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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop - Lynette Sofras has TWO Romances for You to Claim

I'm no gardener - I'll own up to that from the start - I've tried to grow my own vegetables but simply ended up making my garden resemble a scene from The Day of the Triffids (probably because of over-fertilisation) but yielding very few edible vegetables.  Living in an early Victorian cottage, I yearn to have a typical cottage garden filled with pretty flowers and, most importantly, lots of herbs, and with these I have been a little bit more successful.

For my Authors in Bloom contribution, here are my six golden rules gleaned from years of trial and error and an extra tip for preserving your herbs once grown.

1)  Be ultra careful when buying herbs from garden centres; in my experience it's better (and more rewarding) to grow them from seed.  Having an array of herbs in pots on the kitchen windowsill is very satisfying for aspiring chefs.

2)  Pay attention to the directions on the seed packs regarding spacing requirements.  It can be fiddly handling tiny seeds but never crowd them

3)  Keep them well-watered but don't allow them to stand in water for too long.  Good drainage is essential for healthy roots.

4)  Move the pots around regularly for even light-distribution.

5)  Never overfeed (I've lost so many that way, mistakenly believing they'll grow better if well-fed).  In fact herbs will grow well in relatively poor soil conditions.

6)  Don't be tempted to harvest the leaves too early.  Allow them to grow up to 8 inches and strip leaves sparingly.  Then wait for regrowth before snipping more.  For the herbs you use most frequently, grow extra pots.

Top Tip:  If you want dried herbs - a brilliant way to dry them quickly is to cut them and spread them onto newspaper on a sunny window ledge or in the back of the car on a sunny day.  Close all the windows and they'll be dry in no time - leaving your car deliciously aromatic at the same time.  

My heroine, Juliet in my giveaway novel The Apple Tree (winner of Inspired Romance's inaugural writing competition) has, like me, very little knowledge about gardening and plants.  When she visits the gardening centre owned by an old family friend, she meets Nicholas and immediately mistakes him for a gardener.  This is something Nicholas, if only the demands of big business permitted, would happily embrace.  The misunderstanding is soon cleared up, however, but Nicholas' love of gardens is certainly one of the reasons Juliet falls in love with him.

Here is the blurb for Giveaway One: The Apple Tree.

Escaping from your past is never easy, as young hospital doctor Juliet discovers when she tries to start afresh, leaving both her marriage and her career behind.  Love blossoms rapidly when she meets the mysterious and forthright Nicholas, who seems to herald the new beginning she craves.  

The past quickly dissolves into insignificance as their all-consuming romance propels them forward but Juliet has to learn the price of happiness in the cruellest way possible.  Will she be able face the painful roots of her past in order for her future to grow strong and healthy?

Giveaway 2:  Shopping for Love

Now when it comes to cooking, I know much more, believe me.  I love nothing better than experimenting with exotic cuisine and frequently globetrot in my kitchen.  In my second giveaway novel Shopping for Love, my lovely hero Greg fancies himself as a bit of a Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen.  In this excerpt he prepares a Thai fish meal for Emma.

He handed her a glass of chilled wine and she leaned against the tall fridge sipping it as she watched him busy himself with a wok and bamboo steamer.  “I feel guilty just standing here.  Can I help?”

“You already are.  Just by decorating my kitchen, making eye candy – it’s almost ready, anyway,” he told her with a grin. “It’s all in the prep, you see.”

He had steamed the fish over banana leaves in a bamboo basket and poured sizzling sesame oil over it at the last minute.  It was accompanied by little bowls of perfectly cooked rice and vegetables and Emma was almost too impressed to think about eating.

“This is wonderful.  Where on earth did you find fresh banana leaves?” She asked peering into the bamboo steamer in the centre of the table.

“Oh you’d be amazed at what  wonderful things you can pick up in supermarkets these days,” he said with a knowing wink which reduced Emma to helpless laughter for some time until he apologised and ordered her to begin eating, which she did, accompanied by appreciative sound-effects.

“How can a man who cooks like this possibly be divorced?” she asked at length.

Greg laughed, genuinely amused.  “Spoken like a true foodie.  But, you know, it takes more than culinary skills to make a marriage work.”

“Not for me, it wouldn’t,” Emma said with a smile, transferring more of the succulent white flesh from the sea bass onto her plate before coaxing it between her chopsticks.  “If I could eat like this every day, I would ask for nothing more in life.”  She paused before bringing any more of the food to her mouth.  “Would it be out of order for me to ask what happened?”

If you'd like to win either of these books in any e-book format, simply leave a comment or answer the following question and don't forget to leave your email address and say which book you'd prefer to win.

Recent research claims that the smell of the herb rosemary can help what?  (Hint - Shakespeare had a fair idea about this 400 years ago - so it's hardly new research!)

For more information about any of my books, please click on any of the following links:

Don't forget to visit other authors on the  Authors in Bloom list for your chance to win an e-reader and $25 worth of books. 


Laura Marcella said...

Hello, Lynette! I live in an apartment so can't have a garden, but I look forward to gardening whenever we buy a house! Your books sound delightful and I like the covers. Congrats!

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

LD Masterson said...

Thanks for the gardening tips. Sadly, I have a black thumb. Erma Bombeck's great line, "Plants under my care have been known to commit suicide." could have been written for me.

Your excerpt made me hungry.

JenniferJ said...

It would help improve memory! I would love to win Shopping for Love! Thank you so much for the chance!

savannah said...

I have no clue! So I'm going to cheat and copy Jennifer and say improve memory!!
I really want to read Shopping for Love! Any book where the hero likes Gordon is for me!! I love that man lol

ManicScribbler said...

Thanks Laura, LD, Jennifer and Savannah - great to see you all here and I hope you're enjoying the blog hop so far.
Laura - I know the feeling of longing for a garden having lived in flats myself for many years. It's great to have your own outdoor space, even if it won't behave well for you!
LD - I love that quotation! It could equally have been penned about me ;)
Jennifer and Savannah - thanks for participating in my little quiz. Results soon. Good luck.

Amy Jarecki said...

Living in the desert, I always have trouble with the "plenty of water" part :-) Your garden pictures are beautiful!

ManicScribbler said...

Imagine living in the desert! The closest I got was living in Greece for a few years - where water was rationed every day. It certainly makes you appreciate it more and not want to waste a drop. It also made me miss the lush greenness of England.
As for the garden, sadly it's only mine in my dreams. It's what I aspire to, not the way mine looks right now - I'll keep trying though :-)
Thank you for visiting, Amy.

Sharma said...

Thank you for the chance to win. Sharma Darby

Kristen said...

I have no idea, either. As I just planted apple trees, the apple tree book looks interesting.

ManicScribbler said...

Hi Sharma and Kristen,
Don't worry if you don't know the answer - it's just nice that you stopped by and left a comment.

Good luck with your apple trees, Kristen - soon you'll have an orchard in your garden - how great is that?!

Jeanette Platt said...

I would say memory or relaxing but just guessing here... thank you for being part of the hop and for the growing tips.

Sanjay Kumar said...
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ManicScribbler said...

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Sarah said...

memory :) its amazing how many herbs have such wonderful health benefits! The Apple Tree would be my choice, I think, though both sound great. Thanks!
oddball2003 at hotmail dot com

Shelley Workinger said...

I didn't realize drying herbs was so easy; thanks for sharing, Lynette. :)

Ninette said...

Here from the hop and glad I stopped by. Would love either of those books, tbh! Following you via GFC and I hope you'll visit my post, too!

ninette.swann at

Meghan said...

Boost memory!
I follow via GFC: Meghan Stith
Spring is bloom and I love the flowers that come along with it. The warm weather, the happy people, the blossoming of roses and sunflowers. Sunflowers have to be my favorite flowers. They are so happy reaching towards the sky. Their petals are like eyelids opening wide to look upon the great blue sky above. My mother makes the best cheesy cauliflower soup that i adore in the springtime. It's thick and creamy and I could easily eat gallons of it!
Thanks for the giveaway!

mestith at gmail dot com

Teena Stewart said...

I would guess rosemary....Isn't that in Hamlet? Rosemary for remembrance....Ophelia. No idea. My email teenastewart412 at

Shadow said...

Thanks for sharing! Ive always wondered how to dry. Thanks! And im guessing it helps with memory. Very cool! Didnt know that. Did you know that rosemary oil helps with dried scalp and dandruff? I have supper thick hair and i constantly have to put oil in it to keep it from being dry and brittle. Thank you!

ManicScribbler said...

Thank you Shadow. I didn't know about rosemary oil - what a great tip.

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