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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

One of the reasons why she loves fall

by

Dominique Eastwick

One of the many reasons I just love about fall are pumpkins. I love to carve them, look at them, and eat them.

I love pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice Latte…I could go on and on. But one of my favorite things is Pumpkin Soup. So celebrate the fall season with a bowl of the easiest soup ever, especially if you use canned pumpkin. And you can quote me on this – nothing tastes better on a cold day.

Pumpkin Soup

    1 stick butter or margarine
    2 clove garlic, finely chopped
    4 tsp. packed brown sugar
    2 cans of chicken broth
    1 cup water
    ½ tsp. salt (optional)
    2 cans (15 ounces) Pumpkin or 2 cups pureed fresh pumpkin
    2 cans (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
    ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
    Ground nutmeg to garnish

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add garlic and brown sugar; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft.

Add broth and water; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin, evaporated milk, and cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

With real pumpkin you may need to puree your soup again.

Serve warm and enjoy.

serves 10

How about a hot read while you enjoy a warm bowl of soup?

The babies are coming… the Wiccan Haus will never be the same.

Things are not as calm at the Wiccan Haus as they usually are. The impending birth of Dana and Rekkus’ cubs has everyone on edge. The last thing anyone wants or expects is a series of uninvited guests.

Ashlynn Stone hasn’t spoken to her sister Dana since she left for the Wiccan Haus over a year earlier. But when a fluke accident on the fashion runway forces her to seek the healing of the Wiccan Haus, she has no choice but to pack her bags and take the ferry to the island with her family in tow.

Shadedor has been sent to the Wiccan Haus to assess the situation. But he soon finds more than he expected. His soul mate in need of healing. Can he negotiate the issues of the Wiccan Haus and overcome the walls Ashlynn has built to protect herself.

As the Haus prepares for the biggest event since it opened, can the siblings find harmony and manage to do what they do best, heal those in need? Or is it too much for them to take?

Welcome back to the Wiccan Haus.

EXCERPT

    He walked. This morning, he had been right next to her, and there had been constant contact. Now they would appear to anyone passing to be complete strangers. “You want to tell me what is going on?”

    “We are attempting to remove all stress from your life in hopes of easing the headaches.”

    “No, with you. If you would prefer to be elsewhere, I can go back to my room and lie down.”

    He stopped. “There is nowhere I would rather be.”

    “Then why are you acting like I have the plague? Was it the kiss earlier?”

    “I overstepped my boundaries this morning. I should not have done so.”

    “Do you regret it?”

    “I am assisting the staff here in your healing. It is inappropriate for me to come on to you.”

    “Are you on staff here?”

    “No.”

    “That settles it.” She smiled. Closing the distance between them, she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I do not know what is going on, but I do know my pain and fears ease when you are near. I don’t claim to understand how you discern all you do, but I am starting to see things here aren’t always black and white, and sometimes I have to have faith and trust.”

    After a brief second of him standing as still as a statue and her wondering if she read too much into this morning’s embrace, he relaxed. His arms snaked around her, pulling her against his hard body. His mouth came down on hers begging her to open for him, demanding she submit to his kiss. She might have started this dance, but he would damned well be leading it.

BUY LINKS


Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pastimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

Stay connected on Twitter, Tublr, and Pinterest.

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Friday Features’

Guest suggests a book

Bewitching Hanna

and

Pumpkin Slab Pie

for next book club meeting from

Leigh Goff

For your next book club, read Bewitching Hannah and serve these tasty fall treats to your guests that are timely and delicious.

PUMPKIN SLAB PIE

1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust, 2 crusts in a box
2 cans (15-oz. each) pure pumpkin
1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1¼ cup heavy cream
1¼ cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
Whipped cream, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Roll and shape both pie crusts on a lightly floured surface into two 12 x 10-inch rectangles. Gently wrap one pie crust around rolling pin and transfer to a 15 x 10-inch rimmed baking sheet, placing 10″ side of dough along longest side of pan and allowing dough to hang over 3 sides. Place the second pie crust on other half of baking sheet, overlapping slightly with first piece. Press seam together to seal. Trim any excess dough, leaving ½ inch overhang if possible. Crimp and press edges of crust to create even rim, using any trimmed dough to seal cracks or gaps. Cover with large sheet parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans.

Bake 14 minutes. Remove paper and weights. Bake another 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, cook pumpkin and ginger on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat allow to cool slightly.

In medium bowl, whisk cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until smooth. Add pumpkin mixture, whisking until smooth.

Pour into pre-baked pie crust. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until set.

Cool completely before cutting. Cut into 12 to 16 pieces. Serve with whipped cream, if desired. Pie can be baked, cooled and refrigerated, uncovered, up to 1 day ahead.

Recipe and photo from Good House Keeping.

Here’s a little from my latest novel for your reading pleasure.

Hannah, the thirteenth great-granddaughter of the Wizard Earl Fitzgerald, has always known she was descended from a troubled legacy of alchemy and dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial; however, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the secrets she must unlock – including one that reveals the location of an unimaginably powerful elixir.

Enemies will hurt her. Loved ones will make her vulnerable. And the impending prophecy that drives her to unleash her magic will cause her to unearth the sins of the past and doubt any promise of a future. Without knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she’ll survive the game Fate is playing, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

EXCERPT
The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.

I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.

My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?

“W?”

A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.

In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”

“This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.

I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”

His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”

“Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”

“To help you. I want to help you.”

“Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”

He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?”

Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”

“You read the note.”

His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”

I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.

“Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.

The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?”
“It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”

What was he besides completely contemptible?

“It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”

I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.”

A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”

Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”

“Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.

“Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”

He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”

I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.

He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”

I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”

“You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.

My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”

BUY LINKS

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

AHH YES, COMFORT FOOD

From

Sloane Taylor

This recipe makes one delicious sandwich that works great for lunch or dinner. Add a bowl of soup or crispy salad and a nice cold beer for a complete meal.

Revved Up Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich

2 slices Italian bread
4 slices ham, cut thin
2 slices mozzarella cheese, cut thin
2 slices tomato, cut thin
Garlic powder NOT garlic salt
⅛ tsp. ground thyme
2 tbsp. butter or so

Preheat a heavy 8 – 10 inch skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.

Spread the butter on the inside of each slice of bread. Sprinkle on a little garlic powder. Grill bread buttered side down until lightly browned. Remove bread to cutting board.

Reduce heat to medium.

Lay one slice of cheese on toasted side of bread, then sprinkle on thyme. Add ham and tomato. Top with another slice of cheese. Cover with the second slice of bread, butter the outside, and sprinkle on a little garlic powder.

Place the buttered side of the sandwich in the pan and fry until the bottom slice is browned to your taste. While that cooks, butter the outside of the top slice and sprinkle on a little garlic powder.

Flip the sandwich and fry until it reaches the color your like. Cover the pan so the cheese melts thoroughly.

Enjoy!
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

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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