A Haunted Garden Halloween Hop with Giveaways

We’re having a Haunted Garden Halloween Hop and you’re invited! Join us for a chance to win prizes, meet the authors, and have a great time!

I’m so excited. The Haunted Garden Hop, which is hosted by my fabulous publisher, The Wild Rose Press, runs from October 26th until October 31st with winners being announced on November 1st. Every stop on the hop gives you the chance to win a prize. How’s that for a Halloween treat?

Fall is a time for fabulous colors, using the oven again, and giving thanks. In my part of the world, the Canadian prairies, we’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving. Jack Frost has visited. The leaves have changed from green to glorious then been stripped from their branches by chill winds. Rakes came out and those leaves have disappeared altogether. We’ve had the first skiffs of snow fall and melt away. A brief but beautifully warm Indian Summer followed which saw temperatures climb back into t-shirt wearing weather. The last of the late field crops were harvested. Yesterday, more snow. Ah, the evolution of Autumn.

One of my favorite things about Autumn? Soup. I love soup. I love to make soup. Add a sandwich and I’m a happy camper. Making a proper sandwich takes skill, but that’s another blog post. My second favorite thing about this very short season is sweaters. I adore knit wear. So warm and cozy. It almost makes up the for advent of chilly temperatures. My third favorite thing? TV premiers. I know, right? The Vampire Diaries, Arrow (new favorite), and Once Upon a Time. Those are my shows. As you can tell, I value my entertainment and escapism. Reality need not apply.

What are your three favorite things about Autumn?

One the best things about any time of year is all the great books out there! The Wild Rose Press has some of the best. Have a great time on the hop! Be sure to continue on with your trick or treating and visit the fabulous five listed below:

http://tarahscott.tarahscott.com/

http://christineelaineblack.blogspot.ca/

http://kyannwaters.blogspot.com/

http://decadentdecisions.wordpress.com/

http://thewildrosepress.blogspot.com/

My Giveaway: An ebook copy of my romantic suspense, Backlash as well as a $10 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press. Don’t worry, If you’ve already read Backlash I’m happy to gift it to a friend you think might enjoy it! Please leave your email address in the comment section to be entered. Good luck!

What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves…

When dedicated teacher Lily Wheeler interrupts a vicious gang attack on one of her students, she vows it won’t happen again. But her rash interference puts her in the path of a cold-blooded killer and the constable tracking him—a man she has little reason to trust, but can never forget.

Constable Chase Porter returned to Aspen Lake to see justice done, not renew old acquaintances. But when he rescues the woman he once loved from a volatile situation, he realizes his feelings for Lily haven’t lessened over the years.

Now, the dangerous killer Chase has sworn to capture has Lily in his sights. Can Chase and Lilly learn to trust each other again before it’s too late—or will old insecurities jeopardize their future?

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Tuesday’s Table with Grace Hood and Autumn Cravings

I love this time of year, and always have. Not only is it back-to-school time (I loved school when I was a child), but I have a September birthday so I equate autumn with presents. Personal greed aside, the cooler days and crisp nights are refreshing after the heat of summer. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to dig my favourite sweaters out of storage.

My food cravings change this time of year. I wonder how much of that has been programmed, you know, that whole nature vs. nurture debate. Regardless of the cause, the effect is that I search for recipes that use apples, pumpkin, cinnamon and ginger. On the savoury side, I’m cooking a lot of root vegetables and have retired my salad spinner until spring. Supper this evening was a hash consisting of potatoes, turnips, carrots, kohlrabi, shallots and bacon. A side dish of steamed broccoli, the last few stalks from our garden, completed the plate of comfort food.

The recipe I want to share is one I always look forward to baking once the weather cools. It’s one of my all-time favourite cookies, second only to the half-dozen types of holiday cookies I bake every December. Can you tell I like to bake?

Iced Pumpkin Cookies (adapted from Allrecipes)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour                              1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon baking powder                             1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda                                  1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves                              3 cups icing sugar

¼ teaspoon ground ginger                              5 tablespoons milk (+/- )

½ teaspoon salt                                               2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup butter, softened                                    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups white sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, ground ginger and salt. Set aside.
  2. In bowl of mixer, cream together the ½ cup butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet (I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper).
  3. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes (my oven takes 17 minutes) until bottom of cookie is golden. Cool on sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. To make icing, combine icing sugar, melted butter, vanilla and enough milk to achieve smooth, fluffy consistency. Spread on completely cooled cookies.

Notice that this recipe leaves half a can of pumpkin puree left over. Perfect for making another batch of these cookies, because you may find these tend to disappear.

Career-minded Lara doesn’t find forty all that fabulous. Her carefully plotted path to success is on target and she isn’t about to let romance derail her. Except the hot, new advertising whiz steers her libido into overdrive.

Ryan lives to shake companies up and do whatever it takes to meet his goals. But the saucy affirmation-chanting minx challenging him awakens a more carnal desire.

A battle of wills may be what she wants, but he intends to push her boundaries until her inhibitions come undone.

 

Coming Undone – The Wild Rose Press – Amazon – Barnes and Noble

Grace Hood has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered, and devoured, her grandmother’s stash of medical romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.

Grace writes full time, concentrating on sexy, steamy contemporary romance, hot paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance.

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Grace now lives in Maine with her dear husband, two teenagers, two cats, one budgie, one surviving gold fish, and six hens. When she’s not torturing her heroes and heroines, she can be found either in her kitchen whipping up something chocolate, or in her yard chasing the chickens out of the garden.

Find more about Grace Hood and her books at her website.

 

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Tuesday’s Table: Mimi Barbour’s Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog, Karyn. I’m really happy to share my story and cookie recipe with your readers.

Author of The Vicarage Bench Series, Angels with Attitude Series, and a hot, new romantic suspense series called Vegas. Mimi Barbour lives on Vancouver Island and writes her romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. “If I can steal a book lover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”

I once won a cookie contest with my Cranberry Shortbread Cookies.

I had decided to enter into the Chatelaine contest, because my recipe had such a great history that I thought to share it with the readers. To my astonished delight, my cookies were picked, if I remember correctly, as winner #3. I still have the coffee pot, blender and various baking ware as proof.

All 10 winners were printed in the Chatelaine magazine for the entire world to see, and I’ll admit to walking around with a puffed up chest for a few days. Now that I remember, I do believe it was the first time I’d ever seen anything I wrote in print!

The story goes that as a new bride, I had moved to northern Canada, to a place called Stewart, B.C. It was within a few miles of the Alaska border so it was pretty isolated. In those days (and unfortunately still today) the best meal I could produce was a killer peanut-butter and banana sandwich. Needless to say, my husband is our chef and has been since the beginning. My little contribution to our meals is the dessert.

Understandable, as a new bride, I had very few recipes and the holiday season was approaching. So at a bingo game with some other ladies I lamented my terrible lack. An older Scottish woman, who I thought a real sweetheart, said, “Lassie, I will give you a true Scottish shortbread recipe handed down from my mother and hers before her. I’ve kept this to myself for that many years, but I like you. Since you’re a new bride, I’ll share.”

So saying, she took a napkin from the table and wrote her shortbread recipe on it. I quickly rewrote it once I got home and have used the basis of this recipe for many others

The variety that won the contest has ½ cup of dried cranberries and ½ cup of pecan pieces added.

To this day, I get so many compliments on my wonderful cookies that it truly isn’t Christmas for my family without a plateful of these decorating the table.

**A sequel to this story is that the woman’s daughter, who was a young girl back then, called me a few weeks after reading the magazine. She asked me if these were her mother’s cookies. When I said yes she laughed and told me that many years ago her mother had slowly faded with Alzheimer’s without ever having written her precious recipe down. By the time her daughter’s had realized they had no copies, she couldn’t help them. Now they were finally able to have the cookies they had grown up eating.

Contacts for Mimi:

I do enjoy meeting readers so please drop me a line at mimi@mimibarbour.com

 Amazon Page: http://amzn.to/SUv0yv

http://www.mimibarbour.com/

http://mimibarbour.blogspot.com

Twitter @mimibarbour

Facebook 

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What’s In A Name

I suck at naming characters, fictional towns, the café on the corner, the fictional Christmas Eve ball extravaganza thingy. So imagine my dismay yesterday as I sat down to start revising my current work-in-progess, Off The Grid, and I immediately had to come up with names for, yes, a Christmas Eve charity dinner, a law firm, and the name of a charitable organization. All in the first 250 words, in the same paragraph. It took me way too long to come up with names (ideas) I could work with. Afterwards, I needed a nap.

There are many authors out there with a talent for clever names. I envy Nora Roberts ability with catchy place names. JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood names: Wrath, Rhage, Vishous, Zsadist, to name some of my favorite brothers. Suzanne Brockmann with her Troubleshooters series and Tara Janzen’s Steele Street crew of reformed chop shop boys all with interesting monikers. The names Albus Dumbledore, Scarlett O’Hara, and James Bond all bring to mind a certain image (even before we saw the movies).

Some writers need the comfort of a solid working title and character names before they begin the story. Names represent the character and the character’s belief and their world. Even when working with a contemporary real-life setting a certain amount of world building is required. Names can reflect the attitude of a character. They are our first introduction. They give a feel for the protagonist, perhaps even their environment. They can ooze mood. Think Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff. What does the name Jane Eyre say about her character? One of my favorite lines comes from a scene between Jane and Rochester: “You think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?” Her name presents the two sides to her. She may be plain and little, but she has a heart and a soul and strength of character.

I’ve started keeping a list and I add names to the list while watching football. Monday I jotted down Brackenridge, Inkman, and Mann to name a few. Another favorite place to find create name is movie credits. Those are my two most interesting sources. I’ve heard obituaries can be a helpful, if slightly creepy, name resource. You could use something like the Character Name Generator. There are all sorts of baby name help out there.

I definitely don’t need a title before I start writing, I run on the idea that the right title will come, and often does, once I know the story better. The same goes for character names. Right now I have a short story in the works and the heroine’s last name is a question mark. For me, the best solution for the naming dilemma is pen and paper and a chuck of time to work through some ideas.

So, for my work-in-progress, Off the Grid, and three different names I needed I’m starting with: The Spirit of Christmas Banquet for the name of the fundraiser. (I’d really like to use a word other Christmas, and Banquet is just plain boring. So, still needs more work.) A Safe Night’s Refuge for the charity. (This charity gives offers homeless families a safe place to stay. I don’t mind this one.) Carson Cooper for the name of the law firm.

And that’s where I’m at. Feel free to offer any suggestions. Any at all. Please. Of course, the other question is how much time is too much time to spend on something that shows up once or twice in the entire story?

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Tuesday’s Table: Zucchini, A Proposal, and Sandra Dailey

Let me tell you the history behind my Zucchini Boats.

Until five years ago, my husband was a farmer. His main crops were a variety of tomatoes, and occasionally, bell peppers, watermelon or cantaloupe, depending on the time of year and market value. We live in Florida, which is a two crop zone. That means you go through the whole process twice a year yielding crops in the spring and fall.

On a few acres, he would also grow a large garden for our family, tractor drivers, and field crew. The garden would help feed at least twenty families.

Our kids loved their veggies, but would get tired of having the same thing too often. It was a challenge to find new ways of cooking the large amounts of some types.

When I threw together my Zucchini Boats one day, my husband and kids were hooked.

It only requires three main ingredients;

  • 4 med. – Zucchinis
  • 1 lb. – ground sausage
  • 1 cup – bread stuffing (not cornbread)

Crumble, cook, and drain the sausage. I use ordinary breakfast sausage. The spice level is up to you. Mix into the prepared stuffing.

Wash, tip, and split each zucchini from end to end. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Lay them out in an oblong cooking pan with the cut sides up. Fill with the stuffing mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.

Lastly, top with cheese if desired. My crew likes cheddar, but mozzarella and parmesan are excellent choices as well.

I like to serve it with fresh tomatoes or salad and red wine or sweet tea.

CAUTION: This recipe feeds four adults.

Be sure to check out my debut eBook – ‘The Chief’s Proposal’

Blurb: Ginny Dearing has finally realized her goal of teaching, but finding a position is proving impossible. After exhausting all possibilities, an Internet ad is her only hope. In a small town hundreds of miles away there is a job with one huge string attached…a husband.

Burned by love once, Brett Silverfeather finds his bachelor life more than satisfying. He’s facing re-election for sheriff, but this time the voters are looking for a family man. Brett finds himself pursuing a marriage he doesn’t want.

Ginny and Brett are opposite in every way, but opposites do attract. Can Brett protect his heart as well as he does his town? Can Ginny hide a secret past that could possibly destroy her future?

Available at:

The Wild Rose Press http://bit.ly/PSiSNR

Amazon http://amzn.to/MCNbDU

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/RTDJ01

I’m still living in Florida with my former-farmer husband, but the kids have moved out.

You can find me at:

http://www.sandradailey.blogspot.com

http://www.sandradailey.com

http://www.facebook.com/sandradailey.author

Thanks so much for visiting and leaving us with this great recipe! I don’t think there’s any better feeling than knowing all your hard work is helping feed people. I’ll definitely try this recipe as my daughter LOVES veggies. Any other veggie lovers out there?

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If Character Archetypes Were Cupcakes

I love cupcakes, especially those fantastically decorated concoctions you find in bake shops all over the place nowadays. They’re selling like hotcakes. ha. All kinds of colors and flavors. And like crayons and paint come with some pretty imaginative names. On a short shopping trip last winter I discovered a mall kiosk called Once Upon a Cupcake. I snacked on the Snow White, a delicious coconut topped vanilla cupcake. But I could have had Prince Charming.

What if we created our own designer cupcakes based on Character Archetypes? However we develop our characters, whatever methods we use, they are the most important part of any story. The Archetypes mentioned here come from Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop. Any well developed character is multifaceted. But everything is based on something. We decide the why.

Chase Porter – The Warrior Archetype – Salted Dark Chocolate topped with Silver Icing.

The WARRIOR: a noble champion, he acts with honor…

Lily Wheeler – The Nurturer – Raspberry Vanilla with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pink Sprinkles

The NURTURER: serene and capable, she nourishes the spirit…

Seth Stone – The Lost Soul – Black Forest Cake topped with a Chocolate Mousse Icing

The LOST SOUL: a sensitive being, he understands…

Kate Logan – The Boss – Lemon Meringue with Lemon Butter Cream Icing

The BOSS: a real go-getter, she climbs the ladder of success…

Caleb Quinn – The Charmer – Caramel Apple Flavored Cupcake with Chocolate Mouse Icing

The CHARMER: more than a gigolo, he creates fantasies…

Sophie Monroe – The Crusader – Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Butter Cream Icing

The CRUSADER: a dedicated fighter, she meets her commitments…

Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop is worth checking out. Also, check out this article to delve into character archetypes from a different angle.

Do you have a favorite type of hero? Heroine? What cupcake would you choose?

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Carnivalesque Is Under Construction

 

It was back on and now it’s back off again. We’re in the process of deciding how to move forward with our weekly travelling blog show, Carnivalesque. Different types of topics? Guests? Narrowing our focus? That kind of thing.

Please feel free to share your thoughts!

 

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Tuesday’s Table: A Meal Made In Heaven

Welcome Cara Marsi!

A great meal is the nectar of the gods. It’s heavenly. Sometimes it’s better than sex.

I’m of Italian heritage and grew up eating wonderful Italian food. All four of my grandparents were from the Abruzzo region of Italy. My grandmothers and my Italian mother-in-law were terrific cooks. However, of all the wonderful meals I’ve eaten through the years, one stands out above the rest.

In 2006, my husband and I traveled to Abruzzo, Italy, to join a tour run by my Australian cousin, Luciana, and her partner, Michael, an international tenor. A cousin from Arizona joined us. Luciana and Michael had just started their company, Absolutely Abruzzo, and this was their maiden tour.

As we traveled through mountainous, wildly beautiful Abruzzo, we ate the most scrumptious food every day. Luciana and Michael had arranged the meals and the elegant wines to complement them. We ate at several “agrituristicas,” farms that grow and serve organic foods and are subsidized by the Italian government in an effort to bring more tourism into the lesser-known regions of Italy.

One such “agrituristica,” Ill Nespolo, was run by a husband and wife, Maria Angela, from the province of Calabria, and Gabriele, from Abruzzo. Here’s the menu for that meal:

Antipasto consisting of home-made sausage, cheeses with honey and saffron, marinated vegetables, bruschetta with olive paste.

Primo(First Course)-Gnocchi al pomodoro-gnocchi alle verdue (Gnocchi with tomato sauce and with green vegetable sauce)

Secondo(Second Course)-Petto di tacchino con arancia e rucola (turkey breast with orange and rocket. Rocket is similar to arugula)

Dolce(Dessert)-Home-made biscotti with honey

All served with local Abruzzese wines.

However, our hosts provided us with a surprise dish–saffron gnocchi with fresh-shaved truffle. Oh. My. God. That was the best food, hands down, I’ve ever eaten. Ever. In my life. All the food we ate on that trip was incredible, delicious, wonderful. And the wines were exquisite. But nothing compared to the heavenly delight of saffron gnocchi with fresh-shaved truffle. It was almost better than sex. During the meal, my husband whispered to me that he might have to divorce me and marry Maria Angela because she cooked like an angel. Couldn’t blame him. I wanted to marry her myself. Our group went nuts over all the food at that meal, but especially the saffron gnocchi. There wasn’t a scrap left of anything when we were done. To this day, I can’t eat gnocchi because nothing will ever be as good as the gnocchi I ate at Ill Nespolo.

Food is more than eating. It’s companionship and memories. I have the most marvelous memories of that trip and of the meals shared with family and new friends. I can’t think of that saffron gnocchi without remembering Luciana and Michael and what great hosts and tour guides they were; getting to spend time with my cousin Kevin from Arizona, whom I’d bonded with on a trip to Australia a few years earlier; the friendship of the others in our group, all Australian. As a group, we grew close, sharing some rough times, like when our van got stuck in road ruts in the Abruzzo wilderness. Or when we hiked one of Italy’s national parks on a scorching hot day. Or visited medieval monasteries carved into the sides of mountains. All the memories are bound together with the food we ate.

That trip, and the food, connected me to generations of my family who are as much a part of that region as the stark mountains and the hillside villages.

I’ve posted pictures of the gnocchi, the truffle being shaved, and our group. I’m second from left in the turquoise top, holding a glass, conversing with the man next to me. My husband took the picture.

I love writing about food. My romantic suspense, “Murder, Mi Amore,” from The Wild Rose Press, is set almost entirely in Italy. Every setting is authentic, based on places we visited and stayed during that 2006 trip. The meals I mention in that book are actual meals we ate. My very first published book, from Avalon Books, “A Catered Affair,”(reissued under the title “A Catered Romance”) featured a caterer. Lots of food references in that book.

 If you’re interested in learning more about the Abruzzo region of Italy or taking a trip there, check out Luciana and Michael’s website: http://www.absolutelyabruzzo.com

You can read about my books and short stories on my website: www.caramarsi.com

Karyn, thank you for having me today.

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