The Cookbooks You Need On Your Kitchen Counter Right Now

Looking for the best cookbooks on the market? Not the ones filled with fancy recipes that you'll never actually use, but the ones that have classic, home-style foods that your whole family will enjoy? Click here for the ultimate list of cookbooks. #cooking #cookbooks #tbr #giftsforcooks #kitchen

When I’m not busy writing, you can probably find me in the kitchen.

I didn’t grow up in a family with home-cooked meals on the table every night. We would often have microwave dinners or fast food, which was fine. But when I got to college, I quickly realized I needed to figure out how to cook. It was cheaper, healthier and, perhaps most importantly to me, a lot of fun.

And now that I’m a mom, I get great pleasure out of putting home-cooked meals on the table for my family.

I collect cookbooks like some people collect shoes. I can’t get enough of them!

Some are good for fancy parties, some are good for holidays, but my favorites are the ones that are good for everyday home cooking.

Here are the cookbooks you NEED on your kitchen counter right now:

Please note that these are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you click through and make a purchase – at no additional cost to you!

First up is Pull Up a Chair by Tiffani Thiessen.

I know what you’re thinking.

Tiffani Thiessen? Wasn’t she Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell?

Yes. Yes, she was.

And let me tell you: she is a brilliant cook.

Every single recipe I have tried in this cookbook has turned out phenomenal. From raspberry jam to grilled pizza to the absolute best chocolate chip cookie recipe you’ve ever tried, this book covers it all.

These recipes are quickly becoming my classic, go-to family dinners.

I don’t know why she hasn’t gotten more recognition yet.

If you only get one cookbook from this list, I’m telling you right now – this is the one to get.

You won’t regret it.

Next up is The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

If you’ve ever watched The Food Network, then you know all about Ree Drummond.

I absolutely love her show, and over the years I’ve used many of her recipes.

I love that this cookbook spells out full holiday menus for you.

In fact, it’s Christmas Eve as I’m writing this, and today I’ll be using her recipes for Prime Rib, Burgundy Mushrooms and Gingerbread Cookies.

She doesn’t just cover the obvious holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

She has complete menus for holidays like Father’s Day and the Fourth of July, too.

Plus, I love that her cookbooks show pictures of every step of the process, not just some fancy picture of the end-product. It’s super helpful.

Another go-to cookbook is Valerie’s Home Cooking.

Yep, it’s another celebrity cookbook.

But if you haven’t tried Valerie Bertinelli’s recipes, then you’re missing out.

My favorite recipe from this cookbook is her gumbo.

If you had any idea how long I’ve searched for the perfect gumbo recipe, you’ll understand why.

In my opinion, it’s worth getting the whole cookbook for the gumbo recipe alone.

Finally, the last cookbook you need in your life is Chrissy Tiegen’s Cravings.

First, it’s one of the funniest cookbooks you’ll ever read.

I never thought I’d type that sentence, but it’s true. She’s hilarious, and her introduction sections of her recipes made me laugh out loud.

But, more importantly, she has some wonderful recipes in there. Her Vegetable Tortilla Stew and Rotochick Chicken Noodle Soup are game-changers.

I hope you found this list helpful! If so, be sure to pin this post on Pinterest.

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Authors Share The Best Paranormal Books You Need To Know About

I’ve teamed up with some amazing paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors to share the best paranormal books you need to know about. 

These are personalized recommendations of our all-time favorite paranormal reads. 

Tip: You can scroll to the bottom to see a gallery
of the books recommended in this post.


I know this will come as a shocker that my favorite one isn’t about vampires, but I absolutely loved Elementals by Michelle Madow. I don’t think I’ve ever read through a series so quickly. Normally, I’m a slow reader. But I couldn’t put it down. 

It’s about the teenage descendants of Greek gods who also have elemental magic. They have to team up to unravel an ancient prophecy and save the world. 

It’s fast-paced and filled with action and romance – everything I could want in a series. It’s a really fun read!


Submitted by L. DanversAuthor of Blood Heirs


I adore the Covencraft series by Margarita Gakis. In her world, witches are ruled by covens and not allowed to be independent of them. Most are reared within the system and have their magic honed and guided. Her MC, Jade, was born outside the system and discovers her magic as an adult. She’s forced to join the local coven, and as an independent person who has survived some pretty dark stuff, she resists this tooth and nail. But her powers are immense and she is a danger to herself and others if she doesn’t learn how to control them. Fabulous series that neatly balances dramatic action with humor. (Huh, I should go leave a review somewhere…)

McKenna Dean, Author of Snowfall

The Fever Series. It’s not only dark and sexy, it has a murder to elucidate, and the heroine changes so much along the way that she becomes almost unrecognizable. And the romance is deliciously slow-burn, which I love!


Anya J Cosgrove, Author of Lost Boy


I love the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian. It was my first taste of paranormal romance, and I devoured them!


Carrie Pulkinen, Author of Sweet Release


I enjoyed this PNR series: Afterlight: The Dark Ink Chronicles by author Elle Jasper.   


Sherry Soule, Author of Witchy Wickedness


My favorite is my first. I came to paranormal romance through True Blood, and while not a pure PNR, I went back to read Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and my love of vampires was born!

Cecelia Mecca, Author of The Healer’s Curse 

Want to check out these books for yourself?

Here is a gallery of the books recommended above:

Please note that these are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you click through and make a purchase – at no additional cost to you!

We hope you found this list helpful! If so, don’t forget to pin it, share it or tweet it!

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According to Authors: Vampires vs. Werewolves

Looking for an exciting new read? Authors share their personal favorite paranormal romance and urban fantasy books of all time! Click to check out what PNR and UF books authors recommend.
Looking for an exciting new read? Authors share their personal favorite paranormal romance and urban fantasy books of all time! Click to check out what PNR and UF books authors recommend.

The Pure Joy of Creating

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

Whether you’re just starting out in your creative journey or you’ve published a successful series, you probably hear the same negative self-talk:

  • What if this project I’m working on is a massive failure?
  • Am I wasting my time?
  • What will people think?

For many creatives, as much as we yearn for success and recognition, the truth is that we’d continue to pursue our passion even if we knew no one else would see it.

Because we create for the pure joy of contributing beauty to this world.

It gives us meaning and purpose.

Even after publishing a number of fiction books, some of which have done better than others (though none, as of writing this, have broken through what I’d consider successful monetarily or recognition-wise), the questions listed above come to the surface daily.

Sometimes it’s when I’m actively working on a project. Sometimes it’s when I’m planning out my quarterly goals. And sometimes it’s when I’m doing something as simple as washing the dishes.

So what drives me to keep pushing forward?

The pure joy of creating.

When I examine the gifts and talents I’ve been given, when I think of what mark I want to leave on this world, it all comes down to one thing: sharing stories.

Do you want to write a book? Learn to paint? Learn guitar? What's stopping you? Here, you'll learn how to overcome the negative self-talk and pursue your passion joyfully.

The first book I ever wrote was a tremendous flop. I spent years writing Stellix (later rebranded as Conspiracy Unleashed). It was the first major project of the sort that I’d ever taken on. I had no idea what I was doing. Honestly, I never dreamed I was even capable of writing a book, let alone finishing one. But the idea came on so fast and so strong that all I knew was that I had to get it down.

If the muse has ever taken over, you understand what I mean.

Suddenly, I found myself staying up late to write. And waking up early. And pulling out my phone and making notes to myself about character traits and plot. And making character inspiration boards…

You see, the drive to get this story down was powerful.

I could have ignored it. I could have told myself that, while it was a nice idea, I had other things to spend my time on. I could have thought to myself, “Who am I to write this down?”

But I didn’t.

I allowed the muse to come to me, and the words flowed.

Was it sunshine and rainbows? No. It was work. But it was work that filled me with purpose and passion.

The book may never hit the New York Times Bestseller List.

But that’s okay.

It will always be my favorite book because it was the book that allowed me to prove to myself that I could write. It was the book that unlocked a burning passion within me to create for the pure joy of creating.

Do you want to write a book? Learn to paint? Learn guitar? What's stopping you? Here, you'll learn how to overcome the negative self-talk and pursue your passion joyfully.

While I’ve always enjoyed writing, I don’t have a degree in creative writing or English literature. My degree is in journalism. At the time, it seemed like the more practical route. (Little did I know at the time that printed newspapers were about to become a thing of the past.) I briefly worked as a news producer, and while I loved my company and coworkers, nothing about it fulfilled me.

Early on in my writing career, I decided to view it like this: I don’t have a degree in writing and publishing books—so these early years are my learning years. These are the years to learn everything I can about my craft. These are the years to research the publishing industry, make connections and learn everything I can about what it takes to run a successful author business.

But, more than that, these are the years to create for the joy of creating.

It’s true—the more books I write, the more I learn about writing. And the stronger my writing becomes.

Will I ever be one of the great writers remembered and adored for generations to come?

Who knows?

And, quite frankly, who cares?

All I know is that this pursuit brings me happiness.

And while, yes, there are ups and downs (there is nothing more heart-wrenching for a creative than the first negative review), there is also excitement and wonder. Sometimes, I look back at the stack of books that I’ve published and just think, “Wow. I did that.”

So here’s my challenge to you: whatever you’ve been putting off, whether it’s writing a book, learning to paint, mastering the guitar, stop crumbling under the weight of the what ifs.

What if Michelangelo had talked himself out of picking up a paintbrush?

What if Mozart had been too afraid of failure to sit down at a piano?

Not only would they have never unlocked the potential within themselves, but the world would be worse off for it.

Because when you create, you are bringing beauty into the world.

You are creating something out of nothing.

Don’t sell yourself—and therefore the world—short.

Ignore the doubt.

Ignore the negative self-talk.

Do it anyway.

Go create something beautiful.

But first, tell me: what’s been holding you back from pursuing your passion? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Did you find this article helpful? If so, you can help support me as I pursue my creative passions by purchasing one of my books.

Books to Motivate You in the New Year

We all strive to be the best versions of ourselves. We want to find success in whatever we do. The question is… how?

This is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about lately. Not only do I want to take my author career to the next level…

I want to take my life to the next level.

In recent months, I’ve spent countless hours listening to podcasts and reading up on self-improvement, particularly as it relates to business. And I found the following three books especially inspiring.

I want to share them with you today because I truly believe you will get a lot out of them.

I believe I first heard about High Performance Habits on one of Rachel Hollis’ podcasts. I’m so glad I checked it out.

It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a to-do list of exactly what habits you need to implement in order to become successful ( like wake up at 5:00 a.m., meditate for 10 minutes a day, etc.).

Instead, it was more of a guide to help you discern your priorities and build your own habits around them.

My favorite part about the book was where Burchard explained the importance of weekly chek-ins. As he put it, “If you aren’t consistently measuring the major areas of your life, then you couldn’t possibly know what the balance you seek is or not.”

His technique is something I have begun implementing, and it definitely is making me more aware of how much attention I’m actually putting toward the things that matter most in life.

Funny enough, I actually worked in real estate for a bit. And Keller Williams was my brokerage. As in Gary Keller – the author of The One Thing. I remember everyone talking about how great this book was, but for whatever reason, I never actually read it.

I’m kicking myself now.

This book is powerful.  Yes, you can probably imagine the gist of it by the title. But believe me when I say that the examples and explanations Gary Keller provides are eye-opening and worth reading for yourself.

It will help you in all areas of your life, not just business.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success.

I have so much respect for this man. He is one of the hardest working people ever. Steve Harvey does a daytime TV show, Family Feud, his radio show, books, etc. If I remember correctly, I believe in the book he said he starts his day at 3:15 a.m.! I still don’t fully understand how he does it. It’s all I can do to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to write.

Through sharing stories from his own life, Steve Harvey will fill you with motivation to go after your dreams with all your heart. And I especially loved the end of this book where he discussed the importance of using your success to help elevate others.

I hope you’ve found this list helpful. I personally found these books to be incredibly inspiring, and I have no doubt that you will get a lot out of them, too.

Enjoy your sneak peek of my new YA space fantasy, Fostered Reality (ARC Reader invitation below)

—-

Light blasted from the glowing jagged line. It was like the universe had ripped. I cupped my hands over my eyes and watched as a round metal object the size of a car emerged. The light must have been some kind of portal. I couldn’t see what was on the other side of it, but I was betting it wasn’t good.

I jumped out of the way, fearing for my life. As I did so, the smooth surface of the spacecraft brushed against the rubber heel of my black sneaker, throwing me off balance and sending me rolling across the rocks and grass. Shockwaves rippled across the ground as the spacecraft crashed into the earth. Soil and fallen leaves flew into the air and rained back down. I covered my head to keep tree limbs from crashing on top of me.

When everything settled, pure instinct took over. I lifted my head from the woodland floor. As much as my body ached, I was determined to get away. I didn’t know what this thing was—and I didn’t want to find out.

I pushed myself up from the ground, fighting through the pain in my bloodied palms and skinned knees. My head was pounding, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I had to get out of here.

I had just gotten to my feet when I heard a gush. A door slid open.

I wanted to run, but I was paralyzed by fear.

I wanted to scream, but my throat went tight.

A figure came forth, taking shape right before my eyes.

I took one step back, and then another. I wasn’t sure what to think. Had someone slipped me drugs? Was I hallucinating? Part of me was convinced this had to be a dream, but the other part of me knew good and well that I was awake.

Ba-boom. Ba-boom. My heart was pounding faster than ever, and it felt like it was creeping up my throat. My breathing grew rapid, and my limbs went weak. Pull it together, Serena.

Gathering my wits, I darted behind the nearest tree, trying to escape the alien being’s line of vision.

I wasn’t fast enough.

“Serena?” the figure called after me.

I stopped in my tracks. Goosebumps rippled down my arms, and blood pumped through my veins.

It couldn’t be…

But it was. I knew it. I recognized that voice.

I peeked my head out from behind the tree to see for myself. It was a boy. He was about my age. He wore a gray uniform with brown lining. It hugged his broad shoulders and muscular frame. His messy hair didn’t quite cover up a fresh wound on his forehead. Blood was still oozing from it, but he didn’t seem fazed.

He caught my gaze, and a swoon-worthy smile spread across his face. “You are Serena, aren’t you?”

I gulped. “Yes.”

“My name is Rion Starsong. I’m here to rescue you.”

How could this be real? It wasn’t possible.

I laughed nervously. “It’s finally happened,” I said to myself. “I’ve gone mad.”

He frowned. “I don’t understand.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re a figment of my imagination.”

Rion held out his palms and observed them. “I look pretty real to me.”

I rolled my eyes. “Great. My imagination made him into a comedian.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but you asked me to save you, didn’t you?”

I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to return to reality. “This is just a dream. This is just a dream.” Rion was a character in my story. Yes, I’d scribbled down a plea for help, but that was in a fit of frustration. I didn’t expect him to show up. How could he show up? He wasn’t real. Was he?

I opened my eyes again, horrified that Rion was still there.

“Look, I don’t know what’s going on here. I was sent to investigate a beacon—”

“A beacon?” I asked, finding that curious. That was right where my story had left off.

“Yeah. And then I hear a voice—yours—asking me to get you out of here. It was like some sort of portal drew me in, and I ended up here—wherever here is.”

“I didn’t write anything about a portal.”

“Huh?”

I planted my hands on my hips. “How did you know my name was Serena?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just knew. Are you in need of rescuing or not?”

I shook my head, digging my fingers into my scalp, burying them in my wavy brown locks that were now tangled with grass. “You’re not real.” My eyes widened with fear. I didn’t know what was happening. I backed away, getting ready to run.

“How can I prove it to you?”

In the distance, the screen door swung open. I whipped my head around and saw Mr. Smith had come back outside to continue his search for me—and, no doubt, to investigate the loud crash. I jerked my attention back to Rion when I felt his strong hands on my hips. “What are you doing?”

His soft lips brushed against mine, and a rush of heat swept through my chest. My eyes fluttered open. I was at a loss for words.

“I told you I was real,” he said. “Do you believe me now?”

I nodded, praying that my cheeks hadn’t turned as red as they felt. I didn’t know if I was hallucinating or what, but that kiss sure felt real to me.

“Now, I’m going to ask you again, do you need to get out of here?”

Mr. Smith called out my name. And now there were others who had joined the search party, too.

What reason did I have to stay here? I was going to be shipped off to who knew where, and I would have to start all over yet again. If Rion was real… if there was a chance for me to escape this miserable life, what was stopping me?

And if it wasn’t real, what did I have to lose?

—-

I hope you enjoyed the sample! If you liked what you read and would like to read the entire book before it's available on Amazon, click here: https://www.subscribepage.com/ARCteam…

Advance Reader Copies will go out July 15th, and the book will go live on Amazon July 31st. There are no requirements to join my ARC team other than being interested in reading the book. Willingness to leave a review is not required, but it is encouraged. 🙂 It's as simple as that – no questions asked!

Until next time…
-L. Danvers

I’m continuing to chug along writing the first draft of my new YA space fantasy series Fostered Reality. I’m about 25,000 words in so far and am having a blast discovering these new characters. I plan on going ahead and getting started on books 2 & 3 before I release this one so that I can release the books in the series close together. It'll likely be close to September before the first one comes out.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share something I love to do when writing: creating Pinterest boards for character inspiration. Check out my Pinterest page for Fostered Reality to take a peek at my “dream casting” for the characters. If you browse around my other boards, you’ll also find the actors and actresses I envisioned for Fate Abandoned and Stellix. If you've read the books already, it might be fun to see how the characters you imagined while reading matched up to what I had in my head when writing. 🙂

Speaking of Fate Abandoned and Stellix, I'm working on revamping them with snazzier covers. I'm eager to share the updated versions with you once they're ready! So far, 2018 is shaping up to be a very busy and productive year.

The first book in my new YA space fantasy series is coming along nicely. It's about a teenage girl who finds herself trapped in an alternate reality that she unknowingly created through her writing. So far, I'm roughly 9k words into the first draft. It'll be a little while before it's ready to see the light of day, but in the meantime, I'm excited to reveal that the title is Fostered Reality (The Kryptos Chronicles Book 1). I can't wait to share more updates on Serena Skylark's adventures with you in the coming months!


-L.

The new year is finally upon us. I hope 2018 is off to a great start for you and your loved ones. I don't know about you, but I'm one of those crazy people who absolutely loves coming up with New Year's resolutions. Business-wise, my goal is to do a better job of connecting with you, my readers. Because of this, I'll be sending out a monthly newsletter filled with updates on my projects, featured sci-fi & fantasy books and crafts I'm working on – basically, an insight into my life. You can sign up for my newsletter at www.ldanvers.com/subscribe — and you'll also get a FREE electronic copy of my novel Stellix just for signing up!

As far as writing projects go, I'm currently working on outlining a new YA space fantasy series. It's about a teen girl who finds herself trapped in an alternate universe that she unknowingly created through her writing. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming months. 🙂

-L.

Hello, Readers!
Exciting news! Fate Reclaimed, the final book in the Fate Abandoned series, will be available Nov. 24. You can grab your copy here: http://a.co/4wiUf87. I am working on moving the entire series into Kindle Unlimited, which also means the books will soon be exclusive to Amazon.

Wrapping up this series has been bittersweet. I'm thrilled to have told Daphne's story, but I'm going to miss writing about her. However, I have some fun projects coming down the pipeline in the near future.

More updates coming soon…

As always, thanks for your support!
-L.
Hello, Readers!

I'm very happy so far with how the launch for Fate Surrendered (Book 2 of the Fate Abandoned Series) is going. I decided to go ahead and make Book 1 free. As much as I do think it has value, I realize that most people would prefer to see a sample of a new author's work before paying for it, which I totally understand. Considering I hadn't really done any promotion for Book 1 going free, I am pleasantly shocked at how many people have found it and are downloading it! To all of you who might be reading this on my Amazon author page – thank you for taking a chance on a new author, and I really hope you enjoy Princess Daphne's story! 🙂
In other news, I wanted to share that you can now support my author journey on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/ldanversauthor. If you're not familiar with Patreon, it's basically like Kickstarter for artists. The name is kind of like a nod to the patrons of the days of old. It's a really clever concept and I've been browsing the site and there are some really amazing artists on there. The cool thing, too, is that the site allows me to offer rewards as a special thank you for patrons. For less than a cup of coffee a month, you can get access to some pretty cool stuff. 
As always, thanks for your support!
-L. Danvers