Author Archives: amyandthepen

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop Winners!

The 3rd annual hop has come to a close. Congrats to Savannah M. for winning the Williams-Sonoma eGift Card in my giveaway!

Savannah has also won the grand prize – a Kindle or Nook! Mary Preston won the secondary $25 gift card. Congratulations to all the winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated and entered! See you next year!

Win A Kindle Fire Or Nook In The 3rd Annual Authors In Bloom Blog Hop!



Welcome to the 3rd annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop! This is your chance to win your choice of a Kindle Fire or Nook plus a $25 gift card. One second place winner will also get a $25 gift card.

To enter to win the grand prize and second place prize, you must visit every site on the hop and leave a comment in their giveaway post with your email address (so they can contact you if you win!). The hop runs until April 16, 11:59 p.m. EST. Visit Dianne Venetta’s blog or A Cozy Reader’s Corner for complete details.

Plus, you can win additional prizes on each blog in the hop! Since part of this hop is about baking and gardening, I’m giving away a $25 eGift Card to Williams-Sonoma. My contest is open to the US only. Scroll on for details and to enter!


Along with each contest, everyone posts recipes and/or gardening tips. I’m always about the dessert recipes! This time I’m sharing a delicious twist on plain old brownies.

The basic recipe is a combination of my mom’s brownies and a recipe from Cooking Light. (I stole their lesser amount of butter. But melting it makes the brownies much moister in the end!) But the Pioneer Woman’s Monster Cookies inspired the extra touches. Together, you have swoon-worthy brownies!

Fudgy Brownies Packed With Goodies

3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbps butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup Rice Krispies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour through salt. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract, and eggs and mix until combined. Now comes the fun part – adding the goodies!

Measure them out or eyeball it and mix. You can add more or less of any of the extras as you see fit. Feel free to try anything else delectable in your cabinets! With this sort of thing, I encourage experimentation. And taste-testing.

Once you’re satisfied, scrape the batter into an 8×8 inch greased pan and bake between 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (I always set the timer for less than it may need just so I don’t overbake.) Cool in pan on a rack…if you can wait that long.

And that’s it! Eat, enjoy, share. Everyone loves these things.


Now for the giveaway – a $25 eGift Card from Williams-Sonoma! (Redeemable in stores and online.) Open to the US only. Contest ends April 16 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The winner will be picked by and notified by email. The winner will also be announced on this blog and on Dianne Venetta’s blog.

There is no mandatory entry, but you can earn extra entries two ways.

Leave a comment. This is required if you’re entering for the grand prize! Please include your email address so they can contact you if you win. (+2)

Share this post/giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, etc. (+5 for each link)


Be sure to check out the other sites in the hop to qualify for the grand prize and to enter to win more prizes! Click here for a full list of participants.

Thanks for visiting! Enjoy the rest of the hop!

Drive-Bye Available Today!


I’m excited to announce that Drive-Bye, book three of The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries, is out officially today! It’s tough to believe it’s been this long already, but time flies when you’re writing.

So for a limited time as a special release price, you can purchase Drive-Bye for $1.99 at the following ebook retailers:

Apple’s iBookstore
Barnes & Noble

If you’re new, you can start the series for free right now! (Visit the series’ page for links.) You can also learn more at the official Belinda & Bennett Facebook page, and you can find out about new releases first by joining my email newsletter.

Pre-Order Drive-Bye Today!


Book three of The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries, Drive-Bye, comes out on March 20. But you can pre-order your copy now at Apple’s iBookstore and Barnes & Noble (and soon at Kobo) for the limited-time price of $1.99!

If you’re new to the series, right now book one, Cliffhanger, is free. Learn about it and get download links here.

Find out as soon as Drive-Bye is available everywhere by joining my email newsletter, and follow the official Belinda & Bennett Facebook page for availability updates!

Drive-Bye Cover Reveal + Book Sale!

Book three of The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries, Drive-Bye, hits virtual shelves in a couple weeks! In anticipation of the release, here’s a first look at the cover.



More details and release info to come in the next couple weeks!

As a nifty prelude to the release of Drive-Bye, all of my books are 50% off until March 8 at Smashwords for Read an Ebook Week. If you’re new to The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries, or need to catch up, this is a good time to dive in. Click on the links below for descriptions and purchase info.

The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries

Standalone Mysteries

Happy reading!

Years of Snow & Ice

This winter has been one of the coldest and snowiest in Massachusetts ever. But it makes me think of another very snowy winter we had a few years back. So I’ve collected a few of my favorite photos from then and now and combined them here in this pretty little tiled mosaic. The white stuff can be lovely…but here’s hoping warmer weather is coming soon!

4 Tips For Making the Most Of Your Writing Sessions

Whether you’re writing a blog post or a book, staying focused during a writing session is notgirlwithlaptop_writingsessi easy. It is easy to check this and check that, frittering away valuable writing time. Most of us have other responsibilities, so it matters how you use the time you have to write.

Prioritize your projects or steps within a project. Sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked with less important projects or even aspects of a project and use all your writing time for that. I can have this problem when I’m having issues with my main WIP or I’m facing a more difficult/tedious part of my project. Keeping priorities straight and your goals in front of you, and reminding yourself of those frequently, will help keep you focused.

Idea: Write down your goals and the steps to reach them and keep them nearby when it’s time to write.

Plan what you’re working on ahead of time. Another time waster is figuring out what to write. Maybe you’re juggling multiple projects or just deciding what scene to work on next. Deciding ahead of time will let you get to work immediately so you use the entire time for actual writing. I usually decide the day before what I’m working on.

Idea: At the end of each writing session, take a few minutes to choose what you’ll write during the next session and make a note of it so you won’t forget.

Remove as many distractions as possible. If you have a place free of distractions, awesome. If not, pick your biggest problem and try to eliminate it. For example, maybe it’s checking email. Putting your phone out of sight or switching off the Internet on your computer while writing may help. Some writers like to take their work to coffee shops or parks. Whatever helps you focus, go for it.

Idea: If you don’t know what your biggest distraction is, spend one writing session analyzing how often you’re not writing (or thinking about what to write), and what activities are grabbing your attention. Then decide how best to remove those distractions, or tone them down.

Set a timer while you write. Finally, setting a timer can get you and keep you moving. Set it for as long as you have to write, or in shorter increments. I’m partial to 20 minute segments. I challenge myself to write as much as possible in that time. It often gets me moving and I’m on a roll beyond the timer. Other times, I keep setting it to keep momentum.

Idea: Set goals for how much you’re going to write within a given time-frame. For instance, write half of a scene in 20 minutes.

All writers need focus. Experiment to find what methods work for you, and stick with them. Most importantly, keep writing!