale this weekend for just $0.99!
What if you could see everyone else’s dreams? Sara Barnes has just discovered that she can. And this gift – or curse – will lead her on an extraordinary journey. Follow Sara as her newfound ability leads her into adventures she never imagined. She will hunt down a serial killer, investigate a plot to murder one of her teachers, unravel a conspiracy between a mobster and a corrupt politician and face off against her nemesis: a woman who shares her talent, but uses it to destroy lives rather than save them. And Sara will have to manage all that while finishing college, becoming a doctor and falling in love, too. Here are the first five books of the Dream Series, along with bonus material created especially for this collection. Included in this set are DREAM STUDENT, DREAM DOCTOR, DREAM CHILD, DREAM FAMILY and WAKING DREAM. In addition, you’ll find the short story BETTY & HOWARD’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE starring Sara’s parents. But most of all, when you open this box of dreams, you’ll find romance, suspense, humor and plenty of heart…
Where do you buy it? Amazon Smashwords Barnes & Noble Apple iBookstore Kobo 
DreamReunionV1 Cover Smaller
DreamVacationWrapAround_Paris_Front Google Play What about books #6, 7 and 8?   They're all on sale at Amazon! But I like to listen instead of read!  What about audiobooks? AudiobookDreamSequence  The first five novels and a short story are all available on Audible!  And you can hear samples from all of them right here! So who's the author? IMG_0020 Well, technically, that's a picture of his cat, Danny.  Danny is much more phorogenic than J.J. is.  But J.J. (James, really) is a pretty nice guy.  He's a native New Yorker, althoguh he's lived in the Washington, DC area for the last 20 years.  He loves the opera, reading, photography, science fiction, fondue, travel and the New York Giants.  Oh, and of course Danny, and also of course his lovely and talented wife. Where can I learn more about him? At his website, on Facebook, on Twitter and at his Amazon Author Page.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

School's Out! Keep the kids in your lives reading!

Hey all you parents - school is out and kids will be bored within weeks!  For as little as 99 cents, you can load a kindle with stories that will spark their imaginations.  You will find picture books for the beginner readers along with fantasies, magic, witches, spells, time travels which include some historical legends, and even a sweet contemporary story about puppy love for the tween age group!

Go to my author page at

and you will see all the books for the kids in your life - AND there are books for the...ahem....older "young at heart" folks!  Below are just a few that are offered.

 These 5 stories also come in a printed version

Hike Up Devil's Mountain is also in print and audio!

Below are picture books to read to your little ones!

Keep them reading this summer!  It's so important!

Friday, May 22, 2015

J. M. Maurer talks about her new books, Seeking Love and Seeking Redemption

Title: Seeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1)
By: J.M. Maurer
Publish Date: April 2, 2015
Categories: Contemporary Romance, Humor, Woman’s Fiction


Every day, Jessica Winters does what she does best—bury herself in patient care within the walls of the neuro intensive care unit, keeping herself busy to escape the dark sadness that controls her life. But the day she sees Matthew Moi, the intriguing man seated at her new patient’s bedside, her shattered heart begins to frantically beat once again. 

As Matthew pins his mesmerizing gaze upon her, trying to distract her with his humorous and playful banter, she does her best to ignore him. Somehow he already knows a great deal about her, breaking down Jessica’s barriers and awakening her soul, drawing her out of the darkness and into his arms. 

When her painful past resurfaces, revealing truths that threaten her future, Jessica struggles through her issues and fights to stay on a healing path . . . seeking love.

Buy Links:

Amazon US:

Barnes & Noble:

All Romance:


One thing I knew: I wasn’t that woman anymore. I wouldn’t be her anymore.

My heart was racing at the thought of being separated from Matthew by only the door, and I watched as it opened, knowing he stood mere feet away. I drew in a deep breath to calm my frantic nerves and steady my racing heart. It was the moment my eyes would see him again, and the same moment I knew all involuntary muscle movements would cease.

As Matthew stepped in and around the door, his alluring eyes captured me. The feeling was nothing new. I’d been imprisoned by his gaze before. And locked in it again, I watched as he drifted to me, the indisputable chemistry between us palpable and absolute. His mesmerizing eyes had hypnotized my burning soul, completely bewitching me.

“Hello, Jessica,” he murmured, pointing to an open area of the bed. “Mind if I sit?”

I gave a slight shake of my head, having difficulty forming the simple word “no,” and watched as he made himself comfortable facing me. His crisp charcoal-colored trousers bunched as he scooted on the bed. My sight roamed along his classic plum-colored dress shirt and stopped searching once I focused on his face.

Title: Seeking Redemption (Emerging From Darkness Book 2)
By: J.M. Maurer
Publish Date: May 2, 2015


After surviving a bitter divorce and emerging from a darkness that became all too familiar, Jessica finds herself on top of the world, her soulful awakening allowing her to feel again, trust again, and even love again. Her painful past, however, is relentless, both physically and emotionally, bombarding her daily and not allowing her to overcome the lingering demons that ultimately control her life.

As Matthew lovingly guides her toward a healthy future, his own secrets become known, threatening to destroy the trusting relationship that had quickly grown between them. But despite what life throws her way, Jessica pledges to put the past in the past, accepting that events are often out of her control. She fights for a future with the man who drew her out of the darkness, steering her onto a healing path . . . seeking redemption.

Buy Links:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:
Barnes & Noble:



Grandma O flipped the light switch to what she called my office and stood just inside the door, her soft features and gentle smile inviting me in. I shivered, poised one step away, with a strange yet familiar emotion rushing through me—an awareness that the instant I entered, my life would be forever changed. Again.

Was this Matthew’s plan all along? They all seemed in on it, the thought making me feel railroaded and agitated, yet oddly aroused and enchanted too. Unsure how to deal with such conflicting emotions, I moved forward, looking to Grandma O for answers as I walked through.
The office was spacious, slightly smaller than Matthew’s, with a mahogany desk in the far corner and in front of an expansive bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. I ran my fingertips along the colorful wall of psychology books and periodicals as I walked along, passing a leather couch on my way to the desk, my desk, and paused in front of an empty nook within the bookcase.

It struck me as odd, the cold wooden surface needing something to spruce it up, make it mine. I had to think about that, my anxiety making it difficult to ponder the issue, my restlessness preventing me from staying in one place.

I moved to the windows and stared out the tiny cracks between the blinds, the world outside just as complicated as the one I had chosen to live in.

“We all read your master’s thesis,” Grandma O said, her voice pulling me out of my thoughts. “It’s obvious you have a natural gift for research and writing.”
I turned and looked at her, questioning how they’d gotten their hands on a copy.

Sedation in the ICU: Patient Accounts of Their Dreams, Their Pain, Their Fears; I hadn’t published it. As it was, after countless hours revisiting old charts and conducting hundreds of interviews, I’d never been more nervous or scared the instant it was pulled from my tight grip to be placed into the hands of someone who would actually read it. There was no way I’d ever publish it, opening myself up to a world filled with critics.

“If you’re wondering, Dr. Moi is a personal friend of Professor Marienetti. The sexual fantasies accounted for and described within your research were fascinating, probably more so than Dr. Marienetti could digest. We’re baffled as to why you chose not to publish. The results, Jess, are far reaching, from ICUs to dentists’ offices. You have a special gift; embrace it.”

She walked toward me and leaned her back against the wall, her gaze drinking in the room.
“This office has been vacant, just waiting for you. You could do great things here.” She patted my arm, her grandmotherly smile telling me it would all be okay. “I’m next door if you need anything.”
Embrace it, I thought, watching as she walked out the door. I’d heard that advice before—from Matthew. I sighed and looked down upon the desk, the one I knew would take me a while to start calling my own.

My desk, my office, my couch, it all sounded quite foreign. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

Seeking Hope (Emerging From Darkness Book 3 ~ Fall/winter 2015)
The conclusion to the captivating romantic trilogy where love came easy, forgiveness came with time, but healing from devastating loss proved daunting. Together, Jessica and Matthew pursue an extraordinary future . . . seeking hope

About the Author:

JM Maurer lives with her family in Chicago. She makes it a point to never work on a full moon and cringes when a coworker uses the “Q” word—never, ever say, “It’s a quiet day today," at her day job.

Known for being overly superstitious, she can usually be found scraping at the remnants of a Nutella container, screaming at a hockey game, or putting pen to paper, allowing the “real” crazy voices in her head to come alive. And after all this, it’s no wonder she’s an incurable romantic and loves escaping the rat race of life to immerse herself inside the world of a really good romance book . . . because, after all, what’s better than a happily-ever-after?

Find J.M. Maurer Here:

Amazon Author Page:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Calling All Authors

First time authors have a hard time getting their first contract. Many of us have been there and it is discouraging to say the least. Solstice Publishing has published many first time authors and are actively seeking fresh new writers to add to our Solstice family. Many authors got their foot in the publishing door by writing short stories. This is a great way for authors to build their catalog while they work on their longer novels. At Solstice, we believe every book has a home. It may or may not be with us but we invite you to see if we’re the right home for your story.
Solstice Shadows publishes Fantasy, SciFi, Paranormal, Horror, and all sub-genres therein. If you have a short story that falls into one of these genres, we welcome you to read on and consider entering our short story contest.

Official Contest Information:
Solstice Shadows wants to read your short stories!
Do you have a short story collecting dust? Are you an aspiring author who wants to be published? Are you an established author who is willing to take risks? Are you a self-published author who wants to see what it’s like working with an Indie Publisher?
Solstice Shadows is hosting a short story contest starting June 1st through July 6th 2015.
* Accepted genres: Fantasy, SciFi, Horror, Paranormal, and all sub genres therein. (We do not accept non-fiction/overtly religious stories/pornography)
* Story length: Up to 20K words.
* The story cannot be currently for sale on any platform.
To Submit:
  1. Click on ‘Solstice Shadows’
  2. Type “Shadows Short Story Submission” in the ‘Title’ box.
  3. Your cover letter should tell a little about your story and a little about you.
  4. Follow the directions for submitting your story.

1st place – A 3 year contract for the short story, A promotional video highlighting the book and author, and a FB release party hosted by Solstice Publishing.
2nd Place – A 3 year contract for the short story, a promotional video highlighting the book and the author.
3rd Place – A 3 year contract for the short story.
Winners will be notified by August 1st,2015 via email.
How will the stories be judged? Here’s what we’re looking for in no particular order:
  1. Submission guidelines followed
  2. A social media presence
  3. An exciting first scene.
  4. A clear and organized plot.
  5. Interesting characters.
  6. Engaging dialogue.
  7. Correct grammar/punctuation
  8. A satisfying conclusion to the story
  9. A unique voice.

We hope you decide to enter and look forward to reading your stories. If you have any questions, feel free to email us ( or catch us on Twitter (@solsticeshadows)
Happy writing!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sizzling PR Presents The Morrigan by Kennan Reid

Morrie Brandon is the best horse trainer in Oklahoma, able to tame the wildest of
beasts. She's also the Celtic goddess of War and Sex, The Morrigan, abandoning her
supernatural life for a simpler, more human one. When Morrie is hired by a secretive
Scottish family to capture a killer horse ravaging their Highlands manor, the past she
has spent thousands of years running from calls her back. Will Morrie learn from her
past mistakes and embrace the bold goddess she truly is, or is it too late?

“Did no one tell ye it’s rude tae give a man the best night of his life and then run away?” a voice rumbled low and soft and managed to be as seductive as it was menacing.
“Kade,” Morrie sighed, hoping he couldn’t hear the desire and relief laced in the sound.
She shouldn’t be this excited over knowing he had raced home after her, but inside she nearly bounced like a giddy school girl.
And what did he say? The best night of his life…Morrie would have to admit, she felt the same.
She spun around on the stool to face him, leaning back when she found him standing too near.
He closed the small space, towering over her as he dipped his head to be eye level with her, forcing her back against the bar.
“Ye will no’ leave like that again,” he growled.
Morrie frowned at his order and opened her mouth to respond, but the words caught in the back of her throat.
Emotion flickered in his eyes, eyes that had grown black with what could have been either desire or fury, she wasn’t sure. But also something else…
Morrie tilted her head to the side. “Did I scare you?”
Kade huffed with quick offense and straightened up, leaning back from her. But his expression changed to one of wonder.
“Like ye would no’ believe,” he admitted on an exhaled breath as though surprised by his own revelation.
“I told you I was here for business.” And that business was quickly becoming an obsession of hers.
A challenge that would determine just how far down the mortal hole she had fallen and whether she could find her true nature as a goddess once again.
This job tested her mettle because it should have been done by now. She knew she could find the horse if she used her powers, but she needed to know she could find him on her own.
Though why she needed that, she couldn’t say.
Kade turned his angry eyes on her. “Do ye really expect tae succeed in this daft quest?”
Morrie blinked, surprised by the…well, vehemence of his question and the turn of his questioning.
Of everyone in the home, he had seemed the least concerned about her reasons for being there.
“If I didn’t think I could catch him, I wouldn’t stay.” And she had thought he wanted her to stay, but his question had elicited an unwanted response—one of insecurity. “If you think I’m wasting my time, then I should just leave.”
For emphasis, she moved to slip off the stool, to really get away from him before he could see just how his doubts had touched her, but he stopped her by placing his hand on her hip.
“Wait, that’s no’ what I want.” Morrie paused but crossed her arms over her chest, pressing her lips together and waiting for him to continue. Kade sighed. “O’ course I think ye can catch him. If anyone can, it’s you. I doona doubt ye.” He blinked, like a discovery had been made. “Maybe ye’re supposed tae. In fact, I’ll help ye do so.”
Morrie gave Kade a sidelong glance. He was up to something, she just wasn’t sure what.
“You’ll come with me to the loch?”
There it was again!
A passing cloud of fear across his face, but this time it was different. It seemed spurned on by a different place.
But it came and went so quickly, Morrie soon questioned seeing it at all.
“I’ll follow ye anywhere,” he answered her and there was a deep truth behind his statement. “Just doona leave again like ye did this morn.”
Morrie studied him like a suspicious package wrapped in a thin veil of desperate relief. He seemed changed from the night before—this emotion even different than the cloud that settled over him after the encounter with his mother.
Kade either wore many masks or his true nature was too complex to determine.
Like the horse, Kade was a challenge.
And Morrie was a sucker for challenges.
And his dark eyes turned her into a puddle and it seemed there was nothing she could do about it. Her shoulders slumped before she muttered, “Stop making me melt.”
Kade frowned. “What was that?”
“Nothing,” Morrie stood up, placing her body much too close to Kade’s, but she couldn’t appear weak. She pulled out some money and slapped it down on the bar to well cover her tab.
“Alright, you can help. But what happened last night cannot happen again. I am your brother’s employee, I am your employee. And for us to entangle ourselves…” Kade’s responding grin caused Morrie to roll her eyes and regret her word choice, but she continued on, hands on her hips, “would only result in an unnecessary distraction.”
She hoped to glower that smirk right off his beautiful lips.
At the fire in her eyes, Kade threw up is hands in surrender.
“Aye, lass, as ye wish. If ye insist on lying tae yerself and pretending, then I will no’ impose my will on ye.”
Morrie’s face burned with outrage, but that only resulted in Kade laughing at her, gazing down with desire in his smoldering eyes and adoration in his smile.
“Stop that!” she complained, pushing past him.
“Stop what?” he asked with feigned innocence.
She whirled around and nearly smacked her face into his chest.
Sighing, she stepped back and looked up at him.
“Stop trying to provoke me. Nothing will happen between us.”
“If ye say so. As I said, I will no’ impose myself on ye, but if ye canna keep yer hands tae yerself, lass, I will no’ stop where they may roam. And we both know they’re curious, lil’ things.”
Volumes were spoken in his heated gaze. Morrie flushed anew.
Her body grew rigid, her hands balled into fists at her sides.
“My hands do not—there will be no—gah!” Morrie sputtered and turned her back to him, stomping out of the restaurant and towards what was going to surely be a violent battle of wills.
For the first time in her existence, Morrie didn’t know if she would be the victor.

Author Bio: 
Kennan Reid traveled from the vast, open spaces of Texas to the vast, open ocean of
California where she enjoys sitting outside in the sun, tossing a frisbee to her dog,
Barnabas, and on occasion, writing a few words hoping one day they behave and
become a book. When she's not pretending to be a romance author, she is writing
young adult novels about elves, witches and reincarnation. The Morrigan is her first
adult romance novel and after falling in love with the fiesty goddess and her crazy
sisters, will not be her last.

Author Links:

Buy Links:

Book Blitz for The Yummy Adventures of Cedric and Celia stop by Penny's Tales

Book Blitz: The Yummy Adventures of Celia and Cedric, by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar

* Required
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 Authors: Erin Kurt, B.Ed. and mom, Laara Exsnar, B.Ed, RHN


Purchase all 3 books by CLICKING HERE -

and get a FREE GIFT! 

Celia is bored. And with everyone in her family busy she doesn’t know what to do...until her dad gives her a task that leads to her best day ever; the day she meets Cedric and their yummy adventures begin!

After a rainy night Celia had a fun idea as usual. Who knew that what started out as mud and grass clippings would turn out to be the most delicious, delectable snack they or anyone else had tasted...yes, even her teenage brother, Jake.

Celia and Cedric meet a new friend!  In this new adventure, they meet the little green dragon who becomes a fun playmate and an inspiration for a yummy new recipe. Celia and Cedric enjoy the Little Green Dragon’s smoothie and you can too!

Guest Post

by Erin Kurt
Food is the fuel we run on but food also gives our body important information – did you know that?
Let me explain. We are composed of trillions of cells which contain a blueprint and our cells make us who we are depending on this blueprint.
The great news is that we have been given the power to control our cells and their blueprint because we have been given the free will to make choices which either foster good health or deter it. In other words, we have the ability to operate the ON/OFF control-switch which tells the good genes to turn on and the bad ones to turn off.
Yay!  We are not victims of our genes, but masters of our fates, able to create lives overflowing with health and happiness, as Bruce Lipton Ph. D., scientifically explains in his book, The Biology of Belief.
How exciting is that?  When we know better, we can do better!
It’s actually quite easy to give our cells spectacular data in order to build a healthy immune system; we can eat,The Super Hero Foods!

Guest Post

How to Transform Your Picky Eater
Have you been dealing with a picky eater or a child who is really fussy when it comes to food? It’s pretty frustrating isn’t it? Often times food is a one that young children feel they have some control over their life, so they play up big at eating time.  But, there are genuinely some kids who have an unknown aversion to certain foods that they haven’t even tried.  As a nutritionist, retired school teacher, mother and grandmother, I have seen what works to transform the pickiest of eaters.  Ready to find out how?  Read on.
True story:
My 3 year old granddaughter, Kaia, wasn’t that keen on eating blueberries, so her mother decided to get her involved in making a blueberry sauce for pancakes.
Kaia, like most kids, enjoys measuring, adding ingredients to recipes, mixing and stirring.  She also loves putting on the little apron and chef’s hat that grandma (me!) made for her.
While preparing the sauce, Kaia was “eyeing” the berries keenly as she dropped them into the saucepan and stirred.  She said, “Well, maybe I’ll eat just one!”  Once the sauce and pancakes were ready to eat and the table set, with the sauce as the main attraction, the family sat down to eat.  Kaia’s brother exclaimed, “This blueberry sauce is so yummy!”  Mommy said, “Kaia made it.”  Kaia ended up having 3 servings. Picky eater of blueberries no more!
The quiest way to transform your picky eat is to get your kids involved in growing, tasting, touching, and making meals.  This results in a familiarity, a bonding effect with the foods.
However, another great idea is to talk about the Color Families of food, what each family is noted for, and how this helps us grow healthy and strong.  Have you ever noticed that kids’ eyes light up when shown bright colors?  They especially love to look at a rainbow of colors – so why not apply this to fruit and veggie eating?
You could call these foods “go grow” foods so that kids can differentiate between “go grow” healthy and “no grow” unhealthy foods.
Let’s be detectives and find out the main nutrients in the Food Color Families.

Red Family: tomatoes, watermelon, guava, red peppers
: antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C help us fight diseases

Orange Family: Carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, mangoes
beta-carotene supports the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant
Certain nutrients found in carrots help the body fight bacteria and toxins that come in through the mouth and live in the gums and teeth which may lead to cavities and tooth decay.  Carrots can help remove plaque and stains from teeth when eaten after meals.  The fiber acts as a brush in the digestive system, whisking away bad bacteria.  Who doesn’t love baby carrots?  Make them organic to avoid pesticides and herbicides and other sprays we don’t need in our bodies.

Yellow-Orange Family: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, apricots, papayas, peaches, yellow peppers
: provide lots of vitamin C to keep our cells working well, especially the adrenals

Green Family: spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, dill, parsley, zucchini, green peppers, cabbage, bok choy,  romaine lettuce, arugula
: packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients, especially for the heart and immune system
As research has proven, they are the first family you want to eat every day.

Blue Family:  blueberries, purple grapes, blue plums
The pigment (blue color) anthocyanin destroys free radicals to help us stay healthy.

Red-Purple Family: Grapes, berries, plums, cherries, purple cabbage, beets
: antioxidant powerhouses
Beets are a rare natural source of betalains, anti-aging pigments to neutralize toxins, combat inflammation and repair damaged cells.  Other nutrients help the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, to empower endurance, energy and memory.
You can buy beet juice in Health food stores, or add uncooked beets to a red smoothie with cherries or berries, some leafy greens, liquid and sweetener of choice, and vanilla extract.  Bam! You’ve just helped your cells repair and regenerate.
You can also purchase beet powder online (e.g. It works great to color frostings, whipped cream, and baked products.  Get creative!

One of my most popular recipes is the simplest I have which is called “Fruit Swords”. You can find this recipe in the  Snappy Snacks Cookbook Bonusyou receive when you purchase all 3 books in the “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric Read and Bake Series.

To order these books, please go to: or have a look at them first at

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joanna-jarc-robinson-1 Mother and daughter team Erin Kurt, B.Ed. and mom, Laara Exsnar, B.Ed, RHN, have joined forces to write fun, adventurous stories with their little characters Celia and Cedric. Erin, a former school teacher and mother of two young kiddies, and Laara, a retired school teacher and now nutritionist, have a passion for families, health and yummy food. Bringing their combined experitise together they’ve created a Read and Bake Series they hope will bring families continuous hours of fun and enjoyment.