Monday, August 29, 2016

Over The Hump!

by C.D. Hersh

It’s official! With the release, by Soul Mate Publishing, of our newest book The Mercenary and the Shifters, we are now more than halfway through the books of our paranormal/urban fantasy romance series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

It feels great to have book number four out!

For those who might not know, The Turning Stone Chronicles series is about three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in The Turning Stone Chronicles series.

Ind’tale Magazine said “...takes paranormal and turns it on its ear, taking shape-shifting to a whole other level. The bad guy perspective is particularly unique and fun, and the characters three-dimensional...”

The fight with the rogue shifters faction continues in The Mercenary and the Shifters as Rhys Temple’s half-sister, Fiona Kayler, finds herself in the middle of a rogue takeover of her shipping company. When she discovers her late mother’s magic Turning Stone ring, which will give her the power to become a shifter, Fiona decides to fight fire with fire and join the rogue shifter world in order to take them down and save her company. Her involvement with the rogues doesn’t go as she hoped, however. She finds herself desperately in need of a bodyguard, deeply entangled with the evil rogue kingpin, and on the wrong side of her brother and sister-in-law, who are the shape shifter Promised Ones destined to rid the world of rogue shape shifters.

Here’s a little taste of The Mercenary and the Shifters from Fiona’s POV for your reading pleasure:


Opening the book again, she found the Gaelic incantation in her mother’s journal. To fight shifters, and keep control of the company, she had to become a shifter. Fear or no fear.

She traced her finger down the page to an entry below the incantation.

It hurts, her mother had written. Hurts as if you’re having a heart attack. But you’re not. It’s the magic loosing itself into your body. When the pain stops, the transformation will be complete. Then the hard work of learning how to use the ring begins.

You must find a mentor as soon as possible. Great power corrupts greatly, and once you experience the abilities shifting gives you, you must learn to control the ring. If you don’t, remaining on the side of good is difficult.


Drawing a shaky breath, Fiona read the incantation aloud. “Fear bean beathach tri an aon.”

Warmth spread across her left ring finger where the magic ring rested, and a tingle ran up her arm. Fiona glanced at the Turning Stone ring. The red lines in the dark-green bloodstone cabochon writhed and swirled, forming a circle, and another, and another. The circles spun, finally interlocking in a circular Celtic knot. The stone glowed softly as the three red circles pulsed.

Suddenly, the tingling in her arm intensified then shot to her torso. Fiona grabbed her chest as a bolt of pain knifed her heart.

“It’s just the magic,” she groaned to reassure herself. “I am not having a heart attack.”

Even though her mother’s journal entry had prepared her, terror gripped Fiona as wave after wave of stabbing pain shot through her. She tried to breathe the ache away, but her breath came fast and panicked. Another jolt pierced her like a shock of electricity, doubling her over so fast she pitched from the chair.

Then, as quickly as it had come, the pain left.

Fiona stared at the ring as the three circles slithered into nondescript lines running through the bloodstone. Except for the fact she now lay on the floor, everything remained as it had been.
For a moment, she sat motionless on the thick carpet, tuning her senses inward. Looking for some sign she had changed. But she found nothing to indicate she was now different.

But she was. Her mother’s journal said so.

Don’t miss out on these shape shifter romances readers have called fast-paced, well-written, paranormal suspense at its best.


The Promised One Book 1 eBook - paperback
Blood Brothers Book 2 eBook - paperback
Son of the Moonless Night Book 3 eBook - paperback
The Mercenary and the Shifters Book 4 eBook

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crank Up the Grill

No one wants to heat up the house with cooking even if the air conditioning is at full blast. Here’s a menu geared for outdoor cooking. Hang onto it for those stormy fall and winter days because this meal also works great indoors.

Marinated Grilled Steaks
Baked Potatoes
Caesar Salad
Dry Red Wine – Cabernet Sauvignon


Marinated Grilled Steaks
Photo by franky242
1 small steak of your choice per person
1 sprig fresh basil or ¼ tsp. dried
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp. dried
2 sprigs fresh parsley or ½ tsp. dried
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 or 2 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
Splash of dry red wine
Olive oil

Keep the steaks to the side for a few minutes. Lay the dry ingredients in a glass or ceramic dish or a plastic bag just large enough to hold the meat comfortably.

Sprinkle in the Worcestershire sauce and red wine. Gently stir. Add the meat.

Pour oil along the side of the dish until it reaches half way up the steaks. Turn meat to coat top and bottom. Set in the refrigerator for 2 – 4 hours. Remove the dish from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.

Heat your outdoor grill to medium. Sprinkle a few drops of Worcestershire sauce on each side of the steak and spread out with your fingers. Grind fresh pepper on one side. Grill for 3 minutes each side for rare, 4 for medium rare, 5 for well done. Turn only once.

Remove the steaks and tent with aluminum foil. Allow to sit on top of a warm stove for about five minutes. This will draw the juices back into the meat and will also cook the steak to perfection.

If you use the oven broiler, follow the same cooking times.

Baked Potatoes
1 baking potato per person
1 bay leaf for each potato
olive oil
Kosher or rock salt
butter
sour Cream
chives

Oven Method
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Wash the potatoes under cool running water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub the skins with a small amount of olive oil. Slit across the top large enough and deep enough to fit in a bay leaf. Roll in the salt and wrap in aluminum foil.

Bake for about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick. If the potato is cooked enough the pick will slide in easily.

When done, set the potatoes on a warm stove or inside a 200°F oven until ready to serve.

Serve with butter, sour cream, and chives.

Outdoor Grill
Preheat on medium high. Prepare the potatoes in the same manner as above.

Lay potatoes on bottom grate. Every 15 minutes roll the potatoes to a new side to prevent burning. It will take about 45 minutes to cook through. Test by inserting a toothpick. If the potato is cooked enough the pick will slide in easily.

When done, set the potatoes on the upper rack until ready to serve.

Caesar Salad for Two
Photo by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee
1 egg coddled
1 large glove garlic
½ tsp. anchovy paste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ tbsp. lemon juice, preferably fresh
2 drops white vinegar or as close to as possible
¼ cup olive oil
Romaine lettuce, 3 leaves per person, washed and dried
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Croutons, optional

Remove egg from refrigerator while assembling all the ingredients on your counter.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Coddle the egg by cooking it for 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water, crack shell and scoop the runny egg into a small bowl. Break up the solid white pieces and lightly mix. Later, you will add some of this to the salad dressing.

In a large glass or wooden bowl, mash the garlic with a spoon and fork into coarse pieces. Rub the sides of the bowl with the oil that has been released.

Add the anchovy, pepper, and mustard. Mix well. Pour in the lemon juice and vinegar. Mix well. Add in ½ – ¾ of the coddled egg. Mix well. Blend in the olive oil until the dressing is frothy.

Tear the lettuce into bit-size pieces over the salad bowl. Toss, then add ¼ cup or so of Parmesan. Toss again. Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
Add croutons and serve immediately.

For a larger salad, adjust proportionally, but do not exceed two eggs.

Enjoy!

~Sloane

Monday, August 22, 2016

NEW RELEASE for VONNIE HUGHES

The ever-engaging Vonnie Hughes brings us her latest captivating novella that brings you a smile. Be sure to get your copy today!


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

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





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

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

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

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

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

BUY LINKS Amazon - Smashwords

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Carrot Cake or Carrot Sticks? No Contest!

by Susan Lodge

The habit of afternoon tea and cake has come back into fashion with a vengeance.

Thanks to the explosion of bake-offs and celebrity chef programmes, baking cakes is big business. Never has the cup cake, Victoria sponge or biscuit been given so many media makeovers — despite the gym gurus and the calorie police. I love cake, but it’s a struggle balancing; bake-offs v gym workout, carrot sticks v carrot cake, bathroom scales v kitchen scales… and so on.

So, here is my favourite cake recipe. It’s full of off happy healthy carrots. And, if you want to implement further calorie control, the cake is equally delicious without the frosting. Great for afternoon tea, morning coffee, or just when you need some T.L.C.

Carrot Comfort Cake
200g or 7oz. just over ¾ cup plain flour
200g or 7oz. just over ¾ cup brown sugar
200g or 7oz. just over ¾ cup grated carrots
2-3 mashed, ripe bananas, depending on size
120 ml of sunflower oil
100g or just under ½ cup sultanas
100g or just under ½ cup chopped nuts, walnuts, pecans, Brazils, almonds - or a mixture of your preference
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
3 eggs
20 cm wide, or 8”, spring based/loose based, round cake tin

Pre-heat oven to 170°C or 340° F

Grease cake tin. If you use a tin without a loose base, cut out a round of greaseproof paper and line the base to prevent sticking.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and then stir into egg mixture.

Add the nuts, oil, sultanas and carrots and stir well. Finally add the mashed banana and make sure everything is evenly combined.

Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for about 1 hr – 1hr 15 mins.

Test the cake is done by inserting a skewer or thin bladed knife into the middle. It should come out clean.

When the cake has cooled, either dust the top with sifted icing sugar, Confectioner’s sugar, or top with an easy cream cheese frosting (as pictured).

Cream Cheese Frosting
100g or 4oz. cream cheese
50g or 2tbsp. soft butter
200-250g or ¾ - 1 cup icing sugar or Confectioner’s sugar

Beat together cream cheese and butter.

Add enough icing sugar until you reach a soft spreading consistency.

Carefully swirl on top of cooled cake with palette knife.

Enjoy!



Susan Lodge’s first publishing success was a story purchased by a major UK magazine. After a drawer full of rejections she described the arrival of the acceptance letter as, ‘A moment of ecstasy’. This 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.

You can find more about Susan and her books on her website and blog. Stay connected on her Amazon page, Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, August 15, 2016

PICNIC POWER

by Eris Field

Picnics have long been known to have the power to move wooing to marriage. Wooing or courting is different from dating. It is the process by which one person, having decided that he/she has found an acceptable life partner, convinces the other person that they should forsake all others and move forward toward marriage.

In the past, a certain hierarchy of enticements was used by a gentleman wooing a lady. Love letters written in perfect penmanship on personal stationery was often the opening salvo. Unlike email or text messages, letters could be stroked, sniffed, hidden in bodices, tucked under pillows, and read repeatedly by candlelight.

Photo by John Kasawa
Candy and flowers followed. Boxes of candy—carefully selected candies nestled in elaborately decorated boxes were delivered to the lady with a brief message written on a card. The language of flowers was carefully studied so that the right message would be conveyed by the bouquet.

While letters, candy, and flowers were effective, they took time. A gentleman determined to marry, and soon, pulled out the heavy artillery—the picnic. Picnics have two elements—seeming innocence and surprise. The gentleman would not disclose the destination or the contents of the picnic basket. Please note it was a basket not a cooler, Styrofoam chest, backpack, or plastic bag from the deli. The gentleman carried a blanket over one arm that had the purpose of keeping grass stains off the lady’s dress and the picnic basket over the other arm.

Contents of the basket included the essentials: a bottle or two of wine, two glasses, napkins, and delicious food that was usually not encountered at regular meals and so had a slightly forbidden quality. Tempting items included: crisp bread or rolls, cheeses (Brie, Gruyere, Provolone or Jarlsberg), thinly sliced smoked turkey, cold fried chicken, prosciutto, Lebanon salami, hard boiled eggs, olives, nuts, and fruits. The basket always held the lady’s favorite dessert.

Picnic settings, with careful planning, were private and, with the blanket, fairly comfortable. The wine was crisp and the food delicious. In fact, over time it was found that a properly planned picnic had a fairly strong correlation with marriage.

In my contemporary novel, The Gift of Love, psychiatrist Andrew, in a hurry to convince Laurel to marry him, finds himself using his elderly Aunt’s courting instructions, including the picnic.

Laurel, a slightly impulsive pediatric nurse who spent her early years in foster care, dreams of having a family of her own—six children, no men in the dream. Laurel doesn’t just dream, she has a plan—stop her stepsister’s compulsive hoarding, clear out the mountains of paper engulfing every room, and sell the old house that is pushing her toward bankruptcy. As a last resort, she raids her retirement fund to go to a conference on the newest treatments for compulsive hoarding.

Andrew, a psychiatrist, is never impulsive. A reticent, somewhat austere man, he limits his interactions with people to his work. About to leave for the conference where he has agreed to fill in for a colleague, he suddenly finds himself the reluctant caretaker of a two and a half year old boy.

When they first meet, a series of unfortunate events cause Laure to view Andrew as arrogant, rude, but disturbingly attractive, while Andrew to view Laurel as a dangerous distraction to be avoided. Faced with a crisis, they are forced work together, but will they be able to put aside their protective armor and trust each other enough to let love in?

Amazon Buy Link

Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont—Jericho, Vermont to be precise—close by the home of Wilson Bentley (aka Snowflake Bentley), the first person in the world to photograph snowflakes. She learned from her Vermont neighbors that pursuit of one’s dream is a worthwhile life goal.

As a seventeen year old student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern who told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and forced population exchanges. After they married and moved to Buffalo, Eris worked as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

After taking time off to raise five children and amassing rejection letters for her short stories, Eris earned her master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo. Later, she taught psychiatric nursing at the University and wrote a textbook for psychiatric nurse practitioners—a wonderful rewarding but never to be repeated experience.

Eris now writes novels, usually international, contemporary romances. Her interest in history and her experience in psychiatry often play a part in her stories. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Western New York Romance Writers. In addition to writing, Eris’s interests include: Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders; Eradicating Honor Killings, supporting the Crossroads Springs Orphanage in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS, and learning more about Turkey, Cyprus, and Kurdistan.

Learn more about Eris Field on her website. Stay connected on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

GRILLING GOODIES

My longtime friend and drinking buddy, Jane Nolan, is here with her to-die-for chicken wing appetizer. This is so good I can make a meal of it and not have one ounce of guilt. The kitchen is all yours, Jane!

Chipotle Honey-Lime Chicken Wings
Chicken
5 pounds of wings. Use the first two sections and skip the tip.

Marinade
2 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. sugar
4 limes, squeezed for the juice
¾ - 1 cup olive oil

Mix marinade ingredients together in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add wings. Stir well. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Sauce
1 - 7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed
4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
5 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. butter, melted
Zest of 2 limes
½ - 1 tsp. salt

Mix sauce in a small pot. Simmer for a few minutes. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cook wings over a medium-hot grill for 20-30 minutes. Brush with sauce the last 5-7 minutes.

Serve with one, or both, of these delicious dips.

Avocado Crema
1 avocado, pureed
1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Combine both ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Chill until ready to serve.

Blue Cheese Crema
¾ cup blue cheese crumbles
1 tsp. red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. shallot, finely chopped
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Chill until ready to serve.

Now sit back and enjoy with a tall glass of fresh sangria! 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Up Front and Very Personal with Sam Cheever

Greetings Sam. Thanks for joining me today. Let's get right to it. Where are you from? What is your writing name?

I write mainstream fiction as Sam Cheever and some would say I’m from Mars. But in actuality I grew up in a mid-sized town in Indiana. Kind of the same thing, actually.
I also write M/M romantic suspense and fantasy as Declan Sands.

As a child, who did Sam want to be when she grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer. I believe everyone is good at something, the trick is just finding out what that something is. #:0) I discovered at an early age that I had a knack with words. But I didn’t think I was going to be able to make a living writing. Then I found a degree program at a local 4 year college called Professional and Technical Writing. It was the happiest day of my life! I was able to use my BA degree in writing to offer my writing and editing services to Corporate America until I could get my fiction writing career underway. I feel very blessed to have been able to do what I both love and have a skill for.

Tell us about your first book, the highs, the lows and the unexpected.
My first published work was ‘Tween Heaven and Hell, a fast paced paranormal romance about angels and devils in a futuristic world. I wrote the initial draft as a weekly serial, one chapter a week, for a few dozen subscribers. When it was complete I sent it out to several publishers and received an acceptance from Ellora’s Cave a few weeks later. It was very exciting!

The book was published on the Cerridwen Press side of the house, which was the sensual rather than erotic side of Ellora’s Cave because it wasn’t an erotic book. As a result, my sales figures were not as healthy as I’d hoped. However, the first book in the series has gone on to win several awards and the series has gained an extensive following.

What do you find the most difficult to write? Dialogue? Back story? Emotion?
Probably back story. I try really hard not to do info dumps in my stories so I have to use different tactics to flesh out the plot with the necessary information. Writing series fiction, which I tend to do a lot of, makes that both easier and harder. It’s obviously easier for readers who have read the other books in the series to keep up with the relationships and stories that have shaped them, but readers who start in the middle or end of the series need to feel like they know what’s going on too. I solve the problem by making all the books standalone, and then including self-contained information snippets that tie them together as the story unfolds.

What was the best piece of advice you were given in regard to your writing?
Nothing earth shattering there…the advice is the same for everybody…just keep writing. Much easier said than done as you get rejection letter after rejection letter. But the only writers who eventually make it big are the ones who believe in themselves enough to keep slogging through all the disappointment and criticism. It ain’t easy! But if you truly believe you’ve got what it takes, hang in there, keep writing, it will come, grasshopper.

I see you are published with many houses, Sam. How important is it to diversify your publishers in today’s market?
Extremely important. Each house has a specialized, target market where they sell most of their books. For example, Ellora’s Cave obviously has a big chunk of the erotica market and Changeling Press writes hot, short, serialized fiction. Once you figure out what a house’s market is, you can tap into it and broaden your audience. And since most readers tend to read across genres, you can often draw readers across publishers once they’re familiar with your work.

What is your strangest writing habit?
I write in snippets on multiple projects at once. Many writers sit down in the morning and just crank out an allotted number of words on a single project or even a couple. I might have six projects going at any given time and will write a couple thousand words on 3 or 4 of them, sometimes moving back and forth between two or three of them in the space of a single day.

How do you avoid interruptions?
Avoid them? I embrace them! If something has managed to interrupt me it’s probably because I’m stuck on a plot point or have exhausted my creative energy for that moment. I’ll usually take a break and then come back to it. It works for me.

What is one problematic area you have with your writing and how do you fix it?
Occasionally I neglect to describe my characters. #:0) I see them so clearly in my mind and forget the reader doesn’t know them like I do so I think I just take it for granted they know what they look like. Har! It’s now on my list of things I look for in rewrites but, if all else fails, thank goodness for my editor!

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
No on both counts. I’m a loner when I work. I don’t share my toys in the sandbox very well. It’s just never been something I’ve sought out. The biggest problem for me is timing. I write to a tight deadline and as soon as I finish a book I generally send it off to my editor. I don’t like to wait for others to provide feedback. I trust my editor to find what others would find and, working together, she and I usually turn out a pretty clean book.

You bring a wicked sense of humor to your books - is this you or just your characters micromanaging you..
Alas, I’m afraid it’s me. I can’t seem to help myself. In fact, my characters sometimes beat me upside the head for the situations I put them in. But that’s a big mistake. I have one of those contrary personalities and I’m likely to torture them even more if they complain. hehehe

Click Amazon to read excerpts from books by Sam Cheever.

USA Today Best Selling author Sam Cheever has published 50+ books of romantic suspense and fantasy/paranormal. Her books have won the Dream Realm Award for fantasy and The Swirl (interracial romance) Award. They've been nominated for and/or won several CAPAs, have been nominated multiple years for “Best of” with LRC and The Romance Reviews, and have won eCataromance’s Reviewer’s Choice award. Sam is published with Musa Publishing, Changeling Press; and Ellora’s Cave. She also publishes as Declan Sands, writing m/m fiction, and under her own imprint, Electric Prose Publications.

In real life, Sam lives in a cabin in the woods with 13 dogs and one husband. A self-proclaimed dog-aholic, Sam insists she's holding at 13...maybe...

Learn more about Sam Cheever on her website and blog Eclectic Insights. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find Sam on Goodreads, her Amazon Author Page, and About. Me.