Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

May 23, 2018

Little Treats with BIG Flavor

from Chris Pavesic

This kid-friendly recipe is quick and easy to make. It’s a little bit like a s’more, a little bit like a bird’s nest, and 100% yummy. Get those marshmallows and chocolate chips ready!

Quick and Easy S’mores Treats

1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ bag (5 oz.) mini marshmallows
2 cups pretzel sticks
2 cups vanilla wafers, broken into pieces

Preheat oven to 250° F.

Pour chocolate chips into an ungreased baking pan. Pop it into oven for about 5 minutes or until the chips get shiny. They should still retain their shape.

Take the pan out and immediately add the other ingredients. Stir as fast as possible because the chocolate will cool quickly.

This can be a bit messy when stirring—you will get chocolate on your hands—but that’s part of the fun.

When the other ingredients are coated, spoon the mixture onto parchment paper in serving-size portions. Allow to cool completely and serve.

Enjoy a brief glimpse into my new novel, FIERCE!

In this wide-ranging collection of steampunk, dystopian, and fantasy short fiction, award-winning author Chris Pavesic presents vibrant female characters in compelling narratives. This rich compendium includes previously published stories as well as new fiction.

Praise for “Going Home“:
“This is an excellent short story that is full of surprises for the reader. Martial law is about to be imposed in the colony. A secret room, trips on a train and a clandestine meeting are all part of this superb steampunk short story. Most highly recommended.”–Off Grid & Loving It

Praise for “The World in Front of Me“: “This reminded me a lot of the Lakeside community in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, but I won’t say anymore about that for fear of giving away spoilers. But fans of Gaiman should really enjoy this story. Fans of strong women who make tough choices should enjoy this as well.”–Karissa Sluss, Author.

Praise for “Heart & Mind“: “The author has managed to weave an intricate web about being true to yourself. One shouldn’t be guided or led by others. Above all, feel the magic in your own heart.”–Chief, USN Ret…VT Town

AMAZON BUY LINK

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 @ 12:30 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | 2 Comments

May 21, 2018

Go Deep, Young Writer, Go Deep

Improving Depth of Character in Your Writing
by C.D. Hersh

Photo from Microsoft Clip Art

Did you know that every year the month of April is celebrated as National Card and Letter Writing Month? We discovered this month, which is decreed official by USPS, while writing, Blood Brothers, the second book in our Turning Stone Chronicles. Over the years, historians have gleaned a lot of information from diaries and letters – things that might have been lost forever, except for the letters written by those who have gone before us. Since the art of letter writing is disappearing, thanks to text and emails, we decided we’d revive it by penning a letter from one of our book characters and see what interesting history turned up. We were amazed at some of the backstory tidbits our character revealed to us. We thought this made an interesting writing exercise, so we decided to share our character’s letter.

This letter is written by the antagonist in the second Turning Stone Chronicles book Blood Brothers.

My dearest Lila,

It seems like years since our last night together. My quest to become the “Promised One” has taken on a life of its own. I’ve been thinking a lot about the discussion the night of our engagement, and your request to put our rings aside and live normal lives. I wish now I had listened to you and done that. We would probably still be together.

I guess I was afraid of such a major change in my life at that point. Things were starting to come together with my quest, and I knew I would soon be apprenticed to the most important shifter in our community. There had been nothing in my life before you except my training to become “The Promised One” and, as much as I wanted you, I was not sure I could give that up for you. All my life my parents pushed me. Being the Turning Stone’s Promised One was my destiny. I was, they told me, the fulfillment of the prophesy. The one that would unite the warring shape shifters and rule the world.

My parents ensured I had the finest teachers, in magic matters and in things of the world. I was taught how to use everything to my advantage. What I couldn’t do on my own, Dad paid for, including donating heavily to Harvard on my behalf. I guess it worked for both of us since I got my degree, even though I might not have deserved it, and Dad got his name on a Harvard building. Money and power buy lots of things. But they aren’t very good at replacing you.

Remember that shifting thing we did when we were making love? I found out it means we are soul mates and only happens when making love and thinking about each other. Had I been aware of that then I would not have accused you of trying to steal my powers, and I would never have acted on that belief. I am truly sorry for what I did to you. I hope someday you can forgive me…that is if I can ever forgive myself. I love you, Lila, and I will never love anyone else the same way.

You are always in my thoughts.

Love, Roc

We discovered upon writing this letter that our villain wasn’t as smart as his brother, something we hadn’t considered before. Dad buying Roc’s degree with a building at Harvard was nowhere in this character’s back story. It’s a small thing, but when he and his brother are pitted against each other, every bit of smart counts. When this tidbit of information came out, Donald did some research on philanthropists who donated to Harvard, and Roc’s family suddenly became a lot richer than we ever imagined. His father’s character filled out, and even though he plays a background part in the story, we can see the monied attitude of Dad and how it will rub off on Roc, thereby deepening Roc’s character more than we anticipated. Roc, who thinks he deserves to be “The Promised One” will discover that money can’t buy everything, and it can’t buy the most important thing in life … true love.

Have you ever done this exercise with your characters? If so, what new thing did you discover?

Here’s a little more about Blood Brothers.

When Delaney Ramsey is enlisted to help train two of the most powerful shape shifters the Turning Stone Society has seen in thousands of years, she suspects one of them is responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. To complicate matters, the man has a secret that could destroy them all. Bound by honor to protect the suspect, Delaney must prove his guilt without losing her life to his terrible powers or revealing to the police captain she’s falling for that she’s a shape shifter with more than one agenda.

The minute Captain Williams lays eyes on Delaney Ramsey, he knows she’s trouble. Uncooperative, secretive, and sexy, he can’t get her out of his mind. When he discovers she has a personal agenda for sifting through all the criminal records in his precinct, and secretly investigating his best detective, he can’t let her out of his sight. He must find out what she’s looking for before she does something illegal. If she steps over the line, he’s not certain he can look the other way for the sake of love.

BUY LINKS
Blood Brothers Book 2 eBookpaperback

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors. 

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sloane said @ 12:10 am | Author Friend Promo | 4 Comments

May 16, 2018

Score BIG with this Chocolate Treat

from Sharon Ledwith

If you love Skor® bars, then this is one of those must-make treats to cook for all the holidays and special events. The buttery toffee, rich chocolate, and crunchy nuts create a party-in-your-mouth experience, and will make you beg for a second (or third) piece. Perfect for family gatherings or holiday parties, you’ll score BIG with these treats nestled on your table, or wrapped as gifts.

Sharon’s Score Big Bars

Photo by Elseneju Pixabay.com

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
¼ cup water
½ cup semisweet chocolate
½ cup chopped pecans
Candy thermometer

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, and water. Set candy thermometer in place. Cook and stir over medium heat until the thermometer reaches 300° F (150° C).

Pour onto ungreased baking tray. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and spread with a knife when melted.
After one minute, pour chopped pecans over mixture. Let stand until set, about 1 hour.

Break into 2 inch pieces. Store in airtight container.

Add this tasty treat to gift baskets or wrap in see-through bags and place on dinner plates to be the hostess with the mostess.

Every cook should test their finished product before serving. SElect a piece of candy, or two, then relax in your favorite chair and crack open the first book in my teen psychic mystery series, Lost and Found. You may just find yourself wanting to visit Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking…

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS

Amazon KindleAmazon PaperbackBarnes & NobleMirror World Publishing ebookMirror World Publishing Paperback

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Sloane said @ 12:23 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | 4 Comments

May 15, 2018

Welcome to the virtual book tour for Jojo Debrazza’s new children’s book, Dog Eared!
Follow the tour to read reviews, excerpts, and book spotlights:
https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2018/05/book-tour-schedule-dog-eared-by-jojo.html
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
ASIN: B07C47Z4V4
Length: 140 pages
Genres: Children’s Fiction
Amazon

Goodreads
About Dog Eared:
Dogs can’t read. Right?
When Sophie’s grandfather moves in to a retirement home, Sophie is delighted to take over responsibility for his super obedient dog, Lector. Her grandfather also gives her two journals for Lector and tells her how important they are. But listening isn’t one of Sophie’s strong points.
Sophie’s dream-come-true turns into a nightmare when the usually well behaved Lector turns super-bad overnight. After midnight on his first night with Sophie, Lector gets himself into all kinds of trouble and leads Sophie into a run-in with the local bully. Dogs in the town have been going missing too. Could there be a dog snatcher on the loose?
Sophie desperately needs Lector to return to his former obedient self, especially when her dad and step-mum-to-be announce, to Sophie’s horror, that they are having a baby.  Lector’s future with the family is in danger. If Sophie can’t retrain Lector before Sophie’s new half sibling is born, he’ll have to be rehomed.
Can Sophie discover the magical secret to training Lector, and keep him away from the dog snatcher, before it’s too late?
Read an Excerpt:
“I don’t think any of us were expecting this.” Sophie’s dad nodded toward Lector who was now trying to chew the bottom of a kitchen cupboard door. 
“He’s not normally like this,” she said hoping her dad wasn’t regretting his decision to let her have Lector. “He’s a good dog really. Maybe he’s missing Grandpops?” 
“Possibly,” said Sophie’s dad. “But he’d better get over it soon or else we’ll have no house left. You should’ve seen the state of the front room this morning. Emma was not pleased.” 
Sophie was careful not to let her dad see her rolling her eyes. Emma had been nice as pie earlier. She should have said if she was upset. “I saw the sofa, I’m really sorry about that,” Sophie said. 
“It wasn’t just the sofa,” Sophie’s dad pulled Lector away from the cupboard. “He ripped up all the magazines and papers that were on the coffee table to shreds too. With all the tiny bits of paper and foam from the sofa, it looked like it had snowed in the front room last night.” 
Sophie pulled Lector away from the cupboard again. “No Lector.” She turned to her dad. “Strange. He never chewed anything at Grandpops’ place and he had the run of the whole bungalow.” 
Sophie’s dad finished buttering a slice of toast and slid the plate towards Sophie. “Well, it’s all new for him, living here and being without Grandpops, so we can’t be too hard on him. We’ll have to keep him in the kitchen tonight though. He can only destroy so much in here and these units are falling apart anyway.” 
Sophie ran her fingers over the rough wood where the laminate was missing on the corner of one of the cupboard doors. She’d peeled it away as a small child. “Okay,” she said. Sophie wasn’t keen on confining Lector, but her dad had let her keep him rather than rehoming him to a stranger and she needed to make sure he didn’t regret his decision. 
Spotting an opportunity, Lector jumped up at the worktop in the direction of Sophie’s toast. 
“No,” said Sophie. “Off.” 
Lector’s front paws were on the edge of the worktop. He stretched his neck towards the toast. 
Sophie lunged towards him and reached for his collar, but it was too late. Lector had the toast in his mouth. He jumped down and danced around the kitchen as if the toast between his teeth was a fantastic prize. His tail swiped against the washing machine painting it muddy brown. Sophie’s dad grabbed Lector by the shoulders. 
Lector dropped the toast onto the kitchen floor.
Meet the Author:
Jojo is a writer from St Neots in Cambridgeshire, England—although she mostly lives in her head, a carefree happy place where everything is bright and fluffy. 
Her debut novella, The Charm, was published in 2014 and the sequel, Mind Games, in 2016.
Jojo likes to take photos of her dog and post them to Instagram and Twitter @jojodebrazza
More Jojo Debrazza stuff can be found on her facebook page, and her blog: https://jojodebrazza.com
Become a tour host for Sapphyria’s Book Promotions
Sloane said @ 12:46 am | Author Friend Promo | 1 Comment

May 14, 2018

Elves – the Good, the Bad, and the Awesome

by Carol Browne

Photo Courtesy of Fun Photos Pixabay

When Elgiva, the protagonist of my fantasy novel The Exile of Elindel, is forced to seek the society of humans in order to survive the winter, she can only do this by adopting a disguise. Although mythology insists that elves are shapeshifters, I have Elgiva borrow magic instead so she can change her appearance. Why would she need to do this? In these modern times, we have friendly elves that help Santa; we have the innocuous Elf on the Shelf; we have glamorous immortal beings like the elves in “Lord of the Rings” that fascinate us with their pointed ears and otherworldly beauty. Why on earth would an elf feel compelled to hide their true nature?

Belief in elves as actual beings is as old as belief in the Norse gods. Indeed Freyr, one of the gods most widely and ardently venerated by the Norse and Germanic peoples, dwelled in Alfheim, the elves’ homeland. Germanic Mythology described three divine races: the Aesir, the Vanir and the Alfar (the elves). The origins of the Vanir and Alfar are cloaked in mystery and the relationship between the gods and the elves was ambiguous enough to permit a number of possible connections between Freyr and the elves.

Photo Courtesy of The Royalmen Pixabay

However, godlike or not, elves were often seen as mischievous and spiteful, if not downright dangerous, liable to lash out with magic if crossed. For example, the word ‘stroke’ for a sudden paralysing seizure is an abbreviation of ‘fairy stroke’ or ‘elf stroke’ and was supposed to come from being elf-shot, a blow which struck down an animal or human victim. Similarly, cramps were often the punishment for annoying the elven folk. The Anglo-Saxons recognized being elf-shot as a valid condition and thought it was caused by unseen elves firing invisible arrows at a person or animal, causing sudden shooting pains in a particular part of the body. And should a person’s hair become matted or knotted, he or she was said to be sporting elf-locks, that some unhelpful elf had tangled up. This was particularly said of the hair of sleeping children. And keep an eye on those children, for elves like to steal them!

Given their capricious and magical nature and supernatural origins, it is no wonder the Anglo-Saxons feared them. So Elgiva could not have strolled into a human settlement with impunity and was compelled to cloak herself in enchantment in order to pass as a human.

Scandinavian folklore boasts an abundance of elves, trolls and other mythological creatures. Most people in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden haven’t taken any of them as fact since the 19th century, but it’s a different story in Iceland. Surveys taken there even in the present century revealed that more than half those surveyed believed in elves, while a number of major road construction projects have been halted, thanks to protestors concerned about the deleterious effects it would have on the habitat and culture of the resident elves.

Elves have been part of our folklore for a very long time. How we have interpreted them down the ages has varied tremendously. They originated as demi-gods, became malicious and belligerent, then friendly and industrious, and now they feature heavily in fiction and popular culture. They may be light elves. They may be dark elves. One thing is certain, good or bad, elves are always cool!

How about curling up with my epic fantasy while you contemplate the possibility of elves?

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

EXCERPT
The night was waning when Elgiva woke, wondering where she was. The dark ceiling of Joskin’s cave hung above her, and everything had a reddish glow, cast by the embers of the fire. She slid from under the fur coverlet, her skin tightening at the loss of its warmth, and searched for her leather sandals.

Something had woken her, something that waited outside the cave. A runnel of dread ran down her spine.

She had an inexplicable sense of impending danger, but it was too insistent to ignore. An unnamed instinct stopped her from alerting her companions. She must face this menace alone.

She left the cave as quietly as she could. Her heart pounded in her throat as she peered between the rowan trees and searched the night. Whatever had awakened her, it beckoned. She held her breath and listened, but her ears detected nothing, save for a silence as dark and empty as an abandoned crypt.

It would soon be daybreak, but the sun had yet to rise, and the dark beyond the cave swarmed with potential horrors. She stepped out from among the rowans, relying on her acute senses to make out her surroundings. An unnatural calm gripped the night and as her sandals whispered against the cold grass, they sounded abnormally loud. She feared they would betray her presence.

After a while, she came to a stop and searched the trees. Thin strands of mist curled along the ground, cold and clammy, like an exhalation of sickness.

She hugged her shoulders, knotted her fingers in the cascade of her hair, and shivered in her ragged robe. All around her, the silence seemed to be drawing into focus.

“Who is it?” Her throat was too dry for her purpose. She swallowed and licked her lips. “Who’s there? I know you’re there. I can . . . I can feel you!”

Feel you.

A flash of silver sliced through the dark, and Elgiva gasped in fear. Her arms came up to shield her face as the beam struck a rock several yards ahead. It exploded with a whoosh and sent up thousands of splinters of light, which fell to the ground and sizzled in the mist.

A shape now stood upon the rock, its form concealed in a black, hooded cloak.

Elgiva clutched the amulet to her breast. Her hands were white with terror. “In the name of Faine, who are you? What sort of trick is this?”

A soft, sly voice spoke back to her. “Why should you fear magic?”

“What do you want?” she pleaded, her voice a croak of fear.

“To see for myself.”

“To see what?”

The dark shape sniggered, but made no answer. Instead, it swept its cloak aside, and a cloud of sparks flew out and covered the ground with beads of light.

Elgiva stepped back unsteadily, resolved to flee.

“Stay!” commanded the creature.

It raised a skeletal hand, and the forefinger swung towards Elgiva and pinned her against the darkness, holding her like a rivet of bone. No elf, no wilthkin, ever owned such a hand. Her legs threatened to buckle beneath her. This had to be a nightmare; she was still asleep in the cave. But no, it was all too real.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she cried. “I have . . . I have an amulet!”

The creature laughed derisively. “I am Death, and I have come for you.”

It began to radiate a sickly green light, enveloping itself in a caul of brilliance that pulsated with force. The light grew in size until the trees behind it were bathed in its angry glare. It reached for Elgiva, like a foul stench creeping along a breeze, and she was helpless. The creature’s power throbbed in the darkness.

Within the taut coils of her fear, her instincts screamed at her to run, but her limbs had turned to stone.

Siriol, Siriol, help me . . . help . . .

With a shriek of glee, the creature increased the throb of its power. Elgiva’s mind was suddenly invaded by an inexplicable force. She became divorced from herself and watched from a great distance, waiting for the horror to unfold.

Amazon Buy Link



Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Her non-fiction book is available at Dilliebooks.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 8:35 am | Author Friend Promo | 3 Comments

May 9, 2018

A Touch of Italy, Easy and Delicious

from Susan Lodge

This recipe makes two generous portions. It’s nice served with a green salad and some crusty bread. A little red wine is a bonus.

Easy Tomato & Bacon Pasta Bake

Photo by Serge Bertasius Photography

4 rashers (slices) thick bacon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
300gm (10oz) dried pasta shapes. Penne works well.
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
400gm (14oz) tin of plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
125 ml (4oz) red wine
Small bunch of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
110 gm (4oz) Parmesan cheese, grated, or mozzarella, sliced

Preheat oven to 180C or 350°F.

Fry bacon in a little oil and put aside.

Cook the pasta in boiling water for the prescribed time on the packet.

In a large pan gently fry the onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft and transparent.

Add tomatoes, wine, cooked bacon pieces, and most of the chopped basil (retaining a little for garnish). Season well with salt and pepper.

Simmer gently for five to ten minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Combined the drained pasta and tomato mixture and turn in to an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle with cheese and scatter the remaining basil on the top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Pour yourself a glass of wine, relax, and enjoy a peek at my latest Historical Romance while dinner is baking.

Esmie Elstone is thrown into panic when she hears of Captain Rockford’s return. But she is determined that the days of him interfering with her life are over. Destroying her chances of a happy future on his last visit, had resulted in her being foisted on her Aunt for a third pointless season in London.

To alleviate the boredom of society life, Esmie helps run a discreet betting enterprise under the guise of a sewing club. But there are some things you just shouldn’t wager on, and Esmie’s integrity is soon put to a dangerous test.

Richard Rockford had known Esmie almost all her life. As neighbours, Admiral Elstone had depended on Richard to keep an eye on his daughter when he was away at sea. The responsibility he had always taken on willingly. But her cruel and thoughtless actions, from the day he had left four years ago, had shaken him. Now he was back and wanting answers.

But when Esmie tumbles into a treacherous conspiracy, can he really turn his back on her?

AMAZON Buy Link

Susan Lodge’s first publishing success was a story purchased by a major UK magazine followed by a drawer full of rejections. Finally a breakthrough gave her the confidence to seek and secure a publisher for her historical romance novels Only a Hero Will Do and Rebellious Cargo.

After working in several cities including London and Bristol, she and her husband moved down to the Hampshire coast to raise their family.

Learn more about Susan and her books on her website and blog. Stay connected on  Facebook, Twitter and her Amazon Author Page.

Sloane said @ 12:53 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

May 7, 2018

TWO for ONE

by Emma Lane

The Digital Artist Pixabay.com

I confess I am a Gemini. That means I do not apologize for having two personalities, two serious interests and two distinct pen names. As Emma Lane (Historicals) or Janis Lane (Cozy Mysteries) I spin tales at my computer happily imagining characters and plots. I enjoy the interaction of readers and writers on-line forming firm friendships that endure. It’s a perfect way to spend short winter days and early evenings.

Ah! But in the mellow bath of the Spring sun, I emerge much like a daffodil and bloom with my favorite plants and gardens. March finds me in the greenhouses coaxing tiny plants to their full potential while the maple trees give up their sap for delicate syrup. May finds me happily breathing the fragrance of perky pansies.

June, ah, June. Who doesn’t love June with a surfeit of bouquets for the picking? July is for the necessary communication with the weeds, August is Sunflowers and September is a rainbow of mums. Late into Fall, we glory in the astounding blaze of fire from the trees. Never is the color blue so well represented as by the intensity of a cloudless Fall sky.

Winter approaches, plots have now inched forward; an interesting character speaks from the corners of my mind (that muse again!). A new story is born to share with readers.

I love to chat books, reading, or characters with my friends and colleagues both on line and off. Alternately I am eager and available for discussions regarding plants and gardening in all its forms. Is it Emma already enmeshed into 1800th century storytelling, or has Janis toddled off with Detective Fowler to solve a crime in peaceful Hubbard, NY?

Here’s a teaser from one of my Regency books.

What happens when a strong heroine meets an arrogant, but handsome hero? Sparks fly. It’s a Regency Romance Romp!

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

Amazon Buy Link

And a little from my cozy mystery.

Detective Kevin Fowler is baffled by the wall of silence that greets him from the relatives of two septuagenarians whose bodies are discovered in a country cemetery called Blake Hill. Even more upsetting is the unusual rash of vandalism reported nightly by the citizens in his peaceful community. Have the teenagers declared an uprising? Night patrols reveal a totally unexpected and shocking situation. When a poignant secret is revealed, Beverly Hampton weeps over the sadness of a long ago tragedy, but soon wedding bells are heard for the home town princess and the popular detective. At the local diner the alluring fragrance of fresh-baked, cinnamon sticky buns continues to reign over the peaceful citizens of Hubbard, New York.

Amazon Buy Link

Emma Lane enjoys leaving her garden for a few hours to dip into the romance genre Regency era of history. Join her for a glimpse of a half selkie fairy as she teases a powerful duke and fights the curse of a lowly, evil warlock. Other Regency romances are available on Amazon and Wild Rose Press. As Janis Lane she writes a series of Cozy Mysteries for Soul Mate Publishing.

Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:14 am | Author Friend Promo,Gardening | Comments

May 2, 2018

DINNER IS NOW SERVED

A quick and tasty meal served over rice is perfect for those super busy days when you don’t want to spend a lot of time at the stove. Be sure to cook the rice first and keep warm in a 210° F oven while you make the chicken.

CHICKEN STIR-FRY

¼ cup olive oil
⅓cup honey
⅓cup soy sauce
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 gloves garlic, chopped fine
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut in large chunks
1 medium onion, quartered
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped

Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl. Marinate for 4 to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove from the fridge one hour before cooking to bring mixture to room temperature.

Drain chicken and vegetables in a colander. Do no reserve the marinade.

Heat a large frying pan on medium-high. It’s ready to use when a sprinkle of water dances across the surface.

Add the chicken and vegetables to the pan. Sauté for 10 to 13 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.

This dish can also be prepared as SHISH KABOBS on the grill.

Follow the recipe up to the cooking steps.

Soak the skewers in a dish of water for at least 30 minutes before threading the raw ingredients. This stops the skewer from catching on fire.

Preheat your gas grill on medium-high.

Thread the meat and vegetables onto wooden skewers chicken, onion, pepper. Repeat until all your ingredients are used. This recipe will make at least 6 skewers.

Grill 12 – 15 minutes. Be sure to turn often so they don’t burn.

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

Sloane

Sloane said @ 1:00 am | Family | Comments

April 30, 2018

INVISIBLE FRIENDS

by Elliott Baker

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

In Quantum theory when two electrons ‘know’ each other they are forever linked. Remember, I’m just a story teller not a scientist or mathematician so the theories I use here are only the vaguest echoes of fact. Of course, in a quantum world fact is a moving target. Back to my electrons. Let’s name them Fred and Ethel. Fred and Ethel met before the big bang. The youth hostel they were staying in was crowded to say the least. Fred and Ethel had a brief fling and then were flung to the ends of the universe. End of the relationship? Not according to quantum theory.

Love/communication is not determined or diminished by either time or space. (If time or space is real, but we’ll push that to another exploration.) An electron guided experimentally will cause another electron previously paired with it to move in exactly the same way at exactly the same time, distance notwithstanding. So if Fred turns into a diner on Earth, Ethel, who happens to be on planet 123 in the Andromeda Galaxy, is aware of Fred’s turn and if she’s hungry, makes the exact same turn. The hungry part is me and any real scientists, if they’ve been able to read this far without popping an antacid, have consciously or subconsciously said, “What!” I’ll come back to this, but let’s move on to romance.

If quantum theory is correct, we ‘know’ each other. Have known, and will know. I asked my wife Sally Ann to marry me two days after we met. (Sally reminds me that we’d only spent about six hours together.) She said yes, and we have been happily married almost forty years. What? How could you have done that? My standard answer is that I recognized her. What does that mean? A young man, I wasn’t particularly looking to get married or settle down. I was doing ok. Had a good job, friends, etc. but in a moment, I looked at her and knew that we had been together before. More than one lifetime, and that she would help me and I her to accomplish whatever we were here to do or learn. I acted, and have ever thereafter been glad I did. Ok, enough Cinderella already.

As I related in another post, I don’t spend time worrying about whether reincarnation is true or not. Like any theory that cannot be experimentally proven, as long as the theory provides benefit, as long as it is useful, I employ it. At the beginning of my mental and emotional exploration of this lifetime, (I must have been around nine or ten) I saw an unacceptable inequality. Why could I run and play and another be imprisoned in a wheelchair. What must that individual have done to deserve that. The child was my age and even though I was a creative youngster (I could create trouble with the best of them, as my folks would have agreed) I couldn’t think of anything I could have done that was so heinous as to remove the use of my legs for life. So I dusted off my “why” (a favorite word for a number of years), and accosted everyone I thought might shed some light. No light was forthcoming. “God’s will,” was the closest I came to anyone’s even being remotely confident of their answer.

I translated that into “you’re not old enough, smart enough, good enough, to know.” Nah, that never worked for me. I was ok with the concept that adults knew more than I, but I didn’t see the world as evil. Still don’t. That just meant that the adults didn’t know either and that was scary, but still ok. Like most, I pushed the unsolvable problem into the back of my mind until I came into contact with the concept of reincarnation. I must have been about twelve or thirteen. My conceptualization of the physical representation of the questions and answers of the world was kind of like the mail slots behind the desk in an old hotel. Without reincarnation, I ran out of slots. With reincarnation, all of a sudden the mail slots stretched on to infinity.

If we had as many mulligans (do overs) as we wanted, then I could buy, not punishment, but creative teaching opportunities. Of course attwelve, I didn’t see it in that way, but at least the gig wasn’t arbitrary. That I could live with.

Let’s get back to energy. Patience, romance is not done yet. So the universe loves balance, and energy is neither created nor destroyed. It also doesn’t have a problem finding the address of energies both negative and positive to find that balance. Remember, we’re not worrying about time or space. Electrons like company, and they like to dance. As aggregates of electrons and other stuff, so do we. At least the company part. The dancing waits for weddings and the occasional concert. So it seems to me that we may have begun with a group of close friends. Electrons with some kind of glamour that attracted us more than others. Which is not to say that we’re not in contact with all of the others. It’s just that it’s more fun for the purposes of physicality and non-physicality to hang with a smaller group.

How about soul mates. Is there within that group one electron that is closer in its sensibilities to each than any other? I’m just speculating here, but since in this physical world there seems to be more or less two sexes, and given the balance I think the universe is always striving for, it makes sense to me that there is a perfect complement for each of us. Perfect, however, where life is concerned, does not mean final, finished, unchanging. Life is growth, change and I include rocks in my definition of life. Slow doesn’t mean stop.

So in the story I spin for myself, we’re part of a group of folks working, learning, evolving from lifetime to lifetime. Some from within incarnation, some from without, always linked. Even the bad guys in our story may be friends in another, only agreeing in this one to create opportunities for us to experience some particular pain and grow. Matter is informed energy. That information doesn’t dissipate just because the vehicle gets old and is retired. Entertain the concept that coherent information doesn’t need form at all. Wow, invisible friends. How cool.

Here is a a little from The Sun God’s Heir Rebirth, Book Two for your reading pleasure.

Set against the wave tossed years of white slavery and Barbary pirates, this is the epic story of René Gilbert and a journey that defies time as he draws on a larger awareness earned in previous lifetimes.

The plague’s dark fingers curl around Bordeaux. René must return home to save those he loves. But first he has to escape a Moroccan sultan’s clutches. In Bordeaux, an enemy waits, filled with a hatred three thousand years old. Only René can defeat this dark power, and only if he reclaims his own ancient past. In this arena, death is but the least of failure’s penalties.

EXCERPT
The medina of Casablanca was a warren of narrow winding streets filled with stalls of all shapes and sizes. René followed Akeefa and Abdul-Karim as they entered through a constricted archway and left behind the blinding sunlight. René stopped to take it all in. A thousand sights and sounds assaulted him at once. An intense level of energy and human striving filled the air. The sounds and smells were strident, immediate. A cacophony reverberated from the walls as metalworkers hammered on copper and brass and iron. Jewelers, leather workers, and weaponsmiths all contributed to the din of men and animals pursuing their desires. The enticing smells of food and coffee pervaded the space. Booth after booth of delicacies was on display along with the occasional goat carcass that hung from the canopy poles waiting for the butcher’s cleaver.

“This is overwhelming.” René sucked in a deep breath. “Something smells good. Perhaps we might sit and have a coffee while I try to make sense of this incredible place.”

“That is an excellent idea.” Abdul-Karim grinned. “I know just the place and ’tis not far from here.”

“More food,” Akeefa said with some exasperation. “You promised I would be able to shop and you know I cannot go off on my own. Some stupid man would say or do something and after I had killed him, we would spend the morning yelling or fighting or both. With you two, I will at least have some measure of freedom.”

René gazed sideways at Akeefa. He knew her well enough not to doubt the possibility of her statement, but he hoped she spoke in jest.

Abdul-Karim grimaced like he had bitten into a lemon. He turned to René. “You must trust my experience in this. Given the amount of walking and waiting we face, you will definitely need nourishment.”

René laughed. “Perhaps we might feed Abdul-Karim so we may better attack this shopping from a position of strength.”

“Oh, all right.” Akeefa rolled her eyes. “My master taught me when to make a strategic retreat and this is clearly one of those times. I will want, however, to see that stamina later. Understood?” She glared at Abdul-Karim.

Her effort was wasted on her older brother. Abdul-Karim’s demeanor changed to one of joyful expectation. “I know just the place. Best pastries in Morocco. This way.”

René glanced around. Even over the din and chaotic movement of the medina, he had the sensation they were being watched. The fact that he was a Frenchman was immaterial. There were many different nationalities present within the medina. Non, he, René Gilbert, was being observed.

“Do you believe they will attack again so soon?” asked René.

“The Hashashin that attacked us on the quay in Larache were paid by the sultan’s younger brother Ismail. I do not sense that level of organization. There are many bands of robbers and slavers within Morocco. It can be a difficult place to live,” said Abdul-Karim. “And there are those in Rabat who will not allow our victory over their brethren go unrevenged, regardless of the sultan’s orders.”

Both men loosened their blades while Akeefa huffed at the conventions that prevented her from carrying a sword. Still, an attacker would find her armed.

“Let us sit at that tavern.” Abdul-Karim pointed across the lane. “It has good sight lines and there are avenues of escape if necessary.”

Once seated, Abdul-Karim ordered coffee and an assortment of cakes.

Akeefa pursed her lips.

“What? We might as well eat something while we wait.”

The square had grown quieter as people found their business called them elsewhere. Men collected in small groups. So far, the numbers of their enemies were not overwhelming and René was content to wait. He glanced at Abdul-Karim. The smile on his face evidenced a gleeful anticipation at the prospect of combat. His friend genuinely liked to fight.

“It appears someone is willing to invest a great deal of money in our removal. As much as I would like to engage in this contest—” Abdul-Karim glanced over at his sister. “And we have them outmanned, father would advise us to retreat and gather reinforcements.”

Abdul-Karim inclined his head. They stood as groups of men moved to block the exits.

“We may not be offered that opportunity.” Akeefa slipped her hand beneath her burka.

“Let us make our way toward the medina’s entrance. If we reach the confines of the arch, we gain a slight advantage in the number of our enemy able to come against us.” René’s rapier was in his hand.

The scimitar Abdul-Karim pulled from his sash reflected sunlight along its razor sharp edge. A wicked looking dagger appeared in Akeefa’s hand. René eased left of Akeefa leaving a sword length between them as Abdul-Karim stepped to her right.

The square was now empty except for the growing number of armed men drawing their swords. René studied the upper stories of the souk. No musket barrels protruded from those windows.

René counted thirty men circling them and moving closer. “Akeefa, move to the front and make first contact. A moment’s confusion having you walk before us will be useful. It is not that unusual for a woman to carry a dagger. Perhaps you might hold it a little less respectfully.”

“I will do my clumsy best.” Akeefa managed to move to the front, intentionally tripping on her burka.
The number of men waiting before the medina’s arch had increased to ten. Smug smiles played on their faces. Apparently they found humor in two men so cowardly as to hope a woman would protect them. One eager young mercenary swaggered out to meet Akeefa.

“Throw down your weapons and your deaths will be easier,” said the man as he waved his scimitar toward Akeefa. He ignored the dagger that shook in her trembling hand.

“D…do you intend to kill us all?” Akeefa stuttered in a high-pitched voice.

The fool preened, sticking his chest out. “Drop your weapons.”

In the briefest space of time, Akeefa moved to within striking distance and slit his throat, relieving him of his weapon before his body crumpled into the dust. The others froze at the speed and skill with which she had dispatched one of their own. In that timeless moment of inaction, René and Abdul-Karim each killed two men of the nine left standing before the arch.

René looked up. More armed men ran toward the arch. He paused and settled within, allowing his training to govern his actions. He sensed more than saw Akeefa adjust her clothing.

She ripped the scarf from her face and stood in as wide a stance as the burka allowed. She reversed the scimitar and jammed it between her legs, slicing the thin material to the ground. Thus unencumbered, she returned to the fight.

René nodded and on cue they formed a circle, defending each other as well as dispatching those who came against them. They narrowed the access lanes which caused their attackers to fight each other to get at them.

“Move toward the arch,” said René.

There were too many swords slashing at them. Their progress was slow. These men were not the highly trained Hashashin, but they were experienced enough that their numbers would eventually prevail.

Although René had no desire to kill, this fight did not grant him that moral luxury. He picked up a second sword and wielded both with withering accuracy. The attackers who faced Akeefa died with an expression of bewilderment.

Still, too many swords. Every moment reduced their chances.

Amazon Link

Award winning novelist and international playwright Elliott Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and performed throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott has turned to writing novels. His debut novel, The Sun God’s Heir: Return, Book One of the trilogy, was released this past January. Rebirth, Book Two will release April 18th, followed in July by the third and final book of the series, Redemption.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott’s Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

Sloane said @ 12:59 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments

April 25, 2018

WITH LOVE from an ITALIAN KITCHEN

from Alicia Joseph

This is a delicious meal that my family loves. I love it because it’s easy and takes no time at all to prepare. Serve with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. Don’t forget the Chianti. You deserve it.

ITALIAN MEATLOAF

2 slices rye bread
2 slices white bread
½ cup milk
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 sprigs parsley, chopped fine
1 lb. lean ground beef
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano or Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Tear both breads into soft bread crumbs. Soak them in milk for about 5 minutes.

Combine onion, parsley, meat, cheese, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Drain milk from bread. Add bread to the bowl and mix until well blended. Shape into a loaf. Place in shallow baking dish. Dot with butter or margarine.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Pour tomato sauce over the loaf and sprinkle with oregano or Italian seasoning.

Bake for 20 or 30 minutes longer or until done.

Mangiare Bene!
Alicia

Here’s a little from Alicia’s latest book.


“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality. After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

Prologue
1993

I was jerked from my sleep while the phone was still buzzing its first high-piercing ring. I glanced at the clock on the nightstand beside my bed. It read 4:17 a.m. I knew something was wrong.

The second ring was abruptly broken up and my mother’s muffled voice carried into my room. I was already sitting upright in my bed when my bedroom door squeaked open. My mother’s slight figure appeared as a shadow near my door.

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

“What’s wrong?” My voice was no louder than a whisper.

I watched my mother slowly make her way into the dark room. I couldn’t make out the expression on her face, but the stiff movement of the outline of her body was hesitant.

She turned on the lamp and sat down beside me. Her face was pale. She let out short, shallow breaths. It seemed difficult for her to look me in the eyes.

“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened?”

Finally, my mother looked at me with pain in her eyes. “Lyssa . . .” She smoothed her hand gently across my arm. “Abbey’s dead.”

I took in her words without an ounce of denial. The reality of what my mother had told me was instant.

My best friend was dead.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. Her first novella, Her Name, was published by Musa Publishing in 2014. Her Name is a sweet, romantic story about a woman who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life.

Loving Again is her second published novella. Alicia is currently working on a new novel called A Penny on the Tracks, a coming of age story about love and friendship. Alicia has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:49 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off