Monday, July 30, 2012

Top Ten Things To Do in Paris

Not what you might expect

by Libby Mercer

Quite a large chunk of my novel, Fashioning a Romance, takes place in Paris, so this city’s been on my mind a lot lately. (I really must get back there at some point...) Anyway, I thought I’d come up with a Top Ten list of Paris sights for this blog post, but as I Googled for details, I kept discovering so many wild and wacky Paris sights and shops, it seemed silly to reiterate what’s pretty much common knowledge – that one must visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, go for a walk on the Seine, etc. And now, without further ado, here’s my somewhat offbeat list:

(Apologies to any guys reading this for the overt girly slant.)

1. Saint-Séverin
This stunning church was once the main place of worship for everyone who lived on the Left Bank. Construction begun in the 11th Century, and its bells include the oldest one remaining in Paris. It’s got some wacky architectural details, including pillars in the shape of palm trees. In Fashioning a Romance, my characters visit Saint-Séverin, and as my hero, John, points out: the architects must have been proponents of the “more is more” design philosophy.

2. Parc de Belleville
The English translation for “belleville” is “beautiful town” and that’s exactly what you will see before you when you visit this peaceful park. At 108 meters, it’s the highest park in Paris and offers a gorgeous panoramic view of the city.

3. La Fée Verte
The atmosphere in this charming, old-fashioned absinthe bar and café is sophisticated, while at the same time laid back. La Fée Verte, or “The Green Fairy” has a distinctive, magical feel to it. Not sure if it has more to do with the enchanting 19th Century Parisian style or the effects of the absinthe…

4. The stock and secondhand shops
Top Parisian designers like Azzedine Alaïa and Sonia Rykiel have specific shops where they sell last season’s fashions at deep discounts, and the secondhand shops are flush with goodies after the runway shows – after all, if Giselle wears it once for twenty minutes, they can’t sell it as “new”. If fashion’s your thing, consider scheduling your visit shortly after Fashion Week, which takes place in early March and early October each year. Sadly, I don’t wear the same size as Giselle & Co. except when it comes to shoes. A few years ago, I was able to score a sassy pair of gold Gucci heels for about 80 bucks!

5. Musée de la Poupée
I guess I’m still a little girl at heart, because I had to include the Doll Museum on this list. The permanent exhibit displays dolls from 1800 to 1959, but they have an ongoing rotation of special exhibitions, focusing on such things as dollhouse art, baby dolls and Barbie et Ken. They also have a clinic onsite, so you can bring your own “sick dolls” in to be restrung, to have new eyes put in or whatever you need.

6. The Rodin Museum
Yes, I know. It’s not exactly a revolutionary choice, but there are some important scenes in Fashioning a Romance that take place there, so I couldn’t not include it on this list. Rodin’s iconic sculptures, including “The Thinker”, “The Kiss” and The “Gates of Hell” are magnificent to behold, and the museum’s surrounding gardens are absolutely sublime.

7. Canzi Biocosmetique
A skincare boutique unlike any other, Canzi offers unique products made with the finest organic ingredients from around the world including pure plant powders, rose petals, olive oil, lavender and calendula. Owner Stefan Mottay mixes the cosmetics himself, sometimes right in front of customers.

8. Bibliotheque Nationale de France

This, as you may have deduced from the name, is the national library and it’s a must-see for book-lovers visiting Paris. It’s built to look like four ginormous books open and standing on their ends. Only in Paris…

9. La Gare
Gare” means station as in “train station” which is what the building that houses the restaurant within once was. It’s a huge space with high, peaked ceilings and a massive skylight running down the center of it. A meal here will cost you dearly, and the portions are miniscule, but dining at La Gare is an experience. And a light dinner might be a good idea if, like me, you overindulge on the pains au chocolats in the morning.

10.Le Comptoir
Crafty visitors will definitely want to check out this top quality craft shop. They stock a massive selection of gorgeous wool yarn, pattern books and magazines, ribbons, embroidery thread and exquisite buttons.

So there you have it. These are my Top Ten picks for things to do in Paris. Now, how much are airline tickets going for these days…

Now a little about Fashioning a Romance:

Faced with a man so smooth he can charm the clouds from the sky, will Caitlyn be able to stick to her strict No Players policy?

Dedicated American fashion girl, Caitlyn Taylor, can’t stand players, and has successfully dodged them like enemy fire all her life. And then she meets fun-loving British CEO, John Harrington. Not only is he her boss’s brother, he’s the charismatic kind of womanizer that nightmares are made of. Worse still: he’s exactly Caitlyn’s type. As if his being the Superman of sex appeal isn’t enough, he’s also got that quirky something-something that she adores. Not that she’s even considering falling prey to his methods. No way.

John can’t fathom how Caitlyn can be impervious to his charms, given the extraordinary chemistry between them. The more she resists, the more determined he is to break down the walls she’s built up to keep him out. Forced to get creative, he orchestrates a “surprise” weekend in Paris for the two of them. Game on!

To read an excerpt from Fashioning a Romance, or to purchase the book, please click HERE.

Learn more about Libby Mercer on her blog and stay connected on Facebook.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Best Selling Author's Diet

It’s salad days, folks, because it's time to put your manuscript on a diet. Cinch your belt as tight as you can and let’s self-edit.

What’s self-edit? It means you eliminate all the fat, all the extra words that don’t move the story forward, and all the passive words bogging down your scenes.

REDUNDANCIES are unnecessary words over describing an action.

The following are examples and if you look hard you’re bound to find several in your work.

• David pulled out the bench and sat down in the chair.
The word ‘down’ is unnecessary because that’s the only way David can sit.

• David jumped up. David stood up.
‘Up’ is unnecessary because, again, that’s the only way he can go if he’s jumping or standing.

• Melissa shrugged her shoulders.
I love this one because it eliminates two words, ‘her shoulders’. What else could Melissa shrug?

• Melissa loved to see David’s well-toned chest and how it tapered down to his narrow waist.
‘Well’ and ‘down’ go. The sentence should read;
Melissa loved to see David’s toned chest and how it tapered to his narrow waist.
The corrected version is cleaner and right to the point.

A few other examples are;

• Blue in color
• Climbed up the stairs
• Eased slowly
• Nodded his head
• Stomped heavily
• Stood to his full height
• Terribly bad

PASSIVE WORDS are used in our speech but should never be used in writing. You’re telling a story and must keep the action moving. These words are showing not telling.

• Is
• Might
• Seemed
• Started to
• Was
• Were

Readers want action therefore you must construct your sentences with powerful verbs.

The same reasoning applies to adverbs and adjectives. The following is but a small selection and offer zero to paint a picture.

• A little
• Almost
• Even
• Just
• Perhaps
• So
• Some
• Very
• When

Most, if not all, adverbs and adjectives weaken your writing and need to be eliminated from your story.

PREPOSITIONS are not your best friend. Go through your work and highlight every preposition, including prepositional phrases. If you have an abundance you must clear them out to create stronger sentences.

THAT is a word we seldom need in a sentence. Its filler and a word you need to eliminate from your writing and your vocabulary.

The Best Tip of the Day;

Do a word search to discover how many times you’ve used a specific word. Reread your sentence and replace the overused word with a stronger verb or noun.

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back Monday with Libby Mercer and tips for an unusual Paris vacation. Until then...

Happy Writing!

Sloane Taylor

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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

Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks, and Tossed Salad

No one wants to be a stove slave during the summer heat. This is a perfect meal to prepare and eat al fresco on your patio or in your garden. Set your table with a pretty tablecloth or colorful sheet and several candles. Every meal tastes great in the right setting.

Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks
Tossed Salad
French Bread
Soave White Wine – it’s from the Veneto region of Italy and perfect for this meal

Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned
two 12-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts in oil, drained
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tsp, kosher salt less will not disturb the flavors
1 tsp, freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Halve the leeks lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces. Wash well to remove any sand grains.

Cut the artichokes lengthwise if large.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the leeks, and cook until soft but not browned, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove the leeks from skillet and set aside.

Increase heat to medium and add the artichokes. Cook about 3 minutes stirring often.

Return the leeks to skillet and toss to mix. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Cook the linguine according to the package directions, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Add the vegetables and toss with half the Parmesan cheese. Add some of the pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Tossed Salad
a variety of fresh lettuce
zucchini peeled and sliced
cucumber peeled and sliced
red onion rings
tomatoes cut in eights
hard boiled eggs quartered
and everything else that strikes your fancy, especially black olive and pepperoncini

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Use bottled dressing or a little olive oil and white wine vinegar.

I'll be back Friday with a little more for aspiring authors. Until then...

Mangiar Bene!

Sloane Taylor

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Immortal Tux

The handsome spokescat for the Janis Flores novels is here with pertinent questions.

Tux: Why do you always have animals in your novels?

JF: The simple answer is that animals make good characters. We’re a society that literally spends billions on our pets, so I know a lot of people feel the way I do. Animals also add to the story, giving the reader a different insight into the characters themselves. You can tell a lot about a person (or a character) by the way he or she reacts to an animal.

Tux: Is that why you created Royal,
the black German shepherd in SWEETER THAN WINE?

JF: Absolutely. Royal was a joy to write because he became one of the most important characters in the story. He and the heroine, Terra Cavanaugh, form an instant, almost mystical bond, from the moment they meet. I’ve felt that bond with many of the animals that have passed through my own life.

Tux: But didn’t Jake Vreeland (the hero in the book) call Royal a “royal-pain-in-the-a**” because he couldn’t keep his mind on his training?

JF: Well, it’s true. Royal in the beginning is like the little boy in school who has more fun pulling pranks than in studying. Jake does despair that Royal will ever become a great search dog, like his father, Mano. But Terra has complete faith that one day Royal will do something to make Jake proud.

Tux: And does he?

JF: (smiling) You’ll have to read the book to find out. But I promise, you’ll be satisfied.

Tux: You have a lot of dogs yourself. How many is it now? Ten? Twenty? Fifty?

JF: Now, Tux, you know we currently have just four dogs. One is a Corgi, another is an Australian shepherd, the third is a black and white terrier mix we rescued, and the fourth is another rescue, a coal-black three-legged mix of Papillion and maybe long-haired Chihuahua.

Tux: A lot of people wonder if a dog can get along with just three legs.

JF: (laughing) She doesn’t seem to notice that she’s missing a limb—or care. In fact, she can outrun me any day of the week. And if she’s excited or wants a treat, she bounces on her one hind leg like she’s on a pogo-stick.

Tux: I hate to get you started, but you also seem to have a love affair going on with horses, both in real life and in your books. Being of the feline persuasion, I don’t understand it myself, so maybe you can explain the attraction.

JF: I fell in love with horses from the time that I knew what a horse was. I used to beg my parents to take me on the pony rides at the park when I was small. I have a picture of myself when I was about four or five, in my cowboy outfit, riding one of those ponies. I’m smiling with pure joy.
On a side note, my husband, Ray, has a picture of him in his cowboy outfit at the same age, riding a pony, too. Talk about serendipity! Years later when we met and married, we had these photos framed. Then we bought our first horses. We’ve had horses ever since, although now we’re down to just two Arab geldings. They’re both in their 20s, but still rarin’ to go.

Tux: (sighing) I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned horses. Now I’ll never get you off the subject.

JF: Well, we could talk about Oreo my attack rabbit if you like.

Tux: (shuddering) And that’s what she was—an attack rabbit. People think that rabbits are cute and cuddly, but she used to scare the heck out of everybody—except me, of course.

JF: (trying not to smile). Of course. I have to admit, she was spoiled. My ever-loving husband built her the Taj Mahal of rabbit hutches in my home office, so she could watch what was going on. She was a good distraction at times. I’d be working, so it would be very quiet, and suddenly she’d leap up and run around the hutch like her tail was on fire. I think she did it to keep the dogs—and me—on our toes.

Tux: You used to comb her every day, I remember that.

JF: And I still have that big bag of white rabbit hair. One day I’ll spin it into yarn to make myself a coat. Or perhaps a hat. Or a scarf… Or maybe I’ll just keep it in the bag as is.

Tux: Well, that’s all for now. Maybe next time we can talk about you and social media. Are you getting the hang of it yet?

JF: I’m trying, I’m trying.

SWEETER THAN WINE is available from Musa Publishing. To read an excerpt, please click HERE.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor

Friday, July 20, 2012

Structure is the Name of the Game

Let’s work on Syntax and Tighten the Writing. By doing the former you will achieve much of the later.

Syntax is the patterns of formations of sentences and phrases from words and the rules of the formation of grammatical sentences in a language.

Don’t you just love Webster definitions? They make everything so unclear.

In plain English, Syntax means the word arrangement and sentence structure.

Remember that old song by Tom Jones, and later Joe Cocker, “You Can Leave Your Hat On”? It was sexy, vibrant, and made you want to, ahh… er… leave only your hat on.

The phrasing is great for lyrics and dialogue, but oh so wrong for narrative. Why? You should never end a sentence with a preposition. Yes, it sounds right. Yes, we talk that way. Grammatically it is incorrect.

How should it read? “You can leave on your hat.” Sure doesn’t have the same impact does it?

Frequently, grammatical sentences don’t have the same effect and if you find this to be true save the prepositional endings for your dialogue. Sometimes you can’t help but use them in narrative because you need that force or dramatic effect. It’s okay but use it sparingly.

Here’s an example of what Redmond O’Hanlon, Into the Heart of Borneo, Vintage 1987, got away with in his novel;

“My companion, James Fenton, however, whose idea the venture was, enigmatic, balding, an ex-correspondent of the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, a jungle in himself, was a wise old man in these matters.”

I don’t know if Fenton did this as a joke on his editor, if it got missed in the edits, or he wanted this sentence to read as written. But I will guarantee you won’t get away with this type of writing with today’s editors. Be sure to read your work aloud and correct any sentences that are convoluted.

ALOUD is the key word here. Read your work aloud. I can’t stress this enough. It’s the only way to allow your ear to pick up the errors. Sure you’ll feel stupid doing it, even if you are home alone locked in your closet. Get over it. We all experience the same reaction. Here’s your option; let your book go to an editor with written garble and expect a nice form rejection in the return mail.

When you read aloud look for;

• Does your intent come across – action, suspense, romance, sorrow?
• Does something detract from your meaning?
• Fine-tune your sentences until they sound perfect, rhythmic, to your ear.

To further Tighten the Writing get rid of unnecessary words. It will make your writing sound stronger. Those expendable words are, but not limited to;

• A little
• Almost
• Anyway
• At the present time
• Began to
• By means of
• Certainly
• Considering the fact that
• Definitely
• Even
• Is/was/were
• Just
• So
• Some
• That
• Very

Be concise, don’t ramble on with your descriptions. Think about the sections you skim or avoid when you read a novel. Don’t allow that to happen to your reader. Make sure you haven’t flooded a section with so much back story or description you are boring the reader. Get rid of the excess because most of it won’t matter.

Please don’t write you book via Roget’s Thesaurus. Today’s editors want meat in a book, not fat. Readers do not want authors to written down to them. Use the everyday words of your speech and not some $20.00 word that has your reader reaching for their Webster’s.

Avoid clichés like the plague. Get the idea? You are a writer – so write something new.

I’m not being bitchy here. I want you to get published. We should have millions of new books available from the reliable E-publishers and on the shelves of every type bookstore. But, if you don’t do your job the numbers will be low and our future generations won’t have the role models they need.

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back Monday with The Immortal Tux. Until then...

Happy Writing!

Sloane Taylor

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

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

Grilled Steaks, Baked Potatoes, and Glazed Carrots.

Our weather has gone nuts in the Midwest with scalding temperatures that has everyone listless. No one wants to heat up the house with cooking, so this month we have a menu geared for outdoor cooking. Hang onto it for those stormy fall and winter days because it also works great indoors.

Glazed Carrots
Baked Potatoes
Grilled Steaks
Dry Red Wine – Cabernet Sauvignon

Baked Potatoes
1 baking potato per person
1 bay leaf for each potato
olive oil
Kosher or rock salt
sour Cream

Outdoor Grill
Preheat on medium high. Prepare the potatoes in the same manner as above.

Lay potatoes on bottom grate. Every 15 minutes roll the potatoes to a new side to prevent burning. It will take about 45 minutes to cook through. Test by inserting a toothpick. If the potato is cooked enough the pick will slide in easily.

When done, set the potatoes on the upper rack until ready to serve.

Oven Method
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Wash the potatoes under cool running water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub the skins with a small amount of olive oil. Slit across the top large enough and deep enough to fit in a bay leaf. Roll in the salt and wrap in aluminum foil.

Bake for about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick. If the potato is cooked enough the pick will slide in easily.

When done, set the potatoes on a warm stove or inside a 200°F oven until ready to serve.

Serve with butter, sour cream, and chives.

Glazed Carrots
1lb. cello wrapped pre-cleaned carrots
1 stick butter
chicken stock canned or boxed
2 tbsp. sugar
freshly ground pepper
mint leaves if you like that flavor

In a Teflon type pan melt the butter and add the sugar. Add the carrots and enough chicken stock to come half way up the carrots. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Shake the pan periodically to move the carrots around. Cook uncovered until carrots are fork tender.

If the glaze hasn’t reduced enough, remove the carrots to a serving dish and drape with foil.

Bring the frying pan to a boil and cook until the glaze is reduced. Be careful here because the butter and sugar burn easily. If it does, it’s very bitter.

Add the glaze to the carrots. Grind pepper on top, then sprinkle with a few chopped mint leaves.

This dish freezes well for a future meal. If you freeze, do not add the mint leaves.

Grilled Steaks

1 steak of your choice per person
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce

Heat your outdoor grill to medium. Sprinkle a few drops of Worcestershire sauce on each side of the steak and spread out with your fingers. Grind fresh pepper on one side. Grill for 3 minutes each side for rare, 4 for medium rare, 5 for well done. Turn only once.

Remove the steaks and tent with aluminum foil. Allow to sit on top of a warm stove for about five minutes. This will draw the juices back into the meat and will also cook the steak to perfection.

If you use the oven broiler, follow the same cooking times.

I'll be back Friday with a little more for aspiring authors. Until then...

Happy Eating!

Sloane Taylor

Monday, July 16, 2012

He's Debonair and All Male. Introducing...

Henry the Rat, one of the protagonists of Ted Mendelssohn's debut novel The Wrong Sword.

So, Henry, why do you think Ted chose you to represent him?
Just lazy, I guess. I do the work while he takes the credit. Writers! Oh. You mean, why did he choose me instead of another character?

Um, yes. For instance, why not the Princess Mathilde? We understand she was very eager to do this interview.
I’ll bet. She never met an audience she didn’t like.

That’s an odd statement. We thought that you and she-
Shutupshutupshutup! Listen, she's a princess, I'm…really not. So just be cool. We're on the sub infra.

Okay. So, the other woman in your life-
Is a sword. Yes.

Excalibur, in fact.
Yeah, yeah, sword-of-kings-from-the-dawn-of-time.

You don’t sound very excited. Most warriors would kill to get their hands on a weapon like that.
Do I look like a warrior?

Frankly, no.
If you saw me in a dark alley, what would you do?

Check our wallet to make sure it was still there.
Exactly. Did you know the sword talks to me?

Stop edging away like that. I’m not crazy. It’s a magic sword. And it never lets me forget it. Do you know what was carved into the stone where I found it?

“Whosoever Pulleth the Sword From out the Stone Is Rightwise Born King of all England”?
No. “Hic gladio facit magna dolor in natibus.” You do the Latin.

This interview seems to have gotten a little off-track. Why don’t we go back to the prepared questions?
It’s your farthing.

When you were born?
Six years before Young King Harry of England burned my village to the ground.

I don’t like knights much.

Okay, moving on, why should readers be interested in your story?

Evil princes, killer monks, hair-raising escapes, and the medieval version of three-card monte. Plus automatic shepherds.

Sounds fun.
Well, from my end of things, it's scary as hell. But if you're just reading it while you're safe and cozy at home, you'll have a great time.

Ted Mendelssohn
ISBN 978-1-61937-195-8
Musa Publishing

For a thousand years, Excalibur has been the sword of heroes. Unfortunately, its new owner isn’t one.

Ever since he arrived in Paris, Henry the Rat has made a pretty good living selling "magic" swords to gullible knights. But when Henry sells one to Geoffrey Plantagenet, brother to King Richard, his happy days are over for good. Geoffrey forces Henry into a dangerous, uncomfortable quest for the most famous magic sword of all time, Excalibur, even though Henry is certain that it's just a myth.

Then Henry actually finds Excalibur - and his troubles really start: For Excalibur is not just the sword of’s also the sword that won’t SHUT UP. It communicates with its owner, it knows what kind of owner it deserves, and Henry doesn’t even come close.

To keep Excalibur and the world safe from the appalling Geoffrey, Henry will have to masquerade as a knight, crash a royal wedding, rescue a princess, break a siege, penetrate the secrets of the Perilous Brotherhood, and find Excalibur’s rightful bearer, all while trying to reach an accommodation with a snotty, aristocratic hunk of steel that mocks him, takes over his body, and keeps trying to turn him into the one thing he hates most...a hero.


After working as a lighting technician, a story analyst, and a paid Blackjack player, Ted Mendelssohn now writes ad copy and and speculative fiction, two entirely different kinds of imaginative literature. He lives in New York, is a graduate of several prestigious institutions of higher education, and knows the difference between a claymore and a pike.

Learn more about Ted and his uber creative work on his blog The Sword That Nagged.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's Wednesday. So What's Cooking?

Chicken & Italian Sausage with Potatoes and Stuffed Tomatoes.

Summer is a busy time with family, picnics, sports, gardening, and so much more. So who has time for major cooking? This week it’s a one pot main course. Use a cooking dish that goes from oven to table for easier cleanup.

Chicken & Italian Sausage with Potatoes
Stuffed Plum Tomatoes
Fresh Italian Bread with Flavored Olive Oil for Dipping
White Wine – Pinto Grigio

Rosemary Flavored Olive Oil
A good quality olive oil
Sprigs of fresh rosemary

Fill a glass bottle or pitcher with olive oil. Add several sprigs of rosemary into the bottle. Be sure the herbs are completely covered. Store out of the sun for three days. Remove the herbs and discard. The flavored oil is good for two months.

This works well with all herbs and/or garlic.

Chicken & Italian Sausage
1 lb. chicken pieces of your favprites, if you use breasts they must be quartered.
1 lb. Italian sausage links cut in half
¾ cup chicken stock fresh or canned
4 gloves garlic pressed 1 – 2 lbs. red potatoes washed and quartered
rosemary flavored olive oil
1 red pepper seeded and sliced
1 yellow pepper seeded and sliced
3 tbsp. oregano
Parsley, preferably fresh, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a large ovenproof dish with flavored olive oil. Lay in the chicken and sausage. Add the chicken stock and garlic. Bake 20 minutes. Stir the mixture once while it roasts.

Add the potatoes. Sir well and bake for 25 minutes. Again, stir the mixture once while it is roasting.

Add the peppers and oregano. Drizzle on the olive oil and bake another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Test with a toothpick. It must easily pierce the potato.

Monitor the chicken stock level in your pan. Be sure to add more if it looks dry.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Stuffed Plum or Italian Tomatoes
1 plum tomato per person, halved and scooped clean
½ tsp. oregano per tomato
½ tsp. basil per tomato
1 mini mozzarella ball per tomato chopped
1 small garlic glove per tomato pressed
1 tbsp. olive oil per tomato

Drain the tomatoes cut side down on paper towels.

Mix together the remaining ingredients. Scoop the filling into the tomato shells, mounding slightly.

Chill and serve as a salad or as a first course.

The leftovers from this meal also make a great lunch.

I'll be back Friday with a little more for aspiring authors. Until then...

Mangiar Bene!

Sloane Taylor

Monday, July 09, 2012

A Can of Wryms

by S.G. Rogers

Norse mythology isn’t warm and fuzzy. In fact, many of the legends are off-putting and gritty. The creation myth involves a giant (Ymir) who births a man and woman from his armpits, and whose blood forms oceans. The more I did research on the subject, the less inclined I was to use any of the nine worlds of Norse mythology in my new fantasy series.

Then, I had an epiphany.

Norse mythology predates Christianity. These myths, legends and beliefs circulated for two centuries before any actual recordation occurred. What if the scribes in Midgard (Earth) got their facts wrong, or spun the legends to suit their own purposes? What if Asgard (home of the Norse Gods) still exists, and continues to evolve to this day? Now that playground was something that seized my imagination.

Although I was aware meddling with tradition might be opening up a can of ‘wyrms,’ the runestones were cast. In The Druid, I set about creating a world where I chose what worked for my story, massaged those aspects that weren’t quite so appealing, and discarded what I didn’t like. Fans of Norse mythology will recognize certain elements I wove into the fabric of the tale, but no knowledge of Norse mythology is required to enjoy the story.

Controversial? Possibly. Provocative? Hopefully. My hope is that interested readers will be motivated to do their own research. In The Druid, I write about ‘the road less traveled by’ and to me, that made all the difference. ~ S.G. Rogers


An Asgard Adventure, Book One
S.G. Rogers
ISBN: 978-1-61937-179-8
Musa Publishing


Dani Avery is an ordinary girl wishing for adventure. She never expected to be kidnapped by mythological creatures and taken to a place she thought only existed within the pages of a book. Abandoned in Asgard, Dani must find her way home. Along the way, she meets the handsome Prince Rein. Sadly, the elf is not-so-charming and has issues of his own, leaving Dani disappointed and vulnerable. With nowhere left to turn Dani looks for help among the powerful Immortals, but gets caught in a trap that may leave her stranded and alone in Asgard forever.

Outside, a flickering light in the adjacent parking area cast a moody pall. Even though the lot was deserted, Dani quickened her pace. Suddenly, out of nowhere, two towering figures with indistinct forms and features pinned her from either side. One of them spoke in a voice that was neither male nor female—or human.

“Druid, we have you at last.”

She was too shocked to react for a moment. But when something like clammy tendrils of rubber cement began to curl around her wrists and upper arms, Dani was galvanized into action. Although she tried to beat the ectoplasm out of her assailants, the tendrils continued to form until she was nearly immobile. Then, the shadowy figures dragged her into another plane of existence.

No longer in the Avery Dry Cleaners parking lot, Dani and her kidnappers had materialized in a field of electric-blue grass laced with broad swaths of green four-leaf clover. The sunlit sky was unlike any Dani had ever seen. The color was a kaleidoscope of intense periwinkle, purples, and pinks, with an occasional silvery wisp floating past. Reminiscent of the aurora borealis, the effect was dazzling, but Dani could scarcely enjoy the view in her current predicament.

She was lying in the grass, trussed up like a turkey, and utterly helpless. Unable to speak because of the rubbery tendrils across her mouth, Dani could only glare at Ninn and Ginn. Moments ago, the creatures had appeared spectral, but now they were vividly clear. They were humanoid, but the facial features under their hooded capes were strangely avian. Ninn prodded Dani’s thigh with the toe of his black boot. “It’s a female,” he chirped.

“I hate to admit it, but this definitely ain’t the Druid.” Ginn massaged his beakish nose, swollen even larger from close contact with Dani’s knuckles. “A shieldmaiden, I’m guessing, from her combat skills,” he said. “What should we do with her?”

“Send her back to Midgard?”

“Can’t. She’ll warn the Druid we’re looking for him.”

“Let’s dump her in Helheim.”

“Ah, that would be too cruel,” Ginn said. He gave a diabolical chuckle. “But I like it.”


Learn more about S.G. Rogers on her website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Monday, July 02, 2012

Sara Daniel Writes What She Loves

which is irresistible romance and captivating family drama. Sara writes to entertain and to give people hope and a belief that everything can and will turn out happily ever after. With each terrific novel, no matter what genre she is writing, Sara succeeds to provide readers with what they have come to expect and a lot more.

On the personal side, Sara’s a frazzled maid, chef, chauffeur, tutor, and personal assistant (aka mom). She was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels. She’s crazy about country music and the drama of NASCAR. And she has her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband.

Sara Daniel
ISBN: 978-1-61937-001-2
Musa Publishing

The discovery of a secret baby threatens Caleb's professional reputation. Falling for the woman who loves this baby would ruin him.

Buy Links:
Musa Publishing
Barnes and Noble

Marriage therapist Caleb Paden has just found out he has a son from a one-night stand, making a mockery of his core belief of stable relationships--"friendship above all physical encounters." On his way to take the child for a paternity test, a snowstorm leaves him stranded with single mom Olivia Wells, who blames his advice for breaking up her marriage. Caleb finds himself fighting the urge for the most basic of physical encounters. Olivia would like nothing more than to destroy the career he spent a lifetime building, but her maternal instincts draw her to help Caleb bond with his child. Soon, she finds herself falling for both of them. Nowhere in any of his advice does Caleb have an answer for how to make a relationship work if he loses his heart to love.

She shoved his hand away. "Don't give me that mellow, understanding voice. You're not my therapist."

"I'm not trying to be. But if there's a problem with Forever, I want to fix it."

"That's not what you want." Maybe coming close to her wasn't the best idea. She was livid. "You want me to tell you something I did, so you can prove your model's perfect and I'm at fault. Yes, my marriage failed, and I carry some responsibility. I blame myself for reading your books and believing they held the secret to everlasting happiness."

He'd met a lot of irate people over the years. But they were angry with their spouses, themselves, parents, and bosses. Not him. He was the one with the answers, the one who redirected the rage into something healthy. "I'd like to interview you after we've both cooled down and are well rested. We'll go through the points of Forever one by one and determine where your marriage broke down. If any problems surface with the model, I can address them in my next book."

"I'll tell you what's wrong. You underestimate the power of sex." She advanced toward him.

All the physical senses he thought he'd gotten under tight rein ran wild. Caleb backed up a step, trying to regain his control, but came up hard against the counter. Olivia kept coming, boxing him in. He pulled on his tie again, hoping it was knotted tightly. He needed his tightly buttoned image to remind himself he was a professional, and his question was strictly as a therapist. "How was the sex in your marriage?"

"Sometimes mediocre. Usually lousy."

With the unholy gleam in her eye, he had trouble comprehending the possibility of a sexual experience with her being less than earth-shattering. Heat radiated from her. His body was dying for her to lean her hips into his.

"How's your sex life?" She reached up and unknotted his tie with deft, sure fingers.

"Good enough," he lied. Too late he realized she'd broken the wall of one-way revelation he always maintained. Even with his lie for an answer, she'd drawn him in and was consuming him with sexual fantasies.

"Since you're judging me, I ought to get a chance to judge your statement for myself." She yanked the tie, sliding it out from under his starched shirt collar and heating the back of his neck.

"Stop it." He was unnerved to find his voice wasn't quite steady. Women who wanted to be part of his life wrote letters highlighting the benefits of friendship. "Let's focus on what went wrong in your marriage."

She worked her fingers under his collar, pushing the top button through the hole. "How can you stand having this so tight? You can't take a full breath."

He'd been able to breathe just fine until her knuckles rubbed over his Adam's apple. Her fingers were smooth and competent. Despite his resolve, he could feel his arousal pulsing with each of her movements.

Buy Links:
Musa Publishing
Barnes and Noble

Learn more about Sara Daniel on website and blog. Connect with her on facebook, her fan page, and twitter.

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

Happy Reading!

Sloane Taylor