Thursday, January 31, 2013

Did Someone Say, "Chocolate?"



Chocolatey Spiced Hot Chocolate



There is no greater treat than a warm cup of hot cocoa after a long day’s hike or on a cool, rainy day. Of course, you don't need to be hiking to enjoy the feel of a warm mug and the sweet aroma of cocoa. This rich recipe will satisfy chocolate lovers everywhere and it provides just a hint of kick to make you take notice.

·         ½ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips or 4 oz dark chocolate bar
·         4 c. water
·         1-1/4 c. Fat-free sweetened condensed milk
·         Pinch cayenne pepper
·         ¼ tsp cinnamon + cinnamon sticks

Boil the water in a pan and add the chocolate and condensed milk.  Stir over a medium heat until all the chocolate has melted.  Add the cayenne and cinnamon.  Pour into cups, use the cinnamon sticks as stirring sticks.

Serves 8-10                                         Prep/Cooking Time: 10 minutes



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Teton Sunrise

String Lake, Grand Teton National Park


I'm excited to announce that  I will be revealing the cover to Teton Sunrise next week. For this week, here is the teaser: 



Evelyn swallowed nervously. “Then what are your plans for me, Alex?” Her eyes narrowed. She didn’t want to be reminded that he considered her his property, like he did his pack animals.
“I reckon you’re coming with me,” he said matter-of-factly. He looked up, glancing beyond her shoulder at something obviously behind her. His eyes narrowed for a split second, and he stepped closer to her. Evelyn drew in a sharp breath, her senses filled with his masculine scent. Her heart suddenly raced in her chest. If only things were different between them. If only he didn’t consider her his property.
“What if I refuse? What if I simply say I don’t want to go with you? What if I say –”
Quick as lightning, Alex snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her up against his hard body. In the next instant, his mouth covered hers, drowning out anything else she wanted to say. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Guest Author - Dana Taylor


What is “Metaphysical Fiction”?
By Dana Taylor

About eight years ago I was having lunch with one of my writing pals—the now bestselling thriller author, Jordan Dane. We always had a lot of laughs while moaning about the difficulties of the writing biz. At that time, one of my biggest obstacles to writing success was not being able to fit into an established “genre box.” Jordan is not only an excellent writer, but a savvy businesswoman. She was positioning herself for a successful writing career with major publishing houses.
I, on the other hand, was following my flights of creative fancy. I am not a “savvy business woman.” I follow the road-less-traveled into things like Reiki energy healing, studying quantum physics, and spirituality.
At that lunch I remember telling her, “I want to start a new genre. I want to write ‘metaphysical fiction’!”
We howled. So funny. Metaphysical fiction. Ridiculous. Never happen.
Fast forward to 2013. Last week on one of my writing facebook groups someone asked, “What is metaphysical fiction?”
As my mother used to say, “All things come to those who wait.” Metaphysical fiction is indeed an up-and-coming genre. The popularity of paranormal and fantasy is opening up new realms of storytelling. The Indie revolution is providing creative freedom to break away from the tried-and-true. The sky’s the limit—or maybe the 12th Dimension!
All my books range from having a touch of “metaphysics” to a large helping. My strongest piece of metaphysical fiction is Jaguar Jack: A Mystic Adventure. This 2013 EPIC Award finalist mixes adventure, romance, with spiritual elements for a fast ride into good versus evil territory.

Description:
Jaguar Jack Campbell, Aussie reality TV star, travels the globe filming escapades in the wild. His charismatic charm conceals an unwanted psychic gift and buried memories.
Major Maggie Savannah, aka Maggie-the-Mouth, is brash, brave and beautiful. She lives to beat the bad guys via covert military operations. The last thing she wants is a reckless TV personality partner.
But when a Senator’s daughter is kidnapped by terrorists on a mysterious island, Jack and Maggie must join forces to secure her rescue and, perhaps, save the world.
“Romancing the Stone” meets “This Present Darkness” in a romantic adventure of good versus evil. From the author of “Ain’t Love Grand?,” “Devil Moon: A Mystic Romance,” and “Ever-Flowing Streams” comes an action-packed tale enhanced with spiritual overtones.

So, if you’re curious about “metaphysical fiction,” I invite you to take a look at  Jaguar Jack: A Mystic Adventure. Metaphysics can be fun!








Thanks for inviting me as a guest on your blog today, Peggy.
All the best--
Dana Taylor




Bio: Dana Taylor writes uplifting stories filled with inspiration and humor. Born and raised in California, she graduated from the University of Redlands. She lived for many years in Oklahoma and raised two daughters with her husband. Her experiences as a follower of Christ and a Lightworker influence her writings. She works as a Reiki therapist. Her love of music is currently reflected in her work as the President of the La Mirada Symphony Association in Southern California.
She has been published in various magazines, including the Ladies Home Journal. She hosted the Internet radio program Definitely Dana! at HealthyLife.net. and won various contests with the Romance Writers of America, including Best First Book from the Desert Quill Awards. She has been posted on the Amazon Movers and Shakers List. Ever-Flowing Streams recently received 1st Place in the Religion & Spirituality Category of the E-Festival of Words Awards. She explores spirituality and natural health at www.SupernalLiving.com  She also runs the women's fiction blogsite www.BookLuvinBabes.com.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Campfire Cooking - The Perfect Marshmallow


By Rich Henderson




My wife and I have a running joke in our kitchen at home about the best way to cook a chicken.  Just boil it… whole! Well OK I have to admit that is the direction I take anyway. I have to admit though, baked, barbecued or fried DOES taste better, but hey, it’s still cooked right? Doing all that prep and taking all that time to cook it those other ways is just too difficult, right? Of course not!

The Asteroid
The Barely Warm




















 Then why do people assume that a marshmallow properly toasted over a camp fire can be done quickly. It takes time to toast a marshmallow. One of my boys makes asteroids (think fire and brimstone here). Yuck! The other son places them directly over the fire just long enough to  warm them up and maybe get a little color before they catch fire (sometimes he mis-calculates). Well OK now we’re getting somewhere though. My wife generally just  detests the things. That is until I have cooked mine and then she declares that she’d like one too. Of course dear.

A properly toasted marshmallow should not stick to your hands when removed from the fork. It should have a crust that would match your grandmas best lemon meringue pie top. And when you bite into it, you should literally be able to pour that sweet nectar out of it (almost… something had to keep it on the fork).  I am proud to say that while my chicken might not be the best, my marshmallows made in the campfire ARE! Here’s how to do it.
The trick is to look for the reddest, hottest coals around the edge of the fire. Skewer the marshmallow however you prefer, through the side or length wise. Now just keep it moving. The real trick is to just let the thing soften and puff up before you brown it. Hold it slightly back from the coals for this. If the end toward the coals starts to smoke, you’re too close. You need to turn the fork 90 degrees to the fire, or put it ¼ of the way around the fire pit so the side of the marshmallow gets more heat than the end. Be patient. This takes time. I don’t carry a watch, so I’ll guess 5 minutes. Besides these things are so sweet, you need to allow time in-between each of them.

Once they have puffed up, ease them closer in to those hot coals. You know it's right when they just start to wisp a little smoke. Be careful now, it’s easy to torch one if you’re not. In mere seconds you can achieve that perfect crust. I find that they are cooked perfect when the fork starts to spin inside and independent of the marshmallow. Remove it from the fire and prepare to defend it from the kids while it cools down a touch. Now sit back and enjoy Gods gift to campers. It’s a whole lot better than a boiled chicken!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Teton Sunrise

view of the Tetons from the String Lakes
Another week gone, another couple of chapters closer to finishing the book! I was stuck on one particular chapter this week, and it really slowed my momentum down. I hope to be back on track this week. 
Here's today's teaser.


“Are you expecting someone?” Evelyn asked, trying to break the silence between them.
He shot her a look that seemed to question her sanity. “There’s always danger here, Evie. This isn’t St. Charles. If a bear isn’t trying to kill you, a Blackfoot Indian will.”
“Then why do you choose to stay here? Why put your life in danger day after day?” Evelyn stepped up to him, trying to hold his attention. His eyes darted repeatedly from her to the forest all around them.
“I’d rather die here than rot in St. Charles,” he said, his jaw clenched. This time he held her gaze. “I’m not cut out to be a farmer. Out here,” he gestured with his chin toward the mountains, “I can do as I see fit. I answer to no one, and hold no one responsible for me.”
Evelyn’s brows raised. She hadn’t expected him to divulge as much as he had. A certain longing seemed to linger in his voice.
“I’m sorry to tell you that your father died two years ago,” she said softly. She placed her hand on his arm, and he tensed instantly. His jaw muscles tightened along his cheeks. “He lost a fight at the tavern with another man. I didn’t know if you already knew. His farm is vacant now. The land rightfully belongs to you.”
Alex scoffed. Anger blazed in his eyes. “I’ll thank the man who killed him next time I’m in St. Charles,” he said, his tone icy. “I want no part of anything that belonged to him.”
Evelyn dropped her hand. She hadn’t realized how deep Alex’s hatred for his father seemed to run. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guest Author - M.J. Kane


Today I am thrilled to welcome contemporary romance author M.J. Kane. And check it out! She’s having a giveaway! (read to the end of the post).
Welcome, M.J. Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

Well, the person behind this pen, (or keyboard!), is a stay-at-home-mom with a very over active imagination. I once thought it was because of being an only child and spending a lot of time making up stories to entertain myself. But since I am an adult with four kids, a hubby, and six dogs, I now see storytelling as a gift! I am also a stroke survivor, and by that I mean I really survived. After nearly dying in in 2006 and recovering from partial paralysis, every day is a blessing. Discovering I have a talent I wasn’t aware of before has aided in my recovery.

Why did you decide to write Romance? What is the appeal?

The romance genre found me. As an avid reader, I’ve always been a Sci-Fi, Suspense, Mystery, Comedy fan, in books and movies. Romance movies –or rather chick flicks- of course, but reading a Romance novel was never my first pick. It was a result of ignorance about the genre. When I finally did pick up a romance novel, it was by Nora Roberts. I realized that romance novels were about more than just sex.   When I decided to write, my stories were more about empowering women, survival, recovery, becoming stronger due to perseverance and change, evolution of character…and of course the part of any healthy relationship involving a man or woman includes sex. After several years of learning the rules of writing and how to tell the types of stories I write, I realized my true genre(s) is Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, and Interracial Romance.

How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?

It depends on what subject matter I want to cover in my books and how important it is to the characters life, development, and/or storyline.  Mostly I research jobs so some of those activities can be depicted realistically in their daily lives. Homes, cars, houses, and locations all play a part in research as well.  All of my characters have in-depth character charts and back story written so I can pick and choose what to add into the story at any time. By the time my fingers hit the keyboard, I know my characters as well as I know myself. 

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?
Hmm…
Best…: This came from a male reader, yes, male, who never read romance. He was impressed by the storytelling and subject matter addressed, was invested in the characters, and looks forward to reading the next book in the series.

Worst…: That the characters seemed to focus on nothing but sex the entire book. LOL! It was apparent from this comment that the reader never finished, if she did, she would have seen that the ‘sex talk’ was due to a healthy relationship and once the story progressed to the heart of it, which has nothing to do with sex and is all about recovering after enduring every woman’s nightmare, the main characters feelings, emotions, and mindset changes. All of the ‘sex talk’ was used as a way to gage the characters emotional change in the story.

Weirdest…: To her the characters came off as juvenile, but at the same time she could relate to herself at that age as well as a past boyfriend, therefore making it hit home. She’s looking forward to the next story. 

Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

I do a bit of both, but I’m really heavy on the plotting. I start with an idea of a story, and what topics I want to cover. Then, I develop the characters I want to put into the situation. From there, I outline the basic story (free writing) from beginning to end. Next comes the planning, breaking it down into chapters. Then I take that and write. For the most part I go by my outline, but every now and then, my characters disagree with what I have planned and the story changes a little, but that’s great because it’s proof the characters are coming alive! In my current novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, there is a fight near the end. Originally, the hero, Brian was supposed to get hurt, but as I wrote it, it didn’t feel right. Eventually he tapped me on the shoulder and threatened to walk from the entire novel if I didn’t make him do some serious damage. I listened, made some changes; as a result, reader comments and reviews have given that scene a lot of praise!

Can you tell us a little about your current work, A Heart Not Easily Broken? Is there a story behind the story?

A Heart Not Easily Broken is not based on any one person, but the experiences of many women…and men. I wanted to tell a story about a woman who is building her dream career without the distraction of romance. Upon her friends’ insistence, Ebony Campbell’s attempt to have a summer fling turns into more than she expected…in more ways than one. For starters, she finds herself falling for a man outside of her race. With her being from ‘the South’, interracial dating wasn’t frowned upon by her family, but it wasn’t encouraged either. Before long she falls in love with the man, not the color of his skin. The important thing to know about this story is that interracial dating is a back drop to the heart of her story. What I want readers to pick up on is what events lead Ebony to making a decision that changes the rest of her life. The decisions she makes after this night not only affect her physical and emotional wellbeing; it also affects her boyfriend and her best friend. In the end I want the reader to decide: What would I do if I were in her shoes?

What sets your heroine Ebony Campbell apart from all the other women in your hero’s Brian Young’s life? Why is she perfect for him?

It is not their racial differences; for one, it’s cliché. Brian, unlike Ebony, has explored interracial dating before. He is drawn to Ebony’s personality, her drive and determination to succeed in building her career. Following one’s lifetime dream is the same type of career path he’s on. While he is into music and she is studying to become a veterinarian, they support each other without expectations or deterring the other from reaching their goals. Her emotional support is what he appreciates the most.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

LOL, sometimes, but not that much. My writer’s block is more about needing some down time because my brain is overloaded with ideas, storylines, and characters …all at the same time! Now that I am published, I have to split my time up (a work in progress that has yet to be perfected!) between writing my stories and editing/ writing for my blog, and promoting my book. I usually find a book to read or watch a marathon of TV shows I love and haven’t had time to watch to give my brain a break. Two days is about all I can take before my Muse and characters force their way back in and put me back to work! If I go longer than that, I get irritated, literally, just ask my family!

Can you give us a little background on your hero Brian Young that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story? What inspired you to create this character?

Hmm…(pulling out his Character Outline)…Wow, it’s been so long since I looked at them that I didn’t realize most of this is in there! I guess the one aspect of Brian’s personality that I don’t focus on, but does show up briefly, is the fact he feels insecure about his relationship with Ebony and being able to keep her in his life. Even though he is full of confidence about everything else, a part of him, due to his past interracial dating experience, is afraid that at any time a black man could come into her life and take her away from him and it all be about race and not love. My inspiration for his character came when I first started writing the story back in 2009. I had determined who Ebony would be and wanted a love interest that was a complete opposite. At the time I was watching Too Fast Too Furious, a favorite of mine, and Paul Walker was on the screen, blond-haired, blue-eyed, and a cocky smirk on his face. I decided then that that type of man would be one to change Ebony’s outlook on love and life.

Describe a favorite scene in your current novel

So many to choose from! Let’s see…I guess my favorite scene would be the night they first go out to dinner. Ebony feels she’s doing it to placate Brian and stave off his curiosity. What she ends up doing is realizing she is seriously attracted to him! No matter what she throws at him to try and deter him, he comes back with a witty reply that makes her think or throws her off. My favorite line is… “I want to get to know you. After that, I want you in my bed.”…..Seriously, have a hot guy say that to you, what can you do besides be speechless?

What else do you have in store for your readers?

The second book in The Butterfly Memoirs, Jaded, follows Ebony’s best friend, Yasmine Phillips. Yasmine is a sassy, bi-racial woman who is full of confidence in herself and her sexuality. She puts on a front to the world, but deep down, she’s been hurt. Readers are introduced to her in A Heart Not Easily Broken and given a chance to know what her life is like. They also see how she’s affected by the decisions Ebony makes. As a result, by the end of the novel, Yasmine is no longer in her happy place. Love and romance are no longer in the works for her. She decides to focus on bettering herself by following her dream and starting her own business. Sounds easy enough, right? Factor in the fact she already runs a central part of her family’s business, and has taken on the weight of helping a friend out in need…well, it leads to a few interesting plot twists and turns and in the end has her questioning her own true intentions. Jaded is scheduled for release in March.


Giveaway!

To celebrate the success of my debut novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, as an Amazon Bestseller, and the upcoming anticipated release, Jaded, I am giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card! It’s simple and easy! Leave a comment on this blog post and you will be entered into the drawing! Contest ends on Saturday, January 26th. The winner will be announced on my blog during the #SampleSunday post on January 27th   and contacted by email. Don’t forget to leave your email address so that if you win, you can receive your gift card! Failure to not leave an email address will make you ineligible to win. Good luck!

MJ

A Heart Not Easily Broken

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge. 
When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust. 

Available now from 5 Prince Publishing! Buy Now!






ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M.J. Kane stumbled into writing. An avid reader, this stay at home mom never lost the overactive imagination of an only child. As an adult she made up stories, though never shared them, to keep herself entertained. It wasn’t until surviving a traumatic medical incident in 2006 that she found a reason to let the characters inhabiting her imagination free.  Upon the suggestion of her husband, she commandeered his laptop and allowed the characters to take life. It was that, or look over her shoulder for men caring a purple strait jacket. And the rest, as they say, is history.
No longer a television addict, if M.J. isn’t reading a book by one of her favorite authors, she’s battling with her creative muse to balance writing and being a wife and mother. She resides in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her high school sweetheart, four wonderful children, and two pit bulls. MJ can often be found hanging out at the local library where she is director of a local writer’s group, or online connecting with readers and other authors. Other activities she enjoys include: creating custom floral arrangements, assisting her children in their creative pursuits of music and art, and supporting her husband’s music production business, 3D Sounds.
MJ’s debut novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, Book one of the Butterfly Memoirs, became an instant Amazon Bestseller in Multicultural Romance and African-American Literature and Fiction within hours of publication. It has also spent time on the African-American Women’s Fiction and African-American Romance Bestsellers lists.
You can find MJ on social networking sites, sharing writing tips, talking about music, life, and family. She’s always excited to meet new people. Connect with her via the websites below. 





Thursday, January 17, 2013

Trail Food - Sweet Treat Granola Bars



Sweet Treat Granola Bars


By Barbara Ouradnik

These granola bars rival any that you could find in the store!  They are soft and chewy and the perfect treat for that energy break half way up the mountain!  We like to experiment with different dried fruits or flavors of granola…it is very customizable!

·         3 Tbsp Butter
·         10 oz pkg mini marshmallows
·         2 c. Crisped Rice Cereal
·         2 c. Vanilla Almond granola
·         1 c. mini chocolate chips or mini m&m’s
Additional items (optional)
·         1 c. peanuts
·         1 c. raisins or other dried fruit

In a large pot, melt the butter slowly and add the marshmallows.  Heat gently until all is melted and smooth.
Stir in the other ingredients (except chocolate chips or m&m’s), making sure all are mixed well.
Pour into 9”x13” pan and spread evenly.  Top with mini chocolate chips.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Cut into bars & wrap individually. 

Best if eaten within 4 days.