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Posts Tagged ‘HL Carpenter’

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Highlights

A cookbook that is FREE as a gift from us to you for use during this time. Be sure to get your copy today!

While we’re staying home and looking for things to do how about cooking?

How about some relief from the stress and pressure of figuring out what to serve your hungry family at home with you?

Cue a holiday-inspired cookbook written by the following thirteen busy authors, of various ages and genres:

Carol Browne
HL Carpenter
Sara Daniel
Dominique Eastwick
Leigh Goff
C.D. Hersh
Vonnie Hughes
Alicia Joseph
Emma Lane
Sharon Ledwith
Anne Montgomery
Chris Pavesic
Sloane Taylor

These wonderful writers have created recipes that will make your life easy and simple when it comes time to prepare tantalizing appetizers, tasty beverages, mouth-watering cookies, and decadent desserts.

The ABCDs of Cooking with Writers is your go-to recipe book for something special time and then when we get back to entertaining over the holiday seasons, hosting events, or celebrating that special day. Compiled by Sloane Taylor—a gourmet cook in her own right—and designed by mother-daughter duo HL Carpenter, the included recipes have been tested and approved of by the most finicky family members. Oh, and did I mention that it is FREE?

So why not have your cake and eat it too? Yes, pun intended. You’ve got nothing to lose, and time to gain when you download The ABCDs of Cooking with Writers. There’s a recipe for every holiday, celebration, or event in your life. Give yourself a gift with a cookbook from thirteen writers who share their favorite recipes and tips to help relieve the stress in your life.

Download your FREE E-Pub cookbook at Smashwords.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The question from HL Carpenter. Tomato, tomahto, what’s in a name? In the case of fruit, a name may not matter much.

In the case of authors, a name can make quite a difference. Why? According to one successful author, the difference between writing generally and writing for a living is branding. 

Image by Gerd Altman from Pixabay

A brand, or name, author is one who provides prestige or reliable profits to a publishing house. For example, consider whether you ask for the latest novel by Nora Roberts or John Grisham by the title of the book or if you simply mention the author’s name. Most likely, the author’s name comes to mind first and you may not even remember the title of the book. That’s the power of a brand author.

Now let’s talk money. During 2010 and 2011, the successful brand author we mentioned in the second paragraph spent 10-15 weeks per year writing. For those two years, the Internal Revenue Service said she owed an additional $155,931 and $110,670, respectively, in self-employment taxes on her royalties. Yes, you read that correctly. She was required to pay more in self-employment taxes than many writers earn. And no, we didn’t make those numbers up or peek at her tax returns. The figures come directly from a court case, where she was required to tell the truth. We’re not mentioning her name, but you can look it up.

How did this author turn herself into a brand? According to the court transcript, when she decided to become a writer, she set out in a businesslike fashion to obtain stationery, a reputable agent, and a contract with a New York publishing house. She succeeded in working with a media coach and publishers to develop her name and likeness into a successful brand. In addition to writing, she spends time meeting with publishers, agents, media contacts, and others to protect and further her status as a brand author.

One final point: Branding doesn’t mean the writing has to be good. According to an expert in the publishing industry who testified in the court case on behalf of the author, the actual writing of a manuscript is a small percentage of the value a publisher seeks from an author. An author’s work may sell on the basis of the author’s name and readers’ expectations for a particular kind of story, rather than for the quality of the writing.

Tomato, tomahto? Name the fruit whatever you like. But make your author name a brand.

Simply Soupier Crockpot Tomato Soup

1 box (26.4 oz) finely chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place tomatoes, sugar, garlic salt, garlic, and black pepper in crockpot. Stir to mix.

Cook on high setting for 2 hours, or low setting for 4 hours.

Stir in cream until smooth.

Let stand 5 minutes for hot soup or cool to serve at room temperature.

While you’re slurping your soup (or is that just us?), we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our mystery, Murder by the Books.

A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.
When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT
The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, “The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae.”

I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

“Beautiful morning,” I said, as if I cared.

“Afternoon,” Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. “Still mopin’, girl?”

He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn’t bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

“Nope. Not my style.”

“‘Scuse me.” His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. “Forgot you’ve been hidin’ in the apartment, tap dancing with glee.”

I met his gaze. “For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?”

He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

The description would have horrified him.

“How are the treatments going?”

He grunted. “They tell me I ain’t gonna croak this week.”

“Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I’m jinxed.”

Gus shook his head. “You gotta get over them fools, girl.”

“That’s no way to talk about my former bosses.” Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

Ha, ha.

“Anyway, I am over them. Way over.”

“Yeah?” He was not convinced. “You over the suit, too?”

“Sure am.” Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. “I have moved on.”

Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

Gus snorted. “Funny how much movin’ on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself.”

In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn’t been, I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

“Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?”

He stuck out his chin. “Don’t get smart. You know I’m right. You’re mopin’.”

“Only because I can’t tap dance.”

He was right. In the eight months since my mother’s death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman’s detour was another’s stop sign.

“You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What’s her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?”

No. And I didn’t want to hear from her, much less call her.

I shook my head.

“Your ma would have been annoyed with you.”

A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom’s bedroom was beyond me.

“So? You gonna open the letter?” Gus asked.

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?

Amazon Buy Link

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.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Feelin’ saucy!

by

HL Carpenter

We like to hit the sauce at lunchtime—no, wait! That didn’t sound right! What we meant to say is we like barbeque sauce for lunch! At least, that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

While we’re not sauciers or even a saucier’s apprentice, we do enjoy experimenting with flavors, because we are well aware that what’s sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the chicken.

However, in the case of our Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken, we seldom think outside the box—the box being the carton brick of fresh, sun-ripened Italian tomatoes that is the base of this delicious recipe.

Tomatoes in a box? Yep. We highly recommend that you give your can the boot. Switching to the box will turn you into a superb saucy chef, and the effect on your condiments will be awesome sauce. Pretty soon you’ll be hitting the sauce too! (The barbeque sauce, of course!)

Simply Saucy Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

1 box (26.4 oz) finely chopped tomatoes
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp black pepper
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken

Put tomatoes, cheese, sugar, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper in crockpot. Stir to mix.

Add chicken.

Cook on high setting for 2-3 hours; or low setting for 4-6 hours.

Serve on rolls, or eat as a main dish with a side of chips.

While you’re celebrating your sauciness, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our mystery, Murder by the Books.

A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT
The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, “The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae.”

I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

“Beautiful morning,” I said, as if I cared.

“Afternoon,” Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. “Still mopin’, girl?”

He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn’t bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

“Nope. Not my style.”

“‘Scuse me.” His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. “Forgot you’ve been hidin’ in the apartment, tap dancing with glee.”

I met his gaze. “For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?”

He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

The description would have horrified him.

“How are the treatments going?”

He grunted. “They tell me I ain’t gonna croak this week.”

“Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I’m jinxed.”

Gus shook his head. “You gotta get over them fools, girl.”

“That’s no way to talk about my former bosses.” Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

Ha, ha.

“Anyway, I am over them. Way over.”

“Yeah?” He was not convinced. “You over the suit, too?”

“Sure am.” Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. “I have moved on.”

Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

Gus snorted. “Funny how much movin’ on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself.”

In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn’t been, I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

“Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?”

He stuck out his chin. “Don’t get smart. You know I’m right. You’re mopin’.”

“Only because I can’t tap dance.”

He was right. In the eight months since my mother’s death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman’s detour was another’s stop sign.

“You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What’s her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?”

No. And I didn’t want to hear from her, much less call her.

I shook my head.

“Your ma would have been annoyed with you.”

A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom’s bedroom was beyond me.

“So? You gonna open the letter?” Gus asked.

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?


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, GoodReads,
and their Amazon Author Page.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Souping Up the Chicken

by

HL Carpenter

We’re good eggs here in Carpenter Country, and we subscribe to the waste-not philosophy of life. In our kitchen, one cooked chicken results in multiple meals, including delicious homemade chicken soup.

For this soup recipe, we began with a chicken slow-cooked in the crockpot. Once the chicken was cooked and the initial chicken-and-vegetable-and-potato meal eaten, we separated the remaining meat from the bones. We used the darker chicken meat in the soup, and the white-meat portions in chicken salad, chicken potpie, and chicken sandwiches.

The we get out our soup pot and put together this stovetop soup. For extra flavor, when we filled the pot with water, we added a few spoonsful of the drippings collected in the crockpot as the chicken cooked.

Note that this recipe works exactly the same if you prefer to roast your chicken in the oven.

Here’s our souped-up video. The full recipe follows below.

CHICKEN SOUP CARPENTER STYLE
Chicken trimmings (bones and skin) from fully cooked chicken
Water (enough to cover the trimmings and fill the pot)
2-4 tbsp. pan drippings, depending on the size of your pot
2-4 cups fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice (we used frozen mixed)
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. garlic salt (or regular salt if you prefer)
2 tsp. minced garlic
Dash black pepper
2 cups shredded chicken meat

Add chicken trimmings to pot.

Add enough water to cover the trimmings and fill the pot.

Add pan drippings.

Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.

Remove chicken trimmings from pot with strainer or slotted spoon and skim off any foam from the broth.

Add vegetables, seasonings, and shredded chicken to pot. Add additional water if necessary.

Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.

Serve hot with bread or crackers.

TIPS and TRICKS
Add a packet of chicken bouillon with the drippings to punch up the flavor.

For a thinner broth, leave out the vegetables (or cook them until they are very soft) and reduce the amount of shredded chicken. Use the broth in other recipes or serve in mugs.

To make chicken noodle soup, add noodles or pasta of your choice along with the vegetables.

Be creative with the spices. For instance, a dash of curry powder adds a unique flavor.

While you’re savoring your soup, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our mystery, Murder by the Books.

A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT
The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, “The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae.”

I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

“Beautiful morning,” I said, as if I cared.

“Afternoon,” Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. “Still mopin’, girl?”

He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn’t bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

“Nope. Not my style.”

“‘Scuse me.” His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. “Forgot you’ve been hidin’ in the apartment, tap dancing with glee.”

I met his gaze. “For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?”

He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

The description would have horrified him.

“How are the treatments going?”

He grunted. “They tell me I ain’t gonna croak this week.”

“Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I’m jinxed.”

Gus shook his head. “You gotta get over them fools, girl.”

“That’s no way to talk about my former bosses.” Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

Ha, ha.

“Anyway, I am over them. Way over.”

“Yeah?” He was not convinced. “You over the suit, too?”

“Sure am.” Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. “I have moved on.”

Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

Gus snorted. “Funny how much movin’ on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself.”

In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn’t been, I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

“Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?”

He stuck out his chin. “Don’t get smart. You know I’m right. You’re mopin’.”

“Only because I can’t tap dance.”

He was right. In the eight months since my mother’s death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman’s detour was another’s stop sign.

“You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What’s her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?”

No. And I didn’t want to hear from her, much less call her.

I shook my head.

“Your ma would have been annoyed with you.”

A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom’s bedroom was beyond me.

“So? You gonna open the letter?” Gus asked.

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?


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 happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

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

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Straight from Carpenter Country

An Exciting new book

by

HL Carpenter

This intriguing cozy mystery keeps you engrossed and is sure to deliver reader satisfaction. It’s an ideal holiday gift for everyone on your Kindle list.

A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT
The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, “The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae.”

I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

“Beautiful morning,” I said, as if I cared.

“Afternoon,” Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. “Still mopin’, girl?”

He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn’t bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

“Nope. Not my style.”

“‘Scuse me.” His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. “Forgot you’ve been hidin’ in the apartment, tap dancing with glee.”

I met his gaze. “For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?”

He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

The description would have horrified him.

“How are the treatments going?”

He grunted. “They tell me I ain’t gonna croak this week.”

“Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I’m jinxed.”

Gus shook his head. “You gotta get over them fools, girl.”

“That’s no way to talk about my former bosses.” Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

Ha, ha.

“Anyway, I am over them. Way over.”

“Yeah?” He was not convinced. “You over the suit, too?”

“Sure am.” Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. “I have moved on.”

Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

Gus snorted. “Funny how much movin’ on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself.”

In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn’t been, I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

“Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?”

He stuck out his chin. “Don’t get smart. You know I’m right. You’re mopin’.”

“Only because I can’t tap dance.”

He was right. In the eight months since my mother’s death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman’s detour was another’s stop sign.

“You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What’s her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?”

No. And I didn’t want to hear from her, much less call her.

I shook my head.

“Your ma would have been annoyed with you.”

A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom’s bedroom was beyond me.

“So? You gonna open the letter?” Gus asked.

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?


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 happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

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

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The dynamic duo HL Carpenter sharing their latest writing adventure and a delicious recipe for breakfast bread.

During the editing of our latest book, commas turned into a major topic of discussion. Yes, well, we’re writers, what did you expect? We like commas and we also like to slice commas from our writing so we have a conflict of interest. For example, in the first two sentences of this paragraph (and this sentence too), we used commas. We could have used a comma in the third sentence before the “and,” though we chose not to. Either way would have been correct.

Another example is the title of this post, Good Morning Bread. A comma would change the entire meaning. By omitting it, we imply (or say) the recipe below is a good (delicious) morning bread. Had we included a comma (Good morning, bread) we would be saying good morning to our bread. That would also fit, since the bread is definitely worthy of salutations.

Like bread, commas have lots of uses. You can splash them around in personal and geographic names, in numbers, before quotations that indicate speech such as “she said,” and in lists. If you’re the user of a certain word processing software, you can make your commas curly or straight and either style gets the job done.

We don’t claim to be experts on commas and we would be happy to hear your take on this very important punctuation. Let’s eat breakfast while we have the discussion. If you’re not hungry, then we’ll say, “Let’s eat, breakfast.”

Breakfast Bread

    1½ cups dried mixed fruit (we used one 5-ounce package of mixed cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and filled in the remainder with dried cranberries)
    ½ cup warm tea, any flavor
    1 package regular yeast
    ½ cup warm water
    2 tbsp. butter
    ½ cup coconut milk
    3 tbsp. sugar
    2 tbsp. honey
    1 tsp. salt
    1 egg
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    ¾ cup nuts of your choice (we used pecans and pistachios)

Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Soak dried fruit in bowl with warm tea. Set aside.

In separate bowl, add yeast to warm water. Set aside in a warm draft free location.

Melt butter.

Mix coconut milk, sugar, honey, salt, and egg. Add melted butter and stir. Next, add yeast and water mixture and stir.

Mix cinnamon and flour. Add to liquid ingredients and mix well.

Drain fruit. Add fruit and nuts to dough. Use your hands to mix, adding additional flour by tablespoons if necessary.

Let dough rise 1 hour. Punch down, divide in half, and shape into two equal loaves. Put loaves in prepared pans and let rise 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 350° F. Bake loaves 30 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes and remove to rack.

Serve warm or cold with butter or topping of your choice.

While you’re enjoying your bread, we invite you to sample an excerpt from our soon-to-be-released mystery.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT

    The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, “The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae.”

    I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

    Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

    “Beautiful morning,” I said, as if I cared.

    “Afternoon,” Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. “Still mopin’, girl?”

    He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

    Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn’t bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

    “Nope. Not my style.”

    “‘Scuse me.” His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. “Forgot you’ve been hidin’ in the apartment, tap dancing with glee.”

    I met his gaze. “For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?”

    He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

    The description would have horrified him.

    “How are the treatments going?”

    He grunted. “They tell me I ain’t gonna croak this week.”

    “Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I’m jinxed.”

    Gus shook his head. “You gotta get over them fools, girl.”

    “That’s no way to talk about my former bosses.” Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

    Ha, ha.

    “Anyway, I am over them. Way over.”

    “Yeah?” He was not convinced. “You over the suit, too?”

    “Sure am.” Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. “I have moved on.”

    Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

    Gus snorted. “Funny how much movin’ on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself.”

    In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn’t been, I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

    “Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?”

    He stuck out his chin. “Don’t get smart. You know I’m right. You’re mopin’.”

    “Only because I can’t tap dance.”

    He was right. In the eight months since my mother’s death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

    My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman’s detour was another’s stop sign.

    “You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What’s her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?”

    No. And I didn’t want to hear from her, much less call her.

    I shook my head.

    “Your ma would have been annoyed with you.”

    A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

    Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

    My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom’s bedroom was beyond me.

    “So? You gonna open the letter?” Gus asked.

    I turned over the envelope in my hand.

    Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

    Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?

Murder by the Books, a mystery novel, will be available at Amazon.

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 happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A new release from HL Carpenter .

No one weaves a tale like HL Carpenter, especially in their new release. Although it’s listed as MG, people of all ages will enjoy this intriguing story.

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn’t think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.

All.

The.

Time.

She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she’s determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.

The ghost is not in the plan.

But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it’s too late.

EXCERPT

I had the future planned out.

The ghost was not in the plan.

After the first visit, I still didn’t really believe in ghosts. But when she came back the second time, I had to change my mind. I hadn’t been dreaming and I wasn’t crazy. The only other alternative was: I had seen a ghost.

I started researching ghost visitations. What made them stick around in this world? How did they choose who to haunt? Why had no one ever caught a legitimate sighting on video or made a recording?

Mostly what I learned was that people argued a lot about whether ghosts existed. People who believed in ghosts liked other people who believed in ghosts. People who didn’t believe in ghosts thought people who did were crazy.

I was not crazy.

Finding out the answers to my questions about ghosts should have been easy. I had my own personal ghost to ask. But every time she visited me, I couldn’t say a word. My thoughts got all tangled and my breath stuck in my throat and I got dizzy. Having my own personal ghost was not helpful. The visits were…creepy. Like are-you-here-because-I’m-going-to-die creepy. Maybe the creep factor was why no one had ever documented a ghost.

I shivered, though I hadn’t seen the ghost in hours and cheerful sunlight warmed the early June morning. The Water Garden, a magical green fairyland of trickling streams and arched bridges, closed in around me. Shadows shifted. Bushes rustled.

I’d never seen a ghost before, not even when my dad died. Why had one decided to haunt me now?

“Just lucky, I guess,” I said. “What do you think, Barkley?”

My long-legged Schnauzer scratched his ear with his hind foot.

“That’s what I think too.”

I tugged Barkley’s ear and picked up one of the quarter-size flat stones scattered beside the path. I tossed the stone into the deep end of the Water Garden pond.

Barkley scrambled to the bank, then yipped and jumped back, almost jerking the leash from my hand. The ruff on his neck rose straight up. He stared at the pond, his lips curled, his teeth bared.

I gripped the red plastic leash more tightly.

The ghost liked water.

Barkley growled.

In the pond, twin black shafts of water shifted into the wavy outline of feminine eyes. Pale lips, reed-thin and white as unearthed slugs, parted. The lips tried to form a word. A gurgle rose from the depths like a deep sigh.

“Daaaaay…daaaay…”

Bubbles roiled the surface of the water.

Barkley growled again. Then he barked, as if to prove the ghost hadn’t silenced him.

I tried to speak, to ask the ghost what she wanted. My tongue clung to the roof of my mouth. My lips moved in a quivery jiggle as if I were silently whistling. But I could not force out a sound, much less a whole question.

Maybe if I could think a question, the ghost and I could communicate. Maybe she didn’t need actual words to hear me and to answer.

I tipped forward. My glasses slipped down my nose. I wanted to ask her…something…something…important…

What would touching her feel like?

I stretched out my hand.



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.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Cooking fish

by

HL Carpenter

Fellow cooks, the time is now—the time to flop your fish out of the frying pan and into the oven, that is. Sure, deep-fried candy bars have a place in every healthy diet. But on days besides Fryday, you might want to make a meal using that other appliance that takes up space in your kitchen.

You can start with this oven-baked version of a recipe that’s usually fried. We promise the end result is every bit as delicious. And remember, you can always deep-fry a Twinkie for dessert.

Baked Fish and Hush Puppies

3 pounds fresh fish fillets or strips (we used pollock)
2 tbsp. butter
½ box Cajun seafood fry mix or fish seasoning mix of your choice (or less spicy version, use ¼ of a box)

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Set baking pan in oven until the pan is warm (not hot). Remove pan from oven. Put butter on pan, let melt and spread over pan.

Pour Cajun seasoning mix in a large plastic bag. Add fish and then shake gently to coat evenly. Remove fish from bag, place on buttered pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until fish is flaky.

Hush Puppies

For the baked hush puppies (makes 12 mini pups)
Cooking spray
⅔ cup cornmeal
⅓ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 egg
1 tbsp. oil

While the fish is baking, coat a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Measure dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Add wet ingredients and stir with fork until blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.

Remove the fish from the oven and turn the oven up to 450°F.

Bake the hush puppies for 10 minutes or until a tester pick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Serve fish and hush puppies with ready-made coleslaw.

Tips and Tricks

If the fish you’re using is not moist, dipping the fillets into milk or water before coating with seasoning will help the seasoning mix stick.

For the hush puppy recipe, you can substitute full-fat cow milk for the coconut milk.

Coleslaw helps cut the effect of the spiciness of the Cajun seasoning on your tongue, but potato salad is a good substitute.

While you’re enjoying your delicious lunch, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our satirical short story, The Demise of Fyne Literature.

Who killed Fyne Literature?

The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.

Ivy League wants to learn who murdered the love of her life. The Fictional Book Investigation Agency agrees to take the case, and soon discovers a surplus of suspects.

Is the killer one of the victim’s many enemies? Is there more to the story than anyone knows? The Agency’s profiler has a clue, yet she’s remarkably reticent.

For the lead investigator, unraveling the plot means confronting the mystery within.

EXCERPT
Ivy League walked into my office as I cracked the spine on an old murder book. I identified her immediately, courtesy of my mythical detecting skills. Well, those and her cute little uptilted nose, which I recognized from news reports about a recent gruesome killing.

She said, “I want you to find out who’s behind the demise of Fyne Literature.”

“I thought the cops already closed the book on his demise.” I slapped shut the hardcover in my hand to punctuate my sentence.

She jumped.

I said, “Word is, your lover was done in by an explosion of serial killer potboilers.”

“He was – he is – the love of my life, not my lover.” She perched on the edge of the chair opposite my bargain-priced government surplus desk, and looked at the painting on the wall behind me. “You’re no angel.”

Apparently I wasn’t the only one possessed of mythical detecting skills. The picture depicts a kneeling, white-winged warrior, weary yet steadfast as another day rises – or sets, depending on your point of view – on a ravaged city. You only need to glance at him once to know he did not weep, to know he would not, even in the midst of destruction and defeat; to know he understands war, in the way true warriors do. He knows the creed as well, the one limned by the glowing-eyed cat at his side: Show no weakness.

A grateful and talented character created the picture after I pulled her from the shadowy world where illusions take corporeal form and people merely think they can see. I can tell you horror stories, like the one depicted in that drawing, with entire civilizations reduced to smoldering ruins.

I’ll spare you and myself as well. I meet my shadow every time I plunge into the murk of those battles, and the reality is too gruesome for me to revisit, at least in the daylight hours when I have a choice.

Ed the glowing-eyed cat would say the same, if you understood his language. I’m not the angel in the painting, though my features vaguely resemble his, but Ed’s real, as real as I am.
I said, “Fortunately you need a detective, not an angel.”

“Yes,” Ivy said. “And you meet both criteria.”

I’ve always been a sucker for a woman who can properly pluralize ancient Greek.

Amazon Buy Link eBook and Audio

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.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Focuses On

A Venison (or other meat) Stew recipe by HL Carpenter .

One of the largest quick-service fast-food sandwich restaurant chains in the U.S. (in number of restaurants) offered a venison sandwich again this year—for a single day. The sandwich sold out quickly.

If you missed your opportunity, here’s a healthy, fast, one-pot venison stew you can make in the comfort of your own home, without having to wait in line.

Now don’t scramble off to the next blog just yet. If game isn’t your thing, please check out Tips and Tricks below for alternatives.

VENISON STEW
3 pounds thinly sliced venison shoulder steaks
2 tbsp. oil
1 cup water
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup quick cooking brown rice
1 packet beef bouillon
1 to 3 cups fresh or frozen mixed vegetables

Coat the frying pan with the oil (you’ll want to do this even if you have a nonstick pan, as venison has very little fat). Add the venison to the cold pan, cover, and set the thermostat control to 300°. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until browned through. Remove from pan and cut into cubes or pieces.

Put the cubed venison back in the frying pan, add water, onion powder, garlic salt, bouillon, rice, and mixed vegetables. Stir. Make sure the rice is immersed in the liquid. Add more liquid if necessary.

Cover the frying pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer for six minutes or until rice is done.

Turn the frying pan to low-simmer (or off) and let the stew sit covered in the pan for 5-10 minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice.

Serve with freshly-baked rolls if desired.

Tips and Tricks
You can substitute beef or pork stew cubes for the venison.

If you want your vegetables to look more colorful, add them to the pan after the rice is cooked and let the pan simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Applesauce is a delicious accompaniment to venison stew.

For a slightly different flavor, add ½ cup red wine with the rest of the ingredients.

While you’re enjoying your healthy, delicious lunch, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our satirical short story, The Demise of Fyne Literature.

Who killed Fyne Literature?

The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.

Ivy League wants to learn who murdered the love of her life. The Fictional Book Investigation Agency agrees to take the case, and soon discovers a surplus of suspects.

Is the killer one of the victim’s many enemies? Is there more to the story than anyone knows? The Agency’s profiler has a clue, yet she’s remarkably reticent.

For the lead investigator, unraveling the plot means confronting the mystery within.

EXCERPT
Ivy League walked into my office as I cracked the spine on an old murder book. I identified her immediately, courtesy of my mythical detecting skills. Well, those and her cute little uptilted nose, which I recognized from news reports about a recent gruesome killing.

She said, “I want you to find out who’s behind the demise of Fyne Literature.”

“I thought the cops already closed the book on his demise.” I slapped shut the hardcover in my hand to punctuate my sentence.

She jumped.

I said, “Word is, your lover was done in by an explosion of serial killer potboilers.”

“He was – he is – the love of my life, not my lover.” She perched on the edge of the chair opposite my bargain-priced government surplus desk, and looked at the painting on the wall behind me. “You’re no angel.”

Apparently I wasn’t the only one possessed of mythical detecting skills. The picture depicts a kneeling, white-winged warrior, weary yet steadfast as another day rises – or sets, depending on your point of view – on a ravaged city. You only need to glance at him once to know he did not weep, to know he would not, even in the midst of destruction and defeat; to know he understands war, in the way true warriors do. He knows the creed as well, the one limned by the glowing-eyed cat at his side: Show no weakness.

A grateful and talented character created the picture after I pulled her from the shadowy world where illusions take corporeal form and people merely think they can see. I can tell you horror stories, like the one depicted in that drawing, with entire civilizations reduced to smoldering ruins.

I’ll spare you and myself as well. I meet my shadow every time I plunge into the murk of those battles, and the reality is too gruesome for me to revisit, at least in the daylight hours when I have a choice.

Ed the glowing-eyed cat would say the same, if you understood his language. I’m not the angel in the painting, though my features vaguely resemble his, but Ed’s real, as real as I am.
I said, “Fortunately you need a detective, not an angel.”

“Yes,” Ivy said. “And you meet both criteria.”

I’ve always been a sucker for a woman who can properly pluralize ancient Greek.

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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.

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