Wednesday, May 24, 2017

PAYING RESPECT

by S.S. Hampton, Sr.

How long does it take for the rain to cleanse the sand of blood?

How long does it take for the wind to cleanse the air of the screams of the wounded and dying?

How long does it take before the sunlight heals a war-torn land?


Recently I was privileged to visit the Normandy American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, and Utah Beach, in Normandy, France. I am a student at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), but this past spring semester I studied at a university in Pau, France, courtesy of the Universities Study Abroad Consortium (USAC), University of Nevada-Reno (UNR). At the end of the semester many of us were on an optional tour of the Normandy region.


At a peaceful, sunlit Omaha Beach I picked up a handful of damp sand where, 73 years ago this June 6, tens of thousands of young men charged out of landing craft into minefields, artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire. Though many fell on the ramps of the landing craft, disappeared from sight in the cold waters, or collapsed on the beach, others continued to move forward, encouraged by each other, encouraged by their NCOs, and officers. So much courage, so much dedication among those that our country sent into an apocalyptic fight against tyranny and evil, in order to free other nations.

At the American Cemetery, dressed in a suit and tie and cowboy boots, I paid my respects to those who came before me. And I remembered the names of comrades killed in the Iraq War, as well as the names of those I never met but who my fellow Soldiers knew, and those who have died since our return home, including by suicide. I chose a spot where I could see the American flags and, facing in the direction of Omaha Beach, I stood at attention and saluted. I was alone because I did not tell anyone of my intent. In a sense, this solitary action was rather symbolic because the civilian world is often unaware of what happens in the military world.

I had read about D-Day and the Normandy Campaign since I was a young boy. Service in the Army brought a feeling of belonging to something greater than I, along with the sense of obligation that comes with choosing the Profession of Arms.

Now, words on paper have become a personal memory of white crosses in rows in a grassy landscape, the nearby trees rustling in the wind, the sound of ocean waters on a tranquil beach, and my face caressed by a sea breeze. I remember the cold, gritty feel of the sand trickling between my fingers, wind surfers in the distance, and fellow USAC students, all much younger than I, walking along the beach. Due to some personal or familial connection, they did not hesitate to hurry from the Cemetery parking lot down to the cliffs, and then down the slopes to Omaha Beach, even though they only had 30 minutes to make such a lengthy round-trip journey.

I remember one young girl told me, as we walked toward the slopes above Omaha Beach, that she had gathered sand from the beach to take home to lay on her grandfather’s grave. I later saw a photograph of the vial of sand on his gravestone – her grandfather was a Veteran. This girl, this young woman, accomplished her goal for her grandfather.

Rest in peace my brothers and sisters in arms who made the ultimate sacrifice. Know that for each one of you who fell, another stepped forward to take your place. Like you, these new generations who choose the Profession of Arms may be required to make the ultimate sacrifice. Like you, they will do so if needed. And like you, these new generations stand between us and the evil loose in this world.

Rest In Peace…

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren. He is a published author, photographer and photojournalist. Hampton retired from the Nevada Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army, the Army Individual Ready Reserve and was mobilized for the Persian Gulf War. He enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. He is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

Hampton has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a multi-media exhibit. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

He graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. He has been studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with in a double major in Art and English. However, he recently returned from spending a cold, rainy Spring 2017 semester studying at a university in southwestern France in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus Press - Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing - Melange Books - MuseItUp Publishing - Goodreads Author Page - Amazon Author Page - Amazon UK

Monday, May 22, 2017

NEW RELEASE for HL CARPENTER

Our ladies are back with flair and a whole lot of pizzazz as they break out and embrace a new writing challenge in a new genre - Cozy Mystery. A Cause for Murder is entertaining and engrossing. I do hope this is just the first book in a long series.


Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?




EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

"I know what you’re thinking, Em," Arnie said.

"Do you?" She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

"Sure." He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool."

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she'd been thinking about Jo?

"I’ll tell you how," he said. "Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her."

"I am not thinking about – Murdered?" The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. "By Todd?"

"Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed."

"Arnie." Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. "The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning."

"Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used."

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, "Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics."

"They’re wrong."

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

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.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

WELCOME TO MY KITCHEN

Now that spring is officially here and the holidays are over, I'm in serious cooking for two mode and loving every second. These three recipes are easily increased for a larger group, but you might want to back off on the garlic a bit.

Pork Marsala
Fettuccine Ala Sloane
Stuffed Plum Tomatoes
Crusty Italian or French Bread
Hearty Red Wine


PORK MARSALA
2 pork loin chops
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. sage
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. butter
4 ozs. baby Porto Bella mushrooms, halved if large
2 garlic cloves, pressed
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup Marsala wine
½ cup heavy cream at room temperature
Parsley

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Place each chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. Use a mallet or the side of a meat tenderizer to gently pound them until they are an even ¼ inch thick.

Combine flour, pepper, and sage in a shallow dish or paper bag. Dredge the chops in flour.
Melt half the oil and butter in a 10- to 12-inch skillet set on medium heat. When the foam subsides add mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Spoon vegetables into a bowl and set aside.

Use the same skillet and melt remaining oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add pork. Sauté 10-15 minutes, until no pink remains. The time depends on meat thickness. Remove meat to a plate, tent with foil, and set in the oven.

Add Marsala and stock to the same skillet. Bring to a boil while scraping in any bits that cling to the bottom and sides of the pan. Boil for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by almost half.

Reduce heat to medium. Slowly stir in cream. Heat through but do not bring to a boil.

Return pork and mushrooms to the pan. Heat through for 2-3 minutes.

Lay pork in the center of a serving dish. Spoon mushrooms and broth over the platter. Sprinkle parsley across the top to decorate and serve immediately.

FETTUCCINI ALA SLOANE
1 stick butter, softened
½ cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, pressed
½ pound fettuccine, fresh if possible
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Use a wooden spoon to cream the butter by beating it vigorously against the side of a medium-sized bowl until it is light and fluffy. I sometimes use the whip on my mix master if I’m short on time. Beat in the cream a little at a time. Don’t add more until the other is well blended. Beat in the cheese and finally the garlic. Cover and set aside. If you won’t need it for several hours, refrigerate but then bring to room temperature before you mix with the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Be sure you cook to al dente and not longer. Drain the noodles well and then toss with the butter mixture well.

Serve at once. Top with the extra Parmesan and enjoy!

STUFFED PLUM TOMATOES
Plum tomatoes, 1½ per person
6 fresh mozzarella balls, chopped
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried basil
1 glove garlic, pressed

This is a good dish to prepare several hours before serving so the flavors blend. All the ingredients are to taste, so have fun and experiment.

Prepare the tomatoes by cutting them in half lengthwise and scooping clean. Turn upside down on a paper towel to drain.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Scoop the filling into the tomato halves. Arrange them on a serving dish. Chill until ready to serve.

May you enjoy all the days of your life around a well laden table!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, May 15, 2017

NEW ZEALAND: A MICROCOSM IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN

by Vonnie Hughes

I’m a New Zealander, so even though I’ve spent the last fifteen years in Australia, I still know New Zealand better than I do Australia. So I tend to set my romantic suspense novels in New Zealand.

The land outside the cities is deceptive. Many a traveler has discovered that the meek and mild temperate weather changes in the blink of an eye, and that the gentle looking mountain peak in the distance hides crevasses and unclimbable escarpments. Likewise the placid rivers (“creeks”) can turn into raging rivers after only a day’s torrential rain. It might be one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to dangerous animals (there aren’t any) and be peopled with friendly folk, but like most inhabited places, Man is the main predator.


Hence my first romantic suspense/thriller published by The Wild Rose Press. It’s called Lethal Refuge and has all the elements of quintessential New Zealand as its setting. There’s the impenetrable bushland (a lot of the countryside is clothed in tight-knit trees and bushes so that a person gets lost every easily. It can be deceptive).

Lethal Refuge deals with the apocryphal New Zealand witness protection unit which has been compromised to the extent that noone—not the team psychologist, members of the unit’s committee, even the police team involved—are safe. Most of all, the relocatees, many of whom have testified against criminals, are in the worst danger, because someone knows their secrets and he’s killing to ensure his own safety.

My second romantic suspense is titled Innocent Hostage and is set in a district in which I used to live – the North Shore of Auckland. Innocent Hostage was released by The Wild Rose Press. It is about Breck Marchant, a member of one of the NZ Armed Offenders’ Squads i.e. SWAT teams. The squads are unique because they are made up of ‘ordinary’ police who are seconded in times of need. Innocent Hostage is available in both paperback and e-book form.

Sloane here, I had the pleasure of reading Innocent Hostage. This is a compelling story with the right amount of twists and turns and red herrings that kept me enthralled and guessing to the last page. Here's a little to tease you.

Two years ago, Breck Marchant handed his son, Kit, over to his ex-wife, Tania, even though it tore him apart. She knows all about kids. Thanks to his own upbringing, he hasn’t a clue. But when the boy is held hostage, Breck steps up to the plate. Somehow he’ll make this father thing work and hold down his dangerous job at the same time even though the odds are against him.

Ingrid Rowland is Kit’s preschool teacher and she has known Tania for years. As far as she can tell, neither Tania nor Breck know the first thing about being parents. She fears for Kit’s future. When Breck turns to Ingrid for help with his son, she sees a different side of him. As Breck and Ingrid work to protect Kit and hold on to their careers, they begin to work together to fight off a puzzling series of vicious attacks. Then a startling revelation culminates in a murderous turn nobody sees coming.

EXCERPT
Toeing the inside of each stair tread he climbed the stairs that led to the bedrooms. As he got near the top, he hesitated. More perfume, different from the smell of soap powder hung in the air. Tania’s perfume, strong and poignant. It was called Chloe. He ought to know. He’d bought enough of the stuff.

He stopped. Was she here? Had she been here? That stuff lingered for a long time. Their apartment had stunk of it for weeks after she’d left.

“Tania?” he whispered.

A disturbance in the air was his only warning. He ducked as something whizzed over the top of his head. Then he was shoved aside as a dark figure pushed past him. Breck clutched at the banisters, his feet shooting out from under him on the slippery carpet. Shit! Scrambling to his feet, he bounced down the last couple of stairs and chased the stocky figure careening down the hallway.

His quarry wrenched open the front door. Dusk had settled and it was almost dark outside. He managed to grab his attacker’s coat and began reeling in the interloper like a fish. But the man wriggled out of his plastic raincoat and fled towards a blue pick-up truck waiting at the curb. His balding head gleamed under the streetlights. Someone inside the vehicle leaned over and flung open the passenger door, revving the engine just as Breck aimed a solid punch at the back of the attacker’s neck. Reeling against the car door, the man half-collapsed on to the front seat of the truck, his legs hanging out the door. The driver floored the accelerator and the blue truck jerked out from the curb as if the driver was unfamiliar with the gears.

BUY LINKS
The Wild Rose Press - Amazon

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

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

All of Vonnie’s books are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hubby’s Homemade Beef Jerky

by Sharon Ledwith

This recipe is one for the guys. And I’m sure the fellows on The Last Timekeepers team would wholeheartedly agree. After all, Jordan, Drake, Ravi, and Professor Lucas will tell you that they build up quite an appetite traveling into the past to keep time safe. So instead of settling for something like rabbit stew or salty cookies, these brave lads would rather sink their teeth into a strip of melt-in-your-mouth beef jerky. Plus, this healthy, high-protein snack won’t spoil when you’re traveling to faraway places—like Nottingham in 1214 or Amsterdam in 1942.

Easy to prepare with a prep time of 15 minutes, marinade time of approximately 3 hours, and cook time of 3 hours, you’ll discover making your own beef jerky is not only fun and relatively quick, but also something you can do with your favorite person! You can have your butcher slice the beef for you, or do-it-yourself. BTW—this makes a great Game Day snack or fabulous Father’s Day gift.

Hubby’s Homemade Beef Jerky
¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. smoked paprika, or to taste (we use regular paprika)
1 tbsp. honey, or more to taste
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 pounds of beef, top round, thinly sliced

Whisk all ingredients, except the beef, together in a bowl.

Add beef to bowl and turn to coat the meat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator 3 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 175° F (80° C)

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over the foil.

Transfer beef to paper towels to dry. Discard marinade. Arrange beef slices in a single layer on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet.

Bake beef until dry and leathery, 3 to 4 hours. Cut with scissors into bite-size pieces, and enjoy!

Since you’ve got 3 hours to do whatever your heart desires, why not check out what those time traveling guys are up to by perusing one of my books from The Last Timekeepers series? Happy eats!

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:
MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - AMAZON.CA - BARNES & NOBLE

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:
MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - BARNES & NOBLE

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:
MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - BARNES & NOBLE

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.

Here's a peek at Sharon Ledwith's cover for Book One of her new series. The novel releases June 18 from Mirror World Publishing.





Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Monday, May 08, 2017

NEW RELEASE for ELLIOTT BAKER

Are exotic locations and nonstop action high on your reading criteria? Maybe a little romance for a short respite while you catch your breath? If even one of those items heads your list then you want to download REBIRTH, the second exciting book in the historical fantasy series The Sun God's Heir. Author Elliott Baker does not disappoint. The adventures of René Gilbert are as intense and visual as RETURN, Book One. Give this series a try. You'll be glad you did.

Set against the wave tossed years of white slavery and Barbary pirates, this is the epic story of René Gilbert and a journey that defies time as he draws on a larger awareness earned in previous lifetimes.

The plague’s dark fingers curl around Bordeaux. René must return home to save those he loves. But first he has to escape a Moroccan sultan’s clutches. In Bordeaux, an enemy waits, filled with a hatred three thousand years old. Only René can defeat this dark power, and only if he reclaims his own ancient past. In this arena, death is but the least of failure’s penalties.

EXCERPT
The medina of Casablanca was a warren of narrow winding streets filled with stalls of all shapes and sizes. René followed Akeefa and Abdul-Karim as they entered through a constricted archway and left behind the blinding sunlight. René stopped to take it all in. A thousand sights and sounds assaulted him at once. An intense level of energy and human striving filled the air. The sounds and smells were strident, immediate. A cacophony reverberated from the walls as metalworkers hammered on copper and brass and iron. Jewelers, leather workers, and weaponsmiths all contributed to the din of men and animals pursuing their desires. The enticing smells of food and coffee pervaded the space. Booth after booth of delicacies was on display along with the occasional goat carcass that hung from the canopy poles waiting for the butcher’s cleaver.

“This is overwhelming.” René sucked in a deep breath. “Something smells good. Perhaps we might sit and have a coffee while I try to make sense of this incredible place.”

“That is an excellent idea.” Abdul-Karim grinned. “I know just the place and ’tis not far from here.”

“More food,” Akeefa said with some exasperation. “You promised I would be able to shop and you know I cannot go off on my own. Some stupid man would say or do something and after I had killed him, we would spend the morning yelling or fighting or both. With you two, I will at least have some measure of freedom.”

René gazed sideways at Akeefa. He knew her well enough not to doubt the possibility of her statement, but he hoped she spoke in jest.

Abdul-Karim grimaced like he had bitten into a lemon. He turned to René. “You must trust my experience in this. Given the amount of walking and waiting we face, you will definitely need nourishment.”

René laughed. “Perhaps we might feed Abdul-Karim so we may better attack this shopping from a position of strength.”

“Oh, all right.” Akeefa rolled her eyes. “My master taught me when to make a strategic retreat and this is clearly one of those times. I will want, however, to see that stamina later. Understood?” She glared at Abdul-Karim.

Her effort was wasted on her older brother. Abdul-Karim’s demeanor changed to one of joyful expectation. “I know just the place. Best pastries in Morocco. This way.”

René glanced around. Even over the din and chaotic movement of the medina, he had the sensation they were being watched. The fact that he was a Frenchman was immaterial. There were many different nationalities present within the medina. Non, he, René Gilbert, was being observed.

“Do you believe they will attack again so soon?” asked René.

“The Hashashin that attacked us on the quay in Larache were paid by the sultan’s younger brother Ismail. I do not sense that level of organization. There are many bands of robbers and slavers within Morocco. It can be a difficult place to live,” said Abdul-Karim. “And there are those in Rabat who will not allow our victory over their brethren go unrevenged, regardless of the sultan’s orders.”

Both men loosened their blades while Akeefa huffed at the conventions that prevented her from carrying a sword. Still, an attacker would find her armed.

“Let us sit at that tavern.” Abdul-Karim pointed across the lane. “It has good sight lines and there are avenues of escape if necessary.”

Once seated, Abdul-Karim ordered coffee and an assortment of cakes.

Akeefa pursed her lips.

“What? We might as well eat something while we wait.”

The square had grown quieter as people found their business called them elsewhere. Men collected in small groups. So far, the numbers of their enemies were not overwhelming and René was content to wait. He glanced at Abdul-Karim. The smile on his face evidenced a gleeful anticipation at the prospect of combat. His friend genuinely liked to fight.

“It appears someone is willing to invest a great deal of money in our removal. As much as I would like to engage in this contest—” Abdul-Karim glanced over at his sister. “And we have them outmanned, father would advise us to retreat and gather reinforcements.”

Abdul-Karim inclined his head. They stood as groups of men moved to block the exits.

“We may not be offered that opportunity.” Akeefa slipped her hand beneath her burka.

“Let us make our way toward the medina’s entrance. If we reach the confines of the arch, we gain a slight advantage in the number of our enemy able to come against us.” René’s rapier was in his hand.

The scimitar Abdul-Karim pulled from his sash reflected sunlight along its razor sharp edge. A wicked looking dagger appeared in Akeefa’s hand. René eased left of Akeefa leaving a sword length between them as Abdul-Karim stepped to her right.

The square was now empty except for the growing number of armed men drawing their swords. René studied the upper stories of the souk. No musket barrels protruded from those windows.

René counted thirty men circling them and moving closer. “Akeefa, move to the front and make first contact. A moment’s confusion having you walk before us will be useful. It is not that unusual for a woman to carry a dagger. Perhaps you might hold it a little less respectfully.”

“I will do my clumsy best.” Akeefa managed to move to the front, intentionally tripping on her burka.
The number of men waiting before the medina’s arch had increased to ten. Smug smiles played on their faces. Apparently they found humor in two men so cowardly as to hope a woman would protect them. One eager young mercenary swaggered out to meet Akeefa.

“Throw down your weapons and your deaths will be easier,” said the man as he waved his scimitar toward Akeefa. He ignored the dagger that shook in her trembling hand.

“D…do you intend to kill us all?” Akeefa stuttered in a high-pitched voice.

The fool preened, sticking his chest out. “Drop your weapons.”

In the briefest space of time, Akeefa moved to within striking distance and slit his throat, relieving him of his weapon before his body crumpled into the dust. The others froze at the speed and skill with which she had dispatched one of their own. In that timeless moment of inaction, René and Abdul-Karim each killed two men of the nine left standing before the arch.

René looked up. More armed men ran toward the arch. He paused and settled within, allowing his training to govern his actions. He sensed more than saw Akeefa adjust her clothing.

She ripped the scarf from her face and stood in as wide a stance as the burka allowed. She reversed the scimitar and jammed it between her legs, slicing the thin material to the ground. Thus unencumbered, she returned to the fight.
René nodded and on cue they formed a circle, defending each other as well as dispatching those who came against them. They narrowed the access lanes which caused their attackers to fight each other to get at them.

“Move toward the arch,” said René.

There were too many swords slashing at them. Their progress was slow. These men were not the highly trained Hashashin, but they were experienced enough that their numbers would eventually prevail.

Although René had no desire to kill, this fight did not grant him that moral luxury. He picked up a second sword and wielded both with withering accuracy. The attackers who faced Akeefa died with an expression of bewilderment.
Still, too many swords. Every moment reduced their chances.



Grab The Sun God’s Heir: Return, Book 1 on 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. Rebirth, Book Two will release April 18th, followed in July by the third and final book of the series, Redemption.

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, May 03, 2017

SOUP FIT FOR THE GODS

We joined our good friends Jane and Mike for dinner at the Cavalier Inn in North Hammond, Indiana the other night. Best Polish food anywhere! Everything is homemade and handmade. Jane ordered mushroom soup that was superb. Below is my rendition. It's not quite the same, but I'm stubborn and intend to work on this recipe until I get it right.

Hearty Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, baby Bella and white
10 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
4 tbsp. flour
1 qt. beef stock
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
¼ tsp. dried thyme
White pepper*

Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Coarsely chop, but not too small. You want to see the pieces in the soup.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a 12 inch skillet. Add mushrooms. Sauté for 3 minutes, stir often. Pour the mushrooms into a bowl and set aside.

Melt another 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet. Add onions, celery, and carrot. Sauté until onion is transparent and carrot is soft. Stir frequently so as not to burn onion. Set aside.

In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the flour. Return pan to low heat, cook, whisk constantly for 3 or so minutes. Do NOT let this brown too much or it will be bitter. The roux should be no darker than a caramel/tan.

Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool 10-15 seconds, then slowly pour in the stock while whisking constantly. Return the pan to a medium-high heat and stir until the soup base thickens and is smooth, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Stir in the vegetables and thyme. Simmer for 15 minutes, but be sure to stir occasionally.

Whisk 3 tablespoons of hot soup at a time into the cream until you’ve added approximately ½ cup. Reverse the process and slowly whisk the now-warm mixture into the soup.**

Bring soup to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with pepper.

Serve from a tureen or in individual bowls.

This recipe makes 6 bowls

*In this recipe white pepper is used for its slightly sharper taste. There is no need to make a special trip to buy white pepper. Black pepper will work fine, just use a little more.
**This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the cream will curdle.

May you enjoy all the days of your life around a well laden table!

Sloane




Monday, May 01, 2017

What a Piece of Work…

by SS Hampton Sr.

In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) paraphrased a monologue from Shakespeare’s Hamlet when engaged in a verbal dispute with the character Q (John de Lancie).

I offer a portion of the original monologue from Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2, though not with a male centrist point of view as prevailed in Shakespeare’s time:

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world!”

Truer words were never spoken.

As a photographer and a would-be painter (fascinated with egg-based tempera paints on vellum, which I was fortunate to experience once), I am drawn to the female form more than any other subject. In the grace of movement whether walking or dancing, in the curve of a smile below sparkling eyes, or sitting for a traditional portrait, there is very little comparable to the beauty of a woman.

However, I also see beauty in the lines and fierce strength of military equipment, in the natural ebb and flow of mountainous landscapes, the flat yet rugged desert (the desert might be pushing it a little after 16 years in the Southwest and Kuwait/Iraq) or the solitary expanse of the grassy plains. I am fascinated by the reshaping of drifting clouds – wind sculptures I call them (and yes, sculpting is something I would like to try someday).

But, add a woman to these subjects and something miraculous can result.

Sometimes a woman or a photograph of a woman, much like a Muse, inspires me to write. It may be her overall, perhaps striking Gothic appearance (Burning, 2002), the intense color of her eyes (Ice (Inspired by Erica), 2004), or simply who she is (Carnivale Promised (Inspired by Cydney), 2002).

In my decades of photographing – yes, I am kind of up there in years – I have been fortunate to work with a number of women. Though only three would be considered as a Muse due to working with them frequently, any one of these women could be viewed as a Muse because in one way or another they inspired my photography and writing.

Yes, I freely admit that I am biased. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Stan~

Sometimes people choose to live life to the fullest…

Burt and Rachel Markham are ordinary small business owners of a seed & feed store in a small Kansas farming and ranching community. Many years before, as young university graduates eagerly anticipating exciting overseas employment, a lifetime in Kansas was the furthest thing from their minds, particularly Rachel who was raised overseas and dreamed of going back.

By July 2013 their twin 18-year old daughters, having graduated high school several months before, go east to attend a university. Burt and Rachel settle into their new life of an empty house and a predictable and unchanging routine that threatens to stretch far into the future.

One summer evening Burt has an idea—but will Rachel accept the idea? If she does, will the idea add new excitement to their marriage, or destroy it?

EXCERPT
She stood and grasped his hand. “It’s a little windy out, but it looks like there’s only a slight drizzle. We won’t get too wet walking home.”

Burt glanced at the steaming dancers again and smiled. “It’s been a long time since we walked in the rain.”

“It has been,” she said and leaned against him.

“I always liked walking in the rain. A light rain that is. A slight drizzle is better.” They stepped into the cool twilight. “Anyway, when your blouse is soaked your nipples really stand out.”

“Oh God,” Rachel giggled. Silent lightning lit the wet road as if showing the way home.

Burt slipped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.

“Hi,” he whispered in her ear. She responded with a little sigh and reached back to place her hands on his hips.

The greeting was their signal when in public that one or the other was horny. They began whispering “hi” to each other shortly after they became lovers; now they also whispered it after he slipped into her or when she seated herself on him and they were looking into each other’s eyes.

The storms passed and the humid summer heat returned. The feed store remained busy. The trains rumbled past Four Corners, past their home, as they had done for the past two decades. Burt always thought that the late night train whistle that echoed across the moonlit prairie was one of the loneliest sounds he ever heard.

One night during their dinner walk they passed by the dark school. Rachel paused and stared at the small wooden building. Twinkling fireflies floated through the schoolyard.

“Are you going to volunteer this year?” he asked. Classes would start in a few days.

She was silent for a few moments before shaking her head. “No. I enjoyed being a volunteer teacher’s aide, but with the girls gone…” Her voice trailed into silence. “It wouldn’t be the same.”
Burt brushed her long hair away from her face. “What about soccer?”

“They asked me and I said I’d help on special occasions, like the end of season awards banquet.” She folded her arms around herself as if she were cold, though a warm breeze blew across the moonlit prairie. “But otherwise, no.”

“It wouldn’t be the same?”

Jah, jah,” she whispered.

“Well, okay. I mean, there’s been a big change in our lives, but it doesn’t have to mean cutting most ties.”

When they returned to the farmhouse Rachel announced she was going for a swim. She poured a glass of Sauvignon Blanc for herself and picked up a CD player. She usually listened to classical music, waltzes, and operas when floating in the pool. There was a chakra wind chime hanging near the pool for the times when she felt like floating in near silence except for the chimes and the sound of the prairie wind.

A few moments later Burt followed with beer in hand. Maggie trotted behind him, rawhide bone in her jaws. Classical music floated through the night; fireflies played hide and seek among the neatly trimmed hedges along the perimeter of the yard. Others drifted in and out of the nearby cornfield, while the insects of the night droned on in disharmony.

He saw Rachel drop a dark robe to her feet. In the silvery light of the moon her nude fleshy form had a ghostly white sheen to it. She glanced over her shoulder, flashed a lusty smile at him, and dove into the pool. He stood by the edge of the pool and watched her gliding beneath the sparkling moonlit water. Then she surfaced, rolled and floated on her back with closed eyes. A pair of fireflies circled above her face.

It was the second time she was skinny dipping. It was like she was shedding the older, busy exterior of motherhood so that her younger carefree personality could reassert itself.

He sipped his beer and watched her face with Bettie Page bangs plastered to her forehead, surrounded by a fan of long hair and the glimmering water. She looked so content.

A thought was born.

A surprising thought.

A thought he never entertained before about his wife of 21 years—and the mother of his children. He walked unsteadily to a wooden chair with thick cushions and sat down heavily. He gulped his beer. A warm breeze flowed through the night; the trees rustled and the field of corn swayed like watery currents. Fireflies sailed past him.

“Dammit,” Burt whispered to himself in disbelief…disbelief and excitement. And trepidation. What would her reaction be? What would she say? Could he even find a way to suggest it?

“Burt?”

He returned to the poolside. Her eyes were open. Moonlit water droplets on her beautiful face sparkled like tiny diamonds.

The thought wouldn’t let go. It took root…

BUY LINKS
Amazon - Muse It Hot Publishing

See more books by S.S. Hampton Sr. on Amazon.

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren. He is a published photographer and photojournalist. Hampton retired from the Nevada Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army, the Army Individual Ready Reserve and was mobilized for the Persian Gulf War. He enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. He is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

Hampton has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a multi-media exhibit. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

He graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. He has been studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with in a double major in Art and English. However, he is presently spending a cold, rainy Spring 2017 semester studying at a university in southwestern France in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus Press - Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing - Melange Books - MuseItUp Publishing - Goodreads Author Page - Amazon Author Page - Amazon UK

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ALL THAT'S GOOD FROM THE KITCHEN

from Anne Montgomery

Admittedly, these can take a bit of work, but the outcome is worth it. Don’t believe me? There were enough cookies to fill a dinner plate when this batch was finished, but when it came time to take the picture, only three cookies remained.

Brown Butter Cookies
2 cups butter (No substitutes)
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup chopped pecans

Icing (Optional)
½ cup reserved brown butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 ½ cups confectioners sugar
½ cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Heat butter over medium heat in a saucepan for 5 minutes or so, until it turns nut brown in color. The foaming and bubbling is part of the process, but make sure not to burn it. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Reserve ½ cup butter for frosting.

Pour remaining brown butter into a large mixing bowl. Beat browned butter with brown sugar until the butter is no longer hot. Mix in eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat thoroughly. Mix in flour and chopped pecans. Drop tablespoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheets. If you don’t want to ice the cookies, gently push a half-pecan into the center of each dough ball.

Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown around the edges. Cool.

If you choose to ice the cookies, in a medium bowl, mix the reserved ½ brown butter with vanilla, confectioners’ sugar, and hot water. Beat until smooth. Frost cooled cookies and place a half-pecan in the middle of each cookie.

Here's a peek into my latest novel while you nibble your delicious cookies.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

Amazon Buy Link

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Monday, April 24, 2017

NEW RELEASE for RISING STAR DIANNA GUNN

Dianna Gunn is a young Canadian author who just release her debut novella Keeper of the Dawn. This is a passionate story of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope. And a damned fine read I recommend to everyone who enjoys well written and well plotted stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You understand, it has to be me.”

Lai knew that voice, but she couldn’t focus on it through the pain, couldn’t remember who it was.

The initiate seized a clump of Lai’s hair and yanked her head backwards. She knelt and raised her knife towards Lai’s exposed throat.

BUY LINKS
AMAZON
E-book - Paperback
GOODREADS Ebook - Paperback
GOOGLE - KOBO - SMASHWORDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ALL IN THE NAME OF LOVE

by Eris Field

When I was a young bride, I very much wanted to please my handsome Turkish husband by making manti, a meat-filled dumpling dish he reminisced about with a look of bliss. I studied Turkish cookbooks, looking for the magic instructions, and found a complicated six step recipe that began with making a volcano shape pile of flour on the table, putting eggs, salt, and water in the crater, and then kneading until it reached the right stage of elasticity. A sticky mess forced me to give up. Then one wonderful day I was invited to join a group of Turkish women who were gathering at the home of one of them to make manti. They explained that making manti was a process shared by family or friends. It is not a solitary undertaking.

Working together, they made the dough and let it rest under a cloth while they made the filling—a mixture of ground lamb, grated onion, parsley, salt and pepper that was also kneaded.

Next, a huge container of thick yogurt was set out to come to room temperature before crushed cloves of garlic were stirred in. Butter was cut up and placed into a small sauce pan where it was melted to serve as the topping with dried mint leaves added at the last moment. Some of the women said that, in their families, they also made a spicy tomato and olive oil topping.

Without missing a beat in the conversation about weddings, births, illnesses, jobs, children, and families, the women rolled out the dough to paper thinness, cut it into one inch squares, put a small amount of meat mixture in the center and then, with flying fingers, pinched the edges closed and finished with a distinctive twist handed down through generations. They boiled the little packets of goodness for 20 minutes. After the packets were drained, they were put in a mammoth bowl. Yogurt was smoothed over them and a river of melted butter with its flotsam of dry mint leaves drizzled on top. After I tasted it, I understood my husband’s love affair with manti. It has all—the robust sustenance of the meat-filled pasta, the velvety smoothness of the yogurt with a tangy lash from the garlic, and the sinful seductiveness of melted butter with a rejuvenating hint of innocent mint.

There are different recipes for manti from all over the caucuses and Middle East, but it is hard to gather a roomful of knowledgeable women to make manti and so I am offering a short-cut and hope they will forgive me.

MANTI
1 tsp. of salt
1 tbsp, dried mint
1 9 oz. pkg, beef ravioli or the smallest you can find
¼ cup butter
1 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. garlic, crushed
8 oz. plain thick yogurt

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and ravioli. Cook until done (cooking time will vary and is usually noted on the package). Drain, return the ravioli to the pot and then cover to keep warm.
Melt butter in a small pot over low heat. Stir in paprika and dried mint. Keep warm.
Pour the yogurt into another bowl and mix until smooth. Stir in the garlic.
Carefully place ravioli into a large serving bowl. Spoon on the yogurt across the top and gently stir. Drizzle butter over the mixture and serve.

Serves 3 - 4 people

Here is a glimpse at the novel that features Manti.

Honor killings aren’t common in Buffalo, NY. But Turkish-American nurse Abbey knows she must protect her dead sister’s infant daughter, Jenny. Abbey’s sister was murdered by her Muslim husband for leaving him when she learned his mother would perform the cruel ritual of female circumcision on Jenny.

Once a fighter and medic with the Kurdish forces in Iraq, Rami now works with the refugees in Buffalo. Shunned by his grandfather for failing to demand retribution when his arranged marriage failed, Rami has mastered the art of avoiding emotional attachments. That is until he meets Abbey.

Warning Abbey that honor killings are family affairs and she and Jenny are in danger, Rami offers her a way out: a marriage of convenience and a safe place to live--his homeland, Kurdistan where they’ll be protected by the clan.

Abbey has vowed to do what it takes to protect Jenny. Can she face going back to the world of her childhood, a world of headscarves and submission, a world she escaped once?

BUY LINKS
Soul Mate Publishing
Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

ABRACADABRA LET THERE BE LOVE

Beyond Magic is the first book in the Magical Love series from award-winning Lizzie T. Leaf. This imaginative series mixes a variety of realms and worlds. Throw in chocolate, the food all the heroines crave, add a few hunky heroes, and of course villains we love to hate, then mix with a dash of humor and spice. Now let the fun begin!

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, April 12, 2017

Fun Appetizer for Family, Parties & Any Time

by Sara Daniel

Bacon-Wrapped Wienies
1 package bacon
2 packages wienies/ lil smokies
1½ sticks butter, melted
1½ cups brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Cut bacon into ¼ inch – ½ inch pieces. Wrap bacon around each wienie. Secure with a toothpick and place in a single layer in 9 X 13 inch pan.

Combine butter with brown sugar. Pour over wienies.

Bake for 20 minutes. Turn up heat to 400 and cook for 5 minutes longer to make bacon crispy.

Here's a little teaser from my contemporary romance for your reading pleasure.

Love is his enemy…and her answer.

A nationally televised bombshell revealing a secret son turns marriage therapist Caleb Paden’s life upside down. While others focus on the public relations disaster for his company, he can only think of rescuing his baby and providing the stable home dictated by his marriage theories—one devoid of love and emotions.

Olivia Wells might not be the baby’s biological mother, but she loves him as much as any parent could. Letting him go will break her heart. Letting him go to a man who doesn’t believe in love will tear her apart.

As she helps Caleb bond with his child, Olivia finds herself falling for the man behind the stuffy therapist persona. However, he wants nothing to do with her love and emotions, and those are the only things she has to give. If she can’t convince him love is the answer, not the enemy, she will lose both the baby she loves and her heart.

EXCERPT
“Scones?” He recoiled as if she’d announced the kitchen teemed with roaches.

“You don’t like them?” She set the tin on the side table and arranged the dishes of butter and strawberry preserves.

“No.”

She bit her tongue over the urge to tell him how much she detested his books. “I use a recipe my grandmother brought over from Scotland. I serve plain scones along with two other flavors of the day.”

“Coffee will suffice.” He picked up his cup. “Thank you, Olivia, for your hospitality. I’m in need of a room tonight for myself and my, uh, son. A suite would be best, if possible. I’ll pay the going rate, naturally.”

He had no idea what “going rate” she offered to misguided marriage therapists. Not that it mattered. Whether he paid for his stay or not, he had to sleep under her roof. The storm didn’t leave either of them a choice. And she had plenty of rooms. Her other scheduled guests for the week had cancelled due to the weather. “Of course you need to stay. But Liam already has his own room and he’s currently asleep there.”

“From now on, he’ll stay with me.”

Her heart fell to the pit of her stomach. “Dr. Paden, you’re chilled and must have had a terrible drive. Why don’t you relax and worry about yourself this evening. Liam is on a schedule where he goes to sleep before dinner and sleeps through to the early morning. I’ll introduce you to him then.”

He set down his coffee cup with an ominous clank. “I didn’t come here for coffee and scones. I came for my son. Take me to him now.”

She clasped her shaking hands behind her back. She had no legal claim to Liam. But how could she give up the child she loved to such an overbearing, pompous ass?

BUY LINKS:
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - iBooks - GooglePlay




Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Scents and Scentsabilities’s

Top Romantic Shop Products
by Leigh Goff


In Disenchanted, sixteen-year-old Sophie’s quirky Aunt Janie runs a shop called Scents and Scentsabilities. The shop is situated in downtown historic Wethersfield, Connecticut and resembles a picturesque Pottery Barn for enchanted bath and body products. The products are all made from plants and flowers growing in Janie’s enchanted garden. The list below includes favorite items I would definitely purchase.


1. Forbidden Passion Potion A potion made with a combination of lemon verbena, valerian, and rose petals. That flower combinations symbolizes ‘lovers uniting’ and Sophie comes across these flowers when she meets Alexavier for the second time. The meeting reveals his dangerous streak and leaves her intrigued.

2. Tulips To Kiss Stick A lip gloss Janie crafted that contains enchanted tulip pollen, which lushifies ones lips. Sophie tries to offer this product to the strange Puritan-looking girl who enters Scents and Scentsabilities in the first scene, but she soon realizes the girl is more interested in giving something enchanted to Sophie.

3. Phyto-Glo Powder An organic powder crafted by Aunt Janie to illuminate one’s complexion when sleepless nights wreak havoc on the face, which happens a lot to Sophie as a ghost from the past haunts her dreams. The powder is guaranteed to erase under eye circles and it also creates a sparkly glow when you want that someone special to notice you.

4. Forever First Love Lip Balm This lip balm enhances feelings of affection in the other person when applied before a kiss. Sophie opts to not use this shortcut when it comes to love, preferring to take the long and difficult road which makes falling in love with a forbidden ordinary all the more sweet.

5. Waning White Willow A hemorrhoid relieving ointment made from the bark of the white willow, which reduces pain and swelling. This comes in handy when Alexavier’s brother, Zeke, tries to come between Sophie and her true love, Alexavier. She also enjoys watching her frenemy, Laney, apply a dab to her hand and neck, thinking it’s perfume.

Here's a brief intro to Disenchanted where you can learn a little more about Sophie Goodchild.

Sophie Goodchild is a sixteen-year-old witch living with her eccentric aunt in the small town of Wethersfield, Connecticut—the sight of the first American Witch Trials. She is descended from a powerful black witch, but struggles with her erratic white magic while dealing with a mean girl witch clique known as the Glitterati, who love to make Sophie feel like she is less than they are.

Sophie is beautiful with wild waves of sable-colored hair, eyes the color of dark blue sapphires, and heart-shaped pillowy lips. More importantly, she is beautiful on the inside, although she hides it well behind her impatience and impetuousness, which makes her very relatable.

It is those heart-strong characteristics that lead her into trouble, and since she is ruled by her heart, she’s all in once she finds trouble. She is fiercely loyal, determined, and fearless and there is nothing she wouldn’t do or sacrifice for the ones she loves, especially when she learns of the true love curse her ancestor cast on the Mather family.

When Judge Mather, a descendant of the reverend who condemned Sophie’s witch ancestor to hang, finds out his handsome son (who has recently returned to Wethersfield with a sexy British accent and a face that could melt a black witch’s heart) has fallen hard for Sophie, things get even more dangerous for her. Dark secrets come to light and impossible choices are made as Sophie sacrifices everything, including her soul to save her forbidden true love.

Buy Links:
Mirror World Publishing - Amazon


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

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

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

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

LET'S TALK FORMATTING

by Marci Clark

(writing as Marci Boudreaux and Emilia Mancini)

As an editor/designer, I see manuscripts come at me with all kinds of crazy, wonky, how-the-hell-did-you-do-that formatting. Be kind to your editor/designer, peeps. Clean up your mess a little before submitting it.

Some houses provide a style guide. Double check for any submission rules before sending your book and risking a default rejection. If the house is relaxed on their formatting, that doesn't mean you shouldn't bother cleaning up the formatting any less than you'd bother cleaning up the content.

If they don't have a style for submissions, a pretty basic format is appreciated. Centered chapter headings, .3 to .5 indent on new paragraphs, 1.5 spaced lines, all black text in a basic font/typeface (making it "pretty" won't impress your editor), and no all capped or underlined words (use italics for emphasis). Something like this:
Here are a few shortcuts when it comes to cleaning up your manuscript. Note: I have a PC, so I don't know if these translate to a Mac.

Extra Spaces:
We are no longer a society of the double space after ending a sentence. One space. One. But if you have a habit of adding two, no problem. There's a quick fix. Open up your find/replace option. In the find box, hit the space bar twice. In the replace box, hit the space bar once. Then select replace all. Do that until the find/replace reaches zero.

Tabs:
No. Just no. Do not use the tab button when indenting. Go to the top of the document, select the page layout tab an set your indent for the document there. Sometimes hitting the tab is natural. You can fix that as well. In the find/replace option, find ^t and replace with nothing. Leave the replace box blank. Replace all. Then select all on your document and set your tab as indicated above-through the page layout option.

Spaces Before or After Paragraphs:
These hidden spaces may seem innocent enough, but if you are self publishing, these extra spaces can cause the designer a lot of stress depending on which program they use to convert your document. Remove extra spaces by again using the find/replace option. Find: space bar^p, and replace with ^p. Replace all. Do the same, but with the space on the other side of the paragraph break. ^pspacebar, replace with ^p. This will give you clean returns throughout.

Soft Returns:
These also are pain when formatting. Find/replace ^l with ^p.

As for the document, please, please, PLEASE do not hit the enter button multiple times to start a new chapter. Nooo!!! Use a solid page break. Ctrl+Enter will break the page and give you (and your designer) a clean start on the next chapter. The problem with hitting enter over and over is that while it may push the chapter heading to a new page on your computer screen, it doesn't always work out that way on your editor's screen. If not, your chapter headings end up in all kinds of crazy places. Just do a page break, and nobody has to wonder WTF.

There are a dozens of little things that could also be done, but this really hits the big ones. Follow these tips, and your editor/designer will love you just a little more.

Marci Clark is a freelance editor, book/cover art/promo materials designer, published author, and all around publishing nerd. She's worked for Kensington Publishing since 2014, as well as several indie houses over the years. She is proficient in self-publishing and would love to help you with all your publishing needs, including premade or custom cover art.

Reach out to her at marci.clark.editing@gmail.com if you'd like to discuss your project with her.

Sample taken from Jessica's Wish (Stonehill Romance Book 4)


Jessica's wish2


There is nothing Jessica wants more than to be like everyone else, but between her Down syndrome and her colorful family, “average” isn’t part of her vocabulary. This year when she blows out eleven candles on her homemade vegan cake she makes the same wish she’s made for as many birthdays as she can remember: she wants a mother.

Jessica’s father Phil has worked his entire life to create a more stable childhood for his daughter than he had. But a supportive mother, a recently returned father, rainbow pancakes, and princesses can’t heal the dark void left in Phil’s heart which he won’t even admit is there.

When Mallory's mother’s life unexpectedly turns upside down, Mallory realizes her dreams come second to her heart, and she leaves her dream job in a big city to return home set on helping her fiercely independent mother recover. After forming a unique bond with Jessica—and a friendship with Jessica’s hot father—Mallory finds that in coming back to Stonehill she might just have found a way to make all of her dreams come true.

But as their families start pushing Phil and Mallory together, old insecurities and Phil’s worst fears threaten to break up the happy trio and catch Jessica in the emotional crossfire.