Happy New Year from Our Kitchen

This week has been filled with parties, dinners, breakfasts, lunches – all hosted by Moi. And, as in other years, my kitchen has decided to celebrate by breaking down.

Wonderful, isn’t it? Two years ago my kitchen faucet handle snapped off the night before we had a group of friends coming to dinner. We replaced the handle with a deck screw (really) and used it throughout the season. I made huge vats of pasta, trays of cookies, washed loads of dishes – all with the deck screw.

My husband made it festive by covering the screw with red duct tape. Testosterone for the win.

It’s laughing at me.

This year it was something simpler that broke down: an entire REFRIGERATOR. Not like I need a fridge as I whisk and cook and serve up loads of food for the four separate sets of company we had planned.

Luckily, this happened a bit earlier on. I convinced Mr. Man that we really couldn’t make it through December without a fridge. Hanging sacks of food from the trees to keep them from bears just wouldn’t cut it.

We ordered a new fridge (painful right before gift-giving season, but there was no other choice) and waited for arrival. It was scheduled to land on our doorstep a week before Christmas. The local recycling was called in to pick up the old one.

All was well in Whoville.

Until, that is, some Vice-President or middle manager decided to revamp the delivery process. I’ll never know what this Grinch did to our purchase entry, but Delivery Night came and went, sans fridge.

I spent the next day on the phone with the large store chain that handled the sale. Imagine my joy as I eyed piles of unwrapped gifts, unsent cards, unbaked cookie dough. This all happened to the background of On Hold music. In a burst of irony, I heard I’ll Be Home for Christmas several times.

This tune could only make me think sadly of my fridge, lost in depot hell.

I have a beautiful family, wonderful friends, and my health. I publish with an amazing group of authors. There’s really no reason to complain – other than the patched-up fridge that is limping its way through the last of our social whirlwind.

2018 will arrive, bringing resolutions and joy. It will deliver new babies, new loves, new jobs.

In my case, I really hope the new year also delivers … you-know-what.

Slime and the Art of Raising a Tween

container of homemade green slime

 

Slime is the new craze for kids in our neck of the woods. My daughter has become an amateur chemist, learning how to mix school glue and borax in order to get the perfect, slimy result.

rainbow bubble slime
Rainbow bubble slime

In theory, slime-crafting is very easy. Mix 1 ounce of glue with ¼ cup of Borax in a bowl. Stir slowly. Knead it carefully to make the slime less sticky, and store in a covered container. Make sure you wash your hands after making or touching Borax slime.

WARNING – Do be careful with Borax, since it’s a mild irritant. Equip your child (and yourself) with gloves, and read this article about Borax safety. You can also make slime with cornstarch instead.

The first few times we made slime, the process required entire rolls of paper towels. Results were disheartening: blobs of yucky stuff and a kitchen that looked like a bomb had gone off inside.

container of homemade green slime
Green floam slime

I just closed my eyes and prayed to the slime gods that this newest craze would go the way of Rainbow Looms, Silly Bands, and those Littlest Pet Shop toys.

But no. Slime has become an obsession, and my daughter has become an expert. There are many different kinds of slime: ‘butter’ slime (add modeling clay) or ‘bubble’ slime (add floam.)

You can add food coloring for all kinds of rainbow effects. Experiment with glitter, glass beads, Styrofoam pellets. There’s no limit to the mess!

Luckily, slime-making has been relegated to the outside as the weather warms up. Miraculously, I’ve reclaimed my kitchen and clean-up is accomplished with a hose. Plus, I’ve learned to buy glue by the gallon instead hundreds of those silly little bottles.

Believe it or not, there are slime-artists out there. They sell slime on Etsy and other sites, offering all different effects. I’ve had to actually buy some of these for my kid, since slime was all she wanted for several major holidays.

In my continuing quest for the bright side, I keep telling myself this new hobby is good. The kid is learning home-grown science, she’s creating art in a way, and it’s better than being her obsessed with some stinky boy.

Yes, slime is a good thing, I tell myself as I haul out the hose and wash the patio free of glue and food coloring – again.

Christmas O’Clock: A Review for Kids and Adults

I know it’s not Christmas, but I recently wrote a review of the Myrddin Anthology Christmas o’Clock. Check it out and support the wonderful Myrddin authors!
I gave it a high 4 stars. Each story included in the anthology is appropriate for children (and I could even easily imagine reading it to a child and starting a new holiday tradition). Magic Coal for the Naughts by Alison DeLuca was about two children who had wound up on the naughty list and had lumps of coal that they could not get rid of.
The List by Nicole Antonia Carson was about a young girl who had been taken to court by Santa on the charge that she should be put on the naughty list. She challenged it by pointing out that her brother was actually the naughty one. It reminded me of Law & Order with a dash of Judge Judy, but starring some very young kids.


Rudolph Saves Christmas by Shaun Allen reminded me of the Miser Brothers Christmas animations. And The Christmas Tree by Connie J Jasperson was a perfect way to top off all of these cute Christmas stories. It was a delightful mix of science fiction meets Christmas tradition and the worries of children that Christmas would come to pass on a trip to the stars without what makes the holiday special.

All sales of Christmas O’Clock go to help the international group Water is Life.

Gypsy Madden is an author of urban fantasy and a costume designer who lives and works in Hawaii.

Andrew: Faith and Down Syndrome

cathedral or church

When we attend Mass on Sunday, sometimes we’re lucky enough to see Andrew*. More than any hymn or homily, Andrew’s joy in his faith is an inspiration.

He throws his entire being into worship. When the little church band plays, Andrew strums along with his air guitar, eyes closed in ecstasy. And when the pastor speaks, Andrew bows his head and reaches out, his hands touching the shoulders of those next to him.

Andrew was born with an extra chromosome 21. There are different names for this: Down Syndrome, special needs, mentally challenged.

His extra chromosome gives Andrew the usual tell-tale signs. He’s short. His tongue sticks out when he concentrates. He has difficulty saying some words. However, Andrew lives each day with the same intensity he displays at church.candles symbolizing faith

Sometimes I see him at his job, bagging groceries at a local store. As he works, Andrew examines each item and comments on it. A foil baking dish is ‘Cool.’ The ridges on canned cranberry sauce feel ‘Neat.’ Frozen peas are ‘Wow!’

Our nickname for him is The Mayor. Everyone knows him, everybody wants to shake his hand or give him a hug.

And what hugs! Like everything else he does, Andrew loves with intensity. He reaches out to strangers and embraces them. No social barriers for The Mayor, thank you very much.

Andrew goes to the movies each week with his friend Charlie*. Sometimes Charlie comes to church as well, and we get to see how the two buddies sing and dance to a rhythm I’ll never experience.

In church I catch myself wondering what the hell I’m going to make for dinner or how I’ll resolve the latest plot-point in my novel. I get annoyed at my daughter for being a noodge or at my husband for wanting to go to Home Depot after Mass.

No such silly nonsense for Andrew. In the seat in front of us, he raises both arms during the Allelujah and tilts back his head to catch every last word of praise.

golden umbrella among black and white umbrellasLast summer, the eighth-grade class sold ice cream outside the church one hot day. When the deacon announced the sale, Andrew responded with a huge smile. He rubbed his hands together in glee and beamed at us, certain we were all as ecstatic as he was.

I know things aren’t always easy for Andrew, and there must have been some tough times for his family. In 1910, his life expectancy might have been 20 years. Nowadays that number has increased to 60 – still not enough.

If only I could tell him what a gift it is to see him. All I can do is smile, wave, and say a private Thank You for getting to see him for a few golden moments.

*Names have been changed.

All images courtesy of Pixabay.

My Childhood on a Family Farm – #Life and #Goats

By Alison DeLuca

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Image courtesy of pixabay

I grew up on a small organic farm in Pennsylvania. It was a unique childhood, once with many trials and rewards. We had to get up early to make sure all the animals were fed, watered, and milked. We had to plant when it was 90 and pick crops when the weather was humid as hell.

The experience taught me many things and changed those of us in the small, green acre. We found compost was smelly but necessary, praying mantis did a great job of destroying aphids, and Japanese beetles are a pain.

Here are some of the other lessons we learned:

  1. There is nothing smellier or messier than duck poo. It seemed to sneak up on you, especially if you were wearing clogs or Dr. Scholl’s – the more popular shoe styles of the 1970’s.
  2. The wind may blow and the icy rain may fall, but those baby goats still want their milk buckets.
  3. Baby goats (or ‘kids’ for the initiated) are the cutest things alive. Adult goats are pretty great too, unless they are ornery bucks.

    Image courtesy of tookapic
    Image courtesy of tookapic
  4. Ducklings are adorable as well. They look like baby bumblebees. Never will I forget the day one proud mother led her 25 offspring up the road from her nest in a neighbor’s yard to our barn.
  5. Bags of feed are really heavy.
  6. A hayloft is a fine place to play.
  7. Each season brings its delights and challenges. Summer, for example, was filled with blackberries straight from the canes, dark and filled with sweet juice, as well as the return of the barn swallows in our carriage house. It also brought ticks on the dogs, bats in the barn, storms so violent I saw a ball of lightning roll across the kitchen floor, and hot nights in our house (which had no air conditioning.)Then there was winter, with nights around our Franklin stove when we listened to the whole of The Messiah on records. It also meant cold so fierce we slept with our jeans, and one intense snowstorm that stranded us for a week.
  8. Cockerels really do keep moving around after you cut off their heads, except they don’t run around because you have cleverly tied their legs together first. My dad was really good at slaughtering roosters. Don’t like the thought? It’s where your food comes from, unless you’re a strict vegan.
  9. Family farms don’t make a lot of money, for the most part. We got our clothes from the local Bring ‘n’ Buy, and once my mom told me not to ask for a second helping since we couldn’t afford it. If you’ve ever read about ‘egg money’ in novels, I can attest how important it is. Egg money paid for our electricity and gas. To this day, I still stop whenever I see a farm stand – I know personally how vital my cash is to that family.
  10. My most important lesson was a tough one, something that changed me forever. Life on the farm was filled with reality, that is to say – death. We confronted it on a daily basis, until the fact of my mortality no longer frightened me as a grisly specter but simply another stage.

    Image courtesy of pixabay
    Image courtesy of pixabay
  11. With that in mind, the grumpiest and meanest animals seemed to live forever. In particular No-Good-Boyo, our circus rescue pony, was still kicking and biting when we sold the farm. We waved goodbye to the old demon horse and moved to jobs that were more lucrative, but perhaps less educational.

Five Websites to Help You Write a Book

from wikipedia.org
from wikipedia.org

You have a wonderful idea for a novel or nonfiction book. This brainwave hit you at a red light or, more probably, at 2 AM when there was nothing you could do about it, and it was like a strand of Christmas lights went off above your head.

The question is: what are you going to do about it?

If you’re like 90% of people out there, you’ll think about your idea and never get to it. Your wonderful, bright, incandescent story will face into obscurity.

I’m not saying every story could or should be written. However, perhaps you have a novel you’d like to share with your friends. Maybe you’d like to write down your memories as a member of the Armed Services or the Peace Corps. These things are important and should be remembered by being put into text.

from wikipedia.org
from wikipedia.org

My first fantasy series was born from the idea of a young girl, her magic typewriter, and a frightening train. As I wrote The Night Watchmen Express and the other books in my series, I was working a full-time job.

The difference between the 90% who will never see their own story in print and those who do is time. We all have 24 hours in the day, and the question is this: what are you going to do with them?

Of course we all have hours that are already delegated to work, parenthood, or other obligations. However, there are moments in the day we can steal for ourselves. Are you going to play Angry Birds? Or are you going to write a story?

When I was teaching full-time, I used to come home and pop dinner in the oven. I’d get my schoolwork done and, when I was done, I sat at the computer and wrote for an hour.

60 minutes every day adds up to a lot of time and, over months of dedication, a lot of words. In fact, I began to love my story so much I dug out more time to work on it by getting up early and putting off bedtime. I just wanted to get the story out, a process much like giving birth.

from www.freestockphotos.biz
from freestockphotos

Even if a daily hour is out of your reach, you can accomplish much in 20 minutes. If you only write 500 words a day, at the end of two months you’ll really have something.

There are other ways to kickstart your own creative efforts:

1. Many look to NaNoWriMo as a way to kickstart their projects, and I don’t dispute that. For some it simply doesn’t work, since forced word count in the drive to get to 50K in one month results in a messy manuscript. Still, published and successful authors have started there, and perhaps it will work for you.

2. Another site to nudge you to sit at your desk each day is 750 Words. This website logs your typing and gives you badge at the 750 point. If you do it for 30 months you’ll have 75,000 words, which is a nice length for a novel.

Do be advised however, that this site is no longer free and costs 5$ a month for membership. It might be worth it to you to get your wordcount up daily. However, maybe you can set up your own system with your own rewards (sweet treats after each 10K, a shopping trip at 50K) to make this site unnecessary.

from www.freestockphotos.biz
from freestockphotos

3. Are you a ‘Procrastiwriter’? In other words, do you sometimes clean out your sock drawer or organize recipe cards instead of finishing that chapter? Head to Shanan’s blog where she gives you advice – and inspiration – to guide your butt back to that office char.

4. Myrddin’s own Connie Jasperson offers friendly advice in all areas: grammatical, structural, and personal. Reading her blog is like chatting with your favorite aunt or BFF. Replete with gorgeous images and amazing links, Life in the Realm of Fantasy is a must for writers.

5. He’s oh so NSFW, but Chuck Wendig makes you laugh at the same time he’s kicking your behind for not living up to your full potential. A prolific author who’s reached the NY Times bestseller lists, Chuck also has several books for writers that are some of my favorite references. http://terribleminds.com/

I’d like to add this final point: smartphones are terrible thieves of time. I don’t condemn you for time spend playing games – Lord knows I’m a game freak when I’m not writing, reading, editing, or being a person – but an hour spent on 2048 is time when you could have created a character, developed an outline, or even completed a flash-fiction piece.

In any case, can you imagine the moment when you finally finish your story and type THE END? I can tell you it’s an incredible feeling.

 

 

 

Getting Malled

I’ve been dragged to the seventh circle of hell, aka the Mall, for holiday shopping two days in a row. This means sniffing perfumed cards thrust under my nose, drinking over-priced coffee, and hauling bags the approximate of several kettlebells.images-1
The truth is both trips were really fun, so ignore my weary attempt at hipster chill in the previous paragraph. But the reason I had a good time was not the shops, nor the food courts, and certainly not the constant offers of reward cards as long as I hand over lots of sensitive info.
Yesterday the trip was with my daughter, who’s reaching an age where things get … sensitive. Let’s just say there are hormones involved. Lately we’ve been a terrible rut where I’m sick of myself. Yes, I grow more and more tired of my squawking voice as I howl at her to GET THE HECK OUT OF THE BED and don’t you miss the bus, young lady, because I surely am not driving you today.
Spoiler alert – I drove her that day.
So, it was lovely to forget all the homework, the grades, and the constant need to get a pre-teen lump out of warm blankets. We made each other laugh, especially when we realized the sweatshirt she wanted at Pac-Sun featured reindeer who were quite “friendly.”images
Today I hooked up with a pair of old friends and continued the carnage. There was more overpriced coffee (oh dear, I think I’m hooked) and more laughter. In fact, we guffawed so loudly about the poor oil baron’s wife who’ll end up having to wear that jeweled Victoria’s Secret bra we might have startled the guy at the calendar cart.
It’s been great, but I surely don’t mind being in my house for the next few months, the way things should be. I’ll crawl out to get staples like milk and chocolate, but that’s about it. In any case, the real shopping is about to begin – downloading the new books coming out this month.
I highly recommend it. I plan to do this shopping in pajamas and slippers, with a glass of something jolly firmly in hand. I want a few Gillian Flynn books as well as Nightingale, the historical novel about a pair of sisters in WWII.
And *shameless plus alert* don’t forget the upcoming Myrddin collection of short stories, featuring horror and romance and fantasy.
Oh yes. It will be mine.
While you’re shopping to feed your Kindle or the blank space in your bookshelves – do you have any blank spots? I definitely do not – why not toss together a batch of tassies? You can make the pecan or lemon version, and they’re delicious. Here are my recipes for both:

PECAN TASSIES
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preparation
1. Beat 1 cup butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed. Shape mixture into 48 balls, and place on a baking sheet; cover and chill 1 hour.
2. Place 1 dough ball into each lightly greased muffin cup in mini muffin pans, shaping each into a shell.
3. Whisk together brown sugar and next 5 ingredients. Spoon into tart shells.
4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks 20 minutes or until completely cool.
Note:
imgres
Prep: 45 min., Chill: 1 hr., Bake: 20 min., Cool: 30 min. If you don’t have four mini muffin pans, you can bake these in batches. Keep the extra dough chilled until you’re ready to use it.

LEMON TASSIES
INGREDIENTS
FOR THE CRUSTS:
• 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pans
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
• Pinch of salt
FOR THE FILLING:
• 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS
1. For candied lemon zest: Remove zest from lemons with a vegetable peeler, keeping pieces long. Remove white pith using a paring knife, and finely julienne using a very sharp knife. Place julienned zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes; drain.
2. Bring 1 cup sugar and the cool water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When sugar is completely dissolved, add julienned zest, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand overnight. Remove zest, and drain on wire rack. Roll in sugar. Dry on wire rack. Store zest in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third. Lightly butter a 24-cup mini-muffin pan; set aside. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour and butter. Pulse until mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Process until evenly incorporated and smooth; do not overprocess.
4. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 6 pieces. Shape into balls. Place each ball in a muffin cup; press down in the centers so that the dough fits the cups snugly. Set muffin pan on a baking sheet.
5. Bake until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheet with muffin pan to a wire rack to cool.
6. Make the filling: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until completely smooth. Using a 1/4-ounce ice cream scoop, fill the cooled crusts. Bake until filling is set and just beginning to color at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack. Garnish with candied lemon peel. Let cool completely before serving. The tassies may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Zombies, Horror, Ghouls and more…

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Need something to read while you wait for trick or treaters this Halloween? Why not try one of the gruesome delights from Myrddin Publishing Group? Whether you are into straight horror, or horror that resides in the paranormal genres, or even if you like a little romance mixed in, Myrddin Publishing Group has just the Halloween delight for you! But be careful, you won’t be able to stop at just one gruesome story.

RACHEL TSOUMBAKOS

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE NOW! (The Complete Series)

Rachel Tsoumbakos Zombie Apocalypse Now! The Complete Series 375Four women find themselves in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Each from different backgrounds and locations, they somehow manage to find each other.

PURCHASE NOW

METANOIA

Rachel Tsoumbakos Metanoia 375Marli Anderson must return to the town she once knew to kill the man she was once married to. Instead of revenge, she finds zombies.

PURCHASE NOW

THE RING OF LOST SOULS

Rachel Tsoumbakos The Ring Of Lost Souls 375Larundel – A place plagued by lost souls.
A ring that has claimed a few of them.
And a woman who is about to collide with a world she has forgotten about.
What will Isobel find when she finds herself drawn to an abandoned asylum?

PURCHASE NOW

STEPHEN SWARTZ

A DRY PATCH OF SKIN

Stephen Swartz A Dry Patch Of Skin 375The truth about being a vampire: It is not cool, not sexy. It’s a painful, miserable existence. Good reason to avoid that situation, thinks medical technician Stefan Székely. He’s too busy falling in love with TV reporter Penny Park. Until one day when she notices a dry patch of skin on his face.

You can read my review of Stephen’s book here.

PURCHASE NOW

SHAUN ALLAN

SIN

Shaun Allan Sin 375Dead, dead, dead. Say it enough times and it becomes just another word.

What would you do? Could you kill a killer? Does the death of one appease the deaths of a hundred? What about that hundred against a thousand?

What if you had no choice?

You can read my review of Shaun’s book here.

PURCHASE NOW

DARK PLACES

Shaun Allan Dark Places 375There is darkness and madness in each of us. We must do battle with our own demons. But – what if those demons opened the door in the back of your mind and stepped out. What if they became real? If the night, the shadows, the reflections, and Death himself walked among us? And what if they were watching you? Waiting? Thirsting? Dark Places. Thirteen stories. Thirteen poems. Thirteen doorways.

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DARKER PLACES

Shaun Allan Darker Places 375What if you could steal the final moments from the dying? What if you had the darkest secret, but couldn’t think what it might be? What if you entered the forest in the deep of the night. Who is the melting man? And are your neighbours really whom they appear to be?

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MR. COMPOSURE

Shaun Allan Mr. Composure 375“Once upon a time…”

All the best stories begin that way. Once upon a time, Jack climbed a beanstalk. Cinderella did go to the ball.

Once upon a time, his parents died.

*Specially commissioned by NBC Universal for the release of the film The Purge: Anarchy*

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SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN

Shaun Allan Suffer The little Children 375Simon, Fey and Rebecca. An ordinary family trying to cope after the death of the girls’ mother. One day, Rebecca ‘gives’ her imaginary friend, Nathaniel, to Simon, telling her father he can keep Nathaniel ‘forever’…

*Specially commissioned by Universal for the release of the movie sequel Sinister 2*

PURCHASE NOW

Myrddin Halloween 2015 image template books text

Why We Love Summer (And You Should, Too!)

Courtesy of www.public-domain-image.com
Courtesy of www.public-domain-image.com

Ah, summer – halcyon days of sunshine, friendship, and those popsicles that come with two sticks. Here on the east coast we head to the shore whenever possible (early so we get a parking spot,) flop on the sand, and drag out a packed lunch. And a book to go with it, of course.
You can’t go wrong with sliced tomatoes on your sandwich or, indeed, on anything. They’re juicy and delicious at the moment, tasting like summer itself if you let them ripen on your windowsill. Personally, I like nothing but tomatoes on the best wheat bread I can find, with just a dab of mayonnaise and lots of pepper. A dash of salt brings the sandwich into the realm of the sublime.
What, add an ear of corn on the cob alongside? Oh, yes please.
If you love wheat bread and want to make your own, you can’t go wrong with beer bread. It’s simple and delicious. In fact, I’ve seen grown women eat hunks of it in my kitchen straight from the pan with no butter or toppings. Shame on you, women – you know who you are. Anyway, because I love you, here’s my super easy, super yummy recipe.

Courtesy WikiCommons
Courtesy WikiCommons

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

1 ½ cups (215 grams) all-purpose flour (I like Serasota or King Arthur)
1 ½ cups (215 grams) whole-wheat flour (ditto on the brands)
4 ½ teaspoons (22 grams) baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons (7 grams) salt
1/3 cup (50 grams) packed brown sugar (you may substitute this with 4 tablespoons of agave)
1 12 ounce (360 ml) bottle of beer – feel free to try different brands for cool flavors

1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch (900 g) loaf pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Pour in beer, stir until a stiff batter is formed. It may be necessary to mix dough with your hands. Scrape dough into prepared loaf pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 50 – 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove loaf from pan and allow to cool on a rack. Then go make another one because your family has already eaten the whole loaf you just baked.

Back to that ear of corn: I’ve learned if you chop off the tops and tails before microwaving 5 minutes (rotate halfway through) right in the silk, the corn comes out perfectly. Let it sit until it isn’t nuclear to the touch and husk the perfectly done corn. I like it plain without any toppings, but my husband smothers his in butter. Each to their own.

Now you’re settled on the beach, the kids are fed, umbrellas are up, sunscreen is applied. It’s time to bring out a really good novel to read or, if you’re like me, a fantastic collection of short stories will also do the trick.
What are you reading this summer? I just finished Girl on a Train, which was amazing. The ending (no spoilers, don’t worry) was a bit talky / monologue-ish, but I couldn’t put the book down. I also loved Huw the Bard, which sucked me right into a medieval world of political intrigue, meticulous fantasy, and sexy Huw himself. Do I have a crush on him, with his waist-length hair? Oh, you bet I do.
I’m a sucker for slipstream, and Kelly Link’s new collection Get in Trouble: Stories horrified and delighted me at the same time. I love writers who can do that.
Darker Places is another collection with macabre pieces taking me to entirely original places. Want a masquerade gone wrong? Darker Places will provide.

When it’s time for a drink, honestly there’s nothing better than good old seltzer with fresh lime and a spring of mint. For those who like a bit of a kick, a dollop or two of vodka is mighty refreshing along with the seltzer. It’s a light, summery drink that won’t head south to the waistline so you can wear your (in my case) parental tankini with aplomb.
Gin_Rickey https-::en.wikipedia.org:wiki:Rickey_(cocktail)
Here’s to a wonderful summer filled with food, friends, and fabulous fiction.

Alison DeLuca is an author with Myrddin Publishing. Below is a list of her books:

Free Book: Hunted Heart #FREE 12/19/14

HuntedHeart cover final bit smallerHunted Heart is free for 24 hours on December 19th. Enjoy the download, and if you can leave an honest review it would be wonderful.

When Tali is hired to cut out the heart of Prince Kas, the huntress can’t refuse. Tali realizes there is no escape from the dark magic of the queen’s mirror, even though her own feelings for the prince are far too complex to understand.

 

As they try to run from their shared destiny, Tali and Kas have to rely on their wits and each other as hunter becomes prey and hearts are won and lost.

 

A genderbent Snow White for adults (18+ only.) All royalties go to SavetheChildren.org.

 

 

Hunted Heart cover reveal

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
I met a friend online who gave me a prompt for Hunted Heart. Her idea was to have a strong heroine as the Hunter from Snow White who is given the job of killing the
prince. Heartbreak, magic mirrors, and poisoned apples all wound themselves
into the plot, and fifty thousand words later I had an adult take on the fairytale.
My publishing group, Myrddin Publishing, does a charity publication each year in
December. This year my Myrddin effort is Hunted Heart and all royalties will be donated. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon, and you can add it to your reading lists on Goodreads.
When Tali is hired to cut out the heart of Prince Kas, the huntress can’t refuse. Tali realizes there is no escape from the dark magic of the queen’s mirror, even though her own feelings for the prince are far too complex to understand.
As they try to run from their shared destiny, Tali and Kas have to rely on their wits and each other as hunter becomes prey and hearts are won and lost.
A genderbent Snow White for adults (18+ only.) All royalties go to Save the Children.
My illustrator did a lovely job with the book. Here is Lisa Daly’s cover for Hunted Heart:

 

About the author: Alison DeLuca is the author of several fantasy and steampunk novels. Currently she lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter, where she wrestles words and laundry.
You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and
Goodreads.

 

Myrddin Gives Back : Christmas O’Clock

Christmas FairyMyrddin Publishing announces the successful campaign to raise funds for the international charity, Water is Life, via sales of their Christmas anthology, Christmas O’Clock.  In 2014 the publishing group donated all the revenue generated from sales of this book, totaling over $200.00 in royalties. This purchased three bucket systems and eight drinking straws, providing fresh water to three families, and eight individuals. Their goal is to double that in 2015.

Christmas O’Clock is a collection of holiday-themed stories including magic, space travel, and Rudolph. With two complete chapter books, lots of stories, and plenty of spirit, this anthology is great for kids of all ages.

All proceeds from this wonderful book go to Water Is Life to help children and families in an international effort.

Christmas O’Clock  can be purchased at www.amazon.com

Paperback  $9.51

And for the Kindle  $2.99

Myrddin Authors Help Libraries

This story is linked from the NJ paper, The Asbury Park Press :

APP photo

JACKSON — Alison DeLuca is part of an international effort to restock libraries that were severely damaged by superstorm Sandy.

The Jackson author, who has penned a series of young adult novels called the “Crown Phoenix” series, donated about 40 books as part of an effort to fill the shelves the damaged libraries, located in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

“We were really incredibly lucky,” said DeLuca, 52, while sitting in her Jackson living room. “We had friends who lost their roof.”

DeLuca said her Jackson home only suffered a long power outage after the superstorm. Though her family was spared the kind of devastation she has seen to the east, the author said she wanted to help.

Through a collective of independent authors, DeLuca learned of the program “Indie Authors for Hurricane Sandy Library Recovery” organized by author K.S. Brooks of Spokane, Washington.

“I wanted to do something to help libraries devastated by Hurricane Sandy,” Brooks wrote in an email from her home in rural Washington. “Since I’m broke, I figured I could send books. I knew just my books wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference, so I asked other indie authors to get involved.”

Five months after she proposed the idea, 170 authors have joined together and donated 1,200 books to libraries in the region, said Brooks, who was born in New York City and has lived in coastal Connecticut. The books will go to nine libraries that were flooded by the storm, the majority of which are located at elementary schools, she added.

“I’ve worked closely with the administrators at the libraries to make sure they only receive the genres and family-friendly ratings they need,” Brooks said, who is known for writing a children’s educational series called “Postcards from Mr. Pish.”.

She declined to share which New Jersey libraries were participating in the program, to protect them from unsolicited and unwanted donations.

The program not only benefits the libraries but the authors, too; they are reaching a broader audience, Brooks said. Not only are independent authors contributing, but best-selling authors such as mystery writer Warren Murphy are also participating, she said.

DeLuca, who’s “Crown Phoenix” series is a steam punk-themed action adventure, said the program is unifying libraries in need with authors.

The Jackson-based author said: “This is a great way to get the two groups together in a really meaningful way.”

Myrddin Supports Water is Life: Call for Submissions

This year, Myrddin is delighted to announce that the Christmas O’Clock anthology raised sixty dollars for the Water is Life charity. The organization works to create potable drinking water for families and children in the third world.

A special thank you goes out to Sherrie DeGraw, who donated the cover, and Rachel Tsoumbakos, who did the formatting of the manuscript. Nicole Carson did the layout of the cover.

The authors included in the book are: Shaun Allan, Connie Jasperson, Nicole Antonia Carson, Mary K. Mitchell, and Alison DeLuca.

Sales of the book topped last year’s efforts, and we hope to continue the charity drive in 2013.

If you are an author and would like to submit a story for the 2013 anthology, you may contact us here.

Submission requirements:

All submissions to be sent as word docs in attachments. No print submissions, please.

We accept short stories, poems, and novellas. Please keep the length under 30,000 words.

The anthology is for children, so feel free to include the following in your story: excitement, humor, holiday magic (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Eid themes are very welcome!)

We will not accept entries that include gore, violence, sexual themes or language, adult language, mature themes.

Writers retain all rights to their work, as stated specifically in the copyright page and author contract. All royalties from the anthology will be donated to charity.

Christmas O’Clock will be published on Amazon under the Kindle Select program.

All submissions are due by midnight EST July 31, 2013.

Stories will be judged on creativity, interest for children, and compatibility with the existing anthology. You may take a look at this year’s Christmas O’Clock here.

If you have further questions, please use the contact link found on the home page.

 

Water is Life

We’ve released an anthology of Christmas stories for kids called Christmas O’Clock. It includes two full-length books and three stories, including Rudolph Saves Christmas and Bah, Humbug!

All royalties go to the Water is Life charity, which works to provide clean drinking water for kids and families in the third world. Since the anthology is an international effort, we wanted the charity to be worldwide as well. And this charity is amazing – it dispenses a simple, small filtration system known as “The Straw.”

The Straw removes tiny microbes that can cause typhoid, cholera, and dysentery. It also removes nasty things called “guinea worms” so children can drink and stay healthy. Each one costs ten dollars and lasts for a year.

Of course, that is only a first step. Water is Life also works to put in complete water systems so villages can access clean water without using The Straw.

We are offering Christmas O’Clock for FREE today and tomorrow – 12/3 and 12/4 –  on Kindle in order to get the word out about our book and this very important charity. If you haven’t downloaded Christmas O’Clock yet, do have a look on Amazon US, UKGermany, Spain, France, Japan, and Italy.

Enjoy!

Heart Search: Book launch announcement

Myrddin Publishing Group are proud to announce the publication of Heart Search, book one: Lost by Carlie M A Cullen.

This debut paranormal romance novel, the first in the Heart Search trilogy, begins the story of Remy and Joshua. Here’s the blurb:

‘One bite starts it all . . .

When Joshua Grant vanishes days before his wedding his fiancée Remy is left with only bruises, scratch marks and a hastily written note. Heartbroken, she sets off alone to find him and begins a long journey where strange things begin to happen.

As Joshua descends into his new immortal life he indulges his thirst for blood and explores his superhuman strength and amazing new talents while becoming embroiled in coven politics which threaten to destroy him. But Remy discovers a strength of her own on her quest to bring Joshua home.

Fate toys with mortals and immortals alike, as two hearts torn apart by darkness face ordeals which test them to their limits.’

Heart Search, book one: Lost is available as an ebook at Amazon on 8th October 2012 with the print book following closely on its heels.

A Blog Tour with giveaway to celebrate the launch will run from 8-31 October. For further details, please visit http://carliemacullen.com