Wednesday, 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 scramble off to the next blog 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.

Monday, February 12, 2018

SPICE UP VALENTINE'S DAY

from Lizzie T. Leaf

Want a romantic breakfast for Valentine's Day that is easy to prepare and tastes great? I have just the meal for you. Try my Baked Apple French Toast with a side of sausage patties. Top the meal off with mimosas and let the magic begin!

 Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash
Baked Apple French Toast
1 cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
3 – 5 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed
½ cup dried cranberries
12 slices firm bread, diced
8 eggs
4 cups milk
2 tbsp. vanilla
Cinnamon sugar to taste

Melt butter and sugar in a skillet. Add apples and then cook 2 – 3 minutes. Transfer ingredients to a 13” x 9” baking dish.

Scatter cream cheese over the apples. Sprinkle on cranberries. Top evenly with bread.

Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla together in a medium-sized bowl. Carefully pour over the bread.

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cover with cling wrap. Store in refrigerator overnight.

THE NEXT DAY
Remove from the refrigerator no less than 45 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake 50 – 60 minutes or until firm to the touch. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with your favorite syrup.

Here is a little from Lizzie's latest spicy romantic release.

Following the Powers directive to unite soul mates, a Scottish Cailleach's magic will have repercussions in several realms.

Mixed-blood author Ian McCabe, grandson of Fae and gods, tries to deny his powers while hiding his true origins from the human world. When he discovers mortal, Emma Grant unconscious at his front door, his world starts to change.

Tour director Emma Grant leads a group of senior ladies through Scotland. The breakdown of their bus on a rural Scottish backroad has her sloshing through the rain and mud on foot. Her efforts to seek help results in a fall that knocks her unconscious. She awakens to find the man of her dreams staring into her eyes.

Both feel an instant attraction, but will his secrets and her distrust of men keep them apart.

A few lines that tweak a grin.
Yep, at this rate, a long three weeks lay ahead. No one had told Emma that the dozen school teachers ranged in ages from sixty-nine to eighty-eight. Good grief, what happened to women at this age sitting on the front porch and enjoying their rocking chairs?

Mildred waved away the correction “Of course, dear. Whatever you say. I just want to know, will we see any men in kilts soon? I want to see what they wear under them.”

Dirty old woman. She asked that question at least half a dozen times before we got on the bus and stated the reason just as often.

Read the first chapter on Amazon.

To read excerpts from other books by Lizzie T. Leaf please click onto Amazon.




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

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

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

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Candlelight Supper at Its Best

by Susan Lodge

This easy recipe, that serves two, is ideal for Valentine's Day dinner with your special someone. Add a crisp salad, dry white wine, and candles then let romance flow.

Photo by tiramisustudio.
ROMANTIC RISOTTO
75g (3oz.) butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
200g (7oz.) Arborio risotto rice
150ml (5 oz.) white wine
75g (3oz.) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
A few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, stripped from the stalks
500ml (18oz.) fish or chicken stock
1 lemon
100g (4oz.) green string beans, cooked and halved
200g (7oz.) prawns (large shrimp), peeled and cooked
3 - 4 thin slices of salami or chorizo, chopped, for garnish
1 sprig of basil for decoration

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic for about 3-4 minutes over a moderate heat.

Stir in the rice and mix well to coat the grains with the onion mixture.

Add the wine, mushrooms, and thyme. Stir well. Let the wine bubble and evaporate for a few seconds then stir in a ladle of stock. Cook gently until the moisture has been absorbed by the rice. Add the rest of the stock, a ladle at a time, making sure all the liquid is absorbed between additions. Stir frequently to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. This process should take about fifteen to twenty minutes. Taste the risotto. The mixture should be a moist texture and the rice tender.

Stir in the rest of the butter, juice from half the lemon, beans, and prawns. Take a few seconds to warm everything through then turn off the heat. Place a lid on the saucepan and let the risotto stand for a few minutes before serving.

Meanwhile fry the meat until crisp and use as a garnish for the risotto

Serve with a wedge of lemon.

Here's a little from my latest historical romance to peak your interest.

Marriage to a cruel dandy is not how Hetty Avebury envisions spending the rest of her life. Determined to avoid the match, she raises funds the only way she knows how – gambling. Her plans go astray and she finds herself on board a man-of-war under the care of its high handed physician. But Hetty soon realizes that Doctor Withington is not quite the stuffed shirt she had first imagined.

If it wasn’t bad enough declaring one of the pressed men as a woman, Robert has been tasked with the tiresome job of returning her safely back to her dysfunctional family. It was ten years ago when his father gambled away his inheritance, home, and any chance of marrying the woman he loved. So when Robert discovers Hetty gambling he takes drastic action to cure her of the habit.

Amazon Buy Link

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.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Just in time for Valentine's Day

is a new Regency Romance from the incomparable Emma Lane that is destined to be a best seller. A firm believer in love and all things beautiful, Emma has dedicated these two stories to love and lovers everywhere.


A Valentine Masquerade
Two of Ms. Lane's most interesting characters return in a vignette of mature family romance and affection as Lady Jane discovers the authority of the title, Duchess of Leaver. Romance shimmers with suspicious matchmaking in progress, while a whimsical young viscount creates a hilarious solution to end a perplexing mystery. Into the blissful partnership between Lady Jane and her faux pirate, the Duke of Leaver, an old enemy reappears causing consternation.

A Valentine Surprise
Love is in the air, mysterious adventures and old friendships abound. Which couple solves the mystery of the stolen treasures and who receives a precious necklace of love? A Valentine house party on a country estate creates entertainment for the entire family while cupid works his magic. Romance simmers between the eldest daughter and the young viscount,her handsome suitor. Regency Romance at its finest seduction in Valentine Masquerade.



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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

LOVE IS IN THE KITCHEN

with the Free Cookbook Sweets & Treats for Someone Special.


Remember the old adage, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’? There may be some truth to that, though I would update the phrase to say, ‘The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach’. After all, food is an intimate experience. Good food creates memories, forges friendships, makes the heart grow fonder, and makes for good dinner table conversations. And food is one of the ways you can show someone that you care for them.

If the thought of cooking a romantic meal or baking a sweet treat for your true love makes you tingly all over, then have I got a gift for you! Cue a romantically-inspired cookbook written by the following fourteen proficient and prolific authors, of various ages and genres: Marci Boudreaux, Carol Browne, HL Carpenter, Sara Daniel, C.D. Hersh, Vonnie Hughes, Alicia Joseph, Emma Lane, Lizzie T. Leaf, Sharon Ledwith, Susan Lodge, Anne Montgomery, Chris Pavesic, and Sloane Taylor. These wonderful writers have created an array of tantalizing recipes that will make your loved ones beg for more, and even offer to wash those dirty dishes.

Sweets & Treats for Someone Special is your go-to recipe book for entertaining on Valentine’s Day, hosting bridal showers and engagement parties, or celebrating that special event with your true love. Compiled by Sloane Taylor—a gourmet cook in her own right—and designed by mother-daughter duo HL Carpenter, the included recipes offer a wide variety of mouth-watering treats, indulgences, and meals to satisfy your loved ones’ cravings and insatiable hunger.

Oh, and did I mention that it is FREE?

So why not have your just desserts? Literally. You’ve got nothing to lose and sultry memories to gain when you download Sweets & Treats for Someone Special. There’s a recipe for even the fussiest lover in your life. Give yourself a gift during the season of love with a sensual cookbook from fourteen writers who would love nothing more than to share their favorite recipes, and fulfill your deepest desires.

Get your FREE copy, in all formats, at Smashwords or Amazon

Bon Appetit!

Monday, January 29, 2018

ELLEN and ELLIOTT - HEAD to TOE

Elliott Baker is in the hot seat discussing his three novels with Ellen from ItsWriteNow.com.




The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power

To uncover the truths and secrets awaiting in Morocco, Elliot Baker has kindly returned to ItsWriteNow.com for the third time to chat about The Sun God’s Heir: Return. I love seeing authors progress with their writing careers, so I’m glad you’ve taken a few minutes out of your busy schedule to chat with me. What’s been going on since we last caught up in September 2017 with The Sun God’s Heir?

The novel has won a couple of contests which is a hoot. Book one has remained in Amazon’s top 10 Free books in its primary category of Sea Adventures and in the top 20 in Historical and Fantasy since its launch in January of 2016. It has enjoyed over 27,000 downloads.

That’s fantastic news! What a great testament to the quality of your work. With fantastic feedback from both contests and the reading public, I’m sure you’ve had great motivation to keep yourself working hard. What have you been up since September?
Exploring the strange and challenging world of book marketing. Does a tree make a sound when it falls in the woods if no one is there to hear it? I’d like to thank the readers of The Sun God’s Heir for listening. I am also beginning to write the next book continuing with these characters only in other lives and time periods.

I’m eager to hear about your new book, and I’m sure the readers are too, but first let’s chat about that strange world of book marketing. What have you been doing with marketing? Have you been using social media or your own site to kick things off?
I am slowly learning the ropes. I’ve been a member of Instagram since my start, but will soon begin to inhabit the page. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words. I had a graphic artist render René and Akeefa and the drawing of Akeefa is very close to the picture in my head. Who knows. She may show up. Hard to decide whether to leave people’s images of my characters alone or share mine. If you want to see what she looks like in my head, or think I should put the image up on Instagram, use the contact form on my website and let me know.

That is a tricky one. Pictures of the characters are great and can look fantastic, but some readers do get disappointed when the pictures don’t match what’s in their head. Personally, I think it’s a great idea to show a little taste of how you see life in your books. Are these characters in your mind when you write?
I keep my mind as open as I can. I don’t think my characters are alive, but their patterns, which I’ve thought about a lot, are. If I’m open to it, the pattern makes a raspberry sound in my mind when I consider having the character do something contrary to their pattern. There is always the overarching ‘why.’

As a reader, you always hope there is an overarching why. Looking back on it, what do you think was the greatest why or what you want readers to take from your characters?
The accumulation of power will not bring you joy. It will not even bring you security and the escape from that which you fear. Fear and its manifestation, anger does not lead to joy which is the only reason to play this game. Good thing we get to choose.

Indeed we do. Was the exploration of these ideas of power, security, fear and joy what you had in your mind when you first started writing or did you have another target that you were working towards?
There are three books in the Sun God’s Heir trilogy. I had a general idea of how I wanted to finish, but the actual story of the main characters did not present itself until near the end of the writing. I had a couple of what if it doesn’t moments, but for the most part, (I don’t know why) I was confident that it would show up. I’m very pleased with the ending. After you’ve read over eleven hundred pages, the ending better be satisfying.

There’s nothing worse as a reader or writer than to be emotionally invested in a story, and finally get to the end and find that it is rubbish. What steps did you take to make sure your endings were satisfying? Did you bring in elements from your life to make the overall story solid?
Writing is a funny thing. We all enter the zone. Olympic athletes train to do it. So do yogis. Most of the time it’s unconscious and fleeting and we’re not even aware we passed through the state. A writer or musician or artist experiences the zone after a time of concentration. Stuff comes out that seems to be better or beyond what the writer or musician feels capable of. I think that we touch our subconscious and download patterns that we’ve unconsciously put together. The output seems brighter and though we take credit for it, we are always a little dubious of our ability to have created it. There are characters in The Sun God’s Heir from whom I learn as they speak. One of my greatest motivations to write is to get them to speak so I can listen. Sounds pretentious, but I’m glad for the help.

I’m glad you found satisfaction reaching the end, but do you have the same satisfaction at the beginning. What was the original idea behind your book that you wanted to continue to explore until you were fully satisfied?
The Sun God’s Heir began with a remembered dream. Like most folks, I don’t remember dreaming that often, but this one morning, I carried the dream into waking consciousness. It wasn’t the whole story, but there was the protagonist and antagonist as well as the germ of the story and the setting. The story stayed with me and refused to go away until years later, with the help of NANOWRIMO, I began to write it down.

Other than trying to conquer the challenge of NANOWRIMO, why do you write?
The easiest answer and the most trite is because I can. A great joy for me in reading a story is when I am transported somewhere else for a few minutes. When I come back to this reality, to my chair, I feel nothing so much as gratitude to the writer for having helped me take a break from the stress of this life. Often I feel recharged with the emotional energy from the scene or story. I wanted to do that. There is nothing so sweet as when someone tells me in so many words that they went somewhere for a few minutes.

Do you feel that your author voice or writing, in general, has progressed as you’ve continued to practice your craft?
We all have a voice in our heads. And we all have stories to tell. The trick is to stay seated long enough to access our authentic voice. Takes time and patience. Unfortunately it also often takes a support system to give the writer the energy that can’t be found in the moment. Just like listening to yourself in a tape recorder, you are often less than excited by the sound of your own voice. Stay with it.

The publishing process is fairly straight-forward if you set up your work well in the first place, which means that you can spend more time on what matters. The content. And speaking about content and deciding what you want, what are you working on at the moment?
Research for the next series of novels.

It sounds like early days. At the beginning stage of a new project, you must be asking yourself a lot of questions. I’m going to ask you a few questions that you may not have considered when you’ve been busy beavering away. But you never know, your book might be better from answering a question like, if you’re in a vehicle going the speed of light, what happens when you turn on the headlights?
You run into less stuff.

Always advantageous when driving. Continuing onto the advantages, why is lemon juice made with artificial flavour, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Because the paradoxes of life are what make it fun.

You gotta love those paradoxes. Looking back on the Sun God’s Heir, what was your biggest learning experience?
It ain’t over till it’s over.

Elliott, I’m so glad that the door has already opened for your writing career, but I hope that you are able to open it wider and have so much more fun and success with it!
Thanks, Ellen, I really do appreciate your support.

BUY LINKS
The Sun God's Heir RETURN Book One FREE on Amazon
The Sun God's Heir REBIRTH Amazon
The Sun God's Heir REDEMPTION Book Three Amazon

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 and Rebirth, Book Two released in May.

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.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A SWEET FOR YOUR SWEETIE

from Alicia Joseph


This is a perfect treat for your special someone on Valentine’s Day. And what better way to show you care then to bake something good.

PEANUT BUTTER PIE
CRUST
1 ¼ cup chocolate cookie crumbs. (20 cookies)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven 375°F.

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie plate.

Bake 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

FILLING
1 (8 oz) pkg. softened cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in whipped cream.

Gently spoon into crust. Garnish with grated chocolate, chocolate cookie crumbs, or fresh raspberries.

Refrigerate and enjoy!



“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.


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.