Monday, December 31, 2012

What's in a Name?

by S.G. Rogers

Is naming your characters a joy or a chore?

Charles Dickens had a way with names. Many of his characters had odd, but memorable monikers, such as Wopsie, Winkle, and Spottletoe. Some were more descriptive, like the bombastic Mr. Bumble or the festive Mr. Fezziwig. Author JK Rowling has fun with her character names, too. Gossip columnist Rita Skeeter connotes an annoying mosquito and the cruel Dolores Umbridge isn’t that far a stretch from the word umbrage.


Strangely enough, I find it easier to name secondary or tertiary characters than the main ones. Perhaps it’s because I feel some sort of pressure to make my main characters somewhat dignified, approachable, or attractive. Since that impression is subjective, it always takes me longer to decide which way to go.

Is it just me?

Even though naming my main characters is always a bit of a challenge, picking names for the remaining residents of my stories is a delight. My creativity is unfettered and my humor comes to the forefront.

In my latest fantasy release, Tournament of Chance, my protagonists’ names are the relatively straightforward Heather, Dane, and Joe. Some of the minor characters, however, have more amusing names like Gumm the troll, Towcheez the fairy, and the one-eyed chef, Piers. Fun details won’t save a weak storyline, but a strong plot can be further enhanced with a little imagination.

As a reader, do you feel memorable names increase your enjoyment of a novel, or are they a distraction? As an author, do you agonize over your cast of characters?

After all, a rose by any other name might just be fantastic.

~ S.G. Rogers

A hunter’s daughter becomes the spark that ignites a revolution—in time.

When a beautiful commoner enters the Tournament of Chance archery competition, her thwarted victory sparks a revolution in the oppressive kingdom of Destiny. Although Heather never believed the legends about the restoration of Ormaria, after three shape-shifting Ormarian wizards awaken from a long magical slumber, she joins their perilous quest to regain the throne. Heather battles vicious predators and angry trolls to free the wizards’ magic, but at a horrendous cost. She is unexpectedly torn from the arms of the man she loves and hurled back in time to fulfill a prophecy not yet written. The ensuing maelstrom tests Heather’s survival skills, wits, and endurance. Will she become an unwritten footnote in history, or can she trust the magic to lead her back to her one true love?


To read an excerpt from Tournament of Chance, please click HERE.

Learn more about S.G. Rogers on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, December 24, 2012

WISHING YOU ALL


Pleasant memories from holidays past.

Sloane and the entire Taylor family

Friday, December 21, 2012


To celebrate, Musa Publishing is showcasing two books written in true Grimm style. See for yourself. Click the book title to read an excerpt.

THE GRIMM LEGACY

FIRST FROST

By the way, both make excellent Christmas gifts.

Sloane

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Chicken Stir-fry, Rice, and Tossed Salad.

Christmas is only a few short days away. Cooks need a tasty and fast dinner menu so they can get on with more important things. This week we have such a meal, and one I'm sure you'll enjoy.

Chicken Stir-fry
Rice
Tossed Salad
White Wine – Chardonnay

Chicken Stir-fry

1-1 ½ lb. boneless/skinless chicken thighs cut into strips
½ tsp. ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Splash sesame seed oil or olive oil
½ red pepper cleaned and cut into strips
1 small head broccoli
10 baby carrots in the cello pack cut in half lengthwise
1 small onion halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves sliced
¾ cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. cornstarch

Combine chicken, ginger, and pepper in glass bowl. Set aside.

On medium high heat, warm oils in wok or large frying pan until shimmering. Sir-fry chicken until no longer pink about 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan to a clean bowl.

Add vegetables and garlic to pan and stir-fry to crisp tender, about 5 minutes.

Combine stock, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl until well blended. Stir into hot skillet. Add chicken and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles.

Rice
I prefer Uncle Ben’s original rice. It’s easy and never fails. Instead of water use chicken stock to increase the flavor. Sprinkle a little parsley over the top for a prettier effect.

Tossed Salad
Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces, red leaf and head are excellent combinations
Tomatoes chopped
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Zucchini diced
Green Onions sliced, be sure to add some of the green
Mushrooms sliced

Combine everything, or any grouping you like. When you're ready to serve, toss with your favorite dressing, but be careful not to add too much. The lettuce will get soggy.

I'll be off for the Christmas, but will have a new menu for you next Wednesday. Until then...

Happy Holidays!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page


Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday with Dorien Grey

I'm pleased to bring you Calico, another outstanding Dorien Grey novel. Calico is a western/adventure/mystery/romance with a twist, and a strong YA appeal.

CALICO
Dorien Grey
ISBN
Print 978-1-934135-33-4
Electronic 1-934135-33-X
Zumaya Publications

BUY LINKS
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble NOOK


Death, danger — and unexpected love.

BLURB:
Cowboy Calico Ramsay finds himself responsible for safely escorting Josh and Sarah, a pair of city-raised twins, through the many dangers of the 1880s' wild west. Along the way he must keep himself and his charges ahead of four mysterious men who are out to kill them for reasons he cannot imagine. And through it all, he must deal with the growing and mutual attraction to young Josh.

EXCERPT:
They set up camp in a small clearing between the town and the wagon train. After unsaddling the horses, Calico set up the campfire after urging Josh and Sarah to wander down to the train in search of young people their own age. Josh made it clear that he would just have soon have remained with Calico at the campsite. But Calico was well aware that, other than for himself, the twins had had no other company since leaving Hutchinson. Perhaps, he told himself, much of what he perceived to be going on between himself and Josh was largely his own imagination responding to Josh's natural need for male companionship.

Josh returned alone shortly before sunset.

"Where's Sarah?" Calico asked.

"She's at the wagon train, with one of the families," Josh replied. "They've got a son just a little older than us."

"What about girls?" Calico asked. "Wasn't there any girls there your age?"

"None that I saw, except one, and she was married and had a baby. But, then, I wasn't looking for girls," Josh said dismissively. Looking for a reaction from Calico and receiving none, Josh unkered down beside Calico at the fire. "Sarah wants to know if it’s okay if she stays to supper with that farmer and his folks."

Calico shrugged. "Sure, it's okay with me. Didn't they ask you to stay, too?"

Josh stared into the fire, picking up a stick to push a few unburned pieces of wood into the flames. "Yeah," he said without looking up, "but I said I had to get back. I'd rather be here with you.

Calico remained silent a moment, filled once again with the sense of a developing relationship in some ways like his own relationship with Uncle Dan, yet in other ways far, far different. He wasn't sure he was ready for it.

"Well," he said, reaching into the saddlebags for food, "we might as well have our supper right now. Then later on, you go back to the train an’ fetch Sarah. Close as it is, I don't want her walkin' back here alone."

While they ate, Josh pried Calico with questions about life on the range, about ranching, raising cattle, dangers commonly encountered, and a myriad of other subjects of interest to a city boy suddenly thrust into a new and, to him, adventure-filled lifestyle. Throughout their talk, though, Calico detected that Josh had something else on his mind.

Finally, after a slight pause in the conversation, Josh said "What do you think of me, Calico?"

Caught completely by surprise, Calico was at a loss for words. After a moment, he said "I’m not sure what you mean, boy?"

Josh was staring at him, and it made Calico once again both nervous and...he couldn't pin it down, but the sensation was warm, and good, and like he'd never felt before.

"That's just it: 'boy.' You think I'm still a boy, don't you?" Josh asked. Calico started to speak, not having any idea at all what he was going to say, and was grateful when Josh continued. "You think I'm a kid who isn't old enough to know what I want."

Calico felt, in his gut, that he knew exactly what Josh was getting at.

"I do know what I want, Calico. I've known what I wanted since I was six years old. It's not a something I'll grow out of. It's not something I've ever been ashamed of, or feel I have to be ashamed of. It's who I am―who I've always been and who I'll always be. I said I always knew what I wanted, but I never found it until…” he paused, staring at the fire, then raised his eyes up to look into Calico’s, who had been watching him at him intently, unable to take his eyes off the young man.

“Somehow,” Josh continued, forcing himself to keep eye contact with Calico, “I've felt since the day you met us at the train station that you understood that. Sarah thinks so too. If we didn't, I couldn't be talking to you now. You do know what I'm talking about, don't you, Calico?"

Calico felt almost dizzy; he was flooded with feelings that were both familiar to him and yet at the same time, alien. He realized they had been with him all his life, but which he had never fully acknowledged before. He nodded.

“Yeah, I think I know, Josh."

"Did you ever…do you...feel the same way, Calico?"

Calico sighed deeply, a little embarrassed at the thought that even Sarah had apparently seen something in him that he had not fully acknowledged himself. "Yeah, Josh," he said finally, "I guess just about everything you said's pretty much the same fer me, 'cept you're a lot more aware of it than I been. I always just figgered I was different'n most men. Not that it ever bothered me much, or that I ever thought there was anythingwrong with it, but feelin's are kind o' private out here―folks, ‘specially men, don't show 'em all that much. So 'til you come along, I just sort o' kept everythin' inside. I gotta tell ‘ya it feels kind o' funny puttin' words to things I never spoke out loud about before in my whole life."

They sat in silence a long minute, Calico staring at the fire, trying to sort out the flood of feelings washing through him.

Finally, Josh spoke again. "You think there might be a chance, Calico?"

Calico looked up from the fire, thinking but again not quite sure he knew exactly
what Josh meant. "A chance?"

"For...for you and me," Josh said quietly.

Calico ran one hand over his face and thought another long moment before replying. "You sure do know how to bowl a man over, bo...Josh," he said with a weak grin. "I'd be lyin’ if I didn’t say that a big a part o' me wants t' say 'yes' . But out here, the law means a lot to decent folks, and by the law, you’re still a kid.”

Josh nodded. “I know. And by the law I’ll be an adult in a little over a week and
nothing will have changed except that I’ll be at Aunt Rebecca’s and you’ll be somewhere between there and your ranch and we might never see each other again.”

The thought of never seeing Josh again had been in the back of Calico’s mind long before the conversation they were now having but, like so many things actually being spoken about for the first time in his life, the impact of the thought only now surfaced.

Calico said nothing for a moment, then sighed deeply. “We're talkin' about somethin' that’s mighty hard f’r me t’ find words for, Josh. I thought about it a lot, I guess, an’ I guess it’s somethin’ I wanted all my life, too. And what you say is true about your just about bein’ an adult in the eyes of the law. But we only knowed each other less than two weeks, an' much as an adult's you might be already, you still got a lot o' livin' t' do." He smiled and raised his hand to forestall Josh's objections. "If there's one thing I learned, it's that it's lots better t' grow int'a somethin' than t' jump int'a it."

"But we'll be at Aunt Rebecca’s soon, and you'll be leaving us there!" Josh said.

"True enough," Calico said "An' that'll give ya' time t' think. I got nine years on you, Josh. I never put words t’ it before, but I think I been waitin' all this time, too. So I reckon I can wait a while longer. I just want you t' have the time t' be sure you know that what ya' really want is what ya' think ya' want now. You understand me?"

Eyes downcast, Josh nodded.

“An’ one more thing…’bout me callin’ you ‘boy’ so much. My Uncle Dan called me ‘boy’ right up t’ the day he died, an’ I know he didn’t mean no disrespect by it. I think I know now it was his way a lettin’ me know that he cared about me.” Calico stirred the fire with a stick, then looked into Josh’s face. “You just keep that in mind if I should call you ‘boy’ again sometime.”

Watch the video trailer for Calico HERE. To read the entire first chapter on Dorien's website, please click HERE.

BUY LINKS
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble NOOK

Dorien Grey is the author of two popular mystery series―the 14-book Dick Hardesty series and the 4-book Elliott Smith series.

Learn more about Dorien Grey on his website and blog.

I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Fun with Holley Trent

I can’t write a short story to save my life. Seriously. I try every so often, and the typical result is an editor telling me, “Nope, try again.”

That’s what happened with Mrs. Roth’s Merry Christmas. (Actually, that wasn’t the original title.) It started as a little novelette I tried to get in and get out of, and I guess it read that way, too. Calliope’s head editor Jeanne De Vita sent it back to me with a, “Yeaahhhh, no. Try harder,” note [I’m paraphrasing].

I paced for a while and slept on the story a few days, then figured, “Hell, if I’m write campy smut, I’m gonna go for the gusto and see what happens.”

So, I did some world-building, added a jumbo cast (it’s a fantasy, after all), gave the heroine a bit of back story, and maybe bumped the corniness up a little. Ended up with a dandy vigilante Santa, a sexually adventurous teacher with a penchant for holiday sweaters, some back-stabbing nymphs, a bunch of politically-motivated elves, and a traitorous dog.

All that in 35,000 words. I know, right? Trust me, it moves fast.

I think to date, Gillian from Mrs. Roth’s Merry Christmas is probably my number two favorite heroine. She’s got a lot of spunk and takes no prisoners. Here’s a bit of her in action:

**

Santa gets more than he bargains for in his marriage of convenience to the queen of snark.

I cut my gaze toward Kori and she shrugged. I hadn’t been at work the previous Friday or Thursday because on Thursday morning I got into a knock-down drag-out catfight with Hortense that spanned ten minutes and two dimensions. She’d shown up at my Zumba class clad in teeny tiny shorts and a tank top that was damned near see-through. I had held my tongue until water break then she walked up to the front of the room and thrust a ring box at me.

“Mother ordered me to give that to you.”

I opened the box to find a large oval-cut ruby flanked by emeralds all mounted in an antique-looking gold band.

“Why?”

Hortense didn’t answer. She was too busy flipping through my CD binder and sucking her teeth at my apparent lack of taste. Kori had walked over, looked inside the box, and squealed with glee.

“I can’t believe Grandmother made her give it up. There’s only two of them. Now she’s going to have to use the portals like the rest of us.”

“What is it?”

“Spoil of war. I don’t remember which. Say, you should probably read up on elf history. Anyway, there were two. Grandmother has the other, but she doesn’t use it much. She doesn’t like leaving the palace. Basically, it’ll let you do what Uncle Nick can do naturally—go from one place to another without having to use a portal.”

“Cool.” I’d taken it out of the box and tried it on for size on my right ring finger. “It looks valuable.”

“Of course it is, you gold-digging slut!” Hortense’s head finally popped up.
I’m not exactly sure what happened after that. I had sort of went into a red, violent rage and my body moved on its own accord. She was crouched there in front of the CD player and so I grabbed the base of her ponytail and yanked her backward so her head slammed against the hard floor. From there, there was a lot of scratching and swatting from both parties. When the Zumba ladies started filing back into the studio from the hallway, Hortense and I were on our feet throwing blows in earnest.
My adrenaline must have been so hopped up that it took me a while to realize I was blowing blood out of my nose with every exhalation.

“Uh, ladies?” Kori had tried to intercede. She didn’t want to get too close, though, not that I blamed her. She couldn’t exactly take sides in a battle between her blood aunt and her queen.

I managed to get an arm around Hortense’s neck and dragged her out into the hallway. No one followed. I started thinking about how much I wanted to kick Nick’s ass for getting me into that mess, and the next thing I knew we were in the bedroom of Nick’s winter lodging at the North Pole where he spent most nights, crashing through his glass coffee table.

**

Fun, right? If fracases are your thing. Now if you want to read another excerpt from Mrs. Roth’s Merry Christmas, please click HERE.

There may be a sequel for next Christmas in the works…me finishing it will depend heavily on whether or not the Mayans were right.

For more on Mrs. Roth and other Holley Trent stories, you visit HolleyBlog. When Holley’s not writing campy smut, she’s Tweeting. A lot. She loves to chat, so please say “hi”!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

To help you celebrate your holiday of choice in style, Studs came up with a beverage that’s easy to make and lip smackin’ good.

VODKA & PINEAPPLE
3 pineapples cored, peeled, and cut into rings
1.75 liters of your favorite vodka
Large wide-mouth glass container with a secure lid

Place the pineapple rings at the bottom of the container in any design you fancy. Pour the vodka on top. Be sure to cover the pineapple by at least 2 inches. You don’t have to refrigerate as the alcohol preserves the fruit. Check periodically to be sure the vodka level is still well over the pineapple.

To serve, pour over ice in a cocktail glass or swirl it with ice and then pour into pony glasses.

Here are two more drinks for your pleasure.

CITRUS CHAMPAGNE PUNCH
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cups superfine or granulated sugar
4 cups vodka
1 bottle Limoncello
3 tbsp. dry vermouth
4 bottles chilled dry Champagne or sparkling wine
2 lemons sliced thin
1 bottle ginger ale

Combine lemon juice, sugar, vodka, Limoncello, and vermouth in a large nonreactive bowl. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Add sliced lemons. Cover and refrigerate 1 – 2 hours to chill.

Add Champagne then gently stir to blend. Add the ginger ale if the mixture seems too strong.

Serve in a punch bowl with ice on the side. Makes approximately 5 gallons.

For a smaller crowd, scale down the recipe by at least half. Fill tall glasses with a few ice cubes. Add the punch and enjoy.

MOCK CHAMPAGNE PUNCH
2 bottles ginger ale, the 2 liter size
1 pineapple juice, 46 oz.
1 bottle white grape juice, 64 oz.

To make an ice ring:
Fill a ring-shaped cake pan half full with ginger ale.
Freeze until partially frozen. Lay pieces of fruit around the ring. I used blueberries and orange slices. Fill the pan with ginger ale and freeze until solid.

Chill the second bottle of ginger ale and juices for several hours.

In a large punch bowl, lay the ice ring. Pour the ginger ale and juices over the ice ring and serve.

Another Studly Gem

Drinks served at a bar or restaurant on those nice little napkins can be a pain when the paper clings to the bottom of the glass and smacks you in the chin. To avoid the problem lift your glass and sprinkle salt on the napkin. Voila! No more stick.

And no cocktail is ever complete without a little nosh.

BLACK OLIVES IN OIL
1 can medium pitted black olives
3 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Glass jar with a secure lid

Drain the black olives and pour them into the jar. Crush the garlic into the jar. Pour in the olive oil to cover. Refrigerate at least 1 week. The mix will become thick and cloudy. It’s okay, that’s the oil solidifying.

To serve, set the jar on the counter until the oil becomes clear and normal consistency, which will take several hours. Spoon out the quantity of olives you wish to serve into a pretty dish. Be sure to have toothpicks. Put the jar back in the fridge for future use. You can refill with more olives and the mixture can stay good for up to three months.

I'll be back Monday with Dorien Grey. Until then...

Please drink responsibly.

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, December 10, 2012

WRITING A SERIES


by Sharon Ledwith

Face it. If you’ve written a great book filled with equally great characters, readers will want more. Much more. And the sooner the better. Then, you start to panic. Sweat drips off your face and onto your keyboard. You’re committed now. Legions of readers are waiting in the wings for your next installment.

Stop.

Don’t worry.

You’ve got this.

The most important thing to remember in creating a series for any genre is to connect the dots, create a common thread to tie your individual stories together into a nice, shiny bow at the series end.

Complicated? Not really. Read on…

First: Make sure your characters have enough problems going on both individually and together to carry through at least five books. The entire series needs to get from A to B to Z dragging your characters along (sometimes kicking and screaming) until, by the end of the series he or she or they need to come out changed. They need to have shown growth, they need to have evolved through the course of their adventures.

Second: Don’t put any elements into your first story that you don’t want to live with through five or more books. It’s a long haul to drag unnecessary fillers such as a troublesome pet, a psychotic boyfriend or an ongoing health problem for the ride. Like they say, “Use it or lose it”.

Third: Don’t solve the big mysteries or resolve all their problems in the first book. Too much, too soon. The idea is to hook’em with that first book, and get your readers begging for more. Your characters should still have dreams and goals and ambitions to work toward through the length of the series. Oh yeah, and as you do answer the burning questions and resolve the terrible conflicts, make sure you replace them with additional—hopefully more serious—ones.

Fourth: Remember—it’s all about building relationships between your characters. Throw obstacles their way and create the necessary tension between them to get your readers to care about them. It’s all about the journey and how they work together to resolve their problems. You want readers to be as invested at the end of the series in how that relationship is working out as they were in the first book.

Fifth: Keep a series guidebook stuffed with all the vital information on your main characters— and recurring side characters. The color of their hair and eyes, their brother’s or sister’s names, or any allergies is vital to log. Believe me readers know when something is amiss and will call you on it.
Sixth: Make sure you’re writing a series for the right reason—because you love your characters enough to tell their story over a period of years to come. And hopefully, that could be a long, long time.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.

BLURB:
When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

Want more info on The Last Timekeepers series? Check it out on Facebook.


Buy Links:
Musa Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Learn about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected with Sharon on Facebookand Twitter.




Friday, December 07, 2012

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Time for an easy recipe that certainly fits an erotica writer’s web site! Pasta Puntanesca which translates to Whore’s Spaghetti.

Rumor has it that over a century ago, the Italian Working Girls prepared this dish for their late night customers from standard kitchen supplies. It was an added bonus for their clients and an easy way to keep business flowing. No matter how the name came to be, the dish is superb and freezes well. Try it and, please, let me know what you think.

Pasta Puntanesca – Whore’s Spaghetti
Salad
Italian Bread
Olive Oil for dipping the bread
Chianti Wine Carlo Rossi makes a decent Chianti at a fantastic price


Puntanesca
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 - 14.5oz can Italian plum tomatoes drained, and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. capers chopped (optional)
1 can medium black olives, drained, pitted, and chopped
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, stir, 2 - 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, capers, olives, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and black pepper, return to low heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add pepper. Taste the sauce, adjust seasoning to suit your taste.

Reduce the heat to low, simmer another 15 minutes.


Pasta
1# spaghetti
1 tsp. fresh or dried parsley
Grated parmesan cheese

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling water until al dente; drain.

Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, sprinkle on the parsley.

Serve the parmesan cheese on the side.


Tossed Salad
A variety of fresh lettuce
Feta cheese
Fried bacon crumbled
Tomatoes cut in eights
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Toss everything but oil and vinegar together in a large bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Combine the oil and vinegar just before serving. Add in pepper and stir. Pour some over the salad and toss well.

Save some oil for dipping the bread!

I'll be back Monday with awesome YA author Sharon Ledwith. Until then...

Mangiare Bene!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

SWEET DEAL FOR MUSA PUBLISHING


Musa Publishing has announced they will publish Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? by author Gary K. Wolf, the third book featuring Wolf’s iconic character, Roger Rabbit, and the denizens of Toontown.

Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? is the culmination of a twenty year wait for fans of the world that Wolf first created in his 1981 Hugo-winning Who Censored Roger Rabbit? The third installment in the series has been promised to fans for a long time but never released. Now, with the 25th anniversary of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on the horizon in 2013 and and confirmation of a completed Roger Rabbit 2 script by director Robert Zemeckis last week stirring up excitement among Roger Rabbit fans, the collaboration between Wolf and Musa is coming at a significant time.

“I could easily have published Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? through a major print publishing house. Instead, I choose to make this the first book of the Roger Rabbit series to be published digitally,” Wolf states. “That decision evolves directly from the way I work, from the core philosophy of what I write and why I write it. I always push the boundaries in my writing. I invent worlds that nobody else ever thought about. I create unique characters and situations. I try to always be at the forefront of my craft. That includes the way my writing is presented to my readers. Digital publishing is clearly the future. It’s the way books are headed, so I’m heading that way, too.”

With his first book at Musa, The Late Great Show!, released in October and his second novel, Typical Day, coming out on December 7, Wolf is no stranger to the Musa system. “I especially like the way Musa has taken digital publishing into areas that I never thought of. Using proprietary software, I’m able to interact with them electronically in real time. My editor, the publicity department, the art department, and everybody else involved with my work all have instant access to everything I submit. And vice versa.”

With the release of Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? set for November of 2013, Musa and Wolf are poised to gratify millions of Roger Rabbit fans across the world. The entertainment franchise is worth over $500,000,000 and the fandom is as eager as ever to follow their beloved Roger Rabbit and Eddie Valiant into new adventures—including e-publishing.

“Digital publishing is the wave of the future, and I’ve always been a wave of the future kind of guy,” Wolf states matter-of-factly. “For me, going digital wasn’t in any way a last resort. It was a necessity.”

Gary Wolf is the NYT Bestselling author of numerous book, articles, and short stories including Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?, Space Vulture, and The Late Great Show! His movie credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the three Roger Rabbit cartoons Tummy Trouble, Rollercoaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-up, and—coming in 2014—screen adaptations of his science fiction novels The Resurrectionist and Killerball. Awards for Wolf’s work include the Hugo Award, British Science Fiction Award, SF Chronicle Award, and 4 Academy Awards. Wolf is an avid Yoga enthusiast and lives in Boston where he is a full-time author, screenwriter, lecturer, entertainment consultant, and consummate “grown-up kid.” Look for his next Roger Rabbit installment to be released November, 2013 by Musa Publishing.

The Late Great Show! and Typical Day are available through Musa Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Queen of Hot is in the House

That is award winning erotica author Jan Springer who never fails to capture her readers. Today we are showcasing her novel The Pleasure Girl.

WARNING: Ice Water Definitely Required.  


THE PLEASURE GIRL
Jan Springer
ISBN: 1610349539
Siren Publishing


BUY LINK

BLURB:
A fiery eruption of solar flares disintegrates most of Earth’s human
population, frying electrical grids around the world and thrusting everyone into a cold harsh land where only the strong survive.

Forced to become a pleasure girl in order to survive, Teyla Sutton reluctantly agrees to service dangerous desperado Logan Leigh and his two friends. White-hot pleasure becomes addictive beneath Logan’s tender touches and his hard muscular body. What Teyla never expected was to fall in love. Logan Leigh knows he shouldn’t allow the Pleasure Girl into his heart. He also knows it’s too late because she’s already there.

Soon three desperadoes are whisking Teyla away on an exquisite journey into her hottest dreams and forbidden desires. When she learns they are members of the notorious Durango Gang, can she allow them into her life or will she send them away forever?

EXCERPT:
“Let’s give them a glimpse of what they’ll be getting, shall we?”

She inhaled as his hands moved off her shoulders and came around to cup her breasts. At the same time, he pressed his body against her, bringing her closer to the window. He pushed against her until her breasts were squished against the cold window pane, and then he dipped his head and kissed her left shoulder with a gentle butterfly kiss that sent shimmers of pleasure down her spine. A guttural whimper found itself passing her lips. It was a sexy sound she really liked.

“I thought I would come in and see if you were okay with the ménage. I can see that you are.”

She nodded jerkily. Okay, so maybe he was sure, but was she?

“I wanted you to meet them first, but then I figured it might be better this way.”

This way? What exactly did he mean?

“At least then you wouldn’t have to feel self-conscious before…” He let the words trail off. She still wasn’t sure what he meant, and then suddenly she noticed the two men at the pump had stopped washing themselves and were looking directly at the window where she stood.

“They’re very observant men.” Logan chuckled. “Nothing gets by them.”

She thought she would feel embarrassed at having been found like this. Oddly enough, she wasn’t.

“Invite them in, when you’re ready,” Logan purred into her ear, his wet tongue lashing her earlobe with sultry licks.

Invite them in, when you’re ready.

Was she ready? Would she ever be? Was he giving her a way out? This was the first time in her life she’d ever been asked to do this sort of thing.

This felt surreal. And fantastic.

She had to be crazy. But she felt so feminine and sexy to have two men looking at her and another one touching her. She definitely was crazy. Wonderfully insane, and it felt so liberating to embrace her sexuality in this way.

Through heavy-lidded eyes, she watched the two of them as they stared at her, and then suddenly, as if with a mind of its own, her right hand lifted, and she crooked a finger at them, inviting them to come inside. Their mouths dropped open as if they couldn’t believe what she was doing.

“That’s it, Teyla. Invite them in.” Logan breathed against her hair as he lashed her earlobe with more sultry kisses that sent arrays of excitement shimmering through her. With her heart pounding loudly in her ears, her body sandwiched between the window and Logan, she watched the two men finish washing and then hurry toward the farmhouse. Toward her.

Panic zipped through her.

Oh, God! What had she gotten into? Three men and her?

She swallowed as Logan gyrated his large erection against her butt plug. It pushed deeper into her, the invasion sensual and erotic. She stiffened against him as she heard the front door creak open, followed by the stomping sounds of their boots.

“They’ll be gentle with you at first, so just relax,” he whispered. He moved away from her, allowing her to budge from the window. His hands dropped from her breasts, and she turned around to face him.

“I want you to climb onto the bed. On your elbows and knees, head down on the bed, face sideways into a pillow. Your ass in the air. Your breasts hanging and your nipples just grazing the blankets. I’ll bring them in once you’re in the position.”
Teyla creamed at his words, at the agonized look of arousal splashing across his face.

She nodded jerkily and climbed onto the bed while he watched. Her face grew warm as she tried to remember his instructions and imagined how she would look to them. Her face buried against the pillow, her elbows bracing herself on the bed, breasts dangling, her ass plugged and stuck up in the air like an offering.

Sweet mercy! They would be doing more than just gazing!

She blew out a tense breath, and she stayed in that position listening to their low murmurs from the kitchen. She tensed at the knock at the door and Logan’s abrupt answer instructing them to enter.

She swore her breath stalled in her lungs when she heard their soft whistles.

“Fantastic,” one of them said softly. Instantly, she liked his voice. Soft and low. Comforting.

“She’s more than fantastic, Spencer. She’s gorgeous,” the other one, Cassidy, replied.

“Close your eyes, Teyla. Remain in that position while the guys touch you.”

Oh my God.

BUY LINK



Jan Springer lives in Ontario, Canada and writes full time. She enjoys kayaking, hiking, photography and gardening. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Passionate Ink and The Author’s Guild. She also loves hearing from her readers.

Learn more about Jan Springer on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.


I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Sautéed Chicken Breast, Rice, and Salad.

After the holiday it’s nice to return to normal with a simpler meal. This week we’re doing it easy because I’m tired!

Sautéed Chicken Breast
Rice
Salad
Dry Crisp White Wine


Chicken
Boneless chicken breasts. I prefer Tyson’s bag of frozen breasts.
Milk
Olive oil
Chicken stock fresh or canned
Marjoram to taste
Chopped parsley, preferably fresh

Place the breasts in a glass dish, cover with milk and soak for a minimum of 3 hours. You can also soak them overnight. If you choose to soak for more than 3 hours be sure to refrigerate the dish. I learned this from a very talented chef in Salzburg, Austria.

Preheat the oven to 200°. Put your dishes and serving platter in the oven to warm them.

Sauté the breasts in olive oil until the juices run clear 20 – 25 minutes. Be careful not to overdo the cooking. Should the chicken look dry at any point add a bit of the stock.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Rice
Follow the instructions of the rice box to prepare. Substitute chicken stock for half of the water.

I like to sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley to camouflage the pasty whiteness.

Salad
Select at least two different types of lettuce then clean out your fridge. Throw in cut up radishes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Toss it all together then refrigerate until serving time.

Pass around the flavored olive oil you made last month and enjoy.

Any leftover chicken and rice makes a perfect lunch and is easily reheated. It can be frozen for up to one month. Before you seal the lunch package be sure to add a few tablespoons of chicken stock to keep the rice moist during the reheat.

I'll be back Monday with Jan Springer. Until then...

Enjoy!
Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, November 26, 2012

WRITING THE PARANORMAL

by Clarissa Johal


People often ask me how I began writing in the genre of paranormal. I’m not brooding or scary or running off to join the latest séance, which I think is what they expect. And my silly sense of humor oftentimes gets me into trouble, especially with my two daughters.

The topic of paranormal has always interested me because I moved around so much as a kid. It seemed we were always living in an older place and with those older places, came a ghost or two. Now, before you chuckle and roll your eyes (or not) let me tell you, I walk the line between skeptic and 100% believer. On the surface, I may be rolling my eyes with you, but inside, I believe in a plethora of things I won’t even begin to discuss until I’ve known someone a very long time. I know what I’ve experienced, and I know what my rational mind tells me. Believe me, there’s a lot of arguing in my head over those two things. We are a collection of what we’ve experienced in our lifetime, and since I’m as old as the hills, I’ve experienced plenty.

When I was 10-years-old, we moved to an island and lived for several months in a 30-year-old house. I’m an insomniac and have been since I was a kid. Consequently, being awake while the rest of my family slept was nothing new, though my mom would get quite irritated because I would roam the house at night and wake her up. One evening, and after hours of tossing and turning, I decided to stroll. While I sat on the couch trying to figure out what to do with myself, I heard singing in my ear. It was as if a woman was sitting right next to me singing, “Time in a Bottle.” I liked the song, it was popular at the time (and yes, that dates me) but I didn’t know the words. At that point, I did what any kid would do if they weren’t compelled to run away screaming, I politely sat and listened until she finished. Afterwards, I went back to bed and proceeded to have the worst nightmare. I dreamt that I walked into our bathroom and found a naked, young woman wrapped up in a shower curtain in our bathtub. She was blonde, had a bullet hole in her head, and was quite dead. It was a graphic nightmare for a 10-year-old; I never watched television and rarely had nightmares. I had it for weeks until we finally moved. Each time, it became more intense—it had gotten to the point where she was clawing her way out of the tub and trying to speak to me through the shower curtain. Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck by the time we moved. Years later, I remember finding out from my parents that there was indeed, a murder at that house. They didn’t elaborate, but I always wondered of the details. Parents, tell your kids these things ahead of time, because if they ever experience anything, they will always wonder.

I was 13-years-old when my parents took a house by the ocean. They were able to rent it cheap and I was more than a little sad when we moved a year later. It had a garden, a tree-house, a large yard to do cartwheels in; everything a kid could want. It also had ghosts. I would lay awake for hours and watch a white cat walk through my bedroom wall. Over and over again. No explanation for that, it just was. I remember constantly seeing an old lady out of the corner of my eye. She would follow me down the stairs to the basement and back up again. She would follow me down the hallway to my bedroom. Sometimes, I would see her sitting in my mom’s rocking chair in the living room. I wasn’t afraid; she was just a presence I came to accept. It wasn’t until we moved from that place that I overheard my parents discussing the house and the fact they had both seen the shadow of an old lady there. They thought it might have been the lady that died in the house before we bought it. Well, that was news to me (and unfortunately, taught me the joys of eavesdropping).

So, back to the genre of paranormal. I began writing fiction when my kiddos were younger. While writing the second installment to my Pradee series, I was interrupted by two characters that truly didn’t fit. I kept setting them aside, but they would return, stronger than ever. Finally, I gave up on my young adult title and began Between, a story of the paranormal. While my young adult fantasy, took me ten years to complete, I had the rough draft of Between finished in several months and a year after that, the full novel was complete. Six weeks after I submitted, Musa Publishing offered me a contract.

The novel I’m working on now is also in the genre of paranormal. I have to say, I’m hooked. I like the freedom of writing for adults and I love presenting the paranormal in a new and interesting ways. Now, I know what you’re probably going to ask me. Do I write of my experiences or make stuff up? I’m a writer, I write fiction, and I know the difference between fiction and real life. I have to, I have kids. However, the best fiction is when writers “write what they know” and a little of what I know creeps into my novels from time to time. I hope you will enjoy reading them.

Clarissa Johal


BETWEEN Blurb:

How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

Between will release under the Thalia imprint of Musa Publishing on December 14, 2012.

Learn more about Clarissa Johal on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Wednesday. So, What's Cooking?

Hamburgers Sloane Style, Grilled Veggies, and Sautéed Mushrooms

Tomorrow is the day I will not get out of the kitchen until just before we sit down to the feast. Considering all the energy I’ll expend, I want something so easy for dinner tonight it practically cooks itself. And here it is;

Hamburgers Sloane Style
Grilled Veggies
Sautéed Mushrooms
Cold Beer


Grilled Veggies
Zucchini
Onion
Yellow and Red Peppers
Potatoes
Pepper
A few pats butter per packet
And anything else that strikes your fancy!

Slice all the veggies to medium thickness pieces. I like to slice the zucchini and potatoes on an angle. It just looks nice.

Make one package per person. Pam aluminum foil, then layer veggies onto foil. Season with pepper and pats of butter. Seal tight.

Grill 15-20 minutes on medium.

Since it’s winter, you may need to use your oven. If so, heat the oven to 350°. Lay the veggie packets on a cookie sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.

Hamburgers Sloane Style
Ground Sirloin about ½ pound per adult – ground chuck may be used
Worcestershire Sauce 1 dash per adult
1 egg per 1 ½ pounds meat
chives snipped, fresh or jarred

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

Cook turning once on a medium to low flame until they are done to your preference.

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

Sautéed Mushrooms
Baby Portobello mushrooms
Onion sliced thin
Olive oil
Butter
Dry Vermouth or White Wine

Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. This can be done early in the day if that’s more convenient.

Set a frying pan on medium heat. When the pan is quite warm, add a small amount of olive oil and butter. As the foam subsides add the sliced onion. Sauté for a few minutes, be careful not to brown or burn the onion.

I prefer to slice the mushrooms in half lengthwise. They cook better. Add them to the frying pan and sauté for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until well coated with the oil mixture.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of vermouth or wine onto the mushrooms then cook a few more minutes. These can be served hot or room temp, but not cold.

I'll be back Monday with Clarissa Johal. Until then...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Series - New Release

by Sara Daniel


Early this year when Musa posted a submissions call for a series called Finally Ever After, I jumped at the opportunity. The stories were to be short, happily ever romances about lovers who have loved each other and lost. Now, they have a second chance to create the happy ending they didn’t get the first time.

I love characters with a past history, especially in a short word count. They have instant attraction and long-standing unresolved conflict—the perfect elements for a fast-paced, emotion-packed read. Zane’s Art had all these things coupled with a strong present conflict. The story flowed out of me so fast I knew it was meant to be!


Here's little from Zane's Art for your reading pleasure.

A high school art teacher must choose between her students and the artist she never stopped loving.

High school art teacher Julianne Truman's last chance to save her beloved art department from budget cuts is to sell the old sketches that her former boyfriend—and now famous artist—Zane DeMonde drew for her. But is she prepared to let go of his artwork and the last traces of him in her life?

Desperate to save his artistic reputation from the exposure of his early works, Zane returns to the home town he wanted to forget. He accuses Julianne of profiting from his success and demands she take his art off the market and cancel the auction.

Their high school attraction flares back to life, forcing Julianne to choose between the students who count on her and the man she never stopped loving.

EXCERPT:

“Cancel the auction.”

Julianne Truman’s head snapped around at the hard male voice. The stapler fell from her hand and cracked open on the floor, as she caught sight of the extraordinary face that went with the voice. Her knees shook as she climbed down the ladder. She hadn’t faced Zane DeMonde in nearly fifteen years. At one time she’d believed he’d be part of every single day of her future.

“Zane, I didn’t expect you to come.” She stepped toward him. His black hair was a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him, but at shoulder length it was still far longer than most men’s. Gone were the black hoodie and ripped jeans of his youth. Now he wore chinos and a sharply pressed blue button-down shirt, open at the neck.

The dark storms in his cobalt blue eyes were exactly the same as the day he’d walked away from her. “Cancel the auction. The sketches and painting are not for sale.”

She swallowed. “I own them. If I choose to sell them, that’s my business.” And it was breaking her heart to part with the only piece of him that she’d been able to hang onto all these years.

“When they have my name on them and you’re getting rich off me, it’s my business.”

Getting rich was so far from the truth Julianne would have laughed if her chest weren’t so tight. “It’s an honor to have you back in town.” At least her students would think so. Her brother would likely burst an artery. And she—well, she couldn’t even begin to process the mix of emotions she was feeling. “Do you have a minute to talk? I can explain what’s going on.”

“I know what’s going on.”

She hoped he couldn’t hear how hard her heart was hammering or sense how desperately she longed to wrap her arms around him and pick up where they left off fifteen years ago, as if he’d never left her. “Then you know that the arts are at the bottom of the school district’s priority list. To have supplies for the classroom, to restore the school mural, to give my students a chance to explore different mediums, the art program needs an alternate source of funding.”

“You’re the Dentonville High art teacher?”

She couldn’t help feeling defensive at his derisive tone. “Yes, and I love my job.”

“Do you? Or have you never moved beyond your high school life?”

BUY LINK

To learn more about Sara Daniel and her work, please visit her website and blog. Stay connected on Sara's Facebook page and her Sara Shafer page.

Remember, Sara is also only a tweet away.

I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Wednesday. So, What's Cooking?

Damned Good Pot Roast and Asian Salad

It’s freezing here in the Midwest. We had two days of Indian Summer and now I’m digging out turtlenecks and checking mittens for mates. The good thing is I can use the oven and not only enjoy the extra warmth, but also the marvelous aromas.

Damned Good Pot Roast
Asian Salad
French Bread
Dry Red Wine – Cabernet Sauvignon

Damned Good Pot Roast

3 – 3 ½ pound boneless chuck roast
1 cup or so of beef broth
1 clove pressed garlic
5 red potatoes quartered
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 medium onion quartered
½ tsp. lemon pepper
15 mini carrots
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup beef stock

Preheat the oven to 325°

Combine garlic, oregano, and lemon pepper to form an herb paste. Rub evenly over the meat.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven. When the oil has a film carefully put in the roast and brown on all sides. Add the beef stock until it is half way or so up the meat. Add the onion. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Add the potatoes and carrots. Roast for another 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Remove the meat and vegetables to a serving platter. Keep warm under foil while you prepare the gravy.

Strain the liquid and skim off any fat. Return the liquid to the Dutch oven. Heat on medium. Combine the cornstarch and remaining beef stock. Pour into the simmering liquid. Increase heat and boil the mixture for 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly.

Serve the roast and vegetables with the gravy on the side. The French breads is marvelous for dipping!

This is a perfect leftover for another dinner or lunch. It freezes beautifully.

Asian Salad

Dressing:
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
1/3 cup ketch-up
pinch salt
1 small onion chopped

Beat all the ingredients together well.

Salad:
1 lb. mixed lettuces
3 hard boiled eggs chopped
1 can bean sprouts, drained
½ lb. bacon diced, fried crisp
1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

Use a variety of lettuces for more texture and taste. Toss all the ingredients, in a large bowl.

Refrigerate until meal time. Scale this down to the right number of people you plan to serve as it does not last for the next day.

I'll be back Monday with Sara Daniel. Until then...

Enjoy!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Love and Terror of Our Lives

by Lisa Greer

I have a new release an historical gothic romance, The Montmoors 2: The Bastard Returns—second in a set of serials that focuses on a cursed line of male heirs condemned to life inside a crumbling castle in Cornwall. The series moves through generations of Montmoors, and readers will learn whether the curse that rests upon the family—and dozens of other intrigues that pop up—will lead to happiness in the end.

I've been thinking a lot about gothic romance lately and why it's loved by fans old and new. What's so appealing about this genre, and why should you give gothic romance a try?

I think we've all experienced love—the sensation of your heart bumping faster when you see him or her, wondering if you can live without the beloved, feelings so strong for someone else that you don't need to eat or sleep, at least not much. And of course, mature love that is tested and stands strong through the years.

And if not love, then surely you've felt terror. That thumping sound you hear in the middle of the night that makes your heart stop for a minute or how you go looking behind the door after watching a scary movie. If those types of terror aren’t for you, then there’s always the icy grip of death, of impending loneliness, or any number of things perhaps that only frighten you. Terror and love are emotions, states of being, even actions that we all understand.

That is why I write what I do—gothic romance. The beloved authors of the genre like Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels, and Emily Bronte understood that intersection of fear and desire.

Gothic romance in its most common, pure form, the type that makes its fans swoon, deals in scary realities—haunted houses, castles and troubled lords aside. A critic once said, in fact, that gothic romance is the choice between two men. And it is, isn't it? And isn't that choice an all too real one in life, if we broaden the scope a bit? The choice between opposites? For good or evil...one path or the other.

Gothic romance reached its zenith in the 60s and 70s with authors like Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. They kept going strong in some circles even into the early 90s with their mix of romance, Byronic heroes, ghosts, suspense, and danger—in spite of the fact that they should have been outmoded before they ever became popular.

But that wasn't the case. The genre adapted to the modern and post modern eras and still does and harkens back to the Victorian Era in some cases. Love and terror worked then, and they work now. The characters who play out the dramas of desire and fear are ones we can identify with, too—or at least that we love reading about.

The heroines of most gothic romances are hip and intelligent, but they don't mind relying on a man to do some of the fighting for them when it comes to ghosts or being trapped in the family mausoleum. They drink sherry and beer, smoke cigarettes, and wear miniskirts—or they don't. They write masters theses, act as dutiful daughters to their ailing professorial fathers, or work as art gallery owners. They are orphans, governesses, and heiresses, alone, yet strong. They are all of us as women.

And the heroes, well, the heroes are often Byronic—dark, isolated, secretive. They are mad with old loves and losses or haunted by sordid pasts. But sometimes they're not. Sometimes, the hero is the good friend, the guy who stands beside the heroine, the one who is the picture of mental health. And that's part of the fun. In many gothic romances, you'll have your doubts about the heroine's choice, and she will for a while, too.

Of course, gothic romance has been around since well before the 20th century. The mother of the gothic, Ann Radcliffe, and others were writing Gothic and gothic romance in the 18th century. My favorite gothic romance is still Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. What novel captures the solipsism of first love and the terror of its loss as well as that book? What Byronic Hero is better drawn than the gypsy Heathcliff? The macabre, mysterious, and frightening have always attracted readers. We do understand love... and terror, or at least we want to feel we are not alone with either emotion.

Here's a little from The Montmoors 2: The Bastard Returns for your reading pleasure.

BLURB:
The mysteries of Montmoor Hall deepen with each passing day…and night. A ghost haunts governess Catherine Roth while the master, Andrew Montmoor, is away.

To make matters worse, Catherine is falling in love with the troubled master of Montmoor Hall even though she knows Andrew is lying to her…but about what? And what will happen when the bastard brother, handsome Benjamin Smitt, returns to claim what is his?

EXCERPT:
She woke up in the night, not sure what had roused her. Catherine opened her eyes, and in front of her shimmered the image of Monroe Montmoor. He appeared exactly as he had in his portrait, and glowered with what could only be fury, and his green eyes blazed at her. He stood, silent and strangely translucent.

“No.” The whisper escaped Catherine's lips before she could stop it.

A twisted grin crossed his full lips, and she wanted to scream. A smile on his face struck her as more terrible than a frown. If he was so grotesque in death, what manner of monster must he have been in life?

With his gnarled, blue veined hand, he reached out toward her, and his mouth worked soundlessly, even as Catherine's mind screamed that his hand coming toward her was impossible. She didn't want him to touch her, would go mad if she heard what such a specter had to say. He shuffled a few steps closer to the bed.

He's going to touch me, to do something...

Jolted from her paralysis, Catherine screamed, a gut wrenching sound that made her own ears ring. The figure disintegrated, disappearing by degrees.

Her door burst open within seconds, and a disheveled Montmoor appeared at her side wearing a silken nightshirt that, thankfully, covered his body down to his calves.

“What in God's name is going on?” He sat on the edge of the bed and took her in his arms, and she didn't resist. Catherine sobbed against his warm neck, aware of his arms holding her tight.

“I saw something.”

“What?”

“I think it was a spirit, a ghost, though I've never seen one before. I don't even believe in them!” She heard her voice rise to a hysterical pitch.

His arms tightened around her, and she felt his breath against her hair as his hands twined in the silky strands.

“It's the curse.”

“Why do you say that?” She remembered his words from the night before with a shudder.

“Because I believe what you saw was my great grandfather, his spirit. He’s vengeful. He never rests. He walks the halls.” His voice grew louder with each terrible word, and a wild look entered his eyes.

Catherine pulled away from him, frightened even more by his strange reaction.

“That's foolish. I couldn't have seen a spirit. It must have been a nightmare from being in a new and different place.” She almost believed it herself as long as she avoided looking at him.

“Tell me exactly what you saw.” He ground the words out, and all at once Catherine grew uncomfortable with his closeness to her on the bed. She crossed her arms over the thin chemise she wore, one of the lacy ones left by his sister, Alice. And did she really elope? There was something so strange about the story, about the way Lord Montmoor had not met her eyes when he had told it.

He leaned back, looking into her eyes.

“I saw the man in the portrait. Your great grandfather.” She forced herself to meet his gaze. The skin at the nape of his neck glowed in the light from the brass candelabra he had laid on the bedside table.

“As I assumed. He doesn't want you here.”

“Why wouldn't he want me here? And how do you know?”

Montmoor broke the intense gaze between them. “My destiny is sealed—or that is his wish—for me to be cursed and lonely.”

BUY LINK

Watch the YouTube trailer HERE.

Click HERE to read about Lisa Greer's historical Gothic romance Sorrowmoor in serial format.

Learn more about Lisa Greer on her website. Stay connected with Lisa on Facebook and Twitter.

I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

THANKSGIVING DINNER

Each Thanksgiving we have at least twenty people for a sit-down dinner. I cook the meal and the guests supply the appetizers, deserts, and wine. The only difference to the dinner listed below is the sweet potatoes. My niece makes a dynamite dish and I hope she will allow me to share her recipe here in the next few weeks.

So turn on the football game and let’s start cooking!

Roast Turkey
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Sautéed Broccoli
Corn
Cranberry Sauce
Gravy
White Wine – Riesling


Roast Turkey
Turkey
Butter
2 leeks including some green - chopped
2 large onion - chopped
15 baby carrots - chopped
4 tomatoes – chopped
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. dried marjoram
1 large bay leaf
Bacon strips to cover breast
Chicken stock

Disposable pan
Cooking rack
Cookie sheet – for stability

Place unopened turkey on a cloth lined cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator 7 hours per pound or one day for every four pounds of frozen turkey.

Thanksgiving Morning:
If turkey’s not completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Dispose of packet inserted in cavity. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Cooking times:
10 – 18 lbs. 2 - 2½ hrs.
18 – 22 lbs. 2½ - 3 hrs.
22 – 24 lbs. 3 - 3½ hrs.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a large frying pan. When the foam subsides, lay the turkey on its side breast down. Brown the breast until golden, first one side then the other. Be careful moving the turkey around, it’s heavy and awkward.

Set disposable pan on cookie sheet. Insert cooking rack. Add chopped vegetables. Place turkey on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom by 1 inch. Cover the turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping the sides well.

Remove from oven at the predetermined time. To test if the bird is done, use a paper towel or pot holder and shake hands with its leg. The leg should move freely. If you use a meat thermometer it should read 185° when inserted in the thigh. For an accurate reading, be sure not to touch bone. Tent with foil and allow to rest 30 - 45 minutes before carving.

Stuffing
1 package bread stuffing cubes plain or seasoned
½ pound Jimmy Dean Original Sausage in the tube
1 rib celery chopped
½ medium onion chopped
1 stick butter
Chicken stock about 2 cups maybe a little more
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 egg

The stuffing may be prepared a day or two in advance up to the baking point.

Fry sausage, breaking into small chunks until lightly brown.

Melt butter in a medium size skillet. When the foam subsides add the celery and onion. Sauté 3-4 minutes, be careful not to let it brown.

Empty bread cubes into a large bowl. Add sausage and vegetables with all their juices. Mix well.

Beat egg in a small bowl. Pour onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well.

Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy.

Spoon into baking dish, do not pack in, and cover tightly with foil. (This is your stopping point if you make this before Thanksgiving. Refrigerate the stuffing until you are ready to bake it.)

Thanksgiving Day:
Remove stuffing from the refrigerator early in the day to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the stuffing for a half hour. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top has browned.

Mashed Potatoes
1 small russet potato per person
Chicken stock
Butter
Sour cream
Milk
Pepper

The Day Before:
Pour one inch chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by one inch. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking a fork into a potato. It should insert easily.

Drain potatoes. Mash well without adding other ingredients. Cool completely in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day:
Remove potatoes from the refrigerator early in the day to allow them to come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, microwave potatoes until hot. Stir in butter, sour cream, milk, and pepper to the consistency you prefer.


Candied Sweet Potatoes
32oz. can of sweet potatoes - my favorite is Royal Prince Candied Sweet Potatoes
½ cup brown sugar firmly packed
1 stick of butter
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Cut large pieces in half. Lay potatoes into a 13x9 inch glass baking dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar across the top, then dot with butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Scatter marshmallows over the yams and bake for 15 minutes or until the marshmallows are brown.

Services 8.

Broccoli Stir-fry
4 mini carrots sliced on an angle
½ cup olive oil – possibly more
½ medium onion sliced
1 inch piece gingerroot peeled and cut into strips
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut into florets
½ small sweet red pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
½ small yellow pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
2 large garlic cloves pressed
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 green onions sliced on an angle
5 mini Bello mushrooms cleaned and sliced into thirds
1 tbsp. lime or lemon juice

Have all the ingredients prepped and on the counter before you begin cooking.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onion, carrot and gingerroot. Sauté until carrot is almost soft. Test by inserting a toothpick into the carrot. Remove as many gingerroot pieces as you can find. Don’t worry if some are left in the pan.

Add broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes. Stir constantly to insure broccoli is well coated with the oil. Add more oil if necessary. Squeeze on the lime or lemon juice. Sauté 2 - 4 minutes, but be sure the broccoli and peppers still have crunch to them.

Blend in green onions and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are heated through. Serve quickly.

Serves 4 – 6 so adjust accordingly.

From the corn through the gravy it shows you just how lazy I can be on holidays.:) 

Corn
1 can of corn per 4 people – my favorite is Green Giant Niblets
butter

Canned corn:
Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Frozen corn:
Follow package instructions

Cranberry Sauce
1 can of sauce per 6 people – my favorite is Ocean Spray Jellied

Lay the sauce into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve.

Gravy
1 jar of gravy for 4 people - my favorite is Heinz Home Style Gravy Roasted Turkey

Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Stir in a few tablespoons of the juice from the roasted turkey pan. Heat through and serve.

I'll be back Monday with Lisa Greer. Until then...

Happy Cooking!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page