Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

January 16, 2017

ACTION, ADVENTURE, FANTASY – HOT DAMN!

I am pleased and proud to bring you a new release by Elliott Baker, an exciting author who weaves fact with fiction to create a thrilling swashbuckler that plunks you right in the middle of the action.

Kirkus Review says it best.
“Alexandre Dumas meets Horatio Hornblower and The Mummy in this sweeping, swashbuckling tale.”

For three thousand years a hatred burns. In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue an incarnation begun long ago.

In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Bordeaux, France

Three men bled out into the dirt.

René stared at the hand that held the bloody rapier. His hand. Tremors shuddered through his body and down his arm. Droplets of blood sprayed the air and joined the carmine puddles that seeped into the sun-baked earth. He closed his eyes and commanded the muscles that grasped the rapier to release their tension and allow the sword to drop.
Years of daily practice and pain refused his mind’s order much as they had refused to spare the lives of three men. The heady exultation that filled him during the seconds of the fight drained away and left him empty, a vessel devoid of meaning. He staggered toward an old oak and leaned against its rough bark. Bent over, with one hand braced on the tree, he retched. And again. Still, the sword remained in his hand.

A cloud shuttered the sun. Distant thunder brushed his awareness and then faded. Rain. The mundane thought coasted through his mind. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced down hoping to see a different tableau. No, death remained death, the only movement, that of flies attracted to a new ocean of sustenance.

The summer heat lifted the acrid blood-rust smell and forced him to turn his head away. Before him stretched a different world from the one in which he had awakened. No compass points. No maps. No tomorrow.

The Maestro.

The mere thought of his fencing master filled him with both reassurance and dread. René slid the rapier into the one place his training permitted, its scabbard. He walked over to where the huge black stallion stamped his impatience, and pulled himself into the saddle.
Some impulse caused him to turn his head one last time. The sunlight that surrounded the men flickered like a candle in the wind, and the air was filled with a loud buzzing sound. Although still posed in identical postures of death, three different men now stared sightless.

Their skin was darker than the leather tanned sailors. Each wore a short linen kilt of some kind that left their upper bodies naked. As strange as the men appeared, their weapons were what drew René’s eye. The swords were archaic; sickle shaped and appeared to be forged of bronze. These men wore different faces and yet their eyes—somehow he knew they were the same sailors he had just killed. René blinked and there before him the original three men lay unmoved. Dead.

For an instant his mind balked, darkness encircled the edges of his vision.

Do not anticipate meaning. The Maestro’s voice echoed in his head. Meaning may be ignored, but it cannot be hurried.

The darkness receded, and he reined the stallion’s head toward home.

René approached the linden shaded lane to the château. The stately trees, their clasped hands steepled over the gravel drive, had always welcomed him. Now they were just a faded backdrop that moved past the corners of his eyes. Could it have been only hours ago that the anniversary of his sixteenth year had presented itself like a gaily wrapped gift waiting for his excited appreciation? The day had dawned as grand as any he had yet experienced, and he had awakened early, eager for the morning’s light.

“Henri,” he yelled, as he charged down the marble staircase and into the dining room. Breakfast was set and steaming on the polished mahogany table. Burnished silver platters and cream colored porcelain bowls held a variety of eggs, sausages, fruits, and breads. How Henri always seemed to anticipate his entry amazed René.

Oui, Master René.” Serene as always, the middle-aged major domo entered the dining room. Henri walked over to the table and poured a cup of tea for René. “ S’il vous plaît, be seated, sir.”

“I cannot. Maybe a roll and a link of sausage. Henri, do you know what today is?”

Henri paused as if deep in thought. “Thursday. Oui, I am quite sure ’tis Thursday.”

René took a still sizzling sausage from a tray and did his best to fold it within a baguette.

Non, ’tis my birth date,” he managed around a mouthful of sausage and roll.

“Which one is that, sir?”

“How do you not know? You were there.”

“Well, I remember ’twas after the end of the war. Let me see. The war was over in…”

“Very droll, Henri. Your memory works fine, ’tis your humor that leaves room for improvement. Today is… so… I cannot explain, it feels like anything is possible today.”

“Given that there is still plenty of day left, perhaps you might sit down and eat. I expect you will need all your strength for a day so filled with possibility.”

“I cannot be late.” René gulped his tea and shoved the rest of the roll and sausage into his mouth.

“Happy anniversary, Master René.”

Merci, Henri.” René checked his appearance in one of the grand foyer mirrors, and then strode toward the courtyard. The time had come to present himself to the Maestro.

René vibrated with excitement. He paused just inside the entrance to the training area. This was no way to face the Maestro. He sucked in a deep breath, exhaled, and reached for that quiet center. The torrent of chaotic thought stilled and that unique calm of intense focus settled around him. His friends Marc and Anatole sported their weapons in public. René had yet to earn that privilege. Disarming the Maestro was the only way, and since that possibility seemed as remote as the ability to fly, it generated a great deal of frustration.

Today, however, might be the day.

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Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

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 @ 12:18 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments

January 11, 2017

FUN with SOUP

Several years back I attended a writer’s convention in Michigan.While there, I became enthralled with the book Stone Soup by Ann McGovern. One of the other authors winked and handed me a medium-sized stone from Michigan beach. I was hooked. Bought the book and couldn’t wait for my youngest granddaughter and me to make stone soup. We did over this past summer. Great fun with a delicious end result. Give it a whirl. You, too, will make wonderful memories.

STONE SOUP

1 stone large enough that it won’t get lost in the soup. Quartz is good as it won’t break down while cooking.
1tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
2 large carrots, sliced
1 large garlic clove, pressed
6 cups chicken stock
2 boneless chicken breasts, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme *
1 tbsp. dried parsley *
2 cups penne pasta
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Scrub the stone with dish soap. Rinse thoroughly.

Melt the butter in a large pot on medium heat. When the foam subsides turn heat to medium-high. Add onion and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes. Stir in celery and carrots. Continue to sauté for 6 – 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Carefully pour in the stock. Stir in the chicken and then herbs. Gently lower the stone into the soup. Stir in the pasta.

Increase heat and bring the soup to a boil. Cook until pasta is done al dente. Be sure to stir often.

Remove stone and ladle into individual bowls. Pass the cheese in a separate dish.

Serves 6.

* fresh herbs are excellent if you have them. Use nine springs of each in place of the dried herbs.

May you enjoy all the days of your life around a well laden table!

Sloane Taylor
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Sloane said @ 1:02 am | Cooking | Comments

January 9, 2017

WASHING AWAY

by SS Hampton Sr.

Hello!

I have been aware of Steampunk for some years now, found the premise interesting, and always thought I should try writing Steampunk someday. But what does an older guy like me know about Steampunk? Not much, actually. But it sounded interesting.

Anyway, while researching a story I once came across mention of a 1778 treaty at Fort Pitt in which American Indians, if assisting the Continental Army against the British during the Revolutionary War, were offered the possibility of their own state and representation in Congress. Once the war was over, of course. The idea of an American Indian state intrigued me, and I thought I should try writing an alternative history someday.

Of course, just like tomorrow, “someday” never comes.

Then I saw Nicole Gestalt’s Call for Submissions for Valves & Vixens, Volume 3 (House of Erotica). The sub-title Steampunk Erotica clinched the idea. So, “someday” finally became “now.”

And the idea hit me—why not write about West Delaware, the American Indian state (the 14th State, or the Treaty State) in a Steampunk world? Of course, that meant research in order to gain a better understanding of Steampunk, and to develop a believable timeline from the 1778 Treaty of Fort Pitt to New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1900. Especially important was what the Steampunk world of West Delaware was like on the eve of the 20th century.

Sooo…as midnight approaches, West Delaware is a populous state with the descendants of survivors from Eastern tribes, as well as tribal refugees who made their way out of the West, through watchful US Army picket lines. There are descendants of white colonists who elected to live under American Indian authority rather than be removed by the fledgling American government and lose their land; descendants of runaway slaves, and still arriving European immigrants. It is a state in a flux of change where the people are blending ancient cultural and social customs with new ways, all against a background of a rapidly evolving computer-based technology.

The people in this world include Carlton Snow, Chief of West Delaware; Solomon Prophet, Director of West Delaware’s powerful state police; Kyrie Sosoni, Executive Assistant to Chief Snow, and who serves both a master and mistress; the influential Senator Walker Diamond who, along with others in the Federal government, wishes to do away with West Delaware; Lord Gallatin Andover, a member of the British Parliament and envious enemy of West Delaware’s computer technology superiority; Lady Elysia Delacroix Stuart, successful Washington madam with ties to West Delaware and Lord Andover, and her sister Lady Cassandra Delacroix Gordon, a member of Elysia’s brothel.

I suppose a last question would be, “How will this all end?” Who knows? Answering that question might deserve another story, or perhaps a novel. We will have to see.

Here’s a peek into my story Washing Away.

December 31, 1900, New Year’s Eve. A murder of a prominent British politician, an opportunistic computer technology entrepreneur in a seedy hotel in Washington, D.C. Is the murder nothing more than a sleazy robbery, maybe industrial espionage, or perhaps revenge?

Lady Elysia Delacroix Stuart, a brothel owner in Washington, and her sister Lady Cassandra Delacroix Gordon, a member of the brothel, are on their way to Chestertown, West Delaware—the American Indian state, created after the Revolutionary War—for a New Year’s Eve celebration. The American Indian state leads the world in early computer technology and Lady Elysia’s family played a role in developing the technology. She also had a secret and less than pleasing history with the politician, and finds herself suspect in his murder.

EXCERPT
The solitary gaslight swayed in the strong, wintry wind. Snowflakes spun through the cone of light that swung back and forth across the sidewalk to the side of a wood framed hotel that saw better days. Large snowflakes stuck to a window for long seconds before reluctantly losing their shape and becoming thin rivulets that trickled downward.

Within the dark room the feeble light filtered through curtains that also saw better days. The solitary room was warmer than the winter night outside, but not by much.

“Why this place?” a masculine voice asked. “Why a seedy, dirty little place like this?”

His answer was the squeak of the bed as a feminine form outlined by the curtained window light giggled and crawled forward. The woman turned at the head of the bed and lowered her hips.

“Taste me,” she whispered and tilted her head forward so that her long hair dangled back and forth across his hips. A deep, masculine groan answered her, and beefy hands rubbed and squeezed her hips, then her ass cheeks. She giggled again and lowered her hips further. The groan became muffled. “Do you like my scent,” she asked and reached between the man’s legs. The excited reply was muffled as she rolled her hips back and forth, and her head rose and dipped in a slow rhythm. The man groaned again.

After a few moments she stopped and rose on her knees. His voice rose in protest.

She turned and straddled his chest. The light barely lit the long face framed by long dark hair and decorated with a bushy mustache. His hands resumed their rubbing of her hips and ass cheeks.

“You like?”

“Always have,” he replied in a low voice and squeezed, hard. “You were the best. Especially your first time. That belly dancing in Egypt did wonders for you.”

The woman leaned forward and kissed his forehead. He slipped a hand between her thighs. She gasped and sighed.

“I know.”

“I should have married you back then,” he added.

“I know.”

“You should have married me when we met in London.”

“Really?” A hint of sarcasm was in her voice.

“Yes.”

“But then, we wouldn’t be here.”

She reached behind the pillows, between the headboard and the end of the sheet covered mattress.

“What are you doing?”

“Sshhhh,” the woman replied and placed a finger against his lips.

He chuckled and trailed thick fingers through her pubic hair while he curled her long hair around his other hand.

She pulled her hair free and sat on his stomach. The light from the window shone briefly on a polished, thin round stiletto blade. The woman clapped a strong hand across his mouth and the blade disappeared into the shadow of his left temple. His eyes opened wide, the whites easily visible in the near darkness. A less than lustful gasp and groan filtered through her fingers. His body jerked, his feet kicked, and then he went limp though his limbs shuddered spasmodically.

The woman sighed, placed a pillow against the side of his head and withdrew the stiletto, now darkly stained and dripping.

She remained seated on his stomach, slowly tilting her head from side to side as if studying the now motionless body. She turned the head so that his lifeless eyes gazed at her.

“I wasn’t sure I could do this,” the woman told him in an emotionless voice. “But, it was so easy.”

The window rattled from a strong gust of wind.

“Everything could have been so different,” she said later in a matter-of-fact voice while standing by the bed, shrouded in a winter cloak, and pulling on a pair of gloves. “I’m glad things worked out the way they have.” She paused at the door and listened. At that time of the morning no one was up. Odds were, even the night clerk was asleep. The woman cast a final look at the body followed by a whispered, “Someone really should have told you, hell hath no fury like a girl scorned…or…ill-used.”

The gas lamp lit hallway decorated with a faded, frayed carpet, was empty. She hurried to a door at the rear of the hotel and plunged into the frigid night. Only a horse carriage, and a hissing steam carriage were out and about. With a final look up and down the street, she left the hotel grounds and disappeared into the snowy darkness that was Pennsylvania Avenue.

AMAZON BUY LINK

See more books by S.S. Hampton Sr. on Amazon.

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently enrolled as an art student at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus PressEdge Science Fiction & Fantasy PublishingMelange BooksMuseItUp PublishingGoodreads Author PageAmazon Author PageAmazon UK

Sloane said @ 12:42 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments

January 4, 2017

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

So I invited Sharon Ledwith into the kitchen to kickoff National Soup Month with her hearty soup. Take it away, Sharon!

This is a fantastic soup to serve to your crew, and freezes well. Salad, hard rolls, and wine (red or white) complete this meal! You can make it 24 hours ahead of time without the noodles and wait to add noodles when you reheat the soup to serve.

SAVORY SAUSAGE SOUP

1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage*
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small onions, chopped
2 (16 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1¼ cup dry red wine
5 cups beef broth
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
2 zucchini, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package spinach fettuccine pasta (or plain, whatever your heart desires)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cook sausage over medium heat until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Drain fat from pan, reserving 3 tablespoons. If desired, instead of ground sausage, cut sausages in thin slices.

Sauté garlic and onion in reserved fat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, wine, broth, basil, and oregano. Transfer to a slow cooker, and stir in sausage, zucchini, bell pepper, and parsley.

Cover, and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Break pasta into smaller pieces and drop into boiling water. Cook until al dente, about 7 minutes after the water returns to the boil. Drain water, and add pasta to slow cooker. Simmer for a few minutes, and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Serve topped with grated parmesan.

* Use ground sausage or links you’ve broken into bits or sliced thin.

This recipe can also be made on your stovetop. Follow the directions, but instead of the slow cooker, combine all your ingredients in your original pot. Simmer partially covered for 1 hour.

Give yourself a well-deserved break while your soup simmers. Sit back, prop up your feet, and open a book you’ve been meaning to read. Why not pick up one of The Last Timekeepers adventures, and peruse the latest mission with Treena and her time traveling cohorts?

Only a true hero can shine the light in humanity’s darkest time.

Fourteen year-old Jordan Jensen always considered himself a team player on and off the field, until the second Timekeeper mission lands him in Amsterdam during World War Two. Pulled into the world of espionage, torture, and intolerance, Jordan and the rest of the Timekeepers have no choice but to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in order to find and protect a mysterious book.

With the help of the Dutch Resistance, an eccentric baron, Nordic runes, and an ancient volume originating from Atlantis, Jordan must learn that it takes true teamwork, trust, and sacrifice to keep time safe from the evils of fascism. Can Jordan find the hero within to conquer the darkness surrounding the Timekeepers? If he doesn’t, then the terrible truth of what the Nazis did will never see the light of day.

EXCERPT
“I wonder what else is down here.” Drake beamed his cell phone across the basement, hitting jars of jams, pickles, and relishes. His stomach growled.

Jordan pulled the cheese from his pocket and handed it to Drake. “Trade you for your phone.”

“Best. Trade. Ever.” Drake passed his phone to Jordan.

Jordan walked over and grabbed a jar of pickles off the dusty shelf. At least they wouldn’t arrive at the baron’s place hungry. He hoped his uncle had managed to stop Amanda’s bleeding. His hand tightened over the jar, the ridges of the lid cutting into his palm. A scrape from behind the shelves made Jordan jump.

“Hello?” he asked, pushing jars aside. He flashed the cell phone into the small, dark area.

“Who ya talking to, Jordan?” Drake asked with his mouth full of cheese.

“Shhh, Drake.” Jordan listened. Hearing nothing, he shrugged and turned back around.

“I thought I heard—” Jordan stopped and pointed the phone at Ravi. His jaw dropped. “A-Are you serious, Sharma?”

Drake spat out his cheese, snorting with laughter.

“Is there a problem?” Ravi asked, tying the bowtie of his tuxedo.

“You look like a penguin with attitude!” Drake slapped his knee.

“Say what you want, but I’m glad we didn’t hit the cleaners on the way to school now,” Ravi replied, pulling down his sleeves, “or else I wouldn’t have these dry clothes.”

Jordan chuckled. Suddenly, he heard a door creak open, followed by heavy footsteps squeaking down the stairs. Panicking, Jordan stuffed Drake’s phone in his track suit jacket’s pocket and waved Drake over by the shelves. Drake slipped behind Jordan just in time, before the small light bulb above the bottom of the stairs clicked on. Jordan swallowed hard. There, staring directly at Ravi was a portly man in a blood-stained apron. Tufts of blond hair sprouted from the sides of his balding head. His brown trousers were pulled up past his waist, making him resemble an evil garden gnome. In one of his hands, he held a huge butcher knife, its blade flecked with blood.

Wielding the knife, the man pointed at Ravi. “Who are you?”

Ravi licked his thick lips nervously. “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

BUY LINKS
Mirror World Publishing: PaperbackeBook
AmazonAmazon.caKOBOBarnes & Noble

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Mirror World Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic 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.

Sloane said @ 12:16 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

December 28, 2016

Sweets for the Sweet

from Dominique Eastwick

Candied Cranberries

2 cups sugar, divided into 1½ cups and ½ cup
½ cup of water
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
thinly sliced oranges, optional

Combine ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. For those of you who mix your drinks this is simple syrup for those of you from the south this is the Sweet in your tea 🙂

Remove from heat. Let the cranberries/fruit soak. I have heard some people soak the berries for a couple of minutes, other a few hours. I prefer a few hours. Just stir occasionally.

Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining sugar until well coated. Allow the berries to dry on rack for at least 1 hour.

Use how the mood fits. Give as a gift, top a cake as we did above, or put on the table for a friendly gathering as a munchy.

The Twins are Back


Sometimes one infiltrator isn’t enough. When a long lost Tao pack member is located in Europe, D and 7 accept the challenge to rescue the missing wolf. But sometimes, it takes crossing thousands of miles to find what your soul most desires.

Natalia remembers nothing of her life before being enslaved in a traveling circus. When tall, dark and mysterious strangers show up to help her escape, she feels a connection she’s never experienced before. Should she trust her heart to follow them, or will it land her in another case of captivity.

Danger may be in the blood of infiltrators, but what will D do when his soul mate is the one threatened? And how will two twins, who have shared everything, deal with a female who comes between them?

EXCERPT
Natalia awoke alone and without a blanket to find D closing the gate.

“Sorry, they have just awoken above us. I didn’t think it would bode well for me to be there with you. At least not until we can get that blasted collar off you.”

Well-rested and colder than she had ever been after a night of warmth, she felt the chill more acutely. She also had a sense of loneliness accompanying his retreat. “Why do I desire to touch you when all other men make me want to hit them?”

“We don’t have enough time right now to go into a conversation you will have a ton of questions about, but I promise if we haven’t figured out how to get you to safety by this evening, as we sit here in this cage again, I will tell you anything you want to know.”

“And if we get out of here? What then?”

“I will sit in a safe, warm room and tell you anything you want to know.” He indicated the small brown bag beside her. “Eat quickly before they come. Don’t eat or drink anything they give you. I will return for you later.”

“Where will you be?”

“Within hearing distance.” He reached through the cage and cupped her cheek. “I will never be far, even if you can’t see me.”

“I can sense you, why?”

“Because, we are mates.” He put a finger to her lips. “No time.”

He shifted and gave her one last long glance before he left seconds before the cover was pulled off and sun flooded in. She wanted to asked what the hell he’d meant by mate? Needed to know why they seemed connected.

BUY LINKS
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Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pasttimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

Stay connected on Twitter, Tublr, Tsu, and Pinterest.

Sloane said @ 12:33 am | Author Friend New Releases,Cooking | Comments

December 26, 2016

TRADITION

by Carol Browne

Photo by imagerymajestic

What is this thing we Brits call Boxing Day that takes place every year on December 26th? Does the stress of the festive season require a violent catharsis? Do people engage in fisticuffs in the street? Is there anarchy in the UK?

No, it’s a civilised affair dating back around 800 years, when the church alms boxes were opened and the money within was distributed to the poor. This tradition of being charitable is reflected in the Christmas Carol Good King Wenceslas, which concerns a Medieval king who takes food to a poor family on Boxing Day (also known as St Stephen’s Day. Traditionally, servants had a day off from tugging their forelocks, and were allowed to celebrate Christmas at home with their families and friends.

Photo by graur razvan ionut

In the not-too-distant past, tradesmen and merchants would receive a Christmas box from their customers. This was like a tip to thank them for their work throughout the year. This custom has largely died out but I recall when I was a child, my mother setting aside money or small gifts for Christmas boxes that would be given to people like the milkman and the postman. We had so many things delivered in those days and I seldom saw the people responsible so that, thanks to my child’s imagination, they became an assortment of surreal characters that still make me chuckle to this day: The Potato Man, the Paper Boy, the Fish Man, and the Coal Man, for example!

Although Boxing Day is a public holiday in the UK (and other countries with a connection to it, like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia) many people prefer the frenzy of the Boxing Day sales to chilling out with friends and family. It is also an important day for sport, especially horse racing and football. Many people go for a long walk, perhaps to burn off some of that food they have overindulged in. It was traditional for the upper classes to go fox-hunting too, but, thankfully, this barbaric practice has been outlawed now.

After the excesses of Christmas Day, why not try a simple vegetable broth for your Boxing Day lunch? A steaming mug of this with a chunk of crusty bread is both warming and nourishing and just the ticket on a chilly winter’s day. The following recipe is vegan but if you’re a meat-eater, you can add some of that leftover turkey if you still haven’t had your fill of it!

Vegetable Broth

Photo by KEKO64

1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 large carrots, diced
1 swede (rutabaga), diced
1 large potato, cut into large chunks
1 leek, chopped
2 pints vegetable stock
vegetable oil or vegan margarine

Heat the oil or margarine in a large pan and add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sweat them together until soft.

Add the carrots, leek, and rutabaga. Sweat these with the onion/garlic mix, ensuring they are mixed well.

Stir in the potatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down as low as possible and place lid on pan. Simmer and stir occasionally until vegetables are tender.

How about a glimpse into the life of a strong woman while your soup is simmering?

In 2012 when young Polish immigrant Agnieszka visits fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home for the first time, she thinks it a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.

Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and a death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka be able to keep her promise to tell her story, and, in this harrowing memoir of survival, what is the message for us today?

Buy Links
DilliebooksAmazon UKAmazon US

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. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

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

Sloane said @ 12:43 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

December 21, 2016

Mock Champagne and Other Delicious Treats

Original recipes by C.D. Hersh

Mock Cranberry Sangria
For each 8-ounce champagne glass you need:

Photo by tuelekza

¼ cup brewed Hibiscus Watermelon tea (we use Republic of Tea brand)
⅛ cup brewed Chamomile honey and vanilla tea (we use Twinings brand)
Sparking apple cider
1 rounded tbsp. jellied cranberry sauce (smooth or whole berry)
Fresh fruits (grapes, whole cranberries, pineapple chunks, peeled sliced star fruit, or peeled kiwi—or fruits of your choice)
Short skewer or sizzle stick

Thread fruits on a skewer or swizzle stick and set aside.

Pour teas and cranberry sauce in the glass. Mix until sauce is dissolved. Fill glass with sparkling apple cider. Enjoy!

Mock Champagne 

Cork Shot Out From a Bottle of Champagne

For each 8-ounce champagne glass you need:
 
¼ cup white grape juice
⅛ cup Chamomile tea
ginger ale, regular or diet
star fruit
fresh cranberries

Combine grape juice and tea in an 8-ounce champagne flute.

Fill glass with ginger ale.

To give the drink a holiday flare, add a slice of star fruit and a couple of whole, fresh cranberries to the glass before adding the liquids.

To go along with your cool drink how about a hot book?

Sizzle in the Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection is eight holiday romances packed into one volume. Majanka Verstraete of InD’tale magazine rated the collection four stars and five steam pots. She called the book “an interesting holiday collection” with “smooth and polished style” storylines. “Each story is full of wit, charm and – most of all – romance.”

SIZZLE IN THE SNOW_1800x2700 (2)

Our story is Kissing Santa.

When Sam S. Klaus, a professional Santa, has a fling with a beautiful elfette at a Santa Conference, he wants to make her Mrs. Klaus, but his intended disappears before Santa can pop the question.

Excerpt from Kissing Santa:

Anna Noel studied the trim backside of the Santa standing in front of her. He appeared younger than most of the Santas at the Santa Claus conference she’d chosen to attend this year. A lot more attractive than any Santa she’d ever met. For the briefest of moments she let her mind wander, lingering on Christmas wish number nine—make love to Santa. A heated flush climbed her chest as she envisioned the scene, and she flapped the jacket of her green elf costume to cool down.

Her gaze traveled over his hips, chest, and to the beginnings of a snow white beard. Then to his shock of silver hair underneath the white-trimmed, red Santa hat.

Yep. Definitely a Santa she wanted to know. Too bad she wouldn’t be the elf to his mall Santa. They could get to know each other and more.

The conference registrar drew her out of her Christmas fantasy with a loud, “Miss? Are you with this Santa?”

“What? No. I don’t have a Santa. I’m here alone.”

Sexy Santa turned and held out his hand. “Me, too. I’m Sam S. Klaus.”

A smile curled her lips as she took his hand. “As in Sam Santa Claus?” His warm palm sent tingles through her fingers as he gently squeezed them.

A lopsided grin slanted his cheek upward, and he flashed a brilliant smile. “You have the same warped sense of humor as my parents.” He gave her a mock bow. “Sam S., for Santa, Klaus, with a K.”

“That’s your real name?” He let go of her hand. She fought to keep from grabbing it back. A real Santa Klaus? How great was that?

“The same, and you are?”

“An—” She stopped, suddenly unwilling to reveal her name. A rollercoaster of emotions raced through her, suggesting she might hit number nine with this Santa. If she did, and it didn’t go well, she wouldn’t want Sam Klaus to know her real identity. “An elf, who needs a Santa,” she said. “How about we team up? I’ll be your personal elfette, and you can be my Santa.”

Want to know what each story is about… besides romance and Christmas? Well, here it is! Each author’s name links to their website. If you like their blurb, check out their other books!

SANTA BABY by Beth Carter

Unlucky-in-love Brooke Woods finds herself with a Christmas delivery and it isn’t from Santa. When her boyfriend leaves her for their neighbor, she heads to the nearest bar, meeting hunky, nice guy Anderson Bradley. The two only exchange first names, and their hot fling leaves them both wanting more but their anonymity makes that impossible.

Brooke never thought she’d end up in a hospital pregnant at Christmastime. Will a Santa Baby bring the new mother and father together or tear them apart?

SECOND CHANCES: A CHRISTMAS STORY by Amy Deason

When Grace Sellers needs to start over, she moves back to her old hometown with her two young children in tow. But the last person she expects to see is her high school crush, Michael Dennison.

Is this unexpected encounter a mere coincidence or a second chance at true love?

‘TWAS THE CRAZY NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Crystal Firsdon

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when plans led to danger For Clara and Drew, who until now were strangers. As they run for safety, desire comes fast . . . Will they have each other, or is this night their last?”

THE SNOW BIRD by Kim Hotzon

Lauren, a young single mother, is struggling to keep her children fed and a roof over their heads as the holidays approach.

Christmas is looking bleak until a sexy and wealthy property developer unexpectedly shows up in town, offering to repair her roof . . . and a whole lot more.

TAMED BY CHRISTMAS by Ryan Jo Summers

Years ago Paige and Shane experienced a tragic event in their romance. Unable to move past it, they broke up. Yet the passion remains, and she returns at Christmas time in an attempt to rekindle the love she and Shane once shared. It’s a rocky road, and it seems they might not succeed until a freak accident shows them what they really have to lose.

Can Shane tame Paige’s heart by Christmas? Or should they just let those still burning flames slowly die?

OPERATION SANTA by Tina Susedik

When Marci Hofer becomes fed up with the lack of attention from her husband, David, she decides to leave him. Devastated, he begins a campaign to bring her home. Calling it Operation Santa, he learns what he thought would be as simple as sending her gifts can backfire in the most embarrassing ways.

Will he survive the battle to get her back?

CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE by Cheryl Yeko

Steve knows he screwed up, but he’s determined to reclaim the woman he loves and the babies she carries.

But when he sweeps back into her life on Christmas Eve, Amy’s not sure she’s ready to forgive him for abandoning her six months earlier.

Buy Link

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.

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 @ 12:57 am | Author Friend New Releases,Cooking | Comments

December 19, 2016

Appetizer, Side Dish, or Meal? You Decide.

from Vonnie Hughes

CRISPY ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

3 large zucchinis
⅔ cup flour
2 eggs
1 large spring onion (escallot/shallot) sliced
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 small can creamed sweet corn
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive or vegetable oil for frying

Grate zucchini into a bowl. Stir in salt. Set aside.

Beat eggs in another bowl.

Squeeze all moisture out of the zucchini and then add it to the eggs. Mix well.

Stir in remaining ingredients and any herbs you prefer.

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Drop in tablespoon dollops of the mixture. Fry until crisp or well browned, turning just once.

Serve warm with sour cream, yogurt and/or chutney.

How about a step into a bygone era while you enjoy your crispy fritters?

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie, in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father for her actions, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie even though she knows that nothing will ever come of her yearning.

Injured and shackled in a stranger’s attic, Theo unexpectedly discovers the woman of his dreams. But how can he pursue those dreams when her bizarre family’s complex relationships threaten the very foundation of his existence? Somehow Theo must find a way through this maze to claim his lady.

TEASER
“Oh, no, Emmaline! Please untie him. Let him go.”

Whatever would her sister do next? At seventeen she was an eligible man’s worst nightmare. And this latest escapade—

“Don’t be such a bore, Lexie. ’Tis a great joke! For once, Papa will thank us. Especially when he finds out who it is we’ve got all trussed up.” Emmaline laughed her silvery, seductive laugh that drove men wild and irritated women excessively.

“Thank us! He is more like to beat us. You cannot capture someone and bring him here and…and just tie him up.”

“Of course I can. I already have. I shall lock the two of you in here together and then raise an outcry. Papa and the servants will come running and—” she waved her pretty hands in the air “—the rest will take care of itself. Papa’s investment problem will be solved, and with a bit of luck you might even be married by next week, sister.”

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Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Sloane said @ 2:56 pm | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

December 14, 2016

Sweeten Your Holiday

from Sharon Ledwith

In the second book of The Last Timekeepers young adult time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Treena Mui attempts to soothe the time traveling troops’ appetites by baking them a batch of sugar cookies using her family’s secret recipe. The problem is she mistakenly used salt as the main ingredient instead of sugar. It really wasn’t her fault—all the jars were marked in Dutch. Poor Jordan is still trying to wash the taste out of his mouth!

So to correct this, I thought I’d share Treena Mui’s mouth-watering sugar cookie recipe to give you a taste of what the Timekeepers missed out on their undercover mission in Amsterdam during World War II. With a prep time of 20 minutes and cook time of 8 minutes, you don’t need to be a genius or a secret agent to figure out that it takes less than a half an hour to feed your own army!

Mui’s Mouth-Watering Sugar Cookies

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp. cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)

Over a large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, sugar. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in lightly beaten egg, cream, and vanilla. Blend well. Dough may be chilled, if desired.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to ⅛ inch thickness. Sprinkle with sugar; cut into desired shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until delicately brown.

While you’re waiting for those cookies to cool, take a time out and give yourself a well-deserved break. So sit back, prop up your feet, and open a book you’ve been meaning to read. Why not pick up one of The Last Timekeepers adventures, and peruse the latest mission with Treena and her time traveling cohorts?

Only a true hero can shine the light in humanity’s darkest time.

Fourteen year-old Jordan Jensen always considered himself a team player on and off the field, until the second Timekeeper mission lands him in Amsterdam during World War Two. Pulled into the world of espionage, torture, and intolerance, Jordan and the rest of the Timekeepers have no choice but to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in order to find and protect a mysterious book.

With the help of the Dutch Resistance, an eccentric baron, Nordic runes, and an ancient volume originating from Atlantis, Jordan must learn that it takes true teamwork, trust, and sacrifice to keep time safe from the evils of fascism. Can Jordan find the hero within to conquer the darkness surrounding the Timekeepers? If he doesn’t, then the terrible truth of what the Nazis did will never see the light of day.

EXCERPT
“I wonder what else is down here.” Drake beamed his cell phone across the basement, hitting jars of jams, pickles, and relishes. His stomach growled.

Jordan pulled the cheese from his pocket and handed it to Drake. “Trade you for your phone.”

“Best. Trade. Ever.” Drake passed his phone to Jordan.

Jordan walked over and grabbed a jar of pickles off the dusty shelf. At least they wouldn’t arrive at the baron’s place hungry. He hoped his uncle had managed to stop Amanda’s bleeding. His hand tightened over the jar, the ridges of the lid cutting into his palm. A scrape from behind the shelves made Jordan jump.

“Hello?” he asked, pushing jars aside. He flashed the cell phone into the small, dark area.

“Who ya talking to, Jordan?” Drake asked with his mouth full of cheese.

“Shhh, Drake.” Jordan listened. Hearing nothing, he shrugged and turned back around.

“I thought I heard—” Jordan stopped and pointed the phone at Ravi. His jaw dropped. “A-Are you serious, Sharma?”

Drake spat out his cheese, snorting with laughter.

“Is there a problem?” Ravi asked, tying the bowtie of his tuxedo.

“You look like a penguin with attitude!” Drake slapped his knee.

“Say what you want, but I’m glad we didn’t hit the cleaners on the way to school now,” Ravi replied, pulling down his sleeves, “or else I wouldn’t have these dry clothes.”

Jordan chuckled. Suddenly, he heard a door creak open, followed by heavy footsteps squeaking down the stairs. Panicking, Jordan stuffed Drake’s phone in his track suit jacket’s pocket and waved Drake over by the shelves. Drake slipped behind Jordan just in time, before the small light bulb above the bottom of the stairs clicked on. Jordan swallowed hard. There, staring directly at Ravi was a portly man in a blood-stained apron. Tufts of blond hair sprouted from the sides of his balding head. His brown trousers were pulled up past his waist, making him resemble an evil garden gnome. In one of his hands, he held a huge butcher knife, its blade flecked with blood.

Wielding the knife, the man pointed at Ravi. “Who are you?”

Ravi licked his thick lips nervously. “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

BUY LINKS
Mirror World Publishing: PaperbackeBook
AmazonAmazon.caKOBOBarnes & Noble

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Mirror World Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic 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.

Sloane said @ 1:53 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

December 12, 2016

Have You Ever Wondered?

While Studs and I were on our honeymoon, we met an interesting old gent who had a few things to say. Allow me to share some of his wisdom with you.

Why are there interstates in Hawaii? 
Photo by Tuomas_Lehtinen
How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work?

Does make you wonder.

Have an awesome day,

Sloane

Sloane said @ 11:57 am | General | Comments are off