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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

making special tomato sandwiches

by

Chris Pavesic

Readers of the Revelation Chronicles know that my main characters love tomato sandwiches. To make them special, I have included a recipe for Vegan Mayonnaise. You only need four ingredients to make this dressing and it is ready in just 2 minutes! You also only need four ingredients to assemble your tasty lunch: homemade bread, sliced garden tomatoes, lettuce, and mayonnaise.

Vegan Mayo
1 cup avocado oil
½ cup unsweetened plant-based milk
2 tsps. apple cider vinegar (or key lime juice)
Sea salt to taste

The oil and the plant-based milk should be at the same temperature. It is easier to blend.

If you use an immersion blender: combine all the ingredients in bowl. Place the immersion blender so it sits firmly on the bottom of the bowl. Pulse until the mayonnaise emulsifies. Once most of the mayo has emulsified, move the blender up and down to incorporate any oil that is sitting on the top.

If you use a regular blender: place all the ingredients in the blender, except the oil, and blend for about 5 seconds. Then add the oil gradually while the blender is on, turning it gradually from low to high until the mixture thickens.

Note: I make this with almond milk rather than soy because of allergies. Almond milk makes a thinner mayonnaise than soy milk. To thicken, simply decrease the amount of liquid by one teaspoon.

If you use key lime juice rather than apple cider vinegar, the mayonnaise will be sweeter.

While you enjoy your sandwich, check out this excerpt from Travelers Zone, my newest novel in The Revelation Chronicles series.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphotoChris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

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Friday Feature

This week is

The Turning Stone Chronicles

 

Today we’re announcing that our series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles is being featured on Freebooksy. From October 14 -16, the first book in the series, The Promised One, will be offered free and the second book of the series, Blood Brothers, will be available for 99¢ October 14 – 20.

Now, while you think about that, we would like to share how our series came into existence and other interesting tidbits.

The catalyst for the series happened during a car trip, where we often plot stories to pass the time. We were reading road signs, brainstorming book ideas. We came up with several book ideas, but the one that caught our interest came from a road sign in New York State pointing to a place called Turning Stone. That idea just took off for us.

One question we’ve been asked is, if we were casting our stories with any movie star who would be our picks? Since our six-book series has three main characters that run through them all and a fourth character who is in most we would have to say that:

Alexi Temple – Angelina Jolie as she appears in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Rhys Temple – Chris Pine as he appears as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 2017

Eli McCraigen – Sean Connery as he appears in Highlander II: The Quickening

Falhman – Pierce Brosnan as he appears in Urge

 

Currently, the first four books of the series are published. We’re writing book five now and plotting book six. There is a bit more world travel in book four, but the main action is once again taking place in and around Cleveland, Ohio. Each book introduces a new couple involved in the interweave of romance and evil they must overcome to reach their HEA. Evil still has a strong hand in the action and Falhman continues branching out with his plans for domination. Our heroes must work overtime to stop his plans and put things back in balance while protecting – to the best of their ability – family, friends, and the world.

This October 14th why not get started with the first books in the series, The Promised One and Blood Brothers, while we continue to work on the final two? You’ll experience action, romance, and shape shifting that reviewers describe as being “turned on its ear.”

Series Blurb:

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world?

Find out in the paranormal romance series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

TITLE: The Turning Stone Chronicles

GENRE: Urban fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

HEAT LEVEL: Sensual

 

Book one of the chronicles titled “The Promised One” available on Amazon in eBook: http://amzn.com/B00DUMODKI and paperback: http://amzn.com/1619353504

In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.

Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones, and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.

 

Book two of The Turning Stone Chronicles titled “Blood Brothers” available in eBook on Amazon at: http://amzn.com/B00OVNFC8W and paperback: http://amzn.com/1619358271

When Delaney Ramsey is enlisted to help train two of the most powerful shape shifters the Turning Stone Society has seen in thousands of years, she suspects one of them is responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. To complicate matters, the man has a secret that could destroy them all. Bound by honor to protect the suspect, Delaney must prove his guilt without losing her life to his terrible powers or revealing to the police captain she’s falling for that she’s a shape shifter with more than one agenda.

 

The minute Captain Williams lays eyes on Delaney Ramsey, he knows she’s trouble. Uncooperative, secretive, and sexy, he can’t get her out of his mind. When he discovers she has a personal agenda for sifting through all the criminal records in his precinct, and secretly investigating his best detective, he can’t let her out of his sight. He must find out what she’s looking for before she does something illegal. If she steps over the line, he’s not certain he can look the other way for the sake of love.

 

Book three of The Turning Stone Chronicles titled “Son of the Moonless Night” available in eBook on Amazon at: http://amzn.com/B00XK3E172 and paperback: https://amzn.com/1682910709

Owen Todd Jordan Riley has a secret. He’s a shape shifter who has been hunting and killing his own kind. To him the only good shifter is a dead shifter. Revenge for the death of a friend motivates him, and nothing stands in his way . . . except Katrina Romanovski, the woman he is falling in love with.

Deputy coroner Katrina Romanovski has a secret, too. She hunts and kills paranormal beings like Owen. At least she did. When she rescues Owen from an attack by a werebear she is thrust back into the world she thought she’d left. Determined to find out what Owen knows about the bear, she begins a relationship meant to collect information. What she gets is something quite different-love with a man she suspects of murder. Can she reconcile his deception and murderous revenge spree and find a way to redeem him? Or will she condemn him for the same things she has done and walk away from love?

 

Book four of The Turning Stone Chronicles titled “The Mercenary and the Shifters” available in eBook on Amazon at: https://amzn.com/B01I01W2JC and paperback: https://amzn.com/1682914100

When mercenary soldier Michael Corritore answers a desperate call from an ex-military buddy, he finds himself in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient war between two shape shifter factions, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

Shape shifter Fiona Kayler will do anything to keep the shipping company her father left her, including getting in bed with the enemy. But when she believes the man trying to steal her company is involved with kidnapping her nephew, she must choose between family, fortune, and love. The problem is … she wants all three.

 

EXCERPTS:

Now to give you a flavor of the series and the two books available at a discount here is an excerpt from both books:

Excerpt from book one of the chronicles titled “The Promised One

Eli,

I know it’s been years since you’ve heard from me, not since my brother’s murder, but Alexi’s time has come. I tried to shield her from the destiny, teaching her only the basics of the ring and waiting until she was an adult to start any training. I didn’t want to push her, but now she is developing skills I’ve not taught her. I need someone from the Council to come and assess her, and I can’t think of anyone I trust more than the man I fought beside in so many battles. After making such a mess of Sylvia, I don’t trust my judgment. I need an advocate on the Council and your advice. If you agree with my assessment, I want to present Alexi to the Council this coming Samhain. Please come as soon as possible…

The letter’s date and postmark indicated Baron had written the letter about two weeks prior to his death. Prickles crept over her arms. My time? Present me to the Council? Sylvia’s comment about the Promised One came back to her. Had Baron sent for Eli because of the great destiny he always insisted she had? Alexi closed the door and rested her forehead against the solid surface. Life was already too complicated. She didn’t need this.

 

Excerpt from book two of The Turning Stone Chronicles titled “Blood Brothers

Sylvia Jordan Riley winced as Falhman dug into her shoulder and extracted a bullet. He dropped the bullet into the trash and swabbed the wound. “You want to tell me how you got injured?” he asked as he reached for the needle to stitch the gaping hole.

“Chasing Promised Ones.” And the man who murdered my ex-husband.

“I hope it was worth this.”

“It was.” She’d torn Baron’s killer to shreds, but that wasn’t the best part of her news. “I’ve found someone who shifted with me by using the power from my ring.”

Falhman stopped stitching and stared intently at Sylvia, his eyes glittering with undisguised interest. “Is he a rogue shifter?”

“I don’t think he’s any kind of shifter. He seemed startled when the shift occurred.”

“A non-shifter who can use the ring without the incantation? What’s his name?”

“Temple. Rhys Temple. There’s only one problem.” Sylvia paused then continued, “He’s in love with Baron Jordan’s niece, Alexi.”

“I thought that whole family was dead.”

“She’s the last one left, and I think she’s on track as a Promised One.”

Falhman went back to stitching Sylvia’s skin with practiced ease. “Get rid of her and get him. If we can control someone with that kind of power, we can control the world.”

Sylvia looked at her superior. He made it sound simple. Kill Alexi Jordan and lure Rhys to the dark side. Piece of cake? Not if a Jordan was involved. From her recent dealings with Alexi, she knew there would be one heck of a fight if she tried to take her man.

 

Don’t forget that our series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles is being featured on Freebooksy. From October 14 -16, the first book in the series, The Promised One, will be offered free and the second book of the series, Blood Brothers, will be available for 99¢ October 14 – 20.

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Friday Features’

Guests

HL Carpenter

share

The Golden Ratio or Golden Mean

So there we were, with a packet of strawberries threatening to go soft and the need for a recipe to make good use of them. None of the sauce recipes we found called for as many berries as we had.

And then we realized all the recipes could be reduced to proportions. In this case, the proportions were 1:1:2, meaning that as long as we used 1 part water, 1 part sugar, and 2 parts strawberries, we could adjust the quantities to achieve the result we wanted.

Once the sauce was made and we were eating vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce topping, we began to think of all the ways we use proportions in our writing.

Here are two examples.

Book covers
The Golden Ratio or Golden Mean is a mathematical concept that creates a symmetrical, eye-pleasing composition. Yes, we know—math! EEK! Thanks to web-based calculators, you don’t actually have to do the calculations.

But understanding the idea that proper proportions are an important design element will make your book covers naturally attractive. As a bonus, you can use the Golden Ratio to design your logo and website, and to choose the right text size and spacing for your printed marketing materials, such as bookmarks.

Time management

Much as we’d like to write ALL THE TIME, we schedule our days to include other tasks that go along with the business of being indie authors. For example, we allot 20-25% of our workday to marketing. We want to keep the results we achieve in proportion to the effort we expend.

We also need a lot of time to refill the creative well—or, as some would say, loaf around doing nothing. Here, the trick is to keep the proportion of time off to work time in harmony so we don’t end up procrastinating instead of starting new projects.

Whether or not you like math—or strawberry sauce—we’re sure you can figure out other ways to apply proportions to your writing. Tell us your tips in the comments!

And now a little from our fun Space Opera. We hope you enjoy it.

Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?

Ichann Count is an expert at accounting warfare. She spends her days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau and crushing on her really cute co-worker.

When the Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 geysers to the surface, Ike finds herself—and her really cute co-worker— drowning in trouble.

Can Ike save them both? Or will events continue to burble downhill?

EXCERPT
The biggest surprise about the Shewawa Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 was that no one on Xerios read the signs correctly.

Oh, the Celestial Council knew cosmic numbers of Shewawans were swelling the ranks of the opposition. Who could miss that? Long before the proposed Water Tax had taken effect, news reports overflowed with stories of protestors and frivolous arguments—well, arguments the Council called frivolous. The protestors were deadly serious. When civilized avenues of protest failed, they turned to more forceful ways of expressing displeasure.

Tax accountants who’d been posted to Shewawa on standard duty tour understood the brewing danger. We encountered antagonism every day, first hand. We sent urgent red-alert notices to Xerios. We nearly melted the tax hotline advising the Council’s Senior Tax Commissioner of the agitation boiling in the colony.

The STC and the rest of the Council dismissed our warnings. They refused to believe a ragtag group of upstarts would challenge their authority to impose the Water Tax. So events continued to burble downhill, the way they do when no one has the courage to face the truth or the vision to chart a new course.

I never expected to get caught up in the rebellion. I was not a Shewawantologist. I was a Certified Etherworld Accountant, an expert at numbers warfare. Maybe I should have been less casual about the impact of the Water Tax, since I was part of what the protestors had begun to call the “oppressors.” But in some ways, I was as blind as the Council.

As surely as my name was Ichann Count, I knew what was going to happen. I just didn’t want to acknowledge my intuition or admit the protestors had a valid complaint.

Why would I? I was an ordinary Xerian, doing an ordinary job. Like a gazillion others across the Tri-Galaxies, I got up every morning, ate breakfast, brushed my ivories, and went to work. I spent my days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau with a hundred other CEAs. I also spent a considerable amount of time crushing on my hunky cubicle-sharer, Fifo Ventry.

The Monday the Water Tax went into effect, I sat behind my light-beam privacy curtain, working on an audit report and stealing glances at Fifo. Outside my little bubble, the office was in turmoil. My co-workers had abandoned their desks. They gathered in uneasy clusters by the main conference room, sipping hot fragrant Starshine coffee and muttering to each other.

We were all waiting for our boss to brief us on his morning’s skull sessions. He was confabbing with the political factions on Xerios who wanted us to enforce the legislation as well as the Shewawan revolutionaries urging its repeal.

None of us expected the news to be good. We’d hoped to be back home in Xerios by now, but redeployment was doubtful. The Water Tax meant fathoms more work and the Tax Bureau was already short-staffed.

I wrapped up the audit report on the local branch of the AquaDrip Water Company and touched the moon-metal brooch I always wore. Dad had given it to me a few months after Mom died, when I was a skinny ten-year-old. I opened the ornate clasp and studied the hologram inside. I always studied the hologram of my parents on their wedding day when I needed strength or courage. That happened a lot.

In the picture, Mom wore a lacy bridal skinsuit. She was slender and tall, like a long drink of water, though she seemed tiny beside her imposing new husband. A cascade of dark blond hair flowed back from her intelligent face as she looked up at Dad. Her smile was insouciant and beguiling.

As always when I touched the brooch, Dad’s words echoed in my mind. “Mom wanted you to have this picture so you can carry her close to your heart, Ike. When you’re grown, you’ll be exactly like her.”

Though he too had long since passed and would never know, at least part of his prediction had come true. I missed out on Mom’s beauty, but I inherited her mental acuity. Fortunately. I needed the advantage of Brainbox genes to figure out the problem at AquaDrip. The company was in serious financial difficulty.

I stared across the office at Fifo as I balanced the audit disk in my hand. Neither of the higher-ups I reported to would be happy to read my recommendation for fixing AquaDrip. Still, someone had to face the truth. I just hoped that truth wouldn’t circle back and drown me.

At the same time, I knew it would.

The only question was how quickly the water would run downhill.

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, GoodReads,
and their Amazon Author Page.

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Friday Feature

From

Carol Browne

Shares a recipe for

Beer Bread

To make this bread choose a nice dark, hoppy beer to add a malty flavour.

BEER BREAD

3¾ cups (375g) self-raising flour
1 bottle of beer (300ml)
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F / Gas Mark 4

Grease a loaf tin.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and empty into prepared pan.

Bake one hour or until the top is crispy and golden.

Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

How about curling up with my epic fantasy while your bread bakes?

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

EXCERPT
The night was waning when Elgiva woke, wondering where she was. The dark ceiling of Joskin’s cave hung above her, and everything had a reddish glow, cast by the embers of the fire. She slid from under the fur coverlet, her skin tightening at the loss of its warmth, and searched for her leather sandals.

Something had woken her, something that waited outside the cave. A runnel of dread ran down her spine.

She had an inexplicable sense of impending danger, but it was too insistent to ignore. An unnamed instinct stopped her from alerting her companions. She must face this menace alone.

She left the cave as quietly as she could. Her heart pounded in her throat as she peered between the rowan trees and searched the night. Whatever had awakened her, it beckoned. She held her breath and listened, but her ears detected nothing, save for a silence as dark and empty as an abandoned crypt.

It would soon be daybreak, but the sun had yet to rise, and the dark beyond the cave swarmed with potential horrors. She stepped out from among the rowans, relying on her acute senses to make out her surroundings. An unnatural calm gripped the night and as her sandals whispered against the cold grass, they sounded abnormally loud. She feared they would betray her presence.

After a while, she came to a stop and searched the trees. Thin strands of mist curled along the ground, cold and clammy, like an exhalation of sickness.

She hugged her shoulders, knotted her fingers in the cascade of her hair, and shivered in her ragged robe. All around her, the silence seemed to be drawing into focus.

“Who is it?” Her throat was too dry for her purpose. She swallowed and licked her lips. “Who’s there? I know you’re there. I can . . . I can feel you!”

Feel you.

A flash of silver sliced through the dark, and Elgiva gasped in fear. Her arms came up to shield her face as the beam struck a rock several yards ahead. It exploded with a whoosh and sent up thousands of splinters of light, which fell to the ground and sizzled in the mist.

A shape now stood upon the rock, its form concealed in a black, hooded cloak.

Elgiva clutched the amulet to her breast. Her hands were white with terror. “In the name of Faine, who are you? What sort of trick is this?”

A soft, sly voice spoke back to her. “Why should you fear magic?”

“What do you want?” she pleaded, her voice a croak of fear.

“To see for myself.”

“To see what?”

The dark shape sniggered, but made no answer. Instead, it swept its cloak aside, and a cloud of sparks flew out and covered the ground with beads of light.

Elgiva stepped back unsteadily, resolved to flee.

“Stay!” commanded the creature.

It raised a skeletal hand, and the forefinger swung towards Elgiva and pinned her against the darkness, holding her like a rivet of bone. No elf, no wilthkin, ever owned such a hand. Her legs threatened to buckle beneath her. This had to be a nightmare; she was still asleep in the cave. But no, it was all too real.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she cried. “I have . . . I have an amulet!”

The creature laughed derisively. “I am Death, and I have come for you.”

It began to radiate a sickly green light, enveloping itself in a caul of brilliance that pulsated with force. The light grew in size until the trees behind it were bathed in its angry glare. It reached for Elgiva, like a foul stench creeping along a breeze, and she was helpless. The creature’s power throbbed in the darkness.

Within the taut coils of her fear, her instincts screamed at her to run, but her limbs had turned to stone.

Siriol, Siriol, help me . . . help . . .

With a shriek of glee, the creature increased the throb of its power. Elgiva’s mind was suddenly invaded by an inexplicable force. She became divorced from herself and watched from a great distance, waiting for the horror to unfold.

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Her non-fiction book is available at Dilliebooks.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

what’s for Sunday breakfast/brunch

by

Sloane Taylor

Make Sunday morning special with this delicious and easy make-ahead meal. Serve with mini croissants or French bread, butter and jelly. Hash browns and fruit salad are nice accompaniments. Mimosas are a lovely drink to top off your breakfast/brunch.

Breakfast Soufflé
1 pound ham, bacon, or breakfast sausage
9 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
Diced green, red, and/or yellow pepper to taste
4 – 1 inch slices Vienna or French bread, cubed
½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ pound Swiss or Gruyere cheese, or a combination of the two grated
Diced onion to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Dice the ham or bacon. If you use ham, set aside in the bowl you choose for the eggs. Fry bacon to the crispness you prefer. If you use breakfast sausage, fry the meat until no longer pink. Be sure to break up any clumps. Drain the meat in a colander while you continue to prepare the soufflé.

Add all ingredients, but the bread, to the eggs. Stir well.

Stir in bread.

Pour mixture into an ungreased 9×13 inch glass dish. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center has no egg cling to it.

This dish can be assembled a one or two days ahead of time. Allow the soufflé to sit on your counter 1 – 2 hours before you bake it.

Leftovers are excellent from the microwave.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with laughter and seated around a well laden table!

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor currently has seven romance novellas released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Her first solo venture into non-fiction is a Couples Cookbook with eighty of her favorite recipes, DATE NIGHT DINNERS, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening.

Excerpts from her books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page.

Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Bantha Poo Doo

by

Elliott Baker

Continuing with one of the themes in The Sun God’s Heir trilogy, power continues to fascinate me. So many questions. If we have so much of it, and we do if we measure it in total rather than by each, why aren’t we (again I’m exploring a gross generalization) happier. In this global we, I include the fabulously wealthy among us as well as the power mongers and dictators. What is power? There are a couple of definitions, but I’ll use this one:

the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.

An easy answer would be survival. In the good old Cro-Magnon days, a single human even armed, was not very high up on the actuarial scale. Two or more was the imperative. I imagine the big question was “Do we fight or run,” with the Super Bowl ring going to the winning answer. With two people, you might have two answers. With three, depending on their ethnicity, who knows how many. I’m being very positive here. Remember as a believer in reincarnation, I’m pretty sure I’ve had the opportunity to make mistakes in many of the various tribes we’ve separated into. So here’s where consensus makes its first appearance. Did those early humans use logic. Probably not. Might definitely made right but might still had to pound people into consensus and when might (power) was light on the intelligence side, and became Bantha poo doo, a new might became the consensus maker.

So influencing the behavior of others is a survival trait. A survival trait that evolves based on success. Somebody thought of that one. What’s his name, oh yes, Darwin. So does the accrual of power as a positive evolutionary trait continue forever, or does it reach a place where something different than the ability to influence others passes it in evolutionary power. Is there a location on the power graph where more power becomes less useful toward specific outcome. In this case happiness. By the way, happiness is totally in the eye of the beholder. Depending on the mental, emotional, and psychopathic setup of the individual, I’m certain that happiness is widely different. Since I’m exploring power, I’ll leave the definitions of why employ it once physical survival is assured, for later.

Power is the application of energy. The accumulation of energy is required. I will define energy as anything that causes movement. I may dabble in layman’s quantum explanations and ask forgiveness up front. Just consider this an exercise in science fiction. Here’s my premise:

Power as a means to affect an end grows inversely proportional at a certain point on the continuum when every other downstream vibration of its use is not or cannot be taken into consideration. In English; unless you know where every vibration of the rock you throw into the pond is going, you can’t know if throwing that rock will help you or hinder you.

The protagonist and antagonist in The Sun God’s Heir: Return were brothers and disciples of an enlightened pharaoh. The power that each can potentially wield is orders of magnitude above that of their fellow men. True power begins to seek the consensus of the universe before throwing the stone into the pond. It is the path of connecting with that consensus that really jump starts evolution.

In The Sun God’s Heir: Return, one character forces his way back into embodiment while the other has incarnated naturally. One remembers the power gained in an earlier incarnation, the other must remember in order to have a chance at defending himself and those he loves. Fortunately this journey takes place in the latter part of the 17th century, a time of pirates, of exploration, and great change. If you were good with a rapier, not a bad time to be alive. If you could wield the powers of earth, water, air, and fire, and if you were the only one, well, the possibilities for acquiring power, the ability to direct or influence others, was unlimited. Unless it wasn’t.

Here is a little from the book I’ve been talking about.

For three thousand years a hatred burns. In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue an incarnation begun long ago.

In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Bordeaux, France

Three men bled out into the dirt.

René stared at the hand that held the bloody rapier. His hand. Tremors shuddered through his body and down his arm. Droplets of blood sprayed the air and joined the carmine puddles that seeped into the sun-baked earth. He closed his eyes and commanded the muscles that grasped the rapier to release their tension and allow the sword to drop.
Years of daily practice and pain refused his mind’s order much as they had refused to spare the lives of three men. The heady exultation that filled him during the seconds of the fight drained away and left him empty, a vessel devoid of meaning. He staggered toward an old oak and leaned against its rough bark. Bent over, with one hand braced on the tree, he retched. And again. Still, the sword remained in his hand.

A cloud shuttered the sun. Distant thunder brushed his awareness and then faded. Rain. The mundane thought coasted through his mind. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced down hoping to see a different tableau. No, death remained death, the only movement, that of flies attracted to a new ocean of sustenance.

The summer heat lifted the acrid blood-rust smell and forced him to turn his head away. Before him stretched a different world from the one in which he had awakened. No compass points. No maps. No tomorrow.

The Maestro.

The mere thought of his fencing master filled him with both reassurance and dread. René slid the rapier into the one place his training permitted, its scabbard. He walked over to where the huge black stallion stamped his impatience, and pulled himself into the saddle.
Some impulse caused him to turn his head one last time. The sunlight that surrounded the men flickered like a candle in the wind, and the air was filled with a loud buzzing sound. Although still posed in identical postures of death, three different men now stared sightless.

Their skin was darker than the leather tanned sailors. Each wore a short linen kilt of some kind that left their upper bodies naked. As strange as the men appeared, their weapons were what drew René’s eye. The swords were archaic; sickle shaped and appeared to be forged of bronze. These men wore different faces and yet their eyes—somehow he knew they were the same sailors he had just killed. René blinked and there before him the original three men lay unmoved. Dead.

For an instant his mind balked, darkness encircled the edges of his vision.

Do not anticipate meaning. The Maestro’s voice echoed in his head. Meaning may be ignored, but it cannot be hurried.

The darkness receded, and he reined the stallion’s head toward home.

René approached the linden shaded lane to the château. The stately trees, their clasped hands steepled over the gravel drive, had always welcomed him. Now they were just a faded backdrop that moved past the corners of his eyes. Could it have been only hours ago that the anniversary of his sixteenth year had presented itself like a gaily wrapped gift waiting for his excited appreciation? The day had dawned as grand as any he had yet experienced, and he had awakened early, eager for the morning’s light.

“Henri,” he yelled, as he charged down the marble staircase and into the dining room. Breakfast was set and steaming on the polished mahogany table. Burnished silver platters and cream colored porcelain bowls held a variety of eggs, sausages, fruits, and breads. How Henri always seemed to anticipate his entry amazed René.

Oui, Master René.” Serene as always, the middle-aged major domo entered the dining room. Henri walked over to the table and poured a cup of tea for René. “ S’il vous plaît, be seated, sir.”

“I cannot. Maybe a roll and a link of sausage. Henri, do you know what today is?”

Henri paused as if deep in thought. “Thursday. Oui, I am quite sure ’tis Thursday.”

René took a still sizzling sausage from a tray and did his best to fold it within a baguette.

Non, ’tis my birth date,” he managed around a mouthful of sausage and roll.

“Which one is that, sir?”

“How do you not know? You were there.”

“Well, I remember ’twas after the end of the war. Let me see. The war was over in…”

“Very droll, Henri. Your memory works fine, ’tis your humor that leaves room for improvement. Today is… so… I cannot explain, it feels like anything is possible today.”

“Given that there is still plenty of day left, perhaps you might sit down and eat. I expect you will need all your strength for a day so filled with possibility.”

“I cannot be late.” René gulped his tea and shoved the rest of the roll and sausage into his mouth.

“Happy anniversary, Master René.”

Merci, Henri.” René checked his appearance in one of the grand foyer mirrors, and then strode toward the courtyard. The time had come to present himself to the Maestro.

René vibrated with excitement. He paused just inside the entrance to the training area. This was no way to face the Maestro. He sucked in a deep breath, exhaled, and reached for that quiet center. The torrent of chaotic thought stilled and that unique calm of intense focus settled around him. His friends Marc and Anatole sported their weapons in public. René had yet to earn that privilege. Disarming the Maestro was the only way, and since that possibility seemed as remote as the ability to fly, it generated a great deal of frustration.

Today, however, might be the day.

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Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott’s Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

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Friday Features

We won a Raven Award!

Thank you.

Today we’re taking a moment to say Thank You to all of you for helping us win the 2018 Uncaged Book Reviews Raven Award. Below is the beautiful badge we get to display for our book Can’t Stop the Music as winners in the Contemporary Music category.

Here is the announcement in the Uncaged Book Reviews Magazine .

Thanks again to all our followers and friends.

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