Wednesday, November 22, 2017

GOING GREEK

from Dominique Eastwick

Greek Chicken Pasta
1 lb. pasta, your favorite type
½ cup chopped red onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast meat, cut into bite-size pieces
1 (14 ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. dried oregano
Black or Greek olives, chopped and as many as you like
salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons, wedged, for garnish and for an extra lemony taste

Cook pasta in boiling water until tender yet firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce temperature to medium. Add onion and garlic and sauté until their aroma fills the room, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to let this mixture burn.

Add chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and the pasta. Heat through, about 4 minutes, and serve.

How about a good book after your fine dinner?

When Kalista’s father suffers a stroke just hours before making an important payment on a loan, she rushes to Greece to make amends before the billionaire tycoon swoops in to take the family business. She is convinced if she gives him the check in person, all will be fine and she can return to help her father on his long road to recovery. She did not anticipate Leonidas Karatasos.

This is not the first time Mr. Vidal has missed a payment, but it would be the last. Leonidas would let no one take advantage of him or his family, but when he steps off the boat on his family’s island, his mate is waiting for him check in hand. Kalista Vidal is everything he wanted and nothing he expected.

With the moon rising into the reign of Leo, Leonidas has one month to woo and bond with Kalista, or he must wait until the next Leo cycle. But with the world’s prides convening on the island for the month, he must deal with dangers his mate could never imagine. All the while figuring out how to let his lion out of the bag.

EXCERPT
“Look at me,” he demanded and something compelled her to listen. The golden orbs searched hers, his jaw locked and his breathing was shallow. He reflected all the things she was. His kiss, gentle at first, built until she thought she would expire if she didn’t touch him. Hours could have passed as they lay in each other’s arms. His kiss both soothed and excited. Finally, he lifted his head. “I understand. Your needs are mine. But you can’t go into this relationship without knowing everything about me.”

Her thigh muscles started to shake. She fought to keep her legs together while desperate to rip the silk from her body so she could wrap herself around him. “I promise nothing you say will change my desire for you.”
“You’re in the midst of the mating fever. It came on far quicker than I expected.”

“Then, help me,” she begged. Her hands the only tool she had to work with. She worked the buttons of his tuxedo shirt, inflamed to find a T-shirt blocking her ability to touch him. Frantic she worked the shirts from his waistband and replaced them with her touch. He hissed as she gripped his ass, pushing his erection into closer contact with her. With one knee in the sofa and a foot on the floor, he made a move to sit up. She took the opening to grip his long, hard cock. He flexed his hips so she could touch him more.
He threw his head back with a moan. She worked the length of him from base to tip. With every move, she adjusted him the way she wanted. He would be putty in her hands. With her free hand, she worked the button and zipper until his pants released and his cock sprang free.

Desire to taste him, to show him she could hunt and make him her prey infused her. She brought her lips down to the red angry tip, glistening with precum, and sucked. She savored the salty flavor, taking as much of him as she could into her mouth. She didn’t have to be an expert to know it wasn’t much. His hands, which had been fisted at his sides, shot up and tangled into her golden locks, urging her to take more and creating a rhythm to follow.

She might not have experience, but she had an inner sense of what he desired. With every flex of his hips, she took a little more of him into her mouth. When she cupped his balls, he growled and pulled out of her mouth. His lips came down on hers, bruising and demanding.

“Please help me,” she whispered against his lips. She needed release only he could give.

“Boss, sorry to interrupt. You have a challenge,” a gruff voice interrupted through the double glass doors leading outside.

“Ten minutes. Give me ten fucking minutes,” he growled never taking his eyes off her. When the sound of footsteps retreated, he lifted the hem of her dress. “I would give anything to taste you right now. But, if I did, we would never get out of here.”

“Please,” she begged again. If he left her like this she would never forgive him.

BUY LINKS



Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pastimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

Stay connected on Facebook Twitter, Tublr, and Pinterest.

Monday, November 20, 2017

NEW RELEASE FOR EMMA LANE

All-time Regency Romance maven, Emma Lane, has released her third delightful Christmas collection of short stories for your reading pleasure. These holiday tales will warm your heart. They are a perfect read at this time of the year.



A true love match for each sister with Christmas weddings to follow.

Four sisters, each named for a precious jewel, Pearl, Ruby, Emerald, and Amber, find their true destinies as they fall in love with their soulmate and who just happens to be a handsome hero.

Left to fend for themselves when their father passes, the sisters manage one by one to fulfill their destiny and find their true loves in these four seasonal Christmas love stories.






A Short Excerpt from “A Second Chance for the Marquis”
“Are you ready to return to the drawing room, Pearl, My Lady?” He placed his face almost in her hair and sniffed discreetly. The fragrance of her soap was heady, and he tried to disguise his delight. Truth to tell, his shaky emotions were a bit of an embarrassment to him. “Or shall we stroll the gardens? I see you have them well in hand.” He led her past the musical fountain and deeper into the shrubbery. He smiled tenderly to spy the smear of garden soil still present on one rosy cheek. Perhaps he could throw her on the back of his horse and gallop away.

“Will you be at your estate next door now, Justin? You have come home to take control of the reins after your father’s passing. He was such a strong man, his death came as a big surprise to all who loved him. How is your mother? I know she misses him dreadfully.” They walked through the flowering shrubs with the sights and sounds of late summer all around them. Fat bees laden with yellow pollen tumbled through the blossoms on their way to their hordes of honey.

A rising bubble of happiness filled him until he fell into an almost ethereal spiritual mood. This day was such a contrast to that frozen misery, when he had been forced to leave his love that bleak winter December. Deep in his heart he had feared and believed he was losing her forever.

“Yes, she is happy to have me home. I am to bring you greetings and a plea for a visit soon.” He steered her toward a stone bench flanked by a climbing pink rosebush. After he had settled Lady Pearl, he lingered to stand in front of her and basked in the sight. As a slight breeze caressed his face, Justin breathed in the heady fragrance of the roses and allowed his feelings freedom. He caressed her with his eyes, allowing them to travel and touch her, as he wished--no longed--he might with his hands.

“You are smiling at me. What amuses you? I know I am untidy, but surely you forgive an old friend who loves her garden.” He admired her slender neck while she stared up at him with that tiny nose full of freckles. She reminded him of a little bird with her head cocked to one side and a quizzical expression peeking up at him. He clenched his fist to keep from seizing her face and smothering it with burning kisses.

“I confess I’m enjoying your company, my lady. Our letters did not satisfy my need to be by your side. We have several years to catch up, do we not? Now you must tell me about these wards of yours. I will hear about those lovely sisters of yours later. First, the surprising designation of an informal guardianship imposed upon you?” He tugged gently on her hands, resisting pulling her firmly into his arms.



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

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

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

When Good Yeast Goes Bad, It’s Time for Dessert!

from Chris Pavesic


In baking, the primary function of yeast is to make dough rise. By partially consuming the sugars in the flour the natural metabolism of these microorganisms produces carbon dioxide and ethanol that cause an increase in volume during baking.

Yet yeast can get old. If it is exposed to air or humidity, it may not function correctly. Even a bread machine cannot produce a light, fluffy loaf if the yeast has “gone bad.”

But the loaf is still edible, if somewhat “heavy” or “dense.” It might be a bit misshapen, but it generally tastes good. So what can someone do with a lumpy loaf?

Bread puddings are a great way to transform the unfortunate loaf into a delicious dessert. Add some chocolate and fruit and suddenly the lumpy loaf is the star of the meal!

Note: This can also be prepared with a regular loaf of bread, but it won’t provide as much humor.

BREAD PUDDING
5 large eggs
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 cups milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 loaf of bread (about 10 ounces) cut or torn into 1-inch cubes
1½ cups dried fruit (my family loves blueberries or cherries.)
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix eggs, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add handfuls of bread cubes, fruit, and chocolate chips in alternating layers, stirring with each addition.

Now it’s time to get busy. Roll up your sleeves and mix everything together. You want to get some of that flavorful liquid onto every scrap of bread. The mix may seem a little dry. Resist the urge to drown it in more milk or you will end up with a soggy dessert.

Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with butter. Press the mixture into the pan. If you like a dense, heavy bread pudding, keep pressing until there is no air left. If you prefer yours fluffier, just pile it in and spread it around.

Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes. The top will become a wonderful crunchy brown while the middle stays moist.

Be careful when you remove the pudding from the oven. It’s easy to pick away at the entire dish—whether you are going after a piece of the crusty top, a chewy berry, or a melting chunk of chocolate.

While you indulge in this fantastic dessert, enjoy a brief glimpse into my new novel, Starter Zone.


When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail. Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.

CHAPTER ONE
As the sun hovers near the horizon, ready to dip below and plunge the world into darkness, the weather changes for the worse. Clouds gather. Peeking out my window and over the outline of rooftops in the distance is what looks like thunderheads moving toward me in the invisible polluted gusts of wind.

I try not to think about the coming storm as I methodically pull on my boots and zip up my jacket. It is supposed to be waterproof, but I would not risk going out in anything above a light drizzle. Water has a way of seeping through even the best defenses. There’s also a lining that’s overly warm for a summer evening. I’m already sweating and the discomfort adds to my nerves.

I check the hunting knife strapped to my left leg. It was one of the first weapons purchased for me by my dad back when the sporting goods stores were still open for business. He didn’t think I was ready to handle a handgun at thirteen, but he taught me to shoot a rifle in the open fields by our house, helping me hold the weapon steady until I grew strong enough to support the weight. Now, three years later, I have a handgun, a Ruger semi-automatic, but bullets are scarce and loud noises are problematic. My small ammo stash sits in the bottom of my backpack next to the gun.

Instead of the gun, I carry an extra-light crossbow as my go-to weapon. I can hand-make the bolts so I don’t worry about running out of ammunition and the shot is relatively silent. I carry the spare bolts in a quiver strapped to my right leg. It’s awkward when running, but I can draw the bolts fast when needed.

My little sister, Alby, has loaded her own backpack. I lift it to test the weight and then pull a few things out. I place them in my own pack without comment. I help her position the lighter pack over her shoulders, tightening the straps so that it will stay balanced. She always tries to do more than she should, but I don’t like the way her face has a perpetual pinched, strained look or the deep shadows under her eyes. She looks far older than her seven years. This scares me more than everything else and that fear threatens to register on my face. I force myself to stay calm.

I check her raincoat and boots, making sure everything fits snugly. I help Alby pull up the hood of her coat, tucking in a strand of dark hair that has escaped her ponytail. As frightened as she is, she manages to give me a smile. I smile back, trying to present a brave front. As my dad used to say, “fake it till you make it.” Over the last few years, I’ve been faking confidence more and more often for Alby’s sake.

“Ready to go?” I ask with all the false cheer I can muster in my voice. I take one last glance over the motel room that had served as a temporary home for the last few days, looking for anything that we might have left behind. The room is swept clean. No trace whatsoever that we had ever been there.

Alby nods. “Ready, Cami.”

“If we get separated, remember to keep going north,” I say. “Follow the road till you get to the park, then take the walking paths. No matter what happens, keep going. Stop when you get to the Stone River. I’ll meet you at the bridge in the center of the park where we used to feed the ducks, okay?”

She nods again, looking up at me with those dark eyes so full of trust. I hug her, because if we do get separated, there isn’t much hope we will ever see each other again. I need to keep up the pretense of hope, though, because that’s all we have to keep us going.

Stone River Park is at the very limits of the city and the area surrounding it is relatively unpopulated. I figure that once we are out of the city, our chances of survival will dramatically increase. After reaching the park, we can follow the Stone River north. There’s bound to be deserted houses in the country and less chance that any of the gangs would be interested in the meager pickings outside of the city. We might even be able to find a place to stay before winter.

I crack open the door of our motel room. It is still light enough to stain everything with graying shades of color. The setting sun casts long shadows between the buildings, so I depend more upon my ears to find signs of other humans. I hear no motorcycle engines and no voices, only the wind, blowing and moaning, and the far-off call of a bird. The coming storm appears to have cleared the streets. They are deserted except for empty, crashed vehicles abandoned in every lane.

Alby and I had been lucky to reach the motel a few days ago. The single-story building is on the outskirts of the main town and catered to big rig truck drivers and other traffic from the interstate. I had found the skeleton key in the motel office after climbing in through the bathroom window. Alby and I spent the nights scouring every room for supplies.

No one had broken into it before we got there. Too many other rich targets to go around. But inside each room was a mini-fridge filled with snacks. Even though the electricity had been turned off, the chocolates and small bags of honey-coated nuts were edible. The tiny bottles of alcoholic beverages in each fridge did not seem useful, but I kept a few. They might be helpful in starting a fire someday when we made it outside the city. We even discovered coffee filters and a small bottle of chlorine bleach—a major score for treating our drinking water.

If I hadn’t spent days secretly peering out the dark windows of the motel, I might believe my sister and I were the last two people left on earth. But I know that out there, behind the ruined buildings and boarded-up windows, there are at least a few pairs of eyes whose owners would kill us without a second thought. My eyes flick toward the two bodies hanging from the traffic lights in the nearby intersection. They hadn’t been moved. Good.

The daytime usually belongs to looter-gangs, each with spray-can marked territories in bright displays of color that start on the buildings and drip down toward the pavement. The gangs wear something marked as well, usually a jacket or bandanna that will stand out from a distance. The snipers hole up in their nests and target anyone who encroaches on their gang’s territory. They particularly looked for members of other factions trying to increase their terrain.

Paint tags don’t show up well after dark, though, so the gangs have started leaving their victims as warnings to others not to encroach on their holding. These bodies have been hanging undisturbed in the intersection for several days, indicating a lack of activity in the area. I can only hope that the gangs have moved inward, toward the center of the city and more supply-rich targets.

No one is ever going to catch the murderers, or the ones who strung up the bodies like macabre trophies, and put them in jail. They’ll just go on and do it again and again. Like animals in the jungle—except that animals are not cruel.

We were lucky to go unmolested by the local gangs. Heaven knows we don’t look like we have much of anything, and we don’t look threatening, but that will only last for so long. Someday someone will try to kill us, possibly for no other reason than wanting to watch us die. The whole world, it seems, is at war, and no one is on my side except Alby. We only have each other.

A streak of lightning splits the sky almost directly overhead, making me wince. It is followed by a heavy clap of thunder. As frightening as it is, the bad weather is to our advantage. No one wants to be caught outside in the rain. Everyone is more afraid of fresh, untreated water and what it can do than they are of each other. But I believe we can make it out of the area and to shelter before the rain poses any danger.

In fact, I’m betting our lives on it.



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

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

NEW RELEASE for ALICIA JOSEPH

Another bound-to-be best seller for Alicia Joseph has just hit the stands in e-book and print. This young author's style and voice tear at your soul. Joseph delivers more than a pretty tale. Her words create a web that wraps around the reader and draws them into a compelling story.


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


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

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




Prologue
1993

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

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

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My best friend was dead.


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

ANTICIPATION

from HL Carpenter

Anticipation. That's the title of a great song, the jingle for an ancient advertisement, and a marketing tool for authors. Oh, and anticipation makes good food better too. What more could you ask of a word?

You already know the classic song (thanks, Carly Simon!), and if you're of a…ummm…certain age, you probably remember the ketchup commercial too. (Sorry if the jingle is now an earwig! Confess—you're humming, aren't you?)

We tried anticipation as an author marketing tool by offering our young adult novel, Walled In, for pre-order a few weeks before the actual publication date. Results were mixed, probably because we're not the best marketers in the world. Still, we're always ready to try new techniques, and we'll repeat the pre-order experiment with our next release.

As far as making good food better—our barbecue pulled pork recipe is DEFINITELY worth waiting for! Put all the ingredients together, then grab a good book to read while you're anticipating the meal to come.

While you're eagerly awaiting your delicious lunch, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our young adult novel, Walled In.

PULLED PORK
½ cup ketchup
1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, divided
1 cup water
1 onion, chopped (or a similar amount of frozen chopped onions)
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
3 ½ pound pork roast (a shoulder cut works well)
Hamburger buns

Mix ketchup, ½ cup barbecue sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir in the onions and garlic.

Set pork roast in the crock pot and pour sauce mixture over it, coating the meat well. The liquid should almost cover the meat. Add more if necessary. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

Remove the pork roast from the crock-pot, let cool, and shred with a fork. Set aside.

Empty the liquid from the crock-pot. Put the pulled pork back into the crock-pot, add the remaining barbecue sauce, and mix well.

Cook on low for two more hours; then reduce setting to warm until ready to serve.

Serve on buns.

Tips and Tricks
Crock pots are ideal for tenderizing less expensive cuts of meat. The longer the cooking time, the more tender the meat becomes.

Feel free to add more sauce to the first cooking; meat cooked in liquid is moister.

For an added crunch, serve chips of your choice as a side dish.

If you want to serve the pulled pork for lunch, set up the crock pot to cook overnight.


Seventeen year old Vandy Spencer lives like a princess. Sheltered by her wealthy family, she happily makes plans to spend a before-college gap summer with her gorgeous boyfriend.

Then her dad is accused of financial fraud. The victims of her dad’s swindle vow revenge, and her dad flees.

As accusations and innuendos pile up, Vandy retreats to a hermit-like existence in her childhood tree house and struggles to separate reality from lies. Was her perfect life truly so perfect? Did she ever really know her father?
When family secrets come to light, revealing an unimaginable betrayal, Vandy learns to appreciate the simple richness of sincerity and truth.



EXCERPT

A branch cracked behind me and leaves rustled. I scrambled to my feet.

Stenny had come after me! He really did love me, enough to follow me, and…

Pete Hawthorn stepped out of the woods, holding a flashlight. The backglow lit his face, which was drawn into the frown he wore lately whenever he saw me, and his mouth turned down into a scowl. "Don't you have any sense at all, Dandy-Vandy?"

I should have known Stenny wouldn't traipse through the woods searching for me. Running through the dark wasn't his style. He'd use his phone.

My own phone, tucked in the pocket of my shorts, burst into the first bars of Boyfriend. I ignored the noise and poked a finger at Pete's chest. "Quit calling me that. Don't you have better things to do than skulk around the woods in the dark? Like maybe going to work?"

"I took the night off." He peered at me. "Why are you crying?"

"None of your business!" Then, as his words sank in, I asked, "Why'd you take the night off? Is Gus okay?"

"Gramps is the same as he always is." Pete slid the button on the flashlight and the bulb dimmed. "I stayed home because we heard the news about your dad. We're going to help, in whatever way we can." His voice barely carried across the small space between us, the words and tone sincere.

"That means a lot. Thanks. Tell Gus thanks too."

"Yeah." Pete turned the flashlight on bright again and waved it in a searching arc. "Where's the jerk-off? He leave you alone out here?"

My gratitude evaporated like dew off grass. I planted my hands on my hips as my phone played Boyfriend again. "Stenny's not a jerk-off, and he's probably at the tree house, where I left him."

"How nice to know he'll stay where you tell him to. At least you won't need to put a leash on him when the two of you are wandering around France." Pete narrowed his eyes. "The woods are really dark, Dandy-Vandy, in case you haven't noticed. Do you have a flashlight? Or am I gonna have to walk you home?"

I didn't need him to babysit me. I opened my mouth to say so, and then reconsidered as the sounds of the night surged around me. He was right. The darkness crackled with noises I hadn't paid much attention to during my rush to get away from the hurt of Stenny's doubt. The air seemed ominous too, full of a sickly-sweet odor, a combination of gasoline, motor oil, and damp dirt. The mix stunk the way I imagined zombies – or worse, vampires – would.

"Thanks, Pete. That's a good idea."

"I have them occasionally." He gestured with the flashlight. "The path's this way."

We strode along single file without speaking. The dry leaves crackled beneath our feet and the occasional haunting cry of a bird shredded the air.

"Nightingale," Pete said.

We reached the end of the path, coming out of the woods behind a row of bushes fencing Kingsway's open lawn. A line of solar lights illuminated the back yard, glowing against the pool cabana and the house's white walls beyond – big, ornate…and home.

I smiled despite my worries. "I love how pretty our house is at night."

Pete shut the flashlight off. "I'll send you pictures while you're enjoying your European adventure with the jerk-off."

I was turning to him when a man carrying a portable video camera dashed across the lawn. I gasped. "He's headed for the house! I have to warn Dad."

BUY LINKS

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, November 06, 2017

LETTERS, Lots and Lots of Letters

by C.D. Hersh



Before you think, “I know how to use letters,” you should know we are not talking about the “ABCDEFG” letters one uses to form words, but written letters sent through the mail, penned by hand, folded into envelopes with postage stamps and return addresses, and delivered by the postman. Yes, we realize the art of letter writing is disappearing, but it’s an art form worth saving in today’s world of instant email, twitter, and Facebook communication.
A while back, Donald was helping an aunt go through boxes of old letters written by his deceased uncle. The letters, written to his first wife and mother, covered the period of the couple’s early romance, his service as an Air Force pilot in WWII over Europe, and the time frame during the Korean War. In the missives, he wrote about his feelings and described what was going on in the war arenas. A huge amount of historical information, insight about this time frame, and personal tidbits about Donald’s uncle, was revealed in the two days spent reading these letters.

Those boxes of letters, posted seventy years ago, got us thinking about letter writing as a dying means of communication. With today’s instant communication methods of email, twitter, and Facebook, which are usually deleted as soon as they are read, there won’t be anything for our descendants to open seventy years from now to see how we lived and what we thought about the events of our daily lives. When you Google “Letter Writing” you will get about 195 million results, from free tips, advice, sample letters to help you write great letters, to letter writing rules for business letters, to letter styles, envelope formats and even how to fold a letter into an envelope. What you won’t get is the feel of old, fragile paper beneath your fingers as you carefully open a window to the past.

So, how can you use letter writing to enhance your books?

In our book The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles) and in the second book of the series, Blood Brothers, handwritten letters are the impetus for major story line turning points. Because of something two dead characters reveal (one whom the readers never meet), the lives of the heroines in both books are forever changed.

Here’s an excerpt from The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles) showing how we used a handwritten letter to reveal information.

***
Eli,
I know it’s been years since you’ve heard from me, not since my brother’s murder, but Alexi’s time has come. I tried to shield her from the destiny, teaching her only the basics of the ring and waiting until she was an adult to start any training. I didn’t want to push her, but now she is developing skills I’ve not taught her. I need someone from the Council to come and assess her, and I can’t think of anyone I trust more than the man I fought beside in so many battles. After making such a mess of Sylvia, I don’t trust my judgment. I need an advocate on the Council and your advice. If you agree with my assessment, I want to present Alexi to the Council this coming Samhain. Please come as soon as possible…


The letter’s date and postmark indicated Baron had written the letter about two weeks prior to his death. Prickles crept over her arms. My time? Present me to the Council? Sylvia’s comment about the Promised One came back to her. Had Baron sent for Eli because of the great destiny he always insisted she had? She closed the door and rested her forehead against the solid surface. Life was already too complicated. She didn’t need this.

***

Had we used email to send this letter, the heroine Alexi might not have believed the letter came from her uncle. Anyone can type an email and claim it comes from an alleged sender. The specialty return label and her uncle’s loopy handwritten script on the envelope convinced Alexi the letter was real.

In our second book of the series, Blood Brothers, seeing her missing daughter’s handwriting, instead of a sterile email printout, impacted the heroine intensely and spurred her on to a life changing decision, which you’ll have to read the book to find out about.

You can also use the art of letter writing to discover new things about your characters by having them write letters to another character in the book. We did this exercise for our antagonist, Roc, in Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles) and discovered several things. For the sake of space in this blog, we can’t reveal what we learned here, but if you are interested, please click here to read the letter and see how it worked for us.

Here is a little more about The Promised One for your reading pleasure.


In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.

Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones, and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.

EXCERPT
The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

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

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a novella, Can’t Stop The Music, with twelve other authors from various genres with a book coming out each month in 2017.

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

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

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

PUMPKIN - the Versatile Fruit

We celebrated a late Oktoberfest with several of Studs' siblings and cousins last Saturday evening. The ladies brought appetizers and desserts and we prepared a hearty German meal. Cousin Judy provided this week's tempting treat. Damn, that woman is creative!

This recipe makes a lot. If your gathering is ten people or less, consider cutting the measurements down to one-third, although, leftovers are delicious. Trust me on that.


PUMPKIN DIP
1 small container Cool Whip
1 small can pumpkin
3 small pkg. vanilla instant pudding
2 - 3 dashes pumpkin pie spice
1 box Nabisco Nilla Wafers

Combine all ingredients except wafers in a medium-sized bowl. Stir well.

Fold mixture into a serving dish or cleaned out pumpkin. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Center your serving dish or pumpkin on a large glass plate or tray. Surround with the wafers and serve.

Enjoy!

Sloane