December 17, 2014

HOLIDAY TIDBITS TO LOVE

In keeping with my declaration that December is National Appetizer Month, I’m including a family favorite that I make for almost every occasion. This recipe is easy, quick, and won’t break your budget.

Sweet Barbequed Meatballs
12-16ozs frozen Italian seasoned meatballs
6-10ozs grape jelly
1 bottle barbeque sauce
¼ cup dry red wine

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size saucepan. Be sure the meatballs are covered with the jelly and barbeque sauce. Adjusting the amounts as necessary. Be sparing if you add more wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until meatballs are heated through.

Keep warm on the stove or in a low-heat oven until you’re ready to serve.

To make your life easier during this busy holiday season, prepare this appetizer several days in advance of your party. Be sure to cover and refrigerate. On party day, remove the meatballs from the fridge at least 2 hours prior to serving. Warm either on the stovetop or in the oven.

I’ll be back Monday. Until then…

Happy appetizer munching!

Sloane

Sloane said @ 1:03 am | Cooking | Comments

December 15, 2014

SARAH GRIMM IS SMILING

I am elated to introduce you to romantic suspense author Sarah Grimm and her latest release Midnight Heat. This book is a perfect holiday gift for your eReader friends and family.

She was the only woman ever to rock his world.
But this time he’ll have to prove he’s offering more than just Midnight Heat.

The unconscious man wheeled into Dr. Rebecca Dahlman’s ER is sexy—devilishly sexy—and injured. This isn’t just any patient in need of medical help. He is the only man she’s ever loved—the one who still haunts her dreams.

Black Phoenix bassist Dominic Price made a mistake three years ago when he walked out on Rebecca. A mistake he plans to rectify. But first he has to convince her to open her heart to him again.

One touch of his calloused hands reignites their passion. Can they rekindle their trust as easily, or will her fears cause her to lose him again…this time to a man bent on revenge?

EXCERPT
Dominic’s level of pain could be gauged by the way he held himself, and his careful indrawn breaths. The doctor in her wanted to reach out and comfort. The woman in her wanted to reach out for a completely different reason. She’d never had such an irresistible urge to touch anyone the way she wanted to touch him. It had been there right from the beginning, their first meeting, and was still just as strong now.

She fisted her hands to keep from acting on the impulse.

“Can I come in?”

Definitely not. Even injured and surly, he still emanated so damn much testosterone he made her teeth sweat. Her heart did a little flutter whether she wanted it to or not. “That’s not a good idea.”

“Have dinner with me.” There was the arrogance that had been missing a few moments before. His tone wasn’t commanding, but left no doubt in her mind that for him there was only one answer.

Too bad she couldn’t give it. “I already ate.”

“Tomorrow?”

“No.”

His brow furrowed. “Why the bleedin’ hell not? Are you involved with someone?”

“I’m not seeing anyone, no.”

At her admission, he stepped closer, invading her space. Heat emanated off him, and although he did not touch her, she felt surrounded by him. “Take a drive with me?”

The low, soft timbre of his voice thrilled her, washed over her skin like a caress, and she fought a tremor. The heat of his body warmed her through her clothes. Wanting to step closer, to press against him and inhale his all too familiar scent, Rebecca stepped away. Physically distancing herself from him. She only wished emotional distance was as easily achieved. “Drive where?”

“Does it matter?”

Not really, since there was no way on earth she was getting in a car with him tonight. Not when just the sight of him had her hormones standing at attention, one whiff of him, her body thrumming. Not after spending the entire day thinking about him.

Remembering.

Aching.

Did he still hurt over the loss of what could have been? Did he still dream of her, of them? Had he ever?

Dominic blew out a breath and shook his head, his frustration clear. “It’s just a damn drive, Becca.”

It was so much more. Acceptance would be the first crack in the barrier she’d built around her heart after he’d walked out. With only the smallest encouragement, he would stop by on a regular basis, invite her to spend time with him. Which would, even if she kept her wits about her and turned him down, lead to more heartache. Just seeing him again made her yearn. Spending time with him was not an option.

She didn’t know why he was back in California. The why didn’t matter. What mattered was that he would be gone again soon. Dominic Price wasn’t the type to hang around. And she wasn’t stupid enough to believe she could change him.

BUY LINKS iBooksB&NAmazonAmazon UKKobo

Sarah Grimm is a wife and mother of two—five if you count her much-loved dogs. She resides in beautiful West Michigan, with her husband, two sons and three rescue dogs. Her addictions include reading, laughter, and drag racing.

Learn more about Sara Grimm on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Author Page and her Goodreads Author Page.

Be sure to check out Sarah’s Street Team and the
Black Phoenix Series Reader Group.

I’ll be back Wednesday to with a new appetizer recipe. Until then…

Happy Reading!

Sloane

Sloane said @ 12:39 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments

December 10, 2014

BE CREATIVE

Acclaimed writing team HL Carpenter is here with a delicious appetizer that I plan to serve Christmas Eve. So, ladies, grab an apron, and share the goodness. The kitchen is all yours.

Hi Everyone,
October was National Pumpkin month, but we think such a beautiful fruit should get more than just one month of notoriety. So smile, say cheese, and make your own yummy appetizer for a holiday get-together.

Cheese Ball Pumpkin

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
4 ounces crumbled feta or blue cheese
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. prepared mustard
½ tsp. onion powder
Paprika
The stem of a green bell pepper

Place all of the cheese in a large bowl and let soften to room temperature.

When cheese is soft, add Worcestershire and mustard. Blend with electric mixer or food processor on low speed. Scrape bowl and beat blended mixture on medium speed 1 or 2 minutes more until well mixed (do not overbeat).

Turn the mix onto plastic wrap. Pull the wrap up and secure with a twist tie. Shape the wrapped mixture into a ball. Score the pumpkin “ribs” onto the cheese ball with your fingertip or a flat knife.

With the plastic in place, set the cheese ball in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle with paprika and add a bell pepper stem to top.

Keep refrigerated until the crowd arrives, then serve with assorted crackers.

To add even more fun to the party, discuss a good book. We suggest our latest speculative fiction novelette, Taxing Pecksniffery.

Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?

EXCERPT
The biggest surprise about the Shewawa Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 was that no one on Xerios saw it coming.

Oh, the Celestial Council knew cosmic numbers of Shewawans were swelling the ranks of the opposition. Who could miss that? Long before the proposed Water Tax had taken effect, news reports overflowed with stories of protestors and frivolous arguments—well, arguments the Council called frivolous. The protestors, as ever through recorded history, were deadly serious—so serious that when civilized avenues of protest failed, they turned to more forceful ways of expressing displeasure.

Tax accountants who’d been posted to Shewawa on standard duty tour understood the brewing danger. We encountered it every day, first hand. We sent urgent red-alert notices back to Xerios via the tax hotline, advising the Council’s Senior Tax Commissioner of the agitation boiling up all over the colony. The STC and the rest of the Council dismissed our warnings, refusing to believe a ragtag group of upstarts would challenge their authority to impose the Water Tax. So events continued to burble downhill, the way they do when no one has the courage to face the truth or the vision to chart a new course.

I never expected to get caught up in the rebellion. I was a Certified Etherworld Accountant, an expert at numbers warfare, not a Shewawantologist. Maybe I should have been less casual about the impact of the Water Tax, since I was part of what the protestors had begun to call the “oppressors.” But in some ways, I was as blind as the Council. As surely as my name is Ichann Count, I knew what was going to happen, even if I didn’t want to acknowledge my intuition or admit I thought the protestors had a point.

I considered myself an ordinary person, doing my ordinary job. Like a gazillion others across the Tri-Galaxies, I got up every morning, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, and went to work. I spent my days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau with a hundred other CEAs and crushing on my cute cubicle-sharer, Fifo Ventry.

The Monday the Water Tax went into effect, I was doing both. I sat behind my light-beam privacy curtain, trying to ignore the office turmoil surrounding me. My co-workers abandoned their desks and gathered in uneasy clusters by the main conference room, sipping hot fragrant Starshine coffee and muttering to each other. We were all waiting for our boss to brief us on his morning’s skull sessions with the political factions on Xerios who wanted us to enforce the legislation and the Shewawan revolutionaries urging its repeal.

None of us expected the news to be good. We’d hoped to be back home in Xerios by now, but redeployment was doubtful. The Water Tax meant a ton more work and the Tax Bureau was already short-staffed.

To read excerpts from the other books by HL Carpenter please click a vendor’s name Musa Publishing or Amazon.

HL Carpenter is a mother/daughter writing team. Their latest work is the speculative fiction novella Taxing Pecksniffery, the story of Ichann Count, an expert at accounting warfare. The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact? Learn more about Taxing Pecksniffery on HL Carpenter’s website.

Sloane said @ 1:40 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

December 8, 2014

LET’S CELEBRATE

Birthday Cake Feminine
December is my birthday month and I want to party. Starting today, and through this Friday, everyone who plays wins one free download of their choice from the eBooks listed below.

Naughty Ladies of Nice Box Set
FRENCH Tart Book 1
Bon Appétit…Satisfy all your cravings at cooking school.
Determined to prove herself and shed her party girl image, Donatienne Dubois pins her hope on the exclusive cooking school in Nice, France.

Mark Anderson is incognito and hating every moment. To pose as a student while keeping tabs on a rich wild child is his version of hell, until he partners with the dish of Crème Brulée good enough to eat.

Class takes on a whole new meaning as Doni and Mark heat up the kitchen when they discover honey has better uses than sweetening tea.

FRENCH Delights Book 2
Fantasy blooms in a garden of wicked delight.
Science is Paul’s life. Close to a major breakthrough, all he wants is to be left alone with his trees and not be forced to entertain a corporate suit.

Lisette is less than thrilled about spending a month at a moldering chateau on the French Riviera with only some dried up old scientist for company. However the hot man in dirty jeans proves more of a fantasy than the nerd in a lab coat.

Sex and science create a volatile formula resulting in total delight.

FRENCH Twist Book 3
Spies and lies bring a deadly twist to the City of Lights.
Interpol agent Claudette D’Laquois is trapped in the hellhole of life and unable to trust anyone. Desperate to regain control, she flees to the safety of her uncle’s rundown chateau on the French Riviera.

Uptight accountant Donald Hobbs ditches numbers for dirt to oversee his friend’s orchard for three weeks.

Illegal drugs and Russian mobsters take a back seat to a lethal night of sinful pleasure for Claudette and Don.

FRENCH Kiss Book 4
Man and the sea have one commonality – both have a great capacity to create evil.
Author Rachel Conklin rejuvenates her creativity on the French Riviera as a fishing boat cook. Her plan is perfect until a storm at sea sets in motion a series of violent events beyond her imagination.

Dr. Henri Bernier has the ideal life with a job he loves and an inherited old fishing boat he treasures. He may not be the best sailor, but he is always cautious of the evil that travels above and below the water.

Treachery and sex traffickers force Rachel and Henri to stretch their limits and face what truly matters in life.

FRENCH Tickler Book 5
Lace and handcuffs…tools of the trade.
New Yorker Samantha Bradley has a fun, sexy career designing ladies lingerie. She treats herself to a well deserved break on the French Riviera where the women are glamorous and the men are gorgeous. After a few days Sam is eager to sample more than just the local cuisine.

Cisco Bernier is France’s key criminal prosecutor, but his courtroom charm falls flat outside the hallowed halls of justice. From family relationships to romantic trysts, his success rate is abysmal until a chance encounter with a sensuous young American businesswoman spins his staid world out of control.

Sam and Cisco sizzle together, but any future is threatened when their pasts collide.

Magnificent Men of Munich Box Set
Heated Negotiations Book 1
Mergers and negotiations are not just for the boardroom, especially when things heat up high over the Atlantic.
Travel agency owner Teddi Howard is Hell in high heels when she jumps a plane to Munich. Her goal—strangle the German tour operator who reneged on their exclusive contract.

Winter Games Book 2
As the games heat up, the stakes grow higher, and Lonnie must decide whether to play along or leave her heart out in the cold.
Lonnie Copley may be a genius, but not when it comes to her personal life. A series of wrong turns puts her far from reality and the German autobahn. The last thing she wants on the eve of a snowstorm is to be dangling at the edge of an Austrian mountain in need of rescue—especially by a leather-clad giant with Johnny Depp eyes.

Perfect Lie Book 3
A seedling of doubt will unravel even a perfect lie.
After two ex-husbands and a con artist, Francine Daniels has had it with men. Her life is finally the way she wants it — successful and complete. At least she thinks so until a working vacation in Munich brings her face to face with a sexy German hotelier who sees right through her brash exterior and makes her sizzle with his every touch.

Yesterday’s Lovers Book 4
Isabella Carrington has never wanted for anything her entire pampered life — except for love.
No matter how many designer items she buys or men she conquers, Isabella Carrington never seems to find what she’s looking for. When she meets the one man in the world completely unaffected by her charms, she is determined to have him, even if it means a dunk in the Grand Canal.

MASQUERADE
Behind every mask is always a fragment of truth.
Chicagoan Clancy Marshall has planned her dream vacation in Venice down to the last detail. From gondola rides to masked balls, and anything else that just happens along, she is determined to experience all pleasures. But those careful plans fly out the door when she literally falls into the arms of a masked stranger.

Vittore Ricci comes from an old Venetian family that claims two doges in their lineage. A straight-laced Count and owner of a prestigious hotel, he never does anything without serious consideration. Until a sexy American tourist offers an opportunity no man can refuse.

CZECH MATE
Pink boa and red stilettos…anything goes with Armani.
Life isn’t easy for American Lacey Blake when she’s stranded in Prague dressed like a dolled up hooker and nowhere to go. The cash-strapped American, boasting a pink boa and red stilettos that would make any working girl jealous, is saved by a staid giant in classic Armani.

Dragan Petrovic worked hard to shed the stigma of his youth and what his mother endured to put food in his belly. Now that he is a success, Dragan is determined his 5-star hotel will retain its unblemished reputation and no apprentice prostitute will launch her career in his lobby.

But one look in Lacey’s eyes proves there is more to the desirable woman than a micro mini and a push up bra. The urge to protect her compels Dragan to suggest an unconventional plan that stirs deep desires and alters their lives forever.

And there’s a special bonus prize for EVERYONE who enters!

This book is compiled from recipes by the Musa Publiashing authors who love to cook. There are over seventy recipes that range from exciting appetizers to interesting adult beverages. You’ll definitely find plenty to tempt your palate.

To enter, please email me sloanetaylor@comcast.net with BDAY in the subject line. In the body of the email please add your title and format preference.

Also, if you like bookmarks and trading cards include your snail mail address in your email and I’ll get you a packet in the morning mail, no matter where in the world you live.

Good luck and thanks for helping me celebrate!

Sloane

Sloane said @ 1:43 am | Contests,Freebees | Comments

December 3, 2014

APPETIZER LOVERS UNITE

There are National Months for every known thing but appetizers. As a true lover of awesome finger food I ask you, how unfair is that? So I am declaring December to be National Appetizer Month. Each Wednesday I’ll feature a delicious appetizer. To kick off this auspicious event I’ve invited Sara Daniel to share her Easy Deviled Eggs recipe just in time for your holiday planning. The kitchen is all yours, Sara!

I love to eat deviled eggs—as long as someone else makes them! But as I approached my fourth decade of life, I realized maybe I need to cross this item off my bucket list even though the creation seemed way too complicated and fancy. I’m a busy mom with a full-time writing job. When it comes to food, I don’t do complicated or fancy.

But recently, I had a bunch of leftover Easter eggs and a whole lot of company coming over. I needed my guests to eat those eggs, so they weren’t sitting in my fridge until Halloween! So I scoured recipes online (Thanks Google!) and simplified the simplest recipe. I haven’t figured out a way to simplify peeling hard boiled eggs, but once I got past that part, these eggs were easy-peasy to make.

Easy Deviled Eggs

1 dozen hard boiled eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. honey Dijon mustard
Paprika

Peel hard boiled eggs. (Muttering and cursing is optional, but I find the eggs respond better to threats and bad temper!)

Slice eggs lengthwise. Scoop yolks into a bowl. Mash yolks, mayonnaise, and mustard together.

Scoop mixture with a small spoon into egg white halves. (If you want to use some fancy thing to make pretty, complicated designs, knock yourself out!)

Sprinkle with paprika. Cover with cling wrap and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

Like me, the heroine of Wyatt’s Guilt makes work her priority over food, but I think Nicole should give these eggs a try too!

Here is a short intro to one of my favorite books.

Nicole trusted Wyatt with her heart once. She won’t make the same mistake twice.

Nicole DeMonde’s car breaks down the moment she returns to her hometown for her brother’s wedding. The cop who stops to help her is none other than local hottie Wyatt Truman, who slept with her then dumped her when they were teens. She has no choice but to accept his help. However, she knows better than to trust him with her heart twice.

Wyatt is determined to earn Nicole’s forgiveness and make amends for his callous past. Once he lays eyes on her, he can’t help wanting a lot more than forgiveness, despite his intention never to hurt her again.

Just as Wyatt starts thinking his best intentions are of the forever variety, Nicole decides to work Wyatt out of her system with a one night stand. Can either of them make peace with the past in a single weekend, let alone survive with their hearts intact?

To read an excerpt from Wyatt’s Guilt, please click HERE.

To read excerpts from other books by Sara Daniel please click a vendor’s name Musa PublishingAmazon.

Sara Daniel writes what she loves—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Sloane said @ 1:19 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

December 1, 2014

A Gift Idea for the E-Readers on Your List

Erotic author Lizzie T. Leaf has a new release! The six DEAD books from her acclaimed series are now available in a box set.

DEAD Awake – Who knew a night of passion, could lead to a gal waking up dead…and pissed?

DEAD Faint – BillieJo didn’t want to die, but given her new food source for eternity death may have been a better option.

DEAD Hunter – ArieAnne was raised to believe vampires are evil, so how can she be in love with one?

DEAD Memory – David can’t remember his past, but finds it strange the smell of blood makes his mouth water.

DEAD Hot – Can two people with deep secrets discover the truth about each other and still find love?

DEAD Santa – A bite on this Christmas Eve delivery changed Santa into someone he doesn’t know, and Mrs. Claus doesn’t want to live with.

EXCERPT
from DEAD Awake

“Guess again.” Daniel’s dark eyes bored into her. “My dear, if I wanted to be with someone famous I wouldn’t have to wait for them to die…nor would it be you.”

Well, he doesn’t have to be so persnickety and openly sneer at the thought of doing me! He might be good looking, but it isn’t like he’s God’s gift to women. And he’s old. He must be at least forty-five. “So what are you doing here?”

Wait a minute—did he read my mind?

He sighed and shook his head. “I promised a friend I’d help you understand what has happened to you. And yes, I can read your thoughts.”

Freaky. A mind reader, but he knows what’s going on with my situation.

Excitement suppressed her doubts. Finally, she was going to find out what happened. Perhaps she had some rare strange disease that only a few people knew about.

He studied her for a long moment with his intense black eyes, and she had to resist the urge to squirm. Maybe she didn’t want to know what he was going to tell her.

“Your condition is the result of…an accident. My friend didn’t mean to get carried away and turn you into one of the living dead.”

“The what?” How did she manage to get hooked up with these weirdoes? “Are you frigging nuts?”

His dark glare stopped her from saying more.

“For your information, I’m saner than you’re going to feel shortly.” He held up a hand to stop her question. “Let me finish before you start with your questions.” His voice teetered on boredom as he went on to explain what happened to her on Halloween night.

The story may have bored him, but by the time he completed his tale, she was boiling mad. “You’re telling me I’m a vampire.”

This man was certifiable. Vampires only existed in horror movies and at costume parties. “Then what does that make you, if you’re friends with this individual who took a bite out of me?”

“A much older and wiser vampire than you or my young friend who created you.” He adjusted the collar of his coat. “Now, do you want to benefit from some of my knowledge or do you wish to continue with your delusion that I’m insane?”

A little flick of fear ran down Deb’s spine. What if he was telling her the truth? What if she had been turned into a vampire? That would explain why the doctor pronounced her dead. She was, what did Daniel call it…one of the living dead.

“So, did your friend or whatever you call him, need virgin’s blood to survive, or what?”

The Experienced One grimaced. “I call him Aaron, or sometimes refer to him as my protégé, and yes, he is my friend. As for the virgin’s blood, if that was the case he’d be in real trouble on the survival issue with his selection of you, wouldn’t he?”

BUY LINK

To read excerpts from other books by Lizzie T. Leaf please click a vendor’s name – Musa PublishingAmazon.

Lizzie T. Leaf loved books since she opened her first one. Her dream was to write them herself. Lost in the hectic day to day world of family, job, laundry and housework, writing became a distant memory. When the twinkling ember did spark, it was usually doused by someone demanding their share of her time.

Lizzie’s life went full circle. The desire to put the stories that continued to play in her head on paper emerged stronger than ever, and at a time when there was someone who encouraged. Now she lives her dream.

Learn more about Lizzie T. Leaf on her website and blog. Connect with Lizzie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:03 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments

November 26, 2014

Make It All About YOU

You deserve a break after all the holiday cooking and cleaning. Treat yourself to some old-fashioned goodness with Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Here’s a menu that works great for dinner or lunch.

Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
White Wine – Riesling

Tomato Soup
1 can of your favorite brand
Chicken stock
Dollop of sour cream

Open the can and pour into a saucepan. Should your canned soup require adding 1 can of water, instead add ¾ can chicken stock. Mix well and heat to a slow boil.

To serve, pour soup into a cup, and then add a dollop of sour cream.

Grilled Cheese
2 slices of Italian bread per sandwich
2 slices Provolone cheese per sandwich
1 heaping tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese per sandwich
2 tbsp. butter or margarine or so per sandwich

Preheat a heavy 8-10 inch skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Spread the butter or margarine on the outside of one slice of bread per sandwich. Layer the slices with the cheeses. Cover with the second slice of bread, and butter the outside.

Place the sandwiches in the pan and fry until the bottom slice is browned to your taste. Flip the sandwiches and fry the other side until it reaches the right color. You made need to add a bit more butter or margarine.

Serve the soup and sandwich for an easy tasty meal and relax with the wine while you share quiet time with your loved ones.

I’ll be back Monday with Lizzie T. Leaf. Until then…

Enjoy!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Sloane said @ 1:34 am | Cooking | Comments

November 24, 2014

INTRODUCING…

Yakuza Territory!

This dynamic sci-fi noir is written by speculative fictioneer Milo James Fowler and is a definite Do Not Miss Book. Makes a great holiday gift, too.

A detective with no way out. A telepath with something to prove…

World-weary detective Charlie Madison has seen more than his share of war. When he stops by the 37th precinct late one night to check on his old friend Sergeant Douglass, the place is as quiet as a morgue. The last thing he expects to find: half a dozen Russian gunmen with a score to settle.

What starts out as a vicious Alamo-style battle soon evolves into something more sinister as Madison’s past comes into play. Will his ties to a branch of the Japanese mafia be a help or a hindrance? And who is the strange man in holding? Why are the Russians determined to break him out?

Struggling to survive the night, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a mystery where he’s outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside a police station with a soulless killing machine.

EXCERPT
Maybe checking in on Sergeant Douglass late that night hadn’t been the best idea. I should have paid more attention to the warning signs right off; things weren’t exactly business as usual at the precinct. The pencil-necked clerk wasn’t at his post, and an eerie quiet held the foyer as still as a morgue. No cops, uniformed or otherwise, to be seen. In a city that never slept, one expected its law enforcement personnel to share the same god-awful insomnia—graveyard shift or no.

The vacant front desk didn’t sway me from my course, though. Little glitches out of the ordinary seldom did. I’d trained myself over the years to file them away, but not focus on them too much. As a detective, it was easy to get distracted by particulars while going after the big picture. Besides, I was suspicious by nature. I questioned everything as a matter of course. But as far as I knew, everybody on duty was partying in back, throwing Douglass a well-deserved soirée after his recent ordeal and return to the land of the visible.

I paused at the unlocked door leading into the bullpen—an open-concept area with clusters of desks for everybody ranked lower than lieutenant. Access into the station’s inner workings wasn’t usually so free and easy. As I quietly stepped inside, I knew without a doubt something was amiss.

The whole room lay empty except for five guys standing in the middle with assault weapons slung over their shoulders—AK-12s and SIG MPXs by the looks of them. Not what your average citizens usually carried around concealed on their person.

“Hey.” I saluted the first one to notice me. “Am I late to the party?”

He glared my way, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was back in high school; once again, I’d forgotten the beer. They weren’t in uniform—unless black nubuck jackets and jeans counted, not to mention the scruffy stubble, slick hair, and stocky frames. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the look of your standard-issue thug for hire these days.

“Charlie—get down!”

I would have recognized that Scottish brogue anywhere. I’d already assembled a good enough picture of the situation to know it was in my best interest to hit the floor a split second before the deafening staccato of weapons fire and a hail of bullets headed my way. The rounds blasted straight through computer monitors and potted plants on desks; sparks flew upward along with shards of clay and clouds of potting soil. Chairs disintegrated as I cringed behind a solid steel desk and drew the snubnosed Smith & Wesson from my shoulder holster.

“Sarge, you all right?” I barely heard myself over the stampede of slugs plowing into the steel that sheltered me. The rounds were making some serious dents, but none had punctured through—yet. It was only a matter of time. I wouldn’t be able to stay put for long.

BUY LINK

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he’s not grading papers, he’s imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. He is an active SFWA member, and his work has appeared in more than 90 publications, including AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, Shimmer, and the Wastelands 2 anthology.

Learn more about Milo James Fowler on his website. Be sure to join The Crew for updates about new releases as well as exclusive promotions.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 1:38 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments

November 19, 2014

A UNIQUE TWIST ON PRETZELS

Sara Daniel is here to share a yummy side dish that also works as fabulous dessert. This is a wonderful way to top off your Thanksgiving festivities. The kitchen is all yours, Sara!

I’m no artist, as anyone who’s seen my stick figure drawings can attest. My artistic talent is solely concentrated in my writing. But once in a while I can make something that’s visually appealing and tastes good too. After a harrowing close call with a bag of honey mustard pretzels, I scored with this strawberry pretzel Jello salad recipe!

Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad
2 cups crushed pretzels (original flavor!)
3 tbsp. sugar
¾ cup melted margarine
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip
6 oz. package Strawberry Jello
2 cups boiling water
3½ cups sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Mix together pretzels, 3 tbsp. sugar, and margarine.
Press into the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.
Bake 8 minutes.
Cool.

Beat remaining sugar into cream cheese.
Blend in Cool Whip.
Spread mixture over pretzel crust.
Set aside in refrigerator.

Mix Jello and boiling water.
Add strawberries.
Set in refrigerator until it begins to gel.

Pour Jello mixture over cream cheese layer.
Refrigerator until Jello is set or overnight.

How about a brief look into my real art while you enjoy your work of art? Here’s little from Zane’s Art for your reading pleasure.

A high school art teacher must choose between her students and the artist she never stopped loving.

High school art teacher Julianne Truman’s last chance to save her beloved art department from budget cuts is to sell the old sketches that her former boyfriend—and now famous artist—Zane DeMonde drew for her. But is she prepared to let go of his artwork and the last traces of him in her life?

Desperate to save his artistic reputation from the exposure of his early works, Zane returns to the home town he wanted to forget. He accuses Julianne of profiting from his success and demands she take his art off the market and cancel the auction.

Their high school attraction flares back to life, forcing Julianne to choose between the students who count on her and the man she never stopped loving.

Excerpt:
“Cancel the auction.”

Julianne Truman’s head snapped around at the hard male voice. The stapler fell from her hand and cracked open on the floor, as she caught sight of the extraordinary face that went with the voice. Her knees shook as she climbed down the ladder. She hadn’t faced Zane DeMonde in nearly fifteen years. At one time she’d believed he’d be part of every single day of her future.

“Zane, I didn’t expect you to come.” She stepped toward him. His black hair was a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him, but at shoulder length it was still far longer than most men’s. Gone were the black hoodie and ripped jeans of his youth. Now he wore chinos and a sharply pressed blue button-down shirt, open at the neck.

The dark storms in his cobalt blue eyes were exactly the same as the day he’d walked away from her. “Cancel the auction. The sketches and painting are not for sale.”

She swallowed. “I own them. If I choose to sell them, that’s my business.” And it was breaking her heart to part with the only piece of him that she’d been able to hang onto all these years.

“When they have my name on them and you’re getting rich off me, it’s my business.”

Getting rich was so far from the truth Julianne would have laughed if her chest weren’t so tight. “It’s an honor to have you back in town.” At least her students would think so. Her brother would likely burst an artery. And she—well, she couldn’t even begin to process the mix of emotions she was feeling. “Do you have a minute to talk? I can explain what’s going on.”

“I know what’s going on.”

She hoped he couldn’t hear how hard her heart was hammering or sense how desperately she longed to wrap her arms around him and pick up where they left off fifteen years ago, as if he’d never left her. “Then you know that the arts are at the bottom of the school district’s priority list. To have supplies for the classroom, to restore the school mural, to give my students a chance to explore different mediums, the art program needs an alternate source of funding.”

“You’re the Dentonville High art teacher?”

She couldn’t help feeling defensive at his derisive tone. “Yes, and I love my job.”

“Do you? Or have you never moved beyond your high school life?”

To read more on Zane’s Art please click a vendor name Musa PublishingAmazon.

Sara Daniel writes what she loves—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband.

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Sloane said @ 1:52 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments

November 17, 2014

Thoughts Running Through My Mind

by SS Hampton, Sr.

Hello. Yes, it is me again.

I am just doing a little musing, as usual. As a writer that is what I do—and watching people, the way they speak, their mannerisms, the way they dress, and even how fast they walk. Regarding females, there is the scent of perfume that lingers in the air from their passing (my favorite, by the way, is Patchouli). All of that is a big part of fiction writing especially as it applies to developing characters. People-watching, in addition to sometimes sparking an idea for a story, can also lead to questions.

Sometimes I wonder what secrets people have—either because of a real wrong-doing or because they have interests and experiences that society might condemn them for.

Granted, a murderer or stalker is rightly condemned, but, oh, say, a husband and wife who add a third person to their bed?

In my humble opinion this is the lesser of many evils; though this is not for everyone, particularly those in weak or shaky relationships, or consumed by jealousy, I am sure there is a small minority who enjoy having a third person in their bed. Or the wife (or significant other) being in another man’s bed.

And unlike fiction or even real life, you do not have to be rich, handsome or beautiful, or a psychological mess, a university student or corporate tycoon living in New York City or Paris or Rome, to enjoy such forbidden pleasures. Ordinary people in Nebraska or Kansas can enjoy such pleasures like the high and mighty. It might even be that ordinary, everyday people have more fun doing that.

Then too, as someone once remarked (paraphrased), “It’s not the destination, but the journey.”

Oh sure, the destination can be wonderfully lusty and fun and satisfying. But perhaps the journey can be fun too.

After all, when a man puts on his best suit in preparing to a meet a husband and wife for the first time, is he excited and filled with anticipation? Imagine yourself as that man.

When a husband puts on his suit, and his wife (or significant other) her finest dress with high heels and unforgettable favorite perfume, in preparing to meet another man for the first time, are they excited and filled with anticipation? Imagine yourselves as that husband and wife (or significant other).

Imagine your journey to a meeting at a bar or restaurant. Can you feel the excitement and anticipation building toward that moment when all lay eyes on one another? Maybe your hands are a little clammy. Maybe you feel too warm. Perhaps time and the car are moving too slow; you wish everything would speed up. And the moment arrives—everyone meets! There are friendly yet cautious greetings with appraising looks. And if, over a few drinks and appetizers, or dinner, everyone “clicks” and all of you agree to a private drink…

Yet there are those who would condemn you for your carnal pleasures.

But, do you really care? After all, no one is hurt in the process, society does not come apart at the seams, and world peace is not threatened.

Yes, the journey counts, but it is the destination that promises the richest reward.

So tell us, when might your imagination become an unforgettable reality unknown to the rest of the world, if only for one time?

Stan 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.

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).

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus PressEdge Science Fiction & Fantasy PublishingMelange Books
Musa PublishingMuseItUp PublishingGoodreads Author Page
Amazon Author PageAmazon UK

Sloane said @ 1:33 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments