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Halloween Goodies Fresh from the Oven

October 21, 2020

from Tina Ruiz 

My mom is 82-years old and doesn’t cook or bake at all anymore, but she is thrilled that I’ve kept her recipes and shared them with my children and grandchildren. Here is one of our favorites especially at Halloween time.

Grama Tina’s Sweet Biscuits

4 cups white flour
2 tbsp. baking powder – double acting is better
1 pinch salt
½ tsp. nutmeg and/or cinnamon
1 cup frozen or very cold butter
1½ cups milk at room temperature
1 egg
Flour
½ – ¾ cups of blueberries, raisins, or chopped apples, optional

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Mix first 5 dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 

In another bowl, shred butter. Shredding instead of adding melted butter is better because when the butter flakes into the dough, you’ll get wonderful flavor in every single mouthful. *HINT* spray PAM on the shredder before using for a quicker clean-up.

Pour milk into a separate bowl.  Stir in egg.  Now add wet mixture to dry, and knead it until it forms a ball.

Sprinkle flour onto your counter or work area, and spread your dough out how you want it – a flat circle or a square.

Brush the top with butter and then sprinkle with white or brown sugar.  

Cut dough into shapes you prefer. Place them on a greased cookie sheet or onto parchment paper.  

Bake 12 – 15 minutes.

Once cooled, spread each biscuit apart and place any kind of fruit or jam on the inside.  Add whipped cream or ice cream on top, then place the cap on and serve.

How about sharing one or both of my children’s Halloween books with your favorite tricksters while you enjoy dessert?

The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni, who are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant. What makes this story different from any other children’s book, are the names which the author has given to her characters. Example: Tess Ding, Chris P. Bacon, Mr. Noah Lott, Harry Pitts, Miss Turi, Walter Melon, Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, etc…

The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.

AMAZON BUY LINK

 

The pictures are bright and the story is fun. It was written not only to entertain kids, but also to challenge their minds.

Every character has a name with a double meaning. Such as: Mr. Noah Lott, Mrs. Faye Ding, Mrs. Frieda Livery, Upton O’Goode, Adam Zapel, and Ella Vader, to name but a few.

Here’s a hint to help you solve the puzzle, Ed Zortails is his name really heads or is it tails? You’ll have to buy the book to find out.

Solving the double meaning of the words will be delightful for children and adults alike. On the off chance someone can’t unravel a name, Tina supplied a cheat sheet at the back of the book.

As with all of her children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.

AMAZON BUY LINK

 

 

Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz has now written wrote thirty books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Sloane said @ 12:27 am | Author Friend Promo, Cooking | Comments

Witch-Riding Nightmares

October 19, 2020

from Leigh Goff

My YA Southern Gothic novel, Koush Hollow, is set in a fictional town outside New Orleans. The title was inspired by the word cauchemar and its Southern meaning.

Koush is a derivative of cauche, which means a terror that comes in the night. The French translation is to press or trample. Mare comes from Old English and means an incubus or night-goblin. In southwest Louisiana cauchemar has another meaning. It refers to a witch-riding, a supernatural attack while one sleeps.

Various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas have different names for this phenomenon that has been experienced over the centuries. In seventeenth century North America, victims of accused Salem witches suffered from these witch-riding nightmares. The same kind of attacks are mentioned in present-day Southern folklore. The terrifying supernatural event occurs in the moments before waking up when one tries to move, but cannot. The paralysis is blamed on the supernatural and described as a feeling of pressure on one’s chest as if a demon were sitting on it or as if a witch were riding the person.

The Nightmare, 1781 Johann Heinrich Fusilli 

Some believe the evil creature sucks the breath out of its victim while slowly killing them. During this sleep paralysis, victims claim to be choked or prodded with the creature’s claws, and they are filled with panic until the creature disappears into thin air. Others believe there is no meaning to the event while others believe it is a warning to seek forgiveness for one’s sins. The painting by Johann Heinrich Fusilli aptly titled The Nightmare depicts a cauchemar with a demonic creature posed on a woman’s chest while the horse in the background stares wide-eyed with fear on its face.

As Koush Hollow is set outside of New Orleans in a place where bayou magic abounds, dreams are frightening, and beauty masks the real monsters, it’s a well-suited title. Here’s a little to intrigue you.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT
This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

BUY LINKS AmazonThe Parliament House

 

Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Sloane said @ 12:05 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments

White Chocolate: a Sweet Faux Pas

October 14, 2020

from Anne Montgomery

I love chocolate, which does not make me special. Americans consume roughly 18% of the world’s chocolate stash, spending over $18 billion annually on the rich, creamy confection.

As a child, my mother fretted constantly about my waistline and hid sweets from me. In retaliation, I’d scour my dad’s Brooks Brothers suit-coat pockets for change and trundle through the woods to Ben’s Diner, which had a long, glorious rack of candy. Ben, a big man with a giant stomach encased in a white apron, never questioned my daily haul of candy bars – which were big suckers back then.

I’d sit by the brook with my collie Betsy and eat that candy – Snickers, Milky Way, Baby Ruth, Chunky, 100 Grand Bar, M&Ms, Heath Bar – every day.

My mom, exasperated by my girth, would defend herself to strangers. “It’s not my fault,” she’d tell people when she thought they were staring at me. “I feed her baked fish and salad with no dressing.”

I always wanted to say, “I’m fat, Mom, not deaf. I can hear what you’re saying.” But I never did.

The point is, I love chocolate, which brings me to the abomination: white chocolate.

I realize some people like that creepy colorless confection. I also know that, lately, fancy chocolatiers have been experimenting with it in an effort to make it more hip. Still, the fact that white chocolate includes cocoa butter, which is derived from cocoa beans, does not make the substance chocolate. One needs cocoa solids to make actual chocolate. (Yes, I know the FDA claims white chocolate made to their standards is considered chocolate, but I’m not having it.)

White chocolate was first unveiled in the 1930s, a product of the Nestlé company in Switzerland. The theory goes that the substance was invented to utilize excess cocoa butter, but no one is really sure.

The Maya, who were the first people to cultivate cacao trees, probably would be stupefied to learn that their prized chocolate – the beans of which they used as a form of currency – is now offered in this pale, unrecognizable form.

And, even worse, those trendy chocolatiers are doing unspeakable things to this white sweet. You can now purchase organic kale with mustard mixed into your white chocolate. And salted almonds with broccoli. Clearly, there are maniacal minds at work here. Confectioners who make Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka appear quite sane.

So, what are we to do with this sweet faux pas? Despite my misgivings, I don’t mind a bit of white as a decoration. After all, it’s pretty. But as a real chocolate substitute? Never!

So give me a dab of white chocolate, if you must, but please … hold the broccoli.

Here’s a little from my latest women’s fiction book. I hope you enjoy it.

A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Amazon Buy Links
E-BookPaperback

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:05 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments

THAT’S ITALIAN!

October 12, 2020

Until the world went crazy, Columbus Day was a national holiday that commemorated the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. It was celebrated every second Monday of October and became a federal holiday in 1937. Okay, so we all know now that he never made it to the Good Old US of A, but he sure had a lot of 1492 type fun in the Caribbean. Since I always got that day off school, I’m good with giving Chris a meal to celebrate his day.

MENU 

Pizza Casserole
Orange Granite
Dry Red Wine – Chianti
Photo by Anna Guerrero from Pexels

Pizza Casserole
1 lb. (500g) bulk Italian sausage
Cooking spray
1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
1 6 oz. (170g) can tomato paste
6 oz. (200ml) water
1 tbsp. (15ml) garlic powder
2 tbsp. (30ml) oregano, divided
1 tbsp. (15ml) basil
1 tsp. (5ml) sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1½ cups (170g) mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste

Preheat oven to 425° F (220°C).

Break sausage into chunks. Sauté over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 15 minutes.

Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch (22 x 33cm) pan with cooking spray. Spread pizza dough into pan.

Combine tomato paste, water, garlic powder, oregano, basil, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir well. Pour onto dough, spread to pan edges.

Lay sausage on sauce. Bake 12 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Scatter mozzarella cheese over casserole, and then sprinkle with remaining oregano. Cast Parmesan across the top. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cut into squares to serve.

Orange Granite – Flavored Ice
2 cups (450ml) water
¾ cup (90g) sugar
1 cup (225) orange juice
3 tbsp. (45ml) lemon juice

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Stir only until sugar dissolves. Timing from the moment the sugar water begins to boil, cook mixture for exactly 5 minutes. With this method you have created a simple syrup. Remove pan from heat and allow syrup to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, stir orange and lemon juices into syrup. Pour mix-ture into a shallow metal pan.

Freeze granite for 3 to 4 hours. Every 30 minutes, stir and scrape in the ice particles that form on the sides and bottom of pan. The granite should be a fine, snowy texture. For a coarser texture, which I prefer, freeze flavored syrup in ice cube trays until solid, then drop cubes into a plastic bag and smash with a heavy spoon or mallet.

Sloane said @ 12:33 am | Cooking | Comments

Autumn is Here!

October 7, 2020

by Chris Pavesic

This recipe is hearty, delicious, and healthy. Hard to beat a trio like that. Add a crusty roll, salad, and your favorite beverage to create a superb lunch or dinner.

Kale and Butternut Squash Minestrone
1 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup diced onion
½ cup thinly sliced celery
2 cups butternut squash, peeled (reserve rest of squash for another time) and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
3 cups water
¾ tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. salt or to taste
⅛ tsp. black pepper or to taste
2 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves (lightly packed) stems removed
4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in soup pot/Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes or until onion is softened.

Stir in butternut squash, beans, tomatoes, water, rosemary, salt, and pepper in Dutch oven. Cover and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Add kale. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender.

Ladle soup into bowls and then sprinkle with cheese.

Why not read a good book while you enjoy your soup? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

AMAZON BUY LINK
SMASHWORDS BUY LINK

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Sloane said @ 12:12 am | Author Friend Promo, Cooking | Comments

NO TRICK HERE

October 5, 2020

This is definitely a treat. Two Halloween books from children’s author Tina Ruiz. The amazing illustrations are done by Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children’s books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina’s children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.

The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni, who are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant. What makes this story different from any other children’s book, are the names which the author has given to her characters. Example: Tess Ding, Chris P. Bacon, Mr. Noah Lott, Harry Pitts, Miss Turi, Walter Melon, Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, etc…

The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.

AMAZON BUY LINK

The pictures are bright and the story is fun. It was written not only to entertain kids, but also to challenge their minds.

Every character has a name with a double meaning. Such as: Mr. Noah Lott, Mrs. Faye Ding, Mrs. Frieda Livery, Upton O’Goode, Adam Zapel, and Ella Vader, to name but a few.

Here’s a hint to help you solve the puzzle, Ed Zortails is his name really heads or is it tails? You’ll have to buy the book to find out.

Solving the double meaning of the words will be delightful for children and adults alike. On the off chance someone can’t unravel a name, Tina supplied a cheat sheet at the back of the book.

As with all of her children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz has now written wrote thirty books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Sloane said @ 12:59 am | Uncategorized | Comments

September 30, 2020

Every cook in this busy world needs a fast yet tasty dinner ready in minutes, not hours. Here is just the recipe you are looking for. You may want to increase the proportions for this mouthwatering dish since it freezes well.

Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying on Unsplash

Easy Baked Chicken Breasts
Non-stick cooking spray
3 boneless chicken breasts
½ cup mayonnaise
5 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Spray a light coating of cooking spray into an ovenproof dish that will hold the chicken comfortably.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Set on a plate.

Mix mayo and bread crumbs together in a small bowl. Spread onto both sides of chicken.

Lay chicken in prepared dish. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top of coated chicken.

Bake 20 minutes or until the juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a sharp knife.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!


Sloane

Sloane said @ 12:27 am | Cooking | Comments

September 28, 2020

On Yom Kippur
we offer our heartfelt wishes
to our family and friends
that you may be inscribed for goodness.
Sincerely,
The Taylor Family
Sloane said @ 12:13 am | Holidays | Comments

LUNCH or SIDE DISH? YOU DECIDE

September 23, 2020

from Chris Pavesic

I love to write fantasies, the stranger the better. Bring on the elves and never before seen or heard of creatures and I’m in fiction heaven. But my secret passion in life is cooking. Creating a new recipe invigorates me. And when my family asks for seconds I can’t stop smiling. This is one of the recipes I use as a side dish or fast lunch. I think you and yours will like it, too.

Mushroom and Wild Rice Blend
1 can (3½ oz.) mushrooms, stems and pieces
1 can (10 oz.) beef broth
Water
1 onion, chopped
½ cup wild rice, rinsed
1 cup long grain rice
2 tbsp. butter

Drain mushrooms, retaining liquid, then set mushrooms aside.

Mix broth, water, and reserved mushroom liquid to make 2 cups.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, pour in broth mixture then add onions and bring to a boil. Add wild rice, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add long grain rice. Boil again, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add mushrooms and butter. Serve.

Why not read a good book while the mushrooms and rice simmer? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

AMAZON BUY LINK
SMASHWORDS BUY LINK

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Sloane said @ 12:05 am | Author Friend Promo, Cooking | Comments

Fighting About Fouls at ESPN

September 21, 2020

by Anne Montgomery

In a perfect world, sportscasters would get long leisurely looks at the highlights they use in their live broadcasts. They’d get to rehearse a few times, using their own verbiage to describe a sweet double play or a long touchdown run.

But in the real world, there are times when sportscasters don’t get to view the video prior to a broadcast. Imagine trying to look pleasant, sound authoritative and knowledgeable, and having to describe a previously-unseen set of highlights, while someone is yelling in your ear. Now, try to do it when the highlights are poorly written.

At ESPN, there was a group of workers called PAs: production assistants who spent almost all their time observing games and picking plays for SportsCenter broadcasts. I’m sure to rabid sports fans the gig sounds like having one foot in heaven. A PA would be assigned a game, they’d sit back, watch, and pick three or four highlights. All they had to do was get the plays edited and write a script explaining what was happening in the shots they chose. A final score would then be added. That was it.

Generally, the PAs would appear at the anchor’s newsroom desk before the show and hand over their version of the script. I would always go view the video, make my own additions to the copy, and thank the PA. Beautiful.

However, sometimes there were late games that were still in progress during the SportsCenter broadcast. It was one of these contests and a subsequent set of highlights I received that got me into a bit of a pickle.

One evening, a sheet of game highlights was slipped onto my desk just as the crimson camera light blinked on. I smiled and read the intro. Then, as the video rolled, I eyed the script with my left eye and focused on my desk monitor with my right. (Not really, but it sort of feels that way.) And there it was, a screaming line drive hit into the first row seats, beaning a spectator squarely on the noggin. I read the script and immediately knew there’d been a mistake. The copy read that the fan had been hit by a foul tip. I knew this was impossible, but the next play quickly appeared and I had no time to right the wrong.

It wouldn’t be until the postmortem – the meeting that followed each show, a time during which errors were discussed by everyone involved in the broadcast – that I would get the chance to point out the obvious problem.

“Rich,” I said to the PA, who like all of his ilk was just out of college, sans any previous TV experience, and while they were sometimes treated like slave labor, were willing to do almost anything to get into the business. “Here,” I said, pushing the highlight sheet across the conference table. “Look at the first play.”

“The one where the guy gets hit with the foul tip?” He asked without looking at the page.

“That’s the one.” I smiled. “You don’t want to do that again.”

“Do what?” Rich squinted.

PAs lived in fear of making a mistake, knowing there was a long list of kids who’d do anything to get into ESPN. They worked without contracts for so little pay three or four of them often rented tiny apartments together, and they could be terminated without cause. Still, they lined up in droves to work at the network.

“It wasn’t a foul tip that hit the guy, Rich. It was a foul ball.”

“What’s the difference? The producer asked, palms up.

I looked around the table, finding it odd that no one else seemed to understand. “A foul ball is one that goes out of the playing area in foul territory. It’s a dead ball. Nothing can happen on the field. A foul tip, however, is a ball that generally goes directly from the bat to the catcher’s glove and is legally caught. A foul tip is always a strike and, unlike a foul ball, can result in strike three.”

“So?” Rich said defensively.

“A foul tip is a live ball.” I paused, waiting to see the light bulbs go off in the brains of my SportsCenter peers, but they just stared at me. “If there are runners on base, they can steal at their own risk,” I went on. “That makes it impossible for a fan to be hit with a foul tip. It was a foul ball.”

“It’s the same thing,” Rich insisted.

“No, it’s not.”

“Why do you care?” The PA said, sounding petulant now. “No one else does.”

I looked around the room. None of the other members of the crew had chimed in. Generally, in these meetings, everyone had an opinion and no one was timid about sharing.

“I care, Rich. I’m an umpire. And there are people out there who know that. It embarrasses me to make that kind of mistake.”

Rich’s face turned bright red. “You’re just being a picky bitch!” Then he got up and left the room.

The next day, I was called into my boss’s office. He had been apprised of my comments and insisted that I apologize to Rich.

“But he was wrong,” I said. “I never raised my voice or got defensive. I simply explained that he’d made a mistake.”

My boss was unswayed. That the young PA called me a bitch did not seem to matter. I was forced to apologize.

And all these years later, it still rankles.

Here’s a little from my latest women’s fiction book. I hope you enjoy it.

A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

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Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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