Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

July 12, 2017

BERRY US BLUE

by HL Carpenter

We have a confession to make. Sometimes…sometimes here in Carpenter Country we are not actually sitting at our computers all day working diligently on our next book. That’s right. Sometimes we…we go OUTSIDE! Into the SUNSHINE!

One of those special occasions took place in early May when we headed out to the u-pick field. Because we are serious blueberry pickers, we brought home enough berries to enjoy a few bowls fresh-from-the-field, to put a couple of handfuls on top of cereal, and to make biscuits, bread, buckles, cheesecake, coffee cake, crumbles, cobblers, donuts, muffins, pies, pancakes, scones, and ICE CREAM!

Are you screaming yet for blueberry ice cream? Us too. In fact, we’re going to take a break and sample a bowl. Here’s the recipe in case you want a break from your own busy day. You will need an ice cream maker (ours makes about 1½ quarts)and a blender or food processor for this recipe.


HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM
1½ cups fresh blueberries, washed, and dried (slightly less than a pint of fresh, or you can use frozen berries if you drain them well)
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, your choice – coconut milk is a delicious substitute)
½ cup sugar (more or less to suit your own sweet tooth — or teeth)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Place rinsed blueberries in the blender or food processor and process for a minute or less.

Add the whipping cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to the pureed blueberries in the blender.

Process 10-20 seconds, just until mixed – not too long, or you’ll have whipped cream.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes.

If you like soft, milkshake-type ice cream, pass out the spoons and dig in. For firmer ice cream, scoop the ice cream into a container and freeze two hours.

Okay, break’s over – back to work!

We invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Sloane said @ 1:15 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

July 10, 2017

SASS AND BRASS, BUT ALWAYS A LADY

I’m delighted to introduce you to Vonnie Hughes author of DANGEROUS HOMECOMING that is a unique Historical Romance that definitely isn’t sweet.

Here is a short blurb:
Both of them are scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.

Vonnie is here with her sassy heroine. The blog is all yours, Vonnie!

Hello, Juliana. Tell us a little about yourself.
Good day. I’m Juliana Carlotta Ervedosa Colebrook. As you can tell, my Mama was Portuguese and my father was an Englishman. You will find me in the book DANGEROUS HOMECOMING. Of course the English would never get their tongues around ‘Ervedosa’ so I only use my full name when signing documents.

Do you consider yourself to be unconventional?
No. In no way do I consider myself unconventional; at least I didn’t while I lived and worked in Portugal, but since coming to England I have discovered that I am unconventional because I am loosely classed as a ‘lady’ yet I work for a living. I am a nurse with experience in tending very sick soldiers. Then again, I am a murderess twice over and one must suppose that could be called ‘unconventional.’ They were murders of necessity, I must hasten to add. I did not set out to murder anyone, but in each case I had no choice. Life is not easy for women in the nineteenth century.

Do you embrace your uniqueness?
I don’t think I embrace my uniqueness. I never thought about being unique when I was in Portugal, but once I arrived in England I did my best to fit in. The English can be very cold to those who do not fit in. And I did not want to upset my relatives whom I had not met for many, many years. So, yes, it was a struggle to fit in. In Portugal, since I was raised in a convent that specialized in training young women to nurse the sick or teach the children of the wealthy folk their basic reading and Latin, I was not at all unusual.

Who is your role model?
My role model? Well, I’m not sure. I cannot think of any woman I admire—stop! Of course I have a role model. My role model is the Marchioness of Trewbridge. What an amazing woman. Unlike most women of her class she is industrious, holds her family together with kindness and talks a great deal of sense. Yes, I’d like to be like the Marchioness.

If you could do anything without concern for the consequences, what would it be?
Marry Colly Hetherington of course. But my background would bring him down, so I must drop that daydream.

Is your ideal man unconventional?
Not really. Colly is what he is. I cannot think of other men when I think about Colly. Other men cease to exist. He is kind and so very honourable. Screamingly so. Ah, what a man.

Any juicy details to share?
Hah! Read the book.

How about showing us a piece of your story?
Umm, here goes.

She clasped her penknife tightly in her free hand and hid it beneath her skirts. The dead eyes swivelled from Kit’s hemp binding, now lying on the floor, to Juliana’s face where she hovered protectively in front of Kit.

‘What a clever young lady,’ the revolting animal purred. At the menace in his voice, Juliana felt as though a snake had slithered up her spine. She stood up and held out her ungloved left hand to show him how she had untied the ropes. Dead-Eyes was too wary to come any closer, and she knew he couldn’t see in the dimness that the knots had been sliced through.

The pale eyebrows rose. ‘Perhaps those dexterous fingers can be put to better use. Come here.’ He crooked a long, thin forefinger and the muscles at the bottom of Juliana’s stomach jolted. Hold yourself together, Juliana. Your plan relies on your being as close to him as possible.

Slowly she sidled towards the creature and for the first time she saw signs of life in the cold eyes.

‘I always interview our new young ladies before they are thrust on our clients,’ he purred thickly. ‘I like to … warm them up, so to speak.’

Bile rose in her throat. She had never seen an iceberg but she had heard about them, and she had the distinct impression that a huge chunk of iceberg had just washed into the room. ‘Warm them up?’ She didn’t think so. Please, please, please God, don’t let him have touched Tilly.

Clutching the penknife in the palm of her right hand, she shuffled closer to him, measuring the distance carefully and also his height. Yes, he was tall. So was she. Flexing her body she moved closer, as if in a trance. His arm shot out and grabbed her.

‘No!’ Kit yelled behind her.

‘Stay back, Kit,’ she warned.

‘That’s right, my dear. You understand. You want to be tutored by Benny Ames, don’t you?’ He tugged her flush against his body.

Struggling not to recoil, she saw he was sweating. His tongue slid greedily over his yellowed teeth and he clasped her left hand like a lover. She kept her right hand hidden in her skirts. Ames’s breathing deepened as he tried to rub her left hand over his erection. Even as she struck, he was so lost in a haze of sexual pleasure he had no idea what had happened.

‘Hurry, Kit. Run!’ she yelled.

This time she was prepared for the blood. It spurted out of his throat in a great arc, dousing the holland covers beside them. Juliana ducked backwards holding the slippery knife handle. The knife blade was buried in Ames’s neck. He clutched his throat, his eyes wide with stupefaction.

Juliana’s stomach lurched and she dropped the handle. As Ames made the most fearsome gurgling sounds she edged around his flailing body and raced to the door. She hurtled down the stairs and cannoned into Kit. ‘Hurry, Kit. Hurry. Get out of here.’ She shoved the front door open and pushed him outside.

Kit slanted a glance back over his shoulder as his little legs sped along. ‘Where are we going?’

‘To the Rosemary Lane Inn. Hurry!’

‘But I don’t know where it is!’ He kept on running all the same, tugging Juliana along by the hand.

Juliana cast a quick glance behind them. The blue door with number 32 painted on it still stood innocently ajar and she could hear no sounds of pursuit.

‘Run towards the traffic noise,’ she gasped.

A few people glanced at them as they rushed by, but nobody seemed interested in a scruffy boy and a bloodstained, dishevelled young woman running helter skelter up the alleyways. No doubt it was a common sight in these parts.

As they stumbled from the dank alleyway into a wider street she saw a sign stuck on a building façade that said ‘Chamber Street’. The steady throbbing of her sore, bruised feet echoed the drumming in her head. Swaying, she knew she was nearly done for.

Kit glanced back and tugged her hand. ‘Come on, miss,’ he encouraged her, then he raised their clasped hands and stared at the red stains on Juliana’s fingers. ‘Thank you,’ was all he said.

Breathless, she gulped and said nothing, fighting her queasy stomach. Soon it would happen – the reaction. Last time she had shaken as if with the ague for several hours. And when she had finally found herself safe, she had huddled into a ball and cried and cried and cried. She had cried for her mother and for herself, and for all the other women who had been held in the power of men who did not deserve them.

But now was not the time for self-indulgence. She must protect Kit. She lifted her chin and plodded on.

Footsteps pounded behind them. Twisting around, she shoved Kit out of the way.

‘Juliana!’

Colly. On a wave of relief so strong it dizzied her, she ran straight
into his arms.

BUY LINKS
Amazon
Smashwords

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.

All of Vonnie’s books are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

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

Sloane said @ 1:00 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments are off

July 5, 2017

IT’S ALL GREEK

by Sharon Ledwith

Practically everyone has heard of the idiom ‘It’s all Greek to me’ or ‘It’s all Greek’, meaning that something is not understandable. Another translation is “Graecum est; non legitur” (“it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read”). I believe William Shakespeare used this line or something close to it in his play Julius Caesar. Regardless of the origin, when people don’t understand people, words, cultures or even other species, there’s a breakdown in communication. And that’s not good. Wars can start, marriages break down, and relationships fail.

In the first book of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series, Lost and Found, the main character, Meagan Walsh has the psychic ability to talk to animals. Imagine possessing the ‘power’ to be a diplomat between animals and humans? To bridge that gap, and find common ground. In the first book of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, my main characters are given a ‘Babel’ necklace. The main purpose of this necklace is to break any language barriers while on a mission in the past so that my characters will be able to understand and talk to everyone they meet. Boy, I could have used one of those Babels in French class!

One thing we can all understand is food! It’s universal and we all need food to survive. So I thought I’d share this awesome recipe my hubby made for me recently. It’s called Greek Shepherd’s Pie, and trust me, your taste buds don’t need a translator for this dish! Opa!

BBC Good Food

GREEK SHEPHERD’S PIE
Feta Potato Topping
5 cups (1.25 L) cubed peeled potatoes
¼ cup (60 ml) butter
¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. (1 ml) salt
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground pepper
1¼ cups (310 ml) shredded feta cheese

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender; drain.

Add butter, sour cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mash until mixture is smooth. Stir in feta cheese.

Cover and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Meat Filling
1½ cups (375 ml) chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
2 lb (1 kg) lean ground beef
1 can (14 oz/396 g) diced tomatoes
¼ cup (60 ml) dry red wine or canned beef broth
1 tbsp. (15 ml) mint, crumbled
1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) oregano, crumbled
¾ tsp. (4 ml) salt
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) allspice
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika

Preheat oven to 400° F (205° C)

Use a large skillet or Dutch oven set over medium-heat. Saute onions and garlic in oil for 2 minutes.

Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Stir in the next 9 ingredients (tomatoes through nutmeg).

Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Transfer mixture to a greased shallow 3 quart (3 L) baking dish. Spoon feta potato topping over meat mixture and spread decoratively. Sprinkle with paprika.

May be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Bake, uncovered, at for 40-45 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbly.

And there you have it! A feast fit for any family who loves to try culturally-flavored recipes, and dares to venture the road less traveled. Want more adventure and excitement in your reading life? How about a trip to Fairy Falls? Just remember to pack lightly.

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

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

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey decides that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well.

Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS
Amazon KindleAmazon PaperbackBarnes & NobleMirror World Publishing ebookMirror World Publishing Paperback

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

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

Sloane said @ 12:45 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments are off

July 3, 2017

Remembering the 4th of July

by Emma Lane

Photo by Michael Elliott

I’m sitting on the stone wall in the middle of the village when the first group appear heralding the start of the parade. It’s an ancient convertible filled with local politicians; the major, councilmen, the Board of Education president–our elected governing bodies all waving and wearing wide smiles. We beam and wave back. It’s a federal holiday after all and most of the town is present.

Next comes a troop of boy scouts carrying flags. Their parents clap loudly and we all join in. Behind them little go carts spin around in circles, the drivers wearing funny hats. They are a local parade favorite.

We can hear the high school band in the distance. The kids are in shorts because it’s a very warm day. For some reason tears come to my eyes as they pass, playing their horns and banging on their drums. Wave after wave of local groups march past the crowd, each with an appointed member carrying the American flag on this our nation’s birthday.

Fire trucks honk their horns while the police come into view dressed in their best uniforms. That spiffy band, members wearing Scottish clothes, plays a heart wringing tune on bag pipes.

More scout troops, this time it’s the girls. An entire group of children riding bicycles all the way down to determined toddlers on tricycles get enthusiastic applause from the spectators. The colorful balloons tied to their handle bars bob in the warm breeze.

Wow, we all say as a troop of mounted police prance by. We know that’s the end of the parade. Who wants to march after the horses? We sigh. Another of our nation’s birthdays celebrated in style. We are Americans and we love parades, especially those that remind us of what it means to belong to this wonderful, democratic nation.

We are off to a picnic where my baked beans make a hit. A hot game of horseshoes is in progress. Sleepy ladies nod in the shade. Some of our family peal off to play baseball. Others play Frisbee, including the dog. Red, white and blue flags wave everywhere. The children are excited. They anticipate indulgent parents who allow late bedtimes. Firework displays will be enjoyed and perhaps a bonfire.

How do you celebrate our nation’s birthday? Do you have a favorite recipe for the picnic? Do you go boating and watch the fireworks over the water? Do you get tears of gratitude when our beloved veterans march by?

Have a beautiful and safe holiday,

Emma Lane
“I never saw a printed word I did not like.”

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 1:42 am | Author Friend Promo,Holidays | Comments are off

July 1, 2017

My Canada…more than Maple Syrup and Mounties

by Sharon Ledwith

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!

Hope you’re kick-starting your holiday by planning to attend one of the many events July 1st has to offer around the area where you live. Most of the day, we usually hang out with family and friends on our dock until dusk—eat, drink, and be merry—then go watch the fireworks display in town. Note to self—bring the bug spray.

So what about you? Don’t know how you’re going to celebrate Canada’s 146th Birthday? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Sit down, grab a cup of whatever you please (hey, it’s a holiday after all), and check out the list of activities to choose from below:

• Go to the beach. Use the holiday to bake in the sun (don’t forget the SPF), enjoy the warm weather and cool water.

• Go to the park, fly a kite or walk your dog. Most Canucks spend this holiday outdoors so you’ll be able to take advantage of the summer heat and maybe make a new friend.

• Have your family and friends over for an old fashioned barbecue. Sip on your favorite brand of beer and appreciate what it means to be Canadian.

• Go to your town’s local parade. Show your pride by dressing up in all red and white—the Canada flag or maple leaf temporary tattoos are a favorite among celebrants!

• Go to a carnival. Eat fried dough, snack on cotton candy, drink beer, go on all your favorite rides (you may want to bring a puke bag) and play all the games.

• Look up local concerts in your area. Many cities and towns hold festivals where bands will play music at outdoor venues.

• Go for a ride in a hot air balloon. This fun activity lets you admire our beautiful country from thousands of feet in the air.

• Go to your local brewery. Canadians love beer, so there is no better way to celebrate our birthday than to take a tour of your favorite brewery. Many of these tours are free and come with samples. Lake of Bays Brewing Company and Muskoka Brewery are my top picks!

• Go camping. Take a couple days off work, and enjoy everything that the Canadian wilderness has to offer. Tons of provincial parks to choose from!

• There is nothing more Canadian than hockey. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. Take an exhibit tour and honor your favorite players.

• Go to a citizenship ceremony. There is nothing more patriotic than watching new citizens take an oath to love, honor, and respect our country.

• Go to your local fireworks show. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the colorful explosions light up the sky. Plus saying ‘ohhh—ahhh’ is always fun.

• Go fishing. Canada is famous for their awesome bass (and pickerel) fishing and this is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate Canada.

• Go white water rafting (still want to do this one). Canada’s rivers offer a variety of different difficulty levels so whether you’re a rafting pro or a rookie in search of an adventure, rafting is always a fun activity.

However you celebrate, stay safe and enjoy the day!

~Sharon

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

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

Sloane said @ 12:33 am | Author Friend Promo,Holidays | Comments are off

June 28, 2017

Celebrate the 4th in Style

Not only is my author friend Sara Daniel a terrific writer, she’s also one dynamite baker. Sara is sharing her special Fourth of July dessert. I guarantee you’ll love it! Now here’s Sara…

Nothing beats Independence Day for showing our pride in our country. Flags wave proudly, and red, white and blue are suddenly displayed on every piece of merchandise in the local discount store.

While I don’t have flag plates, napkins or—God forbid—a star-spangled bikini, I love bringing out my once-a-year crafty side to make an American Flag Cake for a cool patriotic treat.

So to satisfy your sweet-tooth I offer you my easy and delicious recipe.


American Flag Cake
pound cake
8oz Cool Whip
Blueberries
Strawberries, sliced

Pound cake can be store bought or made from scratch. Here’s a quick recipe:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat sugar into butter 2 tablespoons at a time until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Bake in a greased and floured 9 X 5 pan for 1 hour. Cool completely.

To Assemble American Flag Cake
Cut pound cake into slices and lay across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.

Cover cake with a smooth layer of Cool Whip.

Turn pan horizontal. In upper left corner, fill an approximately 3-4 inch by 3-4 inch square with blueberries.

Make seven horizontal lines of strawberry slices. The first four lines should begin from the blueberry section to the far right edge. The bottom three lines should span the entire length of the pan. The top and bottom lines should be touching the top and bottom of the pan respectively to create 13 alternating red and white stripes.

The last step is very important – Thank a member of our Armed Forces and/or a Veteran, and share a piece of patriotic cake.

Enjoy.

~Sara

Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

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

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Sloane said @ 1:15 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

June 26, 2017

THE MUSE WHO ALMOST WAS

by SS Hampton Sr.

What is a Muse to a photographer, painter, sculptor, writer, or poet? By the way, I use the generic term “artist” though I am a writer and photographer (and if I find my well-hidden skills, someday I will paint and sculpt). A Muse is a person who has the innate ability to spur the artist on to greater heights of creativity. A Muse cannot be hired or made, she just is. Looking for a Muse is no good either; she will appear in her own time when you least expect it.

Why is a Muse important to the supposedly creative soul? There is something special to the Muse. She inspires the artist. Maybe it is her form, the way she moves, her eyes, her smile, or the sound of her voice. The Muse understands what the artist is trying to accomplish, she encourages him, makes suggestions, and even provides criticism. The Muse becomes part of the creative process.

Of course, one wonders if the Muse can be important to the human heart as well. Of course! And why not? After all, at some inner level there is already a connection between the Muse and the artist. It may take no more than a whisper of a breeze for them to become intimate for a little while, a long time, or even to marry. Or go their separate ways.

I have been fortunate to encounter several Muses in my life. Each brought something special to my photography (sometimes even my writing), and each, in her own way, encouraged me to create. The first Muse was willing to wander around the Pikes Peak Region (we lived in Colorado Springs), the high and wide mountain basin of South Park, and even make a trip to southern Colorado’s Sand Dunes. It was through her that I learned the importance of a Muse. A little over a year ago I encountered a young lady who has become the second Muse of some note. Beautiful, easy to work with, and patient (such as the time we were close to Death Valley where we were going to photograph, and I discovered that I forgot to pack the camera), she has reminded me of the importance of the Muse to the artist.

So, what compels me to address this subject again?

I recently met a young lady when I studied for a semester in France. When I stepped off the plane and saw her, I knew I had to photograph her. If my painting or drawing skills had been sufficient, I would have painted and drawn her as well. Everything about her was compelling, like a siren’s song. She was perfection. When I finally broached the subject of photographing her, she readily agreed. She even suggested, based on my photographic vision, a suitable location that would draw all of the elements together. Immediate planning began.

Alas, circumstance intervened, and this “Muse who almost was” receded into the distance like a beautiful spirit fading into a Camargue morning fog.

My creativity is not ended for I remember everything about her, especially her eyes and smile, even the sound of her voice.

To read more about artists and muses, consider these links The 10 Most Iconic Muses in the Art WorldThe 30 Most Famous Muses in ArtFamous Muses

Here is a brief introduction to my latest release for your reading pleasure.

Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country. In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission.

Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over/ponder the merit/virtue of a good luck charm—only, what would work for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.

EXCERPT
“People like a happy ending.”

Sergeant Jerry Stanton, an M4 Carbine slung across his chest, glanced at the dark form that trudged alongside him in the hot, early morning darkness. It was all the darker for the dust storm howling across the small camp, a dusty and sandy convoy support center, CSC, a mile south of the Iraqi border. He placed his hand over the tall Styrofoam coffee cup from the messhall that was open at all hours to serve those about to head out on a mission. He felt the itchy dust filtering down his back, along his arms, and coating his fingers.

In spite of his short time deployed to Kuwait, he had learned that dust storms were worse than sand storms; they were hot and itchy while the sand storms stung exposed skin and chilled the air. Breakfast was good but tasted flat, more due to the question of whether their mission would be a go or no-go because of the storm that roared out of the midnight darkness hours before.

“What?”

“People like a happy ending,” the soldier repeated. He was a gunner from another gun truck as the squat, venerable M1114 HMMWVs, which were never meant to be combat vehicles, were called. He held up a rabbit foot that spun frantically in the wind and added, “I like a happy ending. Especially now.” They rounded the corner of a small building, actually a renovated mobile home trailer with a covered wooden porch lit by a bare electric bulb. The gunner pointed to a small black flag, suspended from a log overhang, flapping furiously in the wind.

“Oh shit.” Jerry sighed as a cold chill raced through him.

“It’s been there for an hour or so,” the soldier said as he enclosed the rabbit’s foot within both hands and brought it up to his lips as if to kiss it. He glanced at Jerry. “I’m not superstitious, but still, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a lucky charm. You know?”

“Yeah.” Jerry nodded as he watched the twisting flag. “I know.”

BUY LINKS
MuseItUp PublishingAmazon

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

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

Hampton has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a multi-media exhibit. 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 in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

He graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. He has been studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with in a double major in Art and English. However, he is presently spending a cold, rainy Spring 2017 semester studying at a university in southwestern France in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains.

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

Sloane said @ 1:27 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments are off

June 21, 2017

AN ALL-TIME FAVORITE RETURNS

Time to resurrect a Taylor family favorite, a 4th of July feast everyone loves. We make the main meal, but friends and relatives arrive with appetizers, desserts, and the perfect adult beverages for all to enjoy.

Barbecued Pork Ribs
Hamburgers Sloane Style
My Mom’s Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Sweet Corn on the Grill
Snazzy Sliced Tomatoes
Ice Cold Lemonade
Cold beer

Barbecued Pork Ribs
Pork ribs plan 1 slab for 2 people if you make all this food
Beer
Chicken stock
Barbecue sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s is my favorite

Preheat oven to 325°F

Place ribs in a single layer in a roasting pan. Pour in about a half inch of stock and the same amount of beer. Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake 1 – 1½ hours. You want the meat tender but not falling off the bone.

Carefully remove ribs from pan to a cookie sheet. Discard cooking liquid. Spread barbecue sauce over ribs.

Heat grill to medium. Carefully rub vegetable or olive oil onto the grates. Lay ribs on grate and grill 10-15 minutes turning once and basting with plenty of sauce.

Photo by tiverylucky

Hamburgers Sloane Style
Ground chuck about ¼ pound per adult
Ground sirloin about ¼ per two adults
Worcestershire Sauce 1 dash per adult
1 egg per 1 ½ pounds meat
chives snipped, fresh or jarred

Beat egg lightly in a small bowl. Combine the meat, Worcestershire Sauce, and handful of chives into a mixing bowl. When the mixture is well combined, break off clumps of the meat and form balls. Set them onto waxed paper, then cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Use a cake plate or large soup bowl to press the meat into a patty the thickness you like. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

On medium heat, cook patties until they are done to your preference. Be sure to turn only once.

Use any type roll that suits your fancy. Dress the burgers with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato. You can also add cheese for the topping. If you do, then lay it over the burger a minute or two before the end of the cooking time.

My Mom’s Potato Salad
1 medium red potato per person
1 hardboiled egg for every 2 potatoes used
1 celery stalk for every 3 potatoes, chopped small
½ medium onion for every 3 potatoes chopped small
Pepper
Real Mayonnaise – NO substitutes

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until fork tender. Remove from pot as they are done and allow to cool.

While the potatoes are cooking, lay the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, and place a lid on the pan. Bring to a full boil, then shut off the heat and allow to sit on the burner for 8 minutes. Peel, then slice in half widthwise and lengthwise. Slice into the bite size pieces. Set aside covered with plastic wrap or a paper towel to eliminate drying out.

Combine celery and onion in a large bowl. Grind in a healthy amount of fresh pepper. Stir in several large spoonfuls of mayonnaise. You have to gauge by the number of potatoes you use. Add eggs. Mix well.

Scrape the skins off the potatoes. Slice in half widthwise then lengthwise. Slice into the bite size pieces. Add two at a time to the mayo blend and mix well. Continue until all the potatoes are added. Check the salad for dryness. It should be moist but not swimming in mayo. Add mayo as needed. Taste for seasoning. You may need more celery and onion.

Fold into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Baked Beans
1 small can Bush’s Honey Baked Beans
1 small can Bush’s Homestyle Baked Beans
2 tbsp. dried mustard
2 tbsp. maple syrup – optional
2 strips bacon

Preheat oven to 325°.

Pour beans into a metal loaf pan or oven safe dish. Stir in mustard and syrup. Lay bacon strips on top. Bake in the center of the oven uncovered for 45 minutes or until desired consistency.

To cook on the grill:

Heat grill to medium.
Prepare as above, then place pan on top rack. Cook about 45 minutes or until desired consistency.

To serve – discard bacon.

Sweet Corn on the Grill
1 ear fresh corn per person – do not remove husk
Water
Butter or margarine
Salt

Pour cool water into a container large enough to hold the sweet corn. Soak corn still in its husk at least 1 hour, but no more than 2 hours.

Set grill on medium high. Remove corn from the water and lay the ears on the grill. Roast until the husk is brown on that side, then turn and repeat the process. Total cooking time is about 20 – 25 minutes.

To serve – peel back the husks. Roll the ears in butter or margarine, then sprinkle on a touch of salt, and enjoy!

Photo by khumthong

Snazzy Sliced Tomatoes
1 tomato per two people
Red wine vinegar
Garlic powder or fresh garlic minced
Fresh or dried chives

Prepare this dish about an hour or so before serving.

Slice tomatoes ½” thick and arrange on a serving plate.

Drizzle vinegar over the tomatoes, then dust with garlic powder or fresh garlic. Sprinkle plenty of chives across the top.

Set on the counter away from sun or heat to flavor through.

Wishing you all a Happy and Safe Fourth of July!

Sloane

Sloane said @ 12:44 am | Cooking | Comments are off

June 19, 2017

NEW RELEASE for SHARON LEDWITH

Lost and Found: Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls #1 written by Sharon Ledwith and released through Mirror World Publishing is 220 pages of well-constructed plot, animated dialogue, along with twists and turns that pull the reader in deeper. This teen psychic mystery is a definite read for everyone and anyone who enjoys a good book.

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

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

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey decides that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well.

Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS
Amazon KindleAmazon PaperbackBarnes & NobleMirror World Publishing ebookMirror World Publishing Paperback

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

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

Sloane said @ 12:25 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments are off

June 14, 2017

Juicy Pears Save the Meal

by HL Carpenter

We like to bake here in Carpenter Country, and we love to eat what we bake. So the fact that baking is a subplot in our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, is no surprise. While our septuagenarian sleuth Emma is searching for a killer, her friend Arnie has made baking his new hobby. Emma isn’t sure what converted a seventy-three-year-old one-hundred-eighty-pound six-foot accountant into a budding pastry chef. But she has learned to be wary of the results of his efforts.

Emma’s wise to be cautious when sampling Arnie’s homemade Hungarian sweets because he specializes in spicing them with secret ingredients.

Fortunately, you can try our 3-2-1 Pear-Up dessert without worry. The recipe contains no mysterious ingredients…unless you choose to add them.

Photo by rakratchada torsap

3-2-1 Pear-Up
3 pears, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. oatmeal
2 tbsp. pecan pieces
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, if you prefer)
1 tbsp. butter
1 spritz nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F

Spritz the bottom of a 9″ round pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss the pear slices in the lemon juice and add them to the pie pan.

Measure the sugar, oatmeal, pecan pieces, flour, and spice into a plastic baggie. Shake to mix. Add the butter and knead the bag with your fingers until the mixture resembles soft crumbs.

Empty the bag of topping mixture into the pie pan on top of the pears.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pears are soft.

Tips and tricks
Add a tablespoon of butter on top of the pears if you like a syrupy juice.
Experiment with different types of nuts for different flavors.
Raisins or dates add a sweet touch.
Top each serving with sweetened whipped cream for extra yum.

To stop you from eating this delicious dessert in one sitting, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Sloane said @ 1:45 am | Author Friend New Releases,Cooking | Comments are off