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Friday Features’

Coming September 25, 2017

a LitRPG by

Chris Pavesic

For those who may 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. Here is a glimpse of this fascinating new story.

When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail. Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.

PROLOGUE
I was born into a world where silicone still ruled. Where the products of the earth outshone those of the sea. Integrated circuits ran all electronic equipment and scientists strove to make the conducting lines smaller and smaller. Silicon Valley tried, and failed, to make chips fast enough to upload human consciousness.

The Revelation came a few years later from the hydrologists. They designed a system that did not use silicone, but instead worked with water molecules. The hydrologists managed to imprint the consciousness of a human mind on a single drop of water.

The water was to be kept in self-contained, sealed aquariums—pure, undiluted, eternal—where virtual realities were constructed to meet every need and desire. All of human knowledge encoded and stored in literal pools of data and integrated with the drops of human consciousness. It was, the hydrologists claimed, utopia achieved.

The obscenely rich were the hydrologist’s first clients, many taken near the end of their lives. The procedure did not always work, but there were enough successes to spur people’s interest. People suffering from terminal illnesses volunteered to be inscribed, and the hydrologists worked and refined their process. Private companies formed and competition forced price wars. Hundreds of customers grew to thousands, and then to millions. There were landmark court cases arguing whether or not health insurance should cover the cost of the inscription—whether or not this was a medical procedure designed to save lives or a form of physician assisted suicide. The law struggled to decide if life ended when the body was drained to a dry, leathery husk, or if life continued inside those glowing, sealed aquariums.

I was thirteen when the governments seized control of the laboratories, first in the Eastern European countries. Then the labs of Europe and the Middle East were swallowed up. Terrorist attacks soon followed and destroyed most of the civilized world over the next three years. The United States, Canada, and Greece, those bastions of democracy, did not fall until the very end. Of course, by then no one cared whether or not the government or the private companies ran the uploading programs. Many of the aquariums ruptured in the strife and the droplets, imbued with human consciousness, re-entered the water cycle of the planet.

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 and blog.

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

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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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Friday Features’

Canadian author

Dianna Gunn

is here today to discuss her hot-selling YA fantasy and what the future holds for her. So let’s get to it.

Welcome, Dianna. Please describe Keeper of the Dawn in three words.
Passionate, hopeful, magical.

What part of the story came to you first?
Lai started out as a character in a fantasy parody project which will never see the light of day. She quickly became the most interesting thing about the book, so I scrapped it and wrote her story instead.

What was the biggest surprise when you were writing Keeper of the Dawn?
That it was a book at all. I started with a short story of about 6,000 words, focused mostly on the priestess trials that are now the first third of the book. Every draft made it longer, sometimes only a couple thousand words longer, once or twice 10,000 words longer. The final edits brought it almost to 40,000 words. So it’s still a short book, but it’s a book. It’s still kind of weird to me, to be honest.

If you could have lunch with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be?
Definitely Sir Terry Pratchett. I haven’t read anything close to the entire Discworld series, but I’ve read enough to be astounded by the quality of his work. Being funny in fiction, especially novels, is hard, which is why I never wrote that parody project. I am astounded by his ability to remain funny until the very end.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently editing Moonshadow’s Guardian, an adult fantasy novel that wavers between sword and sorcery and dark fantasy. I’m really excited about this book and I plan to release it next fall.

Oh, and I’m working on a setting for Tiny Dungeons, a tabletop RPG on Kickstarter RIGHT NOW. Last year I worked on their Tiny Frontiers, the science fiction version of Tiny Dungeons, and I’m thrilled to be working on another RPG. I hope to work on many more!

Here’s a little about Keeper of the Dawn for your reading pleasure.

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to her beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she’s trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum – a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshipping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join the sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate wasn’t part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a story of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

EXCERPT
Lai practiced until well after dark, ignoring the call for supper. She tore a massive hole into one of the dummies with a training sword in her rage, but it didn’t make her feel better. She had spent most of her life training for this day, and Kaiden ruined it with a few words about their father.

Eventually she gave up and collapsed in a heap on the ground, pulling her knees up to her chest so she could rest her chin on them. She forced herself to breathe deeply, using all her willpower to push the rage into the ground. Bit by bit it drained into the soil around her, dispersing harmlessly.

She sat like that in the clearing until clouds engulfed the stars and rain started pouring, one of the last rains before the dry weeks of summer. Lifting the hood of her robes to cover her head, she rose and hurried towards the temple.

Her left foot caught on something and Lai flew through the air, losing her grip on her sword and landing face first in a puddle. Her nose shattered when it smashed into the tough ground, and when she grabbed it to feel the damage her hand came away covered in equal parts mud and blood. Her stomach churned as she picked herself back up, her whole body aching.

Something sharp pierced her back, tearing into her skin and muscles like sharp fire. She screamed and fell face first to the ground. She caught herself on her forearms, avoiding bashing her head against the rocky path.

Lai’s attacker pulled the knife out of her shoulder. She screamed as warm blood flowed freely down her back, mixing with the rain. Fiery agony filled her body, blurring her vision. She gritted her teeth and flipped over to face her attacker.

She froze at the familiar sight of white robes with golden cuffs. Another initiate. Her hood hid her face completely.

Lai gathered her strength with a deep, ragged breath and reached for her training sword. The initiate kicked Lai in the back then stomped on her wrist, grinding bone under her boot, sending sharp waves of pain up Lai’s arm.

“You understand, it has to be me.”

Lai knew that voice, but she couldn’t focus on it through the pain, couldn’t remember who it was.

The initiate seized a clump of Lai’s hair and yanked her head backwards. She knelt and raised her knife towards Lai’s exposed throat.

Something knocked the initiate into Lai’s back. Black spots appeared at the edges of her vision as agony surged outward from her wound. The other initiate didn’t move, suffocating Lai with her weight. Lai tried to lift herself up with her elbows, but a fresh wave of pain knocked the wind out of her. She col¬lapsed onto her stomach and closed her eyes, willing her body to die quickly.

BUY LINKS
AMAZON
E-bookPaperback
GOODREADS EbookPaperback
GOOGLEKOBOSMASHWORDS

Dianna L. Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She had known she wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. Dianna wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at the age of eleven years old, but quickly discovered that writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So she decided to broaden her horizons, seeking another career that still allowed her to work with words.

Her freelance writing career started when she became a marketing intern at Musa Publishing(now defunct) in September 2011 and quickly became a staff writer in charge of multiple imprint blogs. Since then she has worked with a variety of small businesses and non-profits to improve their online brands and create long term marketing strategies. Some of her most notable work has been for the tech education non-profit STEAMLabs and natural dog care company ProPooch. She is dedicated to helping her clients build successful brands and making their dreams come true.

Need help creating awesome content for your business? Send an email to diannalgunn@gmail.com explaining what your needs are, and she will help you.

When she isn’t helping her clients bring their dreams to life, Dianna can be found working on her own dream of being a successful fantasy author. Dianna blogs about writing, creativity, and books at The Dabbler.

Learn more about Dianna on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Twisted Chocolate Chip Cookies

by

Anne Montgomery

When Ruth Graves Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in 1938 – hence forth named Toll House Cookies for the inn she owned in Whitman, Massachusetts – the confection became an instant American classic. So, perhaps, no one should be messing with these gooey, nutty hunks of near perfection. Ah, but I couldn’t help myself. As I’ve gotten older my taste buds seem to dance less at the prospect of excessive sweetness and more for. . . something else. I began tinkering with Ruth’s invention – I hope she doesn’t mind – and came up with these jam-packed babies that I call. . .

Twisted Chocolate Chip Cookies

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips*
1 cup nuts

Frequent chocolate chip cookie bakers will note that here is where the recipe goes off the rails.

1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup coconut, I prefer the type without added sugar, but either variety works.

Preheat oven to 375ºF

Mix sugars, butter, vanilla, and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt (dough will be stiff).

Stir in chocolate, dried fruit, coconut, and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown round the edges (centers will be soft).

*Note: Chocolate chips retain their shape because they contain less cocoa butter than high-end chocolate, so purists may want to chop their own chocolate to get more of the good stuff.

Enjoy!

Here’s a peek into my latest novel while you nibble your delicious cookies.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

Amazon Buy Link

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Interview by

Vonnie Hughes

 

We’re delighted to introduce you to Vonnie Hughes author of DANGEROUS HOMECOMING that is a unique Historical Romance that definitely isn’t sweet.

Here is a short blurb:
Both of them are scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.

Vonnie is here with her sassy heroine. The blog is all yours, Vonnie!

Hello, Juliana. Tell us a little about yourself.
Good day. I’m Juliana Carlotta Ervedosa Colebrook. As you can tell, my Mama was Portuguese and my father was an Englishman. You will find me in the book DANGEROUS HOMECOMING. Of course the English would never get their tongues around ‘Ervedosa’ so I only use my full name when signing documents.

Do you consider yourself to be unconventional?
No. In no way do I consider myself unconventional; at least I didn’t while I lived and worked in Portugal, but since coming to England I have discovered that I am unconventional because I am loosely classed as a ‘lady’ yet I work for a living. I am a nurse with experience in tending very sick soldiers. Then again, I am a murderess twice over and one must suppose that could be called ‘unconventional.’ They were murders of necessity, I must hasten to add. I did not set out to murder anyone, but in each case I had no choice. Life is not easy for women in the nineteenth century.

Do you embrace your uniqueness?
I don’t think I embrace my uniqueness. I never thought about being unique when I was in Portugal, but once I arrived in England I did my best to fit in. The English can be very cold to those who do not fit in. And I did not want to upset my relatives whom I had not met for many, many years. So, yes, it was a struggle to fit in. In Portugal, since I was raised in a convent that specialized in training young women to nurse the sick or teach the children of the wealthy folk their basic reading and Latin, I was not at all unusual.

Who is your role model?
My role model? Well, I’m not sure. I cannot think of any woman I admire—stop! Of course I have a role model. My role model is the Marchioness of Trewbridge. What an amazing woman. Unlike most women of her class she is industrious, holds her family together with kindness and talks a great deal of sense. Yes, I’d like to be like the Marchioness.

If you could do anything without concern for the consequences, what would it be?
Marry Colly Hetherington of course. But my background would bring him down, so I must drop that daydream.

Is your ideal man unconventional?
Not really. Colly is what he is. I cannot think of other men when I think about Colly. Other men cease to exist. He is kind and so very honourable. Screamingly so. Ah, what a man.

Any juicy details to share?
Hah! Read the book.

How about showing us a piece of your story?
Umm, here goes.

She clasped her penknife tightly in her free hand and hid it beneath her skirts. The dead eyes swivelled from Kit’s hemp binding, now lying on the floor, to Juliana’s face where she hovered protectively in front of Kit.

‘What a clever young lady,’ the revolting animal purred. At the menace in his voice, Juliana felt as though a snake had slithered up her spine. She stood up and held out her ungloved left hand to show him how she had untied the ropes. Dead-Eyes was too wary to come any closer, and she knew he couldn’t see in the dimness that the knots had been sliced through.

The pale eyebrows rose. ‘Perhaps those dexterous fingers can be put to better use. Come here.’ He crooked a long, thin forefinger and the muscles at the bottom of Juliana’s stomach jolted. Hold yourself together, Juliana. Your plan relies on your being as close to him as possible.

Slowly she sidled towards the creature and for the first time she saw signs of life in the cold eyes.

‘I always interview our new young ladies before they are thrust on our clients,’ he purred thickly. ‘I like to … warm them up, so to speak.’

Bile rose in her throat. She had never seen an iceberg but she had heard about them, and she had the distinct impression that a huge chunk of iceberg had just washed into the room. ‘Warm them up?’ She didn’t think so. Please, please, please God, don’t let him have touched Tilly.

Clutching the penknife in the palm of her right hand, she shuffled closer to him, measuring the distance carefully and also his height. Yes, he was tall. So was she. Flexing her body she moved closer, as if in a trance. His arm shot out and grabbed her.

‘No!’ Kit yelled behind her.

‘Stay back, Kit,’ she warned.

‘That’s right, my dear. You understand. You want to be tutored by Benny Ames, don’t you?’ He tugged her flush against his body.

Struggling not to recoil, she saw he was sweating. His tongue slid greedily over his yellowed teeth and he clasped her left hand like a lover. She kept her right hand hidden in her skirts. Ames’s breathing deepened as he tried to rub her left hand over his erection. Even as she struck, he was so lost in a haze of sexual pleasure he had no idea what had happened.

‘Hurry, Kit. Run!’ she yelled.

This time she was prepared for the blood. It spurted out of his throat in a great arc, dousing the holland covers beside them. Juliana ducked backwards holding the slippery knife handle. The knife blade was buried in Ames’s neck. He clutched his throat, his eyes wide with stupefaction.

Juliana’s stomach lurched and she dropped the handle. As Ames made the most fearsome gurgling sounds she edged around his flailing body and raced to the door. She hurtled down the stairs and cannoned into Kit. ‘Hurry, Kit. Hurry. Get out of here.’ She shoved the front door open and pushed him outside.

Kit slanted a glance back over his shoulder as his little legs sped along. ‘Where are we going?’

‘To the Rosemary Lane Inn. Hurry!’

‘But I don’t know where it is!’ He kept on running all the same, tugging Juliana along by the hand.

Juliana cast a quick glance behind them. The blue door with number 32 painted on it still stood innocently ajar and she could hear no sounds of pursuit.

‘Run towards the traffic noise,’ she gasped.

A few people glanced at them as they rushed by, but nobody seemed interested in a scruffy boy and a bloodstained, dishevelled young woman running helter skelter up the alleyways. No doubt it was a common sight in these parts.

As they stumbled from the dank alleyway into a wider street she saw a sign stuck on a building façade that said ‘Chamber Street’. The steady throbbing of her sore, bruised feet echoed the drumming in her head. Swaying, she knew she was nearly done for.

Kit glanced back and tugged her hand. ‘Come on, miss,’ he encouraged her, then he raised their clasped hands and stared at the red stains on Juliana’s fingers. ‘Thank you,’ was all he said.

Breathless, she gulped and said nothing, fighting her queasy stomach. Soon it would happen – the reaction. Last time she had shaken as if with the ague for several hours. And when she had finally found herself safe, she had huddled into a ball and cried and cried and cried. She had cried for her mother and for herself, and for all the other women who had been held in the power of men who did not deserve them.

But now was not the time for self-indulgence. She must protect Kit. She lifted her chin and plodded on.

Footsteps pounded behind them. Twisting around, she shoved Kit out of the way.

‘Juliana!’

Colly. On a wave of relief so strong it dizzied her, she ran straight  into his arms.

BUY LINKS
Amazon
Smashwords

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

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Friday Features’

Guest Chris Pavesic talks about cheesecake and books

This is a quick and easy recipe that is perfect for the late spring/early summer. There is very little preparation involved in this 4-ingredient dish and you have a beautiful looking dessert for your family and friends.

Ingredients

  • 1 Quart of Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 8 OZ Package of Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla
  • 1 Package of Animal Crackers (my family likes the chocolate ones)

Materials

  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 1 Knife
  • Paper Towel
  • 1 Serving Plate
  • 1 Measuring Spoon
  • 1 Hand Mixer
  • 1 Icing Decorator

Directions

Wash the strawberries and cut off the stem/leaves. Use the largest berries for the containers, reserving the smaller ones for the filling. Cut the bottom off of the berries so they can sit flat on a plate and hollow out the center so it can hold the filling. Place the “container” berries on the paper towel. This helps them to dry a bit so the juices do not run off onto the plate after they are filled.

In a bowl blend the cream cheese, vanilla, and small strawberries. After it is well blended, put the mixture into the icing decorator and fill the container berries.

Place the filled berries on the plate and top with an animal cracker of your choice.

Serve immediately.

Untitled

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.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Pear Crumble

by

HL Carpenter

We like to bake here in Carpenter Country, and we love to eat what we bake. So the fact that baking is a subplot in our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, is no surprise. While our septuagenarian sleuth Emma is searching for a killer, her friend Arnie has made baking his new hobby. Emma isn’t sure what converted a seventy-three-year-old one-hundred-eighty-pound six-foot accountant into a budding pastry chef. But she has learned to be wary of the results of his efforts.

Emma’s wise to be cautious when sampling Arnie’s homemade Hungarian sweets because he specializes in spicing them with secret ingredients.

Fortunately, you can try our 3-2-1 Pear-Up dessert without worry. The recipe contains no mysterious ingredients…unless you choose to add them.

Photo by rakratchada torsap

3-2-1 Pear-Up
3 pears, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. oatmeal
2 tbsp. pecan pieces
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, if you prefer)
1 tbsp. butter
1 spritz nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F

Spritz the bottom of a 9″ round pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss the pear slices in the lemon juice and add them to the pie pan.

Measure the sugar, oatmeal, pecan pieces, flour, and spice into a plastic baggie. Shake to mix. Add the butter and knead the bag with your fingers until the mixture resembles soft crumbs.

Empty the bag of topping mixture into the pie pan on top of the pears.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pears are soft.

Tips and tricks
Add a tablespoon of butter on top of the pears if you like a syrupy juice.
Experiment with different types of nuts for different flavors.
Raisins or dates add a sweet touch.
Top each serving with sweetened whipped cream for extra yum.

To stop you from eating this delicious dessert in one sitting, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write 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 Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

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