Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Chicken Cutlets, Roasted Potatoes, and Candied Carrots.

A mouthwatering meal that's perfect for Sunday dinner any time of the year.

Chicken Cutlets
Roasted Potatoes with Thyme and Vinegar
Candied Orange Carrots
White Wine – Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio

Chicken Cutlets
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, if not using fresh, I prefer Perdue frozen breasts thawed.
5 slices bacon chopped
¼ cup flour
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup chicken stock fresh or canned
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice or Minute Maid frozen lemon juice

In a medium sized skillet, fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon onto paper towels to drain. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan.

Meanwhile, place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour, shake to remove excess. Add butter to the reserved fat in the pan and heat over high temperature, swirling to melt the butter.

When the foam subsides, reduce heat to med-high and cook chicken until browned on both sides, 4 – 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm in a 200° oven or tent with foil and leave on counter.

Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, rosemary, pepper flakes. Sauté about 45 seconds. Do not let the garlic brown. It will be bitter. Add broth and lemon juice, scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon, and simmer until slightly thick, about 4 minutes.

Return chicken and bacon to pan and simmer, turning chicken once, until sauce is thick and glossy, 5 – 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with black pepper.

Roasted Potatoes with Thyme and Vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
3 tsp. Kosher salt
2 lbs. potatoes quartered, but not peeled
1 tsp. dried thyme or 6 sprigs fresh

Preheat oven to 425° degrees.

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, salt, thyme, and vinegar.

Place the potatoes in a large plastic bag. Pour the mixture over them and gently shake the bag to coat evenly.
Spread the potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining mixture over them. Bake until potatoes are tender and slightly browned, about 50 minutes.

Candied Orange Carrots
½ lb. ready to eat carrots
Juice of one orange
1 pinch nutmeg
¼ cup maple syrup
4 tbsp. butter
fresh parsley chopped

Place all the ingredients together in a saucepan. Gently simmer, covered, until the carrots are bright orange and tender.

Garnish with the parsley and serve.

The leftovers from this meal make a perfect lunch and are easily reheated.

I'll be back Friday with more writing tips. Until then...

Happy Cooking!

Sloane Taylor

Monday, June 25, 2012

Yum, Sexy Witches and Hot Heroes

My longtime friend Tabitha Shay is here to share her latest release Witch’s Moon. It is an awesome book and one I recommend to all paranormal romance fans. Tabs' other two books, Witch’s Brew and Witch’s Heart, are also terrific reads. Coming soon is the extended release of Witch’s Magic which I can't wait to read.

Now a few words from Tabs;

Good Morning Readers,

Before we get started, let me say a quick ‘Thank You’ to Sloane for having me as her guest today.

I hope you’ll enjoy the blurb and excerpt from my latest release, Witch’s Moon, book three of the Winslow Witches of Salem series.

Leave a comment today and I’ll drop your name into my witch’s hat for a chance to win a free E-copy of Witch’s Moon. Be sure you leave a way to contact you.



Book Three
Winslow Witches of Salem series
Tabitha Shay
ISBN: 978-1-61885-286-1
Secret Cravings Publishing


Ru-Noc: A magical world teetering on the edge of destruction.

Excited about her first Beltane, the feisty and strong-willed Princess of Ru-Noc makes plans to find her ideal mate. But Princess Kali's world is turned upside down when she finds herself whisked away and trapped in the mortal realm of vampires.

Captain Koran T knows he's in serious trouble when the King of Ru-Noc orders him to kidnap Princess Kali. He's no different than any other male of his species at mating time, so the urge to breed Kali is strong. But Koran T has a dark secret of his own, one that could have him banished from the coven.

Fall under the spell of a Witch's Moon-when dark forces gather to threaten the very existence of Ru-Noc--and Princess Kali and Captain Koran cross swords in a fierce battle only a witch can win!

Captain Koran T was still the waken who’d made it his personal business to make her life miserable. He always looked at her as if she’d crawled out from under a rock. As much as he detested her, she figured she’d live to be a very old witch before she ever got a chance to taste his mouth.

Kali licked her lips and tried not to devour the captain with her eyes, but it had been almost a year since she last saw him, and she couldn’t stop herself from searching out every feature about him.

The shorter strands of his hair fell over his thick brows in. For some reason, the unmanageable curls made him look boyish and vulnerable, but as always, it was impossible to read what he felt.

Captain Koran T was the only waken she knew who had hair so blond it was nearly white. As a rule, the males of her race were all dark haired, except for the occasional male with cinnamon colored hair like her brother Stry.

All males had jewel-colored eyes that sparked with duel colors during mating or at Beltane.

Koran T might have the duel-colored eyes the males displayed at Beltane, but that was where his appearance as a normal waken ended. Due to his Albino coloring and pink-rimmed irises, Captain Koran T was known as a ‘Pink’. In their society, the odd coloring was proof of a tainted bloodline.

Kali caught her breath as Koran suddenly leaned close to her and snapped, “Stop looking at me like that.”

She blinked, jarred back to her surroundings by his sharp tone. “How am I looking at you, Captain?”

Kali caught herself on the verge of clutching her run-away heart. Gods, his scent assailed her senses. Heat curled in her stomach in a tangled knot. She clenched her thighs and tried desperately to ignore the dampness pooling there.

“Like you want my mouth all over you.” He skimmed his gaze over her breasts, lingered on the stabbing buds of her nipples. His eyes flickered, then he shifted quickly to her mouth. “Is that your desire, Princess? You want my mouth on you? Everywhere?" He said the words slowly, huskily, and so low only she heard them.

Kali snorted. “You wish.”

Deny as she might, her body quickened with lust.

A wicked gleam lit his eyes. “I know.”


Learn more about Tabitha Shay on her website and blog.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sorry Folks

an unexpected snag has caused me not to blog today.

I'll be back Monday. Until then...

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sloane Taylor

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Pan Fried Ham Steak, Sweet Potatoes, and Peach Salad

A nice easy meal for a hot summer day.

Baked Sweet Potatoes
Peach Salad
Pan Fried Ham Steak
Steamed Broccoli Flowerets
White Wine - Chardonnay

Baked Sweet Potatoes
1 potato for each diner, rinsed but not scrubbed
Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Rub a little vegetable oil on the potato skins to keep them moist while baking. Lay the potatoes into a cookie sheet, set in the middle of the top shelf. Bake for 50 minutes (depending on their size) or until a tooth pick inserts easily.

Serve with butter as you would a baked Idaho potato.

Peach Salad
Cling peaches canned in lite syrup
Cottage Cheese

Scoop out the quantity of cottage cheese you like in separate salad bowls.

Open the canned peaches, but do not drain them. A bit of juice flavors the cheese.

If you used sliced peaches, lay them decoratively around the mound of cottage cheese.
If you chose peach halves, place them in the bowl first, then top with cottage cheese.

In either case, sprinkle a dash of nutmeg over the top. It adds a dash of color and a nice flavor.

Store uncovered in the fridge until dinner.Serve with the meal.

Broccoli Flowerets
Broccoli heads rinsed and trimmed, allow five medium-size pieces per person
½ cup chicken stock fresh or canned
Tap water
2 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour chicken stock into a saucepan. Add enough water to come up to the bottom of your vegetable steamer. Cover and simmer until just tender, about 4 minutes.

If you don’t have a steamer, drop the broccoli into the simmering water mixture. Cover and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes.

Carefully spoon broccoli into a serving bowl, dot with butter, then add pepper.

Pan Fried Ham Steak
1 Ham steak
½ tsp. ground cloves
Parsley sprigs

Use your favorite large frying pan over medium heat. Lay the ham into the pan. Sprinkle half the ground cloves over the ham. Heat about 4 minutes, then turn over. Sprinkle with remaining cloves and hear through.

Garnish with a few parsley springs when you serve.

I'll return Friday with more writing tips. Until then...

Stay cool!

Sloane Taylor

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Perfect Summer Read

is by SS Hampton, Sr. from Melange Books. INTIMATE JOURNEYS is an awesome book sure to satisfy readers of every genre. It is a collection of thirteen short stories that include a variety of entertaining and sympathetic characters.

Here's a brief glimpse of three; a lusty and determined incubus who has a young woman cornered in a church, a middle-aged Army National Guard soldier facing demobilization when the Army withdraws from Iraq, and my personal favorite, a curious traveler who listens in on a lusty sexual afternoon tryst through a motel room floor heating vent.

Hampton's stories have the power to make you gasp, swipe away a stray tear, and laugh out. This is a book I highly recommend to all adult readers.

SS Hampton, Sr.
ISBN: 978-1-61235-332-6
Melange Books


Every journey through life is an intimate journey simply because it is someone’s personal journey. Sometimes the journey is like being alone in a small boat at the mercy of wild ocean currents, and sometimes the journey is like being part of a crew in a strong ship with billowing, wind-filled sails.

The most intimate journeys, though they are polar opposites, involve the unparalleled pleasures of sex and the inevitable unknown of death. Both are an experience unlike anything else; one is sought by everyone, while the other is avoided by everyone – for as long as they can. Sometimes these polar opposites complement each other.

However, alone or with a companion, ultimately all journeys through life are intimate in nature.


Rose Cliffs

Archaeologists accidentally set free survivors of an ancient race, who require sexual sacrifices to bring back more of their kind.

The Christmas Queen

A young man returning home for Christmas encounters a legendary succubus who wants him for her lover.

No. 55 Cherry Apple Court
Believe it or not, sometimes within a gated community there are worse things than a home owners association.

The Whisper of Ereshkigal
An immortal Sumerian in love with a human woman is finally discovered by pursuing goddesses determined to take him to the underworld.

A frustrated incubus has a young woman cornered in a small country church, and he attempts to entice her to leave her sanctuary.

Galleria Millennia
An unusual group of female artist-collectors descend on a city at the edge of the Rocky Mountains before Y2K.

The Samar Café
On the eve of joining his combat ship during an interstellar war, a young sailor spends the night with a prostitute, with surprising results.

A Harsh Lesson
A female military officer dons a haunted Waffen SS jacket and attends a costume party, where she intends to kill a Senator.

Aztec Ridge

An Aztec goddess claims a lover from the same family line every 52 years, and now it is time for her to take a new lover.

Dawn at Khabari Crossing

As the US combat role in Iraq ends, a middle-aged soldier faces the uncertainty of demobilization and returning to Ground Zero of the Great Recession.

Beween Flagstaff and Gallup

They say curiosity killed the cat, but what happens if it didn't, and the cat is still alive?

The Ledger
A married sutler, unhappily retired and in ill health, remembers the example of the love of a young 7th Cavalry trooper for an Irish laundress.

Grandpa's Bon Qui Qui
While deployed to Afghanistan, an older soldier in a May/December relationship must decide if the young woman really loves him, and if he really loves her.


For those of you who aren't familiar with SS Hampton, Sr., he is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He continues to serve in the Army National Guard, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant.

Hampton is also a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in anthropology. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from MUSA Publishing, Melange Books, Ravenous Romance, and Dark Opus Press. He also has stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. In 2012 he has another story forthcoming in an anthology from Edge SF & Fantasy (Danse Macabre), as well as a new book releasing from MuseItUp Publishing.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor

Friday, June 15, 2012


If you’re a new writer, undoubtedly you’re positive this is the YEAR. Your year. The year you will sell and prosper. It sure could be, but it’s all up to you.

Have you thought of what you’ll do to make your dream come true? How you are going to make it happen? When, besides sometime this year?

GOALS…BUSINESS PLAN… These are words you need to consider. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But have you decided your goals or written a plan? Don’t panic. Neither has to be on the order of a Fortune 500 company. Keep it simple, something that will work for you.

Today, we will concentrate on goals and save the business plan for a separate lecture.

Is it okay if we use me as an example? You agree? Thanks!

My goals for this year are;

1 - Edit my present book
2 - Write the second book in the series

Each of these works will be 50,000 plus words when completed. Success requires a plan, in my case a written plan, because it is never going to happen if I just sit around and dream. Allow me to share how I approach this mind-numbing task.

I’m a daily to-do list and calendar freak. I like my life plotted and planned. Of course, there has to be room for flexibility. By having an ADJUSTABLE plan I’ve got it made.

To work out a feasible system of accomplishing my two goals, I grabbed a legal pad and the calendar, which already has enough social commitments listed for the year to make me weep, and parked myself in a comfortable chair.

We’ll lay out the schedule for each goal in two separate plans for easier reading.

Goal 1 – Edit my present book

This novel has twenty-four chapters and an epilogue.

All of it has been printed because I work better with a hard copy. I will study each chapter, one at a time, and scrawl notes to myself all over its pages and, when I run out of space, into a spiral notebook. This way, I can easily take a chapter with to pore over while I’m waiting for an appointment, a slow moving train, or anything else which has me sitting and doing zip.

I want this work done in a relatively short period of time, hopefully thirty days. By reading the calendar I know there are many days when editing just isn’t possible. Personal appointments or necessary chores are marked in red. Writing tasks such as blogging, research, characterization, reading trade magazines, and so forth are noted in blue.

The good days have listed a chapter number and a brief note as to what must be done to finish the edits. All Fridays are reserved to re-read that week’s edits and make any changes.

So the calendar looks like the following;

Sunday January 8
No work today. Play with my granddaughters.

Monday January 9
Chapter 3
Bring in tour business somehow / change D’s business purchase to a tax audit? Would it work and simplify?

Tuesday January 10
Chapter 10
T must confess credit card over extended / Move dialogue from pg 89 here

Wednesday January 11
Great sale at Carson’s!! If I finished my work I can reward myself!!!
Dentist at 2
Meet Lor for dinner at 7

Thursday January 12
Jesse here at 8 a.m. for her edits
Pick up C from school 3:15 – take along new RWR
Chapter 20
Embellish sex scene / needs more emotion – switch to hero’s POV

Friday January 13
No time to worry about superstition
Re-read three chapters and approve
Out with the friends at 7

Saturday January 14
No work today. Play with Studly.

Please note the chapters are not in sequence. To finish in my allotted time, I’ve selected the easiest chapters to final edit and saved the more involved for the end of my month. It’s a trick I do to reduce the load while I mentally work out those tough scenes that are driving me crazy.

My daily to-do list will embellish on the above such as;

This is the calendar entry;
Monday January 9
Chapter 3
Bring in tour business somehow / change D’s business purchase to a tax audit? Would it work and simplify

This is the to-do list;
1. read chap as is
2. check POV of D – is it all his?
3. embellish D’s anger through his actions
4. is C a big enough pain in the ass?
5. is the setting over described
6. check out tax audit info to be accurate
7. lunch at 1- no exceptions
8. walk around and do neck exercises in am & afternoon
9. My daily to-do list will embellish on the above such as;

It is very important to treat your goals seriously. You need to work at your writing career with the same diligence as a fulltime job if you truly want to succeed. Let the machine pick up those calls, stay off the internet, eat, drink plenty of fluids preferably water, take scheduled breaks. And above all, have fun.

Have a great weekend. I'll be back Monday with the perfect summer read. Until then...

Happy Writing!

Sloane Taylor

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Tilapia with Citrus Bagna Cauda and Rice.

June is busting out all over and so will I if I don’t start eating healthier. After a few failed attempts, I’ve finally come up with a nice fish recipe Studs enjoys. I hope you will, too.

Tilapia with Citrus Bagna Cauda
Tossed salad
White Wine – Riesling or Chardonnay

Tilapia with Citrus Bagna Cauda

3 tilapia filets
1½ tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus 1 tsp.
½ tsp. anchovy paste
2 cloves garlic pressed
1 tbsp. orange juice plus ½ tsp.
1 tbsp. fresh basil if you use dried then 1 tsp.
½ tsp. lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200°F

Heat butter and olive oil in a pan until butter is melted. Add anchovy paste. Stir to dissolve. Add garlic, cook until fragrant about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in orange and lemon juices. Keep warm in preheated oven.

Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Warm before using.

Sprinkle fish with pepper. Brush with remaining olive oil. Fry fish on medium until opaque, about 3 minutes per side. Drizzle sauce over the fish and serve.

Prepare your favorite brand as the package directs, but replace half the water with chicken broth for more flavor.

Tossed Salad
Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces green leaf and head are excellent
Tomatoes sliced
Cucumber peeled and sliced
Green Onions, sliced, be sure to include some of the green
Mushrooms sliced
And anything else that strikes your fancy

Combine everything and toss well. Cover with a damp paper towel, then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When it's time, toss salad with your favorite dressing. Be careful not to add too much or the lettuce will get soggy. Portion out onto chilled salad plates or chilled bowls and serve.

I'll be back Friday with new writing tips. Until then...

Eat Well!

Sloane Taylor

Monday, June 11, 2012

What Unknowns Lurk in Your Child's School?

Samantha Combs is a Southern California author who enjoys writing YA paranormal romance and supernatural fantasy, along with creating books for the Middle Grade audience.

When Samantha's not writing, she spends time with her husband and two children. Her guilty pleasures include reality television, the Food Network channel and shoes. Samantha truly believes she can accomplish anything if she has the right pair of shoes.

I love writing and I am in awe of the technological advances of our lives. E-readers and similar gadgets are bringing the written word to a generation that might never have discovered books otherwise and every time I see a kid pick one up to read something it fills me with joy to be a small part of that process. If a child can connect with literature because he or she did so electronically, a connection still was made. I am excited to see what our world has in store for literature and excited to be along for that ride.

Samantha Combs
ISBN 978-1-61937-238-2
Musa Publishing


A raggedy group of delinquents, thrown together by circumstance, get the opportunity to prove if rumors about the detention teacher being less than human are true and discover it doesn’t take years of friendship to bond together and overcome evil.


Wayne is a Junior High school boy who just got detention for fighting in school to protect his longtime best friend, Gumby. But recently, there have been stories about detention. Kids have mysteriously disappeared, creating creepy rumors about detention class. Now, Wayne finds himself trapped in there with school bully Bubba Dugan. Keeping his distance from Bubba won’t be Wayne’s only problem. In fact, those rumors about the detention teacher don’t seem like stories at all.

With his best friend Gumby, a crew of delinquents and a surprising late addition, a pretty cheerleader harboring a secret crush, Wayne and his group of misfits will have to band together to outwit the detention teacher. He’s protected his best friend from harm his whole life…..but, can he protect him and everyone else against something that might not even be human?

If Mr. Levi was scary and intimidating in the stories circulating around the schoolyard, I decided right then and there, it was justifiably so. He was probably the freakiest person I had ever seen in my life. Oh, he was dressed normal enough in brown corduroy pants and loafers, and a regular white button down shirt with some kind of funky vest over it—the same outfit half the male teachers in school wore. He wasn’t too tall, he didn’t look like he worked out, and he had short hair with a big bald spot like one of my mom’s old boyfriend’s on top. Everything seemed reasonable and ordinary until you got to the face. Here was where we took a sharp turn out of Normalville and screamed headlong into Freak Town. Mr. Levi’s face featured a long, hooked nose, barely a slash of a mouth and his eyes were sunken back in their sockets. They didn’t have any color to them. They were actually black; so black that I had to look hard to make sure there were any eyes in the sockets at all. I don’t know how long I stood there looking at him because suddenly his papery thin eyelids closed and opened over those black, sunken holes, and the thin red slash parted and Mr. Levi spoke his first words to Gumby and me.

“You must be Marsh and Spencer.” The raspy, crunchy quality of his voice reminded me of the sound the piles of dried leaves make when I rake them in November in the front yard, all brittle and breakable. I could see cracks in the corners of his lips, like he hadn’t spoken for a long time. Next to me I felt Gumby trembling, but I wasn’t about to give this creep the satisfaction. I’d promised my mom I was just going to do my time and be out of here, and that was exactly what I was going to do.


Connect with Samantha Combs on her Fan Page, blog and Twitter. You're always welcome to email Samantha.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor

Friday, June 08, 2012

Counting Sunrises

by my good friend SS Hampton, Sr. is on the Penumbra E-Magazine blog. Hampton talks about Ray Bradbury and Vincent Price and the deep-rooted effect these late, great gentlemen had on his life. Please stop in and say "HI".

I'll be back Monday with awesome YA author Samantha Combs. Until then...

Have a great weekend!

Sloane Taylor

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Let’s go Italian with a fast and easy menu perfect for busy weekends. This is fun to make and sure to please every member of your family.

Pizza Casserole
Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Orange Granite – Flavored Ice
Dry White Wine – Pinot Grigio
Cold Peroni Beer

Pizza Casserole
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
1 6oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. oregano divided
1 tbsp. basil
1 tsp. sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz. mozzarella cheese grated
Olive oil to drizzle

Preheat oven to 425°.

Discard casing. Break sausage into chunks. Sauté over medium high heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 15 minutes.

Spray a 9x13 pan with Pam. Spread the pizza dough into the pan.

Combine tomato paste, water, garlic powder, oregano, basil, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir well. Pour onto the dough and spread to the edges.

Place sausage on sauce. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Scatter mozzarella cheese over casserole, then sprinkle with oregano. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cut in squares and serve.

Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Red leaf lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Head lettuce
Tomato chunks

Plan two leaves of each type lettuce and half a tomato per person. Combine in a bowl. Cover with a damp paper and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Creamy Garlic Dressing
1 ½ cups mayonnaise – it must be real mayo, not Miracle Whip
½ cup vegetable oil
Scant ¼ cup white vinegar
3 tbsp. chopped onion
¾ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
4 big gloves garlic pressed

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Mix on high until smooth.

Keeps two week in refrigerator. Store on bottom shelf.

To serve either toss with your salad or arrange the salad on individual chilled plates and ladle a dollop on top.

Orange Granite – Flavored Ice

2 cups water
¾ cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
3 tbsp. lemon juice

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Stir only until the sugar dissolves. Timing from the moment the sugar water begins to boil, cook the mixture for exactly 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, stir the orange and lemon juices into the syrup. Pour mixture into a shallow metal pan.

Freeze the granite for 3 to 4 hours. Every 30 minutes, stir and scrape in the ice particles that form on the sides of the pan. The granite should be a fine, snowy texture. For a coarser texture, which I prefer, freeze the flavored syrup in ice cube trays until solid, then drop cubes into a plastic bag and smash with a heavy wooden spoon or mallet.

I'll be back Friday with new writing tips. Until then...

Mangiar Bene!

Sloane Taylor

Monday, June 04, 2012

Children Are the Keys to Our Future

And now, children are the only hope for our past.

Sharon Ledwith is a brand new, uber talented author you definitely want to read. Her writing is YA, but this old lady enjoyed The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis and can't wait for the next book in the series.

When Amanda Sault and her four classmates are caught in a major food fight at school, they are given the choice of suspension or yard duty. It was a no-brainer. A two-week crash course in landscaping leads the kids to discover a weathered stone arch buried in an overgrown backyard. Instead of a forgotten lawn ornament, it turns out to be an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis. Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from an evil force—the five children, along with two offbeat adults, are sent on the adventure of their lives to save the Earth from an uncertain future. The Timekeepers’ first mission lands them in England in 1214, where they must find an adolescent Robin Hood and his band of merry teens before history is turned upside-down.

Amanda Sault silently studied the words she just scrawled: May 1st, 1214—Games and songs and revelry, act as the cloak of devilry. So that an English legend may give to the poor, we must travel to Nottingham to even the score.

She frowned. She was the Scribe. Amanda knew that meant she was supposed to understand what this riddle meant. But she didn’t have a clue. All she knew was that she, her four annoying classmates, and two offbeat adults were standing in what was left of the lost continent of Atlantis and they were supposed to be the Timekeepers, the legendary time travelers handpicked by destiny to keep Earth’s history safe from evil. But no one had told them how they were supposed to do it.

Their problem: no matter what happened—good or bad—they weren’t supposed to mess with the past. Period. Dot. End of story. Amanda felt hot liquid build in her throat. Her thumb traced the words of the arcane riddle. Their first Timekeeper mission. Amanda knew this wasn’t the end of the story.

This was just the beginning.


Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, The Last Timekeepers. Book one, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, debuted May 18 from Musa Publishing. To read more about the book, or purchase, please click HERE. Keep up with Amanda and the world of The Last Timekeepers series on Facebook.

When not writing or digging up the past, Sharon enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. She lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.

Visit Sharon on her blog and Facebook. She is only a tweet away. Feel Free to click HERE.

Friday, June 01, 2012

He Said, She Said

Let's talk dialogue. Editors love dialogue. It provides the "white space" they like in books. Readers like dialogue. It moves the story along at a faster pace. You, the author, need to master writing dialogue. Let’s try and make it easy for you with two important factors.

First - TAGS

He said, she said, they all said, are dialogue tags.

Many writers wax poetic with; he replied angrily, she screamed out the words, they hissed their answer as one. After you yank your finger out of your throat consider why these three examples are bad.

He replied angrily.
"Replied" is fine, if you must have a tag, but "angrily" is overkill. Your dialogue must show, not tell, the character’s anger. "Add actions to emphasize instead of adverbs" is a good rule to tape to your monitor.

Once in awhile it may be necessary to add an adverb. Hester Kaplan wrote in a prize winning short story:
“Cold as hell in New York," she said hoarsely, as though clots of snow were lodged in her throat.
In this case “hoarsely” is important to the reader or they would be confused over a person choking on clots of snow.

She screamed out the words.
Over the top. If your character has to scream, then so be it, but it’s unnecessary to add “out the words”. Because what the hell else is she going to scream – sausages? Again, your verbs in the dialogue should be strong enough to show, not tell, the reader the character is screaming. If your lady is screaming, the chick is full of rage. Show it with something like this: She fisted her shaking hands, failing to hold them stiff at her side. Purple blotches swelled across her face as she spit out the cruel words.

They hissed their answer.
Snakes hiss, people generally don’t. Write your dialogue to show their anger or do it with an action.

Every sentence of dialogue by a different character doesn’t need a tag line. If you have two people talking the occasional “said” is sufficient. But if you use an action after the line of dialogue then drop the “said”.

“Your perfume is very unusual.” He sniffed at her neck.
“Thank you. It’s my favorite.”
“It reminds me of something, but I can’t quite name it.”
He snapped his fingers. “Exactly.”

Nary a he or she said added and you know who is talking.

A few more tag will be required when you have a group in conversation. It will also be necessary to add the character’s name.

“Your perfume is very unusual.” Max sniffed at her neck.
“Thank you. It’s my favorite.” Eva smiled at what she hoped was a compliment.
“It reminds me of something, but I can’t quite name it.”
“Rosemary?” asked Ron.
Max snapped his fingers. “Exactly.”

Second - VOICE

This one is simple. Every character in your story has a different voice. The way they say things are exclusive to them due to their age, education, occupation, and all the other facets that make them be who they are. Be true to that character and write the dialogue as if they were really speaking it. Make it easy on yourself and envision the character, then say their dialogue out loud. You will automatically use the phrases unique to them.

Now that you have the idea, go though your manuscript in hard copy. Read the dialogue aloud or, better yet, have a friend read it. Then ask yourself these questions;

• Does it seem stilted, unnatural?
• Is that character’s dialogue true to them or do they all sound alike?
• Have you over dramatized the tag lines?
• Is the dialogue too long?
• Boring?
• Important enough to move your story along?

It only takes a short time to do the above and make your manuscript more attractive to an editor and reader.

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back Monday with debut author Sharon Ledwith. Until then...

Happy Writing!

Sloane Taylor