Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Recipe for Seduction

from Gina Briganti

Artichokes were a favored aphrodisiac of Catherine de Medici and Henry VIII. They were considered so powerful that they were allowed for men only, which de Medici defied. It was scandalous for a woman to eat artichokes in the 16th century.

Pine nuts have been used in love potions for centuries because they are high in zinc and are valued as an aphrodisiac because of that mineral.

Chile Peppers raise your heart rate, bringing a flush to your skin, lips, and libido. Hubba hubba.

This is a recipe for seduction.

So smooth you can tip a warm bowl of this aphrodisiac-filled soup to your lover's lips on a cold night and light your fires.

LOVERS SOUP
2 cups cooked artichoke hearts or quarters
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup pine nuts
1 tsp. hot sauce (more, if you want it hotter)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Stir until mixed. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until artichokes are soft.

Transfer soup to a high-speed blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Strain the soup with a fine sieve.

Serve with warm, crispy, buttered bread.

Lovers Soup was inspired by this scene with Carter and Brittany from my latest paranormal romance.

Natural Gifts…where fate gets a good name.

Brittany has shy down to an art. Maybe she needs a push. It’s been years already!
Jack is stubborn personified. Push, push, push.
Jason is having the time of his life in college. All those beautiful women. Ha ha. Not the plan.
Rowan is convinced that his soulmate didn’t incarnate with him in this lifetime. Surprise!

Forget slow and steady, fate has plans for these four couples!

There’s no looking back now.

There are No Yesterdays.

“Don't remind me.” He put his hand over his eyes. “I had no idea you were staying away from me because you were sick. How'd you like that spinach soup I made for you?”

“No one knew, Carter. I like the soup. I eat it all the time. I even made a batch, and you know what? It's better than yours.” She pinched his calf.

“You got your spunk back. Maybe more than I ever knew was missing.” He cocked an eyebrow, waiting for her to say whether or not the whole time they'd been together she wasn't entirely herself.

When she didn't answer he went on. “Now, about this vacation. I'm allowed to treat you to a few days in a place you've never been, right? Let's pick somewhere you've always wanted to go and just go. You have two weeks off. I can take time off. Dana said she'd cover me.”

“A cabin in the woods, no, let's go to Vegas, or, hmmm, we could go to New York. I've always wanted to see it.” She flopped down on the bed next to him, then sprang back up. “Carter, I love you so much! A vacation, a real, honest, vacation.”



Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Visit her website and blog for book trailers, newsletter sign up, and whatever else she thinks up.

Stay connected on Facebook, Gina's Amazon Author Page, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Monday, January 21, 2019

EYEBROW ENVY

by Anne Montgomery

Film siren Elizabeth Taylor had the art of the eyebrow down pat.

When I was a teen, I had rather thick eyebrows. While beauties like Elizabeth Taylor rocked alluring broad brows, the trend was starting to fade by the 70’s, so I would suffer some brow cruelty, initially afflicted upon me by a well-coiffed woman wielding a pair of weaponized tweezers.

When I was 17, I was awarded a scholarship to the John Robert Powers Modeling School, an unwanted prize my mother hoped would make me more feminine. Note that she truly wanted a girly-girl, one who would take delight in being swathed in dresses and heels. Clearly, since I favored jeans and sweatshirts and tended to clomp around like a Clydesdale on those rare occasions I was forced into pumps, I wasn’t fulfilling that dream.

The only thing I remember about my stint at modeling school was that I hated it. All these years later, I have virtually no recollection of what I did while attending those classes, the memories a black hole save for one miserable moment.

A poised, splendidly-attired woman strode to the front of the room, gliding on pointed heels, chin up, eyes wide. “Today’s lesson will be on the importance of properly maintaining one’s eyebrows,” she said prettily.

I recall being bored, longing to be outside somewhere, as she held up those silver tweezers. Then, she pointed one manicured hand my way and waved me to the front of the room. She smiled, an expression that, in hindsight, bore a sadistic hint. After ushering me to a chair, she disparaged my brows, explaining that such wanton neglect was unacceptable.

I froze as she brought the tweezers close to my right eye, and winced as she plucked. Throughout her lesson, she continued to yank at my offending brow as if to place emphasis on her syrupy words.

Looking back, I can’t reckon why I allowed her to persist. I also can’t figure why she picked me. It’s not like I had something Fridaesque sprawled across my forehead or a set of brows like Mr. Spock.

While it was perfectly acceptable for an alien from Vulcan to sport such expressive brows, for a 17-year-old girl in the ’70s, not so much.

When she finished, she motioned to my sore, red brow, assured the students that the tinge would soon fade, then placed the tweezers in my hand and instructed me to pluck the other brow myself. While I was relieved the assault had stopped, the thought of using the tool on myself made me queasy. Because memories mercifully fade, I don’t recall how I ultimately handled those mismatched brows.

Years later, while working at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, my beleaguered brows took another hit. Since the newscast was in progress, I was the only one in the newsroom when the phone rang. The woman caller wanted to know if I would get a message to that woman sportscaster. Without revealing my identity, I assured her I would.


“Tell her that I hate her eyebrows,” she said.


What propelled a viewer to take the time to make such a call, I cannot say. What I recall was hustling to the make-up mirror and staring at my eyebrows for a very long time.

I have learned that, as we age, our eyebrows naturally thin. Strangely, I am a bit wistful at what I’ve lost, especially considering that the tide has again turned. I read that fashion folks say we are currently in the decade of the eyebrow. YouTube has half-a-million tutorials on how to perfect your brows, and there are brow tattooing and transplants and tinting and threading, for those who suffer eyebrow envy.

I wonder if such procedures are painful, and then think of the woman with the tweezers and the brow beating she inflicted. I don’t think I’ve forgiven her, yet. Can you blame me?

Here's a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil as local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters arrive on the scene. As the search for the saboteurs heats up and the authorities question members of the cult, they uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

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 her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Looking for a Romantic Valentine’s Gift?

Check out this Giveaway on What’s Cooking This Week



That's right - you can win a $50 Gift Card to Whole Foods and a signed copy of the couples cookbook Date Night Dinners.

Treat your Valentine to a home-cooked meal designed with romance in mind. Whether you are a master chef or an aspiring beginner, this cookbook will walk you through making a wonderful meal for two with just the right romantic touches to celebrate any night.

No purchase necessary to enter.

To enter:
1) Join the What’s Cooking This Week Facebook Group
2) Reply to the pinned post between now and 11 PM CST on 02/10/19.

Grand Prize: $50 Gift Card to Whole Foods and a Signed Copy of Date Night Dinners
2nd Prize: $25 Gift Card to Whole Foods and a Signed Copy of Date Night Dinners
3rd Prize: Signed Copy of Date Night Dinners
4th Prize: Signed Copy of Date Night Dinners

Winners are chosen at random. All winners will be contacted by direct message and must provide a mailing address to receive their prize. Open internationally. Void where prohibited.

If a winner does not respond within 48 hours an alternate winner will be chosen.

The contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Whole Foods
The contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Good luck all!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Keep It Hot

Today we have a hearty soup created by my step-daughter Theresa. Not only is this soup easy to make, it tastes great! Add crusty bread and a chilled bottle of white wine for a marvelous meal.

Tortellini Soup
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 med. onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 lg. garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
4 cups beef stock
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water
2 cups half & half
1 package Buitoni Fresh Garlic Tortellini, 3 cheese or chicken

Brown sausage in medium-size saucepan. Empty into a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in onion, carrots, celery, garlic, Italian seasoning, and stock. Cook on high 4 hours or on low 7 hours.

This soup may also be made on your stovetop. If so, brown sausage as directed then add the vegetables, seasonings, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Whichever method you choose, at the end of the cooking time skim off any fat.

Dissolve cornstarch in water in a small bowl. Stir in half & half. Blend this mixture into the soup pot. Gently fold in tortellini and mix well. Cook until pasta is soft and heated through.

If the soup is thicker than you like, add a little milk to create a consistency you prefer.

Stay warm!

Sloane

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

WARM and WONDEREFUL

from Vonnie Hughes

This soup tastes great and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

MINESTRONE SOUP
1 tbsp. butter
4 slices bacon, chopped or ½ lb. gravy beef, minced/ground
1 onion, chopped
½ lb. fresh tomatoes or 1 jar/can, chopped
1 carrot, scraped and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery or other seasonal vegetable, chopped
½ cup haricot beans that have been soaked overnight
3 tbsp. macaroni
3 tbsp. rice
3 tbsp. spaghetti
½ tsp. salt
Pepper to taste

Melt butter in a frying pan. Add bacon or meat and fry until crisp. Stir in onion and tomatoes.

Carefully pour mixture into a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Fill pot halfway with water. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Cook 2 hours in slow cooker or 15 minutes in pressure cooker.

Here's a little from my latest romantic suspense. I hope you enjoy it.

Who can you trust if you can’t trust your own mother? Through the clammy fog, Celie Francis hears the chilling message. “I know who you are, Celie. I know where you live.” And in the terrifying aftermath she reconnects with her dysfunctional family in ways she had never imagined.

BLURB:
Abused and abandoned as a child, Célie Francis knows better than to trust anyone. But after she witnesses a murder, she's placed in the Unit "New Zealand's witness protection program" where she's expected to trust strangers with her life.

It's psychologist Brand Turner's job to ease witnesses into their new identities, not to protect them, but Célie stirs feelings in him that are far from professional. When it appears someone is leaking critical information that could endanger Célie, Brand will do anything to protect her. But first he has to convince her to trust him.

Adrift in a frightening world, Célie would like to believe the handsome psychologist is everything he seems, but as witnesses are murdered and danger swirls around them, Célie must decide "can she trust Brand with her life? 

BUY LINKS

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 on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

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

Monday, January 14, 2019

EDITS - The Ugly Truth

by Carol Browne

I met with a new proofreading client recently and looked at his manuscript. It needed a lot of work. In fact, he needed an editor not a proofreader. He had no idea what the difference was any more than he knew what an editor does. As I tried to explain it all to him, it took me back to my own beginnings as a newbie author and I remembered what a shock the editing process had been. I had no idea what was involved; writing the book turned out to have been the easy part! So, aspiring writers, here is a brief description of what lies in store for you.

Let’s assume that you were able to construct a fairly presentable manuscript and submit it to a publisher with strict adherence to their submission requirements and that said publisher has agreed to publish the work. Let’s also assume that you have thrown your hat in the air, danced on the table, bought a round of drinks for everyone in the pub, day dreamed about fame, fortune and winning the Booker Prize and now await the next step. Once the excitement has worn off, the real work begins.


This is what happened to me: I was told who my editor was, that they were editing my manuscript and it would then be emailed to me so I could address the editor’s changes and suggestions. I had done a fair bit of proofreading by then but proofreading is to editing what a string quartet is to the London Symphony Orchestra. Straightaway, I was shocked when I saw that most of Chapter One had been removed (“You can condense it into a small paragraph somewhere if you really must.”) and great chunks of the narrative had been torn out. Thousands of words were scattered to the four winds, never to be seen again. Thousands! The book I had given years of my life to was purged and purified. And this is what you call a structural edit.

And guess what … I ended up with a much better book. Did I manage to condense the pruned pages into one small paragraph? You bet I did! It was the sort of exercise that tones up the writing muscle. I learnt how to write more succinctly and move the narrative along without unnecessary clutter. Editors I’ve had since have not been so ruthless, but it’s probably because I have become a more competent writer.

Once the structural editing is done, it’s time for line editing. This is exactly what it sounds like: going through the narrative line by line, addressing punctuation, spelling, typos, syntax and word choice. The editor will often suggest the author uses a better word or adds some description or makes the dialogue more natural. There will be all kinds of errors or inconsistencies in continuity. Have you used the same word three times in quick succession? Perhaps a character does something incongruous and you never noticed? Did you just mention someone, having forgotten you killed them two chapters ago?

You can imagine how long and involved a process this can be, particularly if you have a book as long as mine was. (‘Was’ being the operative word!) But your editor is trying to make your book the best it can be. You may have to lose your favourite metaphor, pluck out padding you enjoyed reading, delete swathes of dialogue that made you laugh but did nothing to further the plot or develop the characters. In the end it is all worth it.

Hopefully it is at this point that your publisher will give their blessing to the final edits of the manuscript.

But that’s not the end of the process, because it‘s then that a proofreader takes over and that proofreader is very often YOU. Having worked your way through your manuscript umpteen times already until you could happily throw it at the wall and walk away forever, it is up to you to read through ALL of it carefully and look for any errors that have been missed.

Yes, the editing of a manuscript is a lot of work: Weeks of daily toil; long hours at the keyboard; chewed finger nails; bloodshot eyes; gallons of coffee. And finally, if you are lucky, your book emerges, all sparkly and beautiful, like a polished jewel!

One more thing – and this is extremely important advice for aspiring writers – you need to familiarise yourselves with the Track Changes function of Word, because you are gonna need that knowledge! I was lucky in that I had a proofreading course under my belt before I started, so Track Changes didn’t come as a complete surprise to me. This is a function that allows many people to edit and proofread a document without the changes they make to that document being lost – hence the changes are tracked, very much like sending a parcel – but Word also remembers the original document so nothing is lost (we can’t always say the same about the mail service!). Delete a paragraph, say, and it will be held in the margin in a sort of bubble. Only when the author accepts that deletion will that paragraph be completely removed from the document.

Well, this isn’t an article about Track Changes! Suffice it to say, as with many things, there are tutorials on You Tube if you really feel this is beyond you. Trust me, it isn’t. If I can manage to use this function, anyone with a modicum of computer skills will have no problem.

So, budding authors, prepare yourselves for the editing process; but don’t worry about it because it’s not all hard work and learning the craft, it can also be a lot of fun.

Godwin's adventures in Elvendom left him a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. Who—or what—is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

COOK UP SOMETHING SPECIAL

with Janis and Emma Lane. No, they're not sisters or even cousins. Today's guest blogger is an author with a split personality and man can she cook!

Hi everyone, this recipe is only a guideline for making a delicious lunch or main dish with fresh vegetables. The list of veggies is easily amendable to whatever your grocer has in stock. No beets, please! Be sure to add nurturing bread like corn bread or crackers for a more substantial meal. Okay, I used corn Chex Mix one time, but that was an emergency. A green salad is always a welcome addition.

FRESH VEGETABLE SOUP
1 onion, diced
½ green pepper, cleaned and diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 fat carrot, peeled and chopped
1 – 2 ears fresh corn kernels, scraped from cob
1 can diced tomato or 1 lg. fresh, chopped
1½ cups fresh green beans, strings removed and chopped
3 cups beef or chicken stock
½ pound ground chuck
1 med. potato, diced
Sprig fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried
Sprig of oregano or ¼ tsp. dried
Small sprig of basil or ½ tsp. dried
Sprig of parsley, flat not curly

Sauté meat and set aside.

Pour stock into a large pot. Add onions and celery. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Add carrots, corn, tomatoes, potato, and herbs. Return soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add meat. Simmer 10 minutes more.

Veggies will be somewhat crisp. Cook longer if desired. As it sits the flavor will increase. But cool and refrigerate if it’s going to be longer than a few hours before serving.
Optional Veggies: okra, green peas, yellow squash, small can chick peas
Optional herbs/spices: pinch of chili pepper, tiny clove of garlic, sprig of cilantro.

Tip: if you use fresh herbs tie together with kitchen string and remove before serving.

Here's a peek at my Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces you to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infect this small town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through a whirlwind of events, good and bad, over the next three novels.

A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY, and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to lose the most sleep, a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes, or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small-town community. Together, the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission.


Amazon Buy Links Kindle - Paperback

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon
Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's 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. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.