#Romance in a Month – It’s here!

My first romance novel is now available! Behind the Altar is the story of forbidden love by a woman passionate about helping the homeless vets living in her small Florida town and a man haunted by his childhood. He’s a famous tattoo artist, and she’s kind, loving, and innocent until he rides his Harley into her heart, and they both discover they’ve never known love before. Be sure to scroll down to enter the raffle to win a paperback copy of Behind the Altar.

Title: Behind the Alter: Behind the Love Trilogy (Book 1)
Author: P.C. Zick
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 16, 2014
~~BUY IT NOW~~

~~ABOUT THE BOOK~~

Forbidden Love – Book #1 in the Behind the Love Series by P.C. Zick

Leah Bryant’s life satisfies all her needs. Her engagement to Jacob Davis, minister of the Sunshine Christian Church, gives her the security she requires after living in a car during her teenage years. She runs a food kitchen out of the church for homeless vets who are living on the banks of Deer River. All is perfect until the day her future mother-in-law Geraldine tells her the church is shutting down the kitchen, and Dean””Jacob’s brother””rides his Harley into her heart. Leah’s world begins to crumble as she falls into Dean’s muscular and tattooed arms. Dean, who’s been away from his home for ten years, finds himself irresistibly drawn in by Leah’s natural beauty and genuine goodness. As they fight to stay away from one another, Leah and Dean keep finding ways to be together. The more they fight the attraction, the harder it is to stay apart. Will Leah go ahead and marry Jacob despite Dean’s haunting her every thought? Will Dean exact the revenge he came home to hand out? And will Geraldine manage to keep control over the church, Jacob, and Leah? It will all be determined in Behind the Altar, a romantic story of forbidden love.

˃˃˃ Homeless vets, deranged mothers, and a tattoo artist collide in this story of true love



How can the sweet and innocent Leah make sure her fight to feed the homeless in the small town of Victory, Florida, is successful? The arrival of Dean, her fiance’s brother, confuses the matter even more as the two are uncontrollably attracted to one another.

Can love really conquer all? Dean and Leah are about to find out.

~~CONTACT THE AUTHOR~~

Other Books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/XYOtoe

Website: www.pczick.com

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In the midst of the fire

P. C. Zick:

This blog addresses an important issue. Let’s keep the dialogue open on depression and suicide. If we talk about it, the stigma may slowly change.

Originally posted on betweenfearandlove:

(Trigger Warning: This post references suicide and depression. If you need help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)

robin-williams1

My favorite priest once gave us an analogy. He said to us that someone once told him that people who are depressed with suicidal tendencies feel like they are standing in a burning building with flames all around and the flames are growing bigger and bigger, closer and closer. They can’t run through the fire, the flames will engulf them. They stand on the edge, waiting for the moment the flames die down, but sometimes the flames move so close that they cannot escape them any longer and the only way out is to jump. The jump isn’t designed to hurt anyone else or even themselves. The jump is designed to escape the fire that is all consuming. People jump from burning buildings. We instinctively search for an escape…

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#Monarchs and #Tomatoes As Summer Wanes

Potato Leaf Tomato

It’s been a very bountiful year for our tomatoes. They are the biggest my hubby has ever produced, and they are still coming although the leaves are telling us that the season is about to end.

I put up ten quarts of Italian sauce two weeks ago. We’ve given away dozens of tomatoes. I have seven bags of frozen whole tomatoes for the winter. This weekend we plan on doing eight to ten pints of salsa.

The last of this year's crop

This morning I walked outside to visit the dahlias and marigolds and sunflowers in full bloom and full of bees and now butterflies. We planted milkweed there in the spring, but only one of the plants has survived, but with no flowers. We planted it in hopes of helping the monarch butterfly that depends on these plants to fuel them enough to fly to Mexico each winter.

 

MonarchMuch to my delight and surprise, among the many butterflies feasting on the flowers, sat a monarch on a red dahlia.

The final weeks of summer bring their own bittersweet shots of beauty. I treasure these days. A few trees are turning orange but the weather is still hot and sunny.

I hope your summer has been bountiful and fruitful whatever you’ve done, eaten, or planted!

 

Recipes for preserving tomatoes can be found in From Seed to Table. S2T-5

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Odyssey to Myself – #New Release

I named this blog “Living Lightly” because that is my intention every single day of my life–to live lightly. I didn’t start out with the lightest of hearts. I’ve had to travel down many roads to arrive where I am today. Perhaps the most traveled decade of my life occurred from 2000-2010 on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. During that decade of falling down, standing up, falling down, and standing up once again, I wrote.

I finally took all those writings–from my columns, blog posts, and journal writings–and put them together in my new book, Odyssey to Myself. The book is available in paperback and on Kindle.

Click here for Kindle version

Click on cover for Kindle version

PaperbackAugust2014Half

Click on cover for paperback

Odyssey to Myself is a world travel guide for trips to Morocco, Italy, Panama, Chile, and down Route 66 in the United States. The compilation of essays show Muslim women dressed in hijabs and working in Casablanca. Moroccan history and food provide a colorful backdrop as the author explores her place in the world.

About Odyssey to Myself:

Take a trip to Casablanca, Marrakech, Tuscany, Bocas del Toro, and Santiago as P.C. Zick writes about her experiences traveling outside the confines of her small world. Observations about life and culture bring to life the sights, sounds, and smells of the ancient alleyways of Fes, the masters of Italy, and the strategic location of Panama. The people of Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile come to life through the experiences of the author as she absorbs the cultures so different from her own.

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A Couscous Luncheon in Casablanca

From Odyssey to Myself:

“Traveling removes us from our small safe environment and thrusts out into the world. When I travel, I realize what a tiny ripple my life is in the ocean’s constant waves. A few months ago, I had to endure a full body MRI that lasted more than two hours. I almost swooned when the nurse told me how long I’d be in that long encompassing tunnel. She recommended I remain awake because if I moved after falling asleep, they’d have to pull me out and begin again. I did not want that to happen. My brain fought against any touch of claustrophobia as they closed me in the tube and sent me inside the machine. I frantically searched through the files in my brain. With a little prayer for help, I went into the tube and decided to travel in my memories back to the most important trips of my life.

The first trip I remembered was my visit to Morocco in 2004. I knew it was a watershed year as many things had been happening in my life, and I went on the trip to heal and find direction. I began with my arrival in Casablanca in the early morning hours after flying all night from New York City. It came back so vividly I could even smell and feel the air of my travels during a magical two weeks. Then I started on Italy from 2005, where my daughter and I went for a month to celebrate her graduation from college. I’d only gotten through the first two days when I heard a voice say they were pulling me out of the tunnel. I cursed silently, thinking I must have moved as I remembered walking the streets of Milan and marveling at all the beautiful shoes.

“You were a great patient,” the nurse said. “It didn’t take quite two hours, but almost. You’re done.”

That’s the beauty of travel. It removes us from our world into a kaleidoscope of colors, smells, noises, and textures. This book explores some of those experiences as I embarked on an odyssey to find myself during one of the darkest decades of my life.”

Drinking from the fountain in Assisi

Drinking from the fountain in Assisi

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Oh Captain, My Captain

Each year before I began teaching poetry to my tenth grade students, I started with the movie Dead Poet’s Society. Sometimes I worried about showing it because one of the main characters commits suicide, but I thought the overall message was an important one. It always created a little more excitement in sixteen-year-old males to begin studying Frost and Whitman.

The scene I pulled from YouTube is one of my favorites. One of my most cherished items from those years of teaching is a large card my students made and signed for me. They gave it to me on my last day of teaching. One of the students wrote, “What more can be said than, ‘Oh Captain, My Captain.'” I still cry when I read it, and I always cried when the students jumped up on their desks at the end of the movie.

Today when I watched the scene, I cried. But the tears were different. This time the tears were tears of sadness as I looked into the face of Robin Williams as he said, “Thank you, boys. Thank you.”

Thank you, Robin Williams. Thank you. You brought us to tears from either your sensitive portrayals of a teacher, a father, or a doctor. And you brought us to our knees in laughter with your incessant antics and monologues that often made little sense.

Suicide. You hung yourself in your home. You poor poor man.

Ironically, this past week we found out our neighbor killed himself last year. We’d been traveling and sick this past year so we didn’t keep up much with our immediate surroundings. We knew his house was for sale, but we figured he’d moved nearer his job. But no, while we were in Florida last year, he left his father and young son and went into his bedroom and killed himself. The man next door who told me said there’d been financial troubles.

Thank you, John, for being a loving father, but your young son who you loved so much will never forget that night. You were such a nice friendly man and when you came over to our house with your son, you showed him kindness and consideration.

Suicide. You shot yourself in the head. You poor poor man.

I’m not unfamiliar with suicide. It’s hit my own family. My brother Don, a successful statistician yet unsuccessful in relationships, wrote a suicide note and sat down in his recliner and left us at the age of fifty-eight. Much too young.

Thank you, Don, for being my big brother. I looked up to you in all things as a child. We shared the same dismal childhood, but you never could break out of the prison of yours. I couldn’t help you. I’ll never forget you and how we ate our dinner in the back end of our new Plymouth station wagon one summer night. You were my hero. Don and Me

Suicide. You took an overdoes of pills. You poor poor man.

My husband who’s never suffered a day of depression in his life asked me how Robin/John/Don could have done what they did. Didn’t Robin have enough fans? Didn’t John think about his son? Didn’t Don know someone loved him in the world?

My answer to him is simple. It doesn’t matter what they had, who they were, how much they’d achieved, where they were. Nothing mattered except their need to leave. It overpowered everything else.

Could I have done something to save my brother? I don’t know. Robin’s wife was in the house the night before he died, and John’s estranged wife allowed their son to spend the weekend with him. Perhaps in those final moments and hours, there was nothing that could have been done. The decision was made and the determination set.

Obviously, in none of the three cases I’ve cited did it happen suddenly. Perhaps if depression was something we acknowledged as a real disease as we’re beginning to do with alcoholism and drug abuse, there would have been real help for these three men who’ve touched my life.

I left teaching in 2000 because one of my students attempted suicide in a big way. He took a mega dose of Tylenol and drank a bottle of vodka. He was nearly dead–and would have been in an hour–when his mother came home from work unexpectedly and found him unconscious. The week before, I knew this young man was in trouble. He was lashing out at everyone–myself included–and when I consulted with his guidance counselor, I was informed he was fine. I remember the counselor coming to my classroom and pulling me away from teaching to tell me the young man just wanted attention. He wasn’t depressed at all, he told me. Thankfully, he recovered and so did his nearly destroyed liver. And the guidance counselor continued guiding students, but not discussing depression.

Let’s make an effort to change that. I’m not immune to depression. I’ve been in the depths without hope. The worst thing said to me was, “I don’t understand–you have so much to live for. How in the world could you be depressed?” Would we ever say that to a cancer patient?

We can’t change the past, but we have an opportunity now to take the very public suicide of Robin Williams and recognize it for what it is and open our hearts and arms to those who suffer from depression.

Thank you, boys. Thank you.

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#Gardening and #Raspberries

We’re getting a steady influx of vegetables these days, but nothing much to preserve yet. There are a few tomatoes ripening on the kitchen windowsill.firsttomatoes Last night I grilled zucchini and green peppers. Cucumbers are trickling in, but not enough to turn into pickles and relish. Usually this waiting period occurs in late June, but here in western Pennsylvania, we’re about three later with everything.

raspberriesI did manage to pick more than a quart of raspberries this past week and made my very first batch of jam. Two cups of raspberries made two 1/2 pints of jam. I bought six quarts of blueberries from a local farmer this past week and froze four of the quarts. One quart I used to make three 1/2 pints of jam. Raspberries and blueberries generally follow the same recipe so I made the jam all at the same time.blueberries

I searched the Internet for recipes with low or no sugar added. My husband and I prefer the tartness of fruit without the added sweeteners. I finally settled on Ball’s recipe using their pectin calculator.

I used Ball’s RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin. Basically for two cups of berries, the recipe calls for 1/3 cup unsweetened fruit juice or water. I used apple juice. 1 1/2 TBSP pectin, and 3 tsp bottled lemon juice. Two cups of berries equals two 1/2 pints.

First I carefully washed and picked through the berries. Then I put them in a shallow, rectangular dish and mashed them with my bean masher.RaspberryMash I could have mixed the raspberries and blueberries into one jam, but since this was our first raspberry crop, we wanted those in their own jam.

From there, I put them into a large container and added the other ingredients. I also added 1/4 tsp butter to each pot to alleviate foaming. All the while, the 1/2 pint jars were boiling in the canner, and the lids and bands were simmering in a pot.

blueberryboilI brought each pot of berries to a boil and let them boil hard for one minute. The mixture must be stirred constantly to avoid sticking. Then I removed them from the heat and ladled into hot, sterilized jars. Processing time is ten minutes for altitudes under 1,000 feet. Since we’re at 1,100, I always add five minutes to the processing time when I’m canning.

I had a bit too much of the blueberry mixture, so I put that in a glass container and stuck in the refrigerator, where it will last approximately three weeks. The blueberry jam tastes wonderful and it set up perfectly. I look forward to opening one of the jars of raspberries very soon.jars

What’s growing in your garden these days?

Click on cover for Amazon page

Click on cover for Amazon page

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Florida Fiction with P.C. Zick – Location, Location, Location

P. C. Zick:

Here’s an essay on why I write about Florida, which includes Francis Guenette’s lovely review of Trails in the Sand.

Originally posted on disappearinginplainsight:

Florida Setting 1

I have been fortune enough to be featured on P.C. Zick’s, no less than four times! An incredibly generous blogger, P.C. does interviews with authors on Wednesday and features her book review of that author’s work on Friday. A great double whammy for readers who want to get to know a knew author. It gives me great pleasure to feature P.C.’s guest post on why she writes Florida fiction as part of the Location, Location, Location series.

Take it away, P.C.

Florida Setting 5

The landscape, the climate, the wildlife, the people —these are all the reasons I set my novels in Florida.

For thirty years, the humidity of the Sunshine State seeped under my skin and into my blood. Even though I moved away four years ago, it haunts my fiction. And I’d not have it any other way.

When my first husband suggested we move to Florida from Michigan in 1980…

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#Garden – Pea Time

June Garden 2014

June Garden 2014

I decided to take a break from my job today to give a brief update on the garden now that we’ve moved into summer here in western Pennsylvania.

The spinach has gone to seed, but we put up a few bags and ate quite a few meals of the fresh stuff. The raspberry bushes are alive with small white berries and the bees are buzzing around the blossoms. I watch daily for the first sign of red. I’m ready to pick and preserve–and of course, slip a few in my mouth.

The news this week involves peas. We’d been snacking on peas for the past week. I put some in a tuna macaroni salad, and we’ve been eating them raw. Late yesterday, Robert went out to pick and he came back in with a grocery bag packed with them plus enough for us to have large servings for our supper–we’d had a late lunch, so we made peas our evening meal. Tonight I’ll be blanching and freezing. Mid June Peas 2014

Peas should be blanched in boiling water for two minutes and then submerged in ice cold water for another two minutes. They should be a wonderful bright green and ready for putting in freezer bags for winter consumption. Peas hold up well for freezing, perhaps the best vegetable of all for preserving this way.

So it’s back to work. I’m in the process of getting three books ready for publication. I participated in a Romance in a Month class and really did finish a draft of a book. It’s shorter than my previous novels so I should be able to publish Behind the Altar by September. 64

NATIVE_WEBNative Lands is next in my Florida Fiction Series. I started this novel in 2006, and then left it for a few years. I’ve been working on it since 2013 and it heads to my editor in July. I hope to have it published by October.

And finally, the third book, Odyssey to Myself, is a collection of travel essays I’ve been working on in my spare time for the past year. It covers a decade in my life when my world tilted. As I struggled to adjust, I traveled: Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile. There was a trip down Route 66 in between. Most of the essays were already written and published in various places. I’m just writing the transitions and pulling into one cohesive whole. I hope to publish this one before summer ends.NewKindleJune5

I’ve been busy. I imagine things to pick up with the garden with the ripening of twenty tomato plants. I’m excited to make Italian sauce and salsa since we didn’t make any last year, partly because the tomatoes didn’t perform as well and partially because I wasn’t performing at all.

What a difference a year makes. I’ve never felt better, and when I look out at the garden, it reflects my feeling of health and well-being. We’re eating broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce almost every night. Thanks, Robert, for a job well done!

What’s growing in your area right now? I haven’t been out to a Farmer’s Market yet, but I bet they’re bursting with local food.

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Author Wednesday – Christoph Fischer

P. C. Zick:

I’m reblogging this from my writing site because of the importance of the topic. I know many of us are faced with friends and relatives headed on the Alzheimers journey, either as the patient or the caregiver.

Originally posted on P.C. Zick:

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome back Christoph Fischer for a guest post about his latest release A Time to Let Go. Christoph’s three other novels are set in Eastern Europe during the years of the Great Wars, and offer glimpses into what it was like for people of all gender, religion (or lack thereof), cultural heritage, and sexual preferences. The Three Nations Trilogy (The Luck of the Weissensteiners, Sebastian, and Black Eagle Inn) provide an excellent overview of life before, during, and after war.

However, his latest book A Time to Let Go takes a different path. Set in contemporary times in England, the book explores the life of one family as they deal with the onset of Alzheimers of Biddy, the mother and wife of the Korhonen family. In this guest post, Christoph writes about how and why this story was written. Please…

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#Maya Angelou – Aspire to her Greatness

Maya Angelou at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993

Maya Angelou at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993

We lost a great one yesterday with the passing of Maya Angelou. But thank goodness she passed through this life and graced us with her presence.

I loved turning my students onto the poetry of Ms. Angelou. When she was called upon to write and recite a poem for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993, she had less than three months to write a poem on command for a world debut. As a writer, I can’t imagine the pressure that must have been, but Ms. Angelou did it. All she ever wanted was to be a blessing in this lifetime. She far exceed her own expectations.

The poem she created for the nation, On the Pulse of Morning, is chilling in its preciseness of language, thrilling in its dramatic contrasts, and loving in its portrayal of hope for our nation.

To me the final verses of the poem are the most powerful. I loved reading this aloud to teenagers who, despite themselves, could not help but be inspired by this great woman’s words. I read an interview after the inauguration where she said she was disappointed in the poem. Please rest easy, Ms. Angelou, there is no disappointment in these words of encouragement.

Excerpted from On the Pulse of Morning (final verses):

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

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