Been working with Jo from Glass Slipper Web Design on my new website, Renee Wildes Romance (dot com). It’s been a long time since I had one, and it’s SO pretty. Come check it out and leave me a message from the Contact Page to say hi!
Music is such a visceral subjective thing, and a huge part of our world culture. Your music preferences say a lot about you as a person. It defines who and what we are.
Some people write to music, to help them think/create. My books all have soundtracks. I have general “fantasy romance” bands, and then specific bands/sounds for specific books. Thought I’d share where my stories come from.
I love Kate Price (hammer dulcimer) and Mediaeval Baebes — my go-to for all my stories. I love the Old World chants and instruments. They really set the stage for my world-building: castles and kings, peasant villages & serfs, knights and healers, bards and seers.
I play Enya for love scenes, Nightwish & Within Temptation for magical scenes, and Axel Rudi Pell for my fight/battle scenes. For dark magic I’ve been known to pull Warlock out of the archives. Doro Pesch’s voice could cut glass.
Hedda’s Sword is set in Shamar, and Riever’s Heart is set in Isadorikja. Both countries experienced major political upheaval. For them I went with Nordic bands, because the minor keys and not-quite-blending harmonics leave a wonderful unsettled feeling. My kids tease me because I don’t know the words to the lyrics, but I just like the sound! Gamarna, Hedningarna & Varttina:
Lycan Tides is more traditional Celtic – Danu &Leahy in particular
My one non-Guardians of Light published book is Marek’s New World, from Tirgearr Publishing. It’s what I call a contemporary rural paranormal. Heroine is a white wolf shifter and forestry ranger. Hero is a 2000-year-old Native American warrior. They try to apprehend a loosed demon in Kootenai National Forest. For this story I played a lot of Native American flute, esp. R. Carlos Nakai
So that pretty much sums up my musical journey as a writer. I’d love to hear what you listen to!
So, just thought I’d post this as a “getting to know you.” Writer & book info is all well and good, but we’re first and foremost people, too. So I thought I’d let you get to know me a little better. Writers are first and foremost readers, and I’m no exception.
I grew up reading fantasy and watching sci fi. My first crush was Captain Apollo from the ORIGINAL Battlestar Galactica TV series (Richard Hatch).
I love reading Mercedes Lackey. My favorite was the “Storm” trilogy – I’ve read them to pieces! The book I consider my inspiration, what got me started writing is Barbara Hambly’s “The Ladies of Mandrigyn.”
My favorite color is blue, my favorite flower is stargazer lily, and I can never get enough Mexican food. I usually order Cosmopolitans at the bar, but my favorite wine (at home) is Australian Shiraz (esp. Rosemont). I’m more of a stay-in person than a go-out person, and I get cold really easy so I’m usually snuggled in a fuzzy blanket with a cup of coffee, reading or scrapbooking or watching movies.
When I DO venture outside, it’s usually to spend time walking my Chow Abby
and/or hanging out at my daughter’s 4H horse shows with out Morab mare Sassy (Temptation Fyre N Ice)
I love movies with strong heroines – my all-time favorites are Jessica Lange as Mary McGregor in Rob Roy and Madeleine Stowe as Cora Monroe in Last of the Mohicans. (What, you thought I watched for Liam Neeson in a kilt and Daniel Day Lewis in buckskins? LOL)
I try to write heroines in the same strong-but-feminine vein, inspired by the above fictitious women. Now that I write fantasy romance, I read a lot more of it, just to see what else other people are doing. My all-time favorite fantasy romance books in recent years is Elizabeth Vaughan’s “Warprize”
So that’s a bit about the “real” me!
With the imminent demise of Samhain Publishing, I and my fellow authors face the big question: What to do with all our books? Many people decided to go indie, self-publish. I can’t afford to do that. I can’t even afford to buy back my covers/back blurbs to reuse. So I’m looking at resubmitting to another publisher willing to take a look at previously published works. I haven’t had to blind-query in years. I had an editor at Samhain who loved me–I’d send a book, she’d send a contract. Worked together seamlessly for almost a decade. Seven books total in my Guardians of Light series.
Now I’m out to seduce strangers, people who don’t know me and are deluged by thousands of other hopefuls all screaming “LOOK AT ME!” *sigh*
So in the interests of beating out the competition, I’m revamping these–yes, already edited–titles with a fresh eye. Why? Because I want them to be the best they can be. I’ve learned a lot since I started writing. Book 1, Duality, came out in 2008. I’ve learned a lot since then. Trends and style preferences change. The market changes. Reader preferences change.
But where to start? My two big requirements? Readability and Marketability
One of the first things I did is go back through my reviews and look at the less-than-stellar comments, to see if any commonalities jumped out at me. And they did. Several people mentioned the creative grammar & phonetic spelling/dialects as being problematic. I know the stories are good, but if people notice the writing instead of the story, it’s a problem.
Duality being Book One is the platform from which to launch a campaign to find a new home for the entire series. It’s going to be my ambassador, my sample, my handshake. In addition to being intimidatingly LONG at over 108K in its original form, it cornered the market in apostrophes and alternative words/phrasings. So my two biggest aims were to cut the word count to under 100K, and smooth out the writing until I disappeared and the only thing left was the Cinderella story of Dara and Loren and the *cough* demon that brought them together.
Now, there are limits to my multi-tasking. I miss stuff if I try to do everything at once as I go through a manuscript. So I have to do multiple passes, forcusing on ONE type of edit at a time. I basically have it broken down to 10 steps:
- Step One: Reformatting – from PDF to Word, deleting all the old Samhain headers/footers
- Step Two: Teaching Word spellcheck its new vocabulary so it quit freaking out over my fantasy-world proper nouns
- Step Three: Tedious apostrophe search, replacing them with whole words
- Step Four: Find & Replace – searching out modernisms/archaicisms, swapping out fake words & real ones, leaving just enough of them in dialogue to maintain the fantasy flavor while eliminating from the narrative itself
- Step Five: Activate passive verbs & use contractions where possible (yes for humans, no for elves)
- Step Six: Cut adverbs, excessive adjectives & unnecessary dialogue tags
- Step Seven: Cut & Tighten, removing the fat until word count goal achieved (In Duality’s case, to 98K – I cut 10%/10K from it)
- Step Eight: Recheck punctuation & italics
- Step Nine: Check appearance – “white space” and “orphans”
- Step Ten: Reread as a reader, rechecking for smoothness and readability, noting (& fixing) anything that still stops or distracts
Rinse and repeat with each of the other 6 books. (I’m working through Hedda’s Sword now.)
So…huh? What does the one have to do with the other?
Something you should know about me: I grew up in the Wisconsin Arabian Horse Association, and worked a lot of weekend horse shows at State Fair Park in West Allis (Milwaukee). Watched a lot of judging!
Now that I’m a published romance writer who also judges writing contests – the WisRWA Fab 5 deadline is right around the corner – I’ve been noticing some similarities I thought I’d share.
First off, Arabians in halter get judged on five main things: type, conformation, soundness, balance and quality. An Arab has to look like an Arab. Watch “13th Warrior” with Antonio Banderas. Did that little gray mare look anything like the other war horses? Nope, but she was nimble and agile and ran circles around them!
Unfortunately, many halter show horses never get trained to ride or drive, but they have to be built and able to. Conformation and soundness – they had to be able to traipse through the desert on next to nothing for weeks on end and still be able to carry a rider into battle at the end. And the all elusive “quality” – that fire and presence and grace that makes one individual stand out in a good lineup.
Now, there are no perfect horses. One has great legs but straight shoulders, another a great topline but crooked legs, etc. What we look for is balance in the whole, everything working together in an attractive, useful package with spark. I liked that the judges were always from out of town. They didn’t know the people, the farms, or the horses’ pedigrees. They didn’t know the back stories, the rivalries, the politics. They judged “THAT horse, on THAT day.” Period.
Where am I going with this? Romance writing is a lot like that. A romance has to have “type” – it has to BE a romance, rocky relationship leads to HEA. (My apologies to the Women’s Fiction and Romantic Elements writers out there. Give “type” less weight and go with the other qualities.) No matter what sub-genre you’re in, it’s still a romance theme.
“Conformation and Soundness” – Story Structure. Grammar and punctuation. Active verb tenses. Multi-sensory description. POV. GMC. Plot. Here’s where writers have the advantage, because these things can be learned, practiced and improved. Some people are better at something than others, we all have weak spots we need to work on.
“Balance” is the story as a whole. Three-dimensional characters. Logical plot with winding story progression. Believable problems, interesting twists, sympathetic characters, good world-building. Does the story draw you along?
And that elusive unmistakable “quality” – voice. It’s like a distinctive flavor you either love or hate. It’s what gives pubbed writers their readers, why readers tend to own every book by so-and-so and can’t wait for the next one to come out.
This is what writing contest divas can struggle with. If you have three judges, and two love your voice but one hates it, you final, because most contests toss the low score. If one judge loves it but two hate it, you go home with some interesting and valuable critiques. If you’re entering contests for the feedback, great. You can learn a lot from them. If you’re entering a contest for the final judge, to land on that particular agent’s/editor’s desk, it’s a roll of the dice.
You want the overall balance of type and conformation to rise to the top, and then make it to the one editor that recognizes quality, loves your voice, and buys your book. (And the next one. And the next one.)
Hone your craft, and have faith. You know you’ve got a good story, and you’ve worked hard to make it a great book, the best it can be. Believe in yourself, and have persistence. Horses or books, quality is quality – it will be recognized and rewarded someday, by someone. Just keep writing!
- 45 MASTER CHARACTERS: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters
- by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
- The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for BUILDING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS
- by Marc McCutcheon
- WHAT WOULD YOUR CHARACTER DO? Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your
- by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. & Ann Maisel
- the RANDOM HOUSE WORD MENU (ISBN 0435414411) for getting
- various vocabulary and terminology right. – all different professions & hobbies listed, to sound more like an insider
- And I have A WORLD OF BABY NAMES by TERESA NORMAN that I use in order to
- get “related” names correct – cultural distinctness.
- Bullies, Bastards,& Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page
- Understanding the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso.
- Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams by Laurie Schnebly
Have a new website via WordPress over at https://reneewildesromance.wordpress.com/
All of my books and buy links are there – drop me a line & say hi! Feel free to follow me at either location – here or there! 🙂
All of the other senses are observing or interacting with the external. The sixth sense is purely internal. First become of aware of yourself, and then expand outward. Become familiar with the “norm”, and then look for “different.” If you’re walking through the woods, and all of a sudden the birds and animals fall silent, that’s a problem. Something’s changed in their perception of what-should- be. They might be reacting to you. They might be reacting to the big bear behind you. Maybe you should notice the big bear behind you.
Breathe through your nose. Then breathe through your mouth. What’s the difference? Describe it.
Say you’re going down a tunnel. Is it dry and dusty or damp and mildewy? Is the dust laced with minerals that stings your nose and puts a tang under your tongue? Copper’s good for that. Iron, too – like in blood.
Walk through the forest. Has it just rained? Is it about to? Describe it. A springtime forest differs from an autumn forest, a conifer forest from a deciduous forest, the taiga from a rainforest or jungle. What can you smell? Nuances.
People have a scent, as well. Deodorant, fabric softener, soap and shampoo aside, each person is unique. Just ask a bloodhound. Scents can either attract or repel. It’s a big component of “chemistry.” Ever go out with someone, only to discover there was “no chemistry”, “no spark”? Then you meet someone else, and WHAM! And that scent can change. Sweat can change. Are they sweating from the sun or exertion, from fear or arousal? How pheromones work isn’t important to the average writer, just be aware that they do. Smell can be an incredible memory trigger. A friend of mine finds English Leather incredibly sexy, because an old boyfriend used to wear it. Old Spice has the opposite effect on me – my grandfather used to wear it.
Taste comes in four basics – salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. Next time you eat, slow down and focus on your meal. The warm yeasty smell of bread, that first bite of hot buttered crust. Crumbled bleu cheese or feta cheese on the fresh spinach salad, maybe fresh ground pepper. Taste the basil and oregano in the tomato sauce, the sage and onion in the stuffing. Apple-smoked ham differs from maple-smoked from honey-cured. You can mix flavors, too. I make a wicked pork or chicken, simply simmered in chicken broth and orange juice. (Lime juice is great, too.) Savor a recipe that calls for Madeira or Burgundy. Specify the type of mushrooms in the stroganoff. Don’t be afraid to have your character revel in rich egg custard or smooth buttery caramel. Pay attention to flavors, smells, textures. Crisp celery or mushy porridge and everything in-between.
The trick is layering. What’s the first smell to hit them when they walk into a room or outside? When you take a bite of something, what’s the first flavor? Then what surfaces after a bit? The trick of threes works well. Read a wine bottle. You have the initial bouquet, the prominent notes, and the finish. Keep that in mind when you try your hand at this description.
She had blonde hair and blue eyes.
He was big and hunky.
He walked toward her.
They rode horses to the beach.
They saw a bird.
Cindy’s Reviews > Duality
A guilty pleasure that satisfyingly fed my imagination. Duality starts off by dragging you into a bloody coup. Dara is a mystery, and is loyal to her people. She’s also a fighter–fearing no one. She will protect and heal all who cross her path, even a stranger.
Her gifts lead to those who need her and that is how she finds Loren. A visitor to her world who had come to help the king, becoming gravely injured.
The chemistry between Dara and Loren was instant. I enjoyed journeying with them as they fought the enemy while their romance bloomed.
The author has painted a world of adventure and fantasy that immediately pulls you in, and doesn’t let go. In fact, I stayed up to 3 in the morning finishing it.
THE PROPHECY (from Riever’s Heart):
Aryk stumbled back from Tzigana’s bed. Horror chilled his very bones. His recurring nightmare had come to pass. Joro lay dead in a pool of his own blood. A raven-haired woman with the mark of the Hand stood over him, blood dripping from the sword in her hand. His sword. His blood. The very sword Aryk now carried, which Joro stood to inherit. The sword which would one day lead Joro to his death, at her hand—this tiny babe lying in her mother’s arms.
The future he’d determined to thwart by seeing to it Joro never picked up a sword. The wars must cease afore Joro turned six. That future started here. Now. With the birth of her.
“Piroska.” He all but hissed the name. The inflection gave it the weight of a curse.
Verdeen shot him a startled glance. Wolf’s face darkened as the queen’s arms tightened around her daughter, enough to draw a mewled protest. “What’s wrong?” Verdeen grabbed Aryk’s arm. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Nay.” Valkyn’s voice shook. “A witch.”
“Aye,” Tzigana retorted. “The most powerful eya in ten generations.”
“Every night I prayed this day to never come.” Aryk clenched his fists. “That she’d never be born.”
Wolf’s entire body tensed as Tzigana hissed, “Take it back, you riever bastard.”
“I’ll not. She kills my son,” Aryk raged. “I’ve seen it, night after night. Him lying gutted at her feet like a fish, killed by his own sword. The Hand of Destiny mocks me with seeing her living face—one brown eye, one green eye and the red Hand that wields my son’s doom. All I seek to prevent—negated by your witch-daughter’s birth. Your joy heralds my greatest sorrow. I can’t share in it.”
PIROSKA – Heroine…or Villainess?
one brown eye and one green eye—a red birthmark in the shape of a hand on her right cheekbone
the most powerful eye (witch) in ten generations, with the power to summon lightning
destined to kill Joro with his own sword???
daughter of Shamaru queen Tzigana and Shamari king Berend/”Wolf”
She comes from the blending of two different worlds –
the travelling gypsy native Shamaru
& the more recent immigrant Shamari, stationary builders of stone
Piroska was born in the cliffside castle of Ravenscroft, the ancestral home of Von Berend, the Wolf
Ever has she been forbidden to visit Isadorykja, the Isle of Ice, the village of Svaaldur at the foot of Widowmaker Mountain – by decree of Daq Aryk, the Isadorykjan king
son of Daq Aryk and the Isadorykjan woman Dagmar,
Joro is a proud, able warrior to rival his legendary father
Trained as a daq, his father’s heir, he chafes at the restrictions place on him, to never set foot in the land of Shamar, by the mutual decree of Daq Aryk and Von Berend (two men bent of thwarting the prophecy by never having Piroska & Joro meet)
Bur the Destiny Hand can’t be thwarted…or circumvented…
Enter the seeress Jana (Tzigana’s cousin):
“The sword you carry—the sword of a daq, of a king,” Jana continued. “He will one day carry it, wield it. The kingship as well as the sword.”
“But she kills him.” Aryk glared down at her.
She rolled her eyes and glared back, her exasperated expression clearly relaying she thought him a simpleton. “A witch has no need of a sword to do her slaying. Not an eya with the power to summon lightning. Aye, you saw the warrior Joro die. But did the man die with the warrior? When is a sword more than a sword? When is a man more than a warrior?”
Let the chess match begin!
ELYRIA, half-elven/quarter-human/quarter-dragon princess of Cymry (capital city Poshnari-Unai)
worships the Lady of Light
shares her mother’s abhorrence of demons
yearns to do something productive with her life besides be a pampered princess of the realm
daughter of Queen Dara (half-human/half-dragon fire mage & healer) & elven King Loren (empath, former Lady’s Champion & Right Hand) from DUALITY (Guardians of Light Book 1)
guarded by & bonded to MYSTI, a fey mist tiger from the Shadowlands AND Aurelian (elven shadow ranger) & his war mare Lanakea
When a messenger arrives from the distant shores of Goba-Din Ashelu, on the far side of the Shadowlands, proposing an alliance and cultural exchange, Elyria proposes to go as her parents’ ambassador. They gate to the port of Ban-Khala, where they board the Banshee’s Fury, captained by the charismatic Stepak, bound for the distant, exotic city of Bur-Ganan.
But someone has other plans for Elyria. When the Banshee’s Fury is attacked, Aurelian & Mysti are gravely wounded. Stepak spirits Elyria to safety with the help of the giant Roc, Nur.
Elyria and Stepak have to find out who wants the alliance to fail. News of Elyria’s death would start a war between elf and djinn. When Elyria discovers her simple sea-captain is in fact the disinherited grandson of the Djinn King Salah. Salah’s daughter Ariana was taken by an incubus demon – Stepak is half djinn…and half demon.
Won’t Queen Dara welcome HIM as a son-in-law – provided Elyria & Stepak can survive long enough to return to Cymry?
Story Notes Development:
warrior/scout & weather-witch
selkie allure manifests through singing
affinity for crows
hates/fears the sea (& dragons)
daughter of Finora (selkie princess) & Trystan (were Wolf warrior of Badger clan)
from LYCAN TIDES (Guardians of Light, Book 3)
older sister of Ioain (half-human/half-selkie) – shamanic archaeologist, obsessed with studying the past
When Ioain locates ancient cave paintings, he insists on going to study them. Braeca reluctantly accompanies him to stand guard (and make sure he eats & sleeps)
Meanwhile, in a land far/far away, (the Negasa mountain range of Theressa) an earthquake destroys the home caverns of the warlike Shani (dark elves, AKA drow). They have to find a new home territory, and migrate into the caves of the Dragon’s Back Mountains (border of Arcadia & Shamar). FLYN is sent to scout ahead with the 5 warriors of his “Hand” – and they come across the cave where Ioain & Braeca are working.
(I ❤ this picture!)
FLYN of the White River Shani (dark elf/drow) Rhys (prince) & warrior, armed with a knife made from a basilisk’s tear, a blade which steals the life forces of slain enemies to heal himself (designed by his necromancer/shaman brother Emek)
second-born son of Abba All-Father & captive high elf female named Dumia (sister to Hilorian)
the basilisk-tear knives can be focused in a ritual to summon & reanimate their victims and force them to fight on the side of the Shani, in the name of Akeru, the God of Death. Lich/zombies, an abomination to the Lady of Light…
Unbeknownst to Abba, Dumia has been secretly influencing Flyn to work for benefit of all the Shani people, not just his own power. He is wary of the topsiders, but decides to find out more about them before committing to heading an invasion force…
Can Braeca finish what Dumia started, and turn this Bad Boy to the Light? Will Flyn turn traitor against his father and help the humans prepare for the coming apocalypse?
With all the recent upheavals in my little corner of the publishing world, namely the almost-demise & drastic downsizing of Samhain Publishing, I’ve struggled to keep my identity & writing focus. I know I’m not alone. A lot of my writing friends have gone Indie with varying rates of success, since the market is GLUTTED. Everyone has a book out these days, and it’s hard to find the gold in all the dross. Amazon has gotten way too big for its britches, and isn’t always the easiest waters to navigate. Not everyone can afford to go Indie, though. I’m one of them, which is why I left my books up at Samhain when so many others were pulling the books whose contracts had expired. The Guardians of Light are Samhain books. Period. An interlocking series of 7 titles:
But where to go from here? I did a brief sojourn into the world of writing Science Fiction Romance…UGH! The less said about THAT the better! (LOL) I adore watching science fiction TV shows & movies, I love reading sci fi. Can’t write it to save my soul, though. Turns out trite. Flatter than flat. I’ve been hanging out with Joseph Campbell & Mercedes Lackey for too long to turn my back on my strong suit: Fantasy Romance.
But there are 7 books in the Guardians of Light series already. Enough. What to do next? Well, what happens when hot couples get their happily-ever-afters and time passes? The Next Generation, so to speak. So, I’ve been solidifying the Daughters of the Guardians trilogy idea into 3 different book ideas:
Braeca (daughter of Finora & Bran – Lycan Tides)
Piroska (daughter of Tzigana & Berend – born in Riever’s Heart) – destined to join with Joro (Dagmar & Aryk’s son from Riever’s Heart – Birgit’s younger half-brother)
Elyria (daughter of Dara & Loren from Duality) – featured in Riever’s Heart & God of Fyre Mountain
but maybe add a couple of others to make it an official series:
Birgit (daughter of Erlynda & Aryk, niece of Valkyn – Riever’s Heart) and
Jana (Tzigana’s younger cousin – featured in Hedda’s Sword & Riever’s Heart)
Siobhan (Braeca’s younger half sister, daughter of Finora & Trystan)
But what about the boys? If I were to do a Sons of the Guardians, who would I have to work with?
Ioain (Braeca’s younger brother)
Alvar (son of Moira & Hengist – Dara’s half-brother)
Antal (Piroska’s twin brother)
Valkyn’s sons – Einar, Helje, Broder, & Gjord (mentioned in Moonwitched)
Mari’s & Dax’s son (conceived in God of Fyre Mountain), named Chonan
Working new stories in the old, familiar world of the Guardians – with one or two travel-abroad variations just to keep things interesting…
Are there any characters YOU want to see featured/more of???
He was bred for war. Her magic is only for peace. Together they must fight for love.
Guardians of Light, Book 7
Weapons stolen, comrades dead, ship burned and sunk, Valkyn is rotting in Lord Zurvan’s grim dungeon, wondering if he will ever again see his sons. Rescue comes from an unexpected source—the human witch Zurvan sent to patch him up between beatings.
Mari can’t bring herself to let Valkyn die, never mind that the fearsome northern riever is the scourge of her homeland. Yet in him she finds an ally who could help restore the rightful boy king to the throne. And a man who reminds her body there’s life after widowhood.
Their first kiss unleashes pent-up passion she thought was long buried, clouding all the reasons they shouldn’t get involved. But the blood on Valkyn’s hands is anathema to Mari’s magic. If she dares open herself to him fully, he could destroy her.
Valkyn knows his heart has already surrendered to hers. When this quest is over, the real quest will be convincing her that polar opposites not only attract, they belong together—forever.
Contains a witch who abhors violence teaming up with a war-hardened riever who has never known peace. Complicated by a savage warlord, a boy king in hiding, an embittered selkie prince who’s lost his skin, and hot love scenes that show a lot of it.
This is NOT a historical romance. This is a historical fiction with romantic elements, so don’t go in with preconceived expectations. The author isn’t a formal historian, but like me an author who loves history & historical research – and it shows. The world-building and cultural references are solid and stellar. The characters were multi-dimensional and their interactions were lively and true. Whenever you have a diverse tapestry, and characters from two sides of a conflict – Romans and Britons – there’s lots of potential for headbutting and misunderstandings and tunnel vision. And it holds true here. Briton heroine and Roman hero, in post-Boudica Britain. The locals have no love for the occupation, and the Romans are far from their own homes and families. Nice to see both sides of that coin fleshed out – had sympathy for both parties.
That being said, I had some issues with parts of this book. I wasn’t sure of the heroine’s age. Sometimes she was babysitting her younger siblings, which indicated she was younger, since that was a task for older children, not a woman. Then she was off with the warriors and falling in love, which led me to believe she was grown – but then why was she stuck babysitting? The dating in the book’s opening and closing chapters conflicted – I couldn’t follow the timeline or keep track of her aging progression. There was a single scene with a mysterious villain that came late and seemed totally out of left field, since it was never fully developed. And the book could have used a good editor. There are grammar and punctuation issues, and some POV slips that could have been addressed prior to publication for a cleaner product.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I love the time period and Celtic culture, and this book had vivid setting and characters. It’s nice to see an writer put her heart and soul into a project, and am curious the check out other works by this author.
Now available from Tirgearr, Smashwords & Amazon!
Have day off of work and am busy doing promo for the birth of my newest printed baby. This is a paranormal romance, first in a soon-to-be trilogy. A werewolf tale w/an environmental theme, just in time for Halloween/Samhain. (Which also happens to be my 16th wedding anniversary…) Check out the following links:
Wrongness. The fine hairs prickled the back of Cheyenne Rafferty’s neck as she crouched beside the ice-laced pond and filled the small glass vial with water. Surveying the too-still northwest Montana forest, she sniffed the air, catching the normal scents of a Cabinet Mountains springtime—spicy Ponderosa pines, new quaking aspen leaves, and the mineral tang of mud-tinged snow. She strained to listen.
Silence. Dead silence. No animals, no birds. Weird for early afternoon, even in mid-April. She wanted to melt down into true-self and let Sister take over. The white wolf’s senses were more acute, but she needed to finish collecting water samples and report to her U.S. Forestry Service superiors. Hard to do either with four paws and a growl.
Frowning, Cheyenne pulled her handheld radio from her belt. “Eagle to Nest.”
“What’s up, Chey?” her cousin Sarah asked.
“You got anything from USGS on recent seismic readings?”
“Are you serious? Here? There’s no alert for Kootenai. Why?”
Cheyenne closed her eyes and reached for the inner stillness where soul touched earth. Wrongness. A single ripple on the water’s mirror surface. “Too quiet. Sister’s twitchy.”
“I’ll double-check.” Silence on the line, then “Crap! Hang on, Chey. We’ve got tremors coming.”
The earth shivered; a sigh building to a low groan. With a mighty heave, the ground arched like the back of a newly-saddled mustang and then dropped. Cheyenne lost her balance and tumbled to the ground. The pond crested into a single giant wave that crashed over her. Boulders cartwheeled down the mountainside toward her truck.
With the speed of thought Sister emerged. The nimbleness and claws of the white wolf gave her better purchase on the shifting ground than her human self. As she danced amidst the rocks, Cheyenne’s thoughts buried beneath Sister’s instinct to stay up and keep moving. One rock with sharp quartz edges glanced off her flank. Sister yelped and ducked out of the way. It seemed an eternity but was over within moments.
Sister shook herself free of the debris. Now that it was safer, Sister retreated. Muscles stretched; joints popped as bones lengthened. Skin burst through split fur. There was a moment of pain, of dizziness and disorientation as Cheyenne straightened upright and rose in her wet filthy uniform. She grimaced as cold, clammy material clung to her skin.
This will teach me to leave my coat in the truck. If only she could shift into clean, dry clothes but that wasn’t how it worked. What you left was what you re-entered. A little extra fur made back into clothing. Minus badge and holster belt, radio and cell phone.
Why I haul the phone around in an area with no reception bars… Her older brother Brady would freak when he couldn’t get a hold of her. He’d raised her singlehandedly after their parents died and still took his guardianship seriously, long after she’d reached the age of consent.
“Chey? Chey? You there? You okay?” Sarah sounded breathless—and frantic. “Answer me, dammit.”
Cheyenne wrung out her dripping ponytail and tossed the scraggly ash blonde rope of hair back over her left shoulder. Her sturdy hiking boots squelched in the mud as she picked up her squawking radio. “Tell Brady I’m fine. You?”
“We’re okay, still here. Lights are gone; no phones. Kane broke out a flashlight to check the records vault down in the basement.”
“What’s the scoop?” Cheyenne struggled to buckle her belt one-handed.
“Four-pointer, but localized.” Sarah paused. “I think it just brushed Troy but didn’t make it as far as Libby; Evan’s checking with both towns, but that’ll take time. Phone and power lines are down. We’ve got broken windows, a crack in the north wall and also—yep, right down the middle of the parking lot. So much for the resurfacing. Crap—your mom’s ivy took a header off your desk…hang on…there. It’s a bit squashed. Sorry. What’s the damage out there?”
Cheyenne looked around. Rocks had carved jagged paths through the dripping underbrush. Evergreen trees lay toppled in every direction, the pond now a shallow, steaming mud puddle. Dead fish lay scattered across the bubbling surface of a newly-emerged hot spring. “Looks like an amateur logging event. The pond’s now hot. Total kill. I need to check my truck.” She returned the radio to her belt, snapped some photos—at least the phone was now good for something—and took another water/mud sample. Then she half-staggered, half-slid down the trail to the gravel road where she’d parked.
A moan sounded from nowhere, from everywhere, like a dying moose magnified a hundredfold building to a roar. A sense of glee, of malice and rage, hammered into her. Cheyenne drew her Smith & Wesson service revolver and looked around for the source of the eerie sound. Sister cowered deep within her. Cheyenne frowned. Sister didn’t cower from anything, not even a mama grizz with new cubs. Whatever that noise was, her inner wolf wanted no part of it.
She quickened her pace. Her hunting rifle was in the truck. This early in the season bears weren’t out unless they’d run short on body fat. For taking soil samples and measuring water depths she didn’t usually need weapons, just a pen, notepad, and test tubes—along with the occasional canoe.
Apparently this wasn’t the usual day.
Set in Kootenai National Forest. Heroine Cheyenne Rafferty is a white wolf shifter who works for the U.S. Forestry Service. When her truck is destroyed by an unusual earthquake, she doesn’t think her day can get any worse. Until she runs afoul of a demon from the ancient past – and the compelling warrior who followed it forward in time.Hero Marek awakens 2000 years in the future, to a world all but incomprehensible. Sent to teach modern warriors to combat the Reynak, he now finds the demon the only thing familiar. His people and their epic struggle have been lost to the passage of time. The only one willing to help him is a daughter of the earth, a beautiful shifter woman with the heart of a wolf.This isn’t your standard werewolf tale. The first of a planned trilogy, it has a strong environmental theme and features werewolves, time-traveling Native American warriors, demons and a resurrected ancient goddess.
There are very few books to register on my epic “Rob Roy” cry scale – the blotchy-faced-glad-the-kids-aren’t-here-to-be-humiliated bawl fest. I bought this book because of the cute cover and intriguing blurb – she begs an old friend for a pity date to attend her sister’s wedding. I thought it would be a fun, funny read on my day off. Don’t get me wrong – it is. The niece’s mispronunciations are cosmic, and the extended family is beyond strange, of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” proportions.
But it’s so much more than that.
I read this book in one sitting. Burnt the coffee. Never saw the mailman deliver even though the dog usually announces. Never heard the dog – and she’s a Chow who sounds like a T-Rex-sized rage-monster when the mailman shows up. Because I got lost in this book. Completely.
Camryn and Troy are believably REAL. They’re real people with personal issues people can relate to and identify with. Scars and fears and insecurities. Everything starts out with the “One Big Lie” to fake it and fool the family. Only pretend becomes terrifyingly real, and to see two wounded souls open up and LIVE again – because of the other person – was humbling and moving. I laughed and cried(and really hated Grandma a time or two) and was pissed at the perfect ending because it was OVER and the next page was BLANK! I will probably reread this book again a few hundred times – if only to hear Emily butcher the word “popcorn.”
This book is a gem. PLEASE go get your own copy – you’ll own a true treasure!
I love paranormal romance, the idea of a psychic who doesn’t believe in vampires or the paranormal, and a real vampire hunter pretending to be a vampire hunter, sounded like a fun sort of lark. It took me a while to get into, I got confused at the beginning with who was who and who was doing what, and my American brain struggled a bit with some of the dialogue phrasology, but I am glad I stuck with it because the story took off and rocked.
These vampires are very unique, and their plan for world domination was one I can honestly say I’ve never seen before. I like how there were good and bad vampires, just like there are good and bad people, and the hero and heroine were both sympathetic and likeable. Their chemistry was hot and believable, and they worked well together. A great cast of secondary characters, all with their own voices, rounded out the book nicely.
I would recommend this author to my friends, and look forward to getting more of Marie Treanor’s books in the future.
This is another recipe from my Maine relatives. My daughter Tami loves chowder, and this is yummy on a cold day—drives our cat nuts, though! If anyone knows how to keep a cat off the counter, please message. me from the “Contact Me” page of http://www.reneewildes.net because after 10 years of Chandra counter-jumping and trying to stick her paws in the cream, I give up!
1-1/2 lb. haddock (or cod) fillets
1 lb. scallops
2 cans crabmeat
2 cans minced clams
2 cans shrimp
2 qt. milk
1/2 lb. butter
Salt & pepper to taste
Do not throw the cooking water away—reat it like “fish stock” for flavor!
In large kettle, cook fish in salted boiling water until it’s white through & flakes easily with fork. Remove fish, flake with fork & remove bones. Lower heat & simmer scallops in the fish water to cook, about 5 minutes or until done. Cut scallops in bite-sized pieces. Return scallop pieces & flaked fish to the cooking water. Add crabmeat, clams & shrimp—eat long enough to blend, stirring constantly. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add milk & butter until heated through and butter melts. Do not boil. Serve hot, topped with oyster crackers.
And check out this other FAB recipe from my friend:
IN HONOR OF THE NEVERENDING MIDWEST WINTER…
Kids love this stuff—and it’s easy for everyone to just help themselves whenever the mood strikes. Whenever the kids bring a friend over to our house, it’s a good after-school treat. I like the spiced version myself. For a non-kids step-up, you can doctor with a shot of Baileys or Kahlua, too! (Great for bribing Santa, if it so happens you’ve been extra naughty this year…) This makes a big batch! (But it goes faster than you’d believe…)
1 2 lb. can cocoa mix
1 8-qt. size powdered milk
1 8-oz, jar powdered cream
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Mix together thoroughly in large pail –a flour sifter can help blend. Keep in sealed, airtight container. To make, fill cup or mug ½ full of mix, add boiling water & stir well. Top with marshmallows.
To make SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE, sprinkle powdered cinnamon or nutmeg or a bit of ground cloves atop mix just before adding water.
And check out these other recipes from my writer friends:
Sometimes getting away from it all can be murder…
Erin Carter just wanted to get away from her nightmare of a life. After a personal crisis at work costs her a promotion, all she wants to do is lick her wounds and reexamine her life. A friend invites her to a picturesque refuge in Spain, which proves to be anything but a safe haven. Her best friend is hiding something, a beautiful-but-tragic 15th-century ghost won’t leave her alone, and her budding romance with a handsome surgeon – with secrets of his own – makes her wonder if she’s bitten off more than she can chew…
This is a darkdarkDARK psychological thriller with twists and turns to keep you reading. It’s not a comfortable read, but makes you wonder and shiver to the end. You can’t assume anything with this book – and the ending was a surprise I didn’t see coming. Not my usual fare, but I really enjoyed it. I really was cheering for Erin’s HEA. I highly recommend this book – but read it with a light on!
This is a “dress up” kind of casserole that will hold its own at Sunday dinner—with the in-laws. I can’t complain, though—my in-laws ROCK. You can see a picture of the WHOLE Mickelson clan on my personal Facebook page. We did a family portrait on the front porch steps. Someday I want to have a house with a wraparound porch. I HATE being a country gal stuck in the city!
3 cups diced cooked chicken (or turkey)
1 ½ cups half-and-half
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup white rice
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
½ cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Cook rice according to package directions & combine together. In large skillet, sauté onions & garlic in butter until tender but not browned. Remove from heat & stir in flour. Gradually stir in chicken broth, then add half-and-half. Cook & stir until thickened. Add cooked rice, chicken, spinach, mushrooms, parsley, and salt & pepper. Mix together thoroughly. Place in large, ungreased casserole; sprinkle almonds on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Check out these other awesome recipes!
Nothing like walking past a dozen churches on Easter Sunday to feel one’s lack of formal religion affiliation. Wausau has a LOT of churches on the way to McDonald’s–one across from the courthouse/jail. Seeing all those miserable little girls in their fancy Easter dresses brought it all back home this morning. Grandma’s gone. It’s funny how the weirdest things bring back the memories–like those ridiculous dresses.
See, Gran was a lady as well as a warrior. She had shoes and purses to match every outfit. She wore hats and gloves. And she bought her daughter and granddaughters a full ensemble-in-white for every Easter Sunday. White patent leather shoes. White dresses with lace. White straw hats with flowers. And white gloves. Seriously? How long you think a little kid’s gonna keep white gloves white? Or even ON? My mom told me she got busted as a little girl playing in the coal bin about a half-hour before church! I got mine covered in mud and horse hair, alas. (Yes, we were such girlie girls.) My sister managed to stay clean, but I remember her losing her hat. Knowing WI springs as I do, it probably blew away!
Those little girls looked about as enthused today as I did back then. But it made my think of Gran. She’s been gone more than a month. Seeing her body and receiving a copy of her death certificate didn’t freak me out nearly as much as those stupid Easter dresses. Like I told you, weird. My daughter Tami is such a girlie girl compared to her her tomboy mom–she probably would have LOVED to doll it up for Easter. I can’t wait to see what she picks out for her prom and wedding–I’ve watched enough of “Say Yes to the Dress” that I promised her I would never be one of THOSE moms. And I know whatever she picks out, Gran will be beaming at her from afar saying, “That’s my girl.” Tami wants to be a cop like her grandpa (my dad). Another lady warrior?
With my new fantasy romance release from Samhain Publishing, GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN, being set on a tropical-paradise island (ala ancient Polynesia) it seemed only right to do a tropical fruit kinda drink. I coulda done the more common Mai Tai or Pina Colada, but frankly, passion fruit seemed more “romance-y,” LOL! Originally got this one from Food Network—since I usually gravitate to Cosmos anyway, this one’s right up my alley. Hope you enjoy, too!
PASSION(ATE) FRUIT MARTINI
• 1 shot citrus vodka
• 1 shot white cranberry juice
• 1 shot passion fruit juice
• 1/2 shot orange liqueur
• 1 tablespoon cherry juice
• Orange peel twist, for garnish
Combine all ingredients except orange peel twist in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into martini glass.
Garnish with orange peel twist.
A low rumbling came from deep within the mountain. A blast of hot sulfurous air blew out the torches. Maili choked on a whimper as the image of Afu pulsed with a rippling darkness. Every instinct screamed at her to run, but she was frozen in place. With a screech that nigh made her ears bleed, the dark parted, rent like some great billowing curtain. The snakes writhed afore her. There was a clap of thunder as a huge, hard-muscled body was flung from the gap. She screamed as he knocked her flat, crushing her beneath his solid, burning weight.
You can buy this book here: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/fyre-mountain-p-7186.html
You can find Renee at the following links: website http://reneewildes.net/
AND DON”T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THESE OTHER FANTASTIC RECIPES FROM MY FRIENDS & FELLOW AUTHORS:
She’s got the moxie. He’s got the sexy.
Travel journalist Maddie Saunders has new attitude, and wants two new accessories to go with it. One, turn her triple-X fantasies into reality with Mr. Sex-On-Legs—her friend, Alex Donovan. And two, find her biological father to see if her gene pool has a deep end…
Poor Alex! Tropical paradise, exotic cocktails, and a beautiful coworker hell-bent on having her wicked way with him. Should be every man’s not-so-secret fantasy come true. Except he likes Maddie, and doesn’t want to hurt her—and having a fling with the boss’s niece isn’t a great career move. But Maddie’s not looking for a relationship—she just wants to have some fun.
This started out as a light, playful book, full of witty banter and heavy on the sexual innuendo. Great setting and red-hot chemistry. Wonderful escapism reading.
But I’m an impatient reader, and I usually read darker, weightier romances. Selena Robins is sneaky, folks—she hooks you in with the fun and flirt, and THEN gets to the heart and soul of her characters. There is plenty here for a drama-lover like me. A fatherless heroine with abandonment issues, conflicted heroes with secrets…even an evil blackmailer playing everyone like an evil puppeteer. The second half of the book was right up my alley, as Alex works to get under Maddie’s mask to the real woman within.
Masks have always fascinated me—what people show to the world vs. what they keep hidden inside, and the level of trust needed to share what’s inside with another. And a hero who can call a heroine’s bluff and bring out the real woman—that’s MY kind of guy!
The only weird thing was a bizzaro technical issue with my beloved Kindle. For whatever reason, it kept replacing periods (.) in the story with three-quarter marks (3/4)—literally. Never had that happen before. Anyone else’s Kindle do an independent free-form act like that? Because at first it was distracting, and then once I got into the story, I quit seeing them. But I just went back and checked—they’re still there. I think my Kindle is possessed…
Definitely pick up this book—it’s a great read for everyone at either end of the spectrum. Not too many books can say that.
Lemme tell ya, for those of us that work 8-12 hours a day outside the home, (yes, I have a day job) the crockpot is an absolute LIFESAVER! Nothing like coming home to “supper’s done.” Makes the whole house smell yummy—and makes everyone hungry. I love mushrooms, so this recipe is right up my alley! You want to add the sour cream last minute, so it doesn’t break down.
3-4 lbs. beef sirloin steak, cubed
2 cans chicken broth
1 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can regular cola
½ c. chopped onion
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
½ tsp. black pepper
2 envelopes dry country gravy mix
2 c. sour cream
Hot cooked egg noodles
In slower cooker/crock pot, combine first nine ingredients. Cover and cook on low for7-8 hours until meat is tender.
With a slotted spoon, remove beef & mushrooms. Place gravy mix in large saucepan, gradually whisk in cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, cook & stir for 2 minutes until thickened. Add sour cream immediately before serving. Serve beef & mushrooms over noodles, top with gravy.
DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THESE OTHER GREAT RECIPES FROM MY FRIENDS & FELLOW AUTHORS:
Selena Robins http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/02/05/popovers/
When I was little my mom would tell me stories about growing up wild in Hawaii, on Oahu. She and her friends would each get a hunk of dried fish and a section of sugar cane and go out to play for the day. They used to raid the neighbor’s mango trees. She’d tell me how three-finger poi was better than two-finger poi, which my sister and I could never figure out b/c poi is poi, right? It’s the same thing; one’s just mashed for longer than the other. But according to Mom, it makes a huge difference.
Since GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN comes out in 1 week, I decided this Tasty Tuesday recipe should do honor to the South Pacific-esque setting I used. I was able to use what I learned as far as what is grown and used on the islands. Pigs and chickens were the domestic animals of choice for my villagers.
My favorite bit of research was finding an absolute GEM of a cookbook, “Sam Choy’s Polynesian Kitchen,” (ISBN 0-7868-6475-3) in my local library. Not only is it recipes, but there’s also tales of his travels to each island mentioned & the people he met. He also discusses what can be substituted for what, in case there’s an ingredient you CAN’T get, although most stuff can be found in an Asian market, even here. The following recipe is in the “Hawaii” chapter, on page 88:
I love this recipe b/c it has big, exotic flavors using ingredients I can get in central Wisconsin in the middle of winter on a working mom’s budget!
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
¼ cup dry sherry
2 Tbsp. salad oil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
Salt & pepper to taste
Orange sections from 2 oranges, for garnish
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Cut chicken into pieces. Ina large mixing bowl, combine orange juice, sherry, oil, ginger, garlic, mustard, minced basil, and salt & pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, turning occasionally.
Drain chicken, reserving liquid. Place pieces in a large shallow baking pan, and bake in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes. Drain off fat. Pour reserved liquid over the chicken and continue to bake, basting occasionally, about 25 minutes until chicken is browned.
Place chicken on serving platter and drizzle pan juices over chicken. Garnish with the orange slices and basil leaves.
(P.S. I like to serve w/hot cooked rice and flatbread—and mai tais!)
CHECK OUT THESE OTHER GREAT TASTY TUESDAY RECIPES FROM MY FRIENDS:
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.
I got this recipe from the “Udderly Delicious Recipes Cookbook (Fine Wisconsin Recipes Presented by The Junior League of Racine).” Racine is where my parents live. This particular recipe was submitted by Lisa Ray Johnson, and is a dramatic holiday drink for anyone w/a crock pot.
6 smallish oranges
1 jar whole cloves
1 gallon apple cider
1 fifth rum
1 fifth peach or apple brandy
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350. Stud the oranges with whole cloves ~½-inch apart—the more the merrier! Bake spiced oranges on cookie sheet in oven for 1 hour. In a large kettle heat the apple cider on the stovetop. Place baked oranges in bottom of crockpot, set on lowest setting. Sprinkle with cinnamon, ground cloves & nutmeg. Add rum to the hot apple cider. Pour brandy over the oranges and—this is the best part—IGNITE. There will be a beautiful blue flame and the oranges will sizzle. Immediately douse with the rum/apple cider mixture to extinguish the flames. Serve hot.
(a note from the back of the cookbook:
“The Junior League of Racine Wisconsin, Inc. reaches out to all young women regardless of race, creed, religion or national origin who demonstrate an interest in and a commitment to voluntarism. It is an international organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”)
Don’t miss out on these other FABU recipes from my author friends:
P.G. FORTE http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/
Magical Guardian & veterinarian Sasha Soskoff moves from his Coven in Madison to downtown Chicago to try for a prestigious new research job at Northwestern University. A brutal mugging by Russian mobsters—and having no health insurance—puts him at the mercy of the outrageously sexy Dom Neal Harrison, the owner of the Factory, one of the hottest gay clubs in town. Neal and his men are former Marines with a big secret—they’re shape-shifters. Sasha’s got enough to worry about with making ends meet while unemployed and trying to land his dream job. Being targeted by Russian mobsters and getting caught in a shape-shifter turf war was not what he’d bargained for. The last thing he needs is a relationship complicating things. But Neal is smoking hot—and definitely interested in Sasha.
This was a total have-to-read-to-the-end-in-one-sitting book. I don’t usually read M/M, let alone M/M/M, let alone BDSM. But this book rocked! The characters totally made me fall in love with them—all of them. They all had their own personalities, stories and issues. Just like real people. I adored Sasha, just trying to get by as best he could and stay afloat in situations WAY over his head, poor guy. The shape-shifter community was fully realized, with its own customs and rules and hierarchy. The chemistry between Sasha and Neal is off the charts. I got a bit squeamish at some of the BDSM scenes—but that’s because I’m a wuss, not because the book was too hard-core. All scenes were consensual and the characters were totally into it. Those guys are definitely more adventurous than little ol’ me—more naughty than nice! But I was cheering for their HEA and for the bad guys to get what they deserved.
Wondering what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers? This is a cool, easy-peasy recipe from one of the Timberline Figure Skating Club members, Nikki Ogstad.
8 oz. thin spaghetti or vermicelli – cooked to taste, drained & rinsed
2 c. cooked chicken or turkey, diced
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. cream
1 c. grated parmesan cheese (divide in half)
12 oz. sliced mushrooms, sautéed
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. sherry wine
¼ c. flour
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Preheat oven at 375. Butter a casserole dish. Melt butter in large skillet. Blend in flour, salt, garlic & pepper. Add chicken broth & cream. Cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Add sherry & HALF the parmesan cheese, then ALL the spaghetti, chicken & mushrooms. Mix well & dump into the casserole dish. Sprinkle w/remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for30-45 minutes until hot & bubbly & golden brown on top.
GREAT WHEN SERVED W/GARLIC BREAD OR CHEESY BREAD!
Don’t forget to check out these other great posts:
We did NOT make it to Brookfield on Thanksgiving to my in-laws, b/c my STUPID car has an overheating issue no one can seem to fix. We left at 8 AM from Wausau, to give ourselves plenty of time. 51 S to Madison, then 94 E to Brookfield. Easy Peasy. Just had the car vetted at Valvoline. Good to go. Until we boiled over at the Hwy 21/Coloma exit (where we normally turn off to go to Tomah) – only an hour from home. Stopped and hung out at a BP drinking coffee and waiting for it to cool down enough. Got back on the road–apparently didn’t wait long enough because she started foaming again at Westfield exit, not 30 minutes later. We’re not EVEN to Wisconsin Dells yet and already 10 AM. Tried to call in-laws–no bars on cell phones.
Stopped at CITGO, started thinking long & hard. Todd has to work tomorrow 4 AM–Black Friday. CAN’T MISS. Tami FINALLY has doctor’s appt. tomorrow 9:45 AM to address insomnia issue. CAN’T MISS. Dog trapped in kennel, needs to be bailed out. CAN’T MISS. What if car goes belly-up even FARTHER from home? How much do I risk? So I pulled the plug and announced we were returning home–to an empty, foodless house. Kids were pissed. Locked myself in a CITGO bathroom stall to bawl in private. A very pregnant woman asked if I was okay. Not my finest moment…
Car overheated AGAIN in Plover on the way home, but at least there was a Walmart still open.Let the car cool off while we went shopping for our OWN Thanksgiving meal. Todd finally got a hold of his parents to tell them, only to be informed that his oldest son Bryan had decided to stay home in Milwaukee to see his dad and siblings–and now it was all for nothing, and I was the bad guy. I HATE being the responsible one–no one appreciates it.
Got home to a quiet house, two sulking kids and one sulking husband. Josh wanted to go get Abby right away. We made dinner–even crescent rolls & cherry pie only got me so much redemption. Watched the Redskins game–they won, which was the only bright spot in my day. Watched King Arthur and went to bed.
Todd went to work on time. Dog home safe & sound. Cat back to being pissed. Tami went to doctor & is now on 3 mg Melatonin–slept through the night last night for the first time in WEEKS/MONTHS. So I have to think all the drama was worth it. But I hate drama as much as I hate cars!
Already wondering what I’m supposed to do about Christmas!
3 slices of bacon, cook to get1 Tbls. bacon fat – keep crumbled bacon for topping if desired
1 large eggplant
1 c. canned chopped tomatoes w/juice
1 c. bread crumbs
½ onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
½ c. bread crumbs (for topping)
1 Tbls. parmesan cheese (for topping)
1 Tbls. butter
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
Boil eggplant in shell for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 375. Grease casserole dish w/butter. Cool eggplant, remove pulp & place pulp in large mixing bowl. (Discard skin) In skillet w/bacon fat, sauté onion & green pepper. Add tomatoes & juice, simmer vegetable mix for 10 minutes. Add 1 c. bread crumbs, salt, pepper, butter, Worcestershire sauce AND eggplant pulp. Mix well and pour into casserole dish. In separate small bowl, toss ½ c. bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon bits together & sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake until crumbs are golden brown & casserole is hot & bubbly—us. ~ 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.
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We decided to do our Tasty Tuesday TODAY in honor of Halloween, and I’m afraid I’m “coloring outside of the lines” against everyone else, b/c today is my 15th wedding anniversary and I decided to go with a MAINE/seafood recipe b/c that’s where we spent our honeymoon.
I have a recipe for Lobster Casserole that works well with other seafoods – since lobster’s hard to come by in Wisconsin (at least on THIS working mom’s budget) I’ve experimented with shrimp, cod and haddock variations. My grandma’s rolling in her grave right now, but substitution can be fun…*cough cough*
LOBSTER (SEAFOOD) CASSEROLE
3 c. lobster (insert seafood alternative) meat
8 Tbls. butter
8 Tbls. flour
6 Tbls. sherry
10 slices bread
2 pints cream
2 Tbls. lemon juice
2 beaten eggs
1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 pkg. (sleeve) crushed Ritz crackers (for topping) – or cornflakes
Preheat oven to 325. In skillet melt 2 Tbls. butter, add meat & cook until just done. In large mixing bowl, combine REST of butter, flour, lemon juice, egg, mustard, parika, salt and HALF the cream. Add the meat & stir. Tear the bread into small pieces and add to mix. Add rest of cream slowly–as much as needed to give a medium thickness to “batter.” (You might not use it all) Lastly, add sherry. Pour into large casserole dish; top with crackers. Bake 30-40 minutes or until hot & bubbly and golden brown on top.
DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THESE OTHER FANTABULOUS RECIPES FROM MY FELLOW WRITER FRIENDS:
So my daughter is a member of the Timberline Figure Skating Club here in Wausau, Wi. Several years back they did a fundraiser involving a cookbook. Everyone contributed–before our time, so none from me. There’s one by “Friends of Timberline” no individual name to credit. But it’s a great fall recipe, involving two WI staples–pumpkins & cranberries. Wouldn’t think tangy-zing would go with rich-spicy, but it’s surprisingly good. Lots of depth and contrast!
2 slightly beaten eggs
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 c. solid-pack pumpkin (canned is fine–unless you’re the ambitious kind who readily chop-boil-mash)
2-1/4 c. flour
1 Tbl. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped cranberries
Preheat over to 350. Grease & flour 2 loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil & pumpkin. Mix well. In another large bowl, combine flour, pie spice, soda & salt. Add dry ingredient mix into wet mix, stirring until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Stir in cranberries. Spoon batter equally into pans. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Makes whole house smell really yummy!
Don’t forget to check out these other great recipes from my fellow writers:
Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup by Moira Keith – http://moirakeith.com/2012/10/09/italian-sausage-vegetable-soup/
Where did the Peanut Go? by Selena Robins – http://selenarobinsmusings.com/
Besto Pesto Biscuits by PG Forte http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-besto-pesto-biscuits.html
So, all my friends know I am a die-hard PBR fan, and I’m NOT referring to BEER. No, I’m talking about Professional Bull Riding. I have a stuffed animal version of Blueberry Wine my kids got me for Xmas – it’s on my desk at work. So reading about a bull rider at the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas? I am SO there!
Levi McKenna is on the comeback/redemption trail. Unfortunately the media seems more concerned with who his latest love interest is than with his professional goals. Coming back to Vegas brings him full circle with old family friends – including his old prom date, Sydney Hart, all grown up. He finds her singing in her brother’s bar, and they decide to renew their old friendship. Sydney’s got issues of her own, in the name of a persistent, dangerous stalker. Trying to renew old friendships in the midst of a media circus and a premier sporting event isn’t easy. But the chemistry between these two is undeniable, and they’re determined to not walk away before seeing if they truly can pick up where they left off.
This was a fun, fast read, full of denim and sawdust and music and beer. Ms. Keith really brings the world to life, including the pressures involved that, sadly, have NOTHING to do with bull riding. Cowboys just trying to do what they love, what they’re good at – and hopefully make a living and not get killed while they’re at it. Women who truly love them fighting off the women who are just “buckle bunnies” looking for a good time and a notch on the bedpost. It’s a tough life, full of stress and challenges, but I really found myself cheering for Levi’s and Sydney’s HEA. Ms. Keith does not disappoint! I recommend this book for both the true fans and the curious!
I’m not an official vampire-lore fangirl, mostly because it seems like everyone’s doing the “same” vampires. There are so many conventions that it seems like “nothing new.” So I was pleasantly surprised with this book, because Ms. Forte’s vampiric world is truly unique. It’s full of these wonderfully “live” unique characters – twins Julie and Marc are BORN vampires, they were not “turned.” Julie represents the sensual nature of vampires while Marc is wonderfully empiric, trying to determine and quantify the very nature of vampires. This is not one of Samhain’s romances – this is an urban fantasy with a mystery twist, as the twins’ uncle/guardian Conrad has gone missing. Conrad’s partner Damian – a truly delightful, fun character, very flamboyant and full of life – is frantic to find him before their family den gets restless and looks to appoint a new leader. Following these characters in their search for Conrad, and discovering their origins along the way, is a great way to spend your time. Ms. Forte weaves the gothic and historical together in a pulsing, breathing fabric of fiction, and I highly recommend for anyone looking for something new and different!
I love easy-peasy whip-it-together & throw-it-in-the-oven recipes – these are great for picnics and potlucks and snack cakes – they go fast!
1-3/4 c. flour
1 c. white sugar
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
Preheat over to 350. Grease & flour 7 x 10 inch pan. Cream butter & sugar in large mixing bowl. Add egg & beat well. In a separate bowl, mix DRY ingredients with the flour. Mix 1/2 c of the flour mixture into the wet egg mixture, then add the applesauce, LAST add the rest of the flour mixture. Pour mixture into pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Test center w/toothpick for doneness – if toothpick comes out clean, you’re good to go!
Check out these other recipes from my friends and fellow authors:
Two Hours to Thinner Thighs – Selena Robins – http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2012/10/02/2-hours-to-thinner-thighs/
Verdeen paced through the lush gardens, letting the honey scent of night-blooming moonflowers soothe her. Their waxy ivory petals glowed in the lights. Thank the Lady goddess everyone seemed to be inside. The splashing of the wishing fountain drew her, and she emerged into a small clearing lit by pink mage light. She wasn’t the first to venture there. She froze at the intimidating figure staring into the shadowy ripples of water. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know anyone was here—”
“Don’t go.” Aryk turned from the fountain and held out a sun-bronzed hand. “Stay.”
She eyed his hand, wary of his touch. “Daq Aryk, what are you doing out here?”
Was he following her?
“Just Aryk. I needed quiet.” He raked his hand through his hair. “I felt on display.”
She could relate to both parts of that statement, and unexpected sympathy welled for the stranger. As if of its own volition, her body moved closer to him. His eyes drew her gaze. Their intensity made her falter. “Why have you come here to Poshnari-Unai, my city?”
“To set my destiny in motion.” His lips quirked at her puzzlement. “Stovak nos briel.”
She cocked her head. “What does that mean?”
“‘Destiny awaits.’ Sounds grand and mysterious, hai?” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “’Tisn’t. I’ve a political problem back home. Cianan thought Loren could help.”
Humans believed in the Destiny Hand? “Well, he’s very good at solving most problems. Everyone’s but mine.”
“Your eyes are red. You’ve been crying. Why?” He frowned, but she read genuine concern in his eyes. “Today you triumphed over everyone. I’ve never seen anything like it. You were amazing.”
“Really?” She cursed the tremor in her voice, the eager need for approval only too obvious even to herself.
His smile softened the harsh planes of his face and deepened the crinkles around his eyes, making him seem younger and less imposing. “Hai. Really. I’ve seen many a warrior in my lifetime. Believe me when I say you’re truly gifted, kyra. Smart, strong and beautiful. Poetry in motion.”
Something melted within her at the compliment. There was that word again, kyra, his husky tone almost making it an endearment.
“The one thing I wanted most in this world slipped through my fingers this afternoon,” she confessed. “A chance to be selected as a ranger trainee, to further my studies. It didn’t happen.” A tear slid down her cheek. She froze as he reached out to brush it away.
“There are many paths to greatness,” he told her. “A warrior’s greatest strength is the scope of his vision. You showed vision and judgment today, but take care lest your focus cause you to miss your true path. A warrior must above all be adaptable to change. The one thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes.”
Aryk held out his hand again, palm up, and Verdeen found herself reaching to take it. Big mistake. His thick, scarred fingers slid over hers in a caress which made her tingle in places not even remotely attached to her hand. She entwined her fingers with his to still them and bit her lip at the zing of awareness as his thumb brushed across the sensitive skin of her inner wrist. “Cease,” she whispered.
“Cease what?” His voice dropped to a smooth, dark seduction of lethal proportions. “This?” His fingers teased hers with long, light strokes. “Or this?” He rubbed gentle circles over her pulse, which hammered at his touch.
She should pull away but didn’t move. Couldn’t move. “This isn’t proper.”
Some rebellious part of her didn’t care.
“Do you always do what’s proper, kyra?”
She had to know. “What’s kyra mean?”
“’Tis a term for a woman warrior.”
Verdeen nodded. “We also have such a term, ancient and seldom used. Vertenya. Few exist in our world to carry such a title.”
According to Cianan, there were now but two—Queen Dara and herself.
Aryk slid closer, the heat from his body curling around her. “I answered your question. Now you answer mine.”
What was his question? If only she’d focused on his words instead of on the rich smoky warmth of his voice. Like crème rija pudding with honeyed brandy. Sheer decadence to make her melt.
“Do you always do what’s proper?”
Female in the military? It didn’t get any less proper; just ask her absent parents. Acourse, holding hands with a royal guest in a moonlit garden wasn’t exactly proper, either. Yet here she stood with her hand in his, close enough for his subtle, musky scent to push the fragrance of the flowers from her awareness. All she could think of was how she wanted to move closer yet. Dazed, she shook her head.
Heat flared in his changeable eyes. “They said this is a wishing fountain. If you make a wish and toss in a pebble, your wish comes true.”
“’Tis true. A legend as old as this city itself. There are faeries with the power to grant it, if the wish is personal and comes from the heart.”
Aryk uncurled his free hand, revealed a stone. With a flick, he tossed it over her shoulder.
Verdeen heard the splash.
“Guess what I wished for.”
“Your destiny would be fulfilled?”
“Stovak nos briel. Nay, what I wished for is more personal and out of my hands.”
Their gazes clashed, then locked. His eyes narrowed, darkened. “A kiss, freely given, from you.”
What? Her heart skipped a beat. She froze. That was it? Why waste the power of a wish on such a frivolous thing?
He must have read the disbelief on her face. “’Tis a rarer gift than you’d ken. But tonight, in this magical place, all things seem possible.”
They did. They truly did. She should’ve been angry or offended at his outrageous request. She should return to the party. Today had been emotional chaos. She felt raw, vulnerable, in its wake. Tonight, heart ruled mind. She nibbled her lower lip, undecided. Why? Mayhaps ’twas the moonlight, the seclusion of the garden setting. Who would know? Mayhaps ’twas his words, the understanding on his face. The heat in his eyes, the warmth of his hand.
Or mayhaps Cianan was right. Mayhaps the woman tired of the warrior having the say.