Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

November 15, 2017

When Good Yeast Goes Bad, It’s Time for Dessert!

from Chris Pavesic

In baking, the primary function of yeast is to make dough rise. By partially consuming the sugars in the flour the natural metabolism of these microorganisms produces carbon dioxide and ethanol that cause an increase in volume during baking.

Yet yeast can get old. If it is exposed to air or humidity, it may not function correctly. Even a bread machine cannot produce a light, fluffy loaf if the yeast has “gone bad.”

But the loaf is still edible, if somewhat “heavy” or “dense.” It might be a bit misshapen, but it generally tastes good. So what can someone do with a lumpy loaf?

Bread puddings are a great way to transform the unfortunate loaf into a delicious dessert. Add some chocolate and fruit and suddenly the lumpy loaf is the star of the meal!

Note: This can also be prepared with a regular loaf of bread, but it won’t provide as much humor.

BREAD PUDDING

5 large eggs
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 cups milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 loaf of bread (about 10 ounces) cut or torn into 1-inch cubes
1½ cups dried fruit (my family loves blueberries or cherries.)
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix eggs, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add handfuls of bread cubes, fruit, and chocolate chips in alternating layers, stirring with each addition.

Now it’s time to get busy. Roll up your sleeves and mix everything together. You want to get some of that flavorful liquid onto every scrap of bread. The mix may seem a little dry. Resist the urge to drown it in more milk or you will end up with a soggy dessert.

Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with butter. Press the mixture into the pan. If you like a dense, heavy bread pudding, keep pressing until there is no air left. If you prefer yours fluffier, just pile it in and spread it around.

Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes. The top will become a wonderful crunchy brown while the middle stays moist.

Be careful when you remove the pudding from the oven. It’s easy to pick away at the entire dish—whether you are going after a piece of the crusty top, a chewy berry, or a melting chunk of chocolate.

While you indulge in this fantastic dessert, enjoy a brief glimpse into my new novel, Starter Zone.

When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail. Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.

CHAPTER ONE
As the sun hovers near the horizon, ready to dip below and plunge the world into darkness, the weather changes for the worse. Clouds gather. Peeking out my window and over the outline of rooftops in the distance is what looks like thunderheads moving toward me in the invisible polluted gusts of wind.

I try not to think about the coming storm as I methodically pull on my boots and zip up my jacket. It is supposed to be waterproof, but I would not risk going out in anything above a light drizzle. Water has a way of seeping through even the best defenses. There’s also a lining that’s overly warm for a summer evening. I’m already sweating and the discomfort adds to my nerves.

I check the hunting knife strapped to my left leg. It was one of the first weapons purchased for me by my dad back when the sporting goods stores were still open for business. He didn’t think I was ready to handle a handgun at thirteen, but he taught me to shoot a rifle in the open fields by our house, helping me hold the weapon steady until I grew strong enough to support the weight. Now, three years later, I have a handgun, a Ruger semi-automatic, but bullets are scarce and loud noises are problematic. My small ammo stash sits in the bottom of my backpack next to the gun.

Instead of the gun, I carry an extra-light crossbow as my go-to weapon. I can hand-make the bolts so I don’t worry about running out of ammunition and the shot is relatively silent. I carry the spare bolts in a quiver strapped to my right leg. It’s awkward when running, but I can draw the bolts fast when needed.

My little sister, Alby, has loaded her own backpack. I lift it to test the weight and then pull a few things out. I place them in my own pack without comment. I help her position the lighter pack over her shoulders, tightening the straps so that it will stay balanced. She always tries to do more than she should, but I don’t like the way her face has a perpetual pinched, strained look or the deep shadows under her eyes. She looks far older than her seven years. This scares me more than everything else and that fear threatens to register on my face. I force myself to stay calm.

I check her raincoat and boots, making sure everything fits snugly. I help Alby pull up the hood of her coat, tucking in a strand of dark hair that has escaped her ponytail. As frightened as she is, she manages to give me a smile. I smile back, trying to present a brave front. As my dad used to say, “fake it till you make it.” Over the last few years, I’ve been faking confidence more and more often for Alby’s sake.

“Ready to go?” I ask with all the false cheer I can muster in my voice. I take one last glance over the motel room that had served as a temporary home for the last few days, looking for anything that we might have left behind. The room is swept clean. No trace whatsoever that we had ever been there.

Alby nods. “Ready, Cami.”

“If we get separated, remember to keep going north,” I say. “Follow the road till you get to the park, then take the walking paths. No matter what happens, keep going. Stop when you get to the Stone River. I’ll meet you at the bridge in the center of the park where we used to feed the ducks, okay?”

She nods again, looking up at me with those dark eyes so full of trust. I hug her, because if we do get separated, there isn’t much hope we will ever see each other again. I need to keep up the pretense of hope, though, because that’s all we have to keep us going.

Stone River Park is at the very limits of the city and the area surrounding it is relatively unpopulated. I figure that once we are out of the city, our chances of survival will dramatically increase. After reaching the park, we can follow the Stone River north. There’s bound to be deserted houses in the country and less chance that any of the gangs would be interested in the meager pickings outside of the city. We might even be able to find a place to stay before winter.

I crack open the door of our motel room. It is still light enough to stain everything with graying shades of color. The setting sun casts long shadows between the buildings, so I depend more upon my ears to find signs of other humans. I hear no motorcycle engines and no voices, only the wind, blowing and moaning, and the far-off call of a bird. The coming storm appears to have cleared the streets. They are deserted except for empty, crashed vehicles abandoned in every lane.

Alby and I had been lucky to reach the motel a few days ago. The single-story building is on the outskirts of the main town and catered to big rig truck drivers and other traffic from the interstate. I had found the skeleton key in the motel office after climbing in through the bathroom window. Alby and I spent the nights scouring every room for supplies.

No one had broken into it before we got there. Too many other rich targets to go around. But inside each room was a mini-fridge filled with snacks. Even though the electricity had been turned off, the chocolates and small bags of honey-coated nuts were edible. The tiny bottles of alcoholic beverages in each fridge did not seem useful, but I kept a few. They might be helpful in starting a fire someday when we made it outside the city. We even discovered coffee filters and a small bottle of chlorine bleach—a major score for treating our drinking water.

If I hadn’t spent days secretly peering out the dark windows of the motel, I might believe my sister and I were the last two people left on earth. But I know that out there, behind the ruined buildings and boarded-up windows, there are at least a few pairs of eyes whose owners would kill us without a second thought. My eyes flick toward the two bodies hanging from the traffic lights in the nearby intersection. They hadn’t been moved. Good.

The daytime usually belongs to looter-gangs, each with spray-can marked territories in bright displays of color that start on the buildings and drip down toward the pavement. The gangs wear something marked as well, usually a jacket or bandanna that will stand out from a distance. The snipers hole up in their nests and target anyone who encroaches on their gang’s territory. They particularly looked for members of other factions trying to increase their terrain.

Paint tags don’t show up well after dark, though, so the gangs have started leaving their victims as warnings to others not to encroach on their holding. These bodies have been hanging undisturbed in the intersection for several days, indicating a lack of activity in the area. I can only hope that the gangs have moved inward, toward the center of the city and more supply-rich targets.

No one is ever going to catch the murderers, or the ones who strung up the bodies like macabre trophies, and put them in jail. They’ll just go on and do it again and again. Like animals in the jungle—except that animals are not cruel.

We were lucky to go unmolested by the local gangs. Heaven knows we don’t look like we have much of anything, and we don’t look threatening, but that will only last for so long. Someday someone will try to kill us, possibly for no other reason than wanting to watch us die. The whole world, it seems, is at war, and no one is on my side except Alby. We only have each other.

A streak of lightning splits the sky almost directly overhead, making me wince. It is followed by a heavy clap of thunder. As frightening as it is, the bad weather is to our advantage. No one wants to be caught outside in the rain. Everyone is more afraid of fresh, untreated water and what it can do than they are of each other. But I believe we can make it out of the area and to shelter before the rain poses any danger.

In fact, I’m betting our lives on it.

AMAZON BUY LINK

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

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

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

Sloane said @ 1:18 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

November 13, 2017

NEW RELEASE for ALICIA JOSEPH

Another bound-to-be best seller for Alicia Joseph has just hit the stands in e-book and print. This young author’s style and voice tear at your soul. Joseph delivers more than a pretty tale. Her words create a web that wraps around the reader and draws them into a compelling story.


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

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

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

Prologue
1993

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

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

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My best friend was dead.

AMAZON BUY LINK

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

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

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

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

Sloane said @ 1:25 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments are off

November 8, 2017

ANTICIPATION

from HL Carpenter

Anticipation. That’s the title of a great song, the jingle for an ancient advertisement, and a marketing tool for authors. Oh, and anticipation makes good food better too. What more could you ask of a word?

You already know the classic song (thanks, Carly Simon!), and if you’re of a…ummm…certain age, you probably remember the ketchup commercial too. (Sorry if the jingle is now an earwig! Confess—you’re humming, aren’t you?)

We tried anticipation as an author marketing tool by offering our young adult novel, Walled In, for pre-order a few weeks before the actual publication date. Results were mixed, probably because we’re not the best marketers in the world. Still, we’re always ready to try new techniques, and we’ll repeat the pre-order experiment with our next release.

As far as making good food better—our barbecue pulled pork recipe is DEFINITELY worth waiting for! Put all the ingredients together, then grab a good book to read while you’re anticipating the meal to come.

While you’re eagerly awaiting your delicious lunch, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our young adult novel, Walled In.

PULLED PORK

½ cup ketchup
1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, divided
1 cup water
1 onion, chopped (or a similar amount of frozen chopped onions)
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
3 ½ pound pork roast (a shoulder cut works well)
Hamburger buns

Mix ketchup, ½ cup barbecue sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir in the onions and garlic.

Set pork roast in the crock pot and pour sauce mixture over it, coating the meat well. The liquid should almost cover the meat. Add more if necessary. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

Remove the pork roast from the crock-pot, let cool, and shred with a fork. Set aside.

Empty the liquid from the crock-pot. Put the pulled pork back into the crock-pot, add the remaining barbecue sauce, and mix well.

Cook on low for two more hours; then reduce setting to warm until ready to serve.

Serve on buns.

Tips and Tricks
Crock pots are ideal for tenderizing less expensive cuts of meat. The longer the cooking time, the more tender the meat becomes.

Feel free to add more sauce to the first cooking; meat cooked in liquid is moister.

For an added crunch, serve chips of your choice as a side dish.

If you want to serve the pulled pork for lunch, set up the crock pot to cook overnight.

Seventeen year old Vandy Spencer lives like a princess. Sheltered by her wealthy family, she happily makes plans to spend a before-college gap summer with her gorgeous boyfriend.

Then her dad is accused of financial fraud. The victims of her dad’s swindle vow revenge, and her dad flees.

As accusations and innuendos pile up, Vandy retreats to a hermit-like existence in her childhood tree house and struggles to separate reality from lies. Was her perfect life truly so perfect? Did she ever really know her father?
When family secrets come to light, revealing an unimaginable betrayal, Vandy learns to appreciate the simple richness of sincerity and truth.


EXCERPT

A branch cracked behind me and leaves rustled. I scrambled to my feet.

Stenny had come after me! He really did love me, enough to follow me, and…

Pete Hawthorn stepped out of the woods, holding a flashlight. The backglow lit his face, which was drawn into the frown he wore lately whenever he saw me, and his mouth turned down into a scowl. “Don’t you have any sense at all, Dandy-Vandy?”

I should have known Stenny wouldn’t traipse through the woods searching for me. Running through the dark wasn’t his style. He’d use his phone.

My own phone, tucked in the pocket of my shorts, burst into the first bars of Boyfriend. I ignored the noise and poked a finger at Pete’s chest. “Quit calling me that. Don’t you have better things to do than skulk around the woods in the dark? Like maybe going to work?”

“I took the night off.” He peered at me. “Why are you crying?”

“None of your business!” Then, as his words sank in, I asked, “Why’d you take the night off? Is Gus okay?”

“Gramps is the same as he always is.” Pete slid the button on the flashlight and the bulb dimmed. “I stayed home because we heard the news about your dad. We’re going to help, in whatever way we can.” His voice barely carried across the small space between us, the words and tone sincere.

“That means a lot. Thanks. Tell Gus thanks too.”

“Yeah.” Pete turned the flashlight on bright again and waved it in a searching arc. “Where’s the jerk-off? He leave you alone out here?”

My gratitude evaporated like dew off grass. I planted my hands on my hips as my phone played Boyfriend again. “Stenny’s not a jerk-off, and he’s probably at the tree house, where I left him.”

“How nice to know he’ll stay where you tell him to. At least you won’t need to put a leash on him when the two of you are wandering around France.” Pete narrowed his eyes. “The woods are really dark, Dandy-Vandy, in case you haven’t noticed. Do you have a flashlight? Or am I gonna have to walk you home?”

I didn’t need him to babysit me. I opened my mouth to say so, and then reconsidered as the sounds of the night surged around me. He was right. The darkness crackled with noises I hadn’t paid much attention to during my rush to get away from the hurt of Stenny’s doubt. The air seemed ominous too, full of a sickly-sweet odor, a combination of gasoline, motor oil, and damp dirt. The mix stunk the way I imagined zombies – or worse, vampires – would.

“Thanks, Pete. That’s a good idea.”

“I have them occasionally.” He gestured with the flashlight. “The path’s this way.”

We strode along single file without speaking. The dry leaves crackled beneath our feet and the occasional haunting cry of a bird shredded the air.

“Nightingale,” Pete said.

We reached the end of the path, coming out of the woods behind a row of bushes fencing Kingsway’s open lawn. A line of solar lights illuminated the back yard, glowing against the pool cabana and the house’s white walls beyond – big, ornate…and home.

I smiled despite my worries. “I love how pretty our house is at night.”

Pete shut the flashlight off. “I’ll send you pictures while you’re enjoying your European adventure with the jerk-off.”

I was turning to him when a man carrying a portable video camera dashed across the lawn. I gasped. “He’s headed for the house! I have to warn Dad.”

BUY LINKS
AMAZONSMASHWORDS

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 @ 12:44 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

November 6, 2017

LETTERS, Lots and Lots of Letters

by C.D. Hersh

Before you think, “I know how to use letters,” you should know we are not talking about the “ABCDEFG” letters one uses to form words, but written letters sent through the mail, penned by hand, folded into envelopes with postage stamps and return addresses, and delivered by the postman. Yes, we realize the art of letter writing is disappearing, but it’s an art form worth saving in today’s world of instant email, twitter, and Facebook communication.

A while back, Donald was helping an aunt go through boxes of old letters written by his deceased uncle. The letters, written to his first wife and mother, covered the period of the couple’s early romance, his service as an Air Force pilot in WWII over Europe, and the time frame during the Korean War. In the missives, he wrote about his feelings and described what was going on in the war arenas. A huge amount of historical information, insight about this time frame, and personal tidbits about Donald’s uncle, was revealed in the two days spent reading these letters.

Those boxes of letters, posted seventy years ago, got us thinking about letter writing as a dying means of communication. With today’s instant communication methods of email, twitter, and Facebook, which are usually deleted as soon as they are read, there won’t be anything for our descendants to open seventy years from now to see how we lived and what we thought about the events of our daily lives. When you Google “Letter Writing” you will get about 195 million results, from free tips, advice, sample letters to help you write great letters, to letter writing rules for business letters, to letter styles, envelope formats and even how to fold a letter into an envelope. What you won’t get is the feel of old, fragile paper beneath your fingers as you carefully open a window to the past.

So, how can you use letter writing to enhance your books?

In our book The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles) and in the second book of the series, Blood Brothers, handwritten letters are the impetus for major story line turning points. Because of something two dead characters reveal (one whom the readers never meet), the lives of the heroines in both books are forever changed.

Here’s an excerpt from The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles) showing how we used a handwritten letter to reveal information.

***

Eli,
I know it’s been years since you’ve heard from me, not since my brother’s murder, but Alexi’s time has come. I tried to shield her from the destiny, teaching her only the basics of the ring and waiting until she was an adult to start any training. I didn’t want to push her, but now she is developing skills I’ve not taught her. I need someone from the Council to come and assess her, and I can’t think of anyone I trust more than the man I fought beside in so many battles. After making such a mess of Sylvia, I don’t trust my judgment. I need an advocate on the Council and your advice. If you agree with my assessment, I want to present Alexi to the Council this coming Samhain. Please come as soon as possible…

The letter’s date and postmark indicated Baron had written the letter about two weeks prior to his death. Prickles crept over her arms. My time? Present me to the Council? Sylvia’s comment about the Promised One came back to her. Had Baron sent for Eli because of the great destiny he always insisted she had? She closed the door and rested her forehead against the solid surface. Life was already too complicated. She didn’t need this.

***

Had we used email to send this letter, the heroine Alexi might not have believed the letter came from her uncle. Anyone can type an email and claim it comes from an alleged sender. The specialty return label and her uncle’s loopy handwritten script on the envelope convinced Alexi the letter was real.

In our second book of the series, Blood Brothers, seeing her missing daughter’s handwriting, instead of a sterile email printout, impacted the heroine intensely and spurred her on to a life changing decision, which you’ll have to read the book to find out about.

You can also use the art of letter writing to discover new things about your characters by having them write letters to another character in the book. We did this exercise for our antagonist, Roc, in Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles) and discovered several things. For the sake of space in this blog, we can’t reveal what we learned here, but if you are interested, please click here to read the letter and see how it worked for us.

Here is a little more about The Promised One for your reading pleasure.

In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.

Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones, and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.

EXCERPT
The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

Buy Links:
Amazon eBookAmazon Paperback

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 first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a novella, Can’t Stop The Music, with twelve other authors from various genres with a book coming out each month in 2017.

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 @ 12:31 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments are off

November 1, 2017

PUMPKIN – the Versatile Fruit

We celebrated a late Oktoberfest with several of Studs’ siblings and cousins last Saturday evening. The ladies brought appetizers and desserts and we prepared a hearty German meal. Cousin Judy provided this week’s tempting treat. Damn, that woman is creative!

This recipe makes a lot. If your gathering is ten people or less, consider cutting the measurements down to one-third, although, leftovers are delicious. Trust me on that.


PUMPKIN DIP

1 small container Cool Whip
1 small can pumpkin
3 small pkg. vanilla instant pudding
2 – 3 dashes pumpkin pie spice
1 box Nabisco Nilla Wafers

Combine all ingredients except wafers in a medium-sized bowl. Stir well.

Fold mixture into a serving dish or cleaned out pumpkin. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Center your serving dish or pumpkin on a large glass plate or tray. Surround with the wafers and serve.

Enjoy!

Sloane

Sloane said @ 12:17 am | Cooking | Comments are off

October 30, 2017

PUMPKIN for EVERYONE!

by Dominique Eastwick

One of the many reasons I just love about fall are pumpkins. I love to carve them, look at them, and eat them.

I love pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice Latte…I could go on and on. But one of my favorite things is Pumpkin Soup. So celebrate this spooky day with a bowl of the easiest soup ever, especially if you use canned pumpkin. And you can quote me on this – nothing tastes better on a cold day.

Pumpkin Soup

1 stick butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tsp. packed brown sugar
2 cans of chicken broth
1 cup water
½ tsp. salt (optional)
2 cans (15 ounces) Pumpkin or 2 cups pureed fresh pumpkin
2 cans (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg to garnish

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add garlic and brown sugar; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft.

Add broth and water; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin, evaporated milk, and cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

With real pumpkin you may need to puree your soup again.

Serve warm and enjoy.

serves 10

How about a hot read while you enjoy a warm bowl of soup?

The babies are coming… the Wiccan Haus will never be the same.

Things are not as calm at the Wiccan Haus as they usually are. The impending birth of Dana and Rekkus’ cubs has everyone on edge. The last thing anyone wants or expects is a series of uninvited guests.

Ashlynn Stone hasn’t spoken to her sister Dana since she left for the Wiccan Haus over a year earlier. But when a fluke accident on the fashion runway forces her to seek the healing of the Wiccan Haus, she has no choice but to pack her bags and take the ferry to the island with her family in tow.

Shadedor has been sent to the Wiccan Haus to assess the situation. But he soon finds more than he expected. His soul mate in need of healing. Can he negotiate the issues of the Wiccan Haus and overcome the walls Ashlynn has built to protect herself.

As the Haus prepares for the biggest event since it opened, can the siblings find harmony and manage to do what they do best, heal those in need? Or is it too much for them to take?

Welcome back to the Wiccan Haus.

EXCERPT
He walked. This morning, he had been right next to her, and there had been constant contact. Now they would appear to anyone passing to be complete strangers. “You want to tell me what is going on?”

“We are attempting to remove all stress from your life in hopes of easing the headaches.”

“No, with you. If you would prefer to be elsewhere, I can go back to my room and lie down.”

He stopped. “There is nowhere I would rather be.”

“Then why are you acting like I have the plague? Was it the kiss earlier?”

“I overstepped my boundaries this morning. I should not have done so.”

“Do you regret it?”

“I am assisting the staff here in your healing. It is inappropriate for me to come on to you.”

“Are you on staff here?”

“No.”

“That settles it.” She smiled. Closing the distance between them, she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I do not know what is going on, but I do know my pain and fears ease when you are near. I don’t claim to understand how you discern all you do, but I am starting to see things here aren’t always black and white, and sometimes I have to have faith and trust.”

After a brief second of him standing as still as a statue and her wondering if she read too much into this morning’s embrace, he relaxed. His arms snaked around her, pulling her against his hard body. His mouth came down on hers begging her to open for him, demanding she submit to his kiss. She might have started this dance, but he would damned well be leading it.

BUY LINKS
AmazonDecadent Publishing

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 pastimes. 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 @ 12:49 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

October 25, 2017

A LITTLE HALLOWEEN CHEER

by Leigh Goff

No trick here. This is a treat all you adult ghosts and goblins are sure to enjoy.

BEWITCHING PUNCH

1 750-ml bottle orange vodka
2 750-ml bottles Prosecco
2 1-liter bottles of orange-flavored seltzer
½ gallon orange juice
½ gallon lemonade
2 pints orange sorbet

Gently mix vodka, Prosecco, seltzer, orange juice, and lemonade in a large punch bowl.

Scoop the sorbet into the punch bowl, so it has time to melt. Add the ice ring to keep the punch cold and colorful.

ICE RING
Water
15 seedless red grapes
10 maraschino cherries, halved
1 orange, peeled and sliced thin

In a 6 – 6½ cup ring mold, arrange thin citrus slices and grapes or cherries in an attractive design. Pour water into mold to partially cover fruit. Freeze.

When frozen, add water to fill mold ¾ full. Refreeze. At serving time, unmold and float fruit side up in punch bowl.

If you prefer, freeze ring without decorations. Or, instead of water, freeze with orange juice. This will keep punch cold without diluting it.
Serves 12 – 15

Here’s a little from my latest novel to put you in a Halloween mood.

Hannah, the thirteenth great-granddaughter of the Wizard Earl Fitzgerald, has always known she was descended from a troubled legacy of alchemy and dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial; however, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the secrets she must unlock – including one that reveals the location of an unimaginably powerful elixir.

Enemies will hurt her. Loved ones will make her vulnerable. And the impending prophecy that drives her to unleash her magic will cause her to unearth the sins of the past and doubt any promise of a future. Without knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she’ll survive the game Fate is playing, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

EXCERPT

The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.

I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.

My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?

“W?”

A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.

In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”

“This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.

I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”

His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”

“Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”

“To help you. I want to help you.”

“Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”

He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?”

Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”

“You read the note.”

His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”

I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.

“Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.

The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?”
“It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”

What was he besides completely contemptible?

“It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”

I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.”

A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”

Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”

“Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.

“Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”

He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”

I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.

He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”

I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”

“You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.

My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”

AMAZON BUY LINK

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

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

Sloane said @ 1:10 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

October 23, 2017

The POWER of STORIES of HOPE

The world today is awash in grimdark fantasy and dystopian science fiction, and we’re sure to see an even bigger surge in both genres now that we’ve entered the era of Trump and Brexit. I personally know half a dozen authors who have been inspired to write new dystopian stories, including myself.

Keeper of the Dawn, my debut YA fantasy novella, is a different kind of story. It is a story of hope. There are many struggles along the way, even periods of hopelessness, but in the end hope always returns.

I don’t believe that the timing of my publication is a coincidence. Hope is incredibly precious, and stories of hope are more important now than they have ever been. It is so easy to feel hopeless about everything going on in the world, with governments and corporations working together to destroy our planet and steal our rights. Stories of hope, even fictional ones, help us imagine a brighter future for ourselves.

My wish is that Keeper of the Dawn will remind you there is always hope, even after devastating failures.

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to her beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she’s trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum – a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshipping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join the sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate wasn’t part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a story of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

EXCERPT
Lai practiced until well after dark, ignoring the call for supper. She tore a massive hole into one of the dummies with a training sword in her rage, but it didn’t make her feel better. She had spent most of her life training for this day, and Kaiden ruined it with a few words about their father.

Eventually she gave up and collapsed in a heap on the ground, pulling her knees up to her chest so she could rest her chin on them. She forced herself to breathe deeply, using all her willpower to push the rage into the ground. Bit by bit it drained into the soil around her, dispersing harmlessly.

She sat like that in the clearing until clouds engulfed the stars and rain started pouring, one of the last rains before the dry weeks of summer. Lifting the hood of her robes to cover her head, she rose and hurried towards the temple.

Her left foot caught on something and Lai flew through the air, losing her grip on her sword and landing face first in a puddle. Her nose shattered when it smashed into the tough ground, and when she grabbed it to feel the damage her hand came away covered in equal parts mud and blood. Her stomach churned as she picked herself back up, her whole body aching.

Something sharp pierced her back, tearing into her skin and muscles like sharp fire. She screamed and fell face first to the ground. She caught herself on her forearms, avoiding bashing her head against the rocky path.

Lai’s attacker pulled the knife out of her shoulder. She screamed as warm blood flowed freely down her back, mixing with the rain. Fiery agony filled her body, blurring her vision. She gritted her teeth and flipped over to face her attacker.

She froze at the familiar sight of white robes with golden cuffs. Another initiate. Her hood hid her face completely.

Lai gathered her strength with a deep, ragged breath and reached for her training sword. The initiate kicked Lai in the back then stomped on her wrist, grinding bone under her boot, sending sharp waves of pain up Lai’s arm.

“You understand, it has to be me.”

Lai knew that voice, but she couldn’t focus on it through the pain, couldn’t remember who it was.
The initiate seized a clump of Lai’s hair and yanked her head backwards. She knelt and raised her knife towards Lai’s exposed throat.

Something knocked the initiate into Lai’s back. Black spots appeared at the edges of her vision as agony surged outward from her wound. The other initiate didn’t move, suffocating Lai with her weight. Lai tried to lift herself up with her elbows, but a fresh wave of pain knocked the wind out of her. She col¬lapsed onto her stomach and closed her eyes, willing her body to die quickly.

 AMAZON BUY LINK

Dianna L. Gunn is a young Canadian author who just release her debut novella Keeper of the Dawn. Passionate, hopeful, magical
Keeper of the Dawn is a story of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

Dianna L. Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She had known she wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. Dianna wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at the age of eleven years old, but quickly discovered that writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So she decided to broaden her horizons, seeking another career that still allowed her to work with words.

Her freelance writing career started when she became a marketing intern at Musa Publishing(now defunct) in September 2011 and quickly became a staff writer in charge of multiple imprint blogs. Since then she has worked with a variety of small businesses and non-profits to improve their online brands and create long term marketing strategies. Some of her most notable work has been for the tech education non-profit STEAMLabs and natural dog care company ProPooch. She is dedicated to helping her clients build successful brands and making their dreams come true.

Need help creating awesome content for your business? Send an email to diannalgunn@gmail.com explaining what your needs are, and she will help you.

When she isn’t helping her clients bring their dreams to life, Dianna can be found working on her own dream of being a successful fantasy author.

Dianna blogs about writing, creativity, and books at The Dabbler.

Learn more about Dianna on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Sloane said @ 1:39 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments are off

October 18, 2017

NEW RELEASE for ELLIOTT BAKER

REDEMPTION, Book Three of the Sun God’s Heir trilogy, is the latest action adventure novel by Elliot Baker. This exciting book ties up the series with the same punch and pizzazz as the previous books and is sure to captivate you.

Death is not life’s final stop. There are worse ends.

Two brothers, once disciples of the Pharoah Akhenaten, reincarnate in seventeenth century France. From Spain to Morocco to Egypt, one is determined to rule, the other to protect.

Horemheb, driven to destroy his brother and end their ancient rivalry, invites an African shaman to assist in recovering ancient artifacts of power that will ensure his dominance. Twice before, these artifacts have raised and then destroyed civilization.

The other, Rene Gilbert, escapes from the murderous sultan of Morocco, closely followed by the sultan’s personal guard, the Bukhari. Trained from childhood, these assassins live to kill.

Now, in the blockbuster conclusion to the Sun God’s Heir trilogy, Rene must find a way to fulfill a commitment made lifetimes ago. His long journey across the ages hurtles toward its climax, with the fate of his soul, and perhaps our very world, in the balance.

EXCERPT
The four swivel cannons fired simultaneously in an earsplitting crack. The four two-man crews reloaded the breech, loading cannons quickly and efficiently. Their survival depended on their rate of fire. Each two-man team loaded a premade chamber filled with explosive and grape shot. The chambers, which had been prepared in advance, could be loaded quicker than a similar bore loaded weapon. This rapid fire as well as its swivel mount was what gave this weapon its incredible lethality.

René was about to order the cannons to fire again when the smoke cleared enough for him to see the first shots’ results. One weapon was capable of clearing the men from a ship’s deck in a naval battle. Four fired at once literally created a quagmire of blood and body parts out of the fifty men and horses that had exited the ravine first. For a moment, there was absolute silence. No matter how disciplined the troops, it would take a while for whoever remained in command to organize the next attack.

“Move the right hand wagon to its flanking position.” René pointed east.

Moving swiftly and efficiently, Walid had the men reattach the already hitched horses and move the wagon along its prepared path. A flanking maneuver would encounter a very nasty surprise. Minutes later, Walid returned to René’s side. “We are set. They will not succeed in flanking our position. With your leave sir, I will recheck the elevations of these cannons.”

“As you will, Walid. What do you think of firing the guns successively rather than simultaneously?”

“I will make it so. We must inflict greater casualties on each charge to increase the time between charges. To do that we must allow more troops to exit the ravine. By firing successive shots, we can maintain a near continuous rate of fire if necessary.”

René expected another attack within the hour and he was not disappointed.

The Bukhari erupted from the ravine. And the ‘murderers’ began to fire. The result was the same only now there were more men and horses. The number of dead and dying on the field created an additional barrier for the troops to overcome. The next attack would be a flanking attempt. The Bukhari’s horses were more of a disadvantage in this particular location so snipers scaled the rocks.

“Let us make climbing those rocks a little more precarious.”

The men aimed their muskets and began picking off the outliers that were in sight. The battlefront quieted. The Bukhari would wait for the cover of darkness before attempting to flank them. The afternoon hours passed slowly. Waiting for battle was always difficult. René was confident the routines followed by Ismail’s troops were similar. You ate, you rested, you remembered.

“Walid, have the men unhitch the horses. Tie them up next to the trail a half mile back. We will not move the wagons and if needed, we can retreat faster on horseback. The forest grew dimmer as the sun sank. The giant cedar trees were silent. All the animals had deserted their homes when the first cannon fired.

Flashes of light and explosions erupted from the cannons on the right flank, a burst of light in the growing darkness. As expected, the Bukhari had first attacked their right. Men charged out of the ravine on foot. They tried to find cover behind their fallen comrades, and failed. At such close range grape shot shredded both the cover and the men. A musket ball whizzed past René’s head blowing a chunk from the backside of the wagon. The Bukhari scaled the rocky gorge to the left and managed to come around on that side as well. Walid detailed the left most cannon to swivel and focus on the men coming around the left flank. One cannon in each direction was not enough. In the three minutes it took to reload the cannon, Screaming scimitar wielding men reached the wagon.

René moved in front to protect the gun crews. With a sword in each hand, he met the first black giant of a man who managed to reach the wagon. Ducking below a vicious strike tasked with removing his head, René plunged his sword into the man’s chest and disengaged, allowing the man to drop to the earth. More men challenged him. None survived. The two men on the forward gun yelled and he hit the dirt, the red hot metal exploding out over his head. The sound beneath the gun was deafening. The Bukhari pulled back to regroup. René’s men could not withstand another attack. They were nearly out of preloaded chambers for the guns.

“Walid, spike the guns and then take these men and collect the other gun crew. Fall back to where the horses are. Make sure that all four cannons are rendered useless”

“What about you?” Walid asked.

“I will be right behind you. Leave a horse for me, but do not wait. Ten men cannot stand against hundreds.”

“I cannot leave you, Captain.” Walid’s face constricted as if horrid memories flooded his mind. “I will not fail again.”

René put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “There will be times when we fail each other. No man is invincible. But I am confident that this will not be one of those times. I am not sacrificing myself. I intend to create a diversion that will afford us the time to escape”

“I will help you.”

“In what I am about to do you cannot help. You do not have the training. Trust me and go quickly for our enemies will move soon.”

“Do not die, El Muerte, for I cannot face the sheikh’s daughter without you.”

There was a hint of a smile on his face, but he was deadly serious.

“Do not worry. I am not ready to leave yet. I will be there.”

Walid gathered the two gun crews and they disappeared into the trees.

René backed deeper into the lush cedar grove. Being late fall, the trees all had cones filled with sap. He walked over to a one hundred and thirty foot patriarch of the grove and kneeled. With his hands opened in reverence to the trees and with regret at what he was about to do, he took a deep breath and sank deeper into the levels of consciousness. As he moved through the energy centers that control the physical body, his consciousness enlivened those centers that connected him with the wider universe of energy and matter. He began to know the tree. Not just the image his physical senses brought to him, but its life and spirit. He thanked the tree for its sacrifice and began to speed up the tiny packets of energy that made up the tree’s physical presence. Faster and faster their movement, invisible but manifest until a wisp of smoke was present on the outside of the tree’s bark. The smoke increased, becoming a small flame and then larger until the entire tree burst into flame with an explosive crack. The intense heat spread the fire quickly. The tree’s cones exploded like musket fire, sending arcs of flame into neighboring trees. René went to the other side of the trail and ignited another tree and then another. The winds coming off the mountains fanned the fire and in minutes a conflagration raced from one side of the grove to the other. René sprinted for the horses. The fire would not delay the Bukhari forever.

Amazon Buy Link

Award winning novelist and international playwright Elliott Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and performed throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott has turned to writing novels. His debut novel, The Sun God’s Heir: Return, Book One of the trilogy, was released this past January.

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 @ 1:12 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments are off

October 16, 2017

HOLIDAY CREATIVITY

from HL Carpenter

October is 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 any 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 over-beat).

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 coming of age fiction novella.

Seventeen year old Vandy Spencer lives like a princess. Sheltered by her wealthy family, she happily makes plans to spend a before-college gap summer with her gorgeous boyfriend.

Then her dad is accused of financial fraud. The victims of her dad’s swindle vow revenge, and her dad flees.

As accusations and innuendos pile up, Vandy retreats to a hermit-like existence in her childhood tree house and struggles to separate reality from lies. Was her perfect life truly so perfect? Did she ever really know her father?
When family secrets come to light, revealing an unimaginable betrayal, Vandy learns to appreciate the simple richness of sincerity and truth.

EXCERPT
A branch cracked behind me and leaves rustled. I scrambled to my feet.

Stenny had come after me! He really did love me, enough to follow me, and…

Pete Hawthorn stepped out of the woods, holding a flashlight. The backglow lit his face, which was drawn into the frown he wore lately whenever he saw me, and his mouth turned down into a scowl. “Don’t you have any sense at all, Dandy-Vandy?”

I should have known Stenny wouldn’t traipse through the woods searching for me. Running through the dark wasn’t his style. He’d use his phone.

My own phone, tucked in the pocket of my shorts, burst into the first bars of Boyfriend. I ignored the noise and poked a finger at Pete’s chest. “Quit calling me that. Don’t you have better things to do than skulk around the woods in the dark? Like maybe going to work?”

“I took the night off.” He peered at me. “Why are you crying?”

“None of your business!” Then, as his words sank in, I asked, “Why’d you take the night off? Is Gus okay?”

“Gramps is the same as he always is.” Pete slid the button on the flashlight and the bulb dimmed. “I stayed home because we heard the news about your dad. We’re going to help, in whatever way we can.” His voice barely carried across the small space between us, the words and tone sincere.

“That means a lot. Thanks. Tell Gus thanks too.”

“Yeah.” Pete turned the flashlight on bright again and waved it in a searching arc. “Where’s the jerk-off? He leave you alone out here?”

My gratitude evaporated like dew off grass. I planted my hands on my hips as my phone played Boyfriend again. “Stenny’s not a jerk-off, and he’s probably at the tree house, where I left him.”

“How nice to know he’ll stay where you tell him to. At least you won’t need to put a leash on him when the two of you are wandering around France.” Pete narrowed his eyes. “The woods are really dark, Dandy-Vandy, in case you haven’t noticed. Do you have a flashlight? Or am I gonna have to walk you home?”

I didn’t need him to babysit me. I opened my mouth to say so, and then reconsidered as the sounds of the night surged around me. He was right. The darkness crackled with noises I hadn’t paid much attention to during my rush to get away from the hurt of Stenny’s doubt. The air seemed ominous too, full of a sickly-sweet odor, a combination of gasoline, motor oil, and damp dirt. The mix stunk the way I imagined zombies – or worse, vampires – would.

“Thanks, Pete. That’s a good idea.”

“I have them occasionally.” He gestured with the flashlight. “The path’s this way.”

We strode along single file without speaking. The dry leaves crackled beneath our feet and the occasional haunting cry of a bird shredded the air.

“Nightingale,” Pete said.

We reached the end of the path, coming out of the woods behind a row of bushes fencing Kingsway’s open lawn. A line of solar lights illuminated the back yard, glowing against the pool cabana and the house’s white walls beyond – big, ornate…and home.

I smiled despite my worries. “I love how pretty our house is at night.”

Pete shut the flashlight off. “I’ll send you pictures while you’re enjoying your European adventure with the jerk-off.”

I was turning to him when a man carrying a portable video camera dashed across the lawn. I gasped. “He’s headed for the house! I have to warn Dad.”

BUY LINKS
AMAZONSMASHWORDS

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 @ 12:46 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off