Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

March 19, 2018

QUICK and EASY GOURMET

by Emma Lane

This meal may be served from ladies’ bridge to hefty dinner guests. Just increase the size of the proportions. Pop out this meal in a hurry and enjoy a cocktail with your company.

Red Salmon with Zesty Italian Dressing
Succotash or substitute Broccoli or Asparagus
Poached Pear Halves with Ricotta Cheese
Green Salad
Platter of Interesting Crackers
Dinner roles with Jam and Butter

SALMON

1 can red salmon, depending upon number of guests
Zesty Italian Dressing for drizzling

Clean bones and skin from salmon retaining pieces intact as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while finishing prep.

SUCCOTASH
Frozen lima beans
1 small can creamed corn
1 tbsp. butter

Cook beans until tender, 20 minutes from boil. Drain and mix in the corn and butter. Keep warm in a 210° F oven until ready to serve.

POACHED PEARS

½ fresh pear per guest (Increase to two halves for a dinner)
1 – 3 drops almond flavoring per pear half
1 tbsp. ricotta cheese per per half
Nutmeg
Sugar, optional

Remove core from pears. Turn flesh side down in two inches water in microwavable dish. Poach on high until tender, 2 – 3 minutes. Check for tenderness with a toothpick. Remove from oven, flip over and place in attractive dish, in custard cup, or on a bed of lettuce. Dribble almond flavoring on pears. Fill halves with cheese. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Sprinkle on sugar.

TO SERVE
Arrange salmon on dinner plate and drizzle salad dressing lightly over fish. Add serving of succotash or other desired green vegetable. Garnish with lettuce or parsley. Offer a platter of interesting crackers. Serve poached pear halves on the side or scooped onto the plate. Pass basket of dinner roles and jars of jam.

Sounds like a lot of fuss, but it goes fast. The meal is light on calories so with guilt free conscience, serve a piece of your favorite pie or cake with ice cream or whipped cream. Some guests will decide poached pears suit them as a dessert.

Here’s a teaser from one of my Regency books while you wait for your guests to arrive.

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

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

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

Amazon Buy Link

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

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

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:38 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

March 14, 2018

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the…

by HL Carpenter

Fellow cooks, the time is now—the time to flop your fish out of the frying pan and into the oven, that is. Sure, deep-fried candy bars have a place in every healthy diet. But on days besides Fryday, you might want to make a meal using that other appliance that takes up space in your kitchen.

You can start with this oven-baked version of a recipe that’s usually fried. We promise the end result is every bit as delicious. And remember, you can always deep-fry a Twinkie for dessert.

Baked Fish and Hush Puppies

3 pounds fresh fish fillets or strips (we used pollock)
2 tbsp. butter
½ box Cajun seafood fry mix or fish seasoning mix of your choice (or less spicy version, use ¼ of a box)

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Set baking pan in oven until the pan is warm (not hot). Remove pan from oven. Put butter on pan, let melt and spread over pan.

Pour Cajun seasoning mix in a large plastic bag. Add fish and then shake gently to coat evenly. Remove fish from bag, place on buttered pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until fish is flaky.

Hush Puppies

For the baked hush puppies (makes 12 mini pups)
Cooking spray
⅔ cup cornmeal
⅓ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 egg
1 tbsp. oil

While the fish is baking, coat a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Measure dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Add wet ingredients and stir with fork until blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.

Remove the fish from the oven and turn the oven up to 450°F.

Bake the hush puppies for 10 minutes or until a tester pick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Serve fish and hush puppies with ready-made coleslaw.

Tips and Tricks

If the fish you’re using is not moist, dipping the fillets into milk or water before coating with seasoning will help the seasoning mix stick.

For the hush puppy recipe, you can substitute full-fat cow milk for the coconut milk.

Coleslaw helps cut the effect of the spiciness of the Cajun seasoning on your tongue, but potato salad is a good substitute.

While you’re enjoying your delicious lunch, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our satirical short story, The Demise of Fyne Literature.

Who killed Fyne Literature?

The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.

Ivy League wants to learn who murdered the love of her life. The Fictional Book Investigation Agency agrees to take the case, and soon discovers a surplus of suspects.

Is the killer one of the victim’s many enemies? Is there more to the story than anyone knows? The Agency’s profiler has a clue, yet she’s remarkably reticent.

For the lead investigator, unraveling the plot means confronting the mystery within.

EXCERPT
Ivy League walked into my office as I cracked the spine on an old murder book. I identified her immediately, courtesy of my mythical detecting skills. Well, those and her cute little uptilted nose, which I recognized from news reports about a recent gruesome killing.

She said, “I want you to find out who’s behind the demise of Fyne Literature.”

“I thought the cops already closed the book on his demise.” I slapped shut the hardcover in my hand to punctuate my sentence.

She jumped.

I said, “Word is, your lover was done in by an explosion of serial killer potboilers.”

“He was – he is – the love of my life, not my lover.” She perched on the edge of the chair opposite my bargain-priced government surplus desk, and looked at the painting on the wall behind me. “You’re no angel.”

Apparently I wasn’t the only one possessed of mythical detecting skills. The picture depicts a kneeling, white-winged warrior, weary yet steadfast as another day rises – or sets, depending on your point of view – on a ravaged city. You only need to glance at him once to know he did not weep, to know he would not, even in the midst of destruction and defeat; to know he understands war, in the way true warriors do. He knows the creed as well, the one limned by the glowing-eyed cat at his side: Show no weakness.

A grateful and talented character created the picture after I pulled her from the shadowy world where illusions take corporeal form and people merely think they can see. I can tell you horror stories, like the one depicted in that drawing, with entire civilizations reduced to smoldering ruins.

I’ll spare you and myself as well. I meet my shadow every time I plunge into the murk of those battles, and the reality is too gruesome for me to revisit, at least in the daylight hours when I have a choice.

Ed the glowing-eyed cat would say the same, if you understood his language. I’m not the angel in the painting, though my features vaguely resemble his, but Ed’s real, as real as I am.
I said, “Fortunately you need a detective, not an angel.”

“Yes,” Ivy said. “And you meet both criteria.”

I’ve always been a sucker for a woman who can properly pluralize ancient Greek.

Amazon Buy Link eBook and Audio

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 @ 12:53 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

March 12, 2018

Cover Reveal for NEW Historical Romance

Coming April 4 from International Best Selling author Susan Lodge and Crooked Cat Books the brilliant historical romance Captain Rockford’s Reckoning. Yet another best seller for the creative Ms. Lodge. See for yourself.

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

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

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

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

Now available for pre-order on Amazon.

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

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

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

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

March 7, 2018

GOLDEN GOODNESS JUST MINUTES AWAY

by C.D. Hersh

This easy and delicious candy recipe is one from Grandma Hersh’s secret cache. Fond memories abound whenever we indulge in her amazing fudge.

Photo by artur84

GOLDEN NUGGET FUDGE
⅔ cup evaporated milk
1⅔ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups (16 medium) marshmallows diced or small ones
1 pkg. (6 oz.) butterscotch chips
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup nuts

Mix milk, sugar, and salt in pan over low heat. Heat to boiling. Cook 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Remove from heat.

Add marshmallows, butterscotch chips, vanilla, and nuts. Stir 1 to 2 minutes until they are melted.

Pour into buttered pan. Cut when cool.

Here is a little from our book 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 @ 12:28 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

March 5, 2018

NEW RELEASE for CHRIS PAVESIC

Chris Pavesic, the Queen of Steampunk,just released the first book in a new mystery series. The twists and turns are pure Pavesic. Unquiet Dead is destined to be a best seller for this fine author. See for yourself.

When the Temples north of Chiaroscuro are burned and followers of the Sun Goddess are murdered, Catherine, a bard of the Ealdoth Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed.

So saddle up your clockwork mount, buckle on your electro-dagger, and join Catherine as she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead.

In Chiaroscuro it’s important to keep the faith.

EXCERPT
Services were scheduled to commence in an hour, and Ernest needed to be ready. He struck a match and lit the first gaslight, watching the flame take hold and flare up. The light pushed back the shadows so parishioners were able to find their way to the pews without stumbling. He would extinguish the artificial lights right before the service so the effect of the sunlight illuminating the darkness hit with maximum impact as it flooded through the skylights.

The parishioners would marvel at how the Temple filled with the Goddess’s Holy Light just in time for the service. Ernest would marvel at the fact that none of them were smart enough to realize he flipped a switch on back of the altar to swing open mechanical shutters.

There was a religious stirring in Grand Marsh more powerful than anything Ernest had experienced in his ten years as a Sacerd. The services at dawn, noon, and sundown were packed. Few of the farmers went out to the fields. They worked in town on community projects or sat drinking at the tavern. Their wives remained in the town square, full of chatter, instead of staying on their farmsteads. Their thin voices filled the air. The youngest children were kept close while the teens clustered in protective packs far enough away to keep their discussions out of reach of their parents’ ears. But close enough to be in sight at all times. None of them wandered off.

Three times a day they filled the Temple, ready to hear his words. Faces tilted up to him. Man and woman, young and old. And none of his parishioners would confess why they were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they were neglecting their farms. They were afraid of speaking blasphemy. But he knew the reason, and it caused a lift in his heart that was not due to religious inspiration. They were scared, plain and simple, and it gave him hope.

Since being assigned to the far parish almost five years ago, a posting he saw as an end to the upward progress of his career in the Temple, he struggled daily to swallow his disappointment. It wouldn’t leave, and it was bitter. Bitter.

In this remote village, far from the bustle and industry of Chiaroscuro, the quality of his life, the texture of his life, changed. He longed for life in the city. The world seemed to have shifted into two zones. The pace of life for the city dwellers increased while people living in the countryside were being left behind.

Time’s arrow struck fastest through the densest populations. Sacerds assigned to any of the major cities made more connections and accumulated more power in a single week than he did in a year. Exerting influence was impossible when the spheres of power were spinning outside of his reach, moving too fast for him to see, let alone have an impact.

The wound to his pride stung the most. The elders had hurt his feelings. To be dismissed so easily, passed along so casually—it was like the swatting of an annoying insect. The Temple elders did not treat him as if he mattered, as if his family ties were consequential. True he was a third son, but of a noble line. And they assigned him to a rustic Temple to attend to common folk far below his station.

Very little was required of him here. Or, more precisely, very little of what he did here interested him. He burned to return to the central Temple and to be part of the intrigues and power shifts. This attracted him more than caring for the simple souls of farmers and shopkeepers. Power was why he joined the Temple, and what he was now denied.

But not for long. The thought clanged in his mind with undeniable rightness. Not righteousness. It was an important distinction. Would the Goddess sanction his actions? Probably not, but he was past caring about her approval. During all of the ceremonies, all of the prayer and introspection, he had never felt any divine presence. He had never witnessed any miracles, and doubted their existence.

But power, oh he had seen the existence of power. Political. Social. Religious. Whatever you called it really didn’t matter. Get enough people to follow you. Enough people to believe in what you were selling. This was the belief that could move the world.

There was only one woman in his life he needed to please now, and she held no divinity. Merci had offered him a way out of this rural purgatory, and he had accepted. Truth be told, he had grabbed at it like a castaway might grab at a line from a passing airship. If the price were the damnation of his soul, so be it.

He glanced out the window at the transport coming down the lane. A high quality clockwork carriage with the Temple’s Crest stamped on the doors rattled over the boards strewn across the irrigation ditch and stopped, parking in the speckled light cast by the ornament trees planted along the lane. The carriage blocked traffic, but the driver did not seem to care. Elder members of the clergy, Hlytere, and above, felt they had the right of way. Others had to go around.

A pale, dark-haired woman emerged and stood for a moment looking around. She pulled the hood of her dark cloak over her hair and walked through the yard toward the Temple. Ernest’s gaze followed her, trying to imagine who this stranger was.

Her footsteps sounded in the aisle and, when he turned from window, she was almost upon him. Her speed startled him. When he saw her face to face he realized she was younger than he had supposed. Too young to be a Hlytere, but her use of the carriage meant she was favored by the Temple elders. The seed of jealousy radiated through him. He felt it in his chest and the pit of his stomach. He struggled to keep the emotion off his face.

“Greetings.” He shook her hand with a firm grasp. Her hands were small and smooth and white. “Will you come in for a moment?” He led her to the small reception room off the main area that contained a round table and several wooden chairs. He lit a cheroot, offered her one, which she declined, and they sat down.

“Please forgive me for calling on you so close to mid-day Services, Sacerd Ernest.” She paused. “You are Sacerd Ernest, correct? It’s not like me to presume.”

“Of course. I’m glad you came. I watched you drive up, you know, and I wondered who you were. We don’t get many visitors from the Temple here.”

“I’m surprised you don’t recognize me, cousin. Of course, I didn’t recognize you. So perhaps it’s not so surprising.”

“I’m sorry. I …”

“I’m from the cadet line of our family tree. My father is the elder son of the younger son of our line.”

His brow creased in thought. “Grace?”

“Yes,” she said with a smile, reaching out to touch his hand. Her fingers rested there for a moment too long. Lingered. And then she leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs, which were slim and bare beneath her robe.

Sacerd Ernest regarded his guest, wondering that her physical presence should suddenly dawn upon him so. She was more beautiful than he had thought at first. Her skin was clear and lovely, and her eyes and mouth were made up carefully and well.

What’s her game? He licked at the perspiration that appeared upon his upper lip.

“I would like your help in a small matter. And of course I wanted to meet you.”

“You did?”

“Our sponsor has spoken of you with such affection.”

“Our superior?” He used the wrong word to see if she would correct him.
“Technically, I suppose, she may be yours. I’ve never thought much of the rules of hierarchy in the Temple.” She cocked her head, listening to noises from the other room. Some of his parishioners had started to file in for the service. “It’s such a mercy, isn’t it?’

Ah, code words.

She must think she’s being clever, although he had no idea who could possibly overhear their conversation. It was only just dawning on him why she must be here. In his town. In his Temple. But he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was get out of Grand Marsh. Get back to Chiaroscuro. It didn’t bother him that people, his parishioners, may die, or suffer a fate worse than death. He just wanted to get out.

It’s not my fault if I’m following orders.

But that was a poor excuse, wasn’t it? Guilt flared, hot and strong.

Do you want to stay in Grand Marsh forever? Ministering to the townsfolk? Do you?

No … but he didn’t want to hurt people. Those conflicting thoughts pulled at him. There was the question of right and wrong. What was right for him might go wrong for others. But that was the way it had to be.

Thus he banished the guilt. When something inside of him tried to protest again, tried to tell him to think before he did this, he smothered it.

“When?” He didn’t have any time for nonsense. The quicker it occurred, the quicker he resumed his rightful place.

“In two days. I have some items in my transport that need to be set up in the Temple, but kept out of view.” She smiled and spoke a little louder so that the earliest arrivals overheard her. “I wish I could stay to help with the Mass, but I am needed back in Chiaroscuro.” She lowered her voice. “Officially I never left the city.”

“Of course.” He guessed that she had no desire to partake in the service. “I will help you with whatever you need.” Whatever may come of it, he had gone too far to stop now.

AMAZON LINK

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

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

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

Sloane said @ 12:10 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments are off

February 28, 2018

ROMANCE CAN BE A MOUTHWATERING BITE AWAY

from Alicia Joseph

Fresh Italian bread, crisp salad, and chilled white wine are the perfect additions for this easy, yet romantic, meal.

LINGUINE WITH PARSLEY & PARMESAN

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash

8 oz. linguine
1 tsp. butter
⅓ cup onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
8 oz. sour cream at room temperature
½ tsp. cracked pepper
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Cook linguine as stated on package. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened. Stir often. Be careful not to let this burn or the sauce will be bitter. Remove from heat and cool.

Stir in sour cream, pepper, and parsley. Mix with linguine. Warm over medium-low heat.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

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


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

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

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

Prologue
1993

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

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

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My best friend was dead.

AMAZON BUY LINK

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

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

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

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

Sloane said @ 12:24 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

February 26, 2018

A NEW PROJECT for DIANNA GUNN

Toronto based freelance writer and fantasy author Dianna Gunn never says die and she forges ahead with energy and determination. This talented woman is dedicated to bring dreams to life. And she will with her new work Moonshadow’s Guardian. This 90,000 word book is a sword and sorcery novel that aims to subvert and surpass common fantasy tropes. It’s the first book in the Moonshadow Rising Duology, and after almost ten years of work, Dianna is ready to bring it out into the world.

Here’s a little to peak your interest.

All Riana has ever wanted is freedom. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing her kind cannot have.

Bound by the curse in her demonic blood for millennia, Riana has tried several times to bend the rules and live out her life in the mortal realm. Now her consistent rule breaking has drawn the attention of Loki, God of Mischief, the main tormentor of Riana’s kind. But instead of punishing her, he offers her the escape she has always desired. All she has to do to is save the kingdom of Moonshadow from a mysterious magical plague.

Armed only with the inherent power of her own blood and Loki’s pet dragon, Riana is determined to fight for the right to create her own destiny.

However, when her mission forces her to destroy the last remnants of an ancient culture, Riana must ask – what is freedom really worth?

Moonshadow’s Guardian is a tale about the meaning of belonging, and the struggle to create a future not defined by your past.

But to make this novel become a reality, Dianna needs a little help from you.

Moonshadow’s Guardian has been through several extensive edits and rounds of beta reading. Dianna has invested a significant amount of her own money into the book as well. She has paid for professional cover art and the first round of professional editing.

But traditionally published books go through at least three rounds of editing before they hit bookstores. Dianna wants to give Moonshadow’s Guardian the same chances of success as any traditionally published book.

Here’s what your contribution will pay for:
One round of professional editing – $950 – This edit will go beyond regular copyediting by focusing on clarity, consistency, clichés, overall style, and grammar and punctuation. This is more expensive than most copyediting, but also offers more depth, ensuring that Moonshadow’s Guardian is a book you will love reading.

One round of professional proofreading – $250 – This will catch any spelling or grammar errors left over.

Uploading to Ingram Spark – $75 – This lets me gain bookstore distribution and increase the reach of Moonshadow’s Guardian.

Maintaining an annual publishing schedule – Priceless – An author’s career is built on their ability to produce books regularly. Publishing Moonshadow’s Guardian this year will give old readers something new to enjoy and new readers something to discover.

Kickstarter Fees – The standard fees charged by Kickstarter.

REWARDS
Of course, this isn’t all about what Dianna gets – it’s about what YOU will get for your support. She has books, books, and more books for you! This includes not only copies of Moonshadow’s Guardian and her first book, Keeper of the Dawn, but also donated ebook AND print copies of some amazing books from other indie authors:

The Defender’s Apprentice by Amelia Smith
The Dawning of Power Trilogy by Brian Rathbone
The Best Weapon by Martin Bolton and David Pilling
Moonless by Crystal Collier
Starter Zone by Chris Pavesic
EPIC by L Taylor
Hair to the Throne by Meredith Katz

To help Dianna succeed, please click HERE to contribute any amount to Dianna’s Kickstarter project.

Dianna L. Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She knew she wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. Dianna wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at eleven years old. As an adult,Dianna quickly discovered 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 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 @ 12:28 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments are off

February 21, 2018

A NEW TASTE TREAT

from Carol Browne

I have to thank my friend, Jane Easton, the Food & Cookery Manager at Viva! a website full of free delicious vegan recipes, for giving me the recipe for these delicious cookies (or biscuits as we call them across the Pond).

Straight from the oven, these are simply divine! Who would have thought that lavender worked so well in sweet biscuits, but it gives them a lovely fresh flavour.

LAVENDER BISCUITS

4 oz. vegan margarine or vegetable fat
Drop of vanilla essence or ½ fresh vanilla pod, scraped out
3 oz. castor sugar
5 oz. plain flour
Small amount of plant-based milk OR small amount of orange juice and zest of ¼ orange
5 lavender flower heads (in bloom), finely chopped or 1 tbsp. rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

Beat margarine, vanilla, and sugar until pale before adding the flour.

Gradually add a small amount of the plant-based milk OR orange zest and orange juice, a little at a time, until you form a stiff dough.

Stir in lavender until evenly distributed.

Roll into balls the size of a walnut. Place on baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

Allow to cool a little before lifting off the baking tray.

How about curling up with an epic fantasy while your biscuits bake?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel you.

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

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

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

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

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

“To see for myself.”

“To see what?”

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

Elgiva stepped back unsteadily, resolved to flee.

“Stay!” commanded the creature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sloane said @ 12:30 am | Author Friend Promo | Comments are off

February 19, 2018

COVER REVEAL for NEW STEAMPUNK

Coming March 5 from Chris Pavesic, the author of Starter Zone: The Revelation Chronicles, the first book in a new steampunk mystery series. Looks like another best seller for this fine author. But you be the judge.

When the Temples north of Chiaroscuro are burned and followers of the Sun Goddess are murdered, Catherine, a bard of the Ealdoth Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed.

So saddle up your clockwork mount, buckle on your electro-dagger, and join Catherine as she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead.

In Chiaroscuro it’s important to keep the faith.

EXCERPT
Services were scheduled to commence in an hour, and Ernest needed to be ready. He struck a match and lit the first gaslight, watching the flame take hold and flare up. The light pushed back the shadows so parishioners were able to find their way to the pews without stumbling. He would extinguish the artificial lights right before the service so the effect of the sunlight illuminating the darkness hit with maximum impact as it flooded through the skylights.

The parishioners would marvel at how the Temple filled with the Goddess’s Holy Light just in time for the service. Ernest would marvel at the fact that none of them were smart enough to realize he flipped a switch on back of the altar to swing open mechanical shutters.

There was a religious stirring in Grand Marsh more powerful than anything Ernest had experienced in his ten years as a Sacerd. The services at dawn, noon, and sundown were packed. Few of the farmers went out to the fields. They worked in town on community projects or sat drinking at the tavern. Their wives remained in the town square, full of chatter, instead of staying on their farmsteads. Their thin voices filled the air. The youngest children were kept close while the teens clustered in protective packs far enough away to keep their discussions out of reach of their parents’ ears. But close enough to be in sight at all times. None of them wandered off.

Three times a day they filled the Temple, ready to hear his words. Faces tilted up to him. Man and woman, young and old. And none of his parishioners would confess why they were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they were neglecting their farms. They were afraid of speaking blasphemy. But he knew the reason, and it caused a lift in his heart that was not due to religious inspiration. They were scared, plain and simple, and it gave him hope.

Since being assigned to the far parish almost five years ago, a posting he saw as an end to the upward progress of his career in the Temple, he struggled daily to swallow his disappointment. It wouldn’t leave, and it was bitter. Bitter.

In this remote village, far from the bustle and industry of Chiaroscuro, the quality of his life, the texture of his life, changed. He longed for life in the city. The world seemed to have shifted into two zones. The pace of life for the city dwellers increased while people living in the countryside were being left behind.

Time’s arrow struck fastest through the densest populations. Sacerds assigned to any of the major cities made more connections and accumulated more power in a single week than he did in a year. Exerting influence was impossible when the spheres of power were spinning outside of his reach, moving too fast for him to see, let alone have an impact.

The wound to his pride stung the most. The elders had hurt his feelings. To be dismissed so easily, passed along so casually—it was like the swatting of an annoying insect. The Temple elders did not treat him as if he mattered, as if his family ties were consequential. True he was a third son, but of a noble line. And they assigned him to a rustic Temple to attend to common folk far below his station.

Very little was required of him here. Or, more precisely, very little of what he did here interested him. He burned to return to the central Temple and to be part of the intrigues and power shifts. This attracted him more than caring for the simple souls of farmers and shopkeepers. Power was why he joined the Temple, and what he was now denied.

But not for long. The thought clanged in his mind with undeniable rightness. Not righteousness. It was an important distinction. Would the Goddess sanction his actions? Probably not, but he was past caring about her approval. During all of the ceremonies, all of the prayer and introspection, he had never felt any divine presence. He had never witnessed any miracles, and doubted their existence.

But power, oh he had seen the existence of power. Political. Social. Religious. Whatever you called it really didn’t matter. Get enough people to follow you. Enough people to believe in what you were selling. This was the belief that could move the world.

There was only one woman in his life he needed to please now, and she held no divinity. Merci had offered him a way out of this rural purgatory, and he had accepted. Truth be told, he had grabbed at it like a castaway might grab at a line from a passing airship. If the price were the damnation of his soul, so be it.

He glanced out the window at the transport coming down the lane. A high quality clockwork carriage with the Temple’s Crest stamped on the doors rattled over the boards strewn across the irrigation ditch and stopped, parking in the speckled light cast by the ornament trees planted along the lane. The carriage blocked traffic, but the driver did not seem to care. Elder members of the clergy, Hlytere, and above, felt they had the right of way. Others had to go around.

A pale, dark-haired woman emerged and stood for a moment looking around. She pulled the hood of her dark cloak over her hair and walked through the yard toward the Temple. Ernest’s gaze followed her, trying to imagine who this stranger was.

Her footsteps sounded in the aisle and, when he turned from window, she was almost upon him. Her speed startled him. When he saw her face to face he realized she was younger than he had supposed. Too young to be a Hlytere, but her use of the carriage meant she was favored by the Temple elders. The seed of jealousy radiated through him. He felt it in his chest and the pit of his stomach. He struggled to keep the emotion off his face.

“Greetings.” He shook her hand with a firm grasp. Her hands were small and smooth and white. “Will you come in for a moment?” He led her to the small reception room off the main area that contained a round table and several wooden chairs. He lit a cheroot, offered her one, which she declined, and they sat down.

“Please forgive me for calling on you so close to mid-day Services, Sacerd Ernest.” She paused. “You are Sacerd Ernest, correct? It’s not like me to presume.”

“Of course. I’m glad you came. I watched you drive up, you know, and I wondered who you were. We don’t get many visitors from the Temple here.”

“I’m surprised you don’t recognize me, cousin. Of course, I didn’t recognize you. So perhaps it’s not so surprising.”

“I’m sorry. I …”

“I’m from the cadet line of our family tree. My father is the elder son of the younger son of our line.”

His brow creased in thought. “Grace?”

“Yes,” she said with a smile, reaching out to touch his hand. Her fingers rested there for a moment too long. Lingered. And then she leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs, which were slim and bare beneath her robe.

Sacerd Ernest regarded his guest, wondering that her physical presence should suddenly dawn upon him so. She was more beautiful than he had thought at first. Her skin was clear and lovely, and her eyes and mouth were made up carefully and well.

What’s her game? He licked at the perspiration that appeared upon his upper lip.

“I would like your help in a small matter. And of course I wanted to meet you.”

“You did?”

“Our sponsor has spoken of you with such affection.”

“Our superior?” He used the wrong word to see if she would correct him.
“Technically, I suppose, she may be yours. I’ve never thought much of the rules of hierarchy in the Temple.” She cocked her head, listening to noises from the other room. Some of his parishioners had started to file in for the service. “It’s such a mercy, isn’t it?’

Ah, code words.

She must think she’s being clever, although he had no idea who could possibly overhear their conversation. It was only just dawning on him why she must be here. In his town. In his Temple. But he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was get out of Grand Marsh. Get back to Chiaroscuro. It didn’t bother him that people, his parishioners, may die, or suffer a fate worse than death. He just wanted to get out.

It’s not my fault if I’m following orders.

But that was a poor excuse, wasn’t it? Guilt flared, hot and strong.

Do you want to stay in Grand Marsh forever? Ministering to the townsfolk? Do you?

No … but he didn’t want to hurt people. Those conflicting thoughts pulled at him. There was the question of right and wrong. What was right for him might go wrong for others. But that was the way it had to be.

Thus he banished the guilt. When something inside of him tried to protest again, tried to tell him to think before he did this, he smothered it.

“When?” He didn’t have any time for nonsense. The quicker it occurred, the quicker he resumed his rightful place.

“In two days. I have some items in my transport that need to be set up in the Temple, but kept out of view.” She smiled and spoke a little louder so that the earliest arrivals overheard her. “I wish I could stay to help with the Mass, but I am needed back in Chiaroscuro.” She lowered her voice. “Officially I never left the city.”

“Of course.” He guessed that she had no desire to partake in the service. “I will help you with whatever you need.” Whatever may come of it, he had gone too far to stop now.

AMAZON PRE-ORDER LINK

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

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

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

Sloane said @ 12:27 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments are off

February 14, 2018

ARE YOU GAME?

by HL Carpenter

One of the largest quick-service fast-food sandwich restaurant chains in the U.S. (in number of restaurants) offered a venison sandwich again this year—for a single day. The sandwich sold out quickly.

If you missed your opportunity, here’s a healthy, fast, one-pot venison stew you can make in the comfort of your own home, without having to wait in line.

Now don’t flee just yet. If game isn’t your thing, please check out Tips and Tricks below for alternatives.

VENISON STEW
3 pounds thinly sliced venison shoulder steaks
2 tbsp. oil
1 cup water
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup quick cooking brown rice
1 packet beef bouillon
1 to 3 cups fresh or frozen mixed vegetables

Coat the frying pan with the oil (you’ll want to do this even if you have a nonstick pan, as venison has very little fat). Add the venison to the cold pan, cover, and set the thermostat control to 300°. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until browned through. Remove from pan and cut into cubes or pieces.

Put the cubed venison back in the frying pan, add water, onion powder, garlic salt, bouillon, rice, and mixed vegetables. Stir. Make sure the rice is immersed in the liquid. Add more liquid if necessary.

Cover the frying pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer for six minutes or until rice is done.

Turn the frying pan to low-simmer (or off) and let the stew sit covered in the pan for 5-10 minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice.

Serve with freshly-baked rolls if desired.

Tips and Tricks
You can substitute beef or pork stew cubes for the venison.

If you want your vegetables to look more colorful, add them to the pan after the rice is cooked and let the pan simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Applesauce is a delicious accompaniment to venison stew.

For a slightly different flavor, add ½ cup red wine with the rest of the ingredients.

While you’re enjoying your healthy, delicious lunch, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our satirical short story, The Demise of Fyne Literature.

Who killed Fyne Literature?

The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.

Ivy League wants to learn who murdered the love of her life. The Fictional Book Investigation Agency agrees to take the case, and soon discovers a surplus of suspects.

Is the killer one of the victim’s many enemies? Is there more to the story than anyone knows? The Agency’s profiler has a clue, yet she’s remarkably reticent.

For the lead investigator, unraveling the plot means confronting the mystery within.

EXCERPT
Ivy League walked into my office as I cracked the spine on an old murder book. I identified her immediately, courtesy of my mythical detecting skills. Well, those and her cute little uptilted nose, which I recognized from news reports about a recent gruesome killing.

She said, “I want you to find out who’s behind the demise of Fyne Literature.”

“I thought the cops already closed the book on his demise.” I slapped shut the hardcover in my hand to punctuate my sentence.

She jumped.

I said, “Word is, your lover was done in by an explosion of serial killer potboilers.”

“He was – he is – the love of my life, not my lover.” She perched on the edge of the chair opposite my bargain-priced government surplus desk, and looked at the painting on the wall behind me. “You’re no angel.”

Apparently I wasn’t the only one possessed of mythical detecting skills. The picture depicts a kneeling, white-winged warrior, weary yet steadfast as another day rises – or sets, depending on your point of view – on a ravaged city. You only need to glance at him once to know he did not weep, to know he would not, even in the midst of destruction and defeat; to know he understands war, in the way true warriors do. He knows the creed as well, the one limned by the glowing-eyed cat at his side: Show no weakness.

A grateful and talented character created the picture after I pulled her from the shadowy world where illusions take corporeal form and people merely think they can see. I can tell you horror stories, like the one depicted in that drawing, with entire civilizations reduced to smoldering ruins.

I’ll spare you and myself as well. I meet my shadow every time I plunge into the murk of those battles, and the reality is too gruesome for me to revisit, at least in the daylight hours when I have a choice.

Ed the glowing-eyed cat would say the same, if you understood his language. I’m not the angel in the painting, though my features vaguely resemble his, but Ed’s real, as real as I am.
I said, “Fortunately you need a detective, not an angel.”

“Yes,” Ivy said. “And you meet both criteria.”

I’ve always been a sucker for a woman who can properly pluralize ancient Greek.

Amazon Buy Link eBook and Audio

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 @ 1:36 am | Author Friend New Releases,Cooking | Comments are off