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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A Yorkshire pudding recipe from Carol Browne today!

These Yorkshire puddings are easy to make and taste great even if you aren’t a vegan. Leftovers are wonderful when reheated in the oven at 200ᵒ C (400ᵒ F) for a few minutes. Don’t use a microwave as that makes the puddings soggy and chewy. This recipe serves 6.

Image by Shutterbug 75 from Pixabay

Vegan Yorkshire Puddings

    360ml (1½ cups) vegetable oil
    190g (1¼ cups ) self-raising flour
    ¾ tsp. salt
    ¾ tsp. baking powder
    270ml (1¼ cups) soya or almond milk

Preheat oven Gas Mark 7 (215ᵒ C) (420ᵒ F).

Pour 2 tablespoons oil into each cup hole of a 12 cup muffin tray. Put tray in the oven at least 15 minutes so oil becomes really hot.

Sieve flour, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Gradually add plant milk, whisking constantly.

Remove tin from the oven and quickly pour the batter into the holes – about 2 tablespoons each. Fill them as evenly and smoothly as possible for the best shape.

Bake 20 minutes.

Here’s a peek at my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

His adventures in Elvendom left Godwin a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. But who – or what – is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

Amazon Buy Links USAUK


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 but has also taken a plunge into non-fiction with Being Krystyna. This story of a Holocaust survivor has been well received.

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

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A Yorkshire pudding recipe from Carol Browne today!

These Yorkshire puddings are easy to make and taste great even if you aren’t a vegan. Leftovers are wonderful when reheated in the oven at 200ᵒ C (400ᵒ F) for a few minutes. Don’t use a microwave as that makes the puddings soggy and chewy. This recipe serves 6.

Image by Shutterbug 75 from Pixabay

Vegan Yorkshire Puddings

    360ml (1½ cups) vegetable oil
    190g (1¼ cups ) self-raising flour
    ¾ tsp. salt
    ¾ tsp. baking powder
    270ml (1¼ cups) soya or almond milk

Preheat oven Gas Mark 7 (215ᵒ C) (420ᵒ F).

Pour 2 tablespoons oil into each cup hole of a 12 cup muffin tray. Put tray in the oven at least 15 minutes so oil becomes really hot.

Sieve flour, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Gradually add plant milk, whisking constantly.

Remove tin from the oven and quickly pour the batter into the holes – about 2 tablespoons each. Fill them as evenly and smoothly as possible for the best shape.

Bake 20 minutes.

Here’s a peek at my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

His adventures in Elvendom left Godwin a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. But who – or what – is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

Amazon Buy Links USAUK


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 but has also taken a plunge into non-fiction with Being Krystyna. This story of a Holocaust survivor has been well received.

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A writer’s advice from Carol Browne about character name elocution.

Here is a bit of good advice for fiction authors I wish someone had given to me when I first started writing: make it obvious how your characters’ names are pronounced.

There’s nothing more frustrating to a reader than having to follow a character throughout a book without knowing how to pronounce their name. These days, the popularity of audio books makes this an even more contentious issue—as I recently discovered.

Yes, I’m one of those writers guilty as charged. When I chose the name ‘Elgiva’ for the protagonist of my book The Exile of Elindel, I didn’t foresee the problems I would encounter down the line. I was an inexperienced young wordsmith who thought the meaning of the name—elf gift—sufficient justification for using it. I pronounced it in my mind precisely as it was written. Such a simple name, I thought. What could go wrong?

Many years later, I realise there are more ways to pronounce ‘Elgiva’ than I could have imagined; at least six! Which syllable should be stressed? Is it a hard ‘g’? It’s an Anglo-Saxon name and so it should be a soft ‘g’, although even that is open to question by some Anglo-Saxon scholars.

The issue of pronunciation might never have been addressed had it not been for the fact that I recently had to audition voice-over actors for the audio version of the book. The actors spoke the name in a completely different way from my own version so that it rhymed with ‘Godiva’. I consulted my fan base and ended up with two more ways to say the name, neither of which resembled mine or that of the voice-over actors.

It was decision time! I was forced to settle on the pronunciation I thought was the most accurate. Although it wasn’t the one I originally intended, it was closer to the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation with a soft ‘g’ and the stress on the first syllable.

Oddly enough, this makes the name sound even more elvish. But I have to keep reminding myself how to say it, after four decades of saying it my own way. The way I remember it is that the first syllable is the only stressed one and the ‘gi’ is pronounced as it is in ‘magical’. So Elgiva is magical. And, of course, she is!

How about curling up with my epic fantasy while you contemplate the possibility of elves and all the ways to say their names?

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.

Amazon Buy Link

 


 

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.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Gingerbread cookies

by

Chris Pavesic

Many people tend to think about gingerbread around the winter holidays with good reason. The tradition of decorating a gingerbread house began in Germany during the 16th century and was associated with Christmas. Queen Elizabeth I is credited for the idea of making ornaments out of gingerbread men, gilding the dough with gold leaf and decorating them to resemble the dignitaries visiting her court. Yet during this era gingerbread was also served in the spring and summer with shapes that changed with the seasons. Spring cookies were shaped into flowers while summer cookies featured birds.

Why is this type of dessert so popular? The fact that ginger has a history of relieving digestive problems, such as nausea and indigestion, may be a factor, especially since it’s served on traditional “feast days” after a large meal. So these cookies could be a nice addition to your next backyard barbeque or picnic when your guests have overindulged.

These cookies go great with coffee or French vanilla ice cream!

Spring Fling Gingerbread Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 Stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
⅓ cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
decorating sugar or sprinkles

In a medium-sized bowl, sift the dry ingredients together into a medium-sized bowl.

Use an electric mixer to beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in molasses and egg. Set the mixer on low, and then add dry ingredients slowly. Mix until dough is formed.

Place dough on floured plastic wrap. Wrap well and chill in the refrigerator until firm. (Between 1-2 hours)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time (rewrap and refrigerate other half), place dough on floured parchment or waxed paper. Roll it out to ⅛ inch thick, turning, lifting, and flouring dough (and rolling pin) as needed. Freeze dough (on paper) until firm, about 20 minutes.

Repeat this process with the second half of the dough.

Loosen dough from paper. Cut out shapes and transfer to baking sheets. Decorate as desired.

Bake until firm and edges just begin to darken, 10 to 18 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. Cool completely on baking sheets.

What’s Next?
I am currently working on two projects. I have a two book epic fantasy in the draft/beta reading stage and I am working on a LitRPG novel concept. For those who might not be familiar with the genre, LitRPG is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy which describes the hero’s adventures within an online computer game. Finally my love of gaming and writing are coming together! I knew all of those nights I stayed up playing MMORPGs would pay off someday. Right now my LitRPG is in the hands of my editor.

It all boils down to more time in front of the computer and putting words on the screen. Over the next few months I will make more announcements as events warrant. Until then my short stories are available on Amazon.com and are free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Praise for Heart & Mind
“The author has managed to weave an intricate web about being true to yourself. One shouldn’t be guided or led by others. Above all, feel the magic in your own heart. As the fairy godmother believes sometimes it is best not to mess with destiny.” –Chief, USN Ret…VT Town—a Top 500 Reviewer on Amazon.com

Praise for The World In Front of Me
“Picked up this short story because I noted it was previously published in Penumbra, which was a pretty high quality publication. And this story lived up to my expectations for a professional quality piece.

The story’s main idea reminded me a lot of the Lakeside community in Neil Gaimon’s American Gods, but I won’t say anymore about that for fear of giving away spoilers. But fans of Gaimon should really enjoy this story. Fans of strong women who make tough choices should enjoy this as well”—KSluss—Review on Amazon.com

Praise for Going Home
“This is an excellent short story that is full of surprises for the reader. Martial law is about to be imposed in the colony.

A secret room, trips on a train and a clandestine meeting are all part of this superb short story.

Most highly recommended”—Off Grid . . . And Loving It—a Top 500 Reviewer on Amazon.com

Praise for Wonderland
“The writing is beautiful, the characters are complex and thoroughly developed and the story is fascinating. All of it together creates a world you don’t want to leave when the book ends. I am so glad I discovered this author and I cannot wait for her next book”—Mary—Review on Amazon.com

Read excerpts from all of the books written by Chris Pavesic on Amazon.

Chris 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.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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