Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, V.S. GARDNER, and her favorite recipe for SWEET POTATO CRUNCH!
A BRICK TO REMEMBER
BY V.S. GARDNER
Since her husband’s unexpected passing four years ago Vonda Graham has been living in the lovely town of Logan, South Carolina. With the help of her family, friends and faith she’s built a happy life there.
When Vonda meets a new neighbor, Leanza, things really start to get interesting. As a result of her father’s disappearance when she was only four, Leanza’s life is shrouded in mystery. For years she’s been falling asleep while typing in her personal journal. Do the random, repeated phrases in her sleep-typing mean anything? Do they tie into actual memories? With Vonda’s help can she recover the hidden memories and uncover the truth that lies within her?
Discover how the answers come to light to help solve mysteries of more than twenty years.
Although the night air was cool Leanza’s body was drenched in sweat. She had yet to awaken from the dream that held her captive. It had started out pleasantly but was now becoming troublesome. In its beginning she was a happy little girl riding her tricycle in a large circle in the basement of her childhood home.
In her dream-state she watched herself and somehow knew this scene was taking place in her mother’s basement and she was no longer a child. Though she couldn’t see his face she knew someone she loved was nearby. She was smiling and calling out for him to watch. She sensed his smile and knew he was proud of her. She felt loved and so very happy until suddenly the dream changed. The room grew cold and dark and was enclosed in a thick fog and the air felt damp.
On some level she knew this wasn’t real either. It was only a dream; but she was powerless to wake herself or escape its grip.
Though no one was there to see it, she began to thrash about in her bed.
She was no longer riding her tricycle. Now she was staring at a brick wall. Everything around her was shrouded in darkness. She felt alone and was afraid. She had the sense of pending disaster.
She wanted to move away but there was nowhere to go. Now she was surrounded by brick walls on every side. There was no escape and she couldn’t find her toys. She wanted her daddy. He had been there just a moment ago but now he was gone. He had given her his toy. Where was his toy now? Wanting to run to him she turned aside but bricks were all around her. Thinking he was nearby she turned and reached her arms out in front of her stretching out as far as possible.
She called out to him, “Daddy come and play with me. Please daddy, I’m scared! I can’t find my baby! Her bed is gone. Where are you? Help me, daddy!”
Turning back in the other direction again she watched as the brick wall in front of her suddenly parted. A sliver of light shone through. It was a very small opening at first but became larger and continued to grow. She could see it opening into a gaping area. The lighted area began to turn dark. She felt as if it would swallow her up.
“Little Dove!” her daddy shouted with great alarm in his voice. “Don’t go in there! Come back!”
She heard a different voice now. “You must keep daddy’s toy safe,” it said. Not knowing who had spoken she turned again to look at her father but all she saw was fog and darkness stretching out before her. Suddenly she felt something grab her. It was trying to pull her into the dark chasm. She jerked away with all her strength.
“Nooooo!!!” she screamed.
Leanza’s body thrashed and she awoke with a start. She was sitting straight upright in her bed, her hair was wet and sticking to her skin along her face and neckline. Her heart raced.
A soft glow of moonlight shone through the window blinds illuminating the room. Her eyes began to focus as her mind slowly registered where she was. This was her bedroom in the condo, her current, temporary home. With this realization Leanza understood she’d just awoken.
It was a dream. It was all just a very bad dream.
She walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Dropping her night shirt, thick with perspiration, she let it lay in a heap on the bathroom floor and stepped in. Letting the water cascade over her, she began to assess the contents of her dream. She’d never had such a dream before. What had brought this on? Was it from being in her mother’s basement? What was all of that about brick walls and her daddy’s toy?
By the time she finished showering Leanza had made a decision.
Since it was still in the wee hours and she was going back to bed at some point she put on a fresh nightshirt. She then went to her makeshift office area and retrieved an empty flash drive from her briefcase. She sat down with her computer and opened her personal journal document and began to search for the first yellow highlighted entry. Finding it, she began at that journal entry and copied the entries through the end of that year which she then pasted into a new document.
She went on to copy each year’s journal entries right up to the present into the document she had created. Having all the journal entries since the sleep-typing had started in a document on the flash drive she set her computer aside and put the flash drive on the table.
She would call Vonda first thing in the morning. Perhaps they could meet for lunch. Leanza would tell her about the dream and give her the flash drive so Vonda could delete the journal entries, keeping only the yellow highlighted sleep-typing entries. She could then begin to audit the sleep-typing. Leanza didn’t know if she’d be able to sleep any more or not but she went back to bed to try.
Obviously, the little girl she once was had tucked away some significant memories of her father. Had something happened in that basement, something that had to do with her toys and her dad? Leanza now believed her mind had been sending messages from her younger self to her present self for a very long time. Specifically, what those messages were and what they meant was a mystery Vonda was willing to help her with. It was time for Leanza to solve this.
More accurately, it was well past time.
After raising her family, relocating from Ohio to beautiful South Carolina and leaving the work force, VS Gardner fulfilled her lifelong dream by becoming a published author.
Her first novel, A Killing on Hardee Street. was published in 2020. The rocking chair on the front cover of the book is the author’s actual rocking chair; from which she enjoyed her morning coffee on the back patio of her home while watching a new build in her community. This is where the idea for the story originated. The main character, Vonda Graham does the same. A killing takes place at the construction site and, without realizing it, Vonda has clues to the crime. The story centers around a mysterious disappearance, new relationships, Vonda’s comforting memories, and faith.
VS Gardner’s second novel, A Brick to Remember, was published in 2022. The picture on the book cover was painted by the author’s husband, a self-taught artist, Steve Gardner. The main character is Leanza Williams. Her father went missing when she was only four years old. Leanza grows up to do two things. One is to become an advocate for missing persons. Working with an FBI Task Force, Leanza goes to the Myrtle Beach area to solve the case of thirteen current missing persons. The second is to sleep-type. This is something the author does, and where the idea for this story originated. While typing in her personal journal, Leanza falls asleep, but her mind and fingers keep working. The next time she reads her journal, the last several lines don’t make sense; they contain phrases about a brick wall, her father’s toy, a brick, a name, and several other clues to what happened to her father.
VS is currently writing her third novel, which focuses on mysterious happenings at Spivey Lake in Mount Tabor, NC.
While VS Gardner is her author name, her name is Vanessa. Holding to the belief that life’s greatest treasures are found in relationships, Vanessa’s favorite pastime is spending time with family and friends. When not writing, she enjoys reading, thrifting, exploring local points of interest, and trail walking. She is grateful for the many blessings of life.
Links to V.S.’s website, blog, books, #ad, etc.:
Amazon (Killing on Hardee Street):
Amazon (A Brick to Remember):
Contact VS Gardner at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you enjoy the recipe V.S. is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
P.S. We’re at 627 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right-hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: If an author’s favorite recipe isn’t their own creation and came from an online site, you will now find the entire recipe through the link to that site as a personal recommendation. Thank you.
SWEET POTATO CRUNCH
NOTE FROM V.S.: This recipe is a family favorite I make every Thanksgiving and Christmas.
40 oz can Sweet Potatoes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup margarine
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar
4 egg whites
½ cup evaporated milk
Drain and mash potatoes, adding everything. Put in baking dish.
¾ cup brown sugar packed
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup flour
¼ cup margarine
Cover with topping. Bake 35 minutes @ 350 degrees.
Thanks, V.S., for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!